Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reader Comment 06-01-10 Counter Intelligence

Red Team, a frequent commentor, provided some valuable insights to a recent posting on counter surveillance, reminding us that a valuable way for someone to gain knowledge about our facilities is to simply ask questions of employees. Those of us with a military background will remember the required annual classes on counter intelligence and realize that the same things apply to employees at high-risk chemical facilities. We are probably not going to see active human intelligence collection efforts being made by al Qaeda; this requires a level of understanding of American language and culture that requires extensive study and training. Home grown terrorists, on the other hand will have the necessary knowledge base from every day life and would only require some rudimentary intelligence collection training. Essential Elements of Friendly Information Red Team makes an important counter intelligence point, writing that employees need to “know what can be talked about, and what can't”. In the military we were trained to look at essential elements of friendly information (EEFI). As part of the CI planning for any operation the staff would determine what information about the planned operation would provide the adversary with the knowledge to prevent the operation reaching a successful conclusion. The security staff for a high-risk chemical facility need to look at the facility, and its security measures to determine what information would allow a determined adversary to conduct a successful terrorist attack on the facility. Some elements will be the same for any facility; details of perimeter detection capabilities, vehicle and personnel inspection techniques, and COI storage locations for example. Other EEFI will be specific to the individual facility. Counter Intelligence Training As part of every class dealing with security awareness, employees must be made aware of the EEFI for that facility. They need to be made aware of the fact that they should not be talking about EEFI with anyone that is not an employee of the facility. They need to be provided with a means of reporting contacts with anyone that expresses an interest or asks questions about the identified EEFI. The training needs to emphasize that simply asking questions about EEFI does not necessarily make the questioner a terrorist. Any number of people might ask such questions in ordinary conversations and business people might be seeking the same information for legitimate reasons. It is important that all such contacts be reported to security personnel for evaluation. This points out another reason that high-risk chemical facilities need to employ experienced security professionals in the development and oversight of their security program. The proper evaluation of these CI reports requires a certain level of training and experience, training and experience that are unlikely to be part of a chemical professional’s background. Red Team points out that it is not just facility employees that need to be actively involved in this counter intelligence effort, noting that employees, contractors and even vendors might be approached for such information. As I have mentioned on a number of occasions, even off-site neighbors can be expected to have sufficient information about security information to be targets of such intelligence gathering efforts. Vendors and neighbors cannot be given the same counter intelligence training nor can they be given same level of details about EEFI. Having said that, there must be an attempt to communicate the potential risk to these interested parties and provide a ready mechanism for them to report potential questions about the facility. High-risk chemical facilities are going to have to take a serious look at all aspects of their facility operations to prevent potential terrorist attacks. One important aspect that cannot be overlooked is the development of an effective counter intelligence capability. An EEFI training program is an important part of that capability.


Anonymous said...

This brings to mind that tired, old, but oh, so important phrase: "need-to-know". It is a critical factor for those in the industry to consider. Regardless of who they work for, even fellow employees: does the other guy really need to know what you're talking about? As you and many others continue to stress, its all about training, training, training. It is absolutely necessary to take the time out of the busy employee's schedule to train. However, in terms of dealing with people in the industry but not in the security field, I prefer to stress the need to watch the conversation as opposed to watching for signs of intelligence gathering.

PJCoyle said...

For my response to the comment by Anonymous see:

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