Monday, June 24, 2024

CIA Wins Control of Terrorist Data Mining Program

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The White House released additional details Wednesday about President Bush’s new initiative to create a data mining Terrorist Threat Integration Center under the direction of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to close the “seam” between analysis of foreign and domestic intelligence on terrorism.

The center will have access to all intelligence information from raw reports to finished analytic assessments available to the government.

The plan calls for a cross-agency integration of terrorist-related information collected domestically and abroad in order to form the “most comprehensive possible threat picture.” Funding for the project was not mentioned, but Administration officials said the program would not require approval from Congress.

According to a White House fact sheet, the new center will be comprised from elements of the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, and the Department of Defense.

It will be headed by a senior U.S. government official who will be appointed by and report to CIA Director George Tenent with input from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield and Secretary of Homeland Defense Thomas Ridge.

The center will play the lead role in overseeing shared databases and for maintaining an up-to-date database of known and suspected terrorists that will be accessible to federal and non-federal officials and entities.

The Administration’s decision to put overall control of the program under the CIA is an apparent rebuff of the FBI’s struggling efforts to create its own data mining program known as Trilogy. The agency has been sharply criticized by Congress for the program’s cost overruns and lack of oversight management.

The White House called the creation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center as the “next phase in the dramatic enhancement of the government’s counterterrorism effort.”

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