FBI Analyst Training: Revenge Of The Nerds

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Training for FBI terrorism analysts differs sharply from that given to those who “hone their shooting skills and engage in cops-and-robbers exercises at a mock village” at the bureau’s Quantico training facility south of Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles Times says.

Analysts “do not do the glamorous things,” said Patricia Boord, in charge of the FBI’s College of Analytical Studies. “They do mostly intellectual exercises.” Teamwork, communication and sifting of data – connecting the dots – are at the heart of a transformation the FBI is trying to undergo, the Times says. The newspaper describes the rise of FBI analysts as “something of a revenge of the nerds. The new recruits are just as likely to have backgrounds in psychology or computer science as in military service or law enforcement,” the usual fBI agent background.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III talks up pay and advancement opportunities for analysts and has made a priority of having more. The bureau wants to have about 1,500 on board by the end of 2004, compared with about 1,000 before the Sept. 11 attacks. When the buildup is complete, agents will still outnumber them about 10 to 1.

The College of Analytical Studies was launched after Sept. 11 to consolidate training efforts and handle a growing student body. It has two full-time instructors and relies on the CIA for teaching assistance and the Defense Intelligence Agency for some course materials. The basic course lasts six weeks. Students are divided into classes of 24 each.

In a final exam, five-member teams are given raw intelligence on a militant Palestinian group operating in Germany. “They have these little pieces of data. They have to put it together and tell us what is going on, who the key players are, and give us some recommendations for action,” said William Carter, a 15-year bureau veteran who is one of the head instructors.

Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fbi8sep08,1,1250059.story?coll=la-home-leftrail

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