Sunday, July 12, 2020

The National Counterterrorism Center

From Betsy Woodruff Swan's 7-9-20 Politico article entitled "A Top Terrorism Fighter’s Dire Warning":

America’s intelligence agencies risk slipping back into dangerous pre-9/11 habits, a recently departed top counterterrorism official is warning in his first public remarks on the matter.

Russell Travers, former head of the U.S. government’s hub for analysis of counterterrorism intelligence, was so alarmed that he shared his concerns with the intelligence community’s top internal watchdog in his final weeks on the job.

“I think there are really important questions that need to be addressed, and I don’t think they have been thus far,” said Travers, who ran the National Counterterrorism Center until March of this year. “And that has me worried, because I do think we could very easily end up back where we were 20 years ago.”

Travers detailed his concerns, much of which remain highly classified, to the intelligence community’s inspector general. About a week later, he was summarily ousted, he says — and the Trump administration official who fired him didn’t explain why [...].

The National Counterterrorism Center was set up to solve a gaping problem the Sept. 11 attacks had revealed all too painfully: U.S. agencies weren’t good about sharing information with one another. Bits of intelligence weren’t always in the right hands. Dots weren’t getting connected. By analyzing intelligence on terror threats at a central hub, the thinking went, potential attacks could be foiled before they happened [...].

Travers, a veteran intelligence officer with decades of experience who helped set up NCTC’s predecessor organization in 2003, temporarily helmed the center for all of 2018. Then he took the reins there again in August 2019, at a moment of immense tumult for the intelligence community [...].

“I do think this community is too big, and it’s got to get smaller,” [Travers] said, referring to the counterterrorism enterprise. “The question is, how do you do that?” [...]

“Russ is absolutely right to point out that it is past time for a reckoning of resource allocation across the Intelligence Community when it comes to terrorism and counterterrorism,” said Nick Rasmussen, a former NCTC director. “There’s no doubt that there is room for rationalization and elimination of duplication and redundancy.”

To read Swan's entire article, click HERE.

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