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Sharing Information with State, Local, and Tribal Governments

Guideline 2 of the President's December 16, 2006, Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies directed that a common framework be developed governing the roles and responsibilities of Federal departments and agencies relating to the sharing of terrorism information, homeland security information, and law enforcement information between and among Federal departments and agencies, State, local, and tribal governments, and private sector entities.

The President's guidelines recognized that State, local, and tribal authorities are critical to our Nation's efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks and are the first to respond if an attack occurs. The attacks of September 11 illustrated that foreign terrorists wanting to commit acts of terrorism might live in our local communities and be engaged in criminal or other suspicious activity as they plan attacks on targets within the United States or its territories. At the same time, there is increasing concern regarding the potential threat posed by homegrown terrorists. While lacking formal ties to al-Qaida, these disaffected, radicalized, violent extremists often draw inspiration from al-Qaida and other global terrorist organizations. Whether a plan for a terrorist attack is homegrown or originates overseas, important knowledge that may forewarn of a future attack may be derived from information gathered by State, local, and tribal government personnel in the course of routine law enforcement and other activities.

State, local, and tribal governments carry out their counterterrorism responsibilities within the broader context of their core mission to protect the public's health and safety and to provide emergency and non-emergency services. While State and local officials work to prevent future terrorist attacks, they still must arrest criminals, put out fires, respond to traffic accidents, and deal with a host of public health and safety issues. Success in these endeavors depends on a strong partnership with the public, built on a foundation of communication and trust between local officials and the members of their community. These same partnerships will be used to protect these communities from future attacks by terrorists.

Needs of State, Local, and Tribal Governments

The informational needs of State, local, and tribal entities continue to grow as they incorporate counterterrorism and homeland security activities into their day-to-day missions. Specifically, they require access to timely, credible, and actionable information and intelligence about individuals and groups intending to carry out attacks within the United States, their organizations and their financing, potential targets, pre-attack indicators, and major events or circumstances that might influence State, local, and tribal preventive and protective postures. To implement recommendations developed pursuant to Guideline 2 of the President's Guidelines, and as key participants in the information sharing mission, State, local, and tribal entities are encouraged to undertake the following activities, in appropriate consultation and coordination with Federal departments and agencies:

  • Foster a culture that recognizes the importance of fusing information regarding all crimes with national security implications, with other security-related information (e.g., criminal investigations, terrorism, public health and safety, and natural hazard emergency response);
  • Support efforts to detect and prevent terrorist attacks by maintaining situational awareness of threats, alerts, and warnings, and develop critical infrastructure protection plans to ensure the security and resilience of infrastructure operations (e.g., electric power, transportation, telecommunications) within a region, State, or locality; and
  • Develop training, awareness, and exercise programs to ensure that State, local, and tribal personnel are prepared to deal with terrorist strategies, tactics, capabilities, and intentions, and to test plans for preventing, preparing for, mitigating the effects of, and responding to events.

Authorities at all levels of our federal system must share a common understanding of the information needed to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorist attacks. The common understanding will be achieved through a framework that enables:

  • Federal entities to work together to provide information in ways that better meet the needs of State, local, and tribal partners; and
  • Information gathered at the State and local level to be processed, analyzed, disseminated, and integrated with information gathered at the Federal level.

We will have an integrated approach that allows Federal agencies to work together to produce and disseminate a federally-validated perspective on available threat information and relies on the efforts of consolidated fusion environments at the State and regional levels.

Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group

To improve the coordination of the sharing of terrorism-related information, as well as to implement recommendations developed in response to the President's December 16, 2005, Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, we have established an Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG) within the NCTC. Participants in this coordination group include DHS, FBI, members of the Intelligence Community, and State and local representatives. The coordination group will enable the development of "federally coordinated" perspectives on intelligence reports and analytical products regarding terrorist threats and related issues that address the needs of State, local, tribal, and, as appropriate, private sector entities.

The ITACG supports the efforts of NCTC to produce "federally coordinated" terrorism-related information products intended for dissemination to State, local, and tribal officials and private sector partners through existing channels established by Federal departments and agencies by:

  1. Enabling the development of intelligence reports on terrorist threats and related issues that represent a "federally coordinated" perspective regarding those threats and issues and that satisfy the needs of State, local, tribal, and private sector entities until such time as the ISE matures organizationally and culturally to satisfy those needs as a normal part of doing business;
  2. Providing advice, counsel, and subject matter expertise to the Intelligence Community regarding the operations of State, local, and tribal officials, including how such entities use terrorism-related information to fulfill their counterterrorism responsibilities as part of their core mission of protecting their communities;
  3. Enabling the production of clear, relevant, official, "federally coordinated" threat information in a timely and consistent manner;
  4. Facilitating the production of "federally coordinated" situation awareness reporting for State, local, tribal, and private sector entities on significant domestic and international terrorism or terrorism-related events that have the potential to have an impact on local or regional security conditions in the United States;
  5. Ensuring terrorism-related information intended for State, local, tribal, and private sector entities is rendered in a usable format that is, to the extent possible, unclassified, to facilitate further dissemination;
  6. Informing and helping to shape Intelligence Community products for State, local, tribal, and private sector entities by providing advice, counsel, and subject matter expertise; and
  7. Facilitating the production and posting by NCTC of "federally coordinated" terrorism-related information intended for augmentation, as appropriate, and subsequent dissemination to State, local, tribal, and private sector entities by other Federal departments and agencies. Accordingly, the ITACG will advise the Intelligence Community on how to tailor its products to satisfy the needs of DHS, FBI, and other Federal entities so that they in turn can better serve their consumers.

The efforts of the ITACG complement and supplement existing analytic, production, and dissemination efforts by Federal entities. The location at NCTC affords the coordination group direct access to experts assigned to NCTC and other co-located organizations such as the National Joint Terrorism Task Force to effect decisions rapidly regarding sanitization and release of information to be shared with State, local, and tribal officials, and the private sector.

Specifically, the group will coordinate the production and timely issuance of the following interagency products intended for distribution to State, local, and tribal officials, the private sector, as well as the general public when appropriate:

  • Alerts, warnings, and notifications of time-sensitive terrorism threats to locations within the United States;
  • Situational awareness reporting regarding significant events or activities occurring at the international, national, State, or local levels; and Strategic assessments of terrorist risks and threats to the United States.