Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona opposed tough new federal requirements for driver's licenses, endorsed legislation on Wednesday to replace the 2005 law with a more flexible and less costly version.
The new legislation maintains some features of the so-called Real ID law, which required states to scrupulously verify the identity of people to whom it issues driver's licenses, including verifying information they submit, like Social Security numbers and birth certificates.
The original measure, prompted by concerns about terrorism, was passed without Senate hearings as an amendment to a spending bill, and has been contested ever since. It requires states to comply with a series of benchmarks by Dec. 31, but no state has been certified as compliant.
The Real ID card is intended to be the only driver's license a person can use when boarding an airplane or entering a federal building.
Ms. Napolitano said the new bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Democrat of Hawaii, was "a bill that if passed and implemented before Dec. 31 of this year will fix a bill that was flawed from the outset."
From the Associated Press, on cartel violence in Mexico:
Ongoing concerns that drug-related violence in Mexico poses a threat to American communities remain the Obama administration's border focus, the federal government's border czar said Wednesday.
Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Alan Bersin, who visited Arizona's busiest commercial port here on Wednesday, said those concerns have triggered a series of border security initiatives and brought about closer cooperation with Mexican federal authorities.
"We take the threat of spillover violence very seriously," Bersin said. "We're prepared to deal with it in the event it occurs. There are contingency plans to respond. But we have not yet seen that violence spill over into the United States."
10 AM EDT
Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations Deputy Director Kumar Kibble will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security; Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism
311 Cannon House Office Building
10 AM CDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Jon Allen will participate in a media
event announcing the installation of CT-80 Explosives Detection
System (EDS) equipment
University of Illinois Willard Airport11 Airport RoadSavoy, Ill.
11:30 AM EDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Lara Uselding will participate in a
media event at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to
showcase new AT X-ray machines
Newark Liberty International Airport
The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review launches a new phase today.
The Office of Strategic Planning (OSP) is taking something that’s usually somewhat humdrum and using it to build a pretty cool new process.
Basically, based on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report, Congress mandated some time ago that DHS complete an internal review this year (and every four years hereafter) and report recommendations about strategy, programs, policies, and capabilities. But Congress left it up to OSP to determine just what that the review – the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) would look like.
The entire review will be unclassified, which makes it a little unconventional from the start. The whole process is also creatively set up in a way that acknowledges that many individuals—at multiple levels of government as well as outside the government—make decisions and provide expertise that contribute to homeland security.
Earlier this year, Secretary Napolitano invited representatives from every part of this broader homeland security community to contribute position papers to a public document library. This means that input from academics, experts, think tanks, professional associations, and more—all specialists in areas under the homeland security umbrella—all helped inform the QHSR’s frame of reference.
From there, the study groups—each made up of DHS officials and facilitated by an independent expert to ensure all viewpoints are represented and opinions heard—will examine focus areas (law enforcement and security, intelligence, etc.). Here’s where it gets really interesting, though: they’re going to be using a web-based collaborative dialogue platform for these studies, which means that all stakeholders, individuals or organizations with recognized homeland security roles and members of the general public can participate.
You can participate by logging on to http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org/ today to pre-register for the upcoming dialogues. Follow along, join the conversation, and share your ideas on what you think the study groups should focus on.
After all this, Secretary Napolitano and a 13-member Executive Committee (made up of the Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence, among others) will analyze the study groups’ recommendations and present their findings to Congress before we ring in the new year.
Web-based collaborative? Defining what DHS will look like for the next four years? Sounds like we'll have som New Year's resolutions.
The Department is committed to increased collaboration between government and industry representatives. In May, President Obama noted in the first-ever Presidential address on cybersecurity:
“[i]t's the great irony of our Information Age -- the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. And this paradox -- seen and unseen -- is something that we experience every day.”At Industry Day, DHS highlighted the need for private industry to become more involved in developing comprehensive, game-changing, innovative solutions that improve and expand upon our current capabilities to protect, detect, and respond to cyber incidents. The recent denial of service (DoS) incident only underscores that point. Our RFI is the next step in reaching out to stakeholders to assist us in advancing our capability to secure the nation’s critical cyber infrastructure and address future cyber challenges. For more information, we encourage you to visit FedBizOpps or email CIVendorInfo@dhs.gov.
PASS ID is legislation that was introduced last month in the U.S. Senate, and would amend the REAL ID Act of 2005. Both pieces of legislation are aimed at strengthening security requirements for driver's licenses – while the federal government sets the standards, it’s up to the states to implement. 13 states have enacted “anti-REAL ID” laws, virtually eliminating the chance that REAL ID can ever be implemented nationally. PASS ID seeks to establish national standards to enhance the security and integrity of all licenses and ID cards, while retaining state flexibility to go further if they want.
From the Secretary's testimony today:
We'll keep you updated on PASS ID as it moves forward.
"PASS ID is a critical piece of national security legislation that will fix the REAL ID Act of 2005 and institute strong security standards for government-issued identification. PASS ID will fulfill a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, that the federal government set standards for identification such as driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards – and this bill will do so in a way that states will implement, rather than disregard. PASS ID will enact the same strong security standards set out by REAL ID as quickly as REAL ID – but, critically, this bill provides a workable way to get there."
-- Secretary Janet Napolitano
Morning Roundup for July 15th, 2009 - Featured News and Public Events
From the Washington Post, on PASS ID:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is promoting a new program to make driver's licenses more secure that would cost less than the plan pushed by the Bush administration.
On Wednesday, she was to testify before a Senate committee considering legislation that would replace the former administration's Real ID card plan with something called a Pass ID. Those who support the new program say it would not gut the security requirements in current law. But others say the new ID would relax rules enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Bush's Real ID plan has been stalled well short of nationwide implementation by opposition in the states. Twelve states have voted not to participate, and others have raised complaints.
The National Governors Association helped write the new proposal. As Arizona governor, Napolitano said the Bush administration did not collaborate enough with governors in the development of its plan for implementing the congressionally mandated program.
The governors group said the current law would cost states $4 billion while the new plan could cut the costs to between $1.3 billion and $2 billion.
From the Associated Press, on the HSAS review:
The Obama administration has begun a review that could spell the end of the color-coded terrorism advisories, long derided by late night TV comics and portrayed by some Democrats as a tool for Bush administration political manipulation.
It's not likely the review will plunge an alert system into the dark all together, but short of that, everything is on the table for consideration, according to one administration official familiar with the plans. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about potential outcomes.
The alert system assigns five different colors to terror risk levels. Green at the bottom signals a low danger of attack and red at the top warns of a severe threat. It was put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was designed to help emergency responders get prepared.
But it's been the butt of late-night television comics' jokes and criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for being too vague to deliver enough useful information.
From the San Diego Union-Tribune, on a huge haul for CBP this year:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reporting record drug seizures for the first three quarters of fiscal year 2009, which ended June 30.
According to the agency, which includes the Border Patrol, customs officers and air and marine operations, more than 3.3 million pounds of drugs were intercepted at and in between ports of entry along both the southern and northern borders. This is an increase of 64.3 percent compared to the same period the previous year.
The largest marijuana seizure occurred in late March, when agency officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry intercepted a commercial tractor-trailer loaded with 10,764 pounds of marijuana.
Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jacqueline Dizdul credited a larger presence of border security personnel, among other things.
10 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will testify before the Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about PASS ID
342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
12 PM PDT
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) Policy Advisor Debbie
Fulmer will deliver remarks on preparedness efforts for special needs populations at the 2009 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)
San Diego Convention Center
111 W Harbor Dr.
San Diego, Calif.
2 PM EDT
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Assistant
Administrator John Sammon will testify before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection about general aviation security risks
311 Cannon House Office Building
In a recent technology snapshot, our Science and Technology Directorate highlighted a project that, if successful, could help find and plug up smuggling tunnels as fast as criminals can dig them.
The Tunnel Detection Project is working on a design that places radar antennas in a trailer towed by a truck. Electromagnetic waves penetrate the earth, and what shows up on a monitor inside the truck is a picture of what’s beneath them, composed of red, yellow, and aquamarine dots. Civil engineers already use ground-penetrating technology, but it’s just to find pipes or cable a few meters beneath the earth. S&T’s taking this and giving it some oomph. They’re using much lower frequency waves to penetrate deeper into the ground, and the sophisticated imaging technology they’re working on produces surprisingly clear pictures of any tunnels that are found.
As a program director points out, tunnels have been found so far by good law enforcement work or by chance, but never by technology.
The team showed off a prototype this spring that used mock-up “border” made of sand and rocks. Soon, they’re bringing everything they’ve developed down to the Southwest to give it a spin against the rigors of the real border. What’s going to be key for them, they say, is being able to separate tunnels from rocks, plants, and other objects buried in the ground.
Check out the full snapshot.
From the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, on the Secretary's visit to Portsmouth, VA, yesterday:
When the boss is in town, you had better put on a good show.
By all accounts, the Coast Guard didn't disappoint Monday morning, when its members performed an anti-terrorism exercise for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The secretary boarded the cutter Frank Drew around 10 a.m. Soon after, the ship began making its way up the Elizabeth River under escort.
As it passed the shipping terminal, three 25-foot response boats swarmed up the water behind it. With one boat providing cover at the cutter's stern, Maritime Security Response Team members in the other boats clambered up the cutter's side toward the bridge.
A few minutes later, in the exercise's second phase, an MH-60J helicopter swooped in low behind the cutter and hooked a sharp left turn over its stern. A line dropped and, within 20 seconds, six team members had "fast roped" to the deck and proceeded to make their way across the ship.
And check out this report from WAVY-10 TV. They have some great video from the demonstration.
From the Associated Press, on increased cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. on curbing arms trafficking:
Mexico and the United States have agreed on a protocol for sharing information in arms trafficking cases.
Top officials of both countries say the guidelines are aimed at helping them bring more cases against weapons traffickers.
Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora made the announcement Monday at a joint news conference with John T. Morton, the assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mexican authorities say much of the country's drug cartel violence is fueled by weapons smuggled in from the United States.
9 AM PDT
DHS Chief Veterinarian Thomas McGinn III, DVM, will
participate in a panel discussion about public health and animal
health at the 2009 American Veterinary Medical Association
Washington State Convention & Trade Center
800 Convention Place
9:30 AM MDT
DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special
Representative for Border Affairs Alan Bersin will participate in a
Nogales Border Patrol Station
1500 West La Quinta
The MSRT was originally created as part of a response to weapons of mass destruction threats, and they now train – and train, and train – for the full spectrum of maritime challenges, from domestic law enforcement operations to counterterrorism. The MSRT utilizes canine explosive detections teams, tactical delivery vessels, and multiple specialized resources in their efforts. Today, they demonstrated a vertical insertion – very quickly boarding and controlling a boat by fast-roping in from an HH-60 helicopter. Suffice it to say: very cool stuff.
From the Associated Press, on immigration enforcement:
An overhauled federal program allowing local and state law enforcement officials to arrest and deport immigrants will focus on the most serious criminals and limit officers' police powers, the Homeland Security Department said Friday.
The agency reworked the program, which had been criticized by the Government Accountability Office and led to a Justice Department investigation of the Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff's office.
Government investigators said the previous program - cited as an example of misguided immigration enforcement by the Bush administration - did not clearly spell out when and how officers could use their arrest authority.
The revised program now requires local and state law enforcement agencies to first resolve any criminal charges that led to the arrest of the immigrants.
It also creates three priority levels for the immigrants who are to be arrested and detained. Immigrants convicted or arrested of major drug offenses or violent offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery or kidnapping are the top priority.
From the Washington Post, on the Bertholf's bust last week:
The Coast Guard says a cutter based in Alameda has seized two speedboats, recovered a bale of cocaine and detained four suspected smugglers off the coast of Guatemala.
The bust was made Wednesday night by the cutter Bertholf about 80 miles from the Central American nation.
Officials say four boats were spotted by a patrol aircraft before a marksman aboard a Coast Guard helicopter shot out the engines of two speedboats.
From the Washington Post, on funding for the H1N1 vaccine:
The United States is ready to announce another $1 billion in orders for swine flu vaccinations.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she will announce Monday that Washington has approved another billion dollars to buy components of the vaccine. Sebelius said on Sunday that research is under way to provide a safe and effective vaccine to fight a flu strain that could be a pandemic.
10 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will observe an MSRT Demonstration
4000 Coast Guard Blvd.
11 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability
4000 Coast Guard Blvd.
10:30 AM CDT
Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan will deliver remarks at the American Library Association’s 2009 Annual Conference
McCormick Place West
2301 S Lake Shore Drive
11 AM PDT
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief Veterinarian Thomas McGinn III, DVM, will participate in a panel discussion about Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 at the 2009 Washington State Convention & Trade Center
800 Convention Place