Since the 9/11 attacks, how have technology and cultural factors affected how the FBI operates?

Analysis of FBI's Response to 9/11 Attacks

Despite previous signs of an impending attack, most security analysts view the 9/11 attacks as a shock to the defense systems. The FBI was found to have failed in its responsibility to defend the country's residents and national security from terrorist attacks, according to the results of a congressional investigation. (Keene, 2011). In order to better position the FBI to react to the unit's readiness and work with other policing agencies to prioritize the prevention of terrorism both inside and outside of US territories, significant changes have been made. In this regard, all levels of government and policing agencies collaborate mostly on the sharing of information which is critical in indicating signals of a possible attack. In particular, the technological and cultural conditions as an environment significantly influence the FBI and its operational procedures through transformation on intelligence collection, analysis, surveillance, sharing, as well as changes in organizational objectives and strategies towards counterterrorism.


The technological environment influences the FBI and its operation in four primary ways which include intelligence collection, surveillance, information analysis, and sharing. In most cases, the CIA was the only agency mandated with the collection of data and analyzing the behavior of the society to determine possible targets for crimes and terror activities so that policing agents can prevent such an occurrence before causing damage. In the case of FBI, most of their data was centered on responding to external threats of terror crimes. However, after the 9/11, there was a realization that even the terrorists were adapting to technological advancements to enhance their operations as well as their ideologies (De Goede, 2008). In this regard, FBI has changed its approach in the way it collects information and executes their roles based on the data analysis in regards to how they respond to terror threats. After the WTO attack, intelligence became central to the FBI leading to recruitment of specialists and information analysts on a national scale to contribute to its agenda crime and terror detection.


The primary method of intelligence gathering is through surveillance. Besides the military response and heightened security at port entries, there have been increased efforts of using technological innovations to observe and record the behavior and patterns of life of individuals as a way to detect possible threats. Surveillance, therefore, takes different forms such as informants, listening in on calls and mother communications, and capturing videos of individuals without their consent (Lyon, 2008). As much as there are debates about the legal position and ethical consideration of such invasion, most security analysts and proponents argue that it is a necessary action that achieves a more significant benefit of security enhancement. In this respect, information obtained from the surveillance systems have helped not only unmask terrorist planning, but its routine nature leads to hypothesizing of the behavior, acts, and ideologies of the attackers hence early identification of their identity, intentions and possible actions in criminal activity (De Goede, 2008). The approach has been integral in locating terrorist leaders of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan such as Osama bin Laden. However, critics argue that such actions though having good intentions invade the privacy of innocent people, and there is fear of the extent to which one can be exposed to the violation of human rights.

Information Analysis and Sharing

On the other hand, the government has significantly increased funding of the FBI through its budget allocations since 9/11 to enable the agency to invest in technology collection and analysis tool (Mueller, 2011). Today, most of the counterterrorist groups have an integrated specialist from different security agencies to form a specialized unit that analyzes the data collected to form generalizations and make findings on the behavior of the terrorist organization. Groups such ISIS and Al Qaeda are becoming more organized in committing crimes and using the technological inventions over the internet to spread their propaganda, deception, ideology, and plan terror (Keene, 2011). Therefore, through the information analysis by the FBI under the special unit of strategic execution team this enhances intelligence collection and analysis, both in the field and within the country, to map out plans of committing terror (Mueller, 2011). Besides, FBI finds it essential that through the analysis, they can be able to develop effective interventions to not only stop an attempt of terror but also eliminate it by invading the space through the guided military action of destroying the cells and encountering the threat.

Lastly, the attitude towards sharing critical security intelligence changed after the 9/11 attacks. Initially, each security agency acted on its information and little was shared across other forces. However, after the twin tower incident, information sharing between all levels of government and security agencies became critical in countering terror. Therefore, this has demystified the ideology that by sharing sensitive information with another policing department, mitigating a crime can be more delicate and unsuccessful. According to Mueller (2011), the strategy has helped to conduct of joint operation to increase efficiency in responding to terror by FBI joining forces with other agencies such as CIA and NCTC under the department of defense and homeland security to form a national counter-terrorism unit.

Cultural Conditions

The dimension of the cultural influence of the FBI has three aspects which include the organizational values, the terrorist ideologies, and the perception of the public. Firstly, after the 9/11 incident, the FBI took a restructuring process of expanding its presence to the national space, changed strategy to intelligence centered, as well as its mission and vision to adapt to the structural changes (Mueller, 2011). The shift is in response to the societal demands of security after an attack on the US soil. On the other hand, learning of the ideologies of the terrorist groups through a team of specialists analyzing information collected and lessons from the 9/11 significantly shape the nature of response and prevention of criminal activities linked to extremist groups. Additionally, the FBI has invested resources in learning about the nature of terrorist initiation, their beliefs, cultural practices, and way of operation in planning an attack which significantly helps the surveillance teams detect potential threats and neutralize them in time before it escalates (Lyon, 2008; Mueller, 2011).

Lastly, there have been increased efforts in engaging the people through public diplomacy to reduce the impact of being socialized into radicalization. For example in Afghanistan, through the guidance of intelligence-led operations, the FBI field agent help the military in ensuring the locals disassociate themselves with extremists and restoring their life to normalcy as a way to counter the destructive ideologies (Mueller, 2011). Once they change the perception that terrorism leads to negative consequences to the economies, political stability, and freedoms, it prevents terrorism recruitment hence reducing terror.


De Goede, M. (2008). Beyond Risk: Premediation and the Post-9/11 Security Imagination. Security Dialogue, 39(2-3), 155-176.

Keene, S. (2011). Terrorism and the internet: a double‐edged sword. Journal Of Money Laundering Control, 14(4), 359-370.

Lyon, D. (2008). Surveillance after September 11 (pp. 1-109). Cambridge [u.a.]: Polity Press.

Mueller, R. (2011). Ten Years After 9/11: Are We Safer?. FBI. Retrieved 14 November 2017, from

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