Informationsharing and cooperation in prevention of terrorism
Theaftermath of September 2001 attack in the United States was ahallmark that jolted the security agencies back to reality.Historically, although the security agencies had served the nationwith unabated efforts, the attack exposed the gap between the states,local and federal agencies preparedness, ability to coordinate andrespond to emergency cases. In particular, the fateful event exposedthe deficit, efficacy, incompatibility and the deficiency among theintelligence agencies to collaborate and cooperate in sharinginformation (Jerome2011, 574).
However,the surge in terrorist activities in the wake of new millennium justexposed the gap in intelligence sharing between the multiple federalsecurity agencies. Previously, the local police, the FBI, the CIA,the local citizens and the international community had faircollaboration in matters pertaining terrorism and local level andinternationally (White House 2007, 2). Investigations after the 2001attack revealed that there existed policy and technical barriers inintelligence sharing by different security agencies. As such aconsensus was reached that all U.S agencies involved in securityissues both locally and internally should share information in orderto enhance different agencies and analyst integrate clues and somehow‘connect dots’ on matters pertaining extremist criminalactivities(Jerome 2011, 574).
Inthe light of this, major regulatory and statutory changes wereimplemented to facilitate an effective environment through which themulti security agencies could share intelligence information. Thecommission report on 9/11 attack recommended the reformation ofIntelligence Community (IC) as a way of minimizing the cultural andstructural obstacles standing in the way of effective intelligenceinformation sharing and coordination efforts(Renee 2012, 358).Under these efforts through the office of National Intelligencetechnologies, policies and procedures were laid down to facilitateconnection with people, other government agencies and systemsinformation sharing and gathering (Eileen 2009, 111).
Theobjective was to revamp the nation intelligence capacity and improveon information sharing in all levels of government this was achievedby integrating the local enforcement agency to the wider nationalintelligence information sharing procedures. Under this strategy eventhe local law enforcement agencies were to apply the intelligence-ledpolicing approach rather than the problem-oriented policing in theirlaw enforcement agency (Cater 2005, 51).
Inaddition, among these changes the intelligence fraternity adopted arhetoric approach of more interagency information sharing andcollaboration in the context of fusion centers (Taylor & Russell2012, 184–200). Fusion centers were established as effective andefficient mechanisms of sharing intelligence information,streamlining operations, maximizing operations and enhancing acollaborative environment that would pool information from differentinteragency on possible threats, status of the threats, methods ofprevention, as well as strategies of neutralizing such threats(Monahan2011,86).
Consequently,due to these efforts, there were increased domestic espionageprograms, communication wire trapping of local and internationalcommunity, infiltration of government agents in local activistgroups, establishment of accessible direct lines for reportingsuspicious individual and events. As analyst observed, the events of9/11 attack provided the motivation in the surge revamping of thepreexisting forms of domestic surveillance mechanisms and practices(White House 2007, 3). Such practices and mechanisms had been inexistence prior the attack they had thus been mutated and grown inresponse to the new perception of terrorist activities (Cater2005, 56).
TheDepartment of Homeland security was revamped to include the fusioncenters that acted as ‘threat assessment’ centers and aid theground security agencies in intelligence-led policing activities(Cater2005, 56).Fusion centers were to serve as centers of monitoring and preemptiveinterventions by analyzing intelligence information on suspiciousindividuals, events and matching such intelligence data with othersources as a preemptive measure to avoid any unseen attacks (Eileen2009, 121).
Positiveresults have thus been observed through this need-to share strategyamong the different segments of the United States government. Today,the local police have their own intelligence mechanisms of gathering,analyzing and networking to share intelligence information onsecurity issues (MCCarthy2004, 33).The National Criminal Intelligence sharing Plan (NCISP) utilizescommunity partnership approach in community policing and problemsolving to improve police efficiency in what is known asintelligence-led policing (ILP)(Jerome 2011, 578).
Althoughtechnology has far been embraced in this strategy of combating crimeand terrorism, human relationship remains the vital component ofinformation gathering through undercover informants. The FBI shiftedits traditional problem-oriented policing to Intelligence-ledpolicing in line with intelligence sharing plan (Eileen2008,8).Today the agency is more engaged with the community in preventing andfighting criminal activities. In this respect, the agency adoptedvarious changes in its agency to facilitate collaborative efforts andtrust in information sharing among the local and internationalpartners. Information sharing has since proven an essential componentin the fight against terrorism and an instrumental effort inpreventing foreign exploitation of sensitive U.S defense andtechnology mechanisms (Elaine2012,15).
Assessingthe significance of intelligence sharing in the past years since therevamping of National intelligence programs shows some success. Forinstance, a number of terrorist activities have been neutralized likethe detonation of explosives in New York City subway in 2009 and thesuccessful attack on Osama Bin Laden in 2011. All these credits go tothe rejuvenating cooperation and coordination in sharing informationamong the intelligence community the CIA, NGA and the NSA. However,despite the major efforts done to create mechanisms for sharinginformation among the various agencies, one major complication ismaintaining separate procedures of managing information about U.Scitizens vast data of intelligence is about the U.S citizens (Eileen2008, 2).
Inaddition, despite the observable significance of the intelligencecommunity in assisting policy-making and identifying terrorist amongthe different agencies, there still exist impediment in fullcooperation and coordination of sharing intelligence information. Acase in example of a recent lack of effective sharing information isthe Detroit Bomb attempt in which the suspects’ father had warnedthe Nigerian U.S embassy that his son could have become radicalized.As such, failure to share such information with other relevantagencies led to a lapse and inconsistency by the Intelligencecommunity in recognizing the suspect as a threat (Palmer 2006,449–465). In another incidence, failure to share foreign terroristinformation led to Army Major Fort Hood Shooting that left 12 peopledead. While these recent attack incidences and the 9/11 attack led toa great need for sharing intelligence information under the‘need-to-know’ approach, one major problem resulted from sharingsuch intelligence information (Best Jr. 2011, 8).
Inparticular, sharing of intelligence information has led tounauthorized disclosures of sensitive information through the socialmedia, a situation that have jeopardized U.S diplomacy andintelligence sources. Disclosing of intelligence information by Wikileaks was another drawback to intelligence information disclosurewhich threatened foreign intelligence gathering by the United Statesgovernments (Best2011, 10).As a result, this has led to debate on the issue of ‘Need-to-share’aspect in the fought against terrorism. Public revelations of massintelligence data as were the case with wiki leaks could lead to asevere breach of security and loss of lives. In the light of thisargument, greater restriction should be applied on disseminatingsensitive intelligence to minimize chances of leakages (Monahan2011, 93).
Despitethe great need for sharing intelligence information, analyst observedthat, there was a need to review on the ‘Need-to-know’ aspect ofsharing intelligence data. Analysts advocate for limiting thedissemination of sensitive information through classifying andcustomizing computer programs holding sensitive intelligence data, bythe end of the day such data may be leaked by un-loyal securityagents success of security depends to a large extent on the loyaltyof officers at all levels. Inability to share information was citedas a major gap that led to 9/11 attack, as a result, the InformationSharing Environment (ISE) was created indicating the process,procedures and standards of information sharing across the local,state and federal jurisdiction (Taylor & Russell 2012, 185).
Althoughpositive results have been reported, as a result, of this initiativein the fight against terrorism, the ‘need-to-know’ versus the‘need-to-share’ approach need to be revisited especially afterunwarranted disclosure of sensitive intelligence information. Pursuitof criminals requires a strategized secret approach and notinformation sharing. Premature intelligence data release couldadversely breach criminal investigations sharing intelligenceinformation in the disguise of ‘need-to-know’ mantra is engagingin a zero sum game (Riley 2002, 131). It is with this backdropintroduction that this literature review analysis seeks to clarify oninformation sharing and coordination among the law enforcementagencies and how their relationships have been affected as well asthat of the intelligence community (Loch 2011, 608).
Definitionof key terms
‘Intelligence’refersto all information classified as relevant and significant to animpending event, or that have a contribution to a particular outcomeof the incident.
‘ForeignIntelligence’ refersto political, economic and military intelligence collected outsidethe United States.
‘IntelligenceCommunity’ refersto a group of security specialist assigned with the task ofcollecting intelligence at national level for the purpose ofsupporting informed national security in decision making andtactical resource allocation across the military and other lawenforcement agencies.
‘FusionCenter’ referscenters established for the purpose of enhancing a collaborativemechanism by two or more agencies in providing resources, informationand expertise to the center with the aim of analyzing and assessingpossible threats of suspicious individuals or activities for thepurpose of monitoring or preemptive interventions. Such centers helpin assessing the patterns, warnings, indications and interdiction ofcriminal intelligence to avert possible criminal activities theyserve as ‘police brains.’
‘NationalCriminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP)’
Thiswas a strategy adopted after the 9/11 attack in the United States asa way of establishing a planned network of intelligence gathering andsharing at national level through community partnership under theconcept of community policing and problem solving tactic to improvepolice efficiency through intelligence –led policing
‘Intelligence–led policing’ ILP
Thisis a law enforcement strategy adopted by the law enforcement policeagency as a mode of preventing crime and terrorist activities. Underthis strategy the law enforcement agency engages in informationsharing and gathering from the public, and coordinating securityissues based on such information as opposed to traditionalproblem-oriented policing strategy that relied on crime incidence tolead in the investigation (Riley 2002, 231).
TheNeed to share
Thelaw enforcement, community Partnership and intelligence Practices
Afterthe terrorist attacks the public and the congress at large demandedchange in the coordination and management of intelligenceinformation individuals recognized the need for an effectivemechanism for collaboration, exchanging and sharing of intelligenceinformation. Major regulatory changes were implemented through theNational Commission on Terrorist Attacks (NCTA), which in turnestablished the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) that wouldfacilitate sharing of suspicious intelligent information among thefederal, state local and the private sector (Brigitte 2012, 357–374).The intelligence-led policing approach was a mechanism through whichthe law enforcers would analyze raw information gathered to guide indecision making (Eileen 2008, 243). Through this approach policeadopted a threat driven information gathering approach in addressingthreats at community level. Under this scope, programs such as theSuspicious Activity Reports (SAR) and the National SuspiciousActivity Reports Initiatives (NSI) were adopted (Jerome 2011, 6).These programs together with the ILP approach were importantinstruments to the local police in gathering information andeducating the community on the type of information needed (Renee2012, 357). As such, the community was educated on how to identifysuspicious activities that would lead to criminal activities.Thesepartnerships were aimed at promoting a two-way information exchangethat would aid the police in determining terrorism and other criminalactivities (Eileen 2008, 2).
Ina broader perspective, the intelligence-led policing, the SARs, NSIand community collaborative efforts would help assess home grownself-radicalized extremist for the purpose of preemptive strategiesof neutralizing any attempted act of terrorism. Fort Dix and NadirHassan cases in the 2007 and 2009 respectively vividly illustrate thecomplexity of ‘home-grown extremist’ who could have been deterredby effective law enforcement intelligence collaboration with thecommunity (Carter & Carter 2012, 138–154). Despite fairevidence linking the two home grown extremists lack of properexchange and coordination of information would have resulted in greatdamage. The local law enforcement team relies on raw information tocounter terrorism acts and such mode is less effective for the locallaw officers which might lead to loopholes that could be exploited byterrorist. Therefore, adequate cooperation, and collaboration withother agencies, the community is vital (Renee 2012, 358).
Safeguardingand sharing of information is critical in the fight againstterrorism, the FBI has been instrumental in participating in strategyreformulation for effective information sharing. Through the NationalInformation Sharing Strategy (NISS), the agency establishesmechanisms of enhancing effective sharing of information andexchanges among the different agencies. The FBI oversees the local,state and federal intelligence gathering programs as well as theFusion centers (Taylor & Russell 2012, 184–200). This is donethrough optimizing the capabilities of partners and enhancingcontinued information sharing among major intelligence partners (Loch2011, 608).
Underthis program, fusion centers were created in major urban centers inorder to facilitate coordination of the gathering, analysis,dissemination of intelligence data related to terrorism(Elaine 2012, 13).These centers were to act as a collaborative mechanism that wouldcombine resources, information and expertise in maximizing thecapacity to detect, investigate, apprehend and prevent criminalactivities (Randol2010, 278).The main goal of intelligence information sharing was to establishtrust and promote a collaborative spirit among the public (Eileen2008, 143). Collaboration was a core concept in establishing thefusion center through which intelligence gathering efforts of otheragencies would be fused together. Fusion centers were to serve ascollaborative centers in which information would be integrated, andinteragency effort used to assess the information and coordinatesolutions to address possible threats (AFCEA International 2007, 10).
Accordingto report by government accountability office (GAO), most states andlocal governments have established fusion centers for the purpose ofcountering terrorism acts. These centers are managed by the lawenforcement agencies and vary in size and partnership with otherentities. Reports indicate that, most of these centers face greatchallenges in analyzing and managing multiple systems which affecttheir capacity to exchange information with other agencies due totheir budget capacity and lack of training (Jerome2011, 576).However,most of these state and local fusion centers have access toinformation from the department of Homeland security and that of Lawenforcement Online (LEO) (Omand 2012, 815). One advantage of theseFusion centers is that their approach on terrorism is more tacticalthan strategic. In addition, fusion centers also enhance access ofresources and information by smaller agencies than it would be thecase.
Inaddition, sharing such information was instrumental in enhancingpeople get access for the purpose of making informative decisions.The impetus to share and exchange information was founded under threebasic assumptions (Palmer 2006, 449–465). One was that, exchange ofinformation was vital since terror attacks occur in community areas.Two, plotting and preparation of the terrorist attacks occurs withinthe community in which explosives are acquired, transported andrecruitment of terrorist individuals. The third assumption motivationbehind exchange of information was that authorities provide insightsthat are relevant based on the assessment of a wide range ofinformation (Renee 2012, 357).As such, various information systemswere deployed as well as surveillance programs as (SAR) suspiciousactivity reporting and the National Suspicious Activity ReportingInitiative (NSI). The aim of these initiatives was to create aframework of reporting suspicious activities as espoused through theNational Strategy of Informational Sharing. In the same scope, otherinitiatives were established (Eileen 2008, 4).
However,many analysts complain that, there are too much information beenshared by the multiple systems, thereby leading to ‘clogging’ andredundancy of information, a situation that can lead to difficulty indiscerning relevant information. Critiques observe that regulationspassed by the Congress in an effort to strengthen the nation againstterrorism activities removed cooperation barriers between theintelligence and the law enforcers thereby leading to inconsistenciesin the implementation of policies and the interpretation of what waslegally valued (Renee 2012, 362). As a result, the joint Task onIntelligence and Law Enforcement recommended improving channels ofcommunication among the different agencies to allow for fasterexchange of information (Brigitte 2012, 357–374). Despite thesereviews, none had been implemented prior the 9/11 attack.
Challengesfacing the Intelligence sharing mechanisms
Analystobserves that, based on existing evidence, fusion centers were agreat idea in criminal response especially in the wake of terroristactivities. However, the idea is faced with implementation challenges(Taylor & Russell 2012, 184–200). Most of the plans implementedin these centers lacked prior analysis of their effectiveness. Forinstance, sophisticated software installed in those centers proved agreat challenge to the local and state law officer.
Inother cases, collection of intelligence data is limited and lackbasis on how it was collected there is no clear jurisdiction on‘who’ is tackles terrorism or ant-terrorism (Bart 2007, 3). Thedifference in staffing, size and objectives among the agenciesaffects information sharing. Similarly, differences in informationcollection and retention among the various agencies affectsinformation sharing due to lack of a localized approach by theFederal government this leaves the states and the local governmentscreating fusion centers that are customized to meet theirneeds(Elaine2012, 18).However, not all state fusion centers are unsuccessful. There arestates with well functioning Fusion centers an example is the DallasCenter that has a focused approach on combating terrorism (McFeely2011, 23).
Furthermore,despite the creation of many agencies for enhancing intelligenceinformation sharing, this goal has not been fully achieved. Reportsindicate that, some agencies lose control of information after it hasbeen distributed, in other cases agencies ego inhibits theirinformation sharing. Although the FBI is tasked with the mandate ofcoordinating intelligence information among all the establishedagencies, research reports indicate its coordination is poor (Loch2011, 613). In addition, technological deficiencies have alsointerfered with adequate information sharing. These problems at thefusion centers may be attributed to the reactive nature of the policeforce in law enforcement (Bart 2007, 1). Demand by the Homelandsecurity on terrorism and emergency response on law enforcement,complicated matters for the police (Carter & Carter 2012,138–154).
Furthermore,restructuring the law enforcement agency to accommodate programs thataddress terrorism activities triggered the entire force to adjusttheir mode of operations to accommodate the sharing of intelligenceinformation ideology (Palmer 2006, 449–465). There exist littleobservable feature of improved coordination and cooperation infighting terrorism among the different agencies(Elaine2012, 13).Mostfusion centers at local and state level have been customized to‘tactic’ approach rather than using the sophisticated model inanalyzing crime (Taylor & Russell 2012, 184–200). Other reportsindicate that the fusion center individuals hold ubiquitous positionsor multiple roles, a situation that undermines the professionalism offusion centers. In short, various cases of evidence indicate that,the working relationship between the fusion centers and the lawenforcement agency reveals negative ramifications (Bart 2007, 2).
CivilLiberties and privacy
Although,there are various initiatives established under the National Strategyof Informational Sharing are important, several concerns have beenraised on infringement of civil liberties and the privacy ofcitizens. Most of the Suspicious Activity Report programs werecriticized for their efficacy and mode of gathering data. These spyprograms collect multiple data on individuals in different routineactivities which would lead to bias on the part of officers reportingsuspicious activities innocent civilians could be implicated andharassed due to such information. Although the many acts were passedto safeguard citizens against the overt infringement on civilliberties, the government has had too much authority over the civilliberties of its citizens. In most cases, the Fusion centers collectincredible personal data which extends to racial profiling andprivacy intrusion which has heightened fears on intelligencesurveillance at local communities. In this case, sharing of suchpersonal data to a wide range of people has been condemned forinterfering with civil liberties (Renee 2012, 365).
Mostfusion centers have links with banks, hospitals, universities andsecurity firms where they access personal information (Jerome2011, 373).In addition, the digital tracking used by the agencies in tappingcalls, emails and other communication could be likened to theinfringement of civil liberties that are protected under the UnitedStates Fourth Amendment. Similarly, such programs as SARs have theopportunity to predispose victims to ethnic profiling (Eileen 2009,111). These counterterrorism efforts are likely to create socialtensions. In addition, the fusion centers are alleged to engage inovert acts such as infiltrating non-violent groups such as the peaceactivists, green Party group and other groups such as the students,militia groups and the environmentalist.
Inthis literature review, it is evident that, although the initiativesestablished to counter terrorism through information gathering andsharing was a good idea various cases indicate that it was notproperly implemented. There are poor coordination and management ofthe local, state agencies and the Fusion centers by the FBIs. Thelocal agencies lack adequate training on the use of the sophisticatedmethod of analyzing intelligence data this factor combined with thelack of proper coordination from the FBI led to local and stateFusion centers customizing the agencies according to their approach.In addition, it is evident that the local Fusion centers have beenengaged in overt practices that threaten the efficacy of the need forsharing intelligent information (Renee 2012, 363).
Thelocal Fusion centers are blamed for the overt infringement on civilliberties by gathering large mass of ‘unnecessary data’ which isin turn shared across other agencies whose staffs are lessaccountable than the Federal or Law enforcement agencies. Literaturereview also indicates that, despite the numerous agencies establishedto counter terrorism activities little has been achieved in enhancingcoordination and cooperation in sharing intelligence information.Some agencies, due to lack of effective and localized coordination donot share information or fail to act leading to serious loopholesthat are exploited by homegrown terrorist.
Howcan we do better?
Thereis need for law enforcement to make adjustments on their organizationby establishing structures that have intelligence units, enhanceparticipation with other entities in gathering and exchangingintelligence information(Bart2007, 30).In addition, the organization of the law enforcement agency need tofocus on creating new information sharing procedures with other lawenforcer partners and modify functions and attitude of law officers(Eileen 2008, 556).
Communicatethe need for intelligence data sharing among the different agencies
Leadersin the intelligence and the law enforcement agencies must emphasis onthe need of intelligence sharing. The agencies should not holdinformation without sharing with other relevant stakeholders in orderto create collaboration and trust.
Theentire multiagency and the Fusion centers created to gather and shareinformation need adequate supervision and regulation in order torespect civil liberties and conduct their intelligent work withdecorum. In particular, the Department of Homeland security and theFBI should focus extensively on coordinating intelligence gatheringat local level and establish lasting community partnerships.Effective law enforcement and intelligent gathering cannot beachieved by undermining the civil liberties of the locals there arewell established procedures under the Congressional acts in regard tointelligence gathering and protection of civil liberties.
Establishclear, consistent and understandable guidelines
Mostguidelines regulating the practices in the Fusion centers and othercounter-terrorism programs lack clarity. Lack of clear coordinationand cooperation among the different agencies could be attributed toconfusion and inconsistent policies this causes delays in datasharing and coordination (Palmer 2006, 449–465.
Eliminatethe notion of data ownership
Onefactor that was pointed out as a major cause of terrorist acts isfailure to share intelligence information. There are numerousterrorists’ attempts that can be attributed to this aspect theattempted Detroit plane attack, the Fort Dix and Hassan shootingcases in the 2007 and 2009 respectively. The Federal and localagencies need to embrace intelligence sharing as one of their coretasks. Under no circumstance should any agency dismiss particularinformation as not useful.
Effectivetraining of the Intelligence Community on the information required isimportant in creating a confident community. In the same line, Fusionofficers and other personnel dealing with gathering and sharing ofintelligence data should be adequately trained in using thetechnology to analyze and store intelligence information to avoidunnecessary disclosure (Eileen 2008, 143).
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