The ASIS 50th Annual Seminar and Exhibits: Homeland Security
Recognizing that perhaps no other issue is as relevant to the security profession as homeland security, fully one-third of the 135 educational sessions were geared specifically to the needs and interests of those professionals responsible for homeland security. The following descriptions highlight a few.
Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) are vehicles for sharing threat, vulnerability, and alert information between public and private industry, and among businesses in particular sectors. Financial Services ISAC chair Suzanne Gorman and executive director Byron Yancey discussed how ISACs work, what the benefits are, and what challenges exist when it comes to sharing critical and sensitive information between businesses and the government.
The year 2004 witnessed a series of high-profile events, including the Olympics and two national political conventions. Despite the aura of terrorism, these events went off without a hitch. But that didn't just happen. Extensive planning presaged the outcome. As a review of the process, Richard Lagg, CPP, corporate security manager with Englehard, and Nicholas Smith, CPP, director of global physical security with AIG, led a session on assessing risks, planning contingencies, and preparing other measures to safeguard an event.
Most of the nation's critical infrastructure is in the hands of private companies, and protecting these infrastructures is at the heart of hardening homeland security. A session presented by Nick Catrantzos, CPP, looked at some of the key challenges to infrastructure protection--including the possibility of regulatory inspections. He described detailed solutions such as vulnerability assessments. Catrantzos is security and emergency manager, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Millions of containers arrive each year in the United States; many come by ship, others are brought in by truck or plane. How are these shipments being screened for hidden dangerous items? One way is by using dogs, which are inspecting everything from cruise ships to Air Force One for anything that smells suspicious. Henri (Hank) Nolin, CPP, president of Sun State Specialty K-9s, Inc., partnered with Lady-Jenny, a border collie, in a special session on the use of dogs in sniffing out danger. Nolin discussed the increased use of K-9s since 9/11 and explained how dogs are being used to further homeland security.
The only way to fight terrorism is to understand the perspectives, philosophies, and organizational structures of the groups. Four speakers peeled back the layers of these issues: Peter Probst, a consultant with Lockheed Martin; Michael Hershman, president of Civitas Group; Rita Katz, president of SITE Institute; and Howard Safir, chairman, Safir Rosetti. They also discussed what steps can be taken to undercut the growth of these groups.
Suicide bombings may seem an almost unstoppable force, as an attacker can move his weapon into the middle of his targets while attracting little notice. However, many would-be bombers have been identified and stopped before they could carry out their destruction. For the first time in an open forum, David Harrison, an intelligence officer with the U. S. Department of Justice, discussed the results of interviews with more than 250 Palestinian terrorists who were caught before they could detonate their bombs. Harrison explained their motivations, how they were identified, and what "triggers" made them talk.
In a session designed to outline the FBI's intelligence reform program, Chief of Intelligence Operations Bob Casey discussed the bureau's attempts to integrate local and national law enforcement in the fight against terrorism.
Stressing the difference between the FBI's approach to intelligence gathering prior to 9/11, Casey told the packed room that the bureau now looks at nonstate threats, like Al Qaeda, and does not limit its analysis to targeted nations like Iraq. He also said the bureau now has more officers both in the field and at the Washington, D.C., headquarters than at any other time in history. The agency has stepped up efforts to recruit various levels of qualified officers for intelligence gathering positions and has received more than 41,000 applications for these positions.
Casey also outlined current intelligence gathering procedures, emphasizing that the bureau's intelligence mandate is driven by consumers' needs. "You don't do intelligence just to do intelligence...you do it for a reason," he said.
Casey said the success of the FBI depends on cooperation from local and state law enforcement. To that end, the FBI has adopted several initiatives designed to integrate intelligence and law enforcement efforts. An example, the Law Enforcement Online initiative (LEO), is a national interactive computer communications system and information service, which is dedicated exclusively for the use of the law enforcement and intelligence community. Any sworn law enforcement professional can use LEO to share information around the country and to attend online training courses.
In closing Casey said that no "golden nugget" of information will break a terrorist ring. According to Casey, intelligence is a tedious process that can only be successful through collaboration with other dedicated resources.