Home News Testimony Information Sharing Initiatives
  • Robert J. Jordan
  • FBI
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Before the United States Senate, Committee on the Judiciary
  • Washington, DC
  • April 17, 2002

Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. My name is Bob Jordan and I serve as the head of the FBI's Information Sharing Task Force. With me today is Gene O'Leary, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI's Information Resources Division (IRD) and Ken Ritchhart, Chief of the Data/Information Management Section of IRD. We welcome this opportunity to meet with you today about the status of the FBI's information sharing initiatives within the Bureau and with other government agencies for homeland defense purposes.

The FBI is an organization in change. Not only are we structurally different but, in very fundamental ways, Director Mueller has revamped our approaches to counterterrorism and prevention. Since 9/11, we have seen massive shifts in our resource deployments. Our missions and priorities are being redefined to better reflect the post-9/11 realities. As an agency, we are committed to devoting whatever resources are necessary to meet our prevention mission and continue to sustain a dramatically enhanced worldwide counterterrorism effort. A substantial component of this approach is information sharing, not only at the federal level but also within the entire law enforcement and intelligence communities. Over the last several years, much has improved but this seemingly simple issue is actually a complex myriad of technology, legal, policy and cultural issues. Since the tragic events of 9/11, this single issue, which is critical to public safety, is receiving the sustained, high-level attention necessary to ensure everything that can be done on every facet of the issue is being done.

In that regard, I am happy to say that the spirit of collaboration and willingness to exchange data has never been stronger or more pronounced than it is today. Many of the legal and policy impediments that kept us from more fully exchanging information in the past have been or are now being changed. The USA Patriot Act (Pub. L. 107-56) has greatly improved our ability to exchange data with the intelligence community and across law enforcement. In addition, the Attorney General's recent directive to increase the coordination and sharing of information between the DOJ, the FBI, the INS, the USMS, and the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF) on terrorist matters and to establish secure means of working with state and local officials are major milestones in improving our information sharing and collaboration efforts. Equally important, the difficult technology challenges we all face are on the top of everyone's priority list. This is especially so at the FBI. Under Director Mueller's leadership, the FBI, on every front, is hard at work carrying out the Attorney General's information-sharing directive.


Joint Terrorism Task Forces

Within the FBI, Director Mueller has personally taken on the challenge of improving information sharing and has directed FBI executive management to develop every means necessary to share as much information as possible with other agencies as well as with state and local law enforcement. Years of experience have demonstrated that Joint Terrorism Task Forces, JTTFs, have proven to be one of the most effective methods of unifying federal, state and local law enforcement efforts to prevent and investigate terrorist activity by ensuring that all levels of law enforcement are fully benefiting from the information possessed by each.

There are currently 47 JTTFs. We are working expeditiously to establish JTTFs in each of the FBI's 56 field offices. In 1996, there were only 11 of these task forces. The creation of 21 new JTTFs this year is resulting in an expanded level of interaction and cooperation between FBI Special Agents and their Federal, state and local counterparts, as well as an enhanced flow of information between the participating law enforcement agencies.

Among the full-time federal participants on JTTFs are the INS, the Marshal's Service, the Secret Service, the FAA, the Customs Service, the ATF, the State Department, the Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, and the U.S. Park Police. State and local agencies are heavily represented.

In addition to the JTTFs, the Regional Terrorism Task Force (RTTF) initiative serves as a viable means of accomplishing the benefits associated with information sharing without establishing a full-time JTTF. FBI Special Agents assigned to counterterrorism matters meet with their Federal, state and local counterparts in designated alternating locations on a semi-annual basis for common training, discussion of investigations, and to share and discuss intelligence. The design of this non-traditional terrorism task force provides the necessary mechanism and structure to direct counterterrorism resources toward localized terrorism problems within the United States. There are currently six RTTFs: the Inland Northwest, the South Central, the Southeastern, the Northeast Border, the Deep South and the Southwest RTTFs.

The FBI has a long tradition of exchanging unclassified information with Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies on wants and warrants, fingerprint identification, forensic information and watch lists. The last few years have seen dramatic increases in the exchange of specific case-related information due, in large part, to the proliferation of task forces. Now, we are improving our sharing of classified information again through such mechanisms as the JTTFs.

Terrorism Watch List

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, FBI Headquarters compiled what became known as the "Project Lookout Watch List." The project was successful in identifying a number of individuals potentially connected to the PENTTBOM investigation. Due to the success of this effort and in recognition of the need to maintain a centralized repository of names of investigative interest related to terrorism investigations, Director Mueller instructed the establishment of a permanent Terrorism Watch List (TWL) to serve as the FBI's single, integrated listing of individuals of investigative interest that will be accessible throughout the law enforcement and intelligence communities. We anticipate the full implementation of the TWL within the next 60 to 90 days, replacing the stop-gap system now resident in NCIC. The TWL will consist of a compendium of names based on information identified through FBI and JTTF investigations, US Intelligence Community reporting, and Department of Defense intelligence gathering, as well as information provided by cooperating foreign governments.

The TWL will be designed to assist both the intelligence and the law enforcement communities in their investigations of terrorist groups/individuals and, equally important, to alert officers or agents should a person of interest in a terrorism matter be encountered by another agency. TWL staff will coordinate with the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division to ensure the utilization of appropriate NCIC files. This capability will provide all state and local law enforcement agencies ready access to this information. Information in the TWL will also be shared with US Government agencies that operate comparable tracking systems. As I describe these new databases and our plans for sharing them, please remember that the FBI will by complying with the Privacy Act and the detailed regulations that govern our law enforcement, counterterrorism, and counterintelligence activities, which ensures proper protection for the rights of Americans in the use of the databases.

The TWL will be divided into three distinct categories. The first category will include the names of individuals for whom formal criminal charges or indictments have been issued (e.g., the 22 individuals on the Most Wanted Terrorist list). The second category will include the names of individuals of investigative interest to the FBI. The third category of the TWL will include the names of individuals provided by the Intelligence Community and cooperating foreign governments.

Other FBI Initiatives

We have recently developed an FBI-wide and DOJ-wide capability to electronically share case information. Our Integrated Intelligence Information Application (IIIA) database is another example of major improvements in information sharing. It uses information derived from many different sources including the Department of State and INS. IIIA provides analytical support for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism programs. It is a real-time collection system that houses over 33 million records. In the aftermath of 9/11 and PENTTBOM, IIIA has been asked to provide electronic search support to units within the FBI as well as to the critical FTTTF. To satisfy these requests, multiple programs have been written to standardize incoming data arriving in differing formats and to package the responses to accommodate the requesters' needs.

Director Mueller has undertaken several other initiatives that either directly or indirectly enhance the FBI's information sharing capacity. All of these efforts are designed around the recognition that post-9/11, the FBI has adopted both a new focus and priorities that recognize the substantial investment being made in prevention. A few examples include:

Director Mueller has named Louis Quijas, currently Chief of Police of High Point, North Carolina, to be FBI Assistant Director for Law Enforcement Coordination. Chief Quijas has as his single mission fully exploiting state and local law enforcement support through enhanced information sharing and ensuring that state and local law enforcement have a strong voice within the FBI as we work on terrorism, prevention and major investigations.

An Office of Intelligence is now part of the FBI's organizational structure. This office has as part of its mission not only to ensure the vigorous and fluid flow of information within the FBI but also to ensure that intelligence goes elsewhere within the law enforcement and intelligence communities in every instance when it is appropriate to do so.

The FBI has undertaken a major recruiting and hiring initiative to bring into the FBI private sector IT experts who can greatly assist in designing and managing the sizable IT projects recently funded by Congress. These projects, such as Trilogy, are vital to any robust information sharing program.

A Records Management Division has been established, headed by an outside records expert, to put in place the "information management" policies and mechanisms critical to effective sharing programs.


The FBI is detailing personnel to other agencies, and vice versa, to ensure that information both is both shared and understood within both agencies. These efforts are critical to programs like the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the Counterterrorism Center at CIA, and others.

Information Security

One equity we must balance with our desire to share information as freely as possible is the need for the security of information. As recently detailed in Judge William Webster's report, we must keep in mind that we are keepers of information that is highly classified and controlled by "need to know" principles. Access to highly confidential information will be in accordance with the FBI's broad, new security policies. Access control mechanisms, such as identification and authentication will provide accountability for those individuals having a need to know restricted information. In addition, audits of this access will be routinely conducted. The lives of agents, informants and innocent victims often rest upon the safe keeping of their information. The need for information security must be balanced by the driving need of the criminal investigator to be able to follow any and all avenues in an investigation.

The Webster Commission report accurately points out that the FBI's information technology (IT) recapitalization effort, Trilogy, includes funding for only the foundational elements of Information Assurance (IA). At rollout, Trilogy will provide more security than the FBI's current IT backbone. The goal, however, is to develop the IA Program to be on par with other world-class information systems security efforts. Significant coordination has taken place between the Trilogy Program and personnel assigned to the IA Program to ensure that the Trilogy security architecture will support the utilization of the future IA technologies we plan to employ. So, while Trilogy and related applications will give the FBI a vastly increased capability to use, analyze, exploit and share information collected in investigations, it will be designed and deployed in a manner that addresses the shortcomings apparent in the Hanssen matter.

Challenges

Today, information sharing is technologically feasible. Advances in information technology have made it possible to link the information systems of agencies that are operating with different hardware and software. The improvements in information sharing that are at the heart of these initiatives, however, require that agencies participating in integration initiatives come together and agree upon a governance structure to manage decision-making in an integrated environment. Federal, State and Local law enforcement must address the considerable challenge of developing a formalized organizational framework within which participating agencies will share responsibility for making and executing overarching decisions on such issues as budgeting, hardware and software purchases, and the development of policies, procedures, and protocols that effect the operational integrity of the information sharing system. Our systems were originally designed to comply with a complex set of regulations restricting what can and cannot be shared amongst Federal, State and local agencies. We are committed to redesigning our systems and making whatever changes are necessary to ensure the effective and efficient exchange of information within the law enforcement community.

At the same time, we still need to further improve our ability to share information between our own applications and our own multitude of databases. Our Data Warehousing project will provide us with the capability to finally combine information from all our applications into a coherent whole and provide advanced data mining, analytical and visualization tools. We are also working with the Office of Homeland Security on improving horizontal information sharing, developing common data standards, and improving collaboration capabilities.

The FBI's future ability to deter and prevent crimes requires the use of current and relevant IT. We have several critical initiatives underway to upgrade the FBI IT infrastructure and investigative applications such as the Trilogy Program; Data Warehousing & Data Mining; our Collaboration Initiative; and our Information Assurance initiative. Funding these programs is essential to provide our investigators and analysts with improved IT resources and tools to support criminal and national security investigations, enabling improved and more expeditious data sharing and active collaboration.

That concludes my prepared remarks, Mr. Chairman. I will be happy to respond to any questions you may have.

 
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