A former FBI intelligence analyst speaks out today in a Washington Post op-ed on the Bureau’s failures to develop a successful intelligence shop since 9/11. She alludes to a DOJ Inspector General report that criticized FBI’s treatment of intelligence analysts earlier this year, a report that noted that the Bureau’s retention of analysts was low, in part because they were treated like “second-hand citizens” and frequently assigned menial tasks .
But she notes:
It wasn’t the photocopying or the lack of promotion potential that compelled me to leave my job as an FBI analyst this year — it was the frustration of working in a system that does not yet recognize analysis as a full partner in the FBI’s national security mission.
Many of the first-hand details in the rest of the article are devastating, such as:
Analysts found that in many cases they had to operate with a dearth of information and intelligence resources. For example, not all the people carrying the title “All Source Analyst” in the division for which I worked even had desktop access to the Internet or to intelligence community e-mail and intranet servers.
There is no guidance giving field offices the information they need to direct case reporting to the appropriate analytic groups, and no policy mandating that they do so. In this vacuum, the analyst’s access to investigative data becomes almost entirely a function of personal relationships cultivated with agents in the field — a difficult task for those whose work it is to assess threats emerging across the nation and overseas.
Articles such as this confirm my long-standing belief that it was a serious blunder not to create a “MI-5” type organization to lead domestic intelligence, either within DHS at its inception or as a stand-alone entity. Nevertheless, I have been cautiously optimistic until now that the FBI would eventually adapt and get its act together on analysis. Articles like this severely dent this optimism.
A mid-course correction might be an even worse alternative at this point, although perhaps a reinvigorated intelligence shop at DHS could be the foundation for a shift of responsibility from the FBI to DHS on domestic intelligence.