Report Highlights DHS Progress in 9/11 Commission Recommendations
Seven years after the release of the 9/11 Commission report, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano recently released a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report highlighting the significant progress that DHS, along with its many partners, have made in fulfilling specific recommendations by the 9/11 Commission to build a country that is stronger, safer and more resilient. Leading up to the 10th anniversary of the Sept.11 terrorist attacks, the report details advancements in strengthening and evolving the homeland security enterprise to better defend against evolving terrorist threats.
“Ten years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, America is stronger and more resilient than ever before, but threats from terrorism persist and challenges remain,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Over the past decade, we have made great strides to secure our nation against a large attack or disaster, to protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks, and to engage a broader range of Americans in the shared responsibility for security. We recognize and thank the many men and women of DHS, all of our partners, and the law enforcement officers and emergency management professionals who work on the frontlines everyday protecting America, at home and abroad.”
DHS and its many partners across the Federal government, public and private sectors, and communities across the country and around the world have worked since 9/11 to build a new homeland security enterprise to better mitigate and defend against dynamic threats, minimize risks, and maximize the ability to respond to and recover from attacks and disasters of all kinds. Together, these efforts have provided a strong foundation to protect communities from terrorism and other threats, while safeguarding the fundamental rights of all Americans.
Highlights from the DHS Progress Report Include:
Expanding Information Sharing
The United States’ strengthened homeland security enterprise includes a number of critical features to expand and enhance information sharing with public and private sector partners that did not exist on 9/11, including 72 recognized state and major urban area fusion centers, which serve as focal points for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information; the National Suspicious Activities Reporting Initiative, which trains state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism, crime and other threats; the new National Terrorism Advisory System, which provides timely, detailed information about terrorist threats; and the “If You See Something Say Something™” campaign, which emphasizes the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper law enforcement authorities. Additionally, the United States participates in robust information sharing with international partners, facilitating the exchange of information about terrorists and criminals.
Developing and Implementing Risk-based Transportation Security Strategies
DHS has made significant advances in risk-based security since 9/11, focusing on intelligence-driven security across all transportation modes. This approach emphasizes pre-screening for passengers and cargo, while focusing resources on those who pose the greatest threat to the nation’s transportation networks. Efforts include conducting baseline security assessments across the maritime, surface and aviation sectors; forging international consensus on historic new global aviation standards; collecting and analyzing advanced passenger and cargo information; and supporting risk-based state and local prevention efforts.
Strengthening Airline Passenger Pre-screening and Targeting Terrorist Travel
Ten years ago, screening of passengers coming to the United States was limited to the visa process and inspection of a person by an immigration officer at the port of entry. Provision of advance passenger information was voluntary. In response to both 9/11 and evolving threats, and with the help and support of Congress, DHS has significantly adapted and enhanced its ability to detect threats through a multi-layered, risk-based system. Now, DHS requires all airlines flying to the United States from foreign countries to provide Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Records prior to departure; checks 100 percent of passengers on flights flying to, from, or within the United States against government watchlists through its Secure Flight program; and has expanded trusted traveler programs, expediting travel for passengers who provide biometric identification and pass rigorous, recurrent security checks.
Enhancing Screening for Explosives
Prior to 9/11, limited federal security requirements existed for air cargo or baggage screening. Today all checked and carry-on baggage is screened for explosives. The capacity of frontline security personnel and new technologies also has significantly expanded to more than 52,000 TSA personnel serving on the frontlines at over 450 U.S. airports today. Through the Recovery Act and annual appropriations, TSA has accelerated the deployment of new technologies to detect the next generation of threats and through close partnerships with state and local law enforcement and the deployment of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) Teams, which provide deterrent and detection capabilities, DHS helps prevent and disrupt potential attacks across all modes of transportation.
Protecting Cyber Networks and Critical Physical Infrastructure
DHS has made significant strides to enhance the security of the nation’s critical physical infrastructure as well as its cyber infrastructure and networks through the National Cybersecurity Protection System, of which the EINSTEIN cyber intrusion detection system is a key component; the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which serves as the nation’s principal hub for organizing cyber response efforts; and a 2010 landmark memorandum of agreement between DHS and the Department of Defense to enhance America’s capabilities to protect against threats to critical civilian and military computer systems and networks. DHS has also led the effort to design the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, a comprehensive risk management framework for all levels of government, private industry, nongovernmental entities and tribal partners and improved interoperability to ensure that emergency response providers can communicate during natural disasters and other catastrophic events.
Bolstering the Security of U.S. Borders and Identification Documents
Protecting the nation’s borders—land, air, and sea—from the illegal entry of people, weapons, drugs, and contraband is vital to homeland security, as well as the nation’s economic prosperity. Over the past several years, the Administration has deployed unprecedented levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border, and made critical security improvements along the Northern and maritime borders. Additionally, DHS has taken significant steps to strengthen the security, reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents and reduce identity fraud while enhancing privacy safeguards, including fundamentally transforming the way citizens enter the United States through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and preventing potential terrorist and criminal threats from coming to the United States through the Visa Security Program and other pre-departure initiatives.
Ensuring Robust Privacy and Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Safeguards
DHS builds privacy and civil rights and civil liberties protections into its operations, policies, programs, and technology deployments from the outset of their development. The DHS Privacy Office partners with every DHS component to assess policies, programs, systems, technologies and rule-makings for privacy risks, and recommends privacy protections and methods for handling personally identifiable information. DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties plays a key role in the Department’s mission to secure the nation while preserving individual freedoms through the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Impact Assessment process.
To view the Department’s report and related materials <http://www.dhs.gov/files/publications/september-11-chronology.shtm> , please visit www.dhs.gov/9-11-progress-report