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The threat of
transnational organized crime has worsened and grown in complexity in the past
15 years. Illicit transnational criminal networks have taken advantage of the
latest technological developments and their new state-power capabilities to
have a global reach of terrorism. Criminal networks present growing national
security threats to the United states and undermine the security of the
international community.

It is in the vital
interest of the U.S. government to shape new norms and culture in the
intelligence community to assess risks, predict behavioral patterns of
transnational organizations, and realize opportunities to prevent the
proliferation of transnational organized crime. This will require enhanced
long-term intelligence and information sharing through heightened cooperation
among law enforcement authorities at Federal, State, local, tribal and
territorial levels.

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II.                 
Background Information

            Transnational organizations form a link between illicit
drug trafficking – including routes, profits, and corruptive influences – and
terrorism that are both home-grown and imported Islamic terrorism. In this new
information age, transnational organizations have demonstrated an ability to
adapt, diversity, and converge.

            Transnational networks have taken advantages of
technological advancements – such as communications system – to have a global
reach of terrorism. Criminal networks have three primary enablers: first, they
reap huge profits from transnational criminal organizations, such as illegal
narcotics trade; second, they have the ability to recruit talent and reorganize
themselves which were historically limited to corporations and militaries; and
lastly, they enjoy elements of state power such as diplomatic, informational,
military, and economic leverage.

            Today, the two most dangerous threats posed by these
networks are corruption and cyber security. Corruption enables transnational
criminals to assimilate into societies and prevent rule of law from ensuring
safety of citizens, statehood, and global governance. Further, cyber threats
have tremendous capability to shut down state infrastructure. The U.S.
government faces unprecedented indirect and direct threats that undermine state
sovereignty and national security.

            A clear and present danger posed by proliferation,
diversification, and globalization of illicit networks require more
comprehensive and global intelligence approach. The convergence of networks
creates a crime-terror-insurgency nexus; terrorists and insurgent networks seek
to collaborate with criminal networks to finance their activities, while
transnational criminal networks have adopted techniques of terrorist violence
as a strategic communications plan.

The intelligence
community has a unique advantage to collect, analyze, and inform
decision-makers of the best policy options to enhance long-term intelligence
and information sharing to combat transnational organized crime in the information
age.

III.        
Policy Options:

1.           
The first policy option to increase collaboration with the private
sector through appropriate oversight. Sharing information and working closely
with the private sector may allow greater opportunities for the intelligence
community to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and assets both
domestically and internationally.

The advantages of this policy recommendation: The private sector
has the technical expertise to better equip staff members of the intelligence
community of the complex and interwoven activities of transnational criminal
organizations. They also have unique access to sensitive information of their
customers and their networks to predict behavioral patterns of individuals in
transnational organizations to the intelligence community. Partnering with
private companies, such as telecommunications and online social media
companies, may allow for greater innovation in creating a stronger, resilient
cyber infrastructure against future attacks.

The disadvantages and risks of this policy recommendation: Sharing
of information and collaborating with the private sector risks the possibility
of another Snowden incident. Greater information-sharing and access to
sensitive information, by both the international community and the private
sector, can result in exposure of sensitive information and increase
counterintelligence risks. Further, collaborating with the private sector may
undermine civil liberties and jeopardize national security and information
privacy at the expense of one over the other.

Implementing this policy poses a great challenge to the
international community because of the difficulty of oversight and managing
appropriate information-sharing practices and norms between the international
community and the private sector. No intelligence authority can manage and
oversee the limitations of appropriate cooperation between the government and
the private sector.

2.                 
The second policy option is to heighten collaboration among law
enforcement authorities at Federal, State, local, tribal and territorial levels
to coordinate the collection and analysis of intelligence regarding various
transnational organized crime threats. Greater cooperation, with proper
oversight, may streamline information and produce in-depth analysis to gain
better understanding of the threats, risks, and opportunities to make informed
decisions for the policy-makers.

The advantages of this
policy recommendation: Greater intra-agency collaboration can utilize the
knowledge specialization of each agency that has limited resources. For
example, signals intelligence (SIGNIT), human intelligence (HUMINT), and open
sources intelligence (OSINT), can provide different avenues of information to
develop more comprehensive strategies and analysis. Despite differing missions
of each agency, this new approach can increase analytic integration and develop
greater synergies between intelligence analysts, collectors, and
counterintelligence personnel.

            The disadvantages of this policy recommendation:
Information-sharing among law enforcement authorities can be stumbled by
bureaucratic hurdles, due in part to the unwillingness of the agencies to
cooperate and the lack of such intelligence-sharing tradition. Further, the
narrow missions and interests of the agencies may jeopardize the overall
mission to identify and prevent the proliferation of transnational organized
crime. Moreover, such collaboration may risk redundant and ineffective
analytical effort by multiple agencies.

            Implementing this policy option will require establishing
a mechanism to assimilate information from various agencies to produce a
consensus understanding. Another challenge is establishing information-sharing
practices and understanding limitations of such collaboration effort in order to
avoid counterintelligence risks. This may require allocating greater oversight
responsibility to leaders of each law enforcement agency and devoting more
resources and time to collaborate.

VI.      Recommendation:

This policy paper
recommends heightened cooperation among law enforcement authorities at Federal,
State, local, tribal and territorial levels to enhance long-term intelligence
and information sharing against transnational organized criminal threats. This
policy option allows the IC to develop long-term intelligence challenge of the
21st century – the interlink
between transnational crime and terrorism. This policy option takes advantage
of the agencies’ knowledge specialization to establish norms and culture in the
intelligence community to better assess risks, predict behavioral patterns of
transnational organizations, and realize opportunities to prevent the
proliferation of transnational organized crime.

 

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