Role of US Security and Intelligence Agencies (FINAL Essay) + CBSC305 Final Presentation


A Federation of different agencies called United States Intelligence Community (IC), was formed in 1981 to work together or separate to perform intelligence operations to safeguard USA against any internal or external threats (Smist, 1994). The list of these agencies kept on increasing and at the moment it consists of 16 agencies. Some of these agencies work under the federal government or regional government while others work under the US army. IC was established by an executive order that was signed by the then president of the US Ronald Reagan. These organizations have been responsible for stopping many internal and external threats to the US over the past years. Having said that, it is also important to mention that there have also been failures on the list of these agencies. The US government has always been trying to establish meaningful coordination between these agencies to get positive results. In this paper, I would like to discuss the roles played by CIA or Central Intelligence Agency, FBI or Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security for the security of USA.

Security and intelligence agencies

Security and intelligence agencies have the primary function of countering any threats that may exist against the US. They detect and monitor these activities and use counter measure to stop them from hurting the internal and external interests of the Unite States. They detect and monitor the actions of foreign agencies, individual and groups with physical threat like acts of terrorism and cyber threats and terrorism. In the following, I have discussed the intelligence and security role played by the three main government agencies in the United States.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

According to the official website of CIA, “CIA’s primary mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist White House, the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security” (, 2017).  This is a really complex job as the intelligence of this type has to be collected from different sources who may be physically present on ground or may be utilizing technologies to collect information. The role of CIA becomes really important when it comes to collecting information about terrorist groups like ISS who use internet as a primary source to recruit people. For this reason, they need computer experts who specialize in computer and cyber security.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBA)

FBI has a very broader role which it plays through different of its child agencies. FBI is responsible for investigating domestic and foreign terrorist threats, cybercrimes, violent crimes white color crimes and public corruption (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017). Details of the comprehensive role of FBI are provided in the later part of this essay.

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security is responsible for working in the civilian sphere to protect US from within and outside. Homeland Security prepares for, and prevents domestic emergencies. These emergencies are primarily related to acts of terrorism that may originate from within the US or outside of its borders. Another function of homeland security department is to keep a check on citizenship and immigration operations. Controlling this ensures the control of foreign individuals from coming into the US and participating in any acts of terrorism or criminal activities.

Types of intelligence collection

These agencies utilize different means to collect intelligence information. For example they might analyze foreign newspapers to get clues about the outcomes of the political and security situations of different countries and its effects on USA. They might also collect information via satellites which primarily consists of imagery. This helps in monitoring the movement of terrorist groups and individuals. Foreigners may also be recruited by the operation officers to provide real time intelligence. Professionals may be recruited at home and abroad to reach out to information on the internet or the computers held by terrorists or hackers to get credible and actionable leads.

Role of FBI in defense against digital terrorism

FBI counters digital crimes and terrorism through it Cyber Division at its headquarters. This division is responsible for computer and network intrusions that could compromise the security of individual and organizational computer networks (Cyber Crime Investigation, 2016). Computer intelligence and information gathering is one of the primary pillar of national security. FBI is also active against ransomware that could be used by cyber terrorist to lock digital information of individuals and organizations and demand ransom to unlock this information. Identity theft has been used by terrorist on the internet to collect funds for their terrorist activities. FBI works against these types of identity theft attempts to safeguard the American public.

Policies against cyber threats

There have been different attempts to pass comprehensive legislation against cyber threats. For example the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) but they are yet to materialize. I have a few suggestions that could be vital in forming a comprehensive legislation to prevent and stop cyber threats. My first suggestion is that information sharing must be mandated for the agencies to add efficiency to intelligence collection and analysis processes. There is also a need to develop an effective system of insurance to compensate the people who are effected by cybercrimes. There is also a need for a comprehensive guideline for private venders of cyber security technologies. I think that it is time to seriously think about bringing in reforms in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) education in our educational institutions to be able to produce competent and professional experts in the field of cyber and digital security.


There is no doubt that all the above secret and intelligence agencies have been playing a vital role in the security of the country, especially cyber security. But it is also a fact that failures like 9/11 and the recruitment for ISS through internet happened due to shortcomings of these agencies. To improve their operations and activities, these agencies need to employ professionals with higher salaries and also need to focus on purchasing and developing soft and hard technologies. This will not only improve the investigation processes of these agencies but will also increase public trust on them. These secret and intelligence also need to work under strict rules and regulations which prevents them from violating the privacy and human right of the US citizens and any foreigners who may be a part of the investigation processes.



References (2017). What We Do — Central Intelligence Agency. [online] Available at:    [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].

Cyber Crime Investigation. (2016). Cyber Crime. [online] Available at:    [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2017). What are the primary investigative functions of the         FBI?. [online] Available at:           investigative-functions-of-the-fbi [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].

Smist, F. J. (1994). Congress oversees the United States intelligence community, 1947-1994.        Univ. of Tennessee Press.