Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Napolitano Wants Private Sector Involved in Fusion Centers

Last week Secretary Napolitano addressed the Fusion Center Conference in Kansas City, MO. She re-affirmed the importance of the Fusion Centers as information collection, analysis, and sharing organizations. She also told the conferees that these centers should develop the capability for lateral sharing of information amongst the Fusion Centers as well as sharing with elements of the Federal Government. Finally she noted that Fusion Centers needed to have increased private sector involvement. Private Sector Information Flow While Secretary Napolitano mentioned that Fusion Centers should be processing more than just terrorist information, the primary focus of these centers is counter-terrorism. Since many of the potential terrorist targets are privately owned, it seems obvious that the private sector needs to be included in the information sharing aspects of Fusion Centers. Information needs to flow from these centers to facility security managers about changes in the local terrorist threat status. Increased chatter indicating terrorist interest in a state, region or city should result in increased vigilance and counter-surveillance activities at high-risk facilities. That can only happen when the information gets down to the facility level. Likewise, information needs to flow from facility level to the fusion centers. High-risk facilities need to have a direction information submission channel to the local Fusion center. Reports of suspicious activity, apparent surveillance activities, or testing of security measures are all indications of potential future activities. Fusion centers have the capability to draw these reports together and put them together with information from other sources. Private Sector Analysis One of the main objectives of intelligence analysis is to ‘connect the dots’ between disparate pieces of information. For example, the theft of a single drum of a non-hazardous chemical means little. Combine that with the chemical process knowledge that this chemical is a potent polymerization initiator and you have a possible indicator of a sabotage attack on a chemical facility. Further combine that with the disappearance of an empty tank truck from a company known to ship monomers and you have the potential means to execute an attack and the information necessary to identify potential targets. This type technical information is not normally available to law enforcement personnel. The background to evaluate this type information is not included in the development of most intelligence analysts. This is where the private sector can help in the data analysis function. Unfortunately, there is currently no mechanism for getting the information to technically qualified analysts. And this is true for other sectors than just the chemical sector. Each of the 18 critical infrastructure/key resource (CIKR) sectors in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan has a different set of specialized knowledge that would have to be tapped to adequately protect high-risk facilities in that sector. To make matters worse, each of those sectors has a wide variety of specialties with its own knowledge set. It would be nearly impossible to staff each of the fifty odd Fusion Centers with a sufficiently large set of sector analysts to make a significant difference. Sector Fusion Centers Each of the CIKR has its own Sector Coordinating Council (SCC). For example the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council is made up of representatives of eighteen chemical trade associations. The Chemical SCC works with DHS and other Federal Agencies to ensure that the industry security efforts are coordinated with Federal NIPP efforts. Each SCC could form its own Fusion Center. Each center would provide data analysis unique to its sector, supporting State and regional Fusion Centers. It would also provide a unique base for industry specific data analysis supporting conventional intelligence organizations. It would also allow for communication of intelligence information to high-risk facilities within the Sector. The ‘analysts’ would be drawn from companies within the sector. Mid-level managers that have been identified as future security managers would be seconded to the Sector Fusion Center for a period of 12 to 18 months. This would provide them with the training and experience necessary for managing security and intelligence positions within their parent organization. It would also provide them with personal contacts in the intelligence side of the Federal government as well as personal security contacts across the Sector. Congress has a unique chance to establish a sector specific Fusion Center during the re-authorization of CFATS. The Chemical Sector Fusion Center could be authorized in that legislation. It would serve as a test bed for establishing similar fusion centers in each of the 18 CIKR sectors.

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