PNSR releases comprehensive critique of NCTC’s whole-of-government planning and proposes broader reforms for the counterterrorism system.

February 23, 2010 in News, Report by admin

A new report from the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) provides an independent, comprehensive, fresh critique of the National Counterterrorism Center’s (NCTC) mission to integrate whole-of-government counterterrorism capabilities. The report, prepared with the cooperation of NCTC and other agencies, examines the Center’s Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning (DSOP). Going beyond the current discussion on information and intelligence sharing, the report identifies long-standing systemic impediments in the counterterrorism community and recommends practical reforms.

The study was informed by a team of renowned experts led by two of the nation’s most distinguished counterterrorism practitioners: Juan Zarate, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism to President Bush, and Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, former Director of Combating Terrorism at the National Security Council under President Clinton.

The study team identified underlying problems that plague the counterterrorism structure. The report calls for strengthening the interagency processes that serve as the connective tissue among government agencies. It serves to elevate the current debate on airport security equipment and “connecting the dots” to more strategic issues related to interagency planning, assessments, and resources that are vital to the long-term success of the mission.

According to James R. Locher III, PNSR President & CEO, “Interagency strategic planning at NCTC is a promising innovation, but important steps are necessary for this innovation to achieve its full potential. Because NCTC is operating in an unreformed national security system, it faces systemic barriers to becoming a more efficient interagency mechanism for the counterterrorism community.”

Philip Zelikow, the 9/11 Commission’s Executive Director, states, “The 9/11 Commission proposed NCTC as a prototype for a novel way of organizing an important sector of national security work in our government. This study is the first really serious analysis of whether the NCTC’s whole-of-government planning effort has met expectations.”

The review, based on the results of extensive research and engagement with government stakeholders, includes steps that the President, National Security Staff, NCTC, and Congress could take immediately to further national security reform.

The report can be found here.