Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice


The prevention of terrorist activity is the overriding priority
of the Department of Justice, and improved information sharing
among federal agencies is a critical component of our overall strategy
to protect the security of America and the safety of her people.

Understanding The Problem:
Previous Federal Law Prevented Information Sharing

Before Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, Federal Law Sharply Limited the Ability of Federal Prosecutors and Law-Enforcement Agents to Share Investigative Information with Other Federal Officials. These restrictions on information sharing prevented the dissemination of relevant and important information to federal officials responsible for counter-terrorism and interfered with the federal government's ability to prevent and disrupt terrorist activities. On April 11, 2002, the Attorney General issued a directive to the heads of certain components of the Department of Justice to institutionalize the Department's ongoing efforts to coordinate information and activities to prevent and disrupt terrorism. Pursuant to this directive, the Attorney General has issued guidelines to formalize the Department efforts to coordinate information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence, homeland security, and other federal officials.

Problem #1: Except in very limited circumstances, before the USA PATRIOT Act, federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents were not permitted to disclose federal grand jury and electronic, wire, or oral surveillance information with other federal officials.

Solution #1: Under the USA PATRIOT Act, Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Are Now Permitted to Share with Other Federal Officials Information Regarding Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Obtained in a Grand Jury Proceeding or Through Electronic, Wire, or Oral Interceptions.

Problem #2: In the Past, Officials in the United States Intelligence Community Were Often Unaware of Relevant Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Obtained by Federal Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Agents During the Course of Criminal Investigations. This lack of complete information hindered the intelligence community's ability to protect our citizens from terrorism and other threats to national security.

Solution #2: Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, Both Prior to and Since the Enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act, Had Already Established Mechanisms for the Sharing of Foreign Intelligence Acquired in the Course of Criminal Investigations, and Such Sharing Has Occurred on a Regular Basis. The Attorney General's new guidelines formalize the procedures and mechanisms already established for the Department of Justice and other federal law enforcement agencies that may acquire foreign intelligence in the course of a criminal investigation.

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