Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 2, 2006

Integrating intelligence for border security

Filed under: Border Security,Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Christian Beckner on February 2, 2006

DHS Chief Intelligence Officer Charlie Allen participated today in the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing today on “Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States.”

Allen was asked about border security by Senators Chambliss and Feinstein, and replied to a question from the former about intelligence activities along the border:

I, from an intelligence perspective, am looking at this on how to strengthen our intelligence collection on all of our borders, wherever they may be. Getting into specifics relating to any reported incidents along the border, that’s something I’d prefer to talk to in a closed session. But I can say this, that our borders are being strengthened, whether by land, sea or air, and whether north or south, thanks to the procedures that are being rapidly put in place under the leadership of Secretary Chertoff.

One way to strengthen intelligence collection along the border would be to integrate the intelligence activities of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The DHS inspector general’s report on a potential CBP-ICE merger last fall takes a close look at intelligence in the two agencies, describes their respective activities at a level of detail not found on the CBP and ICE websites, and makes a case for the integration of these activities:

CBP and ICE have both shared and independent intelligence requirements to support their interdiction and investigative missions; most of their intelligence requirements overlap. For example, both CBP and ICE require intelligence regarding illegal aliens, criminal aliens, alien smuggling, drug trafficking, fraudulent documents, weapons of mass destruction, infrastructure threats, and import and export violations…The maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the intelligence functions, now bifurcated by the current organizational structure, can be achieved only through close coordination at the national and field levels.

I see absolutely no logic in maintaining distinct intelligence capabilities in CBP and ICE. Hopefully Allen will work to try to integrate their activities, even if there’s not a full merger of the two agencies.

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