Terrorism: Law Enforcement Agencies Lack Directives to Aid Foreign Nations
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Three US national strategies, developed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, directed US law enforcement agencies to focus on the prevention of terrorist attacks. The strategies called for agencies to intensify their efforts to help foreign nations identify, disrupt, and prosecute terrorists.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the President issued a series of strategies that provided broad direction for overseas law enforcement efforts to assist foreign nations to identify, disrupt, and prosecute terrorists.
However, these strategies did not articulate which LEAs should implement the guidance to enhance efforts to help foreign nations combat terrorism or how they should do so. While one of the strategies tasked State Department staff with developing and coordinating US efforts to combat terrorism abroad, the feds found State did not develop or coordinate the development of a plan to use the combined capabilities of US LEAs to help foreign nations identify, disrupt, or prosecute terrorists.
In December 2004, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which charged the National Counterterrorism Center with developing a plan to use all elements of national power, including LEAs, to combat terrorism.
NCTC officials told analysts that they had drafted a general plan, which was approved by the President in June of 2006. According to NCTC, State Department, Justice Department, and Department of Homeland Security officials, implementing guidance for the plan is under development, and they would not discuss the contents of the plan or the guidance.
Some LEAs have increased efforts to help foreign nations identify, disrupt, and prosecute terrorists. For example, DHS has implemented its Container Security Initiative to screen US-bound cargo at foreign ports, and the Department of State has expanded its Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program.
However, analysts found that because most LEAs, with the exception of the FBI, have not been given clear guidance, they lacked clearly defined roles and responsibilities on helping foreign nations identify, disrupt, and prosecute terrorists.
In one country terrorism analysts visited, the lack of clear roles and responsibilities between two US LEAs may have compromised several joint operations intended to identify and disrupt potential terrorist activities, according to the US and foreign nation LEAs.
In addition, the Government Accountability Office found LEAs generally lacked guidance on using resources to assist foreign nations in addressing terrorist vulnerabilities and generally lacked performance monitoring systems and formal structures for sharing information and collaborating. They also found that, because comprehensive needs assessments were not conducted, LEAs may not be tailoring their full range of training and assistance to address key terrorism vulnerabilities in foreign countries.
Sources: American Federation of Police, National Association of Chiefs of Police, US Government Accountability Office, US Department of State, US Department of Defense, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.