The Department of Justice's Terrorism Task Forces

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2005-007
June 2005
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix XII

EOUSA Response

  Executive Office for United States Attorneys
Office of the Director

RFK Main Justice Building, Room 2261
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 514-2121

MAY 17 2005


TO: Paul A. Price
Assistant Inspector General
  for Evaluation and Inspections
FROM: Mary Beth Buchanan
Executive Office for United States Attorneys
SUBJECT: EOUSA's Response to the Draft Report on the Department of Justice's Terrorism Task Forces

I. General Comments

We have reviewed the draft report entitled "The Department of Justice's Terrorism Task Forces," and respectfully submit the following comments on behalf of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA). We agree with many of the conclusions reached in the report, and concur with many of the recommendations as specifically noted in this response. In fact, we have already taken steps to comply with many of those recommendations. We appreciate that the report acknowledges the important contributions of the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils (ATACs) toward achieving the Department's goal of preventing terrorism and promoting national security, and credits the ATACs with helping to strengthen the Department's infrastructure devoted to counterterrorism, and assisting in the development of a national network of representatives from federal, state, and local agencies, and private industry. We are pleased with the initial success of the ATAC program, and look forward to implementing many of the recommendations in this report to assist the United States Attorneys' Offices (USAOs) in making the program even better.

Notwithstanding the fact that we agree that many of the recommendations in the report will serve to enhance and improve the ATAC program, we do not believe the draft report adequately reflects the difficult challenges faced by the USAOs, EOUSA, and the Counterterrorism Section (CTS) to change the priorities and philosophy of all of these offices since September 11, 2001. We do not believe that the report fully credits these offices with the tireless efforts of its many employees to implement and develop the ATAC program over the past three and a half years into what the report agrees is a solid and beneficial program. In addition, the report does not adequately acknowledge the uncertain and rapidly changing environment that the Department was reacting to in the time period after 9/11, and the incredibly demanding and complex task of continuously determining the best approach for the Department, and developing and providing guidance to the 93 United States Attorneys.

In addition, we do not believe that the draft report adequately reflects that the USAOs, CTS, and EOUSA have shared responsibilities for the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of the ATAC program, and it is that combination of duties and responsibilities that not only provides support to the ATAC program, but keeps it sufficiently flexible enough to be effective in each district. As directed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the United States Attorneys (US As) have primary responsibility for the implementation and coordination of the ATAC program. These responsibilities include implementing the Department's counterterrorism strategies, appointing an experienced Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) in each district, to serve as the ATAC Coordinator, establishing an ATAC within each district, providing regular reports to the Department on anti-terrorism activities, and monitoring the ATAC program to ensure compliance with the Department's policies and procedures.

CTS assists in coordinating the ATAC program on a national level, and has primary coordination responsibilities with respect to terrorism cases and threats that are investigated and prosecuted by the USAOs. The delineation of the roles of CTS and the USAOs was recently redefined in guidance issued by Deputy Attorney General James Comey on January 13, 2005. This guidance specifies when notification, consultation, and approval from CTS is required for all international and domestic terrorism cases. This coordination role is carried out by CTS through its Regional CTS Coordinators, who are each assigned a region of the country and specific USAOs who, in turn, report to their assigned coordinator regarding cases and threats. In addition, CTS also provides legal expertise and assistance to USAOs as requested and as needed.

EOUSA provides support for the USAOs, and serves as a liaison between the USAOs and the Department. EOUSA has primary responsibility for training the Department's employees, including ATAC Coordinators, through its Office of Legal Education. The training provided for ATAC Coordinators and ATAC membership is jointly developed by EOUSA, CTS, and USAOs, through working groups with representatives from all of these entities. In response to 9/11 and the ensuing immediate need to provide training to and develop better working relationships with federal, state, and local law enforcement, EOUSA was asked to expand its training to include training for members of the ATACs in addition to training for the ATAC Coordinators. EOUSA was also asked to provide joint training for ATAC Coordinators and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force supervisors. We submit that the draft report does not provide complete information about and adequately credit the Department for developing, sponsoring, and coordinating the numerous training sessions and conferences which were made available to ATAC Members and ATAC Coordinators. These trainings included a Conference for ATAC (then ATTF) Coordinators in November 2001; a Justice Television Network (JTN) two-day video-teleconference in January of 2002, which was conducted for ATAC Coordinators and members; six regional training sessions for ATAC Coordinators and ATAC members from April 2003 -August 2003; and eight regional National Security Conferences conducted for ATAC Coordinators and JTTF Supervisors from May 2003 -September 2003. In addition, there have been four national ATAC Coordinator Conferences; a Bioterrorism "Train the Trainers" course held for ATAC Coordinators in April 2003; and a Terrorism Conference for United States Attorneys in January 2003. We recognize that, due to the success of the ATAC program, new members are joining ATACs every day and it is a continuous process to train those new members. Nevertheless, we do not believe that the draft report adequately reflects the frequent number and quality of counterterrorism training that EOUSA has sponsored, following 9/11, and conducted throughout the past three and a half years.

EOUSA also has primary responsibility for evaluating the USAOs, including the ATAC Coordinators and ATAC programs throughout the nation. EOUSA's Evaluation and Review Staff (EARS) evaluates all of the USAOs every three or four years. As a result of the implementation of the ATAC program in the USAOs, EARS developed specific interview guides and program guides for the ATAC Coordinator and the ATAC program, which are designed to specifically evaluate the effectiveness of the ATAC Coordinator and the effectiveness of the ATAC program. We believe that the EARS evaluation process, which relies on experienced supervisors, AUSAs, and ATAC Coordinators in the field, to conduct a specific review of the ATAC Coordinator and ATAC program, is an effective means of determining whether a USAO is in compliance with the Attorney General's policies and is properly implementing the ATAC program.

The fact that the ATAC program is managed primarily by the USAOs, and not by EOUSA or CTS, allows each USAO the flexibility to implement the Department's counterterrorism programs and policies as it deems appropriate, consistent with the unique characteristics of its own jurisdiction. The draft report does not appear to recognize the flexibility inherent in this approach. For example, the draft report provides an example of an ATAC that has merged its activities and membership with a state homeland security task force, and implies that, because the state task force allegedly has the primary role of distributing information, determining membership, and developing meeting agendas, that this ATAC is not in compliance with the Attorney General's memoranda establishing the ATACs. We submit that each United States Attorney must be allowed to determine how the ATAC program is best implemented in the district. In many instances, as in the example cited in the report, the ATAC may be just as or more effective when it combines and coordinates forces with an established statewide task force.

The report also concludes that EOUSA has not adequately assessed the need for ATAC funding, and does not strategically analyze the ATACs budget to evaluate the need for additional funding for the ATACs. We admit that budget reductions over the past two years have necessitated individual USAO's budgets being reduced, and that these budget reductions have impacted every USAO program, including the ATAC program. However, we do not agree that EOUSA has not recognized, analyzed, or attempted to address the need for funding for the ATAC program.

In fiscal year (FY) 2002, the Department received supplemental funding, as contained in the Department of Defense Appropriations bill, of $56,370,000 for increased personnel resources to the United States Attorneys to address the Department's anti-terrorism investigative, preventive and prosecutorial needs. That amount provided for 468 attorney and support positions for the USAOs. One AUSA position for each district was for a designated Anti-Terrorism Coordinator, pursuant to the Attorney General's directive. One Intelligence Research Specialists (IRS) was also provided for each district. Both the ATAC Coordinators and the IRSs have provided great support to the ATAC program, and continue to work daily to share information and plan training for ATAC members. In addition, recurring funds for travel and supplies were also provided. The funding provided in FY 2003 is now part of the districts' base allocations.

In November of 2001, the Attorney General directed "that $9.3 million be made available to support state and local participation in the Anti-Terrorism Task Forces. This approximately $100,000 per Task Force should be used as seed money to help our state and local partners meet emerging communication and information sharing demands placed upon them." To accomplish this objective, the Department sent a reprogramming to Congress to use $9.4 million (later revised to $9.3 million because one United States Attorney serves both the districts of Guam and the Northern Marianas) in Office of Justice Programs funding intended for state and local assistance. The Senate appropriations subcommittee staff voiced objection with the reprogramming source which was to be the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant funds because those funds had suffered a cut for FY 2002. Subcommittee staff further indicated their belief that United States Attorneys had been provided enough funding to pay for this one time assistance from the salaries and expenses money in the supplemental. This view was based on the fact that the bill passed later than anticipated and contained more salary funds than would be needed in the first year given the time it would take to fill the new positions.

As noted in the report, and consistent with the direction from the Department which addressed the Senate appropriations subcommittee staffs objection, each district was allocated $100,000 from the funds originally provided to the United States Attorneys to increase the USAOs capacity to fight the terrorist threat and redirected to facilitate state and local participation in the Anti-terrorism Task Forces (now ATACs). Guidance provided to the United States Attorneys indicated that the funds could be used for communications and intelligence coordination to include such items as secure facsimile machines, secure telephones, telecommunications equipment, computers and related software, training and technical assistance, overtime for ATAC meetings or for a specific ATAC project, and support services such as costs that the state and local ATAC participants might incur to subscribe to an internetbased national network for sharing of criminal intelligence among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies or the costs for background checks. As noted above, the funding provided to our state and local partners from the USAOs supplemental appropriation was viewed as onetime, seed money to help meet emerging communication and information-sharing demands placed upon the participating state and local agencies. Once the USAOs were fully staffed, the funds that had been provided on a one-time basis to state and local partners became necessary in subsequent fiscal years for the salaries and expenses of those hired in the USAOs to maintain the increased capacity to defend against the terrorist threat as originally intended.

The funding received over the past three years for the ATAC program for designated positions as well as information-sharing and training has been effectively used to carry out the goals of the ATAC program. EOUSA recognizes the need to continue to request and provide funding to the USAOs for ATAC training. The FY 2005 appropriation included an enhancement for terrorism prevention, and EOUSA is exploring options for using that money to supplement the resources available for the ATAC Program. EOUSA will continue to request funds in fiscal years 2006 and 2007 to support the ATAC program, as appropriate.

II. Specific Recommendations

The report's recommendations 3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 28 are specifically addressed to EOUSA, and we respond to these recommendations as follows:

Recommendation 3: That EOUSA's Office of Legal Education, along with CTS, should develop a national training plan for ATAC's that includes:

  • Initial needs assessment of ATAC Coordinators;
  • How to manage and structure an ATAC (membership, frequency of meetings, methods and sources of communication, how to conduct an ATAC members' needs assessment, identify trainers, and develop a local training plan);
  • Frequency of future needs assessments for ATAC Coordinators and ATACs; Development of minimum mandatory training standards and time frames for completion of training for ATAC Coordinators;
  • Required minimum annual training hours for ATAC Coordinators; and
  • Responsibility for training notification to the ATAC Coordinators.

EOUSA agrees with Recommendation 3 regarding development of a national training plan for ATACs, and that EOUSA's Office of Legal Education (OLE) should have primary responsibility for developing a national training plan for ATACs. EOUSA, working with CTS, has already developed a National ATAC Training Working Group, which includes representatives from EOUSA, CTS, and ATAC Coordinators and IRSs from several USAOs. This Working Group has already held one meeting to begin discussions on what a national training plan should include, and will continue to work to develop a national training plan that includes many of the recommendations in this report.

We anticipate that this national training plan will include an initial needs assessment of ATAC Coordinators, guidance on how to manage and structure an ATAC Council, suggested standards and time frames for completing ATAC Coordinator training, and guidance on appropriate training hours. If this recommendation suggests that the training plan should set forth minimum mandatory training standards and time frames for completion of training for ATAC membership, we do not agree, and believe that the better approach is for each ATAC Coordinator, with assistance from EOUSA and CTS, to determine an appropriate training structure for its ATAC based on that district's unique specifications. If this recommendation suggests that ATAC Coordinators should receive minimum mandatory training and time frames for completion of that training, we agree that some form of orientation for new ATAC Coordinators, by either attending a training course in person, viewing a JTN program for ATAC Coordinators, or some form of self-study with materials provided by EOUSA is appropriate and would be beneficial. We will also continue to conduct a National Conference for ATAC Coordinators and strongly encourage each ATAC Coordinator to attend. While the national training plan will make clear that ATAC meetings and membership training is a core requirement of the ATAC program, will provide guidance on each of the factors recommended by the OIG, and will determine an appropriate manner to ensure that those requirements are being met, we strongly suggest that each district be given the flexibility to design their own local district ATAC plan according to that district's own needs and requirements.

Recommendation 4: The ATAC Coordinators should conduct training needs assessments and develop a training plan for ATAC members.

EOUSA agrees with this recommendation and, working through the National ATAC Training Working Group (see answer to recommendation 3), plans to conduct a training needs assessment for ATAC Coordinators, assist the ATAC Coordinators in conducting a needs assessment for their individual ATACs, and assist the ATAC Coordinator in developing a training plan for their ATAC members.

Recommendation 7: The FBI, CTS, EOUSA, and USAOs should work jointly to develop a coordinated strategy to consistently reach remote areas.

We agree that all agencies should work jointly to develop a coordinated strategy to consistently reach remote areas, and that such efforts should be increased. Unfortunately, we believe that the draft report underestimates the current efforts USAOs have made in this regard. ATAC Coordinators and their IRSs are doing an extraordinary job of communicating terrorism and threat information to law enforcement and other agencies in the rural areas of their districts. In fact, many USAOs used part of their allocated terrorism money to install computers and videoteleconferencing equipment to communicate with remote areas and establish a network for information-sharing.

The report cites some districts in which law enforcement in remote areas reported that they had not received information from USAOs in their district. When we contacted those districts to determine what attempts they were making to reach law enforcement in remote areas, we learned that they had worked very effectively to share information and train law enforcement throughout the district and in the areas specifically cited. For example, in the Western District of Oklahoma, which includes Enid, Oklahoma and Woodward, Oklahoma, both cited in the report as areas that reported not receiving terrorism information or training, the USAO has gone to great lengths to ensure that these areas are provided with counterterrorism information and training. The USAO maintains four distinct distribution lists for various levels of information distribution that provides information to law enforcement officers; law enforcement management and investigators; emergency/first responders; and corporate or private security forces. Information provided by the USAO in this district is forwarded on throughout the state to the various Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Troop headquarters - to include Troop J in Enid. Other statewide information sharing is conducted with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the FBI, which maintains Resident Agents in both Enid and Woodward.

There are two Enid Police Department officers on the district's information distribution list. The primary point of contact is a Captain with the Enid Police Department (PD). The USAO has almost daily contact with this individual, who is also responsible for intelligence liaison with Vance Air Force Base (AFB), located outside Enid. Information and intelligence is also shared with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and Security Forces stationed at Vance AFB. The Captain of the Enid Police Department told the USAO that when he receives terrorism briefing information, he distributes it to approximately 60 officers during shift change/roll call briefings. He also distributes relevant reports via e-mail to officers and executives within his department. The Captain generally removes e-mail headers before forwarding this information, so there is a possibility that recipients do not realize that information and reports originate from the USAO.

In addition, the following specific training was actually conducted in the city of Enid and made available to state and local officials in the Enid area: January 6-8,2003 Enid PD SWAT Team; Commander attended ATTF-sponsored Anti-Terrorism training for local tactical team commanders; June 18,2003 Terrorism 101 -33 total participants, including 22 from Enid PD and one from Garfield County; April 15, 2005 Counterterrorism 11 - 23 total participants, including 10 from Enid PD, 4 from Garfield County, and one from Southwest Oklahoma State University Public Safety.

The following specific training was actually conducted in the city of Woodward and made available to state and local officials in the Woodward area: January 10, 2003 Overview of the role and mission of the USAO ATTF presented as a portion of FBI Law Enforcement Coordination Council presented to state and local law enforcement officers in Woodward; June 16,2003 Terrorism 101 -32 participants; August 14, 2003 Terrorism: The Law Enforcement Response (ORCPI training) 39 participants; November 1.9,2003 Presentation at Southwest Oklahoma State University (located in Woodard) to Oklahoma Campus Law Enforcement Association regarding the role of campus law enforcement in combating terrorism; January 15, 2005 Presentation to Western Oklahoma Emergency Management Conference in Woodward regarding Terrorism Indicators and suspicious incident reporting. Emergency Management and First Responders from both Garfield (Enid) and Woodward counties were in attendance.

Other training offered in this district was also attended by law enforcement from Enid and Woodward: February 18, 2004 Domestic Terrorism Seminar in Oklahoma City; February 26, 2004 Terrorism presentation to National Park Law Enforcement Association annual conference in Ardmore, Oklahoma, which was attended by Oklahoma State Parks law enforcement officers, including those assigned to the Boiling Springs State Park in Woodward; March 31, 2004 ORCPI Counterterrorism II training in Del City.

The USAO also made the following presentations where contact information was provided, as well as information regarding joining the USAO information distribution lists: September 15, 2004 Keynote presentation at the Oklahoma Response to Terrorism Conference on the topic of Domestic Terrorism; February 9, 2005 Address to the Oklahoma County Officers and Deputies Association (CODA) Board Meeting; and February 16, 2005 Address to the quarterly meeting of the Oklahoma Sheriffs Association. In November 2003, the USAO addressed the Oklahoma Campus Law Enforcement Association at Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) in Woodward -and campus security members have been on the USAOs distribution list since. The SWOSU DPS Chief is on the USAO distribution list. The USAO maintains communication and shares information routinely (3-4 times per week minimum) with all of the full-time/active military installations in the district (Tinker AFB, Vance AFB [outside Enid], Altus AFB, Ft. Sill, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, and the Tulsa Air National Guard Base). Air Force-related intelligence reports are usually sent directly to the parent unit for all other Air Force units in the state and serves as a single point of contact. Rather than attempt to establish direct communications with every National Guard armory in the state, the USAO communicates directly with the Oklahoma Military Department.

Even in those states with one ATAC for a large geographic area such as Alaska, ATAC Coordinators and IRSs are consistently establishing lines of communication and information-sharing. The District of Alaska's ATAC reaches remote areas of the state using regional ATAC committees located in Fairbanks (North), Juneau (Southeast), and Anchorage (South-central) and a virtual information-sharing system managed by the ATAC's Intelligence Advisory Group (IAG). Private industry security in remote areas-especially those associated with the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline System-are connected to the IAG virtually using Law Enforcement Online (LEO). The district's IRS manages the IAG and the information sharing process to include an email distribution list to police chiefs statewide.

In addition, Alaska's ATAC training program includes a major anti-terrorism training event each year where ATAC members statewide are encouraged to attend. In 2003, the district supplemented local law enforcement travel to Anchorage to attend specialized training from SLA TT (State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training). Smaller training events are conducted quarterly at each regional ATAC committee. In June 2005, an ATAC sponsored U.S. Secret Service team will be traveling to Anchorage, Juneau, and the North Slope oil fields (Arctic region) to conduct training on trends and tactics of terrorism.

As the information above reflects, we believe that the USAOs are making great efforts to reach remote areas in their district. Nevertheless, we agree with the spirit of the recommendation and will work to provide additional guidance and best practices to better reach remote areas though the national training plan for USAOs.

Recommendation 9: CTS and EOUSA should develop outcome-oriented performance measures for the ATAC program. The measures for the ATAC program could include the following:

  • Quality and timeliness of information shared with member and outside agencies that resulted in improved understanding of terrorism issues and improved prevention activities;
  • Quality and timeliness of training for members that resulted in improved understanding of terrorism issues and improved prevention activities;
  • Outreach efforts that resulted in increasing targeted membership; and
  • Quality and currency of threat assessments that result in improved prevention activities.

While we agree in part that performance measures for the ATAC program would be helpful in assisting the ATAC Coordinator to ensure that the quality of information-sharing and training provided through the program is consistent and effective, we submit that these performance measures must be developed by and tailored to the particular needs of each district. Because we believe it would be ineffective to use one standard measure to evaluate the success of the ATAC program in all districts, we recommend that ATAC performance measures be developed in each district as part of the district's local training plan. As part of the National training plan, the National ATAC Working Group will provide guidance with suggested survey questions, including the factors recommended by the OIG, to assist the ATAC Coordinator in developing an individual survey for its ATAC membership which will assist the USAO to determine the effectiveness of its ATAC program.

Recommendation 11: CTS and EOUSA should jointly issue written guidance defining their roles and responsibilities in the ATAC program, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Regional ATAC Coordinators, the National ATAC Coordinator, and the EOUSA point of contact for ATACs. This written guidance should be communicated to the ATAC Coordinators.

We agree that joint written guidance defining the roles and responsibilities of CTS and EOUSA in the ATAC program would be appropriate, and we plan to provide that guidance to all ATAC Coordinators. Based on this recommendation, CTS and EOUSA will work together to develop joint written guidance on the roles and responsibilities of CTS, EOUSA, and the EOUSA Point of Contact for ATACs.

Recommendation 12: CTS or EOUSA should issue written guidance for ATAC Coordinators that includes a definition of roles, how to determine membership base, and how to structure and manage an ATAC.

We agree that written guidance should be issued to ATAC Coordinators that assists the USAOs in defining the role of the ATAC Coordinators, how to determine membership base in the ATAC, and how to structure and manage an ATAC. As noted in the report, EOUSA developed a set of performance standards for ATAC Coordinators which provides guidance to the USAOs on the roles and responsibilities of the ATAC Coordinator. These performance standards will be reviewed and revised, if necessary, by the National ATAC Training Working Group, and a copy of those performance standards will be sent to United States Attorneys and ATAC Coordinators. Again, each USAO must have the flexibility to define the role of its ATAC Coordinator based on the needs of the district, and each ATAC should have the flexibility to determine how to structure and manage its ATAC program, but we agree that providing additional guidance to the USAOs in these areas would be appropriate.

Recommendation 13: EOUSA should strategically analyze the ATAC budget to assess the need for future funding.

EOUSA agrees with this recommendation, and will continue to strategically analyze the ATAC budget to assess the need for future funding as noted in the general comments above.

Recommendation 14: ATAC Coordinators should regularly update and maintain accurate electronic rosters of the ATAC membership.

We agree with this recommendation and will request that each district include in their local training plans an updated electronic roster of the ATAC membership, and that they continue to maintain the roster.

Recommendation 15: ATACs should meet at least quarterly, and the ATAC Coordinators should periodically review and communicate the ATAC mission to members.

We agree that the USAO should conduct ATAC meetings, and that they should periodically review and communicate the ATAC mission to members. We believe that the overwhelming majority of USAOs are already conducting regular meetings, and communicating regularly with their ATAC members. We do not agree that the ATAC should meet at least quarterly, and would recommend that each USAO determine in its local training plan an appropriate number of meetings for the ATAC, and the most effective way to conduct those meetings.

Recommendation 28: The ATAC Coordinators should work jointly with the state offices of homeland security and the state homeland security task forces to coordinate activities and to minimize duplication and gaps in terrorism-related information sharing and training.

We agree that the ATAC Coordinators should work jointly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate activities and to minimize duplication in information sharing and training, and we believe that the majority of ATAC Coordinators and IRSs have made these efforts or are currently making efforts to reach out to the DHS.

III. Conclusion

As the draft report states, the ATAC program is a novel program that has been overwhelmingly successful in improving counterterrorism efforts in the post-9/11 world. EOUSA will continue to work with the USAOs and CTS to further develop and improve the ATAC program consistent with Department strategies and recommendations of the Office of Inspector General.

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