Connecting The Dots

National Counterterrorism Center CBS

Scott Redd may be the most important person you've never heard of. As correspondent David Martin reports, Redd is the head of the new and very secret National Counterterrorism Center; it's his job to make all the different intelligence agencies — and their computers — talk to one another and share everything they know about terrorist plots against this country.

"Before 9/11 there were 13 different databases on known terrorist identities. They were disconnected. Disparate, different agencies. People didn't talk to each other," Redd explains.

Asked if he's the guy in charge of the war plan for the war against terror, Redd says, "That's one way of putting it. Yes, sir."

"And you give that to the president?" Martin asks.

"Well, yes sir, I do," says Redd.

"Another way of describing your job might be to make sure something like 9/11 never happens again," Martin remarks.

"That's what we worry about every day," Redd replies.

Known by the initials NCTC, the center is normally off-limits — CBS News is not allowed to tell you exactly where this building is. But we were given unprecedented access to the brand new state-of-the-art nerve center.

Because the center is so new, it's loaded with the kind of gadgets that make the conference room look like a made-for-TV movie. But it's not the gadgets that make this room the hub of the war against terror, it's the business that's transacted here.

Every morning at 8 a.m., FBI agent Kevin Brock chairs the morning's top-secret meeting.

"Here's where we exchange current intelligence about what the terrorism threat is out there. We talk about it. We make sure information is being exchanged freely among the agencies in the intelligence community," Brock explains.

For the first time in the history of this country, 18 intelligence agencies are routinely sharing the kind of sensitive information they used to keep to themselves.

CBS News was not allowed to stay long in the top-secret meeting — and when you listen to the roll call, you understand why. On the lines are representatives from all the intelligence agencies including the CIA, the NSA plus the White House.

Every morning begins with an update of the threat matrix — intelligence that has come in overnight on plots against this country.

One of those "sit reps" — short for situation report — contains the latest developments in the London bomb plot, which was broken up the day before we visited.

Redd recited the message he sent out to his staff after that. "I said: 'This was just the type of event that NCTC was established to address. The amount of effort that went into foiling this plot was admirable and extremely effective. The bottom line is we save lives,'" he explains.

"Watch out for the next one. Never let your guard down," he tells Martin.
  • Daniel Schorn

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