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Dem senator introduces bill to help DHS identify terror threats

Dem senator introduces bill to help DHS identify terror threats
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Former Dem aide makes first court appearance on charges of posting GOP senators' info online Ex-House intern charged with 'doxing' GOP senators during Kavanaugh hearing MORE (D-N.H.) on Wednesday introduced a bill in the upper chamber designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) improve its ability to identify potential terrorist threats.

Hassan said the DHS Data Framework Act will streamline the agency's information-sharing capabilities by establishing one central database that pulls together relevant information across different government agencies.

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“Right now, information on potential threats to our homeland is not easily accessible across different agencies at the Department of Homeland Security, making it harder for our dedicated intelligence analysts to connect the dots and identify terrorist threats,” Hassan said in a statement. 

Under the proposed legislation, DHS will house a "central data framework" where agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection can feed relevant screening information in order to "help cut down on the processing time of data searches."

The House unanimously approved the data-sharing bill in September, which was introduced by Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDems struggle to mobilize Latino voters for midterms Election Countdown: Florida candidates face new test from hurricane | GOP optimistic about expanding Senate majority | Top-tier Dems start heading to Iowa | Bloomberg rejoins Dems | Trump heads to Pennsylvania rally GOP spokeswoman says Republicans will lose House seats in midterms MORE (R-Texas).

"This common-sense bill will help ensure that counterterrorism analysts at DHS agencies such as the Secret Service and TSA can quickly and efficiently access data from across the entire department," Hassan said.

Under the bill, only DHS analysts with the proper clearance and training could access the system.

While the system would exclude certain information that compromises national security or intelligence sources and methods, it would seek to pull together data related to homeland security, national intelligence, terrorist information and weapons of mass destruction into one place.

“Sixteen years after the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists on Homeland, most Americans would be dismayed that information-sharing stovepipes still exist,” Hurd said in a September statement.

The Texas lawmaker, who previously served as an undercover CIA officer, said the measure would speed up the cumbersome process of searching and then vetting information against multiple databases.

“The DHS Data Framework Act will allow DHS personnel to both share and vet information in a more efficient manner without undermining the security of sensitive information. DHS officials need to be able to quickly and safely share information in today’s fast-paced environment, and this bill provides the framework for that to happen without compromising our nation’s secrets,” Hurd said in the fall.