Thursday, November 11, 2004 - CIA role inside the Baltimore FBI Office - CIA role inside the USA greater: "CIA role inside the USA greater
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The CIA has assigned dozens of case officers and analysts to work with FBI agents throughout the USA in the most extensive deployment of intelligence officers on domestic soil in the spy agency's history.
Officials at both agencies say the deployment, which pairs CIA officers with FBI agents in the bureau's offices to assist with terror-related investigations, also represents the CIA's broadest association with federal law enforcement since the CIA was created after World War II.

The CIA was created to gather foreign intelligence and is prohibited by law from participating in intelligence-gathering operations against U.S. citizens. It also has no law-enforcement powers. Intelligence and FBI officials say that the CIA officers are not involved in criminal investigations.

Instead, according to four intelligence and FBI officials familiar with the relationship, the CIA officers are providing the FBI with instant access to international databases to determine whether domestic terror suspects might have contacts with terror organizations abroad.

In Baltimore, FBI spokesman Barry Maddox says the CIA's presence in the Baltimore field office provides "an instant pipeline" to the spy agency's databases and an immediate contact point for the relay of important information.

In addition, CIA analysts have conducted briefings for local police to help identify potential terrorist threats. Those briefings had been reported by The New York Times earlier this year.

The new relationship was prompted by demands from Congress that the agencies work more closely after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The officials in both agencies, who asked not to be identified because of their agencies' policies, won't say exactly how many CIA officers and analysts are deployed. But in nearly every instance, they work with the nation's network of 100 Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

The task forces, whose number increased dramatically from about 34 prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, draw members from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The units were expanded quickly in an attempt at joining disparate police agencies against potential domestic terror threats.

Despite assurances that the CIA is not overstepping its bounds, the close working relationship makes some civil libertarians wary.

"The location of these CIA officers definitely gives me pause," says Ann Beeson, associate legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. "We have been very concerned about the growing surveillance power of the government through these task forces. We still know very little about these task forces. It would be very troubling if the CIA were to be involved in a broader surveillance operation."

Before Sept. 11, CIA officers and FBI agents had worked together on intelligence-related investigations, mostly as part of limited exchange agreements between both agencies' headquarters and in key FBI counterterrorism offices, including New York.

"This kind of relationship has been encouraged for years," says Michael O'Neil, a former CIA general counsel. "If we're going to accept that terrorism can touch the U.S., then you've got to have the best exchange of information among police services.""