Guarding Our Nation’s Infrastructures

Back on July 26, 1908 when Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte organized what later became known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), his original 34 investigators probed cases in antitrust, peonage, and land fraud.

Today, almost 100 years later, its cadre of over 30,000 employees follows a somewhat higher mission: To protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats and to enforce the criminal laws of the United States.”

This mission, in part, is achieved through an important and proactive initiative known as InfraGard. Established by the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office in August of 1996, this program has proven to be a successful, collaborative effort between the U.S. Government (led by the FBI) and public- and private-sector organizations.

Its very name means “Infrastructure Guarding.” Its mission is simple: To provide forums for the exchange of information between the government, the owners and operators of the national infrastructure, and others concerned with the protection of the national infrastructure.

On May 22, 1998, President Clinton announced a new directive designed to strengthen the Nation's defenses against terrorism and other unconventional threats: Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 63 focuses specifically on protecting the Nation's critical infrastructures from both physical and “cyber” attacks. These attacks may originate from foreign governments, foreign and domestic terrorist organizations, and foreign and domestic criminal organizations.  Critical infrastructures are defined as those physical and cyber-based systems essential to the minimum operations of the economy and government. They include, but are not limited to, banking and finance, emergency services, energy, telecommunications, transportation, and water systems.

Annual membership is free and available to anyone who applies and successfully undergoes a criminal background check Recent meeting topics include Avian Flu, foreign animal disease, disaster exercises, and agro-terrorism. Attendance at meetings is not required, but a valuable benefit of membership.

In addition to regular meetings, members in good standing can attend “secure” seminars and conferences that delve deeper into the world of terrorism. These venues are available to current InfraGard members and commissioned peace officers only. Meeting topics have included expert studies of Jihad-motivated terrorism, suicide bombers, and the “dark” side of the Internet where hundreds of terrorist groups promote their ideologies and recruit members.

So, what’s in it for you? Well, for starters, your FREE membership in InfraGard gives you a great opportunity to network with your fellow peace officers, industry experts, and community leaders in your jurisdiction. This inter-agency connection will help broaden your understanding of how colleagues are meeting the challenges of our war on terrorism.

Through InfraGard’s secure program series, you’ll be exposed to information that may not ordinarily be available to your jurisdiction. And that’s not to mention that you’ll gain a better perspective of how physical and cyber-terrorism impacts our private industry and, ultimately, our daily lives as American citizens and consumers.

I know your time is at a premium. However, InfraGard is an effective means for you to get  involved in a professionally- and personally-rewarding organization. And to further contribute to the security of our homeland.

Attorney General Bonaparte would be proud.

For more information and an application for membership, visit the national InfraGard Website by clicking here (www.infragard.net).