The attack on American soil on September 11, 2001 took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent civilians. Since that day the role of virtually every federal, state and local law enforcement agency also changed.
On September 17, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft directed that the fight against terrorism and the prevention of future terrorist acts were to be law enforcement’s first and overriding priorities. As a result, he directed every United States Attorney to establish an Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC) to perform three main functions within their jurisdictions. The ATACs were, first and foremost, to ensure that effective coordination existed to better enable law enforcement to prevent future terrorist acts. Also, they were to ensure that effective information sharing systems were put in place that would assist public agencies and private entities in being made aware of information that would assist them in combatting terrorism. Finally, the ATACs were mandated to ensure that adequate management plans were in place should there be another terrorist act. For details about the ATAC, please click here .
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland designated a senior prosecutor as the ATAC Coordinator to coordinate with representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, other homeland security agencies and private businesses, to ensure that all three of the above mandates were implemented in the state. Thus, experienced prosecutors from the office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section (whose Chief is also the ATAC Coordinator) were assigned to work alongside investigators and analysts at the FBIs Joint Terrorism Task Force offices so that they would be onsite members of the government’s primary domestic counterterrorism effort. Working with the state’s emergency management and response agencies, such as the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and others, the ATAC was able to join in the ongoing effort to improve upon an already robust series of contingency plans for responding and recovering from any manmade or natural disasters.
In fulfillment of its information sharing mandate, on November 3, 2003, the ATAC formed one of the first fusion centers in the United States, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC). To view the MCAC Charter, please click here . The MCAC is run on a federal task force model with over 25 state, local and federal agencies devoting personnel to its 24/7 operation, where information is received from the general public and from governmental sources, analyzed and timely disseminated to entities with a legitimate need for the information. The day to day management of the MCAC consists of a state, a local and a federal senior law enforcement official in each of its three top management positions. Governance is provided by the ATAC Executive Committee. Additionally, the ATAC has a robust statewide training program, with attendances running as high as 400 persons.