Ali calls for expanded intelligence community infectious disease response capacity

May 4, 2020

The U.S. intelligence community needs to enhance the size and expertise of the relatively small team working on infectious diseases, according to Ford School’s Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence, Javed Ali. In a May 4th article in New America, he outlines potential pathways to build that capacity.  

Ali notes that U.S. intelligence agencies had detected and briefed senior officials about the virus, work done in part by the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). “While there is some expertise on infectious diseases and related topics in the Intelligence Community, this cohort is relatively small in comparison to other national security subjects,” he says. Ali recommends adding an additional National Intelligence Manager (NIM) -- “a true national-level position could help achieve an increased dimension of intelligence integration” -- to focus on the field, as well as two alternative proposals intended to strengthen the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) capacity to respond to these new challenges. 

For Ali, now is the right time to consider new steps in the intelligence community’s response as the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (SSIC) takes up the nomination of Representative John Ratcliffe to become permanent Director of National Intelligence (DNI). 

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown that the United States has some intelligence capabilities regarding the infectious disease issue,” he says. “But [it] likely needs additional ones to inform policymakers of threats in real-time, help minimize the potential for future outbreaks, and assist with long-term preparedness, response, and mitigation measures.” 

To read the full article in New America, go here

Javed Ali is a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the Ford School for fall 2019, teaching "National Security Council and Counterterrorism" and co-teaching "Cybersecurity for Future Leaders." A former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, Ali has over 20 years of professional experience in national security and intelligence issues in Washington, D.C., serving in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While at the FBI, he also held senior positions on joint duty assignments at the National Intelligence Council, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the National Security Council under the Trump Administration. Ali holds a BA in political science from the University of Michigan, a JD from the University of Detroit School of Law, and an MA in international relations from American University.