Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

Misunderstood Wall Between Intelligence and Law Enforcement

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

A 2004 report prepared for the 9/11 Commission looked at the oft cited problem that various information sharing policies resulted in a “wall” between intelligence and law enforcement agencies. That 3 page report was recently declassified.

“Legal Barriers to Information Sharing: The Erection of a Wall Between Intelligence and Law Enforcement Investigations”, Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Staff Monograph, Barbara A. Grewe, Senior Counsel for Special Projects, 20 August 2004.

One of the study’s conclusions is that there was no legal reason why intelligence information could not have been shared before 9/11 but that many people thought that there were legal restrictions.

“The information sharing failures in the summer of 2001 were not the result of legal barriers but of the failure of individuals to understand that the barriers did not apply to the facts at hand. Simply put, there was no legal reason why the information could not have been shared.”

So, if the applicable laws and official policies were not the the problem, changing them doesn’t directly address the problem. To me this report points out an opportunity for those of us working with computer-based policy systems.

We can and should create prototype systems that can help humans by (1) automatically rendering opinions about what existing policies allow and prohibit; (2) providing good explanations for those opinions; (3) letting people examine the reasoning and data provenance underlying the opinions and explore related situations through alternate assumptions and counterfactuals; and (4) collecting feedback from people for analysis and to drive the evolution of the policy systems.

This is a tall order, but there is a lot of prior work on explanation in expert systems that we can draw on.

(spotted on FAS Secrecy News)