The paper is titled ‘Designing Institutions to Deal with Terrorism in the United States’ and is a primer on how UK and US have dealt with terrorism till now.He says how UK ‘s intelligence institutions are more apt to deal with terrorism than the US. The reason is the way the institutions were built initially.
Until the attacks in Britain by the radical Islamists, the MI5 had concentrated in recent decades on the activities of the Irish separatists while the MI6 dealt with foreign powers, primarily the Soviet Union and the affiliated communist organizations in other countries. The primary job of these intelligence services was and is still to understand the activities and plans of potential terrorists by infiltrating the terrorist organizations and the communities from which they come and by recruiting others to report on these groups. These forms of direct human intelligence gathering are supplemented by electronic surveillance and other forms of acquiring information. An important activity of these intelligence services is to analyze the information gathered in these ways in order to anticipate specific terrorist acts and to develop ways of reducing all terrorist activities and terrorist recruiting. Although the MI5 does not have “police powers” of arrest, it collaborates with the British police authorities (Scotland Yard) when such arrests are needed.
So all it needed was a shift of focus of MI5 to Islamist section of the population and of MI6 to Pakistan where British terrorists are trained.
However, both FBI and CIA needed many changes to tackle terrorism. Read the paper for details.It is a nice way to bring an institutional perspective to the problem.
On reading the paper, I was taken back to the novels of the revered terrorism fiction author- Frederick Forsyth. Forsyth also explained the role of various intelligence agencies in a pretty detailed manner and most of his novels (barring the latest, The Afghan) were superb. Apart from this, Forsyth’s novels mostly had a British agent helping restore order 🙂
Update: Feldstein seems to be quite interested in the topic of terrorism and institutions related to it. Here is another piece from him