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[] Senate would force Homeland Security info-sharing,

Senate would force DHS sharing
BY Judi Hasson
July 28, 2003	
The Senate appropriations bill for homeland security has a
little-noticed provision that would force the department to share data
with other government agencies.

Under the measure, the Homeland Security Department and other
intelligence agencies would have to share information with other
federal, state and local agencies. The department and intelligence
groups would also have to make sure their computer systems are

"As they stand today, the computer systems of the major agencies which
we depend on to protect America cannot communicate with one another,"
said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). "In the post [Sept. 11, 2001,] world,
that is a situation we cannot tolerate."

Durbin, who sponsored the provision, said it would open communications
between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It is also intended
to plug existing gaps in computer systems.

Homeland security officials started working on a departmentwide
information system several months ago and have said they expect to
complete a plan by October. Durbin said he wants to speed up the

The Senate approved the $29.3 billion appropriations bill for fiscal
2004 last Thursday for homeland security. Negotiators must now resolve
its differences with the House version of the bill.

The requirement calls for a DHS report within 60 days on the progress of
a technology project that would ensure different systems can
communicate. It also mandates consolidation of terrorist watch lists and
a prompt inventory of homeland security systems, a process already under

Failure to share information is considered the biggest blunder of the
intelligence agencies in their pre-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism
assessments. A special report last week said officials could have been
tipped off about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and on
the Pentagon if they had been given all the information

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