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December 11, 2009
3:15 pm
From the Arizona Republic, Secretary Napolitano says Immigration Reform is still a priority:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that overhauling the nation's immigration laws is still a top priority for President Barack Obama and that Congress is poised to act despite some lawmakers' concerns that a push could complicate Democratic re-election prospects.

Napolitano, Obama's point person on the topic, said key Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, are onboard with moving ahead early next year. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Senate's immigration subcommittee, is working on the bill.

"We're ready to go, and the president wants to get it done,"
Napolitano said in a meeting with The Arizona Republic's Editorial
Board.

That might prove tricky in an election year, with some Democrats
already on the defensive and fatigued by a protracted and bruising battle over
health-care reform.

Historically, presidents see their party lose congressional seats in midterm elections, and lawmakers generally prefer to avoid having to vote on controversial or divisive issues such as immigration as they run for re-election.

For some Democrats, particularly those running in the South and Southwest, passing nothing might be preferable to having to vote for a controversial measure, said Kareem Crayton, an associate professor of law and political science at the University of Southern California.


From Homeland Security Today, on the DHS National Info-sharing Initiative
On Wednesday Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the launch of a new information-sharing initiative designed to help federal, state, local and tribal first responders communicate better during
emergencies.

The new program, called Virtual USA, according to Napolitano, will enable first responders nationwide to link disparate tools and technologies in order to share the location and status of critical assets and information. These may include power and water lines, flood detectors, helicopter-capable landing sites, emergency vehicle and ambulance locations, weather and traffic conditions, evacuation routes, and school and government building floor plans.

"Our first responders need interoperable tools to make accurate and timely decisions during emergencies," said Secretary Napolitano. "Virtual USA makes it possible for new and existing technologies to work together seamlessly during disaster response and recovery and gives the public an opportunity to contribute information in real-time to support the efforts of police officers, firefighters and other emergency management officials."

As outlined in a release by DHS Virtual USA will integrates existing communications frameworks, utilizing current information-sharing platforms to permit new and existing technologies to seamlessly exchange information with one another. The initiative will attempt to foster dynamic information sharing among all federal, state, local and tribal practitioners.


From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, on homeland security grants
Dallas-Fort Worth was named one of the top 10 terrorism targets in the country by the federal government this week, a designation that paves the way for millions in extra homeland security funding to the region.

"This is not, I stress, bad news for Fort Worth or the North Texas region," Mayor Mike Moncrief said Thursday. "This is good news. It's something that needed to happen before it did."

Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston and Philadelphia were all added to the ranking of Tier 1 high-threat urban areas by the Homeland Security Department in its annual review. All cities not in the top 10 are lumped into Tier 2.

The bulk of the federal funding to fight terrorism comes from Homeland Security's
Urban Areas Security Initiative Program. Moving to Tier 1 instantly creates the possibility of 30 percent more funding for the three urban areas.

The Metroplex is now eligible for $25 million in fiscal 2010. The $5.8 million increase is bigger than that of any other urban area except New York City, according to federal documents.

"They moved us into Tier 1 so that we can increase our surveillance, especially for domestic terrorism," said Melissa Patterson, Tarrant County emergency management coordinator.

The money will fund a wide range of public services, including intelligence-gathering units focused on domestic terrorism and first responders trained to help during a variety of disasters, Patterson said. Some of the funding will also likely go toward preparing for future public health efforts such as mass vaccinations.


From Brownsville Herald, on a drug seizure a the southwest border
U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 100 pounds of marijuana and arrested one Brownsville woman, officials said.

Elizabeth Noemi Almazan, 22, was arrested Monday afternoon at Veteran's International Bridge and later charged with possession of a controlled substance-marijuana, court records show.

The arrest took place when Almazan drove a 1995 white Dodge Dakota truck to an inspection booth at the bridge and was referred to a secondary inspection area, said an agency release.

At the secondary inspection area, CBP officers used various imaging devices and a narcotics detecting canine to confirm the presence of narcotics in the tires and tailgate of the truck, CBP said.

The officers removed 33 packages of marijuana from the tailgate and tires weighing approximately 107 pounds and with a street value of $107,000, the agency reported.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 9, 2009
9:47 am
From Homeland Security Today, on yesterday's grants announcement:

DHS to distribute $2.7 billion for 13 grant programs Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano presented application instructions for more than $2.7 billion in funds for 13 specific fiscal 2010 grant programs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), outlining the guidance in remarks at DHS headquarters Tuesday.
"These grants play a major role in our efforts to work with our state, local, tribal and territorial and private sector partners to build a national culture of readiness and resilience," Napolitano said. "This year's guidance focuses on maximizing efficiency and value while prioritizing risk in awarding grants to strengthen our nation's security."
The fiscal 2010 guidance kits incorporate feedback from states, cities, tribes, territories, and private companies, Napolitano added, all of which are eligible to compete for grant allocations under certain programs.
DHS released the guidance kits online at www.fema.gov/grants, enabling all organizations to begin applying immediately.
The 13 specific grant programs emphasize emergency preparedness across a range of specific areas of concentration.
The Homeland Security Grant Program offers a total of $1.78 billion for states and urban areas to build security capabilities. It encompasses five programs: State Homeland Security Program ($842 million) for emergency management in US states; Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) ($832.5 million) for emergency management in large US metropolitan areas; Operation Stonegarden ($60 million) for law enforcement activities in border states; Metropolitan Medical Response System Program ($39.3 million) for regional mass casualty incident response among 124 metropolitan areas; and Citizen Corps Program ($12.4 million) for community preparedness, planning, mitigation, response and recovery activities.


From WHYY, on protecting our critical infrastructure:

The Department of Homeland Security says it will beef up security on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. The additional funding is part of the the department's Critical Infrastructure Protection Program that includes national icons.
Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says national icons like the Liberty Bell should be fully protected.
Napolitano says they don't rank the importance of National Monuments, but are putting additional resources to securing them because they are a prime target for terrorism.
Napolitano: Many times terrorists try to target things that will send a message. For example the 9/11 terrorists targeted the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and when you have things like for example the Liberty Bell that sends a message and that makes it something that could be a potential target.
Secretary Napolitano says they are spending money on surveillance for the monuments and also working with police to make sure their intelligence gathering capability is working well in order to prevent a terrorist attack before it happens.


December 4, 2009
4:59 pm
Secretary Napolitano departs Ellis Island this morning following a naturalization ceremony for 110 new American citizens. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Today concluded a productive trip to New York City for the Secretary. She focused most of her trip on the issue of protecting our critical infrastructure, and emphasized a shared responsibility with the private sector in protecting our national assets in meetings with leaders from the real estate, professional sports, media, and financial industries.

The Secretary also delivered remarks at the America-Israel Friendship League’s ‘Partners for Democracy Award Dinner,’ toured a U.S. Secret Service-led Electronic Crimes Task Force facility, visited regional Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and USCIS offices, and received a security briefing at the New York Stock Exchange.

Oh, and she did The Colbert Report.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 4, 2009
3:29 pm

Secretary Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas were at Ellis Island in New York City today to lead a naturalization ceremony, granting 110 people United States citizenship.

The ceremony took place in the Great Room, also known as the Registry Hall, where over 12 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island were registered upon arrival. Constructed with a tiled floor and ceiling, it’s said that the clamor of footsteps and disquiet of different languages on a busy day must have been overwhelming.

The Secretary had the honor of administering the Oath of Allegiance, and remarked,

“Ellis Island reminds us of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that so many immigrants have brought to America,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I am honored to welcome these men and women as citizens of our nation and I applaud their commitment to the responsibilities and ideals shared by all Americans.”
Director Mayorkas added, “It is fitting that these individuals received today the cherished gift of citizenship on this historic island, a national symbol of hope and opportunity.”

The new citizens hail from 48 different countries, including China, Ghana, Kosovo, Colombia, Jamaica and Lebanon. Flor Dominguez came to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She’s 95 years old, has lived in the United States for 16 years, and when asked by a reporter why she wanted to become a U.S. citizen, said,

“Porque me gusta este pais, lo agradezco. Y quiero tener el voto.”
“Because I like this country. I appreciate it. And I want to vote.”


Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 4, 2009
3:13 pm
Secretary Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas were on Ellis Island in New York City today and lead a naturalization ceremony today, granting 110 people United States citizenship.

The ceremony took place in the Great Room, also known as the Registry Hall, where over 12 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island were registered upon arrival. Constructed with a tiled floor and ceiling, it’s said that the clamor of footsteps and disquiet of different languages on a busy day must have been overwhelming at times.

The Secretary had the honor of administering the Oath of Allegiance, and remarked,

“Ellis Island reminds us of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that so many immigrants have brought to America,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I am honored to welcome these men and women as citizens of our nation and I applaud their commitment to the responsibilities and ideals shared by all Americans.”

Director Mayorkas added, “It is fitting that these individuals received today the cherished gift of citizenship on this historic island, a national symbol of hope and opportunity.”

The new citizens hail from 48 different countries, including China, Ghana, Kosovo, Colombia, Jamaica and Lebanon.

Flor Dominguez came to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She’s 95 years old, has lived in the United States for 16 years, and when asked by a reporter why she wanted to become a U.S. citizen, said,

“Porque me gusta este pais, lo agradezco. Y quiero tener el voto.”
“Because I like this country. I appreciate it. And I want to vote.”
December 4, 2009
12:15 pm
Secretary Napolitano delivered remarks Tuesday at the Interagency Council for Applied Homeland Security Technology's Counter-IED Symposium. She spoke about the serious threat of improvised explosive devices (IED) and our shared responsibility to counter these evolving dangers. The Secretary also stressed the importance of protecting our nation's critical infrastructure from IEDs and other threats.

Take a look at the following excerpt from her speech.









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Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
Category: Explosives
December 4, 2009
12:11 pm
From Fox News, on the Secretary’s remarks this week regarding home-based terrorism:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano offered a blunt assessment this week about domestic terrorism -- a term she described only as "man-caused incidents or disasters" just nine months ago.

"These recent arrests should remove any remaining comfort that some might have had that if we fight the terrorist abroad, we won't have to fight them here," she said. "If only the world were that simple. The fact is that home-based terrorism is here."

Speaking to the America-Israel friendship league in New York, the secretary said the spate of recent terrorism arrests left no doubt that extremists are inside the country.

"We are seeing young Americans who are inspired by Al Qaeda and radical ideology," she said.

Napolitano cited the case of Najibullah Zazi, the Denver airport shuttle bus driver who was arrested in September after allegedly training in Pakistan. Zazi, an American resident who was in court Thursday as more charges were considered, is part of a growing body of evidence that Americans are being radicalized.

From the Associated Press, on a Border Patrol seizure of misfit…er, counterfeit toys:
Officials have seized thousands of counterfeit toys worth $1.6 million along southern California border points.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the toys included more than 2,500 knockoff Barbie dolls, worth $58,500, that were contained in boxes shipped to San Diego in October and November.

At the Otay Mesa border point, agents seized 3,100 battery-operated toy vehicles
bearing fake "Jeep" labels in October.

The manufacturer of the toy vehicles, which were designed for kids to drive, did not have permission to use the Jeep trademark.

From the Associated Press, on an indictment of transporting illegal immigrants.
A Mexican national has been indicted on charges of transporting illegal immigrants in a passenger van that traveled via Kansas to destinations across the United States, the U.S. Attorney's office said Thursday.

An eight-count indictment filed at the U.S. District Court in Kansas charges Joni Rivera-Rodriguez with transporting 16 illegal immigrants who were citizens of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

His attorney, Syovata Edari, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Seven of his passengers are charged with illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation, court documents show.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson said what stands out about this case is not only the number of persons who had been deported, but that most passengers were from Central American countries rather than Mexico.

"Often there are one or two people in a vehicle load of smuggled aliens who have previously been deported, but to have seven of 16 all of whom are from Central America is very unusual. It's a first for Kansas, as far as I know," Anderson said.

Leadership Events
10 AM EST
Secretary Napolitano will join USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to participate in a naturalization ceremony and honor the recipient of the “Outstanding American by Choice” award
Ellis Island
New York, N.Y.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 3, 2009
10:32 am
When you think about Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR), you probably think about all of the things in the U.S. that are essential to our national security, economic vitality, public health and safety, and our way of life.

Assets like energy grids, banking and finance systems and transportation networks, for example, likely quickly come to mind. Much of this infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and today in New York City Secretary Napolitano met with leaders from a variety of industries to discuss her dedication to continuing to work with private sector partners to ensure the security of our nation’s CIKR.

But CIKR encompasses a diverse range of 18 unique sectors that touch the lives of the American people every day, and in different ways. And while communications systems, for example, are certainly a sector of CIKR, so too are some assets that probably don’t immediately leap to mind.

National monuments and icons could be an example. This diverse array of sites and landmarks that represent our nation’s core principals, tradition and heritage may not get you to work or turn on your lights, but they represent the foundation upon which our country was built. An incident at these historic resources could not just mean the potential loss of life or property, but also the loss of the symbols that represent our country’s values.

The Department of Homeland Security works with our federal, state local and private sector partners to protect our monument and icon CIKR from either manmade or natural disasters, while still ensuring open and free access.

More than 1.3 million people visit our national monuments and icons each day. In Philadelphia – our Nation’s first seat of federal government and home to numerous historic sites – more than 2 million visitors swung by the Liberty Bell Center in 2008, while Independence Hall reported more than 700,000 guests.

Check out this video to learn more about how DHS is partnering with local officials in Philadelphia to ensure that our national monument and icon critical infrastructure is protected.





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Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 2, 2009
10:46 am
From Homeland Security Today, on the Secretary's IED speech yesterday:

Terrorists continually threaten to export tactics refined overseas--such as the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs)--to the United States, making it necessary for the US government to stop al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, urged Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in remarks outside of Washington, DC, Tuesday.

The recent arrest and indictment of Najibullah Zazi on a conspiracy charge to use explosives against US targets serves as an example of how the terrorist threat can travel from Pakistan to the United States, said Napolitano, speaking at the Counter-IED Symposium sponsored by the Interagency Council for Applied Homeland Security Technology [ICAHST] in National Harbor, Md. Zazi is alleged to have traveled to Pakistan for bomb-making training before his arrest in September.

"And because this threat ties directly to events in the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater, we must continue to put additional pressure on al Qaeda and ultimately diminish the threat that they pose to the United States and to the international community," Napolitano stated.

Such threats originating from Afghanistan and Pakistan provide justification to White House plans to surge an additional 30,000 US troops into Afghanistan in coming months, increasing the number of US soldiers and Marines in the country to nearly 100,000, the secretary indicated.


From the Washington Post, on Trusted Traveler:

I can thank my sister's baby for persuading me to enroll in a government-run "trusted traveler" program.

Although I travel to Montreal for family visits at least once a month, the frequency increased when my sister Barbara and her partner, Ines, had a son in 2007.

Determined to get to know Alex, I flew to Montreal about every other weekend that summer.

After one miserable, hours-late August flight, I bolted off the jetway with my carry-on bags, sprinted down Trudeau Airport's endless, glassed-in arrivals corridor and took the escalator down to passport control -- only to be greeted by a writhing, Ellis Island-like human mass snaking around dozens of posts. After two sweaty hours, as I cursed my way to the rental-car counter, I made myself a promise to investigate a program whose signs I'd always ignored in my rush for the exits.

Two years later, NEXUS membership has changed my life.

Here's my new arrivals procedure at Trudeau Airport: disembark. Walk the hallways to Canada Customs. Descend the escalator and turn right to the L-shaped bank of red NEXUS kiosks. Peer into a viewfinder to get my irises scanned. Answer three yes-or-no questions. Take my ticket. Walk up a dedicated lane, past the row of

Customs officers and down the ramp to freedom. Total time elapsed: seven minutes.


From the St. Petersburg Times, on a remarkable rescue and homecoming:

Luke Finch ate ice cream and sausage and all of their pizza crackers.

He spent the ride to shore standing beside the men in blue, and even got to steer the ship, just for a little bit. The blond boy then fell asleep in the arms of a detective.

Then, as the Coast Guard cutter Crocodile approached the dock, the 3-year-old boy clapped his hands.

"I'm coming, Mommy," he said. "I'm coming, Mommy."

As the sun set on the horizon, Christa Finch ran up the gangway and wrapped her arms around her son, their 2? day ordeal finally over at 5:43 p.m. Tuesday.

"I love you," she told him. "I miss you."

The reunion was made possible by a daring Coast Guard rescue early Tuesday morning that authorities said thwarted a kidnapping plot by Luke's father.

Paul Martikainen, 35, is accused of stealing the boy from a supervised visit in Cocoa on Saturday, then trying to sail off with his son for parts as yet unknown. They were last seen leaving a St. Petersburg marina, just days after the state accused him of physically abusing the boy.


Leadership Events
10 AM EST
Secretary Napolitano will testify about transportation security challenges post-9/11 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
253 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

Public Events
2:30 PM EST
NPPD National Cyber Security Division Acting Director Dr. Peter Fonash will participate in a panel discussion about cybersecurity at the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Solution Series: Cyberspace at the Cross Roads: The Intersection of Cyber, National and Economic Security
National Conference Center18980 Upper Belmont PlaceLeesburg, Va.

2:30 PM EST
Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Assistance Directorate Assistant Administrator Elizabeth Zimmerman will testify about developing a comprehensive national disaster case management program before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Ad hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery
342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

3 PM EST
NPPD Cybersecurity Evaluation Program Director Patrick Beggs will participate in a panel discussion about regulations and best practices in support of improved public/private partnerships regarding information assurance at the AFCEA Solution Series: Cyberspace at the Cross Roads: The Intersection of Cyber, National and Economic Security
National Conference Center
18980 Upper Belmont Place
Leesburg, Va.

7:30 PM EST
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the America-Israel Friendship League’s “Partners for Democracy Award Dinner”
The Plaza
Central Park South & 5th Avenue
Manhattan
New York, N.Y.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
December 1, 2009
9:15 am
From the Colorado Springs Gazette, on a new ICE office in Colorado Springs, CO:

After years of lobbying by federal and local officials, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office opened Monday in Colorado Springs.

Some of those who sought it believe it was needed to curtail illegal immigration, but law enforcement officials at the official opening downplayed that role.

The downtown office in Colorado Springs is the ninth ICE office in Colorado and houses several cubicles and conference rooms as well as a cache of secure rooms to be used for interviews, confidential paperwork and holding weapons.

Currently, three agents will work out of the office, with plans to add seven more, said U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.

The new office will house an investigations branch which will look into criminal cases that span international borders such as human smuggling or criminal organizations with ties in several countries said Kumar Kibble, ICE special agent in charge of Colorado.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who contracts with ICE to house an average of 150 illegal immigrants in his jail, said he didn't expect a local ICE office to have a big impact on day-to-day immigration issues.


From the Associated Press, on the virtual fence project:

Government officials overseeing the construction of a "virtual fence" along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border hope to turn over the first segment to the Border Patrol in January, while beginning construction on a second stretch in coming weeks.

Although the government has plans to extend the network of cameras, ground sensors and radars along most of the border, officials said they'll draw on lessons from the first two segments in southern Arizona as they contemplate if and where to build more sections and how fast to complete them.

The government estimated it would cost $6.7 billion to cover most of the Mexican border by 2014.

"We do want some time to look at whether or not that really does make the most sense," said Mark Borkowski, the government's director of the virtual fence project.

"Is it really sensible to spend all that money? Or are there other more measured approaches? Maybe there are some places along the border that make sense, but maybe not the entire border."

As it now stands, once both southern Arizona sections are in operation along 53 miles of the border, the next step would be to authorize construction through the majority of the 375-mile border in Arizona, the nation's busiest gateway for immigrant smuggling and a major thoroughfare for marijuana smuggling.


From the Washington Post, on the end of hurricane season:

The Atlantic hurricane season ended Monday with barely a whimper: Not a single hurricane came ashore in the United States.

Since June, when the season began, just nine named storms developed. Only three of them became hurricanes, and those stayed out at sea or weakened before passing over land.

Two tropical storms made landfall in the U.S., causing little more than rain and some beach erosion.

"We had a great, great year," said Chris Vecsey, a salesman at Top Gun Tackle in Orange Beach, Ala., near where Tropical Storm Ida slogged ashore in November.

"Last year we had Gustav and Ike and a couple of other storms that didn't even hit here. And with all the hype, it ruined us. It just didn't happen this year."

The 2009 season was on target with the lower end of forecasters' predictions. Before the season began June 1, the National Hurricane Center had anticipated nine to 14 storms, with four to seven hurricanes - a prediction that the Miami-based center scaled back slightly in August before the arrival of the season's first storm, Tropical Storm Ana.

James Franklin, the center's chief hurricane specialist, credited much of the quiet season to El Nino, the periodic warming of the central Pacific Ocean. El Nino, he said, produced strong winds in the Atlantic that cut down storms before they could develop into hurricanes.


Leadership Events
1:30 PM EST
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks highlighting the Department’s critical infrastructure protection efforts at the Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) Symposium
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, Md.

Public Events
11 AM EST
Office of Health Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jon Krohmer will moderate a panel on the natural disasters and the federal response at the American Medical Association Third National Congress on Health System Readiness: Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness in the 21st Century
Washington Marriott Wardman Park
2660 Woodley Road, NW
Washington, D.C.

11 AM EST
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement New York Special Agent in Charge Jim Hayes will host a small repatriation ceremony to return two Italian artifacts to Italy
Office of Investigations
601 West 26th Street, Suite 700
New York, N.Y.

12 PM EST
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) National Cyber Security Division Acting Director Dr. Peter Fonash will deliver keynote remarks about the 60-day cyber review and current cybersecurity initiatives at the Canada Government Symposium
Hilton Lac-Leamy
3 boulevard du Casino
Gatineau-Ottawa, Canada

2:30 PM EST
Caryn Wagner will participate in a hearing considering her nomination to be Under Secretary of Intelligence and Analysis before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
216 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

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