Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chertoff: Local Police Are First Preventers

On Monday, DHS Secretary Chertoff spoke of the importance of local law enforcement - and the importance of sharing information with them - at the annual conference of the International Association of the Chiefs of Police. Chertoff told the police chiefs:

You are the most likely to detect the beginning phases of a possible plot, particularly a homegrown plot.

[T]he third area I want to focus on ... is the increasing threat of homegrown plots -- that is to say plots arising in local communities, involving local people, American citizens, who may become radicalized over the Internet or because of a recruiter and train themselves, again -- with networks, small groups -- and then would carry out the kinds of attacks that we saw, for example, in London last year...
Chertoff said he's committed to ensuring that local and federal information-sharing is a two-way street. To this end, he said DHS will continue to:
  1. Continue to develop the national network of intelligence fusion centers, with 35 centers active by the end of fiscal year 2007
  2. Expedite the classified, secret level clearance process, so that local law enforcement can be cleared more quickly to review classified data
  3. Open up communication channels and training opportunities for local law enforcement
As I see it, one of the salient points in Chertoff's speech is his emphasis on the homegrown threat. Others have noted that the worldwide jihadist movement is evolving into a loosely connected network of small cells that can spring up spontaneously (i.e., the "seed crystal" method of recruiting, which I recently discussed).

Local authorities are in the best position to "take the temperature" of the local environment and detect the possible formation of new threats.

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