Intelligence info sharing 'inept'

The 33 intelligence agencies have failed U.S. citizens by largely refusing to share information that would enable them to better picture what enemies are doing, Rep. Curt Weldon said.

"We knew what we should have done and we didn't do it," the Pennsylvania Republican said May 23 in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

The fact that al Qaeda operatives were able to strike the United States was not a huge surprise, said Weldon, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

"I had seen the inept response of our intelligence community," he said. "I knew and we knew what we should have done, but they didn't do it because they were protecting their stovepipes."

Intelligence agencies have been so concerned about protecting their sphere of operations and have been so culturally opposed to sharing any data with other parts of the government that they fumbled the task of protecting the American public, Weldon said.

The 33 agencies that have some responsibility for intelligence information must build a "federal fusion center" where data can be collected from both public and private sources, analyzed by sophisticated data mining software, and presented to senior officials, he said.

In August 2000, for example, an Italian newspaper wrote a story about al Qaeda training kamikaze pilots, but U.S. intelligence organizations lack the ability to collect such data — information that could be critical in the war on terrorism.

Weldon praised the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for creating its Information Awareness Office, which is headed by John Poindexter, former national security adviser for President Reagan. The office has been assigned the task of developing a prototype for a national collaboration center.

It will require agencies to overcome their proprietary instincts, he suggested.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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