TSA assistant administrator for intelligence William Gaches testified before Congress today, and his testimony provided the first public explanation of TSA’s intelligence organization that I’ve seen. For example, he describes how the organization is broken down into two previously-unacknowledged divisions:
The Office of Intelligence consists of two Divisions. The Intelligence Watch and Outreach Division functions as a 24/7 watch, providing indications and warning information related to transportation security while fulfilling vital communication and liaison roles. The Current Intelligence and Assessments Division assesses current and emerging threats across all modes of transportation and creates products that are key to shaping security policy and developing and implementing countermeasures.
The testimony then explains the specific responsibilities of these two divisions in detail. Later, he describes plans to deploy people from his office to airports as a means to improve TSA’s intake of intelligence:
In the intelligence field, OI has established a Pilot Program to enhance reporting of information obtained incidental to law enforcement and security operations, by deploying Field Intelligence Officers to a select group of airports including Boston, New York (JFK International Airport), Miami, Chicago (Oâ€™Hare International Airport), Los Angeles (Los Angeles International Airport), Phoenix and Dallas Fort Worth. Our goal is to improve intelligence support, coordination, and communication between TSA Headquarters, our Federal Security Directors (FSDs) and our modal stakeholders. After a one year trial, the Pilot Program will be evaluated. The Field Intelligence Officers will serve as the principal advisor to FSDs and their staffs on all intelligence matters.
This sounds like a solid proposal. By generating actionable intelligence (and not simply analyzing and liaising), this could be an effective way to raise TSA’s (and DHS’s) profile in the intelligence community.
Update (6/19): GCN reported on the hearing in this story.