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Monday, February 22, 2016

Local Law Enforcement, Federal Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Sharing: The Effects of 9/11

Local Law Enforcement, Federal Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Sharing: The Effects of 9/11

The United States, with a political history of divided governmental powers, protections for civil liberties, and respect for due process, has had a diverse relation with law enforcement intelligence processes, and in particular, with information sharing. Information sharing in the basic sense is the process of providing partners with the intelligence they need to fulfill their mission. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, information sharing was limited in scope in local operations. Information sharing was subject to a “wall” of restrictions at the Federal level, so that “broad powers for gathering intelligence would not be seized upon by prosecutors trying to make a criminal case” (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, n.d, p. 4). Despite this “wall”, efforts were made to share information such as MAXCAP, an FBI strategy that included “effective interagency liaison”(National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, n.d, p. 6). After 9/11, the term “information sharing” began to be associated with counter terror mission goals. One recommendation made by the 9/11 Commission was that “Information procedures should provide incentives for sharing, to
restore a better balance between security and shared knowledge” (United States General Accountability Office, 2004, p. 33). In evaluating efforts for post 9/11 information sharing, a review board found that the “FBI has made steady progress in collaboration and information sharing”(Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2015, p.73).
The same review board found that the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) are the “most important entity for addressing the terrorist threat in the Homeland” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2015, p.77). Even so, the JTTFs are focused on the counter terror mission, and often partner with fusion centers that “work collaboratively with these field-based programs, serving as adjuvants to
increase crime and terrorism prevention efforts and information sharing efforts” (National Network of Fusion Centers, 2014, p.9). These information sharing partners include local law enforcement agencies.
The 9/11 Commission recommendations were sound in assessing that information sharing processes needed improvement; however, the greatest issue with the Commission's findings is that no responsibility was assigned to government employees that worked to build the “wall” to a higher level. Best contends that “The Justice Department’s opposition in 2000 to legislative proposals to remove barriers has been noted” (Best Jr, 2007, p. CRS-9). Heads should have rolled.
The national strategy includes both the processes of information sharing and collaboration. In a 2012 White House report, information is regarded as a national asset while collaboration is considered the major tool in achieving the primary goal (pp. 6-8).
Local agency participation is critical in serving the national strategy. “New expectations and responsibilities are being placed on law enforcement agencies of all sizes to develop an intelligence capacity as part of a cohesive national strategy to protect the United States” (Carter, 2004, p. v). The flow of information must be a mutual process in a collaborative process; this paper demonstrates this ideal on both the Federal and local level.


Best, R. A. (2007). Sharing law enforcement and intelligence information: The Congressional role (p. 197). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/RL33873.pdf

Carter, D. L. (2004). Law enforcement intelligence: A guide for state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. US Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from http://www.riskintel.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2011/07/Carter_Intelligence_Guide.pdf

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2015). The FBI: protecting the homeland in the 21st Century. Retrieved April 23, 2015 from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/protecting-the-homeland-in-the-21st-century

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. (n.d.). Law enforcement, counterterrorism, and intelligence collection in the United States prior to 9/11. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/staff_statements/staff_statement_9.pdf

National Network of Fusion Centers. (2014). 2014–2017 National strategy for the National Network of Fusion Centers. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from https://nfcausa.org/html/National%20Strategy%20for%20the%20National%20Network%20of%20Fusion%20Centers.pdf

The White House. (2012). National strategy for information sharing and safeguarding. Retrieved April 25, 2015 from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012sharingstrategy_1.pdf

United States General Accountability Office. (2004). Summary of recommendations -- the 9/11 Commission Report (No. B-303692). Retrieved April 23, 2015 from http://www.gao.gov/decisions/other/303692.pdf

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