Secretary Mayorkas delivered the following remarks at a meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council on September 14, 2023.
Thank you very much, Bill.
A few very brief remarks because I really do want to jump into the draft reports that were commissioned and of which I'm extremely appreciative.
The week began, of course – I trust everyone knows that it was the twenty-second commemoration of the 9/11 attacks. And I have spoken, and we have spoken, about how dramatically the threat has evolved from the foreign terrorist threat that really gave birth to our Department to what we are currently describing as the domestic violence extremists, the increase in gravity, the frequency of extreme weather events, and so on and so forth. But Monday was a very sobering reminder of the fact that the threat mandated to our Department certainly persists.
I just have to share with you that there were a number of extraordinarily moving remarks by individuals, who read the names of those loved ones who were lost. They are – each one of them is a family member. And one gentleman's remark, just really stuck with me in terms of its sadness, and captured the solemnity of the moment. You know, he spoke very, very briefly and he said, “they say that time heals all wounds. And I just want everybody to know that I don't think that's true.” And it was really, I felt, very, very moving.
I walk away from that with just an extraordinary gratitude for the fact that all of you are going to take your time to contribute to this Department's resolve, to make sure that those wounds are somehow healed, and certainly at the very least, new ones are not created. All of you around this table, and those of you who are participating virtually, are extraordinarily busy individuals with significant responsibilities and your full-time occupations and the fact that you would volunteer your time and also dedicate additional resources to the work of this committee, is really just something that I want to thank and recognize very profoundly.
Three quick additional notes.
One, today we announced Eric Hysen, the head of our Office of Information Technology, as the leader of our Artificial Intelligence Task Force. We already have received in closed session, a very helpful report of how we as a Department can better defend against the nefarious use of AI, and I know we're going to be speaking today about how we can exploit AI in the best sense of that term – exploitation – to advance our mission. Eric is going to be on point in that regard and a very innovative leader in our Department, we're very excited about that. And I cite that as one example of how we're actually executing on the recommendations you provide.
Secondly, we are announcing today, or we might have announced yesterday, I lose track of time, sometimes, that we created an Office of Customer Experience, which is of great importance to a number of you especially, which was also a recommendation of this committee.
And lastly, in that regard, today, we announced that we published the Homeland Threat Assessment, which describes the state of the threat to the homeland and its diversity. And one thing that we have done in terms of paradigm shifting, is we use the NTAS, the bulletins we would publish, as a means of updating the American public on the state of the threat to the homeland. We did not find that, based upon your guidance, that's particularly nimble or responsive, so this Homeland Threat Assessment will be published annually. It will communicate to the American public, the state of the threat environment. We will use the NTAS Advisory now as a way of alerting the American public to an imminent grave threat of which the public should be aware of, or, of course, a change in the threat level.
So, we will use the bulletin to be really more nimble in addressing a current development and using the Homeland Threat Assessment to really describe steady state.
We really appreciate the recommendations of this committee and I know we're going to discuss three reports that will further advance the Department's work.
So, just to end where I began, I just want to recognize and thank all of you so much.