Not everyone thinks total information sharing between agencies is warranted. "The idea of creating a single, U.S. government-wide repository of information on all things related to terrorism isn't feasible -- at least in the near term -- and probably isn't desirable," said one U.S. counterterrorism official not authorized to speak publicly. "Even as we've greatly expanded information sharing since 9/11, you still have to think about security and the sensitivity of certain data."
That view infuriates Fran Townsend, an assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism in the George W. Bush administration.
"This is one that makes me angry," she said at a public event in April. "This is not a technology problem. It's a failure of policy and a failure of leadership. I venture to say that if the president of the United States calls in his cabinet and says a cabinet member will be fired if his agency fails to share information, you betcha that information is going to get shared ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â… and we haven't seen that."
Travers argued that there are indeed technical problems, as well as tough policy ones. The Herculean task of separating relevant information from background noise makes terrorism analysis an extraordinarily difficult art, he said, and there is no button to push to identify non-obvious relationships.
"What I think we can do," he said, "is shrink the haystack and make it somewhat easier for the analysts."