- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

Intelligence specialists at the 93 U.S. attorneys’ offices assigned to identify terrorist activity and assist in prosecutions are not coordinating their efforts and lack guidance, a report says.

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General said that although the research specialists, whose positions were created after the September 11 attacks, have made “valuable” individual contributions to counterterrorism efforts, their overall effectiveness needs to increase through improved coordination and guidance.

The report, made public last week, found that the specialists’ efforts to collect information on counterterrorism cases, as well as the analyses they produced, greatly differed from office to office and that they relied on policy guidance that was “outdated and disorganized.”

The report also noted that analyses developed by the specialists were not centrally reviewed or widely disseminated within the Justice Department.

The review made eight recommendations to improve the use of the specialists, including identifying and providing the standard tools they should use, defining the types of results they should produce, and establishing the quality standards those results should meet.

The report also recommended providing the specialists with up-to-date and complete policy guidance; surveying the users of the specialists’ work regarding its applicability, quality and areas for improvement; and reassessing the specialists’ roles and duties in light of the pending reorganization of the Justice Department’s intelligence activities.

Each of the U.S. attorneys’ offices was allocated at least one specialist. The specialists’ activities include coordinating counterterrorist activities, analyzing relevance and reliability of threat information and investigative leads, and ensuring that cases with terrorism connections are identified for prosecution.

The U.S. attorneys’ offices are coordinated through the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) in Washington, which provides for close liaison between the Justice Department and the U.S. attorneys located throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

EOUSA provides the attorneys with general executive assistance and direction, policy development, administrative management direction and oversight, operational support, and coordination with Justice Department components and other federal agencies.

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