Political Scientist Says Improved Intelligence-Gathering Needed for America's Response to Terrorists

Also need FBI, CIA to work in tandem; more agents trained in Arabic

Release Date: September 21, 2001 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A major emphasis on improving intelligence-gathering -- including having the FBI and CIA work in tandem -- must be a key piece of the U.S. retaliation against terrorists for last week's attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, according to a University at Buffalo professor who is a former editor of the journal Armed Forces & Society.

"If President Bush looks only to the military, which seems to be both his initial inclination, and what the American public wants him to do, he will get incomplete and misleading information about what's important," said Claude E. Welch, Jr., Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the UB Department of Political Science.

According to Welch, who studies political change, civil-military relations and human rights, one important way to improve intelligence-gathering is to step up infiltration of the terrorist network. That, he says, will require a major increase in the number of places in the U.S. that provide intensive training in the many dialects of Arabic.

"Learning Arabic is exceptionally difficult, and there is a serious shortage of schools and institutions in the U.S. that provide such training," he said.

"This is absolutely the first necessary step for understanding a culture," he said. "You can't understand a culture from the outside unless you can speak the language and speak it like a native."

He said it also will be necessary to change the way U.S. intelligence agencies function.

"The CIA and the FBI need to be cooperating on terrorism," said Welch. "Right now, they cannot do so in part because U.S. law limits the FBI to the 'home front' and the CIA to 'the rest of the world.' To deal with terrorist networks, there must be effective information-sharing between the two.

"Such sharing is also at least as important, if not more important, with countries against which we have vied or even fought recently."

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