New Homeland Security Department Would Identify, Assess Threats
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2002 Intelligence is essential for preventing acts of terrorism, according to White House officials. Timely analysis and dissemination of information will improve the nation's ability to disrupt and prevent terrorist acts.
The new Department of Homeland Security proposed by President Bush would pull together information and intelligence from a variety of sources. Department officials would identify and assess current and future threats, inform the president, issue timely warnings and take or effect appropriate action.
At present, the federal government has no institution dedicated to analyzing systematically all information on potential terrorists threats within the United States. The Central Intelligence Agency performs the task regarding terrorist threats abroad.
White House officials said a proactive approach is needed to help policymakers and law enforcement personnel pre-empt terrorist plots and warn the public. The new department would fuse and analyze information from multiple sources to provide early warning of potential attacks. This would include foreign intelligence, law enforcement information and publicly available information.
The department would be a full partner and consumer of all intelligence-generating agencies, including the CIA, the National Security Agency and the FBI. This would enable homeland security officials to view dangers facing the homeland comprehensively, ensure the president is briefed on relevant information and take necessary protective action.
New guidelines issued by the attorney general have empowered FBI agents with new investigative authority, White House officials said. They can now search public sources for information on future terrorist threats. They can also identify and track foreign terrorists by combining information gathered from foreign intelligence and commercial data services with FBI-gathered information.
Homeland security officials would ensure information from the FBI is analyzed side-by-side with all other intelligence, White House officials noted. The department and the FBI would cooperate by instituting standard operating procedures to ensure free and secure flow of information and personnel exchanges.
The department would coordinate and consolidate the federal government's lines of communication with state and local public safety agencies and the private sector. This would create a coherent and efficient system for conveying intelligence and other threat information. The department would administer the Homeland Security Advisory System and be responsible for public alerts.
Terrorists could cause enormous damage by attacking the nation's critical infrastructure -- systems vital to national security, public health and safety, the economy and national morale. Homeland security officials would coordinate a national effort to secure America's critical infrastructure.
The department would assess the nation's infrastructure sectors -- including food, water, agriculture, health systems, energy, transportation, communications, and banking and finance. Department officials would work to protect potentially catastrophic targets such as nuclear power plants, chemical facilities, pipelines and ports. They would set policy for standardized, tiered protective measures to rapidly adjust to the threat.
Homeland security officials would also work to defend against cyber attacks, which could cause widespread disruption of essential services, damaging the economy and imperiling public safety. The new department would unify cyber security activities of several federal agencies.