New Terror Threat Center Aims At Agency Barriers

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It’s called Tee-Tick (TTIC)–the new federal Terorist Threat Information Center in a cluttered cubicle on the fourth floor of the CIA’s Original Headquarters Building. U.S. News & World Report reports an exclusive look inside the center, starting with a story about a young analyst who warned that terrorists might use scuba diving gear.

The magazine says the scuba alerts show how TTIC is bringing together disparate, often isolated elements of the counterterrorism effort. “We’re supposed to be the one-stop shopping in the U.S. government for the terrorism threat,” says director John Brennan, a veteran CIA official. “We’re also supposed to know where the gaps are.”

Each major department involved with TTIC–including the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency–has its own separate system for storing classified intelligence. A glance under Brennan’s desk shows the problem: five computers tied into systems unable to talk to one another.

TTIC must break down cultural barriers between intelligence and law enforcement agencies. “We are allowing a more robust flow of information between two worlds that we intentionally kept separate,” says NSA’s director, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden. Inside TTIC, this begins with the open-bullpen layout of the office. The cubicles are grouped in clusters, commingling people from different agencies in a kind of forced integration. “Within the walls of TTIC, there is a free flow of information,” says deputy director James Bernazzani, from the FBI.

Every morning, analysts from as many as a dozen different agencies gather around an oval table in the center of the office to pull together the Threat Matrix, a daily 15-to-20-page compendium of the latest intelligence on specific threats and plots against the United States. “Before, you could say the cooperation was virtual,” says one analyst. “Now it’s face to face.”


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