Rendell’s Chief of Staff Outlines New Intelligence Gathering Plan

Plan said to ‘Protect Public, Respect Citizen’s Rights’

Rendell Administration Plans to Add Staff to Existing Criminal Intelligence Center Operation, Improve Interagency Communications

HARRISBURG – Governor Edward G. Rendell’s chief of staff, Steven Crawford, presented state senators today with plan to focus Pennsylvania’s intelligence-gathering operations on legitimate criminal activities, as well as situations that threaten the state’s citizens, assets and natural resources, while respecting the rights and privacy of the public.

“The subject before this committee is not an easy one,” said Crawford as he addressed the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “In today’s world it seems that all of us struggle with this question: How do we protect our people from those who would do us harm and, at the same time, protect the rights and freedoms that make us a special nation to begin with?”

In his remarks, Crawford said he has, at the Governor’s direction, conducted a thorough analysis of the state’s intelligence operations. Throughout that process, the guiding questions were: how can the commonwealth create an in-house capability to obtain credible and useful intelligence on situations that pose a real threat; how can it establish an information sharing scheme that ensures intelligence reaches those who need to know in a timely and useful manner; and how can it build on existing structures and partnerships to facilitate real-time communications without being hindered by bureaucracy.

“We already have a working model for doing this, and that is the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center,” said Crawford. “PACIC provides strategic analytical support. Its analysts routinely monitor available information related to various criminal organizations and threat groups. Ongoing assessments of their activities can be provided to law enforcement managers and investigators.”

Crawford said from this point on, the Rendell administration is going to augment the resources already dedicated to PACIC to collect and examine non-law enforcement information, as well. The administration is also recommending that the commonwealth hire four new analysts and one supervisor dedicated exclusively to non-criminal intelligence gathering, concentrating on situational awareness and critical asset protection pursuant to state and federal mandates. PACIC currently has a staff of 28. The FBI, federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the state Department of Corrections, and the state Attorney General also maintain staff at PACIC.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania State Police will establish intelligence information-sharing protocols.

The plan unveiled today is in response to a comprehensive review of the state’s intelligence work in the wake of Governor Rendell’s order to end a contractual agreement with the Institute for Terrorism Research and Response, which had been supplying the state Office of Homeland Security with information.

“It is now well-established and all agree that the ITRR bulletins went too far,” said Crawford. “Neither I nor anyone else in the Governor’s office was briefed on the breadth and depth of concern that State Police and other law enforcement entities had with respect to the bulletins. The ITRR contract, however misused, was entered into legally and with good intentions. Unfortunately, the content of the bulletins rendered them of marginal value, inflammatory and hurtful, if not harmful.”

Crawford also added that Col. Jim Powers, the former director of the state Office of Homeland Security, should not be made a scapegoat for the concerns raised by the bulletins.

“Col. Powers spent 30 years defending our country in places and in ways that few have the courage to do. His resignation was but a final acknowledgement that the function of homeland security is too important to be compromised by distractions involving one individual and his error in judgment,” said Crawford.


Editor’s Note: Chief of Staff Crawford’s full testimony, as prepared for delivery, follows:

I want to thank you for conducting what I found to be a fair hearing on matters relative to the Commonwealth’s homeland security efforts. I appreciate the frank and productive discussions I’ve had with several of you before and subsequent to your initial hearing.

The subject before this committee is not an easy one. In today’s world it seems that all of us struggle with this question: How do we protect our people from those who would do us harm and at the same time protect the rights and freedoms that make us a special nation to begin with?

It is now well established and all agree that the ITRR bulletins went too far. When Governor Rendell learned of the intelligence bulletins he was outraged. Typical of my boss, and too atypical in today’s modern political world, he took fast and decisive action to:

1) Accept responsibility 2) End them 3) Make sure it doesn’t happen again

4) Develop a construct that protects the public with an acute sensitivity to protecting their rights, as well.

It is the third and fourth item that he tasked me with and I hope that will be the bulk our discussion here today.

Following up on the last hearing

Before we begin please allow me to clear the air about a few things that were raised during your initial hearing.

First, like you, Senator Baker. I was equally “stunned” upon hearing the testimony of Mr. Bivens, who heads up the PACIC. I immediately asked for all the emails he referenced in his testimony and I read them over and over. Fifty pages of email spanning nine months and not once was there any suggestion that this get “kicked upstairs” to the Governor’s office.

As you know, I’ve corresponded with the committee to state for the record that neither I nor anyone else in the Governor’s office was briefed on the breadth and depth of concern that PSP and other law enforcement entities had with respect to the bulletins.

But I did not and I will not blame the PSP or Commissioner Pawlowski or General French for not bringing the dispute to our attention. We have a renewed collective understanding of what needs to come to me and the Governor for resolution.

PEMA, PSP, the Guard, have done tremendous work together. We’ve seen it first hand, from the security surrounding the G-20 in Pittsburgh to the emergency response during the blizzards and record snowfall last winter.

If I did not have confidence in Frank Pawlowski or Rob French and their collective ability to assume, coordinate and manage an enhanced homeland security assignment I would not be presenting you or the Governor with the recommendations shortly to follow.

Second, I agree with Virginia Cody who testified that Colonel James Powers should not be made a scapegoat. Colonel Powers spent 30 years defending our country in places and in ways that few have the courage to do. His resignation was but a final acknowledgement that the function of homeland security is too important to be compromised by distractions involving one individual and his error in judgment.

Third, the ITRR contract, however misused, was entered into legally and with good intention. State governments are encouraged if not mandated by federal statutes and agencies to increase communication across law enforcement and homeland security disciplines and to share relevant information with public and private partners. Four separate executive orders dating back to the first one in 2001 speak to that goal. Unfortunately, the content of the bulletins rendered them of marginal value, inflammatory, and hurtful, if not harmful.

Finally, I have confirmed that no lists of individuals were kept. No lists of organizations were kept.

Moving forward

So the question remains: how do we in a proven and effective way make sure that we:

1) Create an in house capability to obtain credible, useful intelligence regarding situations that may pose a real threat to our people, our assets, or our natural resources? 2) Establish an information sharing scheme that gets that information to people who need to know in a manner that is timely and useful? 3) Build on existing structures and partnerships—cut through bureaucratic silos and ceilings—to facilitate real time communication between all disciplines and state and federal agencies?

The construct of Executive Order 2007-10, and the three that came before it—under Governor Schweiker and Governor Rendell—direct agencies to develop emergency response and protection plans for critical infrastructure, create partnerships and communications with external stakeholders and organizations, establish an all hazards information fusion capability, and communicate and coordinate across agency disciplines.

We already have a working model for this.

The Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PACIC) is the commonwealth’s official criminal intelligence center. It has three components.

1) Intelligence analysis: provides 24/7 access to information supporting the investigation of criminal incidents and criminal intelligence issues.

2) Threat cell analysis provides ongoing monitoring of various threat streams to assess the level of potential threats from terrorism or serious criminal activity

3) The watch center: provides situational awareness information to the state police and other commonwealth law enforcement agencies.

PACIC maintains a complement of 28. Almost all of whom are intelligence analysts. The FBI, ATF, DOC and attorney general also have staff at PACIC.

PACIC provides strategic analytical support for longer term criminal investigations of organized crime enterprises. Intel analysts routinely monitor available information related to various criminal organizations and threat groups in order that ongoing assessments of their activities can be provided to law enforcement managers and investigators. Analysts take large amounts of data and organize it into a discreet usable product which identifies linkages between individuals, criminal
organizations, and identifies methods of operation or other similarities in criminal patterns.

Approximately 1000 local, state, and federal agencies are registered with PACIC so its dissemination network is extensive.

We are going to do the following:

Augment the resources currently dedicated to PACIC with intelligence analysts dedicated to the collection and vetting of non law enforcement information.

Develop information that can be of specific use to non law enforcement partners, both public and private.

PEMA and PSP will further establish intelligence information sharing protocols within the appropriate federal statutes, governor’s executive order guidelines, and utilizing the PEMA network for non criminal matters.

We are recommending to the Governor that we hire four new analysts and one supervisor, dedicated exclusively to the task of non criminal intelligence gathering. They will concentrate on situational awareness and critical asset protection pursuant to federal and state mandates.

PSP and PEMA will work seamlessly to develop a fact-based, credible, discreet and targeted outreach mechanism that can be used by stakeholders, both public and, where appropriate, private.

Major General French and Colonel Pawlowski will provide biweekly briefings to me, the deputy chief of staff assigned to them and the Governor.

In a short time, we will host members of this committee to PSP PACIC headquarters for a full briefing on this initiative. I also encourage you to visit the State Emergency Operations Center at PEMA to get a hands-on understanding of real time situational awareness.

We will lift the hiring freeze to immediately recruit and retain the analysts.

We will augment the PSP General Government Operations budget to accommodate the new complement.

I would respectfully ask the members of this committee to support sustaining that budget next year. I do so because each of the last three fiscal years the legislature has cut the budget for PSP and PEMA below the levels submitted to you by the Governor.

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