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US Homeland Security lacks open source intelligence


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September 15, 2008

The House Committee on Homeland Security released a report Friday that reveals it has failed to meet requirements to provide open source intelligence (ie, publicly available information) for state and local law enforcement.

While over 81.93 percent of law enforcement officials surveyed said they use open source information, less than 60.3 percent said the Department of Homeland Security needed to establish a comprehensive training program on how to use the department's open source material.

Less than 49 percent of respondents said the DHS's open source products did not meet their specific needs and requirements.

"The overall proliferation of Internet use and other advanced forms of communication is rapidly leading to an information revolution among terrorists groups. The sooner the Department of Homeland Security recognizes the value in this type of unclassified information, the sooner DHS analysts can analyze it and provide useful open source intelligence to state, local and tribal law partners," the report said.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 requires DHS to make available at all times unclassified reports and analyses based on open source information like newspapers, Internet resources or even scientific journals.

To reinforce that requirement, in July 2008 the Homeland Security passed the "Open Source Information Enhancement Act", requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish an open source program that would work.

Despite this, "DHS' efforts have lagged miserably behind the rest of the Federal government," the report suggests. The Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency have established stronger open source programs, even though the DHS is responsible for sharing terrorism threat information with state and local law enforcement.

"The Department is far behind the rest of the Intelligence Community in implementing a comprehensive open source intelligence program," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee. "I am convinced that the department must make a concerted effort to understand their intelligence needs and produce intelligence products that provide actionable recommendations for the cop in the field."

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Source: The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.


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