month Congress approved the programming that created the FBI's
first ever Executive Assistant Director of Intelligence position.
And Ms. Baginski, who joined the FBI in early May in anticipation
of the approval, has already proven to be an exceptional match
of leadership to FBI operations.
came to the FBI as a career veteran of the National Security
Agency where she most recently led the nation's high tech
Signals Intelligence directorate, creating then managing a
complex, geographically dispersed intelligence-production
operation. Similarly, her mission at the FBI is to adapt its
intelligence capability into networks that are totally plugged
into the new threat environment, to identify threats before
they become attacks, and to create a profound intelligence-sharing
operation with its law enforcement, intelligence, and private
sector partners that will help secure the safety of the American
people. Easier said than done, but Ms. Baginski has no doubt
that the men and women of the FBI are exactly the right people
for the job.
You've been onboard long enough to have a good grasp of the
FBI's current intelligence capabilities. What is your assessment?
I am solidly impressed with what I've found. For the job it
must do, the FBI already has the right infrastructure in place;
the right law enforcement and intelligence contacts at home
and abroad; and some 95 years of seasoned experience gathering
information. I also think it's crucially important that all
Special Agents are drilled in working within the confines
of the Constitution. What I didn't know about was the tremendous
esprit and dedication of FBI employees. They really believe
in what they're doing and they do it exceptionally well. My
job is to put in place enterprise-wide processes that leverage
the already fine work being done across the FBI, both at headquarters
and the field, both here and abroad.
Could you explain why this enterprise-wide "intelligence
capability" is so important to the security of the country?
Basically, the threats to the nation have fundamentally changed
and are no longer geographically contained. Information about
threats cannot be owned by "offices of origin" or
by the FBI alone. The information must be shared both across
the FBI and with the federal and local families that have
authority to take action on the threats. We don't worry so
much about another country declaring war on us, military to
military; we worry about attacks from extremist groups that
can use technology or bombs or chemical/biological weapons
to hurt as many innocent people as possible. Global networks;
organizations that operate across borders, aided by technology--these
are the things we worry about, and these are the things that
can only be addressed through an intelligence capability,
widely shared. A sheriff in North Carolina might pick up information
in his home town about a planned attack in Rome...report it
to his local Joint Terrorism Task Force...that will get it
into the hands of threat analysts...that might save lives
in Rome and at the same time clarify details of a larger ongoing
conspiracy of a particular terrorist group. A little bit like
the "butterfly effect," where a butterfly flapping
its wings in Brazil ends up, by a chain reaction, producing
a tornado in Texas...except our effect is for the good, to
prevent that tornado or bomb, in the cause of protecting people.
Some people have expressed concern that while the FBI is great
at collecting information, it's not that great analyzing and
sharing it. What's your take on this?
I don't see a problem with our analysis. It's superior and
some of the best I've seen in my career. Where criticism may
be fair is that we aren't that accomplished at sharing our
intelligence. But there's good reason for that--for years
we were instructed not to share law enforcement data broadly.
That's a big change, and we must adapt. And I'm optimistic.
First of all, intelligence has always been a core competency
of the FBI, growing organically within its mission. Today
the mission is still the same, but the threat has changed,
so the FBI has to adapt the way it manages intelligence to
address the new threat. Second, adapting is what the FBI is
all about. If you look at its history over the past 95 years,
you'll see a pattern of it changing continuously to meet evolving
threats--from gangsters to espionage to civil rights to organized
crime to financial crimes to international crimes--the list
So what is your plan? How are you going weave intelligence
into the very fabric of the FBI?
Above all, we're not going to pull intelligence capability
from the rest of the FBI into a single office. Intelligence
must be seen as a core competency of the FBI and the job of
everyone at the FBI, from analysts to security professionals.
will be small and as being in the business of planning and
direction for intelligence production. That means working
with all the FBI operational divisions and field offices to
define our concepts of operation and create the intelligence
capability within them. We have just wrapped up a 10-week
program to develop concepts of operations for each core intelligence
function. We've done this work as a whole FBI and implementation
Last question. How does it all come together...and when?
The conops [concepts of operation] are done and implementation
has begun. As in all things, execution will be the challenge.
The field and headquarters are now implementing the conops.
As to when it comes together, this is a journey and it's hard
to say we'll ever be done. What I will promise is that within
four months we will have 1) a solid collection baseline and
analysis of gaps and plans to fill them; and 2) industrial
strength sharing of new intelligence information with our
federal and state and local customers and partners.