Publication Date: March 10, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC—A Markle Foundation report issued today says that the continued lack of information sharing between federal, state, and local agencies puts the US at risk of terrorist attack and emerging national security threats. At the same time, civil liberties are at risk because we don’t have the government-wide policies in place to protect them as intelligence collection has expanded.
The findings are the work of the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age, a bipartisan group of former policymakers and technology and national security experts. The report urges the Obama Administration to take swift action to ensure that policymakers have the best information available to confront a stark set of national security challenges including terrorism, instability from the global economic crisis, energy security, climate change, cyber security, and weapons of mass destruction.
“For all the nation has invested in national security since 9/11, we remain vulnerable to terrorist attack and emerging national security threats because we have not adequately improved our ability to connect the dots between intelligence gathering and threat protection.” said Markle Task Force co-chair Zoe Baird, president of the Markle Foundation. “We still don’t know what we know about these threats.”
According to Markle Task Force member and former Senator Slade Gorton, “The sense of urgency on information sharing has diminished in the seven years since the 9/11 attacks. In addition, civil liberties are at risk because we don’t have the policies in place to protect them as intelligence collection has expanded.”
The report recommends that President Obama and his administration provide sustained leadership on information sharing among all branches of government, including state and local entities. Further, Congress should increase the intensity of its efforts to provide the necessary oversight to protect the nation.
Markle Task Force Member and former General Counsel to the CIA Jeffrey H. Smith added, “To identify, understand, and respond to the threats we face, President Obama and his administration should take the steps necessary to bring together fragments of information to create knowledge and improve decision making. Otherwise, we will remain at risk.”
Key recommendations of the report include the following:
- The President must make information sharing a top priority by establishing leadership that can manage and oversee implementation across government.
- To ensure confidence that the increased use of technological capabilities to collect store, share, and analyze information is lawful and appropriate, the President and Congress must develop government-wide privacy policies that both empower and constrain government officials in how they use and handle information.
- All government information relevant to national security must be discoverable by those who need to have that information for their mission. Access to that information must be authorized based on their role, mission, and a predicated purpose, and audited to improve accountability and enhance information security.
The Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age is a diverse and bipartisan group of former policy makers from the past six presidential administrations, senior information technology executives, and privacy advocates from both the public and private sectors. The Markle Task Force has recommended ways of improving national security decisions by transforming business processes and how information is shared. Its recommendations informed the 9/11 Commission Report and were subsequently included in two federal laws. Learn more about the Markle Task Force at www.markle.org/national-security.