9/11 commissioner: Don't wait on intelligence backbone

The government should move ahead on developing an infrastructure for information sharing across the intelligence community, 9/11 Commission Member Jamie Gorelick said today.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States recommended expanded use of technology in its http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/index.htm report released earlier this year, Gorelick said at the E-Gov Institute's Homeland Security Conference in Washington.

"Some of these things are being done," she said. "There's work being done on biometric passports and on our borders. The area where we felt there was not sufficient progress was on overarching architecture for the entire intelligence community."

Someone must have the authority to make decisions about the architecture's data sharing rules as well as the technology to retrieve and distribute data, said Gorelick, a partner with Washington law firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr.

The decision-making authority would be vested in the national intelligence director, which would be created by the intelligence reform bill now before the Senate. Members of the commission are working to "stir the pot and get the legislation over the goal line," she said.

The bill is not perfect, Gorelick said. "It does not have everything we recommended in it, but it has a good deal and it is a good start."

Although the members are lobbying for the bill's passage, she said there's a serious possibility it will not get passed during this Congress. But the infrastructure needed for information sharing should not wait, she said.

"There's no reason why technology solutions cannot be explored right now," Gorelick said. The heads of relevant agencies could begin work on designing a common architecture now, she said.

"That can take place even in advance of a national intelligence director," Gorelick said. "It presents a very difficult technology challenge and seems prudent to be about it. I wouldn't wait."

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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