‘We’ve lost our focus:’ TBI director expresses concerns in lack of information sharing across agencies

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, the 9/11 Commission was formed. The team was charged with preparing a full account of the circumstances surrounding that day.

The final report details the multiple failures of intelligence agencies to “connect the dots” to prevent the attacks. It’s been called the worst intelligence failure in American history.

Since the, numerous steps have been taken to fix that problem. However, two decades later, information sharing has decreased and some worry that puts the country at risk.

David Rausch, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, doesn’t mince words.

“I think we’ve lost our focus,” Rausch says. “We had a meeting about a month ago, and we we’re having the conversation about where we are today, and there are concerns that we have gone backward.”

Rausch referring to a meeting with the Undersecretary of Homeland Security and the International Association of Chiefs of Police where Rausch serves on the executive board.

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It’s a group formed following the 2001 terror attacks and meets twice a year to assess and discuss communication efforts within the highest levels of law enforcement.

“Some of the things they thought were working, weren’t working.”
“What do you mean?” asks News 2’s Alex Denis.
“Some of the intelligence bulletins they send out quite frankly, I read it in The Wall Street Journal before I get an intelligence bulletin. So it’s useless information, right?” Rausch responds. “So tell me the secret stuff because you gave me a clearance so that I can read that, but you’re not giving it to me. So give me that information and trust me with it.”

Rausch says his passionate perspective is rooted in decades of experience and the fact that he lived through the horror of 9/11 while working with the Knoxville Police Department.

“I think there are people in positions that just, they don’t get it. They don’t understand the importance. They weren’t here when it happened and so they’re repeating history.”

By making the same mistakes, he says, blamed for that day.

“They’ve got information, and they feel that it’s important that they keep it, and feel like we don’t need to share that. So, that’s where we’ve gotten again, is this curtain of mistrust, and that’s moving into the realm of failure again. We can’t be there. We got to get back to the understanding we’re all in this for the same reason. We’re all trying to do the same thing and that protects our homeland.”

Rausch believes their concerns were heard.

“The good news is, the Undersecretary was very engaged in our conversation, and there is a movement to address this not only with DHS but with FBI and with our other partners.”

Top intelligence officials plan to meet again to further discuss the issues.

September 11, 2001, was a day that changed our country and the world. The fight against terrorism has not ended. Some state and federal law enforcement agencies say we cannot let our guard down. News 2 digs deeper with special reports ‘9/11: 20 Years Later’ all day today in every newscast and on WKRN.com.

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