THE TABLE FOR INFORMATION SHARING
Would You Please Pass the Intelligence?
It's the season for sharing--whether warm meals or
gifts around a tree.
In the intelligence business, sharing is always
in season. Why? Because a morsel
of information from the FBI could help state
and local law enforcement crack a case--and
vice-versa. When it comes to preventing terrorist
attacks, no agency is an island.
Exactly why we're partnering
with state and local governments nationwide to create joint intelligence
centers, where tips and information move freely among investigators and
analysts of many agencies. Today, these centers are operating in New York,
California, Washington, and Texas, to name a few places. And more are in
The latest collaboration was forged
in October, when the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC)
opened its doors in Phoenix. The center houses personnel from 22 federal
agencies and 14 state law enforcement agencies, including the Arizona Department
of Public Safety, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the local Joint
Terrorism Task Force, four FBI counterterrorism squads, and our Field Intelligence
Group. There, with access to some 50 information systems, representatives
not only freely pass intelligence around the table, but also work side-by-side
We asked FBI Special Agent and Bomb Technician
Scott Thorlin, who coordinates responses to threats involving
bombs and weapons of mass destruction, to talk about life at ACTIC.
Q: What's a typical day like for you and your
colleagues at ACTIC?
A: We field calls
from citizens and law enforcement organizations on potential threats. They're
farmed out to the appropriate squad of investigators made up of federal,
state and local agents and officers. If it's a bomb threat, it's assigned
to me or another bomb tech. If it involves a suspected terrorist, it goes
to a counterterrorism squad. We investigate and figure out whether the
threat is real.
Q: What's the benefit of having all these agencies
under one roof?
A: Location, location,
location. Say I'm investigating a subject and need to know his immigration
status. I can walk over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent
here, and he or she can look it up on his database while I sit there. It's
much quicker and more effective than sending an envelope out into the ether.
Q: It sounds good on paper. Does it work in
A: Absolutely. It's
not like a high school dance with FBI agents standing on one side of the
room and state and local law enforcement officials on the other. We're
sitting at the same table analyzing the same information, and that goes
a long way toward helping to connect the dots quickly and to keep our communities--and
Links: Office of Law
Enforcement Coordination | FBI Phoenix