Feds praise TTIC

Information-sharing capabilities now in place have improved intelligence analysts' ability to communicate and stop terrorism, a panel of officials told the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), created almost a year ago, allows intelligence officials from several federal agencies to share threat information using integrated databases and comprehensive search tools, TTIC Director John Brennan testified today before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

"For the first time in our history, a multi-agency entity has access to information systems and databases spanning intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, diplomatic and military communities that contain information related to the threat of international terrorism," Brennan said.

Analysts at TTIC have direct access to 14 government networks, and officials plan to connect an additional 10 networks, Brennan said. During the next year, officials will build the technology infrastructure for faster search capabilities.

"A key objective of TTIC is to develop an integrated information technology architecture so that sophisticated analytical tools and search capabilities can be applied to the many terabytes of data available to the federal government," Brennan said. "We need to create new knowledge from existing information."

TTIC and most of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center and FBI's Counterterrorism Division will move to a new facility this summer, Brennan said.

Commissioner Fred Fielding questioned whether the organizational structure of TTIC and the various intelligence agencies created redundancies that could further hinder cooperation.

"Is the system better than we had before, or is it just different?" Fielding asked the panel today. "Will it work or will it just confuse the message? Is it fusion or is it confusion?"

The panel, which included representatives from the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security Department, agreed that TTIC helps collaboration. If intelligence agents had the information-sharing ability three years ago that they have today, they would have been better equipped to deal with certain crucial pieces of data, officials said. For example, if the "Phoenix Memo," a July 2001 memo from an FBI agent in Phoenix referencing al Qaeda operatives attending flight training schools in the United States were to be sent today, it would likely land in the right hands this time, Brennan said.

"That means [analysts] would be able to have read that memo or could read that memo today and discuss it amongst themselves," he said.

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