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News and Events Roundup - January 21st

From AFP, on the Secretary's international trip:

Washington would Thursday try to overcome EU doubts about the installation of aiport body scanners at talks in Spain, but European officials are seeking privacy safeguards before agreeing to the measure.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is attending an informal meeting of EU interior ministers in Toledo to try to strike a deal, deemed crucial following last month's failed bomb plot on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

She began her talks with a bilateral meeting with Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

The two are scheduled to give a joint news conference at 12:30 pm (1130 GMT) after Napolitano and the interior ministers from the 27 nation bloc wrap up their talks.

The gathering comes just one day after part of Munich airport was closed for three hours due to a major alert sparked by a man running away from a security check when his laptop tested positive for possible explosives which has fueled concerns over airline safety. Related article: All-clear at Munich airport

Napolitano will try to rally the support of key interior ministers, such as France's Brice Hortefeux, at the gathering whose support for the measure could prove to be decisive, a European official told AFP.


From the New York Times, on yesterday's hearings:

Restrictions put into place last year that limit how people are added to terrorist watch lists unintentionally compromised the nation's ability to prevent attacks, the Obama administration's top counterterrorism officials testified Wednesday.

The assertion came during a marathon of testimony on Capitol Hill as Congress held four separate hearings on the Dec. 25 plot by 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria to blow up an airliner headed to Detroit.

One after another, top officials including Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, and Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, agreed that they personally deserved part of the blame for failing to disrupt the plot.

But they also said that complaints about bloated terrorist watch lists - which at times mean that innocent travelers are subject to extra airport scrutiny - had resulted in a change in the final year of the Bush administration that too tightly governed how names were added to these lists.

"Why are you searching grandmothers?" Mr. Blair said of the criticism that led in 2008 to the approval of the new policy, which was only formally put into place last year. "I should not have given in to that pressure, but it was a factor."

The testimony came on the same day that Erroll Southers, a former F.B.I. agent and counterterrorism supervisor for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, withdrew his name as the nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees aviation security.


From McClatchy, on Temporary Protected Status for certain Haitians residing in the United States:

Federal immigration officials are expecting up to 200,000 undocumented Haitian immigrants, including nearly 68,000 in South Florida, to apply for a new federal immigration program that would allow the migrants to legally remain and work in the United States for 18 months.

The estimated number of potential applicants for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, is far larger than earlier predictions of about 30,000 Haitians nationwide, according to local immigrant organizations and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials.

The higher figures emerged Wednesday during a briefing with reporters by USCIS
Director Alejandro Mayorkas. He was in Miami to meet with several South Florida immigrant aid organizations involved in assisting undocumented Haitian immigrants applying for TPS.

His visit comes on the heels of the Obama administration's announcement last week to grant TPS to undocumented Haitian immigrants who were in the United States on or before Jan. 12 -- the day the earthquake struck Haiti. Those who arrive after the Jan. 12 deadline will be repatriated to Haiti.

TPS is an immigration benefit reserved for selected undocumented migrants from countries disrupted by natural disasters, armed conflicts or other emergencies.


Leadership Events
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability following her meetings with her European counterparts to discuss ways to bolster international security measures and standards for aviation security
Hotel Beatriz
Carretera Ávila, Km 2,750
Toledo, Spain
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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