Computer Crime Research Center


Intelligence expectations "unrealistic"

Date: October 20, 2004
Source: THE AGE

Intelligence agencies faced unrealistic community expectations because of heightened fears of terrorism, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said on Wednesday.

Mr Keelty told the two-day Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers conference in Melbourne that there was an onerous expectation that intelligence on terrorism and organised crime would always prevent incidents such as the Bali bombing.

"While both the intelligence and law enforcement communities want to be able to live up to the heightened expectations created by the security environment, I think there also need to be a realistic understanding of the limitations of the environment in which we operate," Mr Keelty said.

"If policing is about crime prevention, then the optimum would be that we would have no crime.

"If intelligence is to inform and to prevent a terrorist attack from occurring, you can see that if we were as good in policing as the expectations we put on the intelligence community - it's the pot calling the kettle black.

"We've got to understand how onerous this is and how our expectations have to be managed ... .

"Intelligence is not an exact science.

"It rarely, if ever, provides certainty, at best only ever addressing the likelihood of an event occurring."

The large number of information sources, misinformation and the ability of terrorists and crime syndicates to adapt to technology and police tactics made the task difficult for intelligence officers, Mr Keelty said.

"This is precisely why (Jemaah Islamiah bomb maker) Azahari Husin is at large. It is precisely why Russian organised crime has taken advantage of the internet to distribute child pornography," he said.

"Just think of how the use of mobile phones and internet technologies can and are used in remote locations to organise and conduct serious crimes, including the Madrid bombings and the Bali bombings."

Federal Police reforms to intelligence gathering, cooperation with other agencies, training and recruitment in recent years would put the force at the forefront of intelligence-led policing internationally, Mr Keelty said.

Victorian Police Minister Andre Haermeyer, who opened the conference, said a shortage of skilled intelligence officers, especially analysts, could be solved with cooperation between agencies and the private sector.

Members of the public could also be recruited, Mr Haermeyer said.

"I have seen the city of New York embrace that in a very aggressive fashion ... and the way they have used public awareness to assist them in identifying threats, I think, is something we could all take a look at," he said.

"But they have done so without frightening the population out of its wits and without changing the lifestyle of the inhabitants of New York."
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