Sharing terror threat information still lags

The Homeland Security Department still is not receiving full access to intelligence community terror threat information, according to a department document revealed today at a House hearing.

The department also lacks a computerized system to track hard-copy intelligence documents and is logging them manually, according to the document.

Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas) said at this morning's Select Committee on Homeland Security hearing that he had asked the department to provide a list of products it received from intelligence agencies.

'We received a partial answer,' Turner said to witness Homeland secretary Tom Ridge. 'The department is receiving no CIA top-secret reports because the CIA system does not include Homeland Security Department addresses. Despite our repeated inquiries about intelligence, we have gotten no response [to additional inquiries]. ' Local and state authorities say they have not received any tailored intelligence product.'

According to an HSD response to Turner's questions distributed by staff members at the hearing, the homeland department does not receive hard-copy products from the CIA. It has received about 30 FBI documents, all of which have classified titles.

The HSD memo describes the homeland department's receipt of raw intelligence as follows:

'The Intelligence Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate receives cables classified at the secret level, in e-mail form, via the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Homeland Security Operations Center.
'According to the memo, 'The IAIP Directorate is not receiving CIA top-secret cables because the CIA's message handling system does not contain DHS addresses. The IAIP Directorate and the CIA are working to resolve this issue.'
'HSD analysts also receive intelligence via the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.
'HSD analysts review several classified Web sites of organizations such as the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration and State Department via the classified networks, through which they 'might review 1,000 to 1,500 JWICS products and 200 SIPRnet products a day plus law enforcement sensitive messages.'

According to the HSD memo, 'We do not have an automated document registration system for products accessed online and are currently recording the few hard-copy products received to-date by hand.'

Ridge told Turner that his department has started the process of obtaining access to intelligence products via the Terrorist Threat Information Center. He added that HSD now is using staff members detailed from the FBI and CIA for this work, and is looking to hire its own intelligence analysts.

'We have begun the process of developing information bulletins and advisories for state and local [agencies],' Ridge said.

In addition to the intelligence sharing difficulties, Ridge said the federal government's 12 different watch lists still have not been consolidated. 'We are presently working on the technology to consolidate' the watch lists, he said, and the department is working with other federal agencies to overcome related policy issues.

Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-N.Y.) faulted HSD's cooperation with state and local police agencies, saying the information the department distributes has been limited in some cases to 'the birthdates of prominent Muslims.' At one local police agency in her district, 'The information from the Department of Homeland Security goes directly from the fax machine to the trash.'

Ridge responded that the department has committed to develop statewide templates to guide local agencies in their homeland security tasks.

Committee chairman Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) said after the hearing that HSD 'has gone light years in the field of information sharing. It is clear, however, that it still has light years to go.'

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