Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ITACG Intel Guide

The Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group has produced an excellent primer on how the intelligence community operates. The ITACG Intelligence Guide for First Responders provides an excellent overview of the who, what, and how of the intelligence process. Written specifically for the first responder community, it provides the front line user of intelligence information with the knowledge necessary to properly understand the information that the intelligence community can, does, and does not provide. Having worked on the front lines of the tactical intelligence community in the military at various times in the production, analysis and use of intelligence information, I have watched with dismay how seriously politicians and the public have misunderstood the intelligence process. This misunderstanding, combined with the theatrical misinformation about the intelligence community in a variety of Hollywood products, has been responsible in large part of the mistrust and misuse of intelligence information. Anyone whose job requires the use or analysis of intelligence information at the tactical level should read this document. It is relatively short, only 114 pages with lots of graphics and white space. It is well written, with clear definitions and concise explanations. I highly recommend this guide to the chemical security community. Federal Intelligence and the Chemical Sector Having said that, I think that the most useful thing about this guide is the fact that it clearly points out one of the most glaring deficiencies in the dissemination of intelligence information; the lack of a clear mechanism to share government produced intelligence with security operatives in the private sector. The guide states in the introduction that it is “designed to assist state, local, tribal law enforcement, firefighting, homeland security, and appropriate private sector personnel [emphasis added] in accessing and understanding Federal counterterrorism, homeland security, and weapons of mass destruction intelligence reporting” (pg 2). Unfortunately in the section on accessing intelligence community products, there is not a single mention of how the private sector can access these products. The one source of Federal intelligence products that could be accessed by the private sector, the Homeland Security Information Network – Intelligence (HSIN-I), is only open by invitation. This means that an individual can only be given specific access by an authorized entity. DHS ISCD needs to set up a program for providing access to this unclassified intelligence portal to designated security personnel at high-risk chemical facilities. That secure link could also provide a mechanism for those facilities to submit raw intelligence reports back to the intelligence community. Along with providing that access, the Department should produce a chemical facility specific intelligence product. This would address the specific security and intelligence concerns of the chemical security community. It would include summaries and analysis of reports submitted by the same community. Those reports would also be useful to police agencies providing response support to their local high-risk chemical facilities. To make such an exchange of intelligence information useful requires the development of rudimentary intelligence capabilities at the facility level. Since intelligence collection and analysis is not taught in chemistry and engineering programs, the intelligence community needs to develop an appropriate training program so that there can be at least one person at each high-risk chemical facility that has a basic understanding of intelligence procedures and products. The ITACG Intelligence Guide is a good first step in providing that education. Every facility security officer should be given this guide and be required to read it. DHS owes it to the chemical security community that this first step is not the last step the government takes to develop a chemical security intelligence community.

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