The FBI is taking out help-wanted ads to find nearly 900 intelligence analysts that would join 1,200 already on board. The Chicago Tribune says that before Sept. 11, 2001, intelligence analysts were the FBI’s poor stepchildren. Agents viewed their analyst colleagues with skepticism or derision; fewer than 10 were assigned to scrutinize Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network.
The Tribune says the move is a key step in the FBI’s effort to remake itself after criticism of the FBI’s history of neglecting the craft of “connecting the dots”–analyzing data and trying to draw conclusions. “Analysts are a precious, precious commodity” at today’s FBI, said Maureen Baginski, a former official with the National Security Agency now in charge of the FBI’s analyst recruiting. Mueller now gets briefings from analysts, a sea change in an agent-dominated culture where analysts once couldn’t get near the director.
There are few special requirements for the FBI job, beyond strong writing and research skills and a good grasp of logic. The pay for new analysts ranges from $33,431 to $108,335. The FBI has established its first college of analytic studies and is prepared to train recruits from scratch, although the six-week program falls short of what analysts receive under standards recently instituted at the CIA.
Beefed-up training at the FBI is still a major step forward, Baginski said. Congressional intelligence investigators found after Sept. 11 that the agency had no standardized training regimen for analysts.
One problem is that an internal review in January 2002 found that 66 percent of the bureau’s analysts were unqualified. About 40 percent of them do not have college degrees. But she noted that some of the best analysts are military veterans with strong intelligence backgrounds, even though they never went to college.