On Monday, Professor Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, was appointed to a commission that will conduct a review of the policies implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation addressing the threat of terrorism to the United States.
As the current director of the security studies program and a tenured professor in the SFS, Hoffman comes to the job with over 30 years of expertise in terrorism and insurgency. He previously served as corporate chair in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency at RAND Corporation, vice president for external affairs at RAND and acting director of RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy.
Designed to assess the FBI’s progress over the past decade, the independent commission panel focuses on three main issues: assessing the progress made since 9/11 in transforming the FBI’s response to threats of terrorism, evaluating how the FBI has implemented policies since 2004 and finally, reviewing all new information received since 2004, including information received in the raid of Osama Bin Laden’s compound in 2011.
Professor Hoffman noted that terrorist attacks have evolved to become newer and more diverse, challenging the FBI to react more efficiently and comprehensively.
“Responding to terrorist attacks has less to do with resources now,” Hoffman said. “It’s really up to figuring out how to maximize efficiency and to address these attacks accordingly with the current available skills.”
Hoffman is the only academic commissioner out of the three appointees on the panel, which also includes former Attorney General Ed Meese and former Ambassador Tim Roemer. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the house appropriations subcommittee that funds the FBI, expressed his confidence in the individuals chosen for the panel in a Jan. 27. press release.
“I cannot think of three more qualified individuals to serve on the commission,” Wolf wrote. “They are all men of integrity and have significant credibility and expertise on counterterrorism policy.”
Hoffman expressed his intention to bring rigorous academic knowledge and public policy to the group. He explained that, having completed two books last year, he plans to use his newfound free time for the commission’s workload.
“I think that if you’re teaching in [the] SFS, you need to be actively involved in precisely what your students are sitting in classes to learn about. So this opportunity is such an honor and privilege,” Hoffman said. “Service on the commission is not a full-time job. In that sense, I’m grateful since it allows me to simultaneously keep up my responsibilities of teaching and also work with my patriotism.”
Genevieve Lester, a fellow professor in the Security Studies Program, applauded Hoffman for his professionalism and scholastic intelligence.
“Bruce is an inspired choice for this commission. Not only is he one of the foremost scholars of terrorism, but he has also served on government commissions before. He was the first executive director of the Gilmore Commission — a commission that assessed domestic response capabilities to terrorism using weapons of mass destruction — and has held high level advisory positions, including in the Central Intelligence Agency,” Lester said.
Lester also noted that Hoffman’s broad knowledge base would help the commission during a trying time in the world of intelligence.
“Beyond Bruce’s experience, I think the best thing about this choice is that the intelligence community is now in a state of flux — the Snowden leaks, potential changes in the way intelligence activities are conducted and how oversight is done and challenges to the role of intelligence and law enforcement mean we need someone with a long view. The U.S. must become more proactive in dealing with emergent threats. Bruce has studied how terrorism and counterterrorism have changed over the past four decades and understands how institutions must rise to meet this challenge,” Lester said.