FBI's threat center role criticized

Lawmakers on June 18 criticized the direction of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, questioning the FBI's role in what is intended to be an independent center.

The center, which started in March, brought together analysts from several agencies including the FBI, the CIA and the Homeland Security Department. The center reports to the CIA director and is housed temporarily in CIA headquarters.

"I thought TTIC was going to be set up to be a totally independent and coordinated effort," Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) told FBI director Robert Mueller at a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee.

"This is a CIA operation and not an FBI operation," continued Wolf, the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary. "You are not an equal partner."

Mueller defended the bureau's role, saying the center is responsible for analysis rather than operational procedures, such as information gathering and investigations. He said he would be concerned if the center had investigative duties and that a centralized analytical hub is necessary in efforts against terrorism.

"I do believe it's in the best interest of the country to have a single analytical capability," Mueller said. "So long as it does that, and doesn't engage in operational capabilities, than I am comfortable."

Wolf criticized Mueller and other officials for not detailing the lines of responsibility and duty in the center. "Somebody has to say, 'this is the way it is,'" he told Mueller.

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) echoed concerns about the center and the ability for several agencies to share information.

"I have my real doubts that the occupants of TTIC will really share information that's gathered by the respective organizations," Rogers said. "I pray I'm wrong. That's the only place they can get this kind of information, so we're betting everything on a working TTIC. I hope it's the real thing."

Mueller told lawmakers that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, agencies have gained an increased understanding of the need to share information, and that capacity continues to improve as technology within the individual agencies improves.


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