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January 27, 2010
5:00 pm
Secretary Napolitano hosted a press conference at DHS headquarters yesterday focused on aviation security. She outlined the department's plans to move forward on this critical issue in the coming months and then spent about 20 minutes answering questions from reporters.


The link to the video of her opening statement is below, and the page includes a full transcript of the question and answer session.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 27, 2010
12:00 pm

President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address tonight. The event has been designated as a National Special Security Event (NSSE), the 10th address on Capitol Hill to receive the designation. Overall, this event is the 37th to be named a NSSE since the designation was established in 1998.

A number of factors are taken into consideration when designating an event as a National Special Security Event – including a few outlined below:
  • Anticipated attendance by dignitaries - Events which are attended by officials of the United States Government and/or foreign dignitaries also may create a federal interest in ensuring that the event transpires without incident and that sufficient resources are brought to bear in the event of an incident.
  • Size of the event - A large number of attendees and participants generally increases the security requirements.
  • Significance of the event - Some events have historical, political and/or symbolic significance and generate significant attention.
When an event is designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as a NSSE, the U.S. Secret Service assumes its mandated role as the lead agency for the design and implementation of the operational security plan.

With the State of the Union address, as with all major events in the Washington, D.C. area, the Secret Service calls upon established relationships with experienced counterparts to develop and implement a seamless security plan that will create a safe and secure environment for all involved. The Secret Service has always relied heavily on the assistance received from local and federal law enforcement/public safety partners and the military for NSSEs.

A number of DHS components are also assisting in planning and security for the State of the Union, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration. Other partner agencies include:

U.S. Capitol Police
Metropolitan Police Department
U.S. Park Police

D.C. Office of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty
D.C. Department of Transportation
D.C. Department of Public Works
D.C. Fire and EMS
Fairfax County Government

Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia
Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region
National Park Service
Federal Aviation Administration
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 27, 2010
9:47 am
An updated story from the Coast Guard Compass, discussing their ongoing relief efforts in Haiti.

From CNN, on the Secretary's comments on global airline security standards:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday there is a "renewed sense of urgency in the international community" about terrorism after the Christmas Day bombing attempt aboard a U.S.-bound plane, and the U.S. should now push for global security standards for international airports and aircraft.

"The attempted attack on the 25th of December was a powerful illustration that a terrorist would stop at nothing to kill Americans," Napolitano said. "I believe we have an important opportunity right now, right in front of us, to strengthen the system."

Napolitano last week traveled to Spain and Switzerland to meet with her counterparts, as well as foreign ministers and airline executives. Talks focused on four broad areas -- sharing information between countries, passenger vetting, security technology and creating international aviation security standards, she said.

"I was very gratified to see there exists a broad consensus for working on these four areas among my European counterparts and a clear sense of urgency to take immediate action to strengthen security measures," she said.

The trip culminated in a declaration confirming European and U.S. commitment to advancing security initiatives and to hold further talks about security.


Leadership Events
10 AM EST
Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute will testify about the Department’s ongoing efforts to enhance and improve security following the attempted terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253 before the House Committee on Homeland Security
311 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

Public Events
10:30 AM EST
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton will hold a news conference to announce the results of Project Big Freeze, a gang enforcement operation which targeted gangs in more than 50 cities with ties to known drug trafficking organizations
ICE Headquarters
Potomac Center North
500 12th St. SW, First Floor
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2010
4:11 pm
Secretary Napolitano just posted an entry in the Leadership Journal about her recent trip to Toledo, Spain, and Geneva, Switzerland, where she met with our international partners to discuss strengthening aviation security standards following the attempted terrorist attack against Northwest Flight 253 on December 25th.

We encourage you to give it a read.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2010
1:57 pm
 Alexander WallnöferLast week, I was in Toledo, Spain, and Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with our European counterparts and aviation industry leaders on one of the Department of Homeland Security's major priorities: working with our international partners to strengthen aviation security standards following the attempted terrorist attack against Northwest Flight 253 on December 25th.

The attempted attack underscores that boarding a plane in one airport can give you access to almost any airport in the world. This means that we need a truly global approach to aviation security. While the failed bombing attempt took place on a U.S. bound flight, it involved at least four airports on three continents, and threatened the lives of citizens from 17 countries.

In Toledo, I found broad consensus on this point and a clear sense of urgency to take immediate action to strengthen security measures. Specifically, my European counterparts and I signed a joint declaration affirming our collective commitment to strengthening information sharing and passenger vetting, deploying additional proven security technologies, and bolstering international aviation security standards.

I found a similarly strong consensus in Geneva where I met with the leaders of the airlines that are part of the International Air Transport Association — which represents approximately 230 airlines and more than 90 percent of the world's air traffic. We agreed that government and the private sector must work collaboratively both to develop enhanced international security standards and–most importantly — to effectively implement them.

These meetings were the first in a series to bring about international agreement on stronger aviation security standards and procedures. Over the next few months, the International Civil Aviation Organization is facilitating several regional aviation security meetings where we will build on the progress we made in Toledo and Geneva.

Together, we can and will strengthen an international aviation system that, for half a century, has served as an extraordinary engine for progress and prosperity for the United States and around the world.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2010
12:45 pm
Today, the President's cabinet reports back to you on the progress of the first year of the administration. Each cabinet secretary recorded a video message to the American people, detailing his or her department's work during the last 372 days, and looking forward to the year ahead.

Check out Secretary Napolitano's video below, and visit the White House website to watch the rest.

The Secretary and indeed the entire Department want to hear your thoughts on securing our country in the months and years to come. We encourage you to tell us what you think in the comment section below.


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Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2010
9:11 am
From USA Today, on evolving threats to our national security:

Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. She was the governor
of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, Arizona's attorney general from 1999 to 2002, and
the U.S. attorney in Arizona from 1993 to 1998.

"One area we are now seeing more of is the whole cyber issue. We saw that with China and Google (which said its computers were hacked in China). We're seeing increasing attempts to use the Internet not only to connect different people as a facilitator of terrorist groups but also as a possible means of attack...

"It can be a denial of service attack, which really shuts down your access not only to the Internet, but in some circumstances, to services that are operated through the Internet, like communications. It can be fraud or misinformation. It can be the theft of valuable defense information or of intellectual property."

Q: Will terrorists still be focused on aviation in 2020?

A: "It's hard to predict that far out. But what we are assuming is that aviation could be (their focus), which is why we're continuing to work on the technology that is used at airports...We also are working across the international air environment because this is an international issue. We need to lift aviation standards around the world."

What are the challenges of doing
that?

"It's a challenge of capacity. In some places, it's a challenge of
political will. In some places, it's a challenge of resources."

Q: By 2020, will we see a body scanner at every airport checkpoint?

A: "I don't know about at every checkpoint. But I think what we'll see is a rapid deployment of body scanners, and rapid improvement of technology. We'll also see improvements in explosive detection (that will increase) our ability to pick up traces on persons and on baggage and on cargo, but particularly on persons."


From the Arizona Republic, on changes to the immigrant detention system:

The head of U.S. immigration enforcement on Monday announced plans for an overhaul of the government's controversial detention system for people who face deportation.

The moves described by John T. Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, address oversight, medical care and tracking of detainees at facilities in Arizona and across the country.

Plans include:

. Hiring 50 federal employees to oversee the largest detention facilities, which now are largely run by contractors without much government oversight, Morton said.
. Assigning regional case managers to keep tabs on detainees with significant medical problems to ensure they are getting proper care. Detainees with major problems will be housed in facilities near hospitals and medical centers, Morton said.
. In June, launching an online immigrant-detainee locator so family members can easily find their relatives when they are in custody awaiting possible deportation.

"You can look up their name and find out where they are and what the visiting hours are at that detention facility," Morton said, during a speech at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.


From the Houston Chronicle, on the clean up effort in response to the Port Arthur oil spill:

As cleanup efforts of Texas' worst oil spill in more than a decade took shape Sunday, Coast Guard officials began examining radio transmissions to find out what went wrong in the moments before an 800-foot tanker collided with a barge carrying chemicals off Port Arthur.

Saturday morning's collision ripped a 15-by-8-foot hole in the hull of the Eagle Otome, which was loaded with Mexican crude oil intended for a Beaumont Exxon refinery. The crash dumped 462,000 gallons of oil into the intracoastal waterway in what Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said was the biggest Texas oil spill since 1994.

The slick spanned a stretch of seven or eight miles of waterway, threatening marshlands that serve as nurseries for juvenile shrimp and fish.

An army of 500 people manned the cleanup effort Sunday from helicopters, skimmers, boom vessels and several other Coast Guard boats. By the evening, cleanup crews had skimmed away 1,100 barrels of the 11,000 barrels spilled.


Leadership Events
Secretary Napolitano will brief media and provide updates about her recent trip to Spain and Switzerland to discuss strengthening the security of the international aviation system with her European counterparts and global airline industry leaders
DHS Headquarters, Building 21
Nebraska Avenue Complex
3801 Massachusetts Ave NW

Public Events
11 AM PST
ICE Acting Los Angeles Deputy Special Agent in Charge Jorge Guzman will participate in a media availability hosted by the Mexican consul general in Los Angeles and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
Los Angeles, Calif.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 25, 2010
4:56 pm
The latest from the DHS Science and Technology Directorate.

Government brainiacs rethink the brain scanner so you can fly with all your liquids, gels, sprays, spreads…and so on.

Remember 2005, when you could still board a plane with shampoo in your bag, toothpaste in your purse, a can of soda in your hand? Do those fluid memories hurt right down to your denture cream?

Washington feels your pain. As Snapshots reported in 2008, researchers at the Energy Department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been fine-tuning magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. By detecting ultralow magnetic fields, the lab’s creation—the Magnetic Vision Innovative Prototype (or MagViz)—can peer through whatever container you’re carrying, divine what’s in it, and let you pass with your bottled water or—during flu season—your hand sanitizer.

The first MagViz was an overachiever. It was programmed to be extremely sensitive, but like the palace sentinel who mistook the princess for a witch, it came off a bit paranoid. It “saw” danger in certain off-brand shampoos and sport drinks. Since then, with funding and guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the LANL team has fine-tuned the technology. MagViz’s spidey sense now casts a narrower net.
Last year, to test the new model’s selectivity, Department program evaluators planted a minefield of surprise liquids at Albuquerque International Airport. Their faith proved well-placed: Nothing nasty slipped past LANL’s brainchild; MagViz correctly flagged all liquid-bomb ingredients.

At the same time, MagViz gave the green light to all but one friendly fluid. And it withstood everyday mishaps—an outsize bag; a refrigerator magnet from the airport gift shop; a stuck-open door; a false loading, wherein an edgy passenger snatched back her half-inserted purse. (Yup.) On the operator’s display, threats were circled and lit up like Vegas, to the delight of screeners from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

And yet, MagViz’s precision does come with some challenges. In Albuquerque, the prototype had to be shielded from electromagnetic interference radiating from fluorescent ballasts, Wi-Fi laptops—even smartphones. That shielding came in the form of a hulking exoframe that would be too bulky for a real operational setting. To engineer a shielded MagViz in a compact enclosure, the Department will look to the private sector, where ingenuity spells profit.

Envisioning far-reaching applications for the new invention, R&D Magazine recognized the LANL team with a coveted 2009 R&D 100 Award. Such laurels are welcome validators, says MagViz program manager Stephen Surko of S&T’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA). But if MagViz is to earn its place behind thousands of X-ray stations, it must catch dangerous liquids reliably, affordably, and swiftly, while flagging few types of liquors as evil spirits.

To this end, Surko is evaluating a variety of concepts of operation. In most, MagViz would be placed immediately behind the X-ray machine, giving each carry-on a second scan. In smaller airports, where the screening area may be too short for a tandem arrangement, MagViz would sit off to the side. “You’d have to wait in a separate line,” concedes Surko, “but at least you could bring along that large bottle of H20.”

MagViz would be a tremendous improvement, but don’t expect miracles. Unlike a fingerprint, nuclear magnetic resonance signatures can vary. If, for example, a liquid is slightly warmer or cooler than expected, or its pH a bit more acidic or basic, the reading can change. “MagViz can see all these differences easily,” says Surko. “We need to learn how well we can predict them and account for them.”

The challenges—accounting for each such variance and shielding MagViz while keeping it trim—may prove a bridge too far. But if the departments of Homeland Security and Energy and the free market can cross each bridge, then traveling with toiletries, snow globes, and drinks may be a thing of the future, rather than the past.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2010
9:51 pm

Let’s just say we switched from European Time to Spanish Time, as Interior Minister Rubalcaba himself said.


On Wednesday, Secretary Napolitano spent the day testifying in two major hearings on the Hill—and when these hearings ran a little long, our plane to Spain took off a little behind schedule as well. Departing late is fine under most circumstances—the schedulers build in down time so we have some cushion between meetings and events in case something like this happens.
Not on
this trip.

We’re in Europe for two days to discuss aviation security with our international partners – a critically important issue given the attempted attack on Dec.25 – and the Secretary has a packed schedule of meetings, events, interviews and bilateral discussions.

So, we took off at 6 PM from Washington, D.C., got two or three hours of sleep on the flight as the Secretary spent most of her time preparing for the next day’s meetings, and landed at 6:45 AM local time in Spain. I’d say my mood as we deplaned could have generously been described as “groggy,” as we were whisked from the airport to the site, past some incredible local scenery and buildings – including the
Cathedral of Toledo – and arrived barely on time.

We had only had 10 minutes before we began our first event. Here's hoping no one noticed we went to our first two bilateral meetings in the clothes we slept in!

Fortunately, next we had a brief break as the Europeans met behind closed doors. Freshly scrubbed we reconvened and went full force into the first full day and evening of scheduled events. Spanish coffee was dark and plentiful to get us past jet lag, though.

On this short trip, we had a lot to accomplish in our conversations with ministers from more than 30 countries about ways we can work together to make the world’s skies safer and more secure for passengers worldwide. The main event today was the Toledo ministerial – at the invitation of Interior Minister Alfred Rubalcaba – with all of the Secretary’s European homeland security counterparts.

We had an incredibly productive session. The attempted attack on Dec. 25 threatened people from 17 foreign countries, including more than 100 citizens of European nations, and Secretary Napolitano stressed the incident’s “international dimensions,” pressing the room for support to strengthen global security and screening standards.

I must say, I was amazed at the unanimity among the European ministers on the need for more international consensus as we take immediate steps to address the security shortfalls that allowed a man – armed with an explosive device – to board a plane headed for the United States. We discussed information collection, information sharing, technological cooperation, international standards, and foreign security assistance.

The ministers discussion was so lively we went overtime, so lunch was a quick bite before more bilateral meetings. Interior Ministers, Justice Ministers -- I think there were eight meetings, not including the press conference and a few press interviews.

In the private bilateral meetings, the sentiments were even more candid and it's clear there is a mandate to move forward on some European and some American ideas -- we put them together in the ministerial statement the Spanish hosts released. We and our European partners will talk more about and refine them in the coming days.

Finally came dinner in the beautiful Museo de Santa Cruz, hosted by the region of Castilla-La Mancha. Not everyday one eats dinner looking at 16th century tapestries. I hope to come back another time to do justice to Toledo, including the museum and the cathedral.

This was the first in a series of top-level meetings that the Secretary expects to hold with her counterparts around the world as she works to build toward more concrete international coordination on aviation security.

We’ll send another update tomorrow, when she has more bilateral meetings here before flying on to Switzerland.

Mark

Mark Koumans is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of International Affairs
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2010
9:59 am
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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