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In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the former Chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, discussed the progress and challenges in information sharing between and among government agencies since 9/11. Their comments resonate with Markle’s recent written testimony submitted to the March 9 Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Information Sharing in the Era of WikiLeaks.” In their testimony, Kean and Hamilton stated:
We believe that information sharing has improved considerably in recent years. There are now 105 Joint Terrorism Task Forces throughout the nation, and 72 Fusion Centers in which federal, state, local, and tribal authorities investigate terrorism leads and share information. Since 2004, DHS has provided more than $340 million in funding to the Fusion Centers. Information sharing with the private sector has also become routine and is an important part of our defenses.
While the mechanisms are in place for better information sharing, the fact is that we missed opportunities to stop the Christmas Day bomber from boarding Northwest Flight 253, as well as opportunities to intervene before the Fort Hood shootings. Clearly there is much room for improvement.
The 9/11 Commission Report based many of its information sharing recommendations on the reports of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. The 9/11 Commission also noted that Markle’s reports had “been widely discussed throughout the U.S. government, but [had] not yet been converted into action.” (Page 418) Now, 10 years after 9/11, information sharing still remains a work-in-progress.