In reaction to the 911 attacks on New York City, President George W. Bush issued Presidential Executive Order 13354 on August 27, 2004, thereby creating the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The precursor of this center was the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), first announced by Bush as part of his 2003 State of the Union Address. Both of these counterterrorism centers came as a result of recommendations by the 911 Commission, which had arrived at the shocking conclusion that none of the measures adopted by the United States prior to the 911 tragedy had done anything to slow or stop the efforts of al Qaeda. Even more shocking was the assessment that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had failed to recognize the possibility of the attacks and acted unwisely and independent of each other.
Renaming the TTIC to the National Counterterrorism Center came as a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which also established the position of the Director of National Intelligence to oversee the new entity. At present, the NCTC has been under the supervision of five different men, with Matthew G. Olsen serving as the current director since August 16, 2011. The mission of the NCTC is to “lead our nation’s effort to combat terrorism at home and abroad by analyzing the threat, sharing that information with our partners, and integrating all instruments of national power to ensure unity of effort.” Through its efforts, the NCTC is charged with establishing a database entitled the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), which consists of a list of some 500,000 terror links – including the names of suspected terrorists. In essence, the NCTC sifts through, analyzes and integrates all intelligence information that pertains to the fight against terrorism, with the interesting exception of domestic terrorism. NCTC is therefore the principal organization concerned and charged with strategic efforts of counterterrorism in the United States.
To be included on the TIDE database as a suspected terrorist, a person must meet at least one of the following qualifying criteria:
- Have committed or helped plan an act of international terrorism;
- Solicit funds for an act of international terrorism or terrorist organization;
- Gather information for potential targets for international terrorism;
- Solicit membership in/for an international terrorist organization;
- Provide material support for a terrorist organization (i.e. i.e. safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons, explosives, or training);
- Be a member or represent a terrorist organization or state.
Each day, TIDE analysts review and enhance their records, based on the “nominations” they receive from contributing sources – and this information is exported to the FBI Terrorist Screening Center. This list is also a critical tool for Homeland Security in its efforts to secure and defend the United States from terrorist threats. Optimally, the desired result from the efforts of the NCTC is a more coordinated and informed response of the 16 government agencies that are charged with conducting intelligence activities. The following list of these agencies is available on Wikipedia:
- Independent agencies
- United States Department of Defense
- Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA)
- Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)
- Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
- Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA)
- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
- National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
- National Security Agency (NSA)
- Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
- United States Department of Energy
- United States Department of Homeland Security
- United States Department of Justice
- United States Department of State
- United States Department of the Treasury
The interesting piece of information revealed here is the fact that NCTC is not concerned with acts of “domestic terrorism” – which includes any of the school shootings, such as the recent horrors that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, and the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Do we consider any of the individuals that instigated these events to be “terrorists?” Please leave us your opinion on this subject by participating in the survey below.
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