Sober Assessment at Conference on Terrorism

Article excerpt

The private sector must lead--not follow--in the effort to prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and its greatest asset is information, which must be shared not only with federal officials but also with fully involved state and local counterparts.

That message was propounded during the ASIS International 25th Annual Conference on Global Terrorism, sponsored by the ASIS Council on Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and International Crime. The council itself marked its silver anniversary during the three-day event held March 19-21 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

Top federal officials, academics, and industry officials gave more than 100 attendees exhaustive and varying assessments of progress in the war on terror, emphasizing the private sector's role in protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring resilience in the event of an attack.

"The federal government can't do this [alone]," William Flynn, director of risk management at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Infrastructure Protection, told attendees. It has to be "a partnership with state and local and, most importantly, a partnership with the private sector," he noted.

"I can't emphasize enough: Information sharing will prevent the next attack," Flynn said.

Earlier, attendees heard from Sue Reingold, deputy program manager for the director of National Intelligence. It's her responsibility to foster the national intelligence-sharing environment (ISE) mandated by the same 2004 intelligence reform law that created her office.

"The important thing to remember is that the ISE is about developing trusted partnerships that let you get all the right information to the right people at the right time," Reingold said.

She also noted that state and local officials need help in understanding how to integrate private sector players, so the private sector needs to reach out.

"ASIS can do that," said Reingold, who pledged that her office would solicit input from the organization.

Flynn's boss and keynote speaker Robert Stephan, assistant secretary of homeland security for infrastructure protection, told attendees to accept the war on terror as a fact of life.

"You have to be prepared for a long struggle. This is a dedicated enemy. This is not the Japanese or Germans who took six years to defeat. This is going to take a generation or generations. And we, as a country, are not patient, which is an advantage for the enemy," Stephan said. "Keep doing what you're doing. Because every single [security professional] can be the person that uncovers a terror plot."

Flynn urged all those in attendance to make personal contact with their regional DHS protective security advisor (PSA). Each PSA is a veteran security professional, posted locally and charged with coordinating infrastructure protection. Flynn has required that all PSAs either already have or will earn ASIS's Certified Protection Professional[R] (CPP) designation, he said.

ASIS President Steve Chupa, CPP, director of Johnson & Johnson's worldwide security group, delivered a presentation highlighting lessons learned at his company during a session titled "Intelligence and Information Sharing in Public and Private Sectors."

Chupa reminded the audience that their environment is packed with intelligence sources--including open-source outlets like cable news and more restricted information resources, like the U. …