FBI outlines role during RNC

  • Article by: AMY FORLITI , Associated Press
  • Updated: August 29, 2008 - 5:11 PM

The FBI will play a big role in gathering intelligence and investigating any terroristic threats that may pop up during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

The agency has set up an Intelligence Operations Center at an undisclosed location, where information on suspicious people or activity will be collected and immediately analyzed. The agents will have access to all FBI and local databases.

Ralph Boelter, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis division of the FBI, said the agency has put more resources in Minnesota than ever before "because the responsibility is substantial." He couldn't reveal numbers for security reasons.

The FBI has also set up a Joint Operations Center, which would become a command center and be used only in the event of a crisis.

"Hopefully we'll never activate this," he said.

The Republican National Convention, held at the Xcel Energy Center Sept. 1-4, is designated as a National Special Security Event, or NSSE, which means the U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency coordinating security. The FBI, as well as state and local authorities, are all part of the security operation.

Boelter said the FBI has three major roles during NSSEs: collecting, analyzing and disseminating intelligence; counterterrorism; and crisis intervention.

He said authorities watched the activities surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Denver closely.

"There is nothing that is profound (in Denver) that is impacting our concerns here," he said. "There are threats out there. These threats are very public. There is one particular anarchist group that has a Web site and they've been very public about disrupting the RNC. ... Anything that we are aware of in terms of threats regarding this event, we're working on."

The Secret Service also set up an information-gathering center, where about 100 people from federal, state and local agencies, as well as the private sector, will monitor the convention and events occurring outside.

Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said the center will allow every agency to get information at the same time. One feature of the room: monitors will show camera angles from various highway locations around the Twin Cities. Donovan said those pictures are transmitted from state or municipal cameras already in place — only now, the agencies that own the cameras can see each other's video.

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