Intelligence Community Working Group


Intelligence Community Working Group

Background:  Preventing non-state actors from acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is among the highest national security priorities. Commonplace industrial chemicals, biological contaminants, and radioactive materials could be used to cause disruptions and mass casualties. The dual use nature of these materials and technologies enables them to be turned into weapons and delivered by nonmilitary means. The latest threat is from commercially-available synthetic biology where known pathogenic viruses can be re-created, and microbes can be used to produce harmful biochemical bacteria in humans.

The DNI, in the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, assessed that biological and chemical materials and technologies are a global national security threat.  They are almost always dual-use, and can move easily in the globalized economy, as can personnel with the scientific expertise to design and use them for legitimate and illegitimate purposes.   This U.S. recently commemorated the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax letters, which were distributed and thought to be an indication of possible terrorist activity.  In September of 2018, the National Security Council released the National Biodefense Strategy and the President is signing a National Security Presidential Memorandum.  This strategy represents the importance of biodefense as a fundamental and distinct aspect of our national security.

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An inter-governmental and inter-agency operational effort is addressing this threat. The Department of Health and Human Services is the supported federal agency since a biological weapons attack could be potentially directed against our food supply, and plant and animal life. 

For this assignment, the Department of Homeland Security will be the Intelligence Community lead in supporting the new National Biodefense Strategy.  The DHS established a CWMD Office to address WMD threats.  This WMD threat is being updated in the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review, Combined Arms CWMD doctrine, and National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan.

Assignment: You have been assigned by the DNI to organize and lead an Intelligence Community Working Group to support the National Biodefense Strategy.  Write a background paper about the Working Group addressing any three of the following topics with recommendations and/or courses of action:

1. Chose those agencies and specific departments (if information available) that should be included in the IC National Biodefense Strategy Working Group.  For example, the FBI WMD Directorate which is prepared to anticipate, mitigate, disrupt, or respond to WMD threats; the  Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) which specializes in CWMD; and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) .

2. Identify Intelligence gaps in assessing bio threats from non-state actors, and the IC’s ability to provide warning.

 3. Discuss the leadership principles that would best promote Intelligence information sharing with agencies outside the IC such as Department of Health and Human Services.

4. Recommend the infusion of new technologies such as sensor arrays, cloud-based solutions and big data analytics which could improve real-time Intelligence collection and analysis.

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