Gathering & Using Intelligence

By Slahor, Stephenie | Law & Order, February 2005 | Go to article overview

Gathering & Using Intelligence


Slahor, Stephenie, Law & Order


The intelligence gathering operations established post-September 11, 2001 actively seek the information needed to prevent terrorism. George Driscoll of the Contra Costa County, CA District Attorney's Office says such operations are a necessity, but raise the two questions of can we collect it, and secondly can we share it?

He says an operation such as California's Anti-terrorism Information Center (CATlC) can be the answer to those questions and provide a vehicle to collect cogent information and disseminate it to the appropriate agencies.

Driscoll's remarks came at the annual COPSWest (Conference On Products and Services) meeting at Ontario, CA, sponsored by the California Peace Officers Association.

Of pro-September 11 intelligence Driscoll said, "It appears that information was possibly available that revealed the intent of the terrorists." Some of that information was "not of a criminal nature, but about "overt acts of conspiracy." Such information may have prevented or lessened the tragedies. Unfortunately, said Driscoll, the information was "too fragmented to be useable and available for analysis."

With law enforcement agencies now working true intelligence operations in the war against terrorism, Driscoll emphasized, "It's not spies." Rather, the work is a "true intelligence operation" involving analysts who do "all source fusion" of information. "Intelligence is lots of information that has been analyzed," he said.

"It's not James Bond or spy decoder rings." Nor is it only raw data. It is information that the "consumers of intelligence" namely, law enforcement agencies and government, can use. Intelligence produces an opinion.

The cycle of intelligence collects information, analyzes it, gets a "product" and opinion, and then disseminates that to leaders who have to make critical decisions. Then there is feedback on the usability and availability of the information.

Driscoll said leadership usually seek an "essential element" of information, and perhaps additional information. But he emphasized that collection and analysis only lead to an educated guess, not what Hollywood portrays as a "breakthrough" that cinches a case.

CATlC provides timely collection, coordination, analysis, investigation and dissemination of criminal intelligence and information, but, because of budget constraints in California, it is built upon an existing system that had the resources to consolidate information from a variety of sources. …

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