To protect America against terrorists, state and local agencies, as well as private businesses, need to gather intelligence themselves and not just rely on intelligence gathered by the federal government, Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the leader of a national working group on safeguarding the nation, told homeland security officials on Tuesday. “The eyes and ears which gather intelligence need to be as developed in our country as they were in foreign countries during the cold war,” Romney told the group, according to the New York Times. “Meter readers, E.M.S. drivers, law enforcement, private sector personnel need to be on the lookout for information which may be as useful.”
In a presentation by telephone to Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, and members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, who were meeting in San Diego, Romney said that local law enforcement agencies should stop believing that they could protect all possible targets of terrorism. “We could increase our law enforcement personnel tenfold, but we can’t protect every target,” he said. The proposal by Romney’s working group represents a new and more assertive role for many local law enforcement agencies and other public and private entities in fighting terrorism, some experts on domestic security said.