Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminal Justice


Christopher A. Shields

Committee Member

Jeffrey A. Gruenewald

Second Committee Member

Brent L. Smith


Social sciences, Confidential informant, Terrorism, Undercover agent, Undercover operatives


Though it has often been quipped that the September 11th attacks changed "everything", domestic policy alterations were among the most significant changes after 9/11. Specifically, the 2002 Ashcroft Attorney General Guidelines and the 2008 Mukasey Attorney General Guidelines were two of the most impactful policy changes following 9/11. These Attorney General Guidelines changed the way the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated terrorism in the United States in addition to making counterterrorism the FBI's top priority. One of the ways the FBI prevents terrorism is through the use of undercover agents and confidential informants. How the 2002 and 2008 Attorney General Guidelines influenced the FBI's use of human intelligence in terrorism investigations has remained to be seen. This study reviews the historical policy changes following 9/11 and examines their influence on the FBI's use of undercover operatives in terrorism cases. While I found that the percentage of terrorism investigations that used undercover operatives dropped by over 40% after the Ashcroft Guidelines were implemented, I also found that investigations that used undercover operatives were more successful in preventing terrorism incidents compared to terrorism investigations that did not use undercover operatives. Thus, policy makers should use caution when amending guidelines to terrorism investigations and perhaps a lot more resources to undercover operations.