June 10, 2005

MSNBC - Francona on Intelligence Sharing


On June 10, I was interviewed by Randy Meier on MSNBC about continuing problems with intelligence sharing. Here is a summary of that interview and a link to a video.

Intelligence sharing better, but needs improvement MSNBC analyst Francona says changes taking place from bottom up

A newly released Justice Department report says the FBI missed at least five opportunities to uncover vital intelligence that could have helped stop the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The missed opportunities occurred in large parts because of bad information sharing, according to the report, particularly between the FBI and CIA, along with problems within the FBI's own counterterrorism program.

The intelligence community, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, have claimed that improvements have been made in this area. Those claims are true, according to MSNBC Military Analyst and Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona, who worked for the Department of Defense as a counter-terrorism official specifically charged with targeting al-Qaida in the late 1990s, but that that doesn't mean the problem has been solved.

"I know at the worker level, it's much more improved," Francona said Friday in an interview with MSNBC's Randy Meier. "People are exchanging the information, but the system hasn't caught up with what is really going on. "

It's at the higher levels of the bureaucracy that the information flow is still not as free as it should be, Francona said.

He noted that while working for the Defense Department in the 90s, that intelligence sharing was practically non-existent.

"I wish there had been some," Francona said. "That's the bottom line. The problem was this wall people keep talking about between the law enforcement community and the intelligence community. But the problem was deeper than that. It was within the intelligence community itself.

"The agencies weren't real good at sharing information that they had gained with the other analytical cells. Then, once you had something within the intelligence community, it was very very difficult to exchange that with the FBI," Francona said. "You could provide it to the FBI, but you never got anything back from the FBI. It was the mindset - the FBI wanted to put people in jail, the intelligence community wanted to stop operations."

Francona admitted that working in this atmosphere was very frustrating, and while improvements have been made, there is still a long way to go. "I think the problem has been recognized and people know it needs to be fixed, but the bureaucratic problems are still there," he said.

To watch the complete interview, go to:

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