"International terrorism, a major threat facing the United States in the 21st century, presents a difficult analytical challenge, vividly demonstrated by the attempted bombing of a commercial aircraft approaching Detroit on December 25, 2009. 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. Particular challenges relate to the protection of civil liberties that surround collecting information about U.S. persons. Techniques for acquiring and analyzing information on small groups of plotters differ significantly from those used to evaluate the military capabilities of other countries, with a much higher need for situational awareness of third world societies. U.S. intelligence efforts are complicated by unfilled requirements for foreign language expertise. 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 Afghanistan, Iran, and other areas. Improved analysis, while difficult to mandate, remains a key goal. Better human intelligence, it is widely agreed, is also essential, but very challenging to acquire. 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 challenges traditional organizational relationships and requires innovative technological approaches. The effort to reduce government expenditures has not neglected the intelligence community. The Administration is considering long-term reductions with an emphasis on potentially redundant information technology systems. There is great concern, however, that reductions be carefully made to avoid curtailing capabilities that have become integral to military operations and to policymaking in many areas, including counterterrorism and cybersecurity."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33539