Terror Overhaul at the FBI

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From this morning’s Washington Post:

The FBI has begun the most comprehensive realignments of its counterterrorism division in six years so it can better detect the growing global collaborations by terrorists and dismantle larger terrorist enterprises, according to senior bureau officials.

The bureau will merge its two international terrorism units — one for Osama bin Laden’s followers and the other for more established groups such as Hezbollah — into a new structure that borrows both from Britain’s MI5 domestic intelligence agency and the bureau’s own successful efforts against organized-crime families, Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI’s assistant director for counterterrorism, said in an interview.

The new approach is meant to channel raw intelligence and threat information through “desk officers” with expertise on specific world regions or terrorist groups, allowing those experts to spot trends and set investigative strategies for field agents and joint terrorism task forces that collaborate with local law enforcement, Billy said…

Borrowing from its mob-busting strategies in the 1980s, the bureau will encourage counterterrorism agents to forgo immediate arrests when an imminent threat is not present, allowing the surveillance of terrorism suspects to last longer. The aim is to identify collaborators, facilitators and sympathizers who increasingly span across multiple groups and countries, Billy said.

Could it be that the FBI is finally learning to play this game? It’s going to funnel information to people who actually know what they’re talking about and who can help make informed decisions about how to proceed? They’re going to wait longer to bust people to see if they can catch more and bigger fish? I don’t know what was going on there until now, but this has got to be progress.

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