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Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on War Against Terrorism

Location: Washington, DC

Thank you, Senator.
Gentlemen, let me first of all just say that, as an oversight committee, it's our job, of course, to look over your shoulder, to criticize you when you need to be criticized. And we probably go overboard in doing that all too often, and I have certainly done my share of it.

But when you have successes, we need to compliment you. And the success we had over the weekend in fighting the war on terrorism was a joint effort on behalf of all of you, as well as Director Tenet, and I'm sorry he's not here to hear this, too. Because when you do have success we need to thank you for the good job you are doing.

And I hope you'll express to all the folks who are working under you our appreciation for their continuing efforts. We've still got a long ways to go, but this is the kind of success that sure makes all of us feel better, as I know it makes you and our commander in chief feel much better about the war that we are waging.

All of you know that my main focus over the last year and a half has been on the issue of information sharing from a primary intelligence perspective. And we've debated and argued over what should go into the bill creating, Secretary Ridge, your department, and I couldn't be more pleased to have that department stood up and to have it done over the past weekend. I just wish it'd been three or four months ago. But we're glad to get it up and going now with the dragging on of the legislation that we had to go through.

But with respect to information sharing, I want to direct this, Director Mueller, to you and to Secretary Ridge primarily. Bob, you know that I've had this problem regarding the stovepipe mentality within all agencies, and we've been through—and Senator Specter has again reminded us this morning of some of the practical problems that we had regarding memos that were issued in your department. I want you to tell me how you're carrying out the fact of getting away from that stovepipe mentality, sharing information internally, as well as horizontally with other agencies.

And, Secretary Ridge, I've had some conversation with some of your folks about the establishment of a plan for sharing of information all the way down to the state and local level. I'd like for you to tell us where you are with that, what's your time line on that.

If I could hear from both of you please.

Let me go ahead and start and talk about what we're doing in the bureau.

One of the things we have not done in the past is take information we have and put it in reports. In the intelligence community traditionally there have been reports officers who take information, bits of intelligence, strip off the sources and methods, and produce an intelligence product for the intelligence community.

We, since September 11th, have established a reports officer corps to do that. We want to extend that all the way to the field so that we have in each of our field offices, reports officers that can take information and put it in the format that will enable it to be distributed, not just amongst the federal agencies, but also the state and local.

Are those reports officers still in the process of being established, or have you already got that?

We already have, I think 12 to 15. We've got another 20 back at headquarters who are in the background phase. And we hope to extend that throughout the country.

We also have dramatically increased our analysts. We've taken in 25 analysts from the CIA that have helped us since September 11th. And with that analytical capability, with the reports capability, that gives us the individuals, the people that can assist us in the flow of information.

But what is critical to our success is to have the database structure, the foundation so that our database and information goes into a modern database that can be the foundation for not only exchanging information within the FBI, but disseminating information throughout the federal law enforcement arena as well as the state and local arena.

And hopefully by the end of this year, we will be in that position where we will have a modern database structure where most the information can be made available to others in the intelligence arena or the law enforcement arena. And we, by the same token, can have the access to other databases. And so, a substantial portion of our success will be dependent on having an IT structure that enables us to share information horizontally as opposed to doing it by paper vertically, which is our current situation.

Senator, we have been tasked in the Department of Homeland Security to develop a protocol to share with state and local law enforcement the kind of information that is inherent to our basic responsibility and that's dealing with the vulnerability of critical infrastructure.

The three individuals who primarily will be leading that department have been identified. They have not been publicly announced. They've been going through the process of being vetted so they can take on that position.

We will work in conjunction with our colleagues at the FBI, with whom we've got a very close, daily, collaborative working relationship, to develop that protocol, because there are times when we deal with the same groups that provide information, either to disrupt terrorist activity or information they need to secure particular piece of infrastructures.

So the responsibility to develop that plan and that protocol is ours. It will be also reflected in the kind of organization we ultimately set up. As we mentioned earlier in my remarks, we are talking about reconfiguring many of these agencies in a more regional approach. And as part of that consideration as to whether or not we would go to a regional approach is whether that facilitates our ability to collaborate with the state and local officials, including law enforcement officials, and our ability to facilitate the analysis of both information and the protection of critical infrastructures.

So very much on our minds. It's one of the highest priorities of this new unit. We've identified the individuals of the leading unit. We continue to work with our colleagues and the FBI and to develop a protocol that will suit our mutual needs.

Senator, might I just add a couple things? The number of joint terrorism task forces at the FBI has been expanded. And they're key to this information sharing so that you have representatives of law enforcement working together all around the country.

And the second point that I would make that I think is very important about what the FBI is doing is that there is under way a program for training the FBI in sharing information and training local officials in receiving and exchanging information. And within the next 18 months, I believe we're on—we'll be on target for training about 40,000 people in that exercise.

So if you want to do something, you train for it and you put it in your institution. And Director Mueller has done that very thoroughly, not just in the way the reports are configured and distilling the information to make it available for training, but for transmission but actually training and using the structure to get the word out.

I want to go to Senator Feingold, because my time is up. But let me ask you just a quick yes or no on that particular issue.

Mr. Attorney General, is the funding for that framing of those state and local officers over and above the 3.5 billion that's been allocated to our first responders?

I believe that it is

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