One of the biggest complaints about domestic defense after 9/11 was that law enforcement officials still weren't sharing what they knew about potential threats.In response, the Homeland Security Department put together a computer network for federal authorities to exchange information. But, until now, local cops -- the guys on the front-lines of any anti-terror fight -- were shut out of the extranet.That changed yesterday, the Washington Post reports, when the Department opened the network up, launching what amounts to a giant chat room for counter-terrorists.

The network will provide a real-time instant messaging, e-mail and live chat service for 5,000 authorized users across 300 agencies in all U.S. states, five territories and 50 urban areas, Ridge said. Users with proper security clearances and software will be able to share vast quantities of data, from audio to computer models, and from foreign news clippings to refined analyses...The system has already proved its value, authorities said. During last August's East Coast power failure, Washington officials lost telephone contact with New York City. Using the network, New York officials within minutes ruled out terrorism and permitted colleagues across the country to 'stand down.'
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