Saturday, February 16, 2008

Budget Testimony from DHS Intelligence and Analysis Under Secretary

As part of the on-going parade of Executive Branch officers going to Capital Hill to explain the President’s budget for 2009, Charles E. Allen, DHS Under Secretary Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), was supposed to have appeared before the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment yesterday. While that hearing was postponed, the prepared testimony for Mr. Allen was posted on the DHS web site.


As with most testimony of this sort, Secretary Allen’s presentation highlighted the things that his agency has done well with the people’s money. For most of us this is the most detail that we will see in one place about the operations of an intelligence agency. We can look at Mr. Allen’s presentation to see if we can tell what the Department has been doing to develop and share intelligence information about potential terrorist attacks against high-risk chemical facilities.


Intelligence Shared with Critical Infrastructure Protection Community


Actually he never mentioned chemical facilities, nor did he mention any of the other 16 critical infrastructure categories by name. He did, however, refer to critical infrastructure intelligence support a number of times. One of the most important dealt with I&As work with the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection:


“We are enhancing our existing analytic efforts in partnership with the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection in a center – the Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Assessment Center, or HITRAC – to assess terrorist threats to and vulnerabilities in the 17 critical infrastructures identified in HSPD-7.”


Since intelligence information is worthless unless it gets into the hands of the people that will have to plan for and deal with the identified threats, DHS has, according to Mr. Allen, worked hard to get that information into the appropriate hands. They have “delivered tailored briefings to a wide range of State, local, and private sector customers to enhance their awareness and understanding of the threats.” One tool I&A has used for such delivery has been the publication of Infrastructure Intelligence Notes.


I&A is attempting to make intelligence more responsive to the operational components of the DHS team by forming Shared Mission Communities (SMC). The law enforcement agencies of DHS were brought “together to address information sharing opportunities and to build a coordinated approach to information sharing.” The success of that effort has served as a proof of concept and the Department will form additional SMC’s; to include one for Critical Infrastructure Protection.


Need to Share Intelligence with High-Risk Chemical Facilities


What was not addressed in this presentation is how any of this threat analysis work will be getting down to those high-risk chemical facilities identified in the CSAT process last month. These facilities, the actual number of which is still only known to DHS, are beginning their vulnerability analyses. To do that effectively they need access to up to date intelligence information on the threats they face.


DHS has a tool that they could use to communicate with these facilities. Due to the CSAT registration process, they have the name and email addresses of two people for each facility that have been designated by their corporate leadership as the action officers for CFATS implementation. I&A should establish an intelligence mailing list for unclassified information about identified and potential threats against chemical facilities.


I&A also needs to establish a security data collection protocol from these high-risk chemical facilities. As a part of their site security plans each of these facilities is expected to report security incidents to DHS. The faster those reports are gotten into the analysis process the faster the information can be developed into intelligence reports useful to other such facilities.


Intelligence Training for Facility Security Officers


Another area that Mr. Allen takes pride in is the training and development efforts that I&A has worked on. He points out that without “appropriate training and education, the DHS Intelligence Enterprise will operate neither as a culture nor as a unified work force.” That training needs to be extended down to the high-risk chemical facility community.


Most of the high-risk chemical facilities do not have staffs to review and analyze intelligence information. Very few of them even have anyone with intelligence training of any sort on staff. I&A should develop a basic, on-line, intelligence analysis course for Security Officers at these facilities. That training should concentrate on understanding the limits of intelligence information and the importance of situational awareness of what is going on around their facilities.


If there is any one thing that people in the operations side of the anti-terrorism business will agree on, that is that having timely and accurate intelligence information about the threat is an essential element in planning for and reacting to the terrorist threat. Secretary Allen’s presentation seems to indicate that he understands that as well.

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