Justice will share data, fund states' battles against terrorism

Justice will share data, fund states' battles against terrorism

Attorney General John Ashcroft today reinforced the Justice Department's attack on terrorists by ordering U.S. attorneys to develop by Dec. 1 communications protocols for disseminating information to government agencies and to appoint antiterrorist CIOs. He's backing up those orders with a $9.3 million pledge.

Speaking at the Anti-Terrorism Coordinators Conference of the Executive Office of the U.S. Attorneys, Ashcroft said in prepared remarks that 'each district is to designate a chief information officer to serve on its Anti-Terrorism Task Force.' He had mandated on Sept. 17 that each U.S. attorney's office establish a task force to combat terrorism.

The CIOs 'will consult with state and local officials on how best to disseminate information within the district,' Ashcroft said. Based on suggestions by the new cadre of antiterrorist CIOs, each district by Dec. 1 must develop communications protocols for sharing information among federal, state and local officials, including police chiefs and elected officials.

Ashcroft pledged $9.3 million in funds for state and local participation in the antiterrorism task forces. It should be used 'as seed money to help our state and local partners meet the emerging communication and information-sharing demands placed upon them,' Ashcroft said. For example, state and local agencies could use the money for additional personnel or equipment, he said.

The attorney general also unveiled a training program for federal, state and local law enforcement officials, which will include the use of foreign intelligence. The training will begin by the end of January for state and local members of the antiterrorist task forces. Another training session will be conducted for police chiefs and local trainers, Ashcroft said.

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