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Threat Center Is Called 'Hub' for Data

March 14, 2003|Greg Miller | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The United States faces a terrorism threat that may diminish in time but will never disappear, the incoming director of a new terrorism intelligence center said Thursday.

"The terrorist threat is going to be out there. I don't think it's going away," said John Brennan, a longtime CIA official who this week was named director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

Brennan said the center will function as a "hub" of threat information collected by the CIA, the FBI and other agencies, and that its mission is to spot patterns and plots that might be missed by agencies with more limited access to data.

Alluding to the complaint by many in Congress that the intelligence community failed to connect the dots on terrorism plots leading up to Sept. 11, Brennan said the new center exists "so that the dots will be recognized, will be seen."

The center is expected to begin operating in May, initially on the CIA's campus in Langley, Va., but later at its own facility at a new location. It will be comprised of analysts from the CIA, FBI and the new Department of Homeland Security, among others agencies, Brennan said.

Brennan discussed plans for the center with a small group of reporters at CIA headquarters. He will report to CIA Director George J. Tenet, although the center will operate independently of the agency.

In a brief talk with reporters afterward, Tenet said Brennan will have a prominent voice in counter-terrorism matters.

Asked whether Brennan would be briefing the president, Tenet said, "I would expect that he will."

But it was also clear that many operational details are still unresolved. Brennan said he is still working out basic mechanisms and technologies for assembling and distributing terrorism-threat data.

He and Tenet both stressed that the center will not be collecting data on Americans. "We're not talking about melding into an Mi5-like organization," Brennan said, referring to the British domestic spying service.

Brennan, 47, has been with the CIA for 23 years. He recently was CIA deputy executive director and Tenet's chief of staff.

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