Focus on Counterintelligence, Part 2
Focus on Counterintelligence
Part 2 of an Interview with FBI Assistant Director Dave Szady
How has the FBI changed its Counterintelligence (CI) approaches in response to the evolving threats?
We've totally revamped our CI program in the last few years, in many ways mirroring what's been done in counterterrorism. CI is now a nationally managed program focused on the highest priority threats, whether it's proliferation or the penetration of our intelligence services. Intelligence itself--how it's collected, what's collected, how it's managed and analyzed—is just as crucial to the success of counterintelligence as it is to the success of counterterrorism. So we're working closely with the FBI's new Office of Intelligence and our information technology experts to ensure that our intelligence capabilities are world-class. At the local level, we've asked our field offices to know their domains—to find out what corporations, research facilities, military bases, nuclear labs, and universities are in their areas; to establish relationships with them; and then to partner with colleagues in the intelligence community so they can be force multipliers in neutralizing the threats. We've also given every field office at least one dedicated CI squad to help them do all that. So it's been a total change in our focus, with a new national strategy implemented locally, stronger partnerships, more sophisticated operations, and improved intelligence collection.
Are counterintelligence and counterterrorism efforts linked in the FBI?
Absolutely. In CI, if we're dealing with a country that happens to be a state sponsor of terrorism, then it's vital that we're aware of what it's doing in the U.S.—whether it's raising money, getting false id's, or running operations that might help those bent on committing terrorist acts. Sometimes, terrorists and foreign intelligence agents share methodologies. So we cooperate closely with the counterterrorism side of the house, share information, and run certain operations together when they cross over.
How do you work together outside the FBI?
In this age of asymmetric threats, it's absolutely critical that the members of the intelligence community work as one unit, not as stove-piped entities. That's why we've forged closer working relationships with the CIA, the military, and the National Security Agency, among others. Today, our agencies exchange personnel. We hold regular meetings. We communicate constantly—senior manager to senior manager, analyst to analyst. We share intelligence through our "pipes." We run joint operations, where everyone has full and immediate access to the intelligence gathered. A year-and-a-half ago, the FBI had no CI task forces. Today, the CIA and the military sit on our CI squads throughout the country. Every one of our field divisions also has a CI working group that includes members of the intelligence community and even the private sector, and these groups link up at the regional level as well. So our CI program is stronger both internally in terms of how it does business and externally through its partnerships—and that's making all the difference.