Since the Real ID Act was passed by Congress four years ago, criticism of this legislation to increase the security of driver's licenses has arisen from many sources, including state governments, privacy groups and travel agents.
The federal law was passed as a response to 9/11. Its purpose was to prevent terrorists from easily obtaining false licenses, enabling them to set up bank accounts, rent living quarters and otherwise blend into American society unnoticed.
Although its intention was good, the Bush administration followed its usual pattern - quickly writing legislation and pushing it through a Republican-controlled Congress without thinking much about problems that could arise.
The National Governors Association has endorsed an alternative to Real ID that is backed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. She was governor of Arizona when that state, along with many others, protested Real ID as too expensive and unworkable from technical and privacy standpoints.
From the Biloxi Sun Herald, on FEMA Administrator Fugate's remarks to the National Governors Association:
The hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 taught residents and officials along the Coast many lessons, but the most important is that federal, state and local governments need to work together to respond and recover.
FEMA Director Craig Fugate told governors from across the country Sunday all levels of government need to work as a team to coordinate response to disasters and see who can help most in different areas.
Fugate was the head of Florida's emergency management department in 2004 when four hurricanes struck that state. He also offered help to Mississippi in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck.
He spoke Sunday as part of a panel discussion on emergency preparedness, along with representatives from Motorola and Travelers Insurance.
"Too often the disaster we prepare for is the last one when we need to look at the ones in the future," he said at the National Governors Association summer meeting.
The conference wraps up today at the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.
3 PM PDT
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference
Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort
Regency Conference Center, Regency Terrace, Main Floor
5 PM PDT
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference
Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort
Regency Grand Ballroom
1 PM CDT
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Rabago will lay the keel for the Third National Security Cutter Stratton at the Northrup
1000 Access Road
Today at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in downtown DC, DHS recruitment specialists greeted veterans for a job fair. Attendees got information on career opportunities and how to apply for positions within the department. Over 700 veterans signed up today for more information.
We at DHS want to be a model in veteran hiring in the federal government, and our efforts so far have significantly increased veteran representation within the department. We promote veteran hiring, contracting and procurement in all recruitment efforts, recognizing we owe veterans more than gratitude; at DHS, we feel we owe veterans opportunity.
DHS is hosting a Veterans Job Fair today at the Grand Hyatt from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM EDT. It's open to all active duty, retired, former service, Reserve/National Guard servicemembers and their spouses. Straight from dhs.gov:
July 17, 2009
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel100 H St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Constitution Room A, Level 3B(Take Metro Center stop, exit at 11th
The job fair is open to all active duty, retired, former service, Reserve/National Guard servicemembers and their spouses.
Explore career opportunities in law enforcement, immigration and travel security, prevention and response, and mission support by attending the job fair and talking to representatives.
Learn more about the Department that touches the lives of all Americans and find out how Departmental careers contribute to the mission of defending America. Speak to Department professionals about continuing your service to America.
- How to apply for federal jobs
- Understanding and applying veterans preference in federal hiring
From Federal Computer Week, on the cybersecurity RFI:
The Homeland Security Department wants information from companies on technical solutions that could be used to protect the ".gov" cyber domain used by federal civilian agencies, according to recently published notice.
DHS is interested in products that could be used for its integrated cybersecurity program that includes software and hardware, the department said in a request for information (RFI) published July 15 on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.
The full RFI is classified and vendors interested in the opportunity need to contact the department by July 22.
A letter to the editor of the New York Times from Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton:
I take issue with your assertion that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 287(g) program is "misguided, ineffective and dangerous."
Among other things, the program enables state and local law enforcement officials to deploy resources and manpower in their communities to enforce federal immigration laws, a force multiplier for federal law enforcement.
The program has been effective. Since January 2006, 287(g)-trained officers have identified more than 120,000 people, predominantly in jails, who are in the country illegally and have committed serious crimes while here. Finding and removing these criminal aliens is critical to our nation's overall interior enforcement strategy.
From Government Technology, on FEMA Administrator Fugate's remarks yesterday on disaster response:
The goal of emergency management policy should be not just to respond but also to change the outcomes of natural hazards, and to do that the private sector and communities must be involved, said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate on Thursday at the 2009 Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop in Broomfield, Colo. That includes changing building codes and standards, as well as the language used in mitigating hazards.
Fugate said minimizing the impacts of natural hazards should be the goal and disasters occur from natural hazards because of the way people live and build in the communities. "Floods and hurricanes happen. The hazard itself is not the disaster -- it's our habits, it's how we build and live in those areas, that's the disaster," Fugate said.
Veterans Job Fair
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel
100 H St., N.W.Washington, D.C. 20001
Constitution Room A, Level 3B(Take Metro Center stop, exit at 11th Street)
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona opposed tough new federal requirements for driver's licenses, endorsed legislation on Wednesday to replace the 2005 law with a more flexible and less costly version.
The new legislation maintains some features of the so-called Real ID law, which required states to scrupulously verify the identity of people to whom it issues driver's licenses, including verifying information they submit, like Social Security numbers and birth certificates.
The original measure, prompted by concerns about terrorism, was passed without Senate hearings as an amendment to a spending bill, and has been contested ever since. It requires states to comply with a series of benchmarks by Dec. 31, but no state has been certified as compliant.
The Real ID card is intended to be the only driver's license a person can use when boarding an airplane or entering a federal building.
Ms. Napolitano said the new bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Democrat of Hawaii, was "a bill that if passed and implemented before Dec. 31 of this year will fix a bill that was flawed from the outset."
From the Associated Press, on cartel violence in Mexico:
Ongoing concerns that drug-related violence in Mexico poses a threat to American communities remain the Obama administration's border focus, the federal government's border czar said Wednesday.
Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Alan Bersin, who visited Arizona's busiest commercial port here on Wednesday, said those concerns have triggered a series of border security initiatives and brought about closer cooperation with Mexican federal authorities.
"We take the threat of spillover violence very seriously," Bersin said. "We're prepared to deal with it in the event it occurs. There are contingency plans to respond. But we have not yet seen that violence spill over into the United States."
10 AM EDT
Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations Deputy Director Kumar Kibble will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security; Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism
311 Cannon House Office Building
10 AM CDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Jon Allen will participate in a media
event announcing the installation of CT-80 Explosives Detection
System (EDS) equipment
University of Illinois Willard Airport11 Airport RoadSavoy, Ill.
11:30 AM EDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Lara Uselding will participate in a
media event at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to
showcase new AT X-ray machines
Newark Liberty International Airport
The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review launches a new phase today.
The Office of Strategic Planning (OSP) is taking something that’s usually somewhat humdrum and using it to build a pretty cool new process.
Basically, based on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report, Congress mandated some time ago that DHS complete an internal review this year (and every four years hereafter) and report recommendations about strategy, programs, policies, and capabilities. But Congress left it up to OSP to determine just what that the review – the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) would look like.
The entire review will be unclassified, which makes it a little unconventional from the start. The whole process is also creatively set up in a way that acknowledges that many individuals—at multiple levels of government as well as outside the government—make decisions and provide expertise that contribute to homeland security.
Earlier this year, Secretary Napolitano invited representatives from every part of this broader homeland security community to contribute position papers to a public document library. This means that input from academics, experts, think tanks, professional associations, and more—all specialists in areas under the homeland security umbrella—all helped inform the QHSR’s frame of reference.
From there, the study groups—each made up of DHS officials and facilitated by an independent expert to ensure all viewpoints are represented and opinions heard—will examine focus areas (law enforcement and security, intelligence, etc.). Here’s where it gets really interesting, though: they’re going to be using a web-based collaborative dialogue platform for these studies, which means that all stakeholders, individuals or organizations with recognized homeland security roles and members of the general public can participate.
You can participate by logging on to http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org/ today to pre-register for the upcoming dialogues. Follow along, join the conversation, and share your ideas on what you think the study groups should focus on.
After all this, Secretary Napolitano and a 13-member Executive Committee (made up of the Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence, among others) will analyze the study groups’ recommendations and present their findings to Congress before we ring in the new year.
Web-based collaborative? Defining what DHS will look like for the next four years? Sounds like we'll have som New Year's resolutions.
The Department is committed to increased collaboration between government and industry representatives. In May, President Obama noted in the first-ever Presidential address on cybersecurity:
“[i]t's the great irony of our Information Age -- the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. And this paradox -- seen and unseen -- is something that we experience every day.”At Industry Day, DHS highlighted the need for private industry to become more involved in developing comprehensive, game-changing, innovative solutions that improve and expand upon our current capabilities to protect, detect, and respond to cyber incidents. The recent denial of service (DoS) incident only underscores that point. Our RFI is the next step in reaching out to stakeholders to assist us in advancing our capability to secure the nation’s critical cyber infrastructure and address future cyber challenges. For more information, we encourage you to visit FedBizOpps or email CIVendorInfo@dhs.gov.
PASS ID is legislation that was introduced last month in the U.S. Senate, and would amend the REAL ID Act of 2005. Both pieces of legislation are aimed at strengthening security requirements for driver's licenses – while the federal government sets the standards, it’s up to the states to implement. 13 states have enacted “anti-REAL ID” laws, virtually eliminating the chance that REAL ID can ever be implemented nationally. PASS ID seeks to establish national standards to enhance the security and integrity of all licenses and ID cards, while retaining state flexibility to go further if they want.
From the Secretary's testimony today:
We'll keep you updated on PASS ID as it moves forward.
"PASS ID is a critical piece of national security legislation that will fix the REAL ID Act of 2005 and institute strong security standards for government-issued identification. PASS ID will fulfill a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, that the federal government set standards for identification such as driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards – and this bill will do so in a way that states will implement, rather than disregard. PASS ID will enact the same strong security standards set out by REAL ID as quickly as REAL ID – but, critically, this bill provides a workable way to get there."
-- Secretary Janet Napolitano
Morning Roundup for July 15th, 2009 - Featured News and Public Events
From the Washington Post, on PASS ID:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is promoting a new program to make driver's licenses more secure that would cost less than the plan pushed by the Bush administration.
On Wednesday, she was to testify before a Senate committee considering legislation that would replace the former administration's Real ID card plan with something called a Pass ID. Those who support the new program say it would not gut the security requirements in current law. But others say the new ID would relax rules enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Bush's Real ID plan has been stalled well short of nationwide implementation by opposition in the states. Twelve states have voted not to participate, and others have raised complaints.
The National Governors Association helped write the new proposal. As Arizona governor, Napolitano said the Bush administration did not collaborate enough with governors in the development of its plan for implementing the congressionally mandated program.
The governors group said the current law would cost states $4 billion while the new plan could cut the costs to between $1.3 billion and $2 billion.
From the Associated Press, on the HSAS review:
The Obama administration has begun a review that could spell the end of the color-coded terrorism advisories, long derided by late night TV comics and portrayed by some Democrats as a tool for Bush administration political manipulation.
It's not likely the review will plunge an alert system into the dark all together, but short of that, everything is on the table for consideration, according to one administration official familiar with the plans. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about potential outcomes.
The alert system assigns five different colors to terror risk levels. Green at the bottom signals a low danger of attack and red at the top warns of a severe threat. It was put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was designed to help emergency responders get prepared.
But it's been the butt of late-night television comics' jokes and criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for being too vague to deliver enough useful information.
From the San Diego Union-Tribune, on a huge haul for CBP this year:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reporting record drug seizures for the first three quarters of fiscal year 2009, which ended June 30.
According to the agency, which includes the Border Patrol, customs officers and air and marine operations, more than 3.3 million pounds of drugs were intercepted at and in between ports of entry along both the southern and northern borders. This is an increase of 64.3 percent compared to the same period the previous year.
The largest marijuana seizure occurred in late March, when agency officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry intercepted a commercial tractor-trailer loaded with 10,764 pounds of marijuana.
Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jacqueline Dizdul credited a larger presence of border security personnel, among other things.
10 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will testify before the Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about PASS ID
342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
12 PM PDT
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) Policy Advisor Debbie
Fulmer will deliver remarks on preparedness efforts for special needs populations at the 2009 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)
San Diego Convention Center
111 W Harbor Dr.
San Diego, Calif.
2 PM EDT
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Assistant
Administrator John Sammon will testify before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection about general aviation security risks
311 Cannon House Office Building
In a recent technology snapshot, our Science and Technology Directorate highlighted a project that, if successful, could help find and plug up smuggling tunnels as fast as criminals can dig them.
The Tunnel Detection Project is working on a design that places radar antennas in a trailer towed by a truck. Electromagnetic waves penetrate the earth, and what shows up on a monitor inside the truck is a picture of what’s beneath them, composed of red, yellow, and aquamarine dots. Civil engineers already use ground-penetrating technology, but it’s just to find pipes or cable a few meters beneath the earth. S&T’s taking this and giving it some oomph. They’re using much lower frequency waves to penetrate deeper into the ground, and the sophisticated imaging technology they’re working on produces surprisingly clear pictures of any tunnels that are found.
As a program director points out, tunnels have been found so far by good law enforcement work or by chance, but never by technology.
The team showed off a prototype this spring that used mock-up “border” made of sand and rocks. Soon, they’re bringing everything they’ve developed down to the Southwest to give it a spin against the rigors of the real border. What’s going to be key for them, they say, is being able to separate tunnels from rocks, plants, and other objects buried in the ground.
Check out the full snapshot.