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Barney with a Blue Badge

A very good report in USN&WR on how not to improve domestic intelligence. I will not quote extensively here because it deserves your full attention. The gist is that we’re pouring money down a black hole for dubious results. Not that this is news when homeland security funds is concerned, but the fact that it would be so pathetically easy to do right from the get-go is incredibly annoying. For example:

The problem, skeptics say, is that no one is quite sure what the new rules are. “Hardly anyone knows what a [police intelligence] fusion center should do,” says Paul Wormeli of the Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute, a Justice Department-backed training and technology center. “Some states have responded by putting 10 state troopers in a room to look at databases. That’s a ridiculous approach.” Another law enforcement veteran, deeply involved with the fusion centers, expressed similar frustration. “The money has been moved without guidance or structure, technical assistance, or training,” …

I am reminded of a story told to me by a colleague, who after briefing a major metro police department’s staff on building a CT capability was asked if they shouldn’t rename the outfit “CTU.” I think that was one time when most cops in the room would have felt that assaulting a police officer would have been justified.

I’m not advocating for a consulting gig, but take note: this country is crawling with people who used to work in and run watch centers, fusion centers, and issue desks. They know intelligence, vice the repackaging of news which is what so many are offering. Hell, spend the money flying state and local PD chiefs and their elected bosses to the Pentagon to see how it is done first hand . . . anything but writing blank checks and leaving them to try and roll their own based on their knowledge of Bond movies, Alias and 24.

Cops and other first responders, not case officers, are at the pointy end of the spear when it comes to gathering intel about domestic threats. I mean real threats, not hippies. Note the gaffs and missteps by the ignorant but well-meaning (hippies and hams) and the lack of understanding about how complicated this work can be (inter-state DB hacked). Thinking that we can re-tool your local PD into the Neighborhood Intelligence Agency without much more than just cash is beyond foolish.

The cops – and the people they serve – deserve a lot better.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.