Just for the Record: The Merging of Crime and Terrorism Investigation

10 Jun

Man accused of crashing SUV into DC building  – NY Daily News.

Police said the vehicle was intentionally driven into the building and the driver and the interior of the car was doused in gasoline.

Police said the vehicle was intentionally driven into the building and the driver and the interior of the car was doused in gasoline.  Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP

Sometimes I see articles that may not mean much now, but seem like they could somehow be significant in the future. I put them in my “Just For The Record” folder. Sometimes I save them because I want to see if a trend begins, other times I save articles if the subject is something that could be rather significant, or be developed into something rather significant, but is so far under-reported. I snagged this one when I saw the short initial AP release about the SUV crash.  I had wondered why they hadn’t declared it domestic terrorism.

The entire release is as follows, from NYdaily.com on June 9 as reported by AP

WASHINGTON — Authorities say the man accused of driving an SUV into an office building in the nation’s capital has been charged with arson and other counts.

Gwendolyn Crump is a spokeswoman for District of Columbia police. She said in an email Saturday that 32-year-old Charles Morrell Ball of New Market, Md., had also been charged with felony destruction of property and felony unauthorized use of vehicle driver.

Authorities had said previously that they believed the driver intentionally crashed into the office building Friday night. The vehicle had been reported stolen.

The building is less than a mile from the White House in the city’s business district. It has a mix of offices, retail shops and restaurants.

Then also on June 9, a day after the crash, I noticed the Washington Post reports:

  • The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was at the scene Friday evening
  •  D.C. police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Saturday that Ball’s “motive was not a terrorist motive.”
  • Police spokeswoman Tisha Grant said that Charles Morrell Ball, 32, of Frederick County was charged with three felonies — arson, destruction of property and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
  • It appeared that Ball, the driver, had acted alone.
  • Ball has “mental-health issues.”
  • The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.  Ball is listed in the Maryland registry of sex offenders
  • According to court records, he was convicted in 2008 in Carroll County Circuit Court of a third-degree sexual offense & he had been complying with sex-offender reporting requirements.
  • Ball was convicted of three other charges since 2006 — two thefts and an assault.
  • D.C. police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Ball was taken to a hospital for evaluation and was released into police custody.   She said Ball gave “a good debrief” to investigators after his arrest. (What does that mean?)
  • A witness said “a man who appeared to be the driver struggled with building security officers, then with police.

Now it’s been covered by all the mainstream media outlets including ABC, The Huffington Post, NYDailyNews.com, NBC  (“The FBI and a bomb squad were also called to the scene Friday night.”)
I suppose the response has been reasonable and I have no problem with this story, other the fact that it’s a reminder that we will from now on be seeing DHS and TSA and Joint Terrorism Task Forces involved in everyday crime, just as they said they would in the January 18, 2012 report from the Aspen Institute Security Group for the Hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence “Homeland Security and Intelligence: Next Steps in Evolving the Mission.”  Excerpts:

“The growth of our expectations of domestic security, and the evolution of threats away from
traditional state actors toward non-state entities — drug cartels, organized crime, and terrorism are
prominent examples — suggest that the DHS intelligence mission should be threat agnostic.Though the impetus for creating this new agency, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, was clearly terrorism-based, the kinds of tools now deployed, from border security to cyber protection, are equally critical in fights against emerging adversaries.

“There remains room for this type of analysis, but there are enough agencies pursuing the terrorist adversary to allow DHS to build a new analytic foundation that emphasizes data, analytic questions, and customer groups that are not the focus for other agencies.  Analysis that helps private-sector partners better understand how to mitigate threats to infrastructure, for example, should win more resourcing than a focus on all-source analysis of general threats, such as work on assessing the perpetrators of attacks. Conversely, all-source analysis of terrorist groups and general terrorist trends should remain the domain of other intelligence agencies.”

“In contrast to intelligence agencies that have responsibilities for more traditional areas of national
security, DHS’s mandate should allow for collection, dissemination, and analytic work that isfocused on more specific homeward-focused areas. First, the intelligence mission could be directed toward areas where DHS has inherent strengths and unique value (e.g., where its personnel and data are centered) that overlap with its legislative mandate. Second, this mission direction should
emphasize areas that are not served by other agencies, particularly state/local partners whose needs are not a primary focus for any other federal agency.”

“Partnerships and collaboration will be a determining factor in whether this refined mission succeeds.
As threat grows more localized, the prospect that a state/local partner will generate the first lead to help understand a new threat, or even an emerging cell, will grow. And the federal government’s
need to train, and even staff, local agencies, such as major city police departments, will grow. Because major cities are the focus for threat, these urban areas also will become the sources ofintelligence that will help understand these threats at the national level, DHS might move toward decentralizing more of its analytic workforce to partner with state/local agencies in the collection and dissemination of intelligence from the local level.”

“Because homeland security intelligence requires a new understanding of products, customers, and
delivery, training managers and analysts must reflect a way of doing business that is fundamentally different than the business practices taught at agencies that have focused historically on foreign intelligence. DHS might consider the development of a homeland security training institute that develops this training — from new ways to portray information geospatially to different paths for developing requirements from state and local partnersas an entirely new enterprise. This training should include a separate element responsible for research, for bringing in American and foreign scholars who look at this issue, and for ensuring that doctrines for collecting, reporting, and analyzing knowledge in the homeland security environment is captured in one place and documented.”

The creation of DHS led to a rapid growth in a workforce, and a thirst for analytic product, that required the US Government to move quickly, before the foundations of homeland security intelligence were established and before we had the luxury of a full post-9/11 decade to understand where we need to go.

The lengths to which the government and the DHS could go with this is frightening.

Video news report from NBC

Video news report from ABC
              Ahh yes, there’s the hype I was expecting.  “It’s obviously NOT typical.” Yea, but it’s obviously not a terrorist plot either.  He doused the inside of the car with gasoline, ran it into a building, was disoriented, and had mental health issues.  Does the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force really need to be there?

One Response to “Just for the Record: The Merging of Crime and Terrorism Investigation”

  1. Leonard Marks July 18, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    great post

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