Report - Markle Foundation

Protecting America's Freedom in the Information Age

| October 2002

A Report of the Markle Foundation Task Force

The geographical boundaries of national security have changed. America has become a potential battlefield for major assaults. Yet, though our military has deeply integrated intelligence and information technology into war fighting, we have not developed a similarly sophisticated use of information and information technology to protect Americans from attacks at home.

Information analysis is the brain of homeland security. Used well, it can guide strategic, timely moves throughout our country and around the world. Done poorly, even armies of guards and analysts will be useless. The Task Force that we had the privilege of chairing has reached some important conclusions to assist our nation in developing its information collection and analysis capabilities.

The federal government is preparing to spend nearly $40 billion a year to protect the homeland. While this report takes no position on any pending legislation, the White House has developed the important concept of homeland security, the centerpiece of which is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But almost no dollars have been directed to creating the capacity for the sharing of information and integrating the way it is analyzed, so that out of information collection comes enhanced knowledge. Neither the White House nor the current appropriations pipeline for the new Department of Homeland Security have yet identified the money to turn information collection into knowledge.

With even relatively small sums of money, however, tremendous gains can be made. The new Department of Homeland Security can be the central hub for decisions about what information needs to be collected and stored - in the government or in the private sector - and about where the information should be analyzed and how. The DHS can help develop rules for protecting the well-established liberties of our citizens when information is collected and used. And it can support meaningful research and development efforts. This report describes how. To protect our freedoms, our task - as in previous generations - is to craft the national framework that will draw on this generation’s and this society’s greatest strengths.

To protect freedom, America’s physical safety is essential. Protecting freedom also requires securing the values that define America, including the civil liberties and rights to privacy that make our country special. Rights go together with responsibilities in preserving the public order in which our values can flourish. When Americans feel they must start trading fundamental rights in return for more security, we will know our national security policies are failing. The rule of law is our strength.

Fortunately, to paraphrase John Paul Jones, we have not yet begun to fight. We have not taken adequate and thoughtful advantage of the laws and resources that are already available. We have barely begun to create a serious domestic intelligence capability, one that learns from the abuses of the past and uses the powers that can already be brought to hand.

Full text of the report is available through the attachments and link below:

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Carter, Ashton B., Zoe Baird, James L. Barkdale, Philip Zelikow et. al (The Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age). “Protecting America's Freedom in the Information Age.” Markle Foundation, October 2002.

The Authors

Ash Carter