- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) The FBI should be required to share information on efforts to fight terrorism with local law enforcement in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday.
Testifying in City Hall at a field hearing of the U.S. House terrorism subcommittee, Mr. Giuliani proposed that Congress pass a law requiring the FBI and other federal authorities to share their intelligence with local police and government officials, especially in a crisis.
"We need the information and we need it right away," he said. "We need real-time information about what is happening."
"Do we really need to pass a law?" asked Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat. "Couldn't the director of the FBI just start doing that?"
"You need to legislate permission to do that," replied the mayor, himself a former federal prosecutor.
Yesterday in Toronto, FBI Director Robert Mueller pledged better cooperation between police and the FBI working on the investigation into the terrorist attacks.
In the speech to the International Association of Police Chiefs, Mr. Mueller acknowledged that offers of help from police have in some cases been wrongly turned down.
"That is unacceptable," he said to resounding applause from police representing forces in all 50 states, Canada and Europe.
But Mr. Giuliani also acknowledged the risks federal authorities would face if they gave local officials access to sensitive information. "The more people you share it with, the more chance there is that it will get out," he said. "You have to think your way through this."
He added, however, that in his view, FBI officials "have to be willing to give top security clearances to more people. The barrier is one that's understandable. The barrier is, if it's classified information, you want to share it with as few people as possible."
He said there are 600,000 local law enforcers in the nation who could help the FBI if they received access to information on terrorism.
Mr. Mueller suggested local law enforcers cover local leads in the investigation wherever possible and said the FBI would get them the information they needed in a timely manner.
He also said the FBI does not have as much information on suspects as local forces may think. In some cases, he said, the FBI has little more than names and aliases of individuals wanted for questioning.
In his remarks, Mr. Giuliani also said that the creation of the Office of Emergency Management in 1996 helped prepare the city to cope with emergencies. In 1997, for example, the agency conducted an exercise to prepare for a hypothetical chemical attack on a large public gathering.
Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, a former FBI agent and like Mr. Giuliani a former U.S. attorney, said he agreed with the mayor's comments about FBI cooperation.
Mr. Keating, whose state suffered the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the worst U.S. terrorist attack before Sept. 11, said that the laws need to be changed relating to who gets security clearance.
He also emphasized, however, that the FBI's "culture" needed to be modified, saying that when he was trained, agents were taught that "local law enforcement is undereducated and frequently corrupt."
"That culture needs to be addressed," Mr. Keating said, adding that today's police are better educated and have more integrity.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide