NORAD, NORTHCOM conducts Intelligence Oversight Conference

By Armando Carrasco JTF North Public Affairs


Safeguarding the privacy rights of U.S. persons is critical to the Department of Defense agencies that conduct intelligence activities in support of the nation’s homeland defense and homeland security. 

To ensure the rights of all U.S. persons are protected, DoD established an Intelligence Oversight program to ensure that all military intelligence, counterintelligence, and intelligence related activities are conducted in accordance with applicable laws, presidential executive orders and DoD directives and regulations.

In its continuing effort to ensure compliance with the DoD IO program, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command sponsored the 1st Annual World-Wide Intelligence Oversight Conference Dec. 4-6 at Joint Task Force North Headquarters on Fort Bliss, Texas.

U.S. law and policy restricts the collection of intelligence on U.S. Persons by DoD intelligence components. Only that information which is necessary for a valid DoD mission and indicates a reason to believe that a U.S. Person is an agent or member of a foreign government, international terrorist, or international drug trafficking organization may be collected by DoD intelligence components.

“The events of September 11th, 2001 brought to our nation a threat that requires all elements of national power to defeat.  It caused us in the business of providing for the security and defense of the nation an urgent need to find new ways to work together to confront the threat of terrorism to the homeland,” said, JTF North Commander, Brig. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi.  JTF North is the USNORTHCOM unit tasked to provide military support for homeland security to the nation’s federal law enforcement agencies.

“As a result of the greater need to develop information and to share it between agencies, there needs to be a continuous assessment and collaboration among the operational, intelligence, and legal mechanisms to ensure that we continue to unquestionably protect the constitutional rights of U.S. persons,” said Ierardi.

The DoD IO program has two main objectives.  First and foremost, the prevention of violations and second, if prevention fails, to identify, investigate and report violations and implement corrective actions to ensure there are no recurrences.

“Intelligence Oversight is a keystone of U.S. Northern Command’s mission; it is mission critical,” said NORAD/USNORTHCOM Director of Intelligence, Michael Noll.  “A significant failure of Intelligence Oversight would be, at a minimum, an intelligence mission failure and possibly a command mission failure.

“Our structure for approaching Intelligence Oversight is fairly straight forward: it is a tripod --- the judge advocates help us understand law and policy, the intelligence directorate trains its personnel and executes the program and our inspector general inspects the program,” Noll said.

DoD continues to increase the understanding of the activities that military intelligence organizations and personnel may, and may not, perform to accomplish their mission through training and awareness programs.  The IO program ensures that DoD can conduct its intelligence and counterintelligence missions while protecting the statutory and constitutional rights of U.S. persons.

IO applies to all members of the DoD intelligence community, not just to collectors. DoD intelligence personnel engaged in any intelligence activity (e.g. collection, research, analysis, production, retention, or dissemination), as well as all non-intelligence personnel assigned to a DoD intelligence unit must be familiar with the provisions of IO policies and instructions.  Contractors performing intelligence or counterintelligence work for DoD intelligence or counterintelligence organizations have the same IO responsibilities as government civilian and military personnel.

Conference participants included both military and civilian intelligence oversight supervisors, inspector generals, intelligence personnel, and judge advocate general representatives from all combatant commands, NORAD and USNORTHCOM subordinate and component commands, DoD, and federal interagency representatives.
Attending senior DoD officials included: Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight, Bill Dugan; DoD Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence, Shelton R. Young; and Defense Intelligence Agency Inspector General for Intelligence Oversight, Carol Ford.

Conference events included panel discussions, presentations and working group participation; special emphasis was given to current IO issues and future applications of policy pertaining to the evolving nature of technology and interagency cooperation in today’s operational environment.