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Terrorism Information Sharing and the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Report Initiative: Background and Issues for Congress
Mark A. Randol (au)
The 2004 National Comm. on Terrorist Attacks Upon the U.S. (the 9/11 Comm.) cited breakdowns in information sharing and the failure to fuse pertinent intelligence (i.e., “connecting the dots”) as key factors in the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) contain information about criminal activity that may alsoreveal terrorist pre-operational planning. Many believe that the sharing of SARs among all levels of government and the fusing of these reports with other intelligence information will help uncover terrorist plots within the U.S. The Nationwide SAR Initiative (NSI) is an effort to have most federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement organizations participate in a standardized, integrated approach to gathering,documenting, processing, and analyzing terrorism-related SARs. The NSI is designed to respond to the mandate of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458), for a “decentralized, distributed, and coordinated [information sharing] environment ... with ‘applicable legal standards relating to privacy and civil liberties.’” This report describes the NSI, the rationale for the sharing of terrorism-related SARs, and how the NSI seeks to achieve this objective. It examines the privacy and civil liberties concerns raised by the initiative and identifies other oversight issues for Congress. Figures.
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