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Intelligence Panel Advises on Careers in the Field

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Recognizing the growing importance of intelligence analysis, Marymount University’s Department of Forensics and Legal Psychology has added an intelligence studies concentration to its M.A. program. As part of the program, experts are brought in to share their knowledge. A recent panel of current and former government officials discussed the roles that their agencies play in keeping the homeland safe.

Caryn Wagner, former Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), outlined the intelligence cycle of tasking, directing, collecting, processing, analyzing, and disseminating. She explained that their mission was to share information with those outside of the intelligence community – downgrading classified material to secret so that it could be given to local governments, law enforcement, first responders, etc.

Tony McGinty, Detective Grade I with the Washington Metropolitan Police, has been detailed to the FBI Washington, DC, Joint Terrorism Task Force for the past eight years. He mostly handles threats dealing with Washington, DC, specifically. He explained, “I have to take finished intelligence and make it applicable to the officer on the street.”

Frank Reeder, acting Chief of Intelligence Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), noted that ICE is the second largest criminal investigation organization in the U.S. and has a large global footprint. “It’s both a consumer and collector of intelligence,” he pointed out. While ICE is not part of the intelligence community, he noted, “We collaborate with the intelligence community and overlap with the CIA and DIA in the foreign arena.”

Asked about public concern for the protection of civil liberties, Reeder emphasized, “We have always had high standards for protecting civil liberties and rights.” Wagner added, “We have to make the case and be willing to accept additional safeguards to make people comfortable. There’s no reservoir of understanding with what Snowden revealed.”

All the panelists spoke of the need for collaboration among organizations. Wagner said, “We’re trying hard to present a unified front.” She added, “That’s why DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano created the Counterterrorism Advisory Board.”

In the area of cybersecurity, Wagner pointed out, “NSA, DHS, and the FBI are working to leverage the best technology. We’re analyzing intrusions and looking for patterns.” She admitted that “the analytic piece is slow to develop” Reeder agreed, saying. “We’re way behind on the cyber threat side.”

Discussing jobs in the intelligence field, the panelists said they found their work gratifying. McGinty advised, “Learn about the culture of organizations. FBI analysts differ from CIA analysts.” Wagner said that it could be frustrating getting the intelligence community to share information in a timely manner.” She added, “We’re dealing with big data and have trouble knitting it together to make connections and share.”

The Marymount graduate students were especially interested in where the jobs are and how to be good candidates. Wagner pointed to growth in the cyber field and counterterrorism. She also emphasized the value of having a security clearance and knowing another language like Farsi, Arabic, or Chinese. McGinty noted that big city police departments provide more opportunities than smaller forces. And, Reeder said not to forget the private sector and military intelligence centers.

The intelligence field is broad, and Marymount students are gaining the knowledge and skills to be competitive and productive in the field.
– (left to right) Caryn Wagner, former Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security; Tony McGinty, a detective with the Washington Metropolitan Police; and Frank Reeder, acting Chief of Intelligence Immigration and Customs Enforcement

PHOTO 2 – Tony McGinty (left) and Frank Reeder

PHOTO 3 – Frank Reeder gives advice to Marymount graduate student Susan Lusi.