WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today emphasized the importance of intelligence coordination in order to safeguard American national security interests at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing. The hearing specifically examined the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), which facilitates the sharing of intelligence between DHS, the Intelligence Community, state and local governments, and the private sector.
To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.
Strengthening Intelligence Coordination
In a question to General Francis Taylor, former Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at DHS, Senator Hassan asked about how the agency uniquely works with state and local partners.
“I&A is the only intelligence agency specifically chartered to provide intelligence support for state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, really as a result of 9/11,” General Taylor responded. “The rest of the [Intelligence Community] is precluded from the kind of specific work, intelligence work, that I&A does in the homeland.”
Defending Against Cyber Attacks
Senator Hassan also discussed the importance of coordinating on intelligence in order to defend against cyber attacks.
“We’ve seen a recent series of high-profile cybersecurity breaches and attacks against the federal government and critical infrastructure, and we don’t expect that these threats are going to diminish,” said Senator Hassan. “How can the Office of Intelligence and Analysis work with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, otherwise known as CISA, to help prevent these attacks from happening?”
General Taylor stated that I&A has about 30 analysts at CISA. He also recommended that CISA have its own intelligence organization both to assist I&A and its director, and to allow CISA to have a more robust relationship with the National Security Agency (NSA), leveraging the NSA’s analytical capabilities when it comes to cybersecurity.
Combating All Terrorist Threats
In addition, Senator Hassan emphasized the need to combat terrorist threats — both domestic and abroad — with adequate intelligence analysis.
“I am pleased that the Office of Intelligence and Analysis recently announced a new effort dedicated to analyzing the threat from domestic terrorism,” said Senator Hassan. “I also remain concerned about the threats posed by international terrorists and home grown violent extremists. So in your view, do you believe that the Office of Intelligence and Analysis has the capacity to adequately monitor the various terrorist threats?”
General Taylor in response spoke about the importance of the partnership between DHS, the FBI, and the Intelligence Community in understanding terrorist threats both in the U.S. and overseas.
Senator Hassan is focused on strengthening the country’s national security, and successfully worked to pass and enact into law the bipartisan DHS Data Framework Act to help ensure that analysts at the Department of Homeland Security can more efficiently identify terrorist threats. In addition, Senator Hassan helped enact into law a bill to ensure that personnel at the Department of Homeland Security have the tools that they need to more easily detect synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Senator Hassan also introduced the bipartisan Reporting Efficiently to Proper Officials in Response to Terrorism (REPORT) Act, which requires federal agencies to report to Congress after a terrorist attack with information about exactly what happened and recommendations to prevent future attacks.