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Homeland Security lacking 'open source' intelligence

Report by a House committee says the Department of Homeland Security is not providing sufficient publicly available information for state and local law enforcement.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not met requirements to provide "open source" intelligence--that is, publicly available information--for state and local law enforcement, a new report shows.

The House Committee on Homeland Security released a report Friday criticizing the department after interviewing more than 350 state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials about the DHS's open source intelligence efforts.

While 82 percent of law enforcement officials surveyed said they use open source information, 60 percent said the DHS needed to establish a training program on how to use the department's open source material. Half of respondents said the DHS's open source products did not meet their needs.

"The proliferation of Internet use and other advanced forms of communication is rapidly leading to an information revolution among terrorists groups," the report says. "The sooner the Department of Homeland Security recognizes the value in this type of unclassified information, the sooner DHS analysts can analyze it and provide useful open source intelligence to state, local and tribal law partners."

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 requires DHS, whenever possible, to make available unclassified reports and analyses based on open source information like newspapers, Internet resources, or scientific journals. To reinforce that requirement, the House in July passed the Homeland Security Open Source Information Enhancement Act, requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish an open source program.

Despite this, "DHS' efforts have lagged behind the rest of the Federal government," the report says. The Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency have established stronger open source programs, even though the DHS is responsible for sharing terrorism threat information with state and local law enforcement.

"The Department is far behind the rest of the Intelligence Community in implementing a comprehensive open source intelligence program," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee. "I am convinced that the department must make a concerted effort to understand their intelligence needs and produce intelligence products that provide actionable recommendations for the cop on the beat."