View Full Version : Government agencies and their duties

11-28-2009, 07:37 PM
Alright, I've got a kind of odd question that is both integral to my story and not all that important (in terms of specifics).

In my story, I've got a former CIA agent who has stolen some info about a top-secret government weapons program. Now they're trying to find him. I know who is actually searching for him. What I'm less certain on is who is publicly doing the searching.

Here's the deal: The two main people on the case are his former boss (an NSA agent...long story but there's a reason for it) and a CIA agent he had an affair with years before. They're on the case because they know him better than anyone else and can hopefully anticipate his moves and try to figure out what he'd do. They're working with a third party who doesn't know him at all. Also, there is a team of CIA assassins (yes, I know we don't officially have those...unless we count Dick Cheney's of course, but it's fiction lol) after him.

The dilemma: Meanwhile, they're trying to brand him as a terrorist, basically saying he's someone like Azzam the American who went and trained overseas and for awhile was stealing information for terrorists until he was caught and then he supposedly came back, and now is being accused of being a domestic terrorist.

I've done so much research on the duties of each agency, and I'm still not certain which would be the one making the statements to the press about it. He's being accused of spying against America, which sounds like CIA, but I've been told that the main one trying to find and stop him would be the NSA, which is currently how I have it written in. On the other hand, I don't know if the NSA actually hunts terrorists or just collects information on them. I also know Homeland Security is an option, and a really logical one, but I'm just honestly not entirely sure how they divide duties since I'm under the impression Homeland Security took over some of the roles of the CIA and NSA.

It's one of those things that obviously I want to get right, but it makes very little difference in terms of actual plot--I just need to know who is giving the press conference my boy interrupts.

Kathie Freeman
11-28-2009, 08:46 PM
If his activities take place within the US it's officially in the FBI's jurisdiction. CIA is "not supposed" to operate within the US borders lol, so officially it would be the FBI doing the press releases.

11-28-2009, 10:49 PM
The CIA cannot legally carry out any actions in the U.S.A. The NSA simply collects information. The FBI would do the tracking down. but they might have specialists from other agencies as consultants, and the consultants might actually do the work.

11-28-2009, 11:29 PM
I'd go with Homeland Security or FBI. They're more the press conference sorts ;)

11-29-2009, 01:43 AM
It would definitely be the FBI. They could have the woman from the CIA work with them, under their jurisdiction. NSA are the electronic ears of the country. They process all the data, but have no field agents. Homeland Security is the envelope agency that houses all of the ones that do the work.

11-29-2009, 12:46 PM
See, that's what I thought. The CIA can't legally admit to searching for him (or you know, trying to kill him ;)) so it can't be them. Actually my CIA agent searching for him is pretending to be FBI. The NSA guy is more the guy with the profile. He's bringing in all this information about what the MC has supposedly done, etc.

I think my main confusion is that there is a very small group of people who are actually in charge of trying to find him (including NSA guy and my CIA girl) because they're the only ones who know his actual history. They have a whole field of FBI agents and what not trying to find him as well, but it's the number ones on the case providing the false information about him. Then again, the NSA has gotten into trouble before for overstepping its' bounds, as has the CIA. The main idea is just a very corrupt high level conspiracy where the few in the know are working to shut him up.

Could the head of Homeland Security be the one making the announcement that they believe he's a terrorist? That's basically the thing. Up to this point they've said nothing about it, but there's a point where they go public with the false information and claim that he's an incredibly dangerous domestic terrorist. I mean, think of the guys behind Oklahoma City and pair that with the current fears of terrorism. I want it to be someone pretty important making the press statement, but I could also have it be the head of the FBI if that's more accurate.

To be honest, my thinking right now is that these few high up people who are marketing this farce want to make it as dramatic and scary sounding as possible. Homeland Security is scary. FBI is just...well, FBI. I'll go with the latter if it works better, though.

11-29-2009, 05:55 PM
I think Homeland Security would say anything a higher-up in the CIA/NSA wanted them to say if it made them sound effective and important to the public. I don't know all the nuts and bolts of when/how things are taken to press conference, but I'm betting it's rather political.

11-29-2009, 06:31 PM
Yeah, in my mind this is all pretty political. And to be honest it really doesn't matter. I'm just hoping to avoid the reader going, "What? But that makes no sense! The (whoever) couldn't do that!" Ack...though he also has to be someone who knows who the MC really is because he calls him by his name. Hm...*thinkity think*

Argh, now I've just stumped myself again because I completely forgot about the whole name thing, which is idiotic because that's the MAIN point of this whole scene and super important to everything that happens after...

Would it be too off the wall for my NSA guy to be giving the press conference? I really didn't want it to be him, but...I suppose another option would be to have whoever is giving the press conference hand over the phone to NSA guy if he happens to be there, which he might be.

11-29-2009, 06:57 PM
I don't think the NSA really gives press conferences. They have speakers at technology events and things, but I don't know that I've ever heard of anything other than folks holding press conferences about them.

11-29-2009, 07:18 PM
I actually think right now what I'm going to do is have the press conference be with the head of the FBI or deputy director or whoever (got to look up the power structure to get a title). Someone pretty big, though I might make it a press secretary, haven't made up my mind yet. Then I'll have that person hand the phone over to the "real" person in charge, which actually accomplishes a couple of goals because it lets me bring back an older character who wasn't there before, and it also let's me kind of emphasize the fact that the ones actually running the case aren't the ones publicly running it, which probably isn't emphasized enough at this point.

Thanks guys. I think I can fix this. :D

11-29-2009, 07:30 PM
One more thought :) The terrorists caught in NC recently were caught by the FBI via the Joint Terrorism Task Force. That sounds cooler, imho. Or you could use 'the Justice Department' for something like this.

11-29-2009, 07:32 PM
Oooh, no Joint Terrorism Task Force does sound nifty. ;) I'll add it to my research list. Anyway it's 1230 and I've got a first period class tomorrow! But I really wanted to figure this out before bed and now I'm excited again. I've decided who the phone switch to person is and it's going to make the scene so much more fun. :D

11-29-2009, 08:57 PM
You should have the FBI doing the legwork, as it's their job. Someone from DHS could give the press conference of someone from the FBI. All you need to do is have your conspirators be the bee in their ear, telling them what to say and do. Unless someone suspects your CIA and NSA people, the FBI and DHS will follow their lead.

11-30-2009, 04:49 AM
That's what I was thinking. :) Thanks. :D

12-01-2009, 12:12 AM
In general, I agree that FBI should be the point people on the surface. But there can be lots of agencies involved, or conducting joint (or even parallel) operations.

If there's weapons and explosives, you can throw in ATF.

If there's a drug or cartel connection, DEA.

If there's concerns about border or port security, Customs & Border, Coast Guard, INS, TSA, etc.

If there's terrorist bears stealing packed lunches, National Park Service.

Richard White
12-01-2009, 02:03 AM
I really don't see the NSA connection unless you're implying this person is overseas and the Agency might be listening to conversations that way. I mean, you can have the person who works for the Agency as someone who "knows" the person, but I would have serious eye rolls if the Agency was involved in anything other than a very peripheral level.

I realize that Hollywood has made NSA the "boogeyman" lately. (Don't even get me started on the gun-toting, badge-flashing "NSA special agents" on NUMB3RS. Gah, the stupidity is strong with that particular writer.)

If it's happening inside the US, the FBI would be the lead agency. They have the ability to do the wiretapping, call tracing, whatever it is and the legal authority to do it on American soil. CIA/NSA = Outside the US. FBI/SS/DEA = Inside the US (primarily)

12-01-2009, 02:46 AM
FBI is your best bet unless you have a narco-terrorism angle - then go with DEA. If you have any questions re: the JTTF or the NJTTF feel free to PM me and I can give you some more info on that.

It's also fun to have an interagency turf war! Whenever you throw terrorism into the mix everyone wants a piece of the action.

Anyway, if you need specifics re: CT or CN info (task forces and the like) don't hesitate to PM me and I'll see what I can do! :)