Intelligence and Counterintelligence


Assignment 2: Intelligence and Counterintelligence

Both domestic and international terrorism pose great threats to US citizens, the US economy, and domestic and foreign diplomatic relationships. Counterintelligence (CI) efforts aimed at detecting the activities of both domestic and international terrorists have risen in the years since the September 11 attacks. An entirely new agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was created to prevent the proliferation of terrorist groups and decrease the threat of terrorism.

Even though domestic and international terrorists might have different motivations for committing crimes of terror, threats from both types are considered equally dangerous and have to be continuously monitored to safeguard US citizens and interests.

The intelligence and CI activities utilized by various US government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the DHS, can be similar or different, depending on factors such as the seriousness of terrorist threats, the specific terror group being monitored, and the immediacy of threats.


Create a 3- to 4-page paper addressing the following:

Describe the similarities and differences in information-gathering techniques used by US law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor threats from domestic and international terrorists.

Research and describe differences in policies and regulations that oversee domestic and international intelligence gathering.

The paper should rely upon at least two scholarly resources from the professional literature. The literature may include the Argosy University online library resources; relevant textbooks; peer-reviewed journal articles; and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, or .gov).

Sample paper

Intelligence and Counterintelligence

Terrorism refers to acts of violence or threat of violence carried out with an aim of putting emphasis on a religious, political or ideological change. In today’s modern times. Terrorism is considered a great threat to society hence illegal under anti-terrorism laws. Every act of terrorism committed is aimed at creating an impact to a large amount of audience so that it can have a greater effect. Terrorist at times also attack national symbols as a show of power and attempt to shake the strong foundations of a country whose values and policies they are opposed to. This leads to a negative reputation for the government while the terrorists gain some sort of prestige or fame.

There are two main types of terrorism; domestic and international terrorism. Domestic terrorism refers to the acts of violence against a country’s civilian population or its infrastructure often by citizens of that nation mostly with the objective to influence or coerce certain national policies. On the other hand, international terrorism are acts of violence that are carried out beyond national boundaries in terms of the people targeted, the origin of the terrorists operations and the methods used. Despite the difference, both domestic and international terrorism are equally dangerous which is why various agencies work to guard the citizens of the United States.

In order to handle terrorist threats, The U.S has specific intelligence gathering techniques that they use to gather information on potential domestic and international threats. When it comes to gathering international intelligence, information is sent to the National Counterterrorism Center which then reports to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).There are special counter-intelligence agencies for protecting military forces which are known as Counterintelligence Force Protection Source Operations (CFSO).These agencies report to military chains of command so that they can receive direct support but coordinative any necessary offensive activities using the NCS (National Clandestine Service). Information on international terrorists is gathered using government spies who are planted in areas of potential threat to gather evidence of any terrorist activities. Another technique used to gather information on international terrorist is the use of government databases made up of millions of individual profiles. If there is a terrorist planning to attack the U.S, they are most probably not doing it for the first time which means there names are all over top anti-terrorism agencies databases.

When it comes to domestic terrorism, there are various techniques used to collect intelligence. Such methods include interception of communication which involves use of technology to monitor calls or emails in order to collect any helpful or incriminating information. Although there have been issues regarding this techniques as most people consider it a violation of privacy. However, this is only used to gather evidence once there is already suspicion of terrorist involvement. Another technique a bit similar to that one is the use of intrusive surveillance such as implanting devices on potential terrorists’ homes, vehicles or phones. This helps in monitoring their moves, communication and the people they are most in contact with. All these techniques are mainly applied by the FBI along with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (Gill, 2010).

There are similar techniques used in gathering intelligence on both domestic and international terrorists. For instance, the use of human agents is used for both types of terrorism. Spies are sent out with specific instructions to gather information on potential threats and report back to the National Counterterrorism Center. Another similar technique used is the use of government databases which contain bulk data on a large amount of people which can be accessed by specific agencies and used to gather information on subjects of interest. Alliances between anti-terrorism units within and outside the U.S is also another way used to gather intelligence. These agencies work with similar objectives which means they all have important information which if shared could help shade light on suspicious individuals. Another common technique used is the detaining of potential terrorists or those associated with them and questioning them using validated leads and information that has already being gathered. This is mostly used in cases of extreme sensitivity and urgency where other methods cannot be efficient.

It is important for the government to protect its citizens’ privacy just as it is important to protect them for terrorist attacks. Therefore, there are policies put in place to guide the process of gathering intelligence. In a case of suspicious domestic terrorism, the suspects can be detained and questioned for a period of 24 hours. However, in the case of international terrorists, it is considered a violation to detain anybody unless there is undeniable evidence that the individual is involved in criminal and terrorist activity. Another policy used for international intelligence gathering is that information gathered should only be used for the purpose it was gathered for and no other intelligence (terrorism unrelated) should be collected no matter how important it may be. However, for the case of domestic intelligence gathering, information gathered can be used to coerce an individual to provide the evidence needed. It is also allowed to prosecute an individual for any information that agencies and law enforcement may come into contact with even though it is not why they were doing surveillance.

In cases of intelligence gathering for international terrorists, it is considered illegal for agents from outside agencies to surveil citizens of another country especially in countries where they do not have good standing relationships and have no jurisdiction. However, in cases of domestic intelligence gathering, any agency related to the fight in terrorism can work together in intelligence gathering. There are strict policies when it comes to using search and seizure to gather international intelligence. This method cannot be used without a court-served warrant. However, when it comes to domestic intelligence, search and seizure can be used even without a warrant as long as there is irrefutable cause beyond doubt that there is information or evidence related to terrorism activities. Although some of these policies are still a cause for debate in some gatherings, they ensure that crimes are stopped before they happen and people’s rights are not abused in the process. It is through the effort of U.S law enforcement and anti-terrorism agencies that the rate of domestic and international terrorism continues to decrease (Gentry, 2015). We may not all agree with the methods used to gather intelligence on terrorists but it is quite evident that these methods play a big role in protecting the lives of many people which may have otherwise being in great danger. As time progresses, the U.S government along with concerned agencies continue to find more better and efficient methods to gather intelligence that do not contradict with the many American policies that support human rights and freedom.


Gentry, J. A. (2015). Has the ODNI Improved US Intelligence Analysis? International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 637-661.

Gill, P. &. (2010). Intelligence for an Age of Terror. Perspectives on Politics, 996.


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