New guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center are in place that should safeguard civil liberties and protect privacy, according to an information paper (.pdf) released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The paper further asserts that the National Counterterrorism Center is subject to the oversight of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and must keep the intelligence committees in Congress fully and currently informed of its activities.
The total intelligence appropriation was $75.4 billion in fiscal 2012--$3.2 billion less than its fiscal 2011 appropriation, according to newly released figures. According to figures compiled by the Federation of American Scientists, from the last 6 years of intelligence appropriations, spending peaked in fiscal 2010 with a total intelligence appropriation of $80.1 billion--$4.7 billion more than the total appropriation for fiscal 2012.
As of Oct. 1, 2011 4.86 million held a clearance, while as of Oct. 1, 2010 only 4.71 million held a security clearance, finds the report. Last year's clearance numbers also show a slight decrease in contractor clearances and an increase in those held by a "government employee" or "other."
A lack of clear guidance from the Director of National Intelligence on which civilian positions require secret clearances is responsible for a hodgepodge of inconsistent and improper security determinations across government agencies, according to the Government Accountability Office. DNI "has not provided agencies clearly defined policy and procedures to consistently determine if a position requires a security clearance," GAO says in a July 12 report (.pdf).
The intelligence function at the Homeland Security Department should be narrowed and should not try to compete with that of other agencies like the CIA, former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said July 12. The intelligence function at DHS never fully developed because the mission of fusing intelligence ultimately resides outside DHS, at the National Counterterrorism Center, she said.
President Obama signed an executive order July 7 directing the Homeland Security Department to establish a new center with industry capable of stepping in to provide communications connectivity to government "under all conditions."The order also details responsibilities for particular agencies, assigning to the Commerce Department development of guidance on the use of technical standards and metrics.
Across government, security clearance backlogs have diminished, investigations are more complete and adjudication documentation had improved, but reciprocal acceptance of security clearances is still a challenge, said Gene Dodaro, GAO's comptroller general.
Department and agency heads are not as focused as they should be on gaps in foreign language skills in the federal workforce, said Glen Nordin, principal foreign language and area advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Intelligence.
FISA will expire at the end of this year without congressional reauthorization. Before its enactment, the attorney general could authorize such surveillance without court approval.
The FBI has solved--at least in the short term--its counterterrorism division staffing problem, says the Government Accountability Office in the first publicly-released GAO assessment of intelligence activities since Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a directive (.pdf) in April 2011 telling intelligence community components to cooperate with the GAO "to the fullest extent possible."