Terrorism threat center to meld homeland systems

The government's new nerve center for homeland security, the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, is intended to weave together all strands of federal, state and local information systems to bolster collaboration and help thwart attacks. President Bush announced the creation of the center in his State of the Union address last month, and the White House recently released additional details.

TTIC's director will report to the director of the CIA, the White House said in a fact sheet. Some analysts have said that aspect of the center downgrades the roles of the FBI and the Homeland Security Department in the organization. In particular, HSD is required to maintain a threat data integration center. [See story at www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/19712-1.html.] Under the new plan, HSD will participate in the center by analyzing information and disseminating threat warnings to the public, industry and state and local governments.

The new center will oversee national counterterrorism work and maintain 'an up-to-date database of known and suspected terrorists accessible to appropriate officials at all levels of government,' according to the fact sheet. The federal government maintains various terrorist watch lists and has had trouble merging them in a consistent database, sources told GCN. Federal agencies have been looking for different types of suspected wrongdoers, for example, sources said.

TTIC will have an operations center that will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting May 1, the White House said. The center will complement and eventually combine the terrorism watch centers already operated by the FBI, HSD and CIA.

The center will have an initial staff of 60 government employees, with additional positions held by contractors, the White House said. In its second phase, the center will double its staff to 120 government employees.

In the third and final stage, TTIC will grow to 250 to 300 government employees. It will have a facility separate from the FBI and CIA, but the FBI Counterterrorism Division and the CIA Counterterrorism Center will move to TTIC headquarters.

According to the White House, co-location of the CIA and FBI counterterrorism organizations will 'speed the creation of a compatible information infrastructure with enhanced capabilities, expanded and more accessible databases and greater network sharing on counterterrorism issues

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