Giuliano: FBI fixing IT problems that hindered Ft. Hood shooter investigation
Within months of the November 2009 shooting spree by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan that left 13 people dead, the FBI improved software to connect intelligence information automatically and more effectively, said Mark Giuliano, executive assistant director of the FBI's national security branch.
The Data Integration and Visualization System, or DIVS, and Sentinel are significantly improving search capabilities, said Giuliano, while testifying Aug. 1 before the House Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice, science and related agencies.
A July 19 commission report found that improved software and search capabilities in the FBI's classified database could have helped investigators at the San Diego and Washington joint terrorism task force, or JTTF, field offices.
The IT system used to review emails required case agents to go back into the system and conduct a search every time there was a new email added to the queue, said Giuliano.
"That was fine for the way we used to do business, but on an individual like [Anwar] al-Awlaki, that system was not up to par for what it needed to be," said Giuliano, referring to the American-born radical Islam propagandist with whom Hasan communicated.
The new system automatically threads new emails of interest together and tips case agents or analysts when a lead has been set as it relates to that specific email address, said Giuliano. If the new system had been in place earlier, it would have allowed Hassan and al-Awlaki's emails to be viewed side-by-side.
Training for the new system is also more robust. Previously, the 3,000 JTTF employees did IT training online and at regional offices. Now, JTTF employees go to Quantico for 9-day mandatory training to access all databases on the new systems.
Giuliano also said the policy issues that caused information sharing problems are resolved.
"It took too long, in our opinion and the committee's, to cover the lead to begin with. So, we have changed policy there that again reiterates and requires leads to be covered in a certain time period and duration," he said.
If there is a disagreement as to who is taking the lead, it is to be pushed up to the supervisors and then to the appropriate oversight group at headquarters, he said.
- go to the hearing page (archived webcast and prepared testimony available)
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