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Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC)

Mission :

The Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC), as mandated by the U.S. Attorney General, is an umbrella organization of local, state and federal agencies, as well as representatives from the private sector, that coordinates activities, develops policy, and implements strategic plans to combat terrorism in the State of Maryland. It also coordinates with the other ATACs around the nation. Specifically, the ATAC serves to:

  1. facilitate intelligence and information sharing among federal, state and local authorities and with relevant private sector participants. (Intelligence and Information Sharing component);
  2. prevent and disrupt terrorism activity within the state through aggressive investigation and prosecution. (Investigation/Prosecution component);
  3. assure that the organizational structure and plans exist to effectively prepare for, and respond to, any future terrorist incidents in the state. (Emergency Preparedness and Response component); and
  4. provide relevant training to its members in order to better equip them to perform their anti-terrorism responsibilities more effectively. (Training component).

Membership:

The ATAC is composed of federal, state and local agencies involved in law enforcement, public health, emergency planning and response, the military and the intelligence community. It also has members from the private sector, predominantly those involved in the security of their facilities. To date, over 240 agencies have joined the ATAC.

The Chief Executives of the following organizations make up the Executive Committee of the ATAC:

  • U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • ICE/Homeland Security Investigations
  • MD Sheriffs’ Association
  • MD Health Officer ’ s Association
  • MD Police Chiefs’ Association
  • MD Homeland Security Advisor
  • MD Military Department
  • MD Fire Chief ’ s Association
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • MD State Police
  • 2 “Major Jurisdiction” Police Chiefs
  • MD Fireman’s Association
  • MD Metro Fire Chief’s Association
  • Police Chief that provides one of the three key managers to the MCAC
  • MD Transportation Authority Police

The Executive Committee meets on the third Tuesday of every month.

The effective daily operation and coordination of the ATAC, and all of its components, is performed by a senior Assistant U.S. Attorney appointed by the United States Attorney to serve as the ATAC Coordinator. The Executive Committee, chaired by the ATAC Coordinator, serves as the primary policy making body, with input from all members of the ATAC. Individual agencies choose the level of participation that best serves their interests and resources.

Components:

The ATAC has four main components, consistent with the mission outlined above: intelligence/information sharing, investigation/prosecution, emergency preparedness/response and training. The ATAC meets in plenary session on the fourth Wednesday of every odd numbered month to review the progress of the components, to share information and to receive training.

Investigation/Prosecution–Joint Terrorism Task Force/United States Attorney

The investigation and prosecution component is represented by the FBI-sponsored Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).  It is a co-located, full-time, collaborative federal, state and local law enforcement entity that investigates terrorism activity and individuals who may be engaged in such activity with the goal of preventing and/or aggressively disrupting that activity and, when in the national security interests of the United States, bringing federal prosecutions. The ATAC Coordinator also serves as the Chief of the National Security Section of the U. S. Attorney’s Office and, as such, is responsible for the assignment of Assistant U. S. Attorneys to JTTF investigations and for supervision of the progress of each investigation. The intelligence community has representatives assigned to the JTTF as well in order to facilitate the two-way flow of information between the JTTF and the intelligence community.

Agencies that cannot commit full time resources have provided investigative contacts to facilitate rapid assistance to specific needs in their jurisdictions should they arise.

Intelligence/Information Sharing– Maryland Coordination & Analysis Center

This component is designed to enhance and to serve the investigative component.  It is also designed to provide timely information to appropriate member agencies (both private and public sectors) that will assist them in creating and administering emergency preparedness/response plans. Its purpose is to analyze, evaluate and disseminate information regarding terrorism. It is the policy of the ATAC to disseminate information as widely and as quickly as possible to all interested parties.

On November 3, 2003, the ATAC began operating the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC) which houses personnel from a wide array of agencies (law enforcement, emergency management, transportation, first responder, public health) whose primary responsibility is to provide information and analysis related to suspected terrorist activity. For efficiency sake, the MCAC also is concerned with general criminal activity since it is often difficult to determine if, and at what point, information related to general crimes may become relevant to terrorism matters. Analytical products produced by the MCACs Intelligence Analysis Division may be utilized in the investigation and/or prosecution of offending individuals and/or organizations. This Division also produces strategic analysis that is disseminated to appropriate ATAC members for their use and benefit. Additionally, the Center operates a 24/7 Watch Division that facilitates the immediate receipt and dissemination of critical information to public and private sector ATAC members and also has a Policy, Programs and Requirements Division which oversees MCACs outreach to the public and private sectors as well as the administrative functions of the Center. The Center and its work products are also accessible to the national entities responsible for the effective coordination and dissemination of threat information and analytical products, such as the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), the DHS National Operations Center (NOC), the TSA Operations Center and CT Watch. When and if other national, or statewide, entities are created, the MCAC will ensure effective two-way communication between them as well. The MCAC also hosts a website located at www.mcac.maryland.gov where information may be found both in its public space and in its password protected space.

To better ensure individual privacy and civil liberties protections, the ATAC Executive Committee formed a Constitutional Protections Advisory Board, which is chaired by a retired federal judge, and provides advice to the Executive Committee regarding the MCACs activities and its information handling and information sharing protocols.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

Extensive plans exist in Maryland to respond to a major natural disaster or terrorist incident with the Maryland Military Department and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency serving as the focal points of statewide coordination. The Governor’s Emergency Management Advisory Council (GEMAC) is the body responsible for providing policy guidance to the Governor and to these two agencies. The ATAC Coordinator has been appointed by the Governor to the GEMAC in order to ensure effective coordination of information. Overall, the ATAC’s responsibility is to be certain that all the relevant and necessary agencies understand their role in emergency preparation activities and in consequence management in the event of an incident.

The Maryland Area Maritime Security Committee (MAMSC), co-sponsored by the U. S. Coast Guard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been placed under the ATAC umbrella at its request. The MAMSC’s primary function is to enhance the security of the Port of Baltimore. The ATAC structure assists the MAMSC in better coordinating this critical function. Several members of the ATAC Executive Committee also sit on the Executive Steering Committee of the MAMSC in order to better facilitate coordination.

Training

In addition to the training provided at each meeting of the plenary membership, the ATAC sponsors numerous conferences and seminars with experts from Maryland and elsewhere providing their insights to the membership and better equipping them to perform their critical anti-terrorism functions.

Structure:

The majority of the work done by the ATAC is accomplished by the above-referenced components. Plenary meetings of the ATAC are held in order for the members to be informed of each of the components’ activities/plans and for the members to provide input. The meetings are chaired either by the U.S. Attorney or the ATAC Coordinator.

Each of the four components provide regular reports to the ATAC Coordinator for dissemination to the Executive Committee and to the ATAC general membership. The ATAC may create whatever temporary or additional entities deemed necessary to further its mission.

Essential to the success of the ATAC is the continuing commitment of the chief executives of the involved agencies to participate and cooperate fully in this joint effort.

Contacts:

Harvey Eisenberg, AUSA ATAC Coordinator (410) 209-4843

Steven Hess Chief Information Officer (410) 209-4930

Steve Cerutti ATAC Intelligence Officer (410) 209-4879

Deborah Marine ATAC Executive Assistant (410) 209-4905

(Updated 5/25/12)