Federal agencies must do better job of sharing important information

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2004

Two of the key reasons for the creation of the Homeland Security Department were:

To increase public awareness of possible security threats by encouraging cooperation with police agencies trying to combat terrorism.

To promote greater sharing of information among those agencies to avoid duplication of effort and facilitate speedier apprehension of terrorists.

So why didn't the White House tell the FBI about a ricin-poisoned letter it received in November until two weeks or more after it was received? And why did the White House keep the public in the dark about the letter until this week after traces of the deadly poison were discovered in a mailroom serving Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist?

The immediate answer from the White House is that the letter found in its mailroom was not deemed to be ''a public health risk'' because of the small quantity of the poison involved. Tell that to postal workers around the country. ...

... The obvious focus now must be on following all leads to the source of these sadistic acts. One trusts all federal agencies will cooperate with each other. Either we're all in this together or we're not.

The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.

Feb. 6

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