Lawmaker decries 'disconnect' between intelligence, security

House Homeland Security ranking member Jim Turner, D-Texas, is planning to send a letter to President Bush Monday to decry what he sees as significant inadequacies in the intelligence branch of the Homeland Security Department.

"Hopefully this office [of intelligence] will get the attention internally that it needs," Turner said Monday in an interview with CongressDaily. Turner said he hoped the administration would "take immediate steps to beef up" the department's information analysis operation. A copy of the letter was not available at presstime.

Turner's letter follows up on revelations from a hearing before the committee last Thursday that the department has only one individual designated to assess the threat of bioterrorism and 26 working in its information analysis wing.

Inspired by what he described as the "disturbing" testimony of Paul Redmond, the Homeland Security Department assistant secretary for information analysis, Turner said he is dismayed that Redmond's office is not receiving much top secret intelligence because the computer systems aren't secure.

"They're not really getting the real stuff," Turner said. Turner also said there is "a disconnect" between the department and the intelligence community. Earlier that day, representatives from the NSA, FBI, CIA and DIA told committee members at a private briefing that they are providing the department with all the intelligence it needs.

"What it does suggest to you is that the department has been mired down in the expected challenges of merging 22 agencies and has not come to grips with the core function of that department, which I think resides in the Office of Information Analysis," Turner said.