WASHINGTON (CNN) — The United Kingdom has MI-5, which roots out spies and terrorists in the British Isles.
Canada has CSIS — the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Now Congress is asking: Should the U.S. have its own domestic intelligence agency?
On Monday, at the request of Congress, the RAND Corporation outlined the pros and cons of establishing a domestic intelligence agency. It also discussed different ways to organize a new entity, either as part of an existing department or as a new agency.
But there’s one thing you won’t find in the report — a recommendation on what to do.
“We were not asked to make a recommendation, and this assessment does not do so,” the report says.
Instead, says RAND’s Gregory Treverton, the report provides a “framework” for policymakers to use when deciding whether and how to reorganize counter-intelligence efforts at home.
RAND is a nonprofit think tank seeking to help improve policy and decision making through objective research and analysis.
Collecting intelligence domestically always has been a sensitive issue, at least partially because of episodic abuses by the government, notably against civil rights leaders, unions, antiwar organizations or even communists and hate groups.
But the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks renewed calls for increased domestic intelligence to prevent future attacks. Critics said that in the lead-up to the attacks, the FBI devalued counterterrorism agents and failed to heed signs that an attack was imminent.
“If you didn’t carry a gun, you didn’t count so much,” Treverton said.
After the attacks, the FBI moved to transform its primary mission from law enforcement to counterterrorism intelligence and prevention. It now focuses on terrorism through its National Security Branch and the National Counterterrorism Center.
The RAND report focuses on two options to the current system.
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