Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 20, 2009

Learning Intelligence and Protecting Privacy

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Privacy and Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 20, 2009

On Wednesday the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment held a hearing entitled, Homeland Security Intelligence and Limitations.   Access the link for prepared statements and a video of the hearing itself.

Local law enforcement pressed for a more proactive counterterrorism stance, especially in the use of Suspicious Activity Reports. Local law enforcement also asked for more and better federal cooperation in sharing intelligence.  This is hardly a headline. 

The director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office offered,  “… an unfocused all crimes, all hazards approach to intelligence collection poses significant risks to our individual liberties, our democratic principles and, ironically, even our security.”  Once again, not exactly a surprise.

Unfolding before us in the Cannon House Office Building  was empirical evidence for quantum theory’s notion of parallel universes existing in shared space.  Each side was complete unto itself and detached from the alternative experience with which it was sharing space.  You could perceive subcommittee members playing political cosmologists and working to link the two. But – so far – this apparently exceeds human wisdom.

Other than space, those testifying seemed to share very  little interest in training and education.  Laws, regulations, internal controls, standards, guidelines, strategies, principles, and priorities were all discussed at some length.  Helping law enforcement  professionals learn how to practice intelligence functions effectively and constitutionally… not so much.

For many years the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts has facilitated helpful training.  The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis offers training to its state and local partners.  Last year DHS awarded a grant to the National Consortium for Intelligence-Led Policing.  It received $2.48 million to, in part, develop and deliver training and education.  More is being done.  More could undoubtedly be done.

But sometimes we become so preoccupied by “what” we neglect the “how.”  I have never talked to a cop who wanted to undermine the constitution.  I am sure they exist, but I have not talked to one.  I have talked to plenty of cops and other public safety professionals who do not receive any regular training beyond the absolute minimum to keep their badge.  That’s a problem for all sorts of reasons.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2009 @ 10:56 am

I had a wonderful undergrad poly-science prof named Rocco Tresolini who asked the question “can we afford to have a Constituional lawyer walking the police beat”? The obvious purpose of the question is the rather abstruse filter down form SCOTUS to the guy or gal on the beat and how do you train and educate as to civil liberties and privacy concerns or whatever?

Still the question but reinforced by the special requirements of domestic intel gathering and modern surveillance methods. Undergrad Criminal Justice programs should be evaluated for their performance in the areas identified above. The Gold Star for police is training by the FBI Academy at Quantico but this is almost a blank slate in that training operation, perhaps for the FBI also since they don’t allow outside review of their training materials. And they were just identified as the worst or of the worst on FOIA response in the Executive Branch.

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