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federal agencies, and numerous state and local law enforcement agencies, will then be able to use data-mining tools to apply this information to the homeland security mission.
Major provisions of two of the homeland security-related bills now pending before Congress would promote the sharing of critical homeland security information regarding threats between federal intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies as well as state and local officials. sheriffs, governors, mayors, other elected officials, and other emergency responders. The bills recognize the continuing need to protect sensitive sources and collection methods by granting security clearances to appropriate state and local personnel.
The bills would also direct the President to develop procedures by which federal agencies will share homeland security information with, and receive such information from state and local personnel. Further, the bills would require information sharing systems to have the capability to transmit classified or unclassified information, have the capability to restrict delivery of information based on the recipient's need to know, and be accessible to appropriate state and local personnel.
In recent years, a number of Commissions established by the Congress have reported on the ability of the United States to respond to terrorist events and have recommended that steps be taken to encourage closer cooperation between the intelligence and law enforcement communities. The hearings of this Joint Inquiry have shown that, although there is no information to indicate with certainty that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 could have been prevented, some have suggested that certain terrorist acts may have been facilitated by continuing poor information exchanges between intelligence and law enforcement agencies and by blurred lines of organizational responsibility.
One of the mechanisms established by Congress, the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, looked very closely at the issues relating to the sharing of counter terrorism intelligence
with state and local officials. The Advisory Panel was established by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999, and was chaired by then-Governor James Gilmore of Virginia who will be appearing as a witness today. The Advisory Panel issued three reports in December 1999, 2000, and 2001.
In its first report. the Advisory Panel reported that state and local officials had expressed a need for more intelligence, and for better information sharing among entities at all levels regarding potential terrorist threats. The report stated that, while the Panel was acutely aware of the need to protect classified national security information and the sources and methods by which it may have been obtained, it believed more could be done to provide timely information up, down, and laterally, at all levels of government to those who need the information to provide effective deterrence, interdiction, protection, and response to potential threats.
The Panel's second annual report stated that the potential connection between terrorism originating outside the United States and terrorist acts perpetrated inside the United States means that "foreign" terrorism may not be easily distinguished from "domestic" terrorism. The report urged that an even more comprehensive dissemination system than the JTTFs must be developed to provide information through expanded law enforcement channels for further dissemination to local response entities. In its third and final report, the Panel described the results of a survey it had commissioned that substantiated the panel's view that state and local entities are in need of threat assessments and better intelligence concerning potential terrorist activities.
The premise of the Panel throughout its work has been that all terrorist incidents are local, or at least will begin that way. The Panel recommended that a federal office for combating terrorism establish a system for providing clearances to state and local officials and that the FBI implement an analytic concept similar to the CIA's "Reports Officers" to do a better job of tracking and analyzing terrorism indicators and warnings.
GAO's Assessment Of Information Sharing
Within And Between Federal, State, And Local Agencies
The General Accounting Office has completed a number of reports for Congress that focus on combating terrorism, information sharing, and homeland security. In addition. GAO's written statement for the record for this hearing emphasizes the need for a commitment by the leadership of the FBI. CIA, and other agencies to transform the law enforcement and intelligence communities and achieve the most effective information sharing possible to combat terrorism.
GAO has confirmed that, the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other agencies have distinct organizational cultures. Also, legal walls, classification walls, and historically-ingrained walls of bureaucratic practice exist between these agencies. As GAO views the situation, only with the commitment, effectiveness and persistence of strong and visionary managers, will these walls be brought down and greater amounts of information sharing
The three problems of information sharing identified by GAO as important to resolve if national, state, and local governments are to succeed in their collective war on terrorism include fragmentation, technological impediments, and ineffective collaboration. The GAO's assessment regarding the importance of technological impediments is supported by the FBI's inability to share information among its field offices and headquarters and with other agencies. The problem of information fragmentation is also illustrated by the fact that the intelligence office at the Federal Aviation Administration now at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-received information indicating that reputed terrorist bomber Ahmed Ressam had been arrested while trying to enter the United States from Canada with the intent of bombing the Los Angeles International Airport. It then issued an analysis of the bomb equipment seized, but this analysis was not directly shared with the Intelligence Community at the same time that it was released to the airports and the airlines.
The Joint Inquiry Staff has reviewed numerous databases that contain important financial. travel, and vital statistics information. The Staff also has been informed of other powerful search mechanisms that have not been tapped because agencies are not fully aware of their existence or capabilities.
For example, both INS at the Justice Department and the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) at the State Department claim that their databases and capabilities were never fully exploited in the FBI's efforts to locate the two hijackers. al Mihdhar and al Hazmi, who were identified by CIA in August 2001 as having entered the United States. Individuals at both INS and DSS claim that they may have been able to locate the two hijackers before September 11, 2001, had they been provided with the full context of the search and all the intelligence that was available on the two hijackers.
The multiple databases that exist with the Intelligence Community cannot be discussed here because of national security classification. However, we can briefly describe some of the many unclassified databases and task forces that exist and are intended to facilitate sharing information among law enforcement agencies.
Selected Law Enforcement Databases
NCIC: The FBI's National Crime Information Center is a national index of theft reports, warrants, and other criminal justice information submitted by law enforcement agencies across the country. NCIC provides real-time notification of information
regarding persons and property to police officers and law enforcement officials.
NLETS: NLETS is a nationwide network that links all states and many federal agencies together for the exchange of criminal justice information. In each state, an agency is responsible for maintaining in-state law enforcement telecommunication systems that deliver messages throughout the state. Each state`s criminal justice system can access any other state's criminal justice system to obtain a variety of information, including vehicle registration, drivers license, and criminal history records. Other data includes plane, boat, and gun registrations.
TIPS: Terrorism Information and Prevention System, established by the FBI consists of a website and a toll free 800 number for reports of any information about possible terrorist crimes. The phone tip line received over 180,000 calls in less than two months and generated about 30,000 leads.
CODIS: Established by the FBI in 1990, the Combined DNA Index System is a national index of DNA profiles. It is a key tool for solving violent crimes by enabling federal, state, and local crime labs to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other and to convicted offenders.
NIBIN: The National Integrated Ballistics Information Network attempts to unify Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and FBI firearms databases.
NDPIX: The National Drug Pointer Index is a system that allows state, local, and federal agencies to determine if a suspect is under investigation by any other participating agency.
TECS: Treasury's Enforcement Communications Systems is a computerized information system designed to identify individuals and businesses suspected of involvement in violations of federal law. TECS is also a communications system permitting message transmittal between Treasury law enforcement offices and other national, state, and local law enforcement agencies. TECS provides access to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National Law Enforcement