The nature of intelligence changes with national security threats and the evolution of warfare. As old enemies fade and new ones emerge, intelligence adjusts to deal with new adversaries. Similarly, the march of technology changes the nature of warfighting, and intelligence incorporates new technologies and methodologies to adapt to the changing ways of war. But the intelligence community today is encountering a force for change that goes beyond evolutionary developments or geostrategic shifts.
Efforts to reshape the intelligence community have been in the forefront of government dialogue since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Most of these efforts have aimed at adjusting the intelligence community to accommodate the newly discovered threat of global terrorism. Among the many recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report was to restructure the community under a single director of national intelligence. A key intended effect would be improved information sharing in this era of global terrorism.
But the changes that the intelligence community is impelled to undergo are much greater than establishing new lines of communication across interagency lines. As important as that is, much more vital to the effectiveness of the intelligence community is the need to change to meet the onrushing future in this information age. The two concepts are both connected and independent.
Information technologies are proving vital to terrorists as they attempt to carry out attacks from diverse locations around the globe. Whether recruiting, funding, exercising command and control or collecting information, terrorists have taken note of the information revolution and are exploiting its aspects. Intelligence must both track and counter that exploitation.