From the Washington Post, on an interview with the Secretary:
On the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, here's what keeps the secretary of homeland security up at night:
"Complacency," Janet Napolitano says without missing a beat. "The fact that it has been eight years since 9/11, and people just assume the government is going to take care of that. . . . Safety, security is a shared responsibility. It doesn't take much for everybody just to take a deep breath and say, 'Okay, what would I need to do to be prepared?' "
Emergency preparedness is just a sliver of Napolitano's vast portfolio, which covers issues from counterterrorism to swine flu to cybersecurity. The former Arizona governor oversees a relatively new agency that is still ironing out some kinks, and she must also face more than 100 congressional committees that oversee various parts of her operation.
From CNN, on yesterday's groundbreaking at St. Elizabeths:
Washington notables broke ground on the future home of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday, symbolically starting construction on the biggest federal building project in the Washington area since the Pentagon 68 years ago.
The project will bring together more than 15,000 employees now scattered in 35 offices in the region, placing them on a 176-acre campus strewn with historic buildings in a long-neglected corner of Washington, five miles from the Capitol building.
Department leaders hope the $3.4 billion consolidation will help the department fulfill its core mission -- protecting the homeland -- in ways big and small.
"It will help us hold meetings," Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "It will help us build that culture of 'One DHS.'"
At the groundbreaking, political leaders shoveled dirt with care, but pitched historical references and metaphors with abandon.
From the Jacksonville Daily News, on today's naturalization service at the Pentagon:
Two Camp Lejeune Marines will be participating in a naturalization ceremony Thursday at the Pentagon.
Sgt. Tikonblah Dargbeh, with Headquarters Company, 2nd Marine Regiment and 2nd Marine Division, and Cpl. Elizabeth Covarrubias-Ruiz, with Headquarters Support Battalion, Installation Personnel Administration Center, will become citizens during the ceremony.
Both Marines have deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Dargbeh received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained while in Iraq.
The all-service naturalization ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will preside over the ceremony, according to a press release from Camp Lejeune.
2 PM EDT
Secretary Napolitano, Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas will participate in a naturalization ceremony for 31 military service members
8:30 AM EDT
Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan will deliver remarks about the Privacy Office’s accomplishments to the Federal Advisory Committee Act Data Privacy Committee at its quarterly public meeting
Marriott Detroit at the Renaissance Center
9 AM EDT
ICE Special Advisor on Detention & Removal Dr. Dora Schriro will be participating in a panel discussion at the Migration Policy Institute on the MPI report being released tomorrow critiquing ICE’s detention database and case tracking system.
1400 16th Street, NW., Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
9:10 AM EDT
Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Gregory Schaffer will participate in a panel discussion about securing systems and networks at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) 2009 Homeland Security Symposium and Exhibition
Arlington Crystal Gateway Marriott
1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy
10:30 AM EDT
U.S. Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Acquisition Admiral Ronald Rabago will participate in a roundtable discussion about current and upcoming Acquisition Directorate projects
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
2100 2nd Street SW
1 PM EDT
U.S. Coast Guard Captain Frederick Sommer, Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, will participate in a satellite press teleconference of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Task Force to discuss findings from a 41-day mission in the Arctic Ocean. Scientists on board Healy have been collaborating with Canadian counterparts aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent since August 7 as part of a joint effort to delineate the outer edge of the North American continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.
1:10 PM EDT
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Acting Administrator Gale Rossides will deliver opening remarks at the Aviation Security Advisory Council (ASAC) Meeting.
Doubletree Hotel, Crystal City
300 Army Navy Drive
1:30 PM EDT
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Maj. Gen. James L. Snyder will participate in a panel discussion about stimulus investments and critical infrastructure resiliency at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) 2009 Homeland Security Symposium and Exhibition
Arlington Crystal Gateway Marriott
1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy
3:10 PM EDT
Bruce McConnell, Counselor to NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Phil Reitinger, will moderate a cyber security panel discussion at the Gov. 2.0 Conference
Grand Hyatt Hotel
1000 H Street NorthwestWashington, D.C.
The move to St. Elizabeths will mark a new chapter for the department, as we begin the process of consolidating many of our offices around the city into the new headquarters. The Secretary spoke at the event, emphasizing the importance of departmental unity and the economic benefit to the area that will result from the new headquarters:
“The Department of Homeland Security continues to unify our many components into one cohesive agency with a shared central mission,” said Secretary Napolitano. “The construction of our new headquarters at St. Elizabeths using Recovery Act funding will help consolidate more than 35 offices in the Washington area while creating thousands of local jobs.”Senator Lieberman spoke as well, noting that the new headquarters is the largest building project in the Washington metro area since the Pentagon. That groundbreaking was held 68 years ago this week, on September 11th, 1941, and 60 years to the day before the 9/11 attacks. It was that same day in 1941 that President Roosevelt spoke to the American people during one of his fireside chats, saying, "When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike you, do not wait until he has struck." Senator Lieberman talked about the creation of the deparment after the 9/11 attacks, and how our foundation, and our continuing mission, fall in line with President Roosevelt's message to the American people that evening.
We'll have video from the event soon.
TSA said it will begin using powder explosives detection kits at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and other airports around the country this week, following a pilot test of the kits in late 2008 at airports in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Washington, D.C. At about $145 each, the 1,250 kits distributed nationwide cost close to $185,000.
Typical security checkpoint procedures will not change, the agency said. Security screeners will use X-rays to determine which substances need additional screening.
When substances are selected for additional screening, security officers will use a powder test kit to collect a sample and apply a solution to test for potential explosives. Powders that are "determined to be a potential threat" will not be permitted past checkpoints or in checked baggage, according to TSA.
Common powders are not prohibited and the vast majority of commonly carried powders, like most medication, infant formula and makeup, are unlikely to need further screening, TSA said.
From Associated Press, on the new Girl Scout Preparedness Patch:
It's not just the Boy Scouts who need to "Be Prepared."
To reinforce a motto shared with the Girl Scouts, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Girls Scouts CEO Kathy Cloninger announced a new emergency preparedness patch to encourage girls to prepare for emergencies.
"We've been talking the past eight months now that I've been in the department about the need to get more individuals involved and also to get young people used to the idea of emergency preparedness," Napolitano, a former scout, said at Scotchtown Hills Elementary School in Laurel.
The event in suburban Washington coincided with President Barack Obama's speech to students at an Arlington, Va., high school about taking responsibility to be good students.
To earn the patch, girls will have to create an emergency preparedness plan for their families. They also will learn about local alerts and warning systems and get involved in community service. Planning for natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes
will be part of the exercise, as well as other emergencies.
"It covers the full scope of emergency preparedness," said Brigid Howe, program services manager for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital.
The program was developed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Girl Scouts also announced a new affiliation with DHS Citizen Corps, a part of FEMA that brings government and community leaders together to get residents involved
in emergency planning.
10 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano, General Services Administration (GSA) Acting Administrator Paul Prouty, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty and Councilman Marion Barry will participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking to commence consolidation of a new unified DHS headquarters
St. Elizabeths Campus
2700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave SE
9:30 AM EDT
National Programs and Protection Directorate (NPPD) Under Secretary Rand Beers will deliver remarks at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness Conference
Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson, Manhattan Room
2 Exchange Place
Jersey City, N.J.
11 AM EDT
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Director Colleen Manaher will participate in a panel discussion about U.S. land border management at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) 2009 Homeland Security Symposium and Exhibition
Crystal Gateway Marriott
1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy
1 PM EDT
Private Sector Office Acting Assistant Secretary Bridger McGaw will testify before the House Committee on Small Business about the fall 2009 H1N1 flu season and its potential impact on small businesses
2360 Rayburn House Office Building
- Identifying and preparing for potential emergencies
- Learning about local alerts and warning systems
- Engaging in community service
The Secretary remarked:
“This new preparedness patch will increase citizen preparedness and enhance our country’s readiness for disasters,” said Secretary Napolitano. “As a former Girl Scout, I know the ‘Be Prepared’ motto well—and I look forward to working with the Girl Scouts to spread the preparedness message to all of our nation’s citizens.”
The Secretary also took the opportunity to announce a new partnership between the department's Citizen Corps and the Girl Scouts to advance community preparedness nationwide. The two organizations will work together to encourage young women to become community leaders in emergency management and response fields and to raise public awareness about personal preparedness, training and community service opportunities.
The Secretary also participated in President Obama’s My Education, My Future initiative while at the school, by visiting students and listening to the President’s remarks encouraging them to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their education.
Agencies across the federal government on Tuesday will start ordering contractors to use an electronic system to verify whether their employees are eligible to work in the U.S.
The sweeping new mandate, crafted by the Bush White House but being implemented by the Obama administration, represents a significant expansion for the so-called E-Verify system, which government officials and independent experts expect to eventually become mandatory for private employers. Already, some states require companies operating within their borders to use it, regardless of whether the companies have government contracts.
About 169,000 federal contractors and subcontractors, who employ roughly 3.8 million workers, will eventually be covered by the program taking effect Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. rejected an 11th-hour-effort late Friday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to delay the mandate while a federal appeal is pending. Upset about the liability the mandate puts on employers, the groups suing argue it is illegal for the government to extend E-Verify to contractors through an executive order.
The Chamber argues that given the state of the economy, this isn't the time to add more costs to U.S. businesses.
From the Dayton Daily News, on a new baggage screening system for the Dayton International Airport:
A $10 million federal grant from economic stimulus funds will allow Dayton International Airport to install a new baggage screening system and move the current machines out of the terminal lobby to make more room for travelers, airport officials said Friday, Sept. 4.
The city is soliciting bids from contractors to build an expansion of the airport's terminal building and install the new system there. It will use conveyors to transport baggage from airline ticket counters to another part of the building for screening.
Airport officials expect the contractor to start work in early January and have the system ready to operate in late December .
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will provide the funding. The government additionally is to provide screening equipment with an estimated value of $5 million, said Iftikhar Ahmad, Dayton's director of aviation.
From the Clayton News Daily, on the Beagle Brigade:
The wet nose of a beagle named Button recently led a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist canine enforcement officer to a suitcase at the world's busiest airport.
Button sat down next to the suitcase and indicated to her handler that the luggage contained prohibited agricultural items.
"Show it to me," the handler commanded.
Button obeyed the command by placing her furry paw on the suitcase and barked and wagged her tail while waiting to be rewarded with a treat. The demonstration was part of a recent training exercise at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Button is part of the Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Canine Program and the Plant Protection and Quarantine program of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She belongs to one of numerous teams that work on concourse E, also known as the international terminal, at Hartsfield-Jackson.
"The CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Agriculture Canine Program utilizes detector dogs to locate fruits, vegetables, meats or other prohibited items that may carry pests or diseases that could harm U.S. agricultural resources," said Scott Sams, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection at Hartsfield-Jackson. "The CBP Agricultural Specialist Canine teams seize thousands of types of prohibited plant material and animal products every year. Agriculture specialists in the canine program are an integral part in the fulfillment of the CBP mission to protect American agriculture."
12:30 PM EDT
Secretary Napolitano, Laurel, Md., Mayor Craig Moe and Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Kathy Cloninger will launch a Girl Scout preparedness patch, announce a new partnership and participate in a media availability
Scotchtown Hills Elementary
15950 Dorset Rd.
9 AM CDT
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Tribal Liaison Steve Golubic will participate in the Tribal Assistance Coordination Group presentation and tabletop exercise
at the National Native American Law Enforcement Association 17th Annual Conference
Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
777 West Cherokee Street
The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review is in the midst of its second National Dialogue. For those of you who haven’t been following too closely, the review is a congressionally mandated, top-to-bottom review of homeland security. There are six study groups, focusing on:
- Counterterrorism and Domestic Security Management
- Securing Our Borders
- Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws
- Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Disasters
- Homeland Security National Risk Assessment
- Homeland Security Planning and Capabilities
We are using online dialogues to allow stakeholders the opportunity to inform the work of our study groups.
During the first dialogue, more than 8,000 stakeholders rated and commented on proposed visions and goals from the study groups. We reviewed all rating data and comments submitted and forwarded to study groups – overall, we were very impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness of what we heard from you during the first dialogue.
For example, we received many recommendations on how to improve content, like simpler and more direct language. Stakeholders pointed out the critical interdependencies and emerging overlaps between study groups, and reinforced the need to stress mitigation as having a complementary role with preparedness, response, and recovery. Participants also stressed the need for ‘resiliency’ in the entire QHSR strategy, and the use of standard terminology.
We heard you – we relied on your feedback to modify our proposals and to enhance the user experience for the second national dialogue, which began on August 31st. During the second dialogue, we are asking stakeholders to rank proposed objectives and offer suggestions on how to achieve them.
Due to the upcoming Labor Day Weekend Holiday, we have extended the Second National Dialogue to Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009. We’re eager to hear your input.
Join the conversation at http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org/
Alan D. Cohn is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy (Strategic Plans)
The governments of the United States and Mexico signed an agreement Wednesday to build a new cross-border communications network to enable international communication between law enforcement agencies dealing with border security issues.
Officials of the United States-Mexico High-Level Consultative Commission on Telecommunications (HLCC) signed an agreement that set up an international working group to oversee the creation and operation of the communications network, managed by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Mexican Secretariat of Public Safety (SSP). The network, when completed, would provide law enforcement agencies with the means to transmit voice, data and video to enable collaborative responses to border incidents.
The HLCC agreement essentially establishes a framework for interoperable communications between federal, state, local, and tribal agencies that use the network.
The nations also would provide protection to the network, called the Cross Border Public Security Communications Network, from radio interference.
From the Bellingham Herald, on a Border Patrol seizure:
US Border Patrol agents seized about $3 million worth of Ecstasy and cocaine near Sumas Wednesday night, Sept. 2.
The agents were patrolling along the border when they spotted two people's footprints and the tracks of a heavy object being dragged along a row in a raspberry patch that went south from the U.S.-Canadian border, Agent Mike Bermudez said.
The footprints, which were eventually traced back to Canada, stopped in a residential area and the agents began searching the immediate area, Bermudez said.
While searching in some farm equipment, they located a large hockey bag that contained three backpacks, Bermudez said.
9:30 AM Local
U.S. Coast Guard Vice Commandant Admiral Dave Pekoske will preside at a memorial service on the anniversary of the deaths of the four man crew of Coast Guard helicopter CG6505 when it crashed off Honolulu during training Sept. 4, 2008. During the ceremony the Air Station Barbers Point Aircrew Memorial will be dedicated to the crew of CG6505 as well as to the crew of Coast Guard helicopter CG1420, which crashed Jan. 7, 1982, resulting in the deaths of three.
Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
1 Coral Sea Rd
Kapolei , HI
- Put together an emergency supply kit.
- Make a family emergency plan.
- Get informed about the types of emergencies that could take place in their communities and appropriate responses.
The Secretary delivered remarks during the press conference:
“Preparedness is a shared responsibility that begins with the American people,” said Secretary Napolitano. “These public service advertisements highlight the simple steps everyone can take to prepare for disasters, enhancing the safety and security of our country.”
Secretary Napolitano unveiled the new PSAs at an event in New York City’s Times Square, joined by New York City Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, New York City Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno, American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern, American Red Cross of Greater New York CEO Theresa Bischoff and Ad Council President and CEO Peggy Conlon.
You can watch the new PSAs by clicking the picture below:
This week, we opened a new forum focused on commerce and the southwest border, and specifically narrowed to four topics:
· Bi-National Business
· Commercial Traffic / FAST
· Passenger Traffic / SENTRI
We encourage you to visit the site and join the discussion.
There’s also a section where members are encouraged to introduce themselves to the network. We wanted to share the introduction of “Ramona,” one of our members:
“I'm not a DHS employee or a community leader. I'm not even sure I can be called an activist. I firmly believe that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world and it became that way by embracing immigrants from every other countries in the world. We need to find a way to secure our borders, prevent drug, weapon and human smuggling and still allow Mexico and the United States to grow stronger as supportive neighbors.”Ramona is one of over 300 members on Our Border, and, like others, she has already joined many of the groups and has participated in a number of the discussion forums. We encourage you to visit the site and get involved in the discussion. We want to hear from you.
"I don't want anybody to be alarmed, but I do want everyone to be prepared," he said.
The global swine flu epidemic first emerged in April, sickening more than 1 million Americans and killing about 500. More than 2,000 people have died worldwide. Health officials are preparing for a surge in cases this fall, and one White House report from a panel of experts suggests up to half the U.S. population could catch swine flu during a pandemicVaccine development is ongoing and is likely to be available by October. The president said the vaccine for swine flu - known as the H1N1 virus - would be voluntary, but "strongly recommended."
Certain groups are more vulnerable to swine flu, including children under 2, pregnant women and people with health problems like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
Like the seasonal flu, swine flu spreads through coughs and sneezes of people who are sick. Obama said there are common sense precautions people can take to lower their risk of infection, like washing their hands frequently and staying home if they feel sick.
"I know it sounds simple, but it's important and it works," Obama said.
The federal government is reintroducing a powerful weapon in the fight against the H1N1 flu virus: Elmo.Kathleen Sebelius and Elmo spoke in May at a news conference about the H1N1 flu public service ads.
The popular Sesame Street character will be featured in a series of public service advertisements meant to encourage better hygiene among young children, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.
In the ads, Elmo teams up with Gordon, another Sesame Street veteran, to stress the importance of basic healthy habits such as frequent hand washing, sneezing into the bend of your arm, and not touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson says Mississippi's health and emergency leaders appear prepared to handle the swine flu.Thompson and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute met privately Tuesday with health, education and emergency management officials to discuss the H1N1 flu virus.
"We came to hear what the issues were and learn what the challenges were in getting prepared," Lute said a news conference after the meeting. "What we heard was a great deal of awareness about the flu. That's a real strength as the flu season approaches."
When asked if Mississippi appeared to have its swine flu efforts under control, Thompson replied: "At this point, yes."Mississippi has 586 confirmed swine flu cases and two deaths as of Tuesday. Hundreds of other suspected cases have been reported on school and college campuses.
On Broadway, between 46th and 47th Streets
New York, N.Y.
Naval Postgraduate School
1 University Circle
999 9th Street, NW