On Tuesday, June 1, Melissa Smislova, Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, Department of Homeland Security, joined INSA Vice President for Policy Larry Hanauer for Coffee and Conversation.
To start, Ms. Smislova shared how DHS I&A has evolved over the years, noting the progress in providing threat assessments to state, tribal, and private sector partners. The office has also made great strides in educating its non-traditional consumers about I&A intelligence warnings and products. Ms. Smislova explained how I&A has its own unique lane and is authorized to operate within the United States and provide information on domestic entities. The I&A workforce is also tasked with combatting domestic terrorism, undermining foreign malign influence operations, and working with other DHS entities to confront transnational crime.
Her opening remarks set the stage for a deeper discussion about I&A’s core mission areas. These include border and cybersecurity and the domestic terrorism issue. Since I&A is at the intersection of intelligence and law enforcement, the office closely collaborates with other DHS, intelligence, and law enforcement entities. Specifically, Ms. Smislova referenced I&A’s relationship with the FBI. I&A’s role is to gather intelligence, produce threat assessments, and share these products with the appropriate stakeholders. This information sharing enables the FBI to conduct investigations and make arrests. To avoid redundancy, I&A has a similar dynamic with CISA, where CISA officials leverage the information they receive from I&A to protect critical infrastructure.
Ms. Smislova also spoke about privacy and civil liberties issues. I&A operates domestically and therefore works with publicly available information pertaining to US persons. Ms. Smislova and her team have a very strong relationship with privacy and civil liberties groups to ensure that their activities comply with the law. The evolution of social media use and AI tools has introduced new frontiers that can be difficult to navigate. I&A is proud of its robust partnerships with these legal groups and constantly seeks their legal insights. To close, Ms. Smislova referenced I&A’s improved retention and recruitment track record and also underscored the important role of contractors. There is room for contracting support across the board, and I&A is focused on maintaining its outreach to small and minority-owned businesses.News Coverage