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March 1, 2010
9:45 am

From Tulsa World, on the balance between security and privacy:

How does a country that offers its citizens more freedom than any other country in the world track and defeat domestic terrorists without trampling all over the rights of its citizens?

And how can Americans who are afforded such precious rights turn against the country that protects them and their rights?

How could a person betray his country and his family?

Those are difficult questions and ones that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security face. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently told the nation's governors that homegrown terrorists are becoming as big a concern as international terrorists.

She also said that the government does not have a good handle on how to prevent someone from becoming a violent extremist.

Prevention by the government is a difficult if not impossible task. The best deterrent is education and family upbringing. But young people have become radicalized for as long as there have been young people. Most grow out of it or channel their energies in peaceful manners.

But there will always be an element that becomes violent. And there is not much chance of stopping that. Thwarting that element is difficult because of the freedom that Americans enjoy. We have access to travel and free speech and religion that many countries don't have. If citizens want to travel to Yemen or Pakistan they are relatively free to do so.

What they do while in a foreign country is their own business as a U.S. citizen.

As long as they remain a citizen, they can return to this country.


From the Associated Press, on Saturday's earthquake in Chile:

The U.S. "will be there" if Chile asks for rescue and recovery help after a powerful earthquake struck the South American nation, President Barack Obama said Saturday.

He also warned people in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the West Coast to heed the instructions of local authorities about evacuations and other measures in advance of a tsunami moving across the Pacific Ocean.

"We can't control nature, but we can and must be prepared for disaster when it strikes," he said in a statement at the White House.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning - its highest alert - for Hawaii. The first waves were expected to arrive in Hawaii late afternoon EST. A lower-grade tsunami advisory was in effect for the coast of California and an Alaskan coastal area.

Before he spoke, Obama had a 20-minute conference call with staff and Cabinet members who updated him on conditions in Chile and on the tsunami. Participants included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"The United States stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts and we have resources that are positioned to deploy should the Chilean government ask for our help," Obama said. Chile's president, Michelle Bachelet, said her government has not asked for assistance from other countries.


From the Dallas Morning News, on an ICE sweep in the southwest:

The nation's top immigration cop said Friday that the Obama administration is stepping up enforcement against immigrants who commit crimes and will move aggressively against employers who hire unauthorized labor.

John Morton, U.S. assistant secretary of homeland security, said Friday that a three-day sweep in Texas netted 284 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions.

This week, 284 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions were arrested in Texas in a three-day operation involving multiple law enforcement agencies, said John Morton, the assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security who oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Of the total, 159 had convictions for violent crimes or serious drug offenses and about 119 were from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. About 80 arrests were made in San Antonio.

"These are not people we want walking our streets in Texas," Morton said at news conference in Dallas. "First and foremost, we are going to focus on criminal offenders."

But the enforcement, which ICE called a "surge," raised the question of why illegal immigrants with criminal convictions hadn't already been deported after serving time behind bars.


Public Events
11 AM EST
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas will administer the Oath of Allegiance and deliver congratulatory remarks to 50 candidates for citizenship during a special naturalization ceremony with Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C.

2 PM Local
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton will join Cambodian National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun to sign a Letter of Intent to enhance cooperation on investigations related to the sexual exploitation of children
Cambodia National Police Headquarters
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

6 PM Local
ICE Assistant Secretary Morton will participate in a media availability to discuss the U.S. and Cambodian law enforcement cooperation to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
U.S. Embassy
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 27, 2010
2:29 pm

 

Cross-posted from The White House Blog.

The President made the following statement on the earthquake in Chile and preparations for a possible tsunami that could reach American shores later today:

 

 

Good morning, everybody. Earlier today, a devastating earthquake struck the nation of Chile, affecting millions of people. This catastrophic event was followed by multiple aftershocks, and has prompted tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean. Earlier today, I was briefed by my national security team on the steps that we're taking to protect our own people, and to stand with our Chilean friends.

Early indications are that hundreds of lives have been lost in Chile, and the damage is severe. On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the Chilean people. The United States stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts, and we have resources that are positioned to deploy should the Chilean government ask for our help. Chile is a close friend and partner of the United States, and I've reached out to President Bachelet to let her know that we will be there for her should the Chilean people need assistance, and our hearts go out to the families who may have lost loved ones.

We're also preparing for a tsunami that could reach American shores later today, particularly in Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam. A tsunami warning is in place, and people have been alerted to evacuate coastal areas. I urge citizens to listen closely to the instructions of local officials, who will have the full support of the federal government as they prepare for a potential tsunami, and recover from any damage that may be caused.

I also urge our citizens along the West Coast to be prepared as well, as there may be dangerous waves and currents throughout the day. Again, the most important thing that you can do is to carefully heed the instructions of your state and local officials.

Once again, we've been reminded of the awful devastation that can come at a moment’s notice. We can't control nature, but we can and must be prepared for disaster when it strikes. In the hours ahead, we'll continue to take every step possible to prepare our shores and protect our citizens. And we will stand with the people of Chile as they recovery from this terrible tragedy.

Thank you very much, everybody.

 

We will post video shortly.

Tsunami warnings are in affect for Hawaii, N. Marianas, American Samoa, Marshall and Solomon Islands. A tsunami advisory is in effect along the west coast of the United States and Alaska. More information can be found at the National Weather Center's website.

FEMA continues to monitor the situation, and through Region IX in California, is in contact with the State of Hawaii, and recommends that individuals follow the advice of local officials. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is monitoring the situation from FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC and released the following statement:

FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security are closely monitoring the situation, and officials are in close contact with the State of Hawaii and the U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean that could be impacted by a potential tsunami. FEMA stands ready to assist should a request for assistance be made, and does have pre-deployed assets in Hawaii, including food, water, generators and other resources. We urge all individuals to follow the direction provided by local officials.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been briefed and is monitoring developments from Vancouver, where she is serving as the lead of the US Delegation at the Olympics.

More information and resources:

Robert Gibbs is White House Press Secretary

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 18, 2010
3:03 pm
Cross-posted from the TSA Blog.

What’s the biggest threat to an airplane? A knife? A pistol? While these items can be dangerous, with hardened cockpit doors installed after 9/11, an improvised explosive device poses the biggest threat to aviation security today.

I’ve talked about using Advanced Imaging Technologies to detect non-metallic and metallic threats, including IEDs already, but today I wanted to talk about another technology we have to detect explosives hidden on people and in bags.While going through checkpoints, you might have seen officers using little white swabs at TSA checkpoints at one point or another. In case you had no idea what our officers were doing, they were conducting state of the art Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) tests. And all along you thought they were giving your items a complimentary cleaning…

ETD tests are used in checkpoint, checked baggage, and cargo environments. We swab things such as laptops, shoes, film, cell phones, bags, wheelchairs, hands, casts - you name it. Certain procedures call for an ETD test.

Basically, our officers run the white swab over the area in question to collect a trace sample. They then place the swab in the ETD machinery which analyzes the sample for extremely small traces of explosives. The test takes a matter of seconds.

In the TSA of the past, our ETD machines were anchored to certain checkpoints or baggage areas. This is a mobile technology and we’re now going to take advantage of that luxury.

Recently, we tested ETD technology outside its regular use at checkpoints and checked baggage areas, and confirmed its ability to be used in other areas of the airport like the gate to check for explosives residue on passengers. Why the move? Since the attempted attack on 12/25, we looked at ways to immediately strengthen security using existing technology and procedures in different ways. ETD is quick, good for security and cost efficient.

Sure, we’re improving the checkpoints with technology such as Advanced Imaging Technology machines, but we currently have ETD machines at every checkpoint in the country and this new procedure will help us beef up security. Explosive Trace Detection is a highly effective, proven technology.

So as you travel, you might be asked for a swab of your hands at the checkpoint or gate. It’s painless and quick. The swabs are disposed of after each use and will not be used on more than one person.This is another way we can help keep the flying public safe from attempted attacks such as the one on 12/25.For additional reading, check out these new articles on our expanded use of ETD technology:

CNN: TSA to swab airline passengers' hands in search for explosives

USA Today: TSA takes explosives screening to fliers

Thanks,
Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 18, 2010
11:40 am
February 18, 2010
10:39 am
Plane in sky against sunset
One of the most important realities highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack is that in this day and age, aviation security is a responsibility shared among nations. The attempted terrorist had an itinerary that spanned three countries, and citizens of 17 countries were traveling on board that flight.

In light of this attack, we are working with our international partners to bolster global security measures and standards for aviation security. Part of this effort is sharing the kind of information needed to keep terrorists off airplanes. We have a good template for future information-sharing accords in the agreements we already have, which maintain high privacy standards while sharing important security information.

For example, DHS has an agreement with the European Union to allow air carriers to share Passenger Name Record (PNR) data with DHS so we can determine whether people traveling to and from the United States have ties to terrorism. This data protects not only U.S. citizens, but any person traveling to the United States –so the continued partnership of our European allies on this program is vital. Earlier this week, as part of a regular review process, expert representatives of the European Union conducted a review of the effectiveness and privacy protections of this agreement, and even saw the system in action at Dulles International Airport near Washington.

This kind of information sharing is critical to securing the international aviation system. Last month I went to Spain to meet with my European colleagues on how we can improve aviation security, and this week I’m traveling to Mexico to discuss how countries in this hemisphere can work collaboratively toward this goal.

Because the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct screening at foreign airports, I am committed to strengthening coordination with international partners to implement stronger and more effective measures to protect air travel while continuing to protect privacy.

Our efforts will follow the lead of our past actions to improve security, where we have created effective systems, set high standards, and met them.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 16, 2010
2:29 pm
Starting in February, DHS began hosting monthly support workshops for transitioning service members, retired or separated veterans, and their spouses in the Washington, D.C. area. Participants can get valuable knowledge on how to apply for federal jobs, federal resume tips, DHS job opportunities and special veteran hiring authorities. Click here for a flyer with information on upcoming workshops.

This program, developed by the DHS Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer, is one of several new programs aimed at helping veterans transition into employment opportunities at DHS. These workshops are meant to complement Military Transition Center activities.

For more information on the transition support workshops, visit www.dhs.gov/veterans.

Link to flyer removed because it is no longer current and has been archived.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 16, 2010
9:29 am

From USA Today, on Trusted Traveler:

The U.S. government trusts Ricardo Castro as a customer. And it wants more like him.

Castro, an oil industry executive who travels internationally and lives in Houston and Singapore, signed up as a member of Global Entry, a so-called trusted traveler program launched two years ago by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Designed for international travelers who are "trusted" or considered low terrorism risks, it promises quicker U.S. Customs clearance at automated kiosks.

Consider Castro a happy customer. No longer having to stand in line with large crowds, Castro says he clears customs usually in about a minute and has never seen a line at the kiosks.

As international arrival passengers rush to fill up lines at customs, "I smile and keep on walking," says Castro, who uses Global Entry about twice a month, mostly at Houston, Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth.

Trusted traveler programs have grown steadily in recent years despite skeptics who worry about surrendering personal information for machine-dependent processes run by the government. The initiative has three components for the public: Global Entry for international arrivals; Nexus for USA-Canada border crossing; and Sentri for USA-Mexico borders.


From The Washington Post, on temporary protected status for Haitian immigrants living in the United States:

More than 12,000 Haitians have applied for the chance to stay and work legally in the U.S. while their country struggles to recover from last month's earthquake.

The applications have rolled in, even though the July 20 application deadline is months away, said Bill Wright, spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Homeland Security Department.

The chance to work is critical for many of the immigrants who are hoping to help families trying to overcome the magnitude-7 earthquake that leveled parts of Haiti.

Because it is unsafe to return the illegal immigrants to Haiti, DHS said it would grant eligible immigrants temporary protected status. Successful applicants can remain and work for 18 months without fear of deportation or detention.


From Federal Computer Week, on Caryn Wagner, the newly confirmed DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis:

The Homeland Security Department has a new intelligence chief to lead the department's program to use information technology to share homeland security-related information with state and local officials.

The Senate confirmed Caryn Wagner to be DHS' undersecretary for intelligence and analysis by unanimous consent Feb. 11. Wagner's first day as head of DHS' Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) is today.

DHS is the lead federal agency for state and local intelligence fusion centers that are owned and operated by states and municipalities and serve as a central node for the federal government's efforts for sharing terrorism-related information with state and local officials.

Wagner has served on the senior faculty at the Intelligence Security Academy, an organization that provides training and consulting services related to national security, according to DHS. She has also held a variety of senior government intelligence jobs.


There are no public events scheduled for today.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 9, 2010
12:15 pm
Share your idea.
In recent days, the Department of Homeland Security has taken a major step toward its priority to create a more open, transparent, efficient, and effective government. As part of President Obama's Open Government Directive, we have now launched the DHS Open Government Initiative.

The Administration has set four goals for its Open Government effort, calling them the "cornerstone of an open government." The goals DHS will seek are:
  1. improving transparency by providing more information and data about the Department's activities in a timely and accessible manner;
  2. increasing participation by utilizing new tools and strategies to encourage input and feedback from the public;
  3. expanding collaboration with our many partners, both inside and outside government; and
  4. encouraging innovation to find new ways to make the government more open and efficient and save taxpayers money.
The Department of Homeland Security wants your input on our Open Government Plan. How should we increase our transparency to the public? What is the best way to foster a culture of participation? Do you have ideas to help increase collaboration? We want to hear your thoughts and ideas.

The online participation tool will be available until March 19, 2010. You can contribute your own ideas and rate idea others have submitted.

Chris Cummiskey
Chief of Staff, Management Directorate
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 4, 2010
5:29 pm
In November 2009, DHS launched a redesigned www.dhs.gov/veterans page to make it easier for veterans to get information about opportunities with the Department. Veterans make up one quarter of the DHS workforce, so we’re committed to making sure they have all the information they need to interact with and conduct business with the department. The website now provides veterans and veteran service organizations a one-stop shop for information about employment, contracting, and volunteer opportunities in the Department.

We updated this page again today to highlight additional exceptional veterans that currently work with the Department, so stop by our veterans profile page and see why our employee veterans find DHS a good fit.

Last year, Secretary Napolitano committed to employing 50,000 veterans by 2012 – during fiscal year 2009, we hired 5,142 veterans. Today, we boast more than 46,000 total veterans among our ranks.

Recruitment and hiring goals are one way we are engaging the veteran community. We are also creating greater opportunities for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses to work with DHS. In 2009, veteran-owned small businesses competed for an won more than $931 million in contracts from DHS.

The nation benefits from the service of our veterans in the work that we do at the Department; they bring proven experience and dedication to the job and we welcome veterans to join DHS and continue their service to the nation.

Visit www.dhs.gov/veterans for more information.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
February 3, 2010
12:01 pm

From the Washington Post, a video interview with Craig Fugate:
 


From the Associated Press, on a big haul for CBP:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized nearly a ton of marijuana hidden in a banana shipment at a cargo facility near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Officials say a drug-sniffing dog alerted officers to the stash Monday when the Mexican truck driver applied to cross into the U.S. at the Otay Mesa cargo facility.
Officers say they opened the boxes in the truck and found 235 packages of pot worth an estimated $1.1 million.

Leadership Events
10:30 AM EST
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks during an open session meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Empire Ballroom
109 East 42nd Street
New York, N.Y.

Public Events
11:30 AM CDT
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton will participate in a media availability to announce the results of an alien smuggling operation in the Houston area
ICE Building
Mineral’s Management Conference Room
4141 Sam Houston Parkway East
Houston, Texas

2 PM EST
Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Response and Recovery Associate Administrator William Carwile will testify about FEMA’s urban search and rescue program in Haiti before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

2 PM EST
S&T Deputy Under Secretary Bradley Buswell will testify about the Department’s efforts to develop the next generation of screening technologies before the House Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation
2318 Rayburn House Office Buildings
Washington, D.C.

4:30 PM CDT
ICE Deputy Assistant Secretary Alonzo Pena is hosting a media availability with the South Texas media to discuss results from a cross border summit.
University of Texas-Brownsville
UT Business Building, 2nd Floor
Salon Casi
Brownsville, Texas

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

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