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Introduction and Overview

Our success in preventing future terrorist attacks depends upon our ability to gather, analyze, and share information and intelligence regarding those who want to attack us, the tactics that they use, and the targets that they intend to attack. Our National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, issued in September 2006, recognizes that the War on Terror is a different kind of war, which requires a paradigm shift and the application of all elements of our national power and influence. The intelligence and information sharing structures that once enabled the winning of the Cold War now require greater flexibility and resilience to confront the threats facing our Nation from a transnational terrorist movement determined to destroy our people, our freedoms, and our way of life.

For the past six years, this Administration has worked within the Federal Government, and with our State, local, tribal, private sector, and foreign partners to transform our policies, processes, procedures, and—most importantly—our workplace cultures to reinforce the imperative of improved information sharing. The exchange of information should be the rule, not the exception, in our efforts to combat the terrorist threat. Substantial improvements have occurred within individual agencies and disciplines, but there is still more to be done. Improving information sharing in the post–September 11 world requires an environment that supports the sharing of information across all levels of government, disciplines, and security domains. As with our achievements to date, an improved information sharing environment will not be constructed overnight, but rather will evolve over time and will be the fruit of careful cultivation. An improved information sharing environment also will be constructed upon a foundation of trusted partnerships among all levels of government, the private sector, and our foreign allies—partnerships based on a shared commitment to detect, prevent, disrupt, preempt, and mitigate the effects of terrorism. This Strategy sets forth the Administration’s vision of what improvements are needed and how they can be achieved.

The Strategy was developed with the understanding that homeland security information, terrorism information, and law enforcement information related to terrorism can come from multiple sources, all levels of government, as well as from private sector organizations and foreign sources. Federal, State, local, and tribal government organizations use such information for multiple purposes. In addition to traditional law enforcement uses, such information is used to (1) support efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, (2) develop critical infrastructure protection and resilience plans, (3) prioritize emergency management, response, and recovery planning activities, (4) devise training and exercise programs, and (5) determine the allocation of funding and other resources for homeland security-related purposes.

The Need for a National Strategy

While improved information sharing has been an Administration priority since the September 11 attacks, this Strategy reflects the first time the Administration has articulated the full contours of its vision in a single document. Memorializing the Strategy in a single document not only provides information to others about the Administration’s plans and outlook, but also guides our efforts as we continue to implement many programs and initiatives designed to advance and facilitate the sharing of terrorism-related information.

This Strategy will assist the Administration in ensuring that Federal, State, local and tribal government employees responsible for protecting our Nation from future attacks or responding should an attack occur understand the Administration’s expectations and plans for achieving improvements in the gathering and sharing of information related to terrorism.

Accordingly, while this Strategy describes the vision that has guided the Administration for the past six years, it also sets forth our plan to build upon progress and establish a more integrated information sharing capability to ensure that those who need information to protect our Nation from terrorism will receive it and those who have that information will share it. We will improve interagency information sharing at the Federal level, while building information sharing bridges between the Federal Government and our non-Federal partners.

Guiding Principles

Those responsible for combating terrorism must have access to timely and accurate information regarding those who want to attack us, their plans and activities, and the targets that they intend to attack. That information guides our efforts to:

Experience has shown that there is no single source for information related to terrorism. It is derived by gathering, fusing, analyzing, and evaluating relevant information from a broad array of sources on a continual basis. Important information can come through the efforts of the Intelligence Community, Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement and homeland security authorities, other government agencies (e.g., the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Human Services), and the private sector (e.g., the transportation, healthcare, financial, and information technology sectors). Commonly referred to as homeland security information, terrorism information, or law enforcement information, this wide-ranging information can be found across all levels of government as well as in the private sector.

This Strategy provides the vision for how our Nation will best use and build upon the information sharing innovations which have emerged post-September 11 in order to develop a fully coordinated and integrated information sharing capability that supports our efforts to combat terrorism. The Strategy is founded on the following core principles and understandings:

Foundational Elements

This Strategy is focused on improving the sharing of homeland security, terrorism, and law enforcement information related to terrorism within and among all levels of governments and the private sector.

Linkage with Other National Strategies

The National Strategy for Information Sharing does not exist in a vacuum. It is a critical component of our Nation’s comprehensive approach for combating terrorism. As such, it takes its lead from the President’s National Security Strategy, which provides the broad vision and goals for confronting the national security challenges of the 21st century. In addition, it is closely aligned with the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism and the National Strategy for Homeland Security.

This Strategy also supports and supplements the National Implementation Plan, which is the foundational document guiding the efforts of the Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning in the National Counterterrorism Center, required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The National Implementation Plan integrates the activities of all elements of national power into our efforts to combat terrorism. Additionally, the Strategy supports and supplements other relevant planning efforts, such as those associated with the implementation of the National Response Plan and the establishment of a National Command and Coordination Capability.

Finally, this Strategy aligns with the National Intelligence Strategy, published at Presidential direction by the Director of National Intelligence in October 2005. An information sharing framework is recognized as a critical component of intelligence reform in the National Intelligence Strategy.

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