TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Domestic Counterterrorism: Roles,Responsibilities, and Legal AuthoritiesIn the spring of 2007, a rash of firebombings in the Denver neighborhood ofCherry Creek destroyed two sport utility vehicles and damaged five others. 258Local law enforcement officials, unsuccessful in their initial efforts to apprehendthe perpetrator of these acts of domestic terrorism, requested assistancefrom the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), a state ‘fusion center’combining federal, state, local and tribal authorities. Analysts at the CIACresponded by pooling relevant intelligence gathered by the agencies it representedand producing a report on the suspect that included a description ofthe suspect’s vehicle.One day after the seventh attempted firebombing, a Denver Police Officer outon a ‘saturation patrol’ in pursuit of the perpetrator pulled over a vehicle thatlooked similar to that detailed in the CIAC report and detained its driver. Thesuspicious vehicle was found to contain seven improvised incendiary devicesthat were intended for use in future attacks and the driver, a radical environmentalistlinked to domestic terrorism group the Earth Liberation Front, wassentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of using anincendiary device and one count of second degree arson.In the effort to combat terrorists on US soil, intelligence and law enforcementagencies may have access to resources not available in international investigations;however, the Constitution obliges national security professionals tocontend with more limits to their power. Domestic counterterrorism effortshave three main objectives:• Collect intelligence to disrupt attacks against the homeland• Protect critical infrastructure• Investigate and prosecute those responsible for attacks against thehomelandBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Harvard Kennedy School101

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