U.S. feud cuts flow of data on terrorY'know, fellas, this isn't like who got Grandma's pearls in the divorce settlement, or why Aunt Edna passed the secret family bundt cake recipe to her no-account daughter-in-law who turned around and won first prize at the county fair...WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE'S LIVES HERE!
Agency squabbles disrupt sharing with state officials
By Siobhan Gorman
June 22, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Nearly five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security continue to clash over who is in charge of coordinating and vetting information on terrorism. As a result, state and local authorities continue to get conflicting or incomplete information - sometimes none at all - on threats inside the United States, officials say.
The feud over control of the information caused federal agencies last week to miss a White House deadline for outlining how it should be distributed to state and local authorities, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said yesterday.
So what's the background on this story? Glda you asked:
Under federal law, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are considered the main repositories for information about terrorism.Fair enough. Homeland Security has access to non-judicial information that a law enforcement arm might not be privy to, such as....ummmmm...military! Yea! And intelligence data!
Which probably doesn't sit well with the Justice Department that they aren't forced to report to them:
In part because it has a long-established system for sharing information through joint task forces, the Justice Department was at first "somewhat resistant" to the notion of a broader plan, said a counterterrorism official familiar with the issue. Eventually, officials at Justice agreed that Homeland Security had an important role to play and that a plan was needed to incorporate the department.I'm too smart for my pants...*chuckle*...
This feud grows out of the fact that, not only does DoJ have to share information with DHS, but in point of fact, DoJ is nominally supposed to report this information to DHS, despite DoJ's overtures to make Homeland Security a part of Justice.
A directive form Bush required Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to come up with a definitive plan mapping out the details of how this information was to be shared by June 14th. Flag Day.
June 14th has come, and gone. No plan. Oh, there's a broad consensus that some plans must be in place and some general guidelines have been established, but nothing concrete.
Meanwhile the news earlier this week that Al-Qaeda was only 45 days from launching a massive chemical attack in New York City's subway system brings into sharp relief the dangers of this idiotic McCoy/Hatfield feuding. Back then, the city was informed in a timely fashion of the potential for an attack and was quick to start setting up police checkpoints in the subways and start a massive campaign of "If You See Something, Say Something."
The first line of defense against a terror attack like that is the citizenry. Period. If you don't inform the community, then people are not as vigilant. If people are not as vigilant, then the terrorists have an easier time of it.
See, during the 2004 campaign, the Republicans mocked the Kerry campaign for making it appear that the Global War On Terror-like Activities and Sewing Circle was best handled via police work.
They were wrong. That is PRECISELY how we are going to stop another attack on America. Take the current alert in New York City.
Oh? Didn't you know? I did. How did I know? I paid attention. Over the past two weeks, I've seen an increase in the number of checkpoints, bag searches and general police activity around landmarks, subways and bridges across the city.
We've been warned. We just haven't been told. And now we know why. Katie and Sally can't share their toys.
snarkasm, snarcasm, snarky
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Justice