Learning From the Past: FBI Releases Final Report of the 9/11 Review Commission

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released today the final report and recommendations of the 9/11 Review Commission. The comprehensive document is a historical overview and projection for the future – as noted in the title, “The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century.” This was a congressionally mandated review focusing on the FBI’s implementation of the recommendations proposed by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission). In January 2014, the 9/11 Review Commission was tasked to report on:

  1. An assessment of the progress made, and challenges in implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that are related to the FBI.
  2. An analysis of the FBI’s response to trends of domestic terror attacks since September 11, 2001, including the influence of domestic radicalization.
  3. An assessment of any evidence not known to the FBI that was not considered by the 9/11 Commission related to any factors that contributed in any manner to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
  4. Any additional recommendations with regard to FBI intelligence sharing and counterterrorism policy.1

Four team leaders were assigned to lead the following specific lines of inquiry: 

  1. A baseline assessment of where the Bureau is today in its transition to a threat-based, intelligence-driven organization and ‘the development of an institutional culture imbued with deep expertise in intelligence and national security’ 
  2. An analysis of institutional lessons learned and practical takeaways from the assessment of five high-profile counterterrorism cases that occurred in the past six years
  3. An evaluation of the FBI’s current state of preparedness to address the rapidly evolving, global threat environment of the next decade—including escalating cyber intrusions, proliferating numbers of foreign fighters, and increasingly adaptive terrorist activities 
  4. An examination of the Bureau’s current and future need for closer collaboration and information sharing with strategic partners inside and outside government, and with other federal, state, local, tribal, and international counterparts 2

The findings of this report show that the FBI greatly improved its ability to fight terrorism in the scramble to improve capability after 9/11 and that “this [progress] has undoubtedly contributed to protecting the Homeland against another catastrophic terrorist attack,” but that significant challenges still limit the strength of its intelligence capabilities to deal with unconventional enemies.  

The value of this report is in the amount of detail the commission put into examining the FBI’s post-9/11 capabilities. Readers will find deep and open information in this report. For the FBI press release of this report, click here. For the HSDL document, click here. If you do not have an HSDL login, please click here for the full report on the FBI website. 

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/em-learning-from-the-past-em-fbi-releases-final-report-of-the-9-11-review-commission