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9/11 Commission Act

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The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Commission Act)


Pub. L. 110-53 (8/3/07) (286 pp. PDF)

General Provisions

This Act amended section 1016 of Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) and amended the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to expand and further refine the scope of the Information Sharing Environment (ISE).

  • Sec. 504 defines "homeland security information," "information sharing environment," "terrorism information," and "weapons of mass destruction information."
  • Sec. 521 formalizes many of the recommendations developed in response to the President’s information sharing guidelines, such as the creation of the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team (JCAT) (formerly ITACG) and the development of a national network of State and major urban area fusion centers; and
  • Sec. 511 requires the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security State, Local, and Regional Fusion Center Initiative to establish partnerships with state, local, and regional fusion centers.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has written a detailed summary of the Act.

Privacy and Civil Liberties Implications

The Act (286 pp. PDF) requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Attorney General, to establish guidelines for fusion centers that require fusion centers to:

  • "[d]evelop, publish and adhere to a privacy and civil liberties policy that is consistent with Federal, State and local law," and
  • provide "appropriate privacy and civil liberties training" for all representatives at the fusion center, in coordination with the DHS Privacy Officer and the DHS Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties training on privacy and civil liberties. Sec. 511(a).

The 9/11 Commission Act amended the Homeland Security Act to establish a "Department of Homeland Security State, Local and Regional Fusion Center Initiative to establish partnership with State, local and regional fusion centers," Sec. 511(a). In addition, the 9/11 Commission Act mandates that the DHS Privacy Office and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties undertake certain tasks within DHS, including:

  • Provide privacy and civil liberties training for: (1) all DHS officers and intelligence analysts deployed to fusion centers, (2) all Information Sharing Fellows, and (3) detailees of the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group. Sec. 511(a), (b); 512(a); 521(a).
  • Assist the DHS Secretary in appropriately considering privacy and civil liberties concerns when proposing, developing, or implementing laws, regulations, policies, procedures, or guidelines related to effort to protect the nation against terrorism. Sec. 803(a).
  • Conduct both a privacy (42pp | 320kb | PDF) and a civil liberties impact assessment (9pp | 200kb | PDF) of the DHS State, Local and Regional Fusion Center Initiative. Sec. 511(c).
  • Periodically investigate and review DHS policies, procedures, guidelines, and related laws and their implementation to ensure the Department is adequately considering privacy and civil liberties in its actions. Sec. 803(a).
  • Consult with the Secretary of DHS on the implementation and development of public transportation research and development initiatives within the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, and railroad security and over-the-road bus security initiatives. Sec. 1409(d), 1518(d), and 1535(d).

The 9/11 Commission Act established a Rural Policing Institute as part of DHS, which is administered by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. A portion of the training for local law enforcement in rural areas is required to include training on privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. Sec. 513(a).

Independence of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (12.pp | 224kb | PDF) – The 9/11 Commission Act reconstituted the Board as an independent agency within the executive branch, thereby removing the Board from within the Executive Office of the President. The purpose of the Board is to advise the President and other senior Executive Branch officials "to ensure that liberty concerns are appropriately considered in the development and implementation of laws, regulations, and policies related to efforts to protect the Nation against terrorism." Sec. 801(a). (42 U.S.C. § 2000ee).  The Board is now active.

Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 – Section 804 of the 9/11 Commission Act requires all federal agencies engaging in data mining activities to report on these annually to Congress. The definition of data mining includes activities of non-federal entities acting "on behalf of the Federal Government." Each report must include a "thorough description" of the data mining activity and assess the impact or likely impact of these activities upon the privacy and civil liberties of individuals. Sec. 804(c)(2)(E).

The General Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in September, 2011 indicating  The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) data mining systems established as required by the Act need additional oversight, review and evaluation to protect privacy rights, ensure transparency to the public and enable effective counterterrorism efforts. See the Government Accountability Office Reports section for additional GAO reports.

Further Information

  • This website was created in support of the privacy and civil liberties training required of the DHS Privacy Office and the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties under the 9/11 Commission Act.
  • Also see the Training Resources section of this website for more information on this training and on downloadable resources for fusion centers.