What is the modern definition of U.S. Homeland Security Intelligence (HSI)? Many would differ on the jurisdiction, sources and nexus with specific intelligence that falls outside U.S. borders. The future of sharing relevant pieces of the vast mosaic of information may well lie with the definition and the interpretation of Homeland Security Intelligence.
One thing is certain about this topic of debate. If the information is being utilized to determine the nature of a threat within the confines of the U.S. Homeland, then that information will be treated according to the laws of the United States. This brings us to the next question. Are the current laws an impediment to more effective Homeland Security Intelligence (HSI) processes, methods and outcomes? The following areas must be addressed in order to get closer to the truth.
- Regulatory and Statutory Concerns
- Civil rights and Liberties
Yet the question begs the discussion on the structure and the purpose of the Intelligence Community (IC) itself. Is a policeman or fireman on the ground in every major city in the country part of the IC? Are they not collectors of Homeland Security Intelligence as they fill out their manual or electronic "Suspicious Activity Reports" (SARS)? If they are then as much a part of the greater HSI mechanism that is deemed collection and not analysis, so too will they be subjected to the laws of the land regarding privacy and information governance.
Getting to the point where we are spending even more than half of the time doing actual human analysis is a long way off in to the future. Software systems are getting automated crawlers to pull more relevant OSINT into the data bases for unstructured query yet what about the front line observer who is the witness to an incident. They must process this by interfacing with a paper based report that is filled in with a #2 pencil or an electronic form on a PDA to check boxes and select categories that best describe the observed event that risk managers, watch commanders and operations directors need for more effective decision support.
Regardless of how the collector gets the information it still remains a matter of relevance with other data that already exists in a repository or the addition of a future data set that suddenly creates a "Red Flag." It isn't until that "Red Flag" indicator goes off that the human analyst can then put grey matter on the issue to determine the relevance at that point in time and the implication of the law, policies and governance. This topic has been addressed in previous posts to this blog:
There are some that would say that the reason why the "Dots are not Connected" sooner, faster or more efficiently is because we are drowning in too much information to analyze. The automation of collection is the easy part. The filtering and pushing relevancy through the digital cheese cloth to get the most vital intelligence assets is a bit harder to accomplish. The human analysis and applying "Gray Matter" to the problem set and understanding the current "State-of-Play" is the ultimate challenge.
Beyond this, the average "John Q" citizen has probably never heard of 28CFR Part 23. The privacy assurance mechanism put into place in the 90's pertaining to the fusion of criminal intelligence. Perhaps this is the single greatest impediment we face to insuring our safety, security and threats from transnational eCrime syndicates, non-state actors and even the most sophisticated Nation States.
The topic of Homeland Security Intelligence is really about the Information Risk Governance and Consumer Privacy laws that protect us as U.S. citizens. At the same time, these same legal statutes might be the exact balance between what law enforcement and the intelligence community need to do their jobs without infringing on the rights of "John Q. Jihadist." Here is a great example:
Homeland Security Intelligence collected from a U.S. domestic chemical company, freight trucking line and as a result of legal searches of the suspects apartment all were utilized to interdict this potential plot of terrorism in the United States. Effective HSI will determine whether we continue to be as effective in the future. Gods Speed to us all....