Intelligence Issues for Congress [Updated July 11, 2008]   [open pdf - 167KB]

"International terrorism, a major threat facing the United States in the 21st century, presents a difficult analytical challenge. Techniques for acquiring and analyzing information on small groups of plotters differ significantly from those used to evaluate the military capabilities of other countries. U.S. intelligence efforts are complicated by unfilled requirements for foreign language expertise. Whether all terrorist surveillance efforts have been consistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) has been a matter of controversy. Changes to FISA were enacted in legislation (H.R. 6304) signed by the President on July 10, 2008. Intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was inaccurate and Members have criticized the performance of the Intelligence Community in regard to current conditions in Iraq and other situations. Improved analysis, while difficult to mandate, remains a key goal. Better human intelligence, it is argued, is also essential. Intelligence support to military operations continues to be a major responsibility of intelligence agencies. The use of precision guided munitions depends on accurate, real-time targeting data; integrating intelligence data into military operations will require changes in organizational relationships as well as acquiring necessary technologies. Counterterrorism requires the close coordination of intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but there remain many institutional and procedural issues that complicate cooperation between the two sets of agencies. This report will be updated as new information becomes available."

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