DHS analysis chief wants better information sharing

Federal intelligence agencies are sharing information with the Homeland Security Department, but there are still many ways that sharing could be improved, the head of the department's information analysis division said today.

DHS gets much of its information on homeland security threats from the FBI, the Defense Department and other federal agencies, but the majority of the data comes from the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), a joint CIA-FBI initiative. Although DHS officials get all the necessary information from those sources, it is "something I have to work hard to get it," Gen. Patrick Hughes told the House Select Committee on Homeland Security's Intelligence and Terrorism Subcommittee. "It would be better to have it come to me automatically, so I don't have to reach out to get it."

Hughes is the DHS assistant secretary for information analysis within the department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

Existing technology has DHS "about one millisecond away from TTIC," Hughes said. But the bigger issue is how to improve the sharing between the people that must be involved to decide what information to transmit, he said.

Many in Congress have disagreed with the White House's decision to put the TTIC under the CIA instead of within DHS. Hughes said that should be re-examined in the future as needs change, but he added that the intelligence infrastructure that the CIA provides is critical to making the center as robust and helpful as it is.

Several subcommittee members suggested that the only reason the information sharing has gone as well as it has is because Hughes, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, already knows the intelligence world.

Hughes acknowledged that fact is true, because he has been invited to meetings and given access to many people within the CIA that even his chief of staff cannot access. There have also been times that his personal relationships with officials at the other intelligence agencies have settled disagreements about intelligence between the analysts at those agencies and those within the information analysis division, he said.

The situation changes from day to day, and it has improved in the four months that he has been at DHS, Hughes said, but "I'm building the foundation that others can then come in and use," he said. "I'm laying the groundwork for this work, it has to be laid; it doesn't matter if I'm a completely new person [to the intelligence world], which I'm not."

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