Friday, April 29, 2011
Secretary Napolitano Tours Storm Damage in St. Louis and Joins Students for the Great Central U.S. Shakeout
By Mary Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer, DHS and Bart R. Johnson, Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, DHS
State and major urban area fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT) and private sector partners.
Located in states and major urban areas throughout the country, fusion centers are uniquely situated to empower front-line homeland security and law enforcement partners to understand local implications of national intelligence, thus enabling local officials to better protect their communities.
A Milestone for Privacy, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Both fusion center directors and the federal government have identified the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties as a key priority and an important enabling capability to ensure fusion centers protect the legal rights of Americans while supporting homeland security efforts. It is critical that fusion center personnel not only receive training to understand the need to protect privacy, civil rights and civil liberties, but also have a policy in place clearly outlining how this will be achieved.
To help with these efforts, the DHS Privacy Office, working in collaboration with the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and the Program Manager of the Information Sharing Environment, began an independent review in November 2009 of fusion center privacy policies. Today, we are pleased to announce that all 71 officially designated fusion centers have successfully completed this important step and received letters from the DHS Chief Privacy Officer stating that these policies have been determined to be at least as comprehensive as the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) Privacy Guidelines.
The completion of these privacy policies by all fusion centers is a milestone to support the sharing of terrorism and other homeland security information between the federal government and fusion centers during situations involving time-sensitive and emerging threats.
Protecting Privacy While Sharing Information
Established by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the ISE provides analysts, operators, and investigators with integrated and synthesized terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and homeland security information needed to enhance national security and help keep our people safe.
The law required the President to issue Guidelines to protect privacy and civil liberties. From this, the ISE Privacy Guidelines were established to help ensure that ISE sharing partners sufficiently protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties while sharing important terrorism and homeland security information.
The DHS Privacy Office remains engaged with the fusion centers as they work to implement their privacy policies. In partnership with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, I&A, and DOJ, we will continue to provide support to the National Network of Fusion Centers to help ensure that these policies are adhered to, as well as to provide customized privacy, civil liberties and civil rights training to those working in this arena including:
- DHS intelligence officers assigned to a fusion center;
- state and major urban area fusion center personnel; and
- individuals serving as the privacy officer in each fusion center.
Fusion center privacy policies
Read more on fusion centers
DHS Privacy Office website
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by the severe storms and tornadoes that hit much of the southeastern U.S. As part of the team responding to the severe weather in the South, we continue to support communities and states as they assess the situation and provide life-saving and life-sustaining support.
Below is a list of online resources you can use and pass on to others who may have been affected. Included in this list are resources that are accessible via smartphones and other mobile devices. And if you’re looking for our latest updates, visit the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.
If you’re on a desktop or laptop computer:
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Despite its long name, the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) System Efficacy through Commercialization, Utilization, Relevance and Evaluation (SECURE) concept is simple: The government provides companies with detailed requirements of a needed technology, product, or service, along with a conservative estimate of the potential market. In exchange, companies use their own funds to perform research and development to meet those requirements. This saves money on both ends: the government doesn’t spend money on research and development, while the company doesn’t waste resources trying to figure out on their own what the government ultimately is going to need.
Once the technology, product or service is complete and verified through independent third-party testing and evaluation, the technology can be certified as having met the SECURE requirements. (See this article on SECURE in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.)
The first certified product, a blast-resistant video system designed by Visual Defence, Inc. that functions similarly to the “black box” found in airplanes was unveiled today by S&T at the Long Island Forum for Technology, located at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, N.Y.
S&T issued detailed requirements for several needed technologies, including a video system that could be used in mass transit systems and survive an explosion and fire. Visual Defence Inc. produced a working prototype in just a few short months. The systems was tested against powerful improvised explosive devices, subjected to the intense heat of a diesel fuel fire and rapidly cooled with water, simulating a firefighter’s hose, and then underwent a series of pilot tests in several municipal transit systems across the country.
The SECURE Program doesn’t stop there. We are working to develop the products and services needed to accomplish the broad range of DHS missions, from protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure to supporting first responders to enhancing aviation security to facilitating legitimate cross-border travel and trade, and many things in between.
The driving force behind the creation of the SECURE program was DHS’s Chief Commercialization Officer, Tom Cellucci, who leads DHS S&T’s outreach with both the private and public sectors. Cellucci was recently recognized for his efforts by Security magazine as one of the “Most Influential People in Security” who “positively impact the security industry, their organization, their colleagues and their peers.” We think that description sums up Tom’s excellent work pretty well!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Today, Secretary Napolitano visited the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, New Mexico, to tour the facility and participate in a U.S. Border Patrol Change-of-Command ceremony at FLETC’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol Academy.
During the Change-of-Command ceremony, Secretary Napolitano thanked outgoing Chief Border Patrol Agent Scott Luck for his outstanding work in preparing Border Patrol Agents to serve on the frontlines and protect our nation’s borders, and welcomed incoming Chief Border Patrol Agent Roberto Correa to his new post.
During her remarks, Secretary Napolitano underscored the critical role of the Border Patrol Academy in giving all of our Border Patrol agents – wherever they serve – the tools and skills they need to succeed in the challenging and important work they do each day to help secure our nation.
Following the ceremony, Secretary Napolitano toured the facilities at FLETC-Artesia and viewed Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) cockpit training simulators. FFDOs are flight crewmembers authorized and trained by the Transportation Security Administration Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service to use firearms to defend against an act of criminal violence or air piracy – one of our multiple layers of aviation security.
As one of three residential training sites in the United States, FLETC-Artesia includes a full range of facilities for conducting basic and advanced law enforcement training. The Border Patrol consolidated all of its training activities at the Center in September 2004.
FLETC provides law enforcement training for 89 Federal agencies as well as state, local, campus, tribal, and international law enforcement agencies--training nearly 940,000 law enforcement officers and agents nationwide since its inception in 1970.
I’m pleased to announce that the Department has published new guidance for agencies and organizations that receive DHS financial assistance on providing meaningful access for people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). The purpose of the LEP Guidance is to help those who carry out Department-supported activities – such as homeland security grants – to understand and implement their obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI and its regulations prohibit recipients of federal financial assistance from conducting their programs in a way that subjects persons to discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. Long standing interpretations of the law and regulations indicate that failing to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access for LEP persons is a form of national origin discrimination prohibited by Title VI regulations.
DHS recipients include state and local emergency management agencies, fire and police departments, mass transit authorities, community emergency response teams, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations that provide vital services to the public. This new LEP Guidance will assist them in carrying out their programs in a way that is accessible to all communities, regardless of English proficiency.
At the same time the Department is providing guidance to recipients of financial assistance on their obligations under Title VI, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) is engaging with DHS partners and LEP stakeholders to improve language access in the Department’s own programs and activities. These engagement activities will contribute toward the development of a comprehensive DHS LEP Plan, which is underway.
In support of the Department’s goal to improve language access, more about the LEP Guidance and CRCL’s complaint form can be viewed in alternate languages on CRCL’s website. Read more at www.dhs.gov/crcl.
Margo Schlanger is the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) at the United States Department of Homeland Security
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
In today’s threat environment – more than ever – we know that our security is a shared responsibility and the best security strategy is one that gets the public involved. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is focused on strengthening our country’s defenses by getting all stakeholders – including the public – the information and resources they need in order to play their part in helping to secure the country.
We’ve begun a great deal of this work by building the capabilities of fusion centers, launching the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, and expanding the “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign. Now, we are taking another major step forward through the new National Terrorism Advisory System or NTAS. This new system –which will be fully implemented on April 26 – counts on the American public as a key partner in securing our country.
NTAS is built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you – the public – we will tell you. We will provide whatever information we can so you know how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities.
Under the new system, DHS will coordinate with other federal entities to issue formal, detailed alerts when the federal government receives information about a specific or credible terrorist threat. These alerts will include a clear statement that there is an imminent threat or elevated threat, a summary of the potential threat, actions being taken to ensure public safety, and steps that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves and help prevent, mitigate or respond to the threat. These alerts will also have a specified end date.
For Americans, this will mean some visible changes. You won’t hear the old color-code announcements when you go to airports, or see them when you visit a government website. Instead, when a threat arises that could affect you and your family, you will hear about it through an NTAS Alert issued by DHS through official channels, such as the DHS website, the news media, and via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
During past attacks and incidents, we have seen the life-saving contributions of everyday Americans who alert authorities to something suspicious and help avert danger. We strongly believe that, if we are facing a particular threat, the American people should be equipped with whatever information we can provide so you know how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities. The new NTAS system will do just that, and is an important part of the ongoing efforts to make our country safer and more secure.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
On the 16th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, it is important to take a moment to remember this awful tragedy, while also celebrating the stories of recovery and resilience that have emerged since.
The Oklahoma City bombing is particularly important to me – as the U.S. Attorney for Arizona at the time, I was charged with helping lead a portion of the criminal investigation into the bombing, which Timothy McVeigh planned with an associate in Arizona.
Since that terrible day 16 years ago, our country has made great strides in enhancing our communities’ abilities to prevent, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism.
Importantly, over the past two years, we have refocused our efforts around a simple but powerful idea: that homeland security starts with hometown security, and we all play a role in keeping our country safe.
As part of this approach, we have expanded the “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign to more than 9,000 government facilities nationwide, as well as to local transit systems, professional sports leagues, Walmart, Mall of America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the general aviation industry, and state and local fusion centers across the country.
We’ve also worked to expand the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative – an administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism, crime and other threats; standardize how those observations are documented and analyzed; and expand and enhance the sharing of those reports with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS – to communities throughout the country.
We’ve implemented new security standards for all federal buildings and facilities across our country and deployed new risk assessment tools to help our federal inspectors increase protection and reduce vulnerabilities.
And we have implemented a comprehensive initiative to counter threats of violent extremism within our country, working closely with state and local law enforcement and communities themselves to recognize potential indicators or warning signs of extremism.
Preventing acts of terrorism requires all of us to do our part. We can’t seal our country under a glass dome or guarantee there will never again be another terrorist attack. But we can continue to work day and night to do everything we can to increase our preparedness and resilience in the face of ever changing threats.
Oklahoma City is an example to all of us of how a community responded to a tragedy with unflinching courage, strength, and resilience. Last year I had the honor of meeting with some of these survivors and their families and visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. This year, FEMA Deputy Administrator Tim Manning will be there on behalf of the Department.
Today, we all remember Oklahoma City as if it were our own hometown. We remember the lives lost on that day, but also the inspiring stories of survival. And we learn from and honor the example of our fellow citizens in Oklahoma City by dedicating ourselves to building communities across the country that are safer, stronger and more resilient to threats than ever before.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
On March 30, 2011, President Obama signed Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8 on National Preparedness. This directive instructs the federal government to take action to strengthen our nation’s security and resilience against a variety of hazards, including terrorism, pandemics, and catastrophic natural disasters. It reflects this administration’s belief that the entire emergency management team –all levels of government, the private and non-profits sectors, and individual citizens – plays a key role in keeping our communities safe and secure, meeting the needs of survivors when disaster strikes, and preventing the loss of life and property. Specifically, the directive will help us continue to strengthen this entire emergency management team by directing the government to develop a new national preparedness goal, national preparedness system, comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness, and national preparedness report based on this new goal.
So how will the PPD get implemented?
We look forward to working extensively with stakeholders at all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and the public to develop the PPD implementation plan and to carry it out once it is finalized. The White House National Security Staff is currently coordinating this process.
All of us can contribute to national preparedness. This administration is dedicated to working with all members of our emergency management team to build a stronger national preparedness system that leverages all elements of our society – federal, state and local governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, faith-based and community partnerships, and individuals – to meet the security, preparedness and resilience needs of our communities.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Mayorkas reminded us of courageous individuals like Gerda Weissmann Klein –a humanitarian, author, human rights activist, Holocaust survivor, and a proud naturalized citizen. Mrs. Weissmann-Klein was a recipient of the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and was also honored by USCIS as an Outstanding American by Choice – an honor bestowed upon naturalized U.S. citizens who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to this country.
As the federal agency that administers naturalization and ensures the integrity and efficiency of the citizenship process, USCIS is proud to have provided tens of thousands of people nationwide with information on eligibility, testing, and citizenship rights and responsibilities. Last year, USCIS’s Citizenship and Integration Grant Program provided nearly $8.1 million to 78 community organizations in 27 states to support citizenship education programs and naturalization application services for lawful permanent residents.
And earlier this year, Mayorkas and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa partnered to debut a first-of-its-kind Immigrant Integration pilot program aimed at strengthening citizenship efforts in L.A., a city that is home to an estimated 2.3 million lawful permanent residents eligible for citizenship. Through proactive citizenship awareness, education, and outreach activities, Mayorkas hopes to replicate this first-of-its-kind collaborative effort in other cities across the country.
“As a nation grounded in the fundamental value that all people are created equal, our unifying promise of citizenship has allowed people of all backgrounds, whether native or foreign-born, to have an equal stake in the future of this nation, “said Mayorkas. “Citizenship solidifies the inclusive vision of what America stands for: a nation united by the common ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy.“
If you are one of the 99 million Americans planning to file your taxes online, it’s important to understand the risks and practice safe online habits. New account fraud, where information is stolen and used to open bank of credit card accounts in a person’s name without their knowledge, is the most common form of identity fraud.
The good news is that there are a number of simple and common sense steps you can take to protect your identity and keep your information secure online. DHS’ Stop. Think. Connect. campaign recommends the following steps to ensure your information stays safe while filing taxes online:
• STOP and consider who you are providing your information to and exactly where it is going. If you are using an online tax service, is it from a reputable company? Beware of phony tax sites and IRS-impersonation scams designed to get you to hand over sensitive information.
• THINK about what a web service is offering and how you found it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• CONNECT with the confidence of knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to file your taxes safely and securely online, while protecting your information and your identity.
The IRS does not initiate correspondence through e-mail. If you receive an e-mail saying it is from the IRS, do not click on any links or respond. Instead, forward it to email@example.com and delete it from your inbox. The official website for the IRS is http://www.irs.gov/, and all IRS web page addresses begin with this address. Consult with commercial tax preparation services for information on how to verify you are using one of their products.
Even after the April 18 tax filing deadline has come and gone, it’s important to remain vigilant about online security and stop and think before providing your personal information on the Internet.
For more information on how you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim of a cyber attack or cyber crime and how to get involved with DHS’ Stop. Think. Connect. campaign, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect. For information from the IRS on avoiding tax fraud and scams, visit http://www.irs.gov/compliance/enforcement/article/0,,id=121259,00.html.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
DHS Supports Exercise of Securing the Cities Program Designed to Detect Radiological and Nuclear Threats
| NYPD police assets mobilize for DHS/DNDO|
Securing the Cities full-scale exercise, Tuesday April 5.
Photo Courtesy of NYPD
“The Securing the Cities program is a key component of the Department’s efforts to protect the nation from terrorist threats,” said Secretary Napolitano. “The STC pilot program has helped build a capability among first responders to help detect illicit radiological and nuclear weapons or materials in a major metropolitan area that simply did not exist four years ago.”
Securing the Cities began in 2006 as a pilot project for the New York City region, providing equipment, tools and training through cooperative agreements to the New York Police Department (NYPD), the lead agency for the STC program, which in turn distributes grant money to other participating agencies. In all, STC has provided more than 5,800 pieces of detection equipment, trained nearly 11,000 personnel, and conducted more than a hundred drills.
“Through Securing the Cities, the New York City region is providing thousands of first responders with the tools they need to detect radiological and nuclear threats,” said Warren Stern, Director of DHS’ Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). “This full-scale exercise will help us to determine how we can continue to improve our ability to identify, prevent and respond to potential nuclear or radiological threats.”
Following an evaluation of the initial pilot, President Obama’s FY 2012 budget request outlines a transition from a pilot program to a more permanent capability that could be continued in the New York City region and replicated in other major metropolitan cities.
Monday, April 4, 2011
|Dolan, TSA's 500th Pupp|
"My children and I are very excited to have a puppy named in Bob’s memory,” said Lisa Dolan, wife of the late Captain Dolan. “Bob began his military career as an explosives ordnance expert. When he was killed at the Pentagon, he was working on Homeland Defense, and so it's very fitting to have one of the TSA puppies named for our hero, Captain Bob Dolan. Knowing “Puppy Dolan” will one day be an explosives detection canine in the service of our country is reassuring. Dolan’s future career keeping travelers safe is a fitting addition to Bob’s legacy of freedom.”
This op-ed appeared in The Wall Street Journal on April 4, 2011
Over the last few weeks, mayors, sheriffs, business leaders and citizens have joined together with a simple but powerful message: America's Southwest border communities are open for business. This is a message the American people need to hear.
Unfortunately, there is a widespread misperception that the Southwest is wracked by violence spilling over from Mexico's ongoing drug war. The facts tell a different story. Some of America's safest communities are in the Southwest border region, with crime rates in cities along the border staying steady or dropping over the past decade. For example, the crime rate in Tucson, Ariz., fell 15% between 2008 and 2009 and 21% in Brownsville, Texas, over the same period.
In the last two years, the Obama administration has made historic deployments of manpower, technology and infrastructure to help secure our Southwest border. These efforts—along with the heroic work of our Border Patrol agents—are paying off.
Between fiscal years 2009 and 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized 81% more currency, 25% more drugs, and 47% more weapons along the Southwest border than they did between fiscal years 2007 and 2008. Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal aliens—the best indicator of illegal immigration—have dropped by 36% over the past two years to less than a third of its all-time high.
We know these gains are tenuous, which is why we won't let up for a second in our efforts to secure the border and protect communities in the Southwest. In the meantime, the American people and American businesses should know that this region is a vital hub of commerce with room to grow.
>From San Diego, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas, the hundreds of billions of dollars of commerce crossing through the border region each year support hundreds of thousands of good jobs at the border and throughout the country.
Thanks in part to major investments to renovate and expand outdated ports of entry, we have bolstered security while increasing trade. Last year, U.S. exports of goods to Mexico totaled $163.3 billion, an increase of 27% over 2009. Those exports are tied directly to American jobs.
Yet local leaders in the region tell us that the misinformation about safety and security at the border threatens this progress. It drives potential visitors away, hurts local businesses, and simply does not square with the fact the Southwest border region is one of the safest parts of the country.
That's why the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce joined El Paso Mayor John Cook, as well as the mayors of Nogales and Yuma, Ariz., at the port of entry in El Paso, Texas, last week to call for an end to this type of misinformation and to discuss emerging economic opportunities.
To amplify this message, four gateway states—Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—will be the initial focus of a new export strategy aiming to promote enhanced cross-border trade with Canada and Mexico as part of President Obama's National Export Initiative.
Under the strategy, trade specialists from the Commerce Department and other agencies will work with border communities to address challenges and foster opportunities along the border. The emphasis will be on helping small and medium-sized U.S. businesses tap into new markets.
El Paso provides an example of the economic opportunities that exist in the Southwest border region as a result of increased security. It now has one of the lowest crime rates among big American cities, and the value of U.S. merchandise exports passing through ports in the El Paso district amounted to $29.2 billion last year—48% higher than in 2009.
We are seeing similar increases in trade in other places across the border, including at major ports near San Diego and Nogales.
Make no mistake: We agree that the security challenges we face at the border are real. But to maximize the economic opportunities in the region, we must also acknowledge the progress we've made over the past two years.