Directive 191 “Duty to Warn”, Corporations Crisis Management Plan Raises Attention Of Clandestine Operators By: Jose Rodriguez, Former Director Clandestine Service and Counter Terrorism, Central Intelligence Agency & Peter Cahill, CEO Kinetic Global.
When traveling both domestically and abroad it is not unthinkable that travelers may find themselves in harm’s way. Whether it’s random street crimes against distracted tourists or a major, violent attack on targeted individuals, stories of violence and fear are everywhere. That is why it is crucial to know how to find protection to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
After the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia, the government program called Directive 191, otherwise known as the ‘Duty to Warn’, was mentioned regularly. It is explained as a safeguard for travelers who could be threatened both at home and abroad. Unfortunately, a lot of what was described in the media simply isn’t true. At Kinetic Global we feel strongly that everyone deserves an explanation on what Directive 191 is.
What is Directive 191?
Directive 191 also known as ‘Duty to Warn’, originates from the National Security Act of 1947, later amended (circa 1985) under then Director, James Clapper. The directive obligates U.S. intelligence agencies to communicate and warn United States citizens — and in some cases non-citizens — if they become aware of a threat for a potential kidnapping or murder. In order for Directive 191 to apply, there must be “specific, credible, and impending threats of intentional killing, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping.”
U.S. agencies including the FBI, CIA, DIA and NSA — collectively known as the Intelligence Community (IC) — are under the directive to constantly monitor the threat levels both at home and abroad. If they become aware of a threat in the process of collecting intelligence, which would be extremely rare unless it is a high profile, pseudo celebrity, high value target or in the case of Jamal Khashoggi, a noted critic of a foreign administration, it is their duty to inform and keep U.S. citizens safe. Even in those extremum berths it’s not a fail-safe.
“The directive is aimed at information that is collected or acquired by the IC elements pursuant to or as a result of authorized intelligence requirements against designated targets. It is not designed to protect the traveling corporate employee at large. People who think that duty to warn will guarantee their safety while traveling overseas are mistaken,” said Peter Cahill, Founder and CEO of Kinetic Global.
Why Directive 191 May Is Not Enough to Guarantee Safety
When corporate travelers are OCONUS or domestic there are several safety measures that they need to take. These include being aware of their situations and surroundings, checking in at embassies upon arrival, and understanding ongoing threats in the immediate area in which they are staying. Taking these precautions is a great first step.
However, if the only other safety measure taken is to rely on Directive 191 to inform of an impending threat or attack, that is simply not enough.
“Working clandestinely for many years, I have seen firsthand that corporate travelers need more than Directive 191 to keep them safe,” said Peter. “The truth is that unless you check into an embassy – and 99% of people do not – then it’s very unlikely you are going to be on anybody’s radar for Directive 191. Additionally, if you are on their radar and they do sense a threat, the IC has multiple steps of subprograms that need to be followed and approved and then finally they need to find a discreet means to warn individual. More times than not, a larger on-going counterintelligence operation is in play that needs to remain classified to protect elements. At the end of the day, I’ve heard far too much reliance on Directive 191 by corporations as a means of protection. One of my favorite quotes by John Adams is, ‘facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates or our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.’ I don’t want corporate travelers relying on categorically incorrect statements by pundits to keep them safe, it’s reckless.”
After copious meetings with various global organizations, it became clear to the IC community that these organizations regard Directive 191 as the sole response plan to a crisis. This is a catastrophic security plan which will result in loss. A lot of people do not realize that this is not a movie – Jason Bourne is not going to come save good corporate citizens. Instead, corporations need to have an action plan in place to keep their employees safe.
Directive 191 should never be used as any kind of safety net or back up plan for anyone who is anywhere in the world. The standard of protection and security consideration for each individual circumstance should be kept intact and no one should assume the intelligence community can or will be able to prevent an attack. That is not how Directive 191 works or was designed to function.
“The duty to warn, in most cases, is very limited. And having had to do it myself in the past when I was overseas, it basically is a result of the collection of clandestine intelligence by the intelligence community. And by clandestine intelligence, I mean human intelligence collected by the CIA or signal intelligence in most cases collected by NSA or the outfit that resides inside an embassy that’s its own agency that collects signal intelligence,” said Jose Rodriguez Jr, former director of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA and Kinetic Global advisor.
How has Directive 191 Failed?
The most famous example of Directive 191 failing is the Jamal Khashoggi murder in 2018. His murder raised the question of whether the United States is doing enough to respond to attempted kidnapping and assassinations.
When Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, the United States claimed they had no advanced knowledge of his disappearance. However, there were reports by the Washington Post that U.S. intelligence agencies had intercepted communications that there may have been a plan to kidnap Khashoggi by luring him and then detaining him in Saudi Arabia.
We assume with confidence the U.S. only found out after the fact – but either way still results in Khashoggi’s kidnapping and murder. The personal history in IC tells that U.S. did not have the signal intelligence and Directive 191 did not save this resident of the United States, one who was a well-known journalist and an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia.
Alternative to Directive 191
Asymmetric threats on the rise, ensuring the safety and security of your assets has never been more important. Duty of Care necessitates that you as an employer ensure your employees and executives are safe at work while traveling domestically and globally and while at home. The Kinetic Global Platform is a robust solution to this need and offers unparalleled safety features entrusted by dignitaries, overseas workforces, Government Agencies, NGO’s, Fortune 500 corporations, and International organizations. Kinetic Global answers the question of how to inform, notify and provide global response to crisis management.
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