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Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative's
Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council
and Global Intelligence Working Group Joint Meeting

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Washington, DC

     Thank you, Ron [Brooks]. I'm really pleased to be here this morning - and I'm just delighted to have the chance to introduce the new Director of BJA, Denise O'Donnell.

     Before I introduce Denise, though, I'd like to take just a couple of minutes to recognize the excellent work this committee - all of you - have done to really improve our nation's intelligence sharing capacity. As you all know, the Attorney General has made intelligence and information sharing a top priority of this Department of Justice, and the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council and the Global Intelligence Working Group have been front and center in these efforts.

     Two weeks ago, as you well know, we commemorated the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And in addition to reflecting on the horrific human tragedy, we celebrated our nation's resilience in the aftermath of the attacks. Much of our success is due to the great progress we've made in improving our information and intelligence sharing capability. And I think it's important to note that, thanks in great part to your work - both here and back home - we are in a much better position to prevent and respond to acts of mass violence than we were ten years ago.

     And not only have we taken positive steps to secure the safety of our nation's citizens, we've done it in a way that preserves - rather than diminishes - our basic liberties. You know, this is truly something to be proud of.

     Success has come thanks in large part to the outstanding leadership of people like Ron Brooks, Vernon Keenan, Bob Boehmer, and Carl Wicklund. They've helped to ensure that excellent products like the Global standards, national guidelines, baseline capabilities, and privacy policies are now central to the national conversation on intelligence sharing. And I congratulate you for that.

     I also want to commend leaders in the field like Colonel Rick Fuentes, who have moved the ball in areas like public safety responsibilities related to First-Amendment events such as the National Socialist Movement Conference and Rally last April.

     And then there are terrific federal partners like Russ Porter, Bart Johnson, Owen Harris, and Kshemendra Paul, who've worked so hard to carry your work forward.

     Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our very own Tom O'Reilly, who's done so incredibly much to ensure that criminal intelligence is shared across the network of state and urban area fusion centers.

     And last - and I say this so sincerely - I want to thank everyone in this room for your commitment and your expertise. Your contributions to the CICC and to Global are just critical to our success. And I think it's wonderful that we have such a good cross-section of state and local law enforcement officials, homeland security professionals, federal partners, and NGOs. This group is really an excellent example of how partnership can work to improve our nation's safety and security.

     I continue to be impressed by the long list of efforts being guided by the CICC, Global, and all of you:

  • For example, the Fusion Center Guidelines and Baseline Capabilities continue to serve as crucial resources in guiding the implementation and growth of fusion centers. Besides the thousands of copies handed out at events, there have been more than 15,000 downloads of the Baseline Capabilities document since 2008. And I think it's great that the CICC plans to add appendices on critical infrastructure, fire and health services, and other topics.
  • And, of course, the work that the CICC and Global's privacy committee have done to provide guidance on privacy issues has been just invaluable in supporting fusion centers and their Suspicious Activity Reporting programs so that we avoid past mistakes that have caused many well-intended efforts to end prematurely.

     I think it's safe to say your products are being put to good use.

     And you refuse to slow down. It's great to see you have a number of projects in the works for the coming year. For example, your plans to be active in the Controlled and Unclassified Framework efforts, particularly at the state, local, and tribal levels. This is a key priority of this Administration.

     And I'm pleased that you continue your work on the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan. And let me just say that I know sometimes it may appear your feedback isn't being acted on - but I can assure you, it is. Your input earlier this year regarding the National Strategy for Information Sharing has made its way to the highest levels of the Department and is being actively reviewed, discussed, and considered - I know this first-hand. And your informal sharing of feedback with Kshemendra has helped him to move forward with the National Strategy refresh.

     I know I speak for the Attorney General and the rest of the Department when I tell you how very grateful we are for the work you all do to guide our nation's intelligence sharing efforts. Your contributions to our nation's safety and security have been nothing short of remarkable, and I look forward to continuing our partnership together.

     It's a real pleasure for me now to introduce my wonderful colleague and friend, the Director of our Bureau of Justice Assistance, Denise O'Donnell.

     Denise comes to BJA and OJP from New York, where she served as the state's Deputy Director of Public Safety. Her job there was huge - it entailed overseeing 11 homeland security and criminal justice agencies, including the state's Office of Homeland Security, the New York State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice Services (which is the state's Byrne agency), the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, among many others!

     She also spent a number of years as a federal prosecutor, including time as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York during which she served as Vice Chair of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee and was a member of the Investigations and Intelligence subcommittee.

     So Denise brings rich experience in homeland security and criminal intelligence matters from both the federal and state levels. I feel very fortunate to have her serving with all of us - and with me! - at OJP.

     Please join me in welcoming Denise O'Donnell.


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