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Written testimony of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Deputy Under Secretary for the State and Local Program Office Scott McAllister for a Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights hearing titled “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism”

Release Date: 
September 19, 2012

216 Hart Senate Office Building

Thank you Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Graham, and Members of the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to keep our nation safe from evolving threats through information sharing activities with our state and local partners.

It is my pleasure to testify today with my colleagues from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). DHS collaborates very closely and effectively with the FBI, as well as other federal and state and local partners, and together we have forged an unprecedented partnership to meet the shared responsibility of protecting our nation and the American people from threats, be they foreign plots or acts of homegrown violence.

Eleven years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, America is stronger and more secure thanks to the support of Congress, the work of the men and women of DHS, and our federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners across the homeland security enterprise. Created to protect the American people from terrorist and other threats, DHS and its many partners across the federal government, public and private sectors, and communities throughout the country have strengthened homeland security enterprise to better mitigate and defend against evolving threats, while protecting individuals’ privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

As Secretary Napolitano has said many times, homeland security begins with hometown security. As part of our commitment to strengthening hometown security, we have worked to get information, tools, and resources out of Washington, D.C., and into the hands of SLTT officials and first responders. This has led to improvements in our capability to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against our citizens, our communities, and our critical infrastructure. We have increased our ability to analyze and distribute threat information at all levels. We have invested in training for local law enforcement and first responders of all types in order to increase expertise and capacity at the local level.

In my time today, I would like to provide an overview of the efforts of not just I&A, but the entire Department of Homeland Security, often in partnership with the DOJ and FBI, to keep our nation safe from evolving threats through information sharing activities with our state and local partners.

Current Threats

While the United States has made significant progress, threats from terrorists—including, but not limited to al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda affiliated groups—persist and continually evolve, and the demands on DHS continue to grow. Today’s threats are not limited to any one individual, group or ideology and are not defined or contained by international borders. Terrorist tactics can be as simple as a homemade bomb and as sophisticated as a biological threat or a coordinated cyber attack.

DHS and our partners at all levels of government have successfully increased the safety and security of our Nation. However, the continued threat of terrorism in the United States demonstrates that we must remain vigilant and prepared at all times. We remain concerned with threats from domestic terrorists because they tend to operate as lone offenders or in small cells, which complicates law enforcement’s detection and disruption.

To address these evolving threats, we work closely with federal and SLTT law enforcement partners on a wide range of critical homeland security issues in order to provide those on the frontlines with the information and tools they need to address threats in their communities and protect people and property.

Information Sharing Activities

DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) is one of the federal government’s key information intermediaries, as well as an intelligence advocate for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. I&A’s mission is to equip the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE) with the intelligence and information it needs to keep the homeland safe, secure, and resilient. I&A has a unique role as a conduit for information sharing among the Intelligence Community; federal entities; state, local, tribal, and territorial organizations; and private sector partners. This includes promoting an understanding of threats to the homeland through intelligence analysis, collecting information and intelligence to support homeland security missions, managing intelligence activities for the Department, and sharing information, while protecting the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of all Americans.

I&A analyzes intelligence and information about homeland security threats and serves as a two-way interface between the Intelligence Community (IC) and SLTT, and private sector partners. This includes providing warnings, actionable intelligence, and analysis to ensure that DHS leadership, departmental operating components, law enforcement and intelligence partners, and frontline law enforcement have the information they need to confront and disrupt terrorist and other threats to the homeland. We share these products through the national network of 77 state and locally operated fusion centers.

We are also working to ensure that every fusion center maintains a set of core capabilities that includes the ability to assess local implications of national intelligence, share information with federal authorities so we can identify emerging national threats, and ensure the protection of civil rights, civil liberties and privacy.

Specifically, we are encouraging fusion centers to develop and strengthen their grassroots analytic capabilities so that national intelligence can be placed into local context, and the domestic threat picture can be enhanced based on an understanding of the threats in local communities. We are partnering with fusion centers to establish more rigorous analytic processes and analytic production plans, increasing opportunities for training and professional development for state and local analysts, and encouraging the development of joint products among fusion centers and federal partners.

Production and Dissemination of Threat Information

The Department has developed tailored product lines to meet the needs of our SLTT partners, and expanded our dissemination to include the diverse range of homeland security stakeholders (law enforcement, emergency management, public health, and private sector). Specifically, I&A produces a variety of timely, tailored, and actionable intelligence products for SLTT partners, to include: Daily Intelligence Highlights (DIH), Roll Call Releases (RCR), Homeland Security Notes (HSN), Homeland Security Reference Aids (HSRA), Homeland Security Assessments (HSA), Homeland Security Monitors (HSM) Intelligence Notifications and Homeland Security State and Local Intelligence Community of Interest (HS-SLIC) messages, and Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) trend analysis. Additionally, I&A coordinates the development of tearline reporting with the larger Intelligence Community (IC) during times of imminent threat to ensure that SLTT partners remain fully apprised of the evolving threat environment in the Homeland. A also works closely with the FBI on the development of Joint Information Bulletins (JIB), both classified and unclassified, that are disseminated to SLTT and law enforcement officials, which provide situational awareness and information on potential threats.

I&A uses feedback provided by state and local customers to adjust its analytic and current intelligence products to better meet their needs. As a result of feedback received over the last two years, I&A initiated new products including the Snapshot, which identifies tactics, techniques, and procedures of an emerging event which may have Homeland implications, and provides potential indicators and recommended preventive and protective actions. Analysis of survey data provided by SLTT partners on I&A products reveals that 98 percent of SLTT customers rated the relevance of I&A products they reviewed as Important to Critical.

Suspicious Activity Reporting and Raising Public Awareness

Over the past three years, we have transformed how we train our nation’s frontline officers regarding suspicious activities, through the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI). This initiative, which we conduct in partnership with the DOJ, is an Administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators potentially related to terrorism and terrorism-related crime; standardize how those observations are documented and analyzed; and ensure the sharing of those reports with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) for further investigation.

More than 234,000 law enforcement officers have now received training under this initiative, and more are getting trained every week. The training was created in collaboration with numerous law enforcement agencies, and with privacy, civil rights and civil liberties officials. DHS also has expanded the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative to include our nation’s 18 critical infrastructure sectors. Infrastructure owners and operators from the 18 sectors are now contributing information, vetted by law enforcement through the same screening process otherwise used to provide information to the JTTFs. I&A also has conducted numerous domestic terrorism briefings and intelligence exchanges with state and local law enforcement and the private sector to share lessons learned and best practices.

Because an engaged and vigilant public is vital to our efforts to protect our communities, we have also continued our nationwide expansion of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign. This campaign encourages Americans to contact law enforcement if they see something suspicious or potentially dangerous. To date, we have expanded the campaign to federal buildings, transportation systems, universities, professional and amateur sports leagues and teams, entertainment venues, some of our nation’s largest retailers, as well as our SLTT to include local law enforcement. Most recently DHS has partnered with sports leagues such as the National Football League, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Hockey League, U.S. Golf, and the U.S. Tennis Association, to promote public awareness of potential indicators of terrorism at sporting events.

Countering Violent Extremism

At DHS, we believe that local authorities and community members are often best able to identify individuals or groups residing within their communities exhibiting dangerous behaviors—and intervene—before they commit an act of violence. Countering violent extremism (CVE) is a shared responsibility, and DHS continues to work with a broad range of partners to gain a better understanding of the behaviors, tactics, and other indicators that could point to terrorist activity, and the best ways to mitigate or prevent that activity.

The Department’s efforts to counter violent extremism are three-fold. We are working to better understand the phenomenon of violent extremism through extensive analysis and research on the behaviors and indicators of violent extremism. We are bolstering efforts to address the dynamics of violent extremism by strengthening partnerships with state, local, and international partners. And, we are expanding support for information-driven, community-oriented policing efforts through training and grants.

Over the past year, DHS has worked closely with state and local partners, including the State and Provincial Police Academy Directors (SPPADS), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Major City Chiefs Association (MCCA), the Major County Sheriff’s Association (MCSA), as well as the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), DOJ, and the FBI to develop training for Federal, state and local, and Correctional Facility law enforcement officers, as well as a training block for State Police Academies.

The key goal of the training is to help law enforcement recognize the indicators of violent extremist activity and distinguish between those behaviors that are potentially related to crime and those that are constitutionally protected or part of a religious or cultural practice. The Department has hosted four workshops to receive feedback from front line officers on the training materials, including workshops in Columbus, OH, San Diego, CA, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis, MN. Workshops were also conducted for Correctional Facility law enforcement, including one in Sykesville, MD and one in Orange County, CA. Additionally, the Department held a separate session with the State and Provincial Policy Academy Directors and IACP to receive input on the training materials focused for State Academy Training facilities.

Based on feedback we received from SPPADS Directors and the IACP’s CVE Advisory Group that it would be helpful to have CVE training available online so that law enforcement can access it more easily, the Department has created a new CVE Training Webportal, accessible to law enforcement via the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), which contains CVE training curricula, case studies, research, products, and cultural competence materials. This Webportal was launched on August 31, 2012 for a select group of SPPADS Directors and CVE Trainers, and will be available to law enforcement training practitioners nationwide by the end of September. Additionally, the Department is holding a Train-the-Trainer Workshop for CVE Trainers and Practitioners from each state on September 27-28, 2012 in San Diego, CA.

All of this is consistent with the Administration’s CVE Strategy released in August 2011 and the CVE Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States released in December 2011.

As part of our CVE approach, I&A has conducted extensive analysis and research to better understand the threat of violent extremism in order to support state and local law enforcement, fusion centers, and community partners with the knowledge needed to identify behaviors and indicators of violent extremism, and prevent violent crime. I&A’s analysis and research focuses on assessing strategic level patterns and trends in the activities of domestic extremist movements to help inform SLTT partners so they can best prioritize their own resources and determine their own vulnerabilities. In furtherance of this effort, I&A prepares case studies on key domestic extremist groups and movements. These case studies – and other products – identify indicators of common violent extremist activities.

DHS has also supported State and Local CVE activities through grants. DHS publicly released the CVE Training Guidance and Best Practices, which was sent to all state and local partner grantors and grantees thereby tying CVE to grant guidance policy on October 7, 2011. DHS also incorporated language into FY 2012 grant guidance that prioritizes CVE and allows funds to be used in support of state and local CVE efforts.

Active Shooter Threats

There have been a series of international and domestic violent extremist incidents over the past several years that have involved active shooters, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks; shootings in 2009 at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Fort Hood, and a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas; and the 2011 attacks in Utoya, Norway. The recent shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was carried out by an individual with a history of involvement in the white supremacist extremist movement, although his motives remain unknown.

Preventing and responding to active shooter threats is a priority for state and local law enforcement authorities, regardless of whether the attacker or attackers are motivated by an extreme ideology or some other criminal intent. Regardless of the motivation, prevention is a priority, response efforts will be the same and the impact on the community is significant. This is an area in which the Department, in partnership with the FBI has been very active. DHS is working closely with our partners to better understand the behaviors and indicators that lead to these acts of violence, the tactics used, and the actions that can be taken to help prevent them in the future. A central goal of our efforts is to build capabilities within state and local law enforcement communities to respond to active shooter threats, regardless of the motives or origins.

As part of this effort, we have worked with the FBI to produce case studies regarding past active shooter events and have made them available to state and local law enforcement partners. These case studies include behaviors and indicators, so that front line personnel will be better able to recognize pre-incident indicators of an emerging active shooter threat. We have incorporated this information in the training materials pertaining to CVE.

Additionally, the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Office of Infrastructure Protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide active shooter trainings for state and local law enforcement and private sector partners. DHS’s Active Shooter Awareness Program provides resources to help public and private-sector security managers train their workforce and enhance their facilities’ preparedness and response to an active shooter scenario. DHS also has developed an online Independent Study Course titled “Active Shooter: What You Can Do,” as well as additional active shooter information.

FEMA, through Louisiana State University, a member of the National Domestic Preparedness consortium, also offers the Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response (LASER) course which addresses the technical aspects of planning and implementing a rapid law enforcement deployment to an active shooter incident.

In addition, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) has been instrumental in preparing our Nation’s state, local, and Federal law enforcement officers to respond effectively to an active shooter incident should one occur. FLETC has trained over 4,000 U.S. law enforcement officers in active shooter response and active shooter response instructor training. These newly trained instructors have gone on to train thousands more. FLETC also has reached out to its law enforcement partners that have experienced active shooter incidents to develop “lessons learned/lesson anticipated” that help to continually update and improve the tactics for active shooter response programs.

DHS also has developed an online Independent Study Course titled “Active Shooter: What You Can Do” through FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. This course provides guidance to individuals, including managers and employees, to prepare to respond to an active shooter situation. Nearly 134,000 government and private-sector participants have completed this training since it was released in March 2011.

In collaboration with the FBI and NCTC, DHS and FEMA have organized a two-day Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series (JCTAWS) to review and improve operational capabilities, response resources, and information sharing among Federal, state, local, and private sector partners. This nationwide initiative is designed to increase the ability of local jurisdictions to prepare for, protect against, and respond to coordinated terrorist attacks against multiple targets. Since 2011, workshops have been conducted in Boston, Philadelphia, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Sacramento, Houston, Nashville, Denver, and Los Angeles. Modified workshops were also conducted in Tampa and Charlotte in support of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The next scheduled workshop is in Las Vegas this October.

Because faith-based communities have been the targets of violence, DHS continues to maintain regular contact with faith-based communities and helps coordinate rapid incident communications efforts. One recent example includes the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’ (CRCL) activation of the Incident Community Coordination Team (ICCT) on August 6, 2012, following the shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

During the call, leaders from Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and interfaith communities and organizations discussed the shooting with senior Government officials from the White House, DOJ, FBI, and DHS. More than 100 participants from across the country joined the ICCT call to share information about response activities and resources available, and to address community concerns.

Through the Office of Infrastructure Protection, DHS also has made the Active Shooter Awareness Program available to faith-based communities, as well as provided resources to ensure that their facilities are safe and secure through site assessments, threat briefings, and trainings.

Conclusion

While America is stronger and more resilient as a result of these efforts to strengthen the Homeland Security Enterprise, threats from terrorists persist and continue to evolve. Today’s threats do not come from any one individual or group. They may originate in distant lands or local neighborhoods.

The federal government realizes that SLTT law enforcement, as well as citizens, businesses, and communities are on the frontlines of detection and prevention. Protecting the nation is a shared responsibility and everyone can contribute by staying informed and aware of the threats the nation faces.

Thank you for this opportunity to outline DHS’s efforts to prepare for and prevent terrorist attacks against the homeland. I look forward to your questions.

Review Date: 
September 18, 2012
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