Boeing to staff FBI Fusion Center

To advance information sharing against terrorism, Boeing Co. expects to be among the first major corporations ? maybe the first ? to assign its own analyst to the Seattle FBI Fusion Center intelligence sharing office, according to a senior Boeing official.

The center is one of dozens around the country created by state and local governments to share anti-terrorism intelligence. Boeing wants to set an example of how private owners of critical infrastructure can get involved in such centers to generate and receive criminal and anti-terrorism intelligence, said Richard Hovel, Boeing senior advisor on aviation and homeland security.

"Hopefully, this will be the first of many similar efforts across the nation that will establish a collaborative partnership between the public sector and industry, and protect our critical infrastructure more effectively and expeditiously," Hovel testified at a May 25 field hearing in Bellevue, Wash., sponsored by the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment.

Boeing and the fusion centers have similar goals, Hovel said. The private sector, which owns about 80 percent of critical infrastructure, needs to have real-time access to information from the fusion centers. At the same time, the fusion centers need access to "mature intelligence capabilities" in private companies, Hovel said.

Some information sharing already is underway. The Pacific Northwest Economic Region Center for Regional Disaster Resilience has formed a Northwest Warning and Response Network to communicate information about all hazards and all threats between the FBI and private sector companies in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

However, there are obstacles in the path of greater collaboration between public and private sectors in existing law enforcement fusion centers, testified R. Gil Kerlikowske, chief of police, Seattle Police Department.

Private sector participation has been limited by the way that the fusion centers are organized under a federally-centered vision and also by limited funding, Kerlikowske said. In practice, for example, federal security clearances for most anti-terrorism information are difficult for local police officers to obtain, and procedures for obtaining access to federal information and support are often "convoluted and tortuous," he said.

"As a police chief of the 19th largest city in the nation, and in possession of a top secret clearance, by law I cannot set foot unescorted in the National Counter Terrorism Center, let alone have direct access to even the most benign information," Kerlikowske said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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