On June 26, 2012, HSPI released the research brief “Counterterrorism Intelligence: Fusion Center Perspectives.” The brief, the most recent product of HSPI’s Counterterrorism Intelligence Survey Research program, examines how the professionals working in the national network of fusion centers view the terror threat, the efficacy of their centers, and the role fusion centers play in the intelligence enterprise.
HSPI’s research finds that although a majority of respondents believe terrorism will remain a persistent threat:
- 65% state that homegrown jihadi terrorism poses the greatest terror threat in their jurisdiction
- 78% expect the threat of terrorism to persist
- 63% list law enforcement as their center’s most important function; 28% identify counterterrorism as their center’s most important function
- Only 29% report that their center conducts annual threat assessments
- A majority state that critical infrastructure owners and operators are not part of their fusion center
- A majority believe their center has only weak capabilities to address emerging cyber threats
“HSPI’s Counterterrorism Intelligence Survey Research program is dedicated to bringing a bit of science to the art of intelligence – an ever more important task in the face of today’s counterterrorism requirements, emerging cyber threats, and the reality of our budgetary constraints,” commented Frank J. Cilluffo, HSPI Director and study co-author. The authors of study assert:
- Those working in the fusion centers have yet to be invested with the analytical skill-craft and training necessary for them to accomplish their mission
- Current incentive structures place too much emphasis on information processing and not enough on analytical outcome
Study co-author and LAPD Deputy Chief Michael J. Downing commented that within the fusion centers, the untapped collection and analysis potential needed for State and local law enforcement is “the leverage needed to develop anticipatory intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks and the proliferation of criminal enterprise operations."
The authors recommend greater resources be allocated to the professional development of those working in the centers.
The study’s authors are:
HSPI Director Frank J. Cilluffo, HSPI Policy Analyst Dr. Joseph R. Clark, LAPD Deputy Chief Michael J. Downing, and Deputy Commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety Keith D. Squires.
This brief represents the second installment of HSPI’s Counterterrorism Intelligence Survey Research (CTISR) program. CTISR is the first sustained attempt to systematically and routinely collect data from counterterrorism professionals at all levels of government.
Founded in 2003, The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) is a nonpartisan "think and do" tank whose mission is to build bridges between theory and practice to advance homeland security through an interdisciplinary approach. By convening domestic and international policymakers and practitioners at all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academia, HSPI creates innovative strategies and solutions to current and future threats to the nation.
The Homeland Security Policy Institute's Counterterrorism Intelligence Survey Research (CTISR) program represents the first attempt to systematically and routinely collect data from counterterrorism professionals at all levels of government. CTISR will measure how counterterrorism and intelligence practitioners - be they analytical or operational - perceive the terrorism threat domain and their role in countering it. In measuring practitioner perceptions of the threat domain and the systems by which they gather and evaluate information about it, it will be possible to reach an empirically derived understanding of the evolving threat posed by terrorism, its relationship to criminal activities and other societal dangers, and the status of collaborative and cooperative efforts to combat it. With CTISR data it will be possible to bring science to the art of counterterrorism intelligence.