Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urged Americans on Wednesday to join a "collective fight against terrorism" that combines the efforts of individuals, companies and local, state and foreign governments.
Answering critics who have accused the Obama administration of downplaying the risk of terrorist attacks, Napolitano said the threat has not abated and outlined an approach that emphasizes burden-sharing as federal spending and political support for post-Sept. 11 security measures wane.
"I am sometimes asked if I think complacency is a threat. I believe the short answer is 'yes,' " Napolitano said, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York before visiting the World Trade Center site destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"But I think a better question is this: Has the U.S. government done everything it can to educate and engage the American people? The answer is 'no,' " she said.
In what aides called a major counter-terrorism policy address, Napolitano noted that American hotels were targeted in bombings this month in Jakarta, six Americans were among 164 people killed in a commando-style assault in Mumbai in November and three Americans were among 54 killed in a Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September.
To confront a terrorism threat that "is even more decentralized, more networked and more adaptive," she said, counter-terrorism efforts also need to exploit the values of "networks." For example, the nation needs better technology, training and linkages to share information with 780,000 local law enforcement agents, Napolitano said, promising to strengthen 70 state-run intelligence "fusion centers" that began under the Bush administration.
And from the New York Times:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called Wednesday for closer collaboration with foreign partners, more intensive cooperation between the federal government and local law enforcement officials, and greater involvement by civilians in watching for and responding to terrorist threats.
"For too long, we've treated the public as a liability to be protected rather than as an asset in our nation's collective security," Ms. Napolitano said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "This approach, unfortunately, has allowed confusion, anxiety and fear to linger."
Ms. Napolitano, whose visit to New York included her first trip to ground zero, seemed intent in her speech on a shift of tone from that of the Bush administration, which critics say too often appeared to exaggerate threats and sow fear. But she unveiled no specific new initiatives in this regard.
She did say she had traveled 30,000 miles in just the last few weeks - "from Islamabad to Seattle" - while brokering international security agreements.
And she emphasized the importance of facilities, called intelligence fusion centers, that have been set up nationwide to improve communications between the local officials most likely to see the first signs of suspicious activity - like a flight school student showing interest in learning to take off but not to land a plane - and state and federal officials.
8 AM EDT
CS&C Division Director Brenda Oldfield will speak at the 2009 Society for Science and the Public Fellows Institute.
St. Regis Hotel
923 16th and K Streets, NW
10 AM CDT
CBP Office of Air and Marine will accept its first UH-60M helicopter and mark the occasion in a ceremony with the Army.
Redstone Army Airfield
Gate 8 Visitor Entrance, near intersection of Goss and Patton Road
10 AM EDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Jon Allen will participate in a media availability announcing a 60-day test of next generation imaging technology equipment at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
12 PM EDT
NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Philip Reitinger will deliver a keynote address on the importance of cyber security for states at the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) Annual Meeting.
InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel
550 Light Street
1 PM EDT
CS&C Director of Software Assurance Joe Jarzombek will speak at the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB)
The George Washington University
Cafritz Conference Center
800 21st St NW
2:30 PM EDT
DHS Office of Management (MGMT) Under Secretary Elaine Duke will testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia
342 Dirksen Office Building
3:30 PM PDT
CS&C Director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) Mischel Kwon will participate in a panel discussion at the Black Hat conference.
3570 Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV