Collins Calls for Caution in Creating New Intelligence Center

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In response to President Bush’s announcement on establishing a new Terrorist Threat Integration Center today, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) said, “The President, along with the Directors of the CIA and FBI, took an important step forward today in defining the outlines of the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC). There is no question that our intelligence community–both domestic and foreign–has to do a better job coordinating its activities and sharing relevant intelligence with our state and local law enforcement agencies.”

At a hearing held by Collins’ Committee on Governmental Affairs this morning, witnesses, including Senator Warren Rudman and Governor James Gilmore, testified that a center such as that which the President has proposed is needed to break through the barriers that currently block the flow of important intelligence information to the nation’s law enforcement agencies, including local police.

“TTIC will add to our intelligence capabilities on the whole,” Collins said. She added, however, “Serious questions remain that need to be addressed. The Administration has to make the case that this new agency will not infringe on the civil liberties that we enjoy today. Furthermore, the Administration has to make the case that the Integrated Center will break down the cultural and bureaucratic barriers that have hindered information sharing in the past, and that this new agency will not simply become one more ‘CIA agency’ focused solely on the interests of our foreign intelligence community. The needs of our state and local law enforcement agencies should be a prominent part of the Administration’s considerations when creating the new Center.”

The proposed Center would work closely with the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division and the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center. The President’s plan includes housing the three units together at a facility separate from either the FBI or CIA. The Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a follow-up hearing on the proposed Integration Center within the next few weeks.