The directive is the result of efforts by senior officials at the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Department and the National Security Council to expand their recent efforts to work together on counterespionage efforts.
The President's directive institutionalizes a set of reforms called "Counter-Intelligence 21," which are designed to facilitate a level of cooperation never seen before among the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon, and will, for the first time, engage the rest of the government and the private sector as well.
In the process, "CI-21", as it's known to insiders, may also force lawmakers and the American public to rethink long-accepted notions about what constitutes national security and the once-clear boundaries between domestic law enforcement, foreign intelligence gathering and defense preparedness.
"Everyone who works this problem has quickly realized that the old paradigm of the threats to U.S. national security-hostile nations and their intelligence services-is far too narrow a definition in the post-Cold War era. There are countless potential bad guys capable of doing us significant harm," says John MacGaffin, a former CIA operative and FBI consultant who spearheaded the "CI-21" effort. "Because the policy community has not defined or prioritized the 'crown jewels' of American prosperity and national security, we in the intelligence community cannot tell if those assets are being threatened or adequately protected."
Clinton's order creates a National Counterintelligence Executive with independent resources and a staff to act as the leader of antiterrorist activities and serve as a conduit between policy-makers, lawmakers and private industry on the one hand, and the intelligence, law enforcement and defense communities on the other.
This czar will be appointed by, and answer to, a National Counterintelligence Board of Directors consisting of the FBI director, the deputy director of the CIA, the deputy secretary of Defense and a senior official from the Justice Department. He or she will coordinate closely with a senior deputies committee, under the National Security Council, with members drawn from across relevant agencies.
The key responsibility of the czar will be to develop a national counterintelligence strategy identifying and prioritizing the keys to American prosperity and security. Informed by such a strategic analysis, the czar will then coordinate the efforts of the intelligence, defense and law enforcement communities.
The new reforms advance an evolution that began in the mid-1990s when the CIA and FBI were forced by circumstances to begin abandoning their long rivalry and history of animosity.
"CI-21 is a manifestation of a process that began five or six years ago, when we all began to realize that the threats to U.S. security were changing in a way that our traditional organizations and structures couldn't match," says MacGaffin. "Globalization and technology were lowering traditional boundaries between what constitutes an international or domestic threat, and terrorists, drug cartels, spies and hackers were all leaping those boundaries with impunity."