THE HONORABLE DEBORAH J. DANIELS
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS
MIDDLE ATLANTIC-GREAT LAKES ORGANIZED CRIME
LAW ENFORCEMENT NETWORK'S
ANNUAL INFORMATION SHARING CONFERENCE
"SECURING AMERICA'S HOMELAND"
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2004
I am honored to be with you today, addressing this collection of dedicated and talented criminal justice professionals. I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to reaffirm the Justice Department's commitment to helping our nation's law enforcement agencies better share criminal intelligence and other information. And I want to thank the MAGLOCLEN staff and all of you for your dedication to this critical goal.
As a native of Indiana, who has spent the better part of the last 25 years working with Indiana law enforcement agencies, I've known about MAGLOCLEN for a long time, and I'm a great fan of the work done by the staff to support law enforcement in this region. But I'm here today to talk to you about today's reality.
In the terrible days following the 9/11 terrorists attacks, all of us working in law enforcement realized the importance of sharing intelligence and other criminal justice information so we can thwart terrorists and other criminals before they strike our homeland and our communities.
Attorney General Ashcroft responded to this urgent need by revamping the Justice Department, including the FBI, to better share intelligence among federal, state, and local law enforcement and emergency preparedness agencies, and to improve our ability to prevent terrorism and other crime.
What he demanded was nothing less than a sea change in every arm of an agency that, like most other law enforcement agencies, had traditionally only reacted to crime after it had occurred. He commanded that we become proactive - that we work to prevent crime, in particular acts of terrorism, from occurring in the first place.
To build on this effort, in February of this year, the Attorney General created the Justice Intelligence Coordinating Council. The council will coordinate the collection, production, and dissemination of intelligence among the Justice Department components, as well as with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The Council is an outgrowth of a planning process in which I have been directly involved. The philosophy we have adopted calls for sharing of information by Department of Justice agencies as the norm, rather than the exception - and strictly limits the circumstances in which information can be withheld from other agencies. This, too, represents a sea change in the way the federal agencies do business - and one of those leading this change is the FBI's Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence.
Through this new coordinated effort, the Justice Department will be better able to provide criminal intelligence and other support to the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which President Bush created to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the nation.
But as Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has noted, "We cannot secure America from Washington, DC. We need the combined expertise, wisdom and common sense of . . . the more than 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers across the country."
For almost 30 years, the Regional Information Sharing Systems have facilitated information sharing among state and local law enforcement agencies, and have provided other services to aid criminal investigations. We are proud of the considerable financial and other assistance the Office of Justice Programs has provided to support and expand RISS over the last three decades.
As you probably know, traditionally, RISS has provided information-sharing services in the form of criminal intelligence databases and an investigative lead-generating electronic bulletin board. Information is shared among the six regional RISS centers and participating law enforcement member agencies through a secure Internet connection.
Shortly after 9/11, we realized that we needed to greatly expand the capacity and capabilities of RISS to enable law enforcement agencies at all levels of government to better share anti-terrorism intelligence.
RISS has responded to this need by posting terrorism and homeland security information on its RISS/Leads bulletin board, focusing analytical services on domestic terrorism, and disseminating homeland security bulletins and other information.
As part of the RISS expansion, we began connecting High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area agencies (HIDTAs) to RISS. RISS also has added connections to state agency networks. This means that a state can now share its state-wide intelligence data base with RISS- member agencies all over the country. We're also working to connect all the U.S. Attorneys' Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils to RISS.
At the same time, we launched a pilot project to further expand the utility of RISS in counter-terrorism efforts. ATIX - the RISS Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange - began with a test in six states, but has now expanded to all 50 states. This new system allows state and local officials who are responsible for homeland security and disaster preparedness to communicate and exchange homeland security, disaster, and terrorism alert information in a secure environment.
But to expand the system's scope still further, and to move toward a nationwide intelligence sharing system, we worked with the FBI to link RISS to LEO - the FBI's Law Enforcement Online system. This combined system now provides a secure connection that allows sensitive, but unclassified, homeland security information to be distributed quickly to all RISS and LEO users through a new National Alert System using the Internet.
This new combined RISS/LEO system will serve as the communications backbone for the nationwide criminal intelligence sharing capability recommended by the Global Justice Information Sharing Advisory Committee. I hope you're all familiar with the Committee's tremendous work.
The Global Advisory Committee is a consortium of 32 local, state, tribal, federal, and international justice organizations that are working together to overcome the barriers to justice information sharing across agencies, disciplines, and all levels of government, while preserving legitimate privacy and security concerns.
Over the last two years, the members of the Global Advisory Committee and its Intelligence Sharing Working Group have met to examine issues involved in justice information systems integration, to coordinate efforts, and to provide guidance on how federal, state, and local jurisdictions can securely and effectively share criminal intelligence.
We recently released Global's proposed National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan, which will help map the future of law enforcement information-sharing efforts in this country.
The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan is the first of its kind in this country. It was developed by the Global Advisory Committee in collaboration with the IACP, the COPS office, and OJP.
The plan promises to bring us closer to achieving the goal of "intelligence-led policing" -- basing policies and deployment of resources on solid information, and enabling law enforcement to be proactive and strategic, rather than following the more traditional, reactive approach.
The plan provides a wealth of information that every law enforcement agency in this country can use to improve the development and sharing of criminal intelligence. And it serves as a "roadmap" for our national criminal intelligence sharing initiatives. If you're interested in reading it, you can find the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan on our Web site at it.ojp.gov.
I was pleased to recommend to the Attorney General his endorsement of this landmark document, which he announced at the IACP conference last October. And we're already moving to implement parts of the National Plan. For example, we're continuing to work to bring other information networks into the RISS/LEO system. We've also begun an effort to coordinate training curricula and standards for intelligence analysts who serve law enforcement agencies. These analysts are essential if law enforcement professionals are going to be able to use criminal intelligence effectively to guide their decision-making.
While MAGLOCLEN is very capable of assisting you with criminal intelligence analysis in specific situations, it is critical that every law enforcement agency integrate this function into its own routine.
As Maureen Baginski, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI for Intelligence, often says: every police officer, from patrolman on up, is by definition engaged in intelligence gathering. Now, we need to learn to combine and share that collective intelligence, systematically.
Along those lines, we're continuing to urge law enforcement and other homeland security agencies across the country to adopt the Extensible Markup Language that was developed by the Global Advisory Committee. XML technology acts as a universal translator among information systems and allows disparate systems to share data without compromising the integrity of that data.
The XML standard allows a search for data across different systems by using "tags" to pull out and categorize various kinds of information, creating in essence a universal language - making normally incompatible data systems interoperable.
XML is revolutionizing our ability to share information among justice agencies. Today, more than 50 justice information sharing projects are under way using the XML Data Model. Let me give you just two quick examples of how it's working, right here in the Mid-Atlantic-Great Lakes region.
Last April, police in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, were able to capture a bank robbery suspect in less than two hours by matching his bank surveillance photo with an image on Justice Network, or JNET, which is Pennsylvania's XML-enabled justice information sharing network.
Just two months ago, within hours of learning about four homicides in one neighborhood, police in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, used a JNET photo image to confirm the suspect's identity. Through a stakeout, police apprehended the suspect and recovered an assault weapon.
The further expansion of RISS and XML will make more success stories like these possible. And I want to assure you that the Bush Administration is committed to providing the resources to continue advancing our information-sharing initiatives.
President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft recognize the critical importance of information sharing in our nation's war on terror and on more traditional crimes. That's why the President, in his Fiscal Year 2005 budget request, asked for a total of $44 million, an increase of $14.3 million over this year, to continue to build and expand the RISS network.
Information is perhaps our most potent weapon in the fight against terrorism and other crime. As we continue to combat terrorism at home and abroad, as well as more traditional crime on our streets and in our neighborhoods, we must continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure the security of our nation and its citizens.
I thank you for your efforts to aid in this critical mission, and for the work each of you is doing, every day, to keep all of us safe. I look forward to continuing to work with you to secure America's homeland. Thank you very much.