Secrecy News

Intelligence Information Sharing Lags, Officials Say

Five years after September 11, the government’s capacity to share intelligence and threat information with state and local officials (not to mention the public) remains sub-optimal, some of those officials complain.

“Much of the needed intelligence information is locked away from those who need it in the field or on the scene because of outdated cold war mentalities regarding classification of intelligence information,” said Illinois State Police Col. Kenneth Bouche (pdf) at a September 7 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“Critical information must be unclassified and disseminated appropriately if it is to be of any use in preventing domestic terrorism,” he said.

“The federal government must work towards a goal of declassifying information to the maximum extent possible,” Col. Bouche urged.

The Democratic staff of the House Homeland Security Committee issued a report last week proposing seven initiatives aimed at “improving information sharing between the intelligence community and state, local, and tribal law enforcement.”

See “LEAP: A Law Enforcement Assistance and Partnership Strategy” (pdf), September 28.

0 thoughts on “Intelligence Information Sharing Lags, Officials Say

  1. Col. Bouche’s statement highlights many of the structural aspects of current information sharing initiatives. Unfortunately, he does not mention the single critical element responsible for our inability to foster true and fluid information sharing in the LE and Intelligence communities. That element is best described as a fundamental misalignment in what we are trying to do. Current initiatives are aimed at linking current systems, too often through the development of new layers of technology. Industry after industry, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, have discovered that this is a virtual impossibility given the current state of technology and technological management. Instead, these industries and DIA have focused on the information itself, allowing each player to figure out how best to contribute and use the resulting information resources.
    While some players in the current environment mention this shift in goals, virtually none, especially most states, appear to see the difference.
    If, as DIA has done for military intelligence, we articulate a data structure for shared information and then allow each participant to opt in at the level they can afford and support, we begin to build a common information resource that may be managed centrally but shared locally. If that resource is captured in XML, we can do things with it far beyond the capabilities of any single player or system. Global Justic XML provides a good model for investigative and LE data as does the Intelligence Community Metadata Language (ICML) for assessment and recommendation. However, even with this basis, most involved organizations (DIA and Texas are exceptions) are still trying to create individual technology links among their individual systems.
    Until we get past this type of thinking and focus on building real value in the information itself, we will continue to spend too much and get too little for our intelligence and information sharing investments.



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