[House Hearing, 110 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
HOLDING THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ACCOUNTABLE FOR SECURITY
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS
SEPTEMBER 5, 2007
Serial No. 110-67
Printed for the use of the Committee on Homeland Security
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COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
BENNIE G. THOMPSON, Mississippi, Chairman
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California, PETER T. KING, New York
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts LAMAR SMITH, Texas
NORMAN D. DICKS, Washington CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut
JANE HARMAN, California MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon TOM DAVIS, Virginia
NITA M. LOWEY, New York DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of MIKE ROGERS, Alabama
Columbia BOBBY JINDAL, Louisiana
ZOE LOFGREN, California DAVID G. REICHERT, Washington
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas
DONNA M. CHRISTENSEN, U.S. Virgin CHARLES W. DENT, Pennsylvania
Islands GINNY BROWN-WAITE, Florida
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee
JAMES R. LANGEVIN, Rhode Island GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida
HENRY CUELLAR, Texas DAVID DAVIS, Tennessee
CHRISTOPHER P. CARNEY, Pennsylvania
YVETTE D. CLARKE, New York
AL GREEN, Texas
ED PERLMUTTER, Colorado
Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Staff Director & General Counsel
Rosaline Cohen, Chief Counsel
Michael Twinchek, Chief Clerk
Robert O'Connor, Minority Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Mississippi, and Chairman, Committee on
Homeland Security.............................................. 1
The Honorable Peter T. King, a Representative in Congress From
the State of New York, and Ranking Member, Committee on
Homeland Security.............................................. 2
The Honorable Gus M. Bilirakis, a Representative in Congress From
the State of Florida........................................... 66
The Honorable Paul C. Broun, a Representative in Congress From
the State of Georgia........................................... 83
The Honorable Christopher P. Carney, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Pennsylvania................................. 78
The Honorable Donna M. Christensen, a Delegate in Congress From
the U.S. Virgin Islands........................................ 68
The Honorable Norman D. Dicks, a Represntative in Congress From
the State of Washington........................................ 60
The Honorable Bob Etheridge, a Representative in Congress From
the State of North Carolina.................................... 81
The Honorable Al Green, a Representative in Congress From the
State of Texas................................................. 84
The Honorable Jane Harman, a Representative in Congress From the
State of California............................................ 64
The Honorable James R. Langevin, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Rhode Island................................. 88
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Texas:
Oral Statement................................................. 72
Prepared Statement............................................. 73
The Honorable Nita M. Lowey, a Representative in Congress From
the State of New York.......................................... 86
The Honorable Daniel E. Lungren, a Representative in Congress
From the State of California................................... 58
The Honorable Edward J. Markey, a Representative in Congress From
the State of Massachusetts..................................... 56
The Honorable Michael T. McCaul, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Texas........................................ 62
The Honorable David G. Reichert, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Washington................................... 79
The Honorable Mike Rogers, a Representative in Congress From the
State of Alabama............................................... 75
The Honorable Christopher Shays, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Connecticut.................................. 59
The Honorable Ginny Brown-Waite, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Florida...................................... 70
The Honorable Michael Chertoff, Secretary, U.S. Department of
Oral Statement................................................. 23
Prepared Statement............................................. 29
For the Record:
Submitted by Hon. Al Green..................................... 54
Material Submitted by Hon. Peter T. King....................... 4
Additional Questions and Responses:
Responses from Hon. Michael chertoff........................... 95
HOLDING THE DEPARTMENT OF
HOMELAND SECURITY ACCOUNTABLE
FOR SECURITY GAPS
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Homeland Security,
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m., in Room
311, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. Bennie G. Thompson
[chairman of the committee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Thompson, Markey, Dicks, Harman,
Lowey, Norton, Jackson Lee, Christensen, Etheridge, Langevin,
Cuellar, Carney, Clarke, Green, King, Shays, Lungren, Rogers,
Reichert, McCaul, Brown-Waite, Bilirakis and Broun.
Chairman Thompson. The committee on Homeland Security will
come to order.
The committee is meeting today to receive testimony from
the Secretary, Michael Chertoff, to discuss his plans to
implement the recently enacted H.R. 1, the Implementing
Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act.
Good morning. Mr. Secretary, glad to have you. Secretary
Chertoff, on behalf of members of the committee, again let me
welcome you here today.
It has been 4 years since the Department of Homeland
Security was created. Mr. Chertoff, for 2 years now, half of
the Department's operational life, you have been the individual
directly and primarily responsible for assuring that the
Department can fulfill its important mission.
A few weeks ago, this Nation paused to remember the victims
of Hurricane Katrina and observed a second anniversary of that
devastating storm. In a few days, we will again pause to
memorialize the victims of the September 11th attack and mark
the sixth anniversary of that earth-shattering day. As we in
this Congress and the American people mark these tragic
milestones in our Nation's history, we all know--you, me and
everyone within the sound of my voice--that these events have
strengthened our resolve, increased our vigilance and enhanced
our commitment to ensuring the preparedness response and
resiliency of this Nation.
I am sure that today you will take the opportunity to tell
this committee and indeed the Nation that our country is better
prepared than it was on September 11th to respond to a
terrorist attack and that we are ready to meet the challenges
of a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina. I look forward to
learning about your plans to implement H.R. 1, which
statutorily enacted the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
And as I look forward to hearing about these new plans, I would
be remiss if I did not wonder whether you remain--will remain
at the Department long enough to carry out what you will
As you know, during the August recess, the media was abuzz
with the news of the resignation of Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales. Likewise, many talking heads have suggested that you
are a prime candidate to accept the position of Attorney
General. And so before you begin your testimony, Mr. Secretary,
I would like you to inform us whether you plan to remain
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for the
duration of this administration. I also ask this question not
to put you on the spot but rather to gain some clarity on the
future picture of this Department.
As you know, in a report, committee staff found that nearly
one-quarter of the senior leadership positions located in the
Department of Homeland Security are vacant. In June, the
National Journal found that DHS has added political positions
to its rank, giving it more political appointees than much
larger departments such as Department of Veteran Affairs and
Department of Defense.
To make matters worse, Mr. Secretary, the Department has
failed to provide Congress with programs, plans and reports
that are absolutely critical to securing the homeland. For
instance, where is the revised version of the National Response
Plan? Why has DHS missed its deadlines for inline baggage
screening equipment? Where is the Department's strategic plan
for deploying explosive detection equipment at airport
checkpoints? Why hasn't the national emergency family registry
and locator system been established? And where are the final
regulations, Mr. Secretary, for TWIC?
So, Mr. Secretary, if you are going to leave this Cabinet
post to take a different Cabinet seat, the American people and
I need to have a clear vision on what remains to be done.
If you plan on staying in this Cabinet seat until January,
2009, the committee needs to make sure that certain things have
been accomplished before you go. In fact, Mr. Secretary, before
you leave here today, I will give you a to-do list that
specifies each item which should be accomplished before your
tenure is over. When all these things have been done, I will be
able to say that we are safer now than we are today.
We owe the American people security; we owe them
accountability; and, most importantly, we owe them freedom from
fear. So as you detail your plan to implement the
recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, I will be listening
closely to hear how you also plan to fill key vacancies at the
Department and your plans for completing all of your
With that, again, I thank you for being here today; and I
look forward to your testimony.
The Chair now recognizes the ranking member of the full
committee, the gentleman from New York, Mr. King, for an
Mr. King. Thank you, Chairman Thompson. I appreciate you
calling this hearing.
I certainly want to thank Secretary Chertoff for testifying
once again and at the outset to commend him for the job that he
has done in providing leadership to the Department of Homeland
Security, a position which is more important than ever when we
see again what happened last night and this morning in Germany
with the arrests of the three alleged terrorists, with the
arrests yesterday in Denmark, with the indictments recently of
the University of South Florida students in South Carolina,
this past summer with the JFK plot and the constant shadow that
is out there and the fact that earlier this summer, Secretary
Chertoff, even though he took flack for it, was sending a very
clear signal to the American people and to the world that there
are dangerous situations going on; and I believe the events of
the last several weeks have certainly justified the warnings
that you gave us at that time.
I also at a parochial level want to thank Secretary
Chertoff for the distributions this year, especially with the
funding that came with the supplemental. I really believe that
you have the Department on course right now to provide the
funding to the areas that need it the most and are able to make
the best use of it. So I commend you for that.
I also on a personal level want to thank you for the
cooperation your staff has given me as far as whenever we reach
out to you to get details as to different events that are going
on. The briefings and the data and the information and
intelligence you provide to us has been very helpful in keeping
me up to date.
We did pass H.R. 1; and it passed, I believe, with the
support of every member of this committee. Chairman Thompson
did a very good job, I believe, in consolidating support,
mobilizing support and getting very much into that bill.
One concern I do have, though--and it predates Chairman
Thompson and is probably going to be with us sometime into the
future, hopefully not forever--and that is the idea of
consolidating jurisdiction of this committee over the
Department of Homeland Security.
Several months ago--this was on May 25th--as ranking
member, I, along with, I believe, all the Republican members of
the committee, sent a letter to you asking you to specify the
number of committee hearings, subcommittee hearings that you
have to attend and members of your Department have to attend,
the myriad of committees and subcommittees who claim
jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security.
Yesterday, you responded to that letter in a letter dated
September 4, 2007, where you laid out again in really almost
excruciating detail the amount of time that must be spent
Now, I agree with Chairman Thompson. We ought to have
strong oversight. I believe that for the Department to go
forward and go forward under your leadership, to go forward
effectively, it has to be strong oversight, constant oversight.
That is the way the system works.
However, having this multitude of oversight committees or
committees claiming oversight, I believe it becomes very
counterproductive; And I would hope that, as we do go forward,
no matter which party happens to be in control at the time,
whether we do it through House rules or we do it through
legislation, that we do consolidate as much jurisdiction as
possible into one committee.
I am not saying this is part of a turf battle. I am just
saying it is a sense of organization, a sense of responsibility
that we get that done. So I will ask the chairman if I could
introduce into the record a letter from the ranking member and
Republican members of the committee to the Secretary dated May
25th and Secretary Chertoff's response to us dated September 4,
2007, and ask they be made part of the record.
Chairman Thompson. Without objection.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The information follows:]
Mr. King. Also, Secretary Chertoff, one issue which we have
had some disagreement on--but the fact is Congress has spoken
or not spoken--and that is on the issue of immigration; and I--
from what I can see, certainly in the last month, the
Department has dramatically increased enforcement, also is
going forward with the construction of the fence along the
border at a far more rapid pace than before. And in your
testimony as you go forward I would ask if you could just give
us more details on that as to what the intent of the Department
is as far as completing the fence, whether or not it is going
to be 370 or whether it is going to be 700 and also what
timetable you have for that.
Also, the impact of the recent court ruling on the
employers and social security and the illegal immigrants. If
you could update us on that as to the impact you think it is
going to have.
With that, I look forward to your testimony; and I want to
again thank Chairman Thompson. Whatever disagreements we may
have on particular issues, the fact is the committee is working
in a very strong, bipartisan way under his leadership; and I
think this hearing is going to be indicative of that.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much.
Other members of the committee are reminded that, under
committee rules, opening statements may be submitted for the
Again, I welcome our witness today. When he was confirmed
in 2005, Secretary Michael Chertoff became the second person to
serve as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Prior
to his confirmation, Mr.Chertoff served as a United States
Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to
that, he served as an Assistant Attorney General at the
Department of Justice, where he was instrumental in helping to
trace the September 11th terrorist attacks to the al-Qa'ida
network. He has served in a number of other public service
Secretary Chertoff, I thank you for your service; and I
appreciate you agreeing to testify here today. Without
objection, the witness' full statement will be inserted into
Secretary Chertoff, I now recognize you to summarize your
statement for 5 minutes; and if you go over, we won't penalize
you. Mr. Secretary?
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY,
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Secretary Chertoff. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a
pleasure to be back before the committee after the Labor Day
recess in what has been an eventful summer on a number of
Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member King, other members of
the committee, I look forward to answering your questions. I
don't think I am going to cover all the questions in the 5
minutes or so I have to give the summary, but I will certainly
be happy to tackle more specific questions as they come up.
We have, as you noted, Mr. Chairman, just passed the second
anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; and we now stand on the
threshold of another notable anniversary, which is the sixth
anniversary of the infamous attacks on September 11th on this
country. On September 11, 2001, of course, as we watched the
smoldering remains of those attacks, no one would have been
bold enough to predict that 6 years would pass without a
further successful attack on the homeland. I underscore the
word ``successful'' because there have been attacks on the
homeland, they have just not succeeded. That goes from--that
ranges from the so-called ``shoe bomber'', Richard Reid, in
December, 2001, to last summer's effort in the United Kingdom
to place bombs on aircraft that were headed for the United
Happily and because of the vigilance of those serving here
in the United States as well as our allies overseas, these
attacks have been frustrating. But even in the last 36 hours we
have seen how real the threat remains. Arrests in Denmark and
Germany indicate that al-Qa'ida continues to carry out acts of
war against the West. They continue to seek fellow travelers
and allies and adherents in the West who can be used to carry
out attacks whether they be in Western Europe or here in the
homeland, and American interests overseas remain very much at
risk. So it is a sobering reminder of the fact that, 6 years
after 9/11, the intent of al-Qa'ida and its allies to wage war
on the west remains very much unabated.
A question I probably get asked more often than any other
question is, are we safer now than we were prior to 9/11? And
the answer to that is unequivocally yes. But if you ask me is
the job of keeping us safe done, the answer is to that is no.
It is not done, and it may not be done within our lifetimes.
The fact is there is no such thing as perfect security. We face
an enemy with a long memory, an enemy that is capable of still
getting worked up about events that occurred five and six
hundred years ago. So we cannot afford to relax or relent.
The enemy will continue to adapt. It will continue to
retool itself, as the recent National Intelligence Estimate
made very clear; and because al-Qa'ida does not stand still, we
cannot stand still either. We have to continue to adapt, to use
our technology to our advantage. We have to use randomness as a
way of strengthening our systems and making it hard for the
enemy to detect what we are doing. We have to fortify our
defenses without clogging them or making them so overwhelming
that they destroy our way of life, and we always have to think
outside the box and look at the unpredictable in terms of
assessing where the threat may be.
The job is not done. We cannot back away from what we have
done so far, and we have to continue to remain determined to
protect this country.
And in this regard I want to commend the members of this
committee who have been very active throughout this last 6
years, ever since the committee was formed, in working as
partners with this Department and other elements of the
executive branch to see to it that we have homeland security in
What is our overall strategy? If I was asked to sum it up
in a nutshell, I would say our strategy is to reduce risk
sensibly. That doesn't mean to eliminate risk. There is no way
to eliminate risk in the world as we live it. But we can reduce
risk and we can do it in a commonsense way, if we are
disciplined about understanding what the risk is and
disciplined about how we go about tackling that risk.
One approach is to deal with the threat itself. We have
continued to reduce the risk against the country by capturing
and killing al-Qa'ida leadership, by sharing intelligence in
this country and with our allies overseas and by disrupting
plots at home and abroad.
Another way to reduce risk is to decrease vulnerabilities.
We do that by sensibly building barriers and strengthening the
measures we have in place to protect our infrastructure if
someone should be successful in carrying out an attack.
A third way to reduce risk is to reduce the consequences of
an attack. We do that by enhancing our ability to respond,
dispersing assets that could be affected by an attack and by
finding ways to mitigate damage to human life and to the
Everything we do at DHS is aimed at the goal of reducing
risk and balancing these variables in a cost-effective way.
This committee's hard work and passing H.R. 1 is going to be of
enormous help in continuing along this strategic path. Measures
such as those enabling us to strengthen the Visa waiver
program, which I previously identified as a potential
vulnerability; making sure that people who report suspicious
activity in good faith are protected against legal--possible
negative legal consequences; and further moving in the
direction of risk-based funding. These are very important
measures in securing the homeland, and I want to thank the
committee for its work.
Let me talk about a few specific areas, without suggesting
this covers the whole waterfront, in which I think we have made
some real, measurable progress in keeping the Nation safe.
First, let me address the issue of border security, a
subject on which we could have a hearing all by itself. By way
of perspective, on September 11th, we had about 9,000 Border
Patrol agents in this country. When the President last year
unrolled his strategy to regain control of the border in May of
2006, that number had grown to 11,740 Border Patrol agents.
But, as of today, we now have 14,471 Border Patrol agents. We
are on track to get 18,300 Border Patrol agents sworn to duty
at the end of calendar year 2008. That is what we promised last
year. That promise will be kept.
We have also put infrastructure in place. Among other
things, we currently have more than 120 miles of fence in,
pedestrian fencing, and 112 miles of vehicle barriers along the
southern border. We expect to have 145 miles of fencing in
place by the end of this month, by the end of September, which
is again what we promised. That promise will be kept. By end of
calendar year 2008, again as we promised, we are on track to
have 370 miles of pedestrian fencing in place.
Another promise we made last year was to abolish the policy
of catching and releasing non-Mexicans who are apprehended at
the border. We ended that practice last year and have kept that
practice ended for a year that has transpired since last
summer. We are now in the domain of catch and remove for those
who are caught at the border.
And we are continuing to work to deploy 21st century
technologies as part of SBInet. We anticipate--and there was
some delay in this because we were insistent on making sure
everything works properly. We anticipate beginning acceptance
testing on the first 28 miles of this high-tech program in
Arizona in about a month.
Now, has all this effort had an impact or result? Over the
last fiscal year, overall apprehensions have fallen by 20
percent. Southwestern border apprehensions have dropped by 21
percent. Border Patrol non-Mexican apprehensions are down 39
percent. Yuma sector apprehensions were reduced 68 percent. Del
Rio sector apprehensions are down 48 percent and El Paso sector
apprehensions by 40 percent.
A recently released Pew Research report not only agreed
that apprehensions have been declining but looked to other
anecdotal information, including interviews with people
operating south of the border, to conclude that the foreign-
born population of illegal immigrants has been increasing at a
slower pace than in previous years.
Other measures of the success we have had in driving down
illegal immigration have been reductions in financial
remittances overseas. I have to say I think our foreign
partners will find that not happy news, but it happens to be a
metric that shows that our enforcement measures have bite.
These are all signs that illegal cross border migration is
declining and the method is moving in the correct direction.
I would be remiss if I didn't express my disappointment in
the fact that Congress didn't choose to move forward with
comprehensive immigration reform. I think without a temporary
worker program we will start to see economic consequences of
enforcement, but I am sworn to enforce the law as it is and
continue to do so to the full extent of my power.
And I also want to observe in the last fiscal year our ICE
officers removed a record 198,511 illegal aliens in this
country. I estimate over 3,900 administrative arrests in the
last fiscal year; and this year we are on track to have over
790 criminal arrests in the work site enforcement cases, which
builds upon the 740 we had last year, both dramatic increases
we saw over prior years.
Of course, we worry not only about people entering between
the ports of entry but coming through our ports of entry where
traditionally we see the terrorist threat focused. One thing we
talked about last year that we are currently implementing is
the deployment of 10-print fingerprint scanning capabilities
through our US-VISIT program. This means for people who come to
the U.S. it is no longer going to be simply two fingerprints
that we capture and read but 10 fingerprints, and the advantage
of this is it allows us to compare those fingerprints against
latent fingerprints that we pick up in the course of
investigations overseas. So that allows us a better ability to
determine whether an unknown, unnamed terrorist is entering the
We currently have rolled out 10-print scanning capabilities
at 106 U.S. consulates around the world, which is half of the
number that we have to do; and we are beginning the process of
putting this 10-print capability at 10 American airports
beginning this fall.
I can tell you we have already seen results; and, in one
case, we were able to compare a latent fingerprint from a piece
of paper found in the course of a search as--in one of the
investigations of acts of terrorism overseas against the
fingerprints taken by somebody who wanted to come into the
United States and we found a match. Now, in this case, there--
it turned out to be an innocent explanation for the fact that
that fingerprint was found in the particular safe house. But
the point is it was good to know that we had that fingerprint,
it was good to be able to ask those questions, and I think this
is an example of the kind of dramatic increase in security that
10-print capability gives us.
Of course, we are continuing to move forward on a matter
very important to this committee, which is the secure freight
initiative, which is the initiative to put radiation detection
equipment around the world to make sure that we can detect
radioactive material coming into the United States. In
compliance with the Safe Port Act, we currently have three
overseas ports that will be scanning 100 percent of U.S.-bound
cargo into the United States; and we have agreements with four
other foreign ports to begin somewhat more limited scanning in
the very near future.
Here at home, we have deployed more than 1,000 radiation
portal monitors at our own ports. By the end of this calendar
year, we will have the ability to scan almost 100 percent of
sea cargo arriving in our major seaports; and by the end of
next year, nearly 100 percent of all ports of entry, including
the land ports of entry, will have these radiation portal
Now, while we have made some very significant steps in
securing the homeland in these respects, I have to say there
are some gaps that require our attention; and we are moving
forward with those. Two of those gaps have to do with general
aviation, that is, private planes and small boats. The very
trait that makes these attractive as modes of transportation
for people in the private sector also make them potential
sources of a threat.
We do worry about the fact that someone could lease or
occupy a private plane overseas and then use that as a way to
smuggle in a dirty bomb or weapon of mass destruction to the
United States. We do worry that, having locked the front door,
so to speak, against dangerous containers, someone could simply
put the dangerous cargo in a private ocean-going vessel and
take it into a U.S. port.
Therefore, I will surely be unveiling a plan to tighten
security standards for general aviation operators coming in
from overseas. This will involve, among other thing, conducting
more screening overseas and working with our overseas allies in
the private sector to enhance security measures to enable us to
screen for radiological and nuclear material before a private
aircraft comes into the United States.
We will begin this process in the very near future by
proposing a rule that will require private aircraft coming in
from overseas to send us lists of their passengers and crews
before they take off so we can vet them before they become
With respect to small boats, which I have indicated is a
potential threat vector, we are beginning a program--pilot
program on the west coast in the very near future to screen
small boats for radiological nuclear material. Our Domestic
Nuclear Detection Office has partnered with Seattle in the
State of Washington to equip local officials with radiological
and nuclear detection equipment and to test passive detection
equipment at key choke points in the Seattle harbor, port of
Seattle through which all the traffic, whether it be container
traffic or private traffic, has to pass. And as we work out the
operational details with respect to that program it is one that
we intend to roll out at other locations, including New York,
where we have our secure-the-cities effort to bring nuclear
detection capability into urban areas to make sure we have
another measure in which we can protect against a dirty bomb in
a big city.
Another initiative, of course, has been the need to protect
our infrastructure in the interior of the country. Last year,
we released our national infrastructure protection plan to
provide an overarching framework working with the private
sector take make sure we are protecting our infrastructure.
Through the individual sector specific plans we have identified
a couple of thousand key assets and are working to develop and
further implement increased protection for those assets.
In April of this year, we released a comprehensive
regulation to secure high-risk chemical facilities across the
country. We have also looked to protect the security of
chemicals in transit by reducing the standstill time for
railcars that carry toxic inhalation hazards around the
One example of how this partnership with the private sector
has been helpful I think can be illustrated by the recent JFK
airport plot. As part of the investigation leading up to the
arrests in that case, we worked with the private sector to
identify whether there were any vulnerabilities in and around
the pipelines that were the target of that plot to make sure
that we didn't have exposure should the plot be successful; and
that is an example of a partnership across not only the Federal
government but with local authorities in the private sector.
Finally, before I leave the issue of infrastructure, let me
say that one very big issue I remain concerned about is
cybersecurity. Much of what I can say about this is classified
and cannot be discussed in this setting, but I can assure you
that we are working with other elements of the Federal
government and giving the highest priority to putting together
an enhanced strategy with respect to cybersecurity that will
deal with a threat that has enormous potential to damage the
United States in the years to come.
Finally, let me turn to improved response capabilities. In
the wake of Katrina, I think we recognize the serious
deficiencies we have had over the last 20 years in planning for
and building the capabilities necessary to respond to a
catastrophic event, whether natural or man made. I am happy to
say we have dramatically improved our response capabilities in
the last couple of years under the capable leadership of FEMA.
I am also pleased to say FEMA is now at better than 95
percent staffing and that we have permanent, experienced
emergency managers in all 10 FEMA regions who are working
closely with their State and local counterparts. I think, as we
have seen in the run-up to some of this year's natural
disasters and natural events, we are much quicker, we are
moving much more rapidly to put capabilities in place in
advance of a storm, and I think planning is beginning to pay
Finally, let me talk a little bit about what you mentioned,
Mr. Chairman, in terms of where we stand moving forward. I want
to leave this Department with a legacy of a mature, well-formed
organization 5 years after this Congress created what is now
the third largest department in the United States government;
and I am pleased to say that as we get into the final lap of
the President's term we are very focused on continuing to add
personnel, including experienced career personnel at all the
senior agencies of the Department so that we do have a capable
transition team able to move into the next administration.
We are working to reduce to writing many of the lessons
learned, some of them painfully learned, over the last 2 1/2
years so the next team that comes into place under the next
President has the benefits of the experiences that we have had.
As far as my own plans, Mr. Chairman, all I can say is,
like everybody else in a Senate-confirmed position, I serve at
the pleasure of the President. So long as it pleases him to
have me serve in this position--and, of course, God willing--I
am happy to continue to do this job up until the very last day
of the administration.
For all of the reasons I have laid out here, I believe we
are much safer than we were prior to 9/11, but we need to
continue to work with Congress to make sure that we build the
tools and resources to adapt to new challenges as they come
about. Legislation such as the recent Protect America Act of
2007, which amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,
provides our intelligence professionals with the tools they
continue to urgently need to gather information about our
enemies and detect and prevent attacks before they happen. As
you know, the Act is temporary; and building on legislation
such as this is vital to continue the progress we have made so
Finally, I want to thank the 208,000 men and women of the
Department of Homeland Security. They deserve our support,
moral support, material support and our legal support as they
carry out their tireless commitment to safeguarding our Nation
24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And as we approach the sixth
year anniversary of September 11th we should not only continue
to support everybody in all agencies who work to keep this
country safe, we should recognize the heroism and dedication of
average Americans every day. Every month we hear stories about
people who see something that is suspicious and say something
about it, and time and again it is that alertness that turns up
dangerous threats and allows to us frustrate plots.
I want to thank the committee for inviting me here, and I
look forward to answering your questions.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. I thank you for
[The statement of Secretary Chertoff follows:]
Chairman Thompson. I remind each member that he or she will
have 5 minutes to question the Secretary. I will now recognize
myself for questions.
Before I do that, let me again remind, under the committee
rules, cell phones should be put on vibrate. We love the ring
tones, but they are quite distracting to the witnesses and the
members. And I will direct Mr. Twinchek that, if he hears them,
to go to the person who is violating committee rules.
Mr. Secretary, I was glad to hear that you say you plan to
serve until the end of your term. But I also heard you say you
serve at the will of the President. Perhaps he will, in
addition, promote you to another position. Have you--can you
share with the committee any thoughts on that?
Secretary Chertoff. I don't think, Mr. Chairman--it would
be presumptuous of me to try to speak for the President. It
would be presumptuous of me to discuss any conversations that I
have had with anybody at the White House.
I think I have stated my position. We all serve at the
pleasure of the President in the executive branch, at least
those who were Senate confirmed, and, of course, God has to be
willing that we complete our service as well. But I have
indicated what my intent is and, you know, we will move on from
Chairman Thompson. Let us take it a little step lower then.
Josh Bolten at the White House has indicated that he has
requested of certain senior members that they provide him with
a list of individuals as to whether or not they plan to stay
on. Have you been provided that request from the Department?
Secretary Chertoff. Are you asking whether I was asked if I
put--or whether I have asked others?
Chairman Thompson. No. For you to identify other people in
Secretary Chertoff. No, I haven't been asked to do that. Of
course, I haven't formally asked people in the Department
whether they intend to stay on in the sense of setting a cut-
off. I have, however, had discussions with the senior
leadership of the Department. I am confident that--again
subject to the two limitations of Presidential pleasure and
God's willingness--that the senior leadership team we have in
place does intend to stay on, and I think we will shortly be
filling the remaining gaps and vacancies, and I look forward to
having a continuity through the end of this--
Chairman Thompson. The reason I ask that, Mr. Secretary,
one of the, as you know, concerns expressed by members of this
committee is the inordinate number of vacancies; and if in fact
as we wind down this administration if that issue is elevated,
it creates significant vulnerabilities for this country. So I
am asking it in the spirit of you recognizing that it is a
concern and that to some degree you put together some plan
should that elevate itself to that level. I just put that out,
and I am glad to say that you are on top of it, and I hope it
does not become a problem.
Moving forward, the national response plan that was due
June 1st, that is now a national response framework. Can you
tell me at what time we can expect it?
Secretary Chertoff. Yes, we circulated--first of all, let
me say we solicited literally hundreds of people, including
many State and local responders, to have their input into this
next version of the old national response plan. We then sat
down and tried to distill all that advice into a document that
would be readable, internally consistent and, frankly, somewhat
shorter than the original plan that existed. We then circulated
during the course of the summer a draft final version of the
plan and received a lot of comments.
I am envisioning that this month we will be issuing the
national response framework in its final form. It will not
become effective immediately, obviously, because we will need
to then train people to it and exercise people to the new
framework; and I don't think we will want to do that in the
middle of the hurricane season. But we will have it at this
month, the month of September. In some ways, it will be--it's
not going to be a radical change from the improvements we have
already made, but I think what it will do is simplify and
clarify some of the ambiguities that we discovered over the
last couple of years.
Chairman Thompson. But you do recognize that it was due at
the beginning of this hurricane season, and we are not there,
and that is a major concern of the committee.
Project 28. You and I have had some discussions about why
we are 2-1/2 months late from the initial pilot on that
project. Can you give us any better time frame on Project 28?
Secretary Chertoff. Just to clarify for those members of
the committee who may not have been part of this discussion,
Project 28 is the first stage of this high-tech SBInet program
that we have for the board. It was designed to allow us to test
in real life--operational real life the way these systems work
not only individually but as an integrated package. That is the
cameras, it is the radar, it is the common operating picture
and the ability to coordinate all of those in an automated
We tested various elements of this system, and the original
plan was in the month of June to have the system at 28 miles of
the Arizona border, have it fully integrated and beginning
acceptance testing so we could make a determination that we
were satisfied with the product and take possession of it the
end of July.
Let me emphasize why the acceptance testing is important.
It is a little bit like buying a car. We didn't want to get
stuck with a lemon. So one of the lessons we learned from
watching some of the less appealing contracting experiences of
the past 10 years is that we should not accept something from
the contractor and take responsibility for it unless we had
really kicked the tires and not only taken it for a test drive
but really gotten to drive it around for a while.
So we did put this through acceptance testing, and although
the individual components of the system worked well the system
integration was not satisfactory. And, therefore, the customs
and border protection operators, the Border Patrol operators,
said we are not satisfied with the system.
We then had a series of what I would describe as frank and
candid conversations with the contractor, Boeing, including a
conversation I had with the CEO of Boeing and the conversations
we had at lower levels in which we explained our concerns about
system integration. We said, if this is not going to work, if
it is too complicated, we are prepared to go back to the
drawing board and do something simpler; and they assured us
that in fact it is not too complicated. This is all proven
They retooled their team on the ground and replaced some of
the managers at a very high level. They focused on this, and
they are now working through the problems of systems
integration as we speak. In fact, I spoke to the CEO about this
yesterday. We are now looking to begin acceptance testing in
about a month, meaning that is the point at which they will say
to us we think you can test us and we will then kick the tires
Here is my pledge to you. I want to get this thing done
quickly, but, more important, I want to get it done right. I am
not going to buy something with U.S. government money unless I
am satisfied it works in the real world. And if it can't be
made to work, I am prepared to go and find something that will
be made to work, although I will be disappointed.
I believe the contractor understands what is at stake in
getting this to work properly, and I think they put their A
team in place to do it. But my mandate to the head of the
Border Patrol is I want to make sure that the people who
actually have to operate it are satisfied with the way it
works, and that is what we are going to do. We are going to
start acceptance testing in about a month. We should get it
done well before the end of the year.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. But, on that point,
I want to say the day before June 15th rolled out, we were--we
had a hearing here and we were told the next day it would be
ready to go. The only thing I share with you is we are
concerned as well now it will cost the taxpayers more money.
Whether or not this technology is somehow not proven to be what
it is, if it is the contractor or whatever, that virtual fence
is absolutely important to our overall border security mission
and I would impress upon you that we need to do it.
Lastly, before I go to the next--the Simone contract, Mr.
Secretary, we understand is a sole-source, no-bid contract. The
committee staff has been trying to get a copy of that contract.
Your testimony said that the Department is going to be
transparent. If you would for the committee provide us with a
copy of that contract. We got a copy late last night, and it
was a redacted contract. It was not what we needed; and, in the
interest of just being as transparent as we can in the
Department, we need it.
I call your attention to your to-do list. I am sure James
behind you has already made a copy of it. He is a good person,
and I want to compliment him for the job that he does in
communicating with us. I look forward to it.
[The information follows:]
For the Record
Submitted by the Honorable Al Green, a Representative in Congress from
the State of Texas
Critical Vacancies at the Department of Homeland Security--
Develop a plan for the mass exodus that will occur due to an
Containers Security Standards and Procedures (seals)--Draft
the regulations as mandated by the SAFE Port Act of 2006 and mandated
again by the 9/11 Bill.
National Response Plan (NRP)--release long overdue NRP While
ensuring adequate input from state and local officials.
Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)--Issues
the TWIC card as mandated by the SAFE Port Act of 2006.
Explosives Detection at Passenger Screening Checkpoints--Issue
the strategic plan that was required by the Intelligence Reform and
Terrorism Prevention act of 2004 and mandated again by the 9/11 Bill.
Complete Critical Border Security Initiatives: Complete
Critical Border Security Initiatives: Implement US-VISIT biometric air
exit by the end of calendar year 2008 and complete Project 28
Chairman Thompson. I now yield to the ranking member for
any questions he might have.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, one integral part of H.R. 1 was the reform
of the Visa waiver program; and, as I understand the provisions
we adopted, it was to permit you to waive the Visa refusal rate
requirements for participating countries provided that the US-
VISIT exit system for air travel was implemented with a 97
percent rate of accuracy and to verify the departure of
international travelers. What is the status of that? Can you
give us a timeline? And any other comments you have on the Visa
Waiver Program, especially based on what happened in Germany
and Denmark in the last 2 days.
Secretary Chertoff. Let me begin by saying what happened in
Germany and Denmark and what happened in the United Kingdom
earlier this summer underscores what we have been saying for
some time, that the Visa Waiver Program, while a wonderful
program for the vast majority of people from the Visa waiver
countries who just want to just come here for tourism purposes
or benign purposes, does open a vulnerability. Because, by
eliminating the visa process, we lose one of the barriers to
terrorists or criminals that we would otherwise have. It means
we first encounter the person when they arrive here in the
U.S., as opposed to encountering them in a consulate overseas.
What the legislation this Congress passed does that is very
important is it allows us to put into place an electronic
travel authorization program. That is a program in which
everybody, even from a Visa Waiver Program, will submit some
information on line electronically in advance of travel. If we
determine that someone needs to be interviewed because they are
potential threats, we can direct them to get interviewed at a
consulate; and the vast majority will have an authorization to
travel over a period of time, whether it be a year or 2 years.
It will not be particularly difficult or inconvenient because
you can sign up for the program and then you will have an
authorization that will last for an extended period of time,
but it will give us something that we haven't had up to now
with the Visa Waiver Program, which is an advance ability to
check people who want to come into the United States. I think
as we see the enemy trying to exploit connections in places
like Western Europe to build a network of operatives, we have
to make sure we stay ahead of that.
With respect to US-VISIT exit, we later this year will
issue a proposed regulation that will cover putting in US-VISIT
exit at airports. That is obviously under the law of certain
required period of time for notice and comment, but our plan is
to begin the process of implementation next year and have it
completed by the end of next year 2008.
It is a very simple process as far as airports are
concerned. It simply requires taking the existing fingerprint
readers that we have and deploying them at kiosks or at check-
in counters for people who leave the country so that instead of
merely swiping their passports, which is what they do now, they
also put their finger down there. I will be honest and tell you
the airline industry will not be happy about it because they
will worry that it is an additional requirement or there will
be a line or something of that sort.
So I think it will be one of these issues that will test
our commitment to security. Are we prepared to take what I
think is really a minor inconvenience to give us a real picture
of who is leaving the country or are we going to back down in
the face of fact that people will say it is inconvenient? We
are committed to getting it done, and I appreciate this
Congress' support for that effort.
Mr. King. Mr. Secretary, one piece of legislation which
Chairman Thompson and I had sponsored and then became part of
H.R. 1 was something which basically encourages and allows
cooperation between the U.S. and our closest allies as far as
perfecting technology, Israel, Britain, Singapore, Australia
and four other countries that are mentioned. Can you tell the
committee what steps are being taken to accelerate that level
of cooperation and what you have in place and how you see that
Secretary Chertoff. I think it is very important--a very
important measure, Congressman King, because I think it not
only allows us to get the benefit and share the benefit of
technology with our close ally, but it also builds strong
I can tell you we are working now with the British on ways
in which we can further enhance technological exchanges of
information as well as general information exchange. I recently
signed an agreement with the Israelis under which we are going
to be able to work to get the benefit of some of their
expertise as well as giving them the benefit of some of our
expertise. So, working with our science and technology
director, we look to continue to accelerate the pace of this
kind of information and technology exchange with our friends
Mr. King. Mr. Secretary, I yield back.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much.
The Chair recognizes other members for questions they may
wish to ask the witness; and, in accordance with our committee
rules, I recognize members who were present at the start of the
hearing based on seniority on the committee, alternating
between majority and minority. Those members coming in later
will be recognized in the order of their arrival.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts for 5
minutes, Mr. Markey.
Mr. Markey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much.
Welcome, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. Secretary, there is a new report out today from the
Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. It is
on the Department's oversight of passenger aircraft cargo and
its conclusion is that security faces significant challenges.
This is the redacted version of this blistering, scalding
indictment of the Department's handling of a passenger--of
cargo inspection on passenger planes. Let me summarize some of
quotes from this report.
I am quoting now, that the current level of oversight does
not provide assurance that air carriers are meeting
congressionally mandated goals of tripling the amount of cargo
screened for passenger aircraft.
Quote, TSA information reported to the Congress regarding
air carrier compliance with legislative and regulatory
requirements may be inaccurate.
Quote, TSA security programs are not clearly written. TSA's
aviation security inspectors and air carriers to interpret and
apply the regulations do so differently.
In other words, Mr. Secretary, your existing program for
screening cargo going onto passenger planes is in a shambles.
Let me read a couple of other quotes.
It says that TSA is unable to make sure that third parties
such as air carriers or shippers are following the rules. It
calls into question TSA's ability to monitor and report air
carrier compliance and screening regulations. It says that
aviation security inspectors who are supposed to be monitoring
compliance with the current screening requirements are poorly
trained and lack the resources needed to do their important
So, Mr. Secretary, this is under the existing law. Now we
just passed a new, tougher law that I am the author of; and
what we have learned over the last week or so is that the TSA
intends not on physically inspecting all of the cargo which
goes onto passenger planes, 100 percent of which is required
under the law, but instead Kip Hawley, who runs TSA at the
Department under your leadership, is now saying that they are
going to do a modified version of what they are already doing,
that rather than having real screening for bombs looking inside
So what I want to know, Mr. Secretary, is, is your
Department going to follow this new law? Are you going to
require 100 percent screening of the contents of all cargo
going onto passenger planes? Or are we going to come back in
another year and have another blistering, scalding indictment
of this double standard where all of our bags are screened, all
of our computers are looked at, all of our shoes are taken off
but on the same plane goes cargo that has not been screened?
Secretary Chertoff. First of all, let me say the report in
question, and sometimes as happens with these reports, reflects
investigation and accumulation of information, some of which
goes back well over a year ago. So many of the things that were
raised in that report had already been corrected by the time
the report was published. In fact, I think it may be that TSA
itself asked for this kind of a study so they could begin the
process of fixing some of these issues themselves.
By way of example, I think your report talks about the fact
that there is an exemption for certain cargo being inspected.
That exemption was eliminated some time back.
Some of the hiring issues that are raised in the report
were correct. We have many more inspectors. Some of the issues
about clarity and protocols have been corrected with new
I want to, first of all, ensure the public that many of the
issues identified there have been happily corrected since the
period of time the matter was studied.
Secretary Chertoff. Now we do have a new law. We are
committed to 100 percent screening of air cargo. And you know
some of the speculation in the papers about what we are going
to do or not do, I think----
Mr. Markey. Are you committed to physical screening of the
cargo that goes on the planes in the same way our bags get a
Secretary Chertoff. A combination of either a physical
screening either by government inspectors or by certified
shippers who would have to conduct----
Mr. Markey. This report says that--in effect, you wouldn't
trust a shipper to go onto the passenger section of the plane
with their bags. Why would you trust a shipper to put cargo on
the very same plane?
Secretary Chertoff. Let me ask you a question, when you
flew down here from Boston to come to this hearing, you got on
a plane that was inspected by the private sector. It wasn't
inspected by the U.S. Government. Every day, people get on
airplanes where safety checks are undertaken by airlines or
Mr. Markey. My bags went through screening.
Secretary Chertoff. The plane itself, the engine, the
avionics of the plane were checked by the private sector.
Mr. Markey. My bags were checked for a bomb. The cargo is
not checked for a bomb.
Secretary Chertoff. My point is that while I agree with
you, we have to check all the cargo, I do not agree that
government inspectors have to do 100 percent of the checking
Mr. Markey. Mr. Secretary, my time is running out. All I am
saying is it sounds to me like the Department of Homeland
Security is cooking up a deal with the air cargo industry and
the airline industry in the same way that they cooperated with
them in the nonimplementation of the pre-existing law which
wasn't as strong as this law. And I am very concerned that
passengers in America thought that Congress was tightening the
laws so that every piece of cargo was physically inspected with
the same standard for bags. And what I am hearing is that you
were reserving the right to allow the air cargo industry to
continue to evade this law, as they have for the last 5 years.
Secretary Chertoff. I couldn't disagree more. I don't think
that is what I have said. I think what I have said is that we
do intend to execute the law and hold everybody to the standard
of checking. The one thing I have said that I guess you may
take some issue with is, that in much the same way that we
direct the airlines to check the airplanes themselves to make
sure they are airworthy, we are going to put into effect a
certification program that requires shippers to check packages
before they are palletized in shrink wrap so that we have the
same standard of protection. Now if philosophically there is a
belief where we cannot ever trust the private sector when we
tell them to do something, then I have to say, frankly,
Congressman, you have no business getting on an airplane
because we do not physically inspect every airplane.
Mr. Markey. No one trusts me to get on the plane without
checking my bags. That is correct. A Congressman should not be
trusted in a passenger cabin on the plane. But you should not
allow a shipper who is standing behind me in line because his
cargo is going on and you trust him----
Mr. Lungren. Mr. Chairman, are we under a 5-minute rule?
Mr. Thompson. I said we are flexible.
Mr. Markey. You are saying you have--you want to think
outside the box. That is okay with me, Mr. Secretary, as long
as you check inside the box. And right now, you do not have a
system that will check inside these boxes physically to make
sure that there are no bombs. And the public has to have an
expectation or else there will be a fire storm that comes from
this committee and others in congress that you are not putting
in place a law that implements the expectations of the American
people. Thank you.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. I now recognize the
gentleman from Connecticut for 5 minutes.
Mr. Shays. Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary I don't want
to spend too much more time on this issue. But as the chief
Republican cosponsor on this legislation, we first checked
carry-on. We didn't check the luggage that went into the belly
of the aircraft, and then we moved to screening all luggage. It
is the intent over 3 years to do a third, a third, a third. And
what we believe is that if we don't check the cargo, it is a
huge--a huge flaw in the system.
So what I am unclear about is if you have paid people to
inspect, and they aren't paid by the government but contractors
to inspect but a disinterested party, then I think you are
doing the spirit of the law. If you are basically saying the
shippers have to check their own cargo, then I get a little
concerned. And I want to make sure if you are saying that, we
need to put it on the record. But if you are saying something
different, then I would like to hear that.
Secretary Chertoff. That is a great opportunity to make
sure we are clear about this. Now obviously we haven't written
the regulation yet. So I am quite confident as we write the
regulation and we get into the details, there is going to be a
lot of pushback. So I don't want to jump the gun and start to
articulate all the fine details of the rule. The concept is
this, we do want to set for shippers who are prepared to
undertake the obligation clear standards for what they have to
do in terms of checking that which they are going to ship
themselves, make sure that that is validated by inspection of
their activities to make sure they are living up to what they
are supposed to do, and therefore--and that validation being
either by the government or by disinterested third parties so
that we replicate in general terms the system that we rely upon
for the safety of the aircraft.
Mr. Shays. But it can't be going back to the known shipper.
Secretary Chertoff. No. It is not the known shipper.
Mr. Shays. Well it seems to me that Mr. Markey raises a
concern that I think we will want to follow. But I can just
tell you, the belief of those who voted for this bill is that
we would have a disinterested party doing the inspection.
Secretary Chertoff. Well, I think that--as again, we will
see the rule as it comes out. And I am sure we will get
comments on that. I think what we are talking about is a model
where we have certification of the shippers and disinterested
validation of the shippers, and that this process works with
the same level of security and confidence that we use with
respect to other matters of life and death, such as checking
Mr. Shays. Because I probably won't be allowed to run over
as much, let me just get into another area. But I just want to
say, you have got my attention, Mr. Markey has my attention
because we know what we passed. And I am a little concerned
that it sounds too much like known shipper. But I would like to
ask you this question, we knew during the Cold War what our
strategy was. It was contain, react, mutually assure
Obviously that has gone out the window. I mean, there were
other aspects to it. It was we weren't going to let the
Russians beat us economically and so on. But I would like to
have you tell me what you think our strategy is, what the 9/11
Commission said. And by the way, I think it is a very
inconvenient truth that we are having to confront Islamist
terrorists. In other words, there is not just one inconvenient
truth in this world about global warming. This is an
inconvenient truth. What is our strategy? Tell me in your own
words what our strategy is to deal with Islamist terrorists?
Secretary Chertoff. In a nutshell, to reduce risks and by
doing it by looking at all elements of chain of risks. It
begins by looking at where the threat comes from. From the
extent it comes from overseas, obviously if you kill or
incapacitate those who are waging war, that reduces the risk.
If you keep out people who are dangerous by having secure
documentation and intelligence information, that reduces the
risk. In terms of homegrown terrorism, our ability to detect
and disrupt plots reduces the risk. Our ability--and maybe this
is a longer term issue to counteract radicalization reduces the
risk. And then it has to do with further layers of defense with
respect to the strategy. To the extent that we have targets in
this country, and we harden those targets, even if somebody
penetrates our defenses, we reduce the risk.
To use the Cold War analogy, if an enemy bomber gets
through the radar, then we want to have our most precious
assets protected in bunkers that can't easily be bombed. And
then finally the last element is having a vigorous response
program that can at least mitigate the damage done. And because
obviously we prefer there be no damage. But the less
consequence there is, the less harm there is for the United
States. So there is a continuum of risk, and we simultaneously
address all elements of that, some of them in my department,
some of them frankly are in the Department of Defense or the
Department of Justice or the intelligence community. But all of
them synchronized along that basic strategy.
Mr. Shays. Okay. Let me just close by saying that I think--
and I appreciate your answer. But I think part of it has to be
detect, prevent, preempt, and mutually assure--excuse me, and
maybe act even unilaterally. If a small group of dedicated
scientists can create an altered biological agent that can wipe
out humanity as we know it, even Jimmy Carter is not going to
wait for permission to deal with that threat. But I appreciate
your response. Thank you.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. The time of the
gentleman has expired. We now recognize the gentleman from
Washington, Mr. Dicks, for 5 minutes.
Mr. Dicks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Mr. Secretary, we
welcome you here again. I want to say--first of all, I want to
compliment you on moving towards a 10-fingerprint system. This
is something I advocated with others on this committee. It just
givings you more accuracy, and it is a much better way to go.
The 2print system is not adequate. The experts at the time said
that. I was surprised initially that the administration put
that in place. But I am glad that you are moving in the right
Now, one thing you also mentioned in your testimony about
small boats and an initiative out in Seattle, Washington. Can
you tell us more about that?
Secretary Chertoff. I don't have a map in front of me. But
as I understand it the way the port is configured in Seattle
is, it is possible to direct all the traffic through a fairly
narrow strait that brings you into the port. And the plan is to
put passive detection equipment, both fixed and mobile, in that
area so that we can identify vessels coming in that have
radioactivity and then pull them over into secondary and have
them inspected before they actually get into the port itself
where they could detonate it. The idea is essentially pushing
the perimeter out a little bit. Assuming this works
operationally, we would then take the concept to other ports
that are high-risk ports. Some of it is going to be more
challenging depending on what the geography is. Seattle happens
to be configured in a way that makes it a pretty good test bed.
Mr. Dicks. Good. I want you to also know, we are concerned
out there. We have the nation's largest ferry system and we
know that the ferry system has been surveiled. And we are also
concerned about the Cole-type incident with either the ferries
or we have ships you know aircraft carriers like the Stennis
that just returned where somebody could with a Jet Ski,
anhydrous ammonia create a major problem. We are putting a much
more secure system in with our trident submarines as they leave
Bangor because of that potential threat.
One of the other issues that I wanted to raise with you,
going to the US-VISIT Program, US-VISIT is one of the few ways
that the government can track the entry and exit of foreign
travellers, but it is not complete. As you remember, four of
the terrorists were people who overstayed their visas. Now,
what are we doing about that problem? What can you tell us
about that, about checking these people who overstay their
Secretary Chertoff. We have of course had biographic exit,
meaning you swipe your passport when you leave. So we do have
some capability to track people who are overstaying their
visas. The difficulty has been, how do you hunt those people
down? And what we tried to do is prioritize people who have
overstayed where we have some reason to believe they are a
threat to the country either because they are a terrorist or
they have committed a crime or they are somehow threatening in
some other way. I wish I could tell you that we have an
automatic way to track down everybody who overstays their visa.
We are a large country. And it may surprise some people to
hear that 40 percent of the illegals in the country actually
didn't come in over the southwest border between the ports of
entry. They came in legally and they failed to leave. What we
are hoping to do as we get US-VISIT automated is make it
available as a tool, and increasingly available as a tool to
State and local law enforcement so they can, when they interact
with somebody, identify that person as an overstayer and we can
get that person removed.
Mr. Dicks. Are you saying there really isn't an organized
program to check on people who have overstayed their visas?
Secretary Chertoff. I think there is an organized program,
but it is prioritized based upon the particular threat. In
other words, if a student overstays, we will look to see if
there is some particular reason we are concerned about that
overstay and then we will go to find that student. We have done
that for example with students from certain parts of the world.
Mr. Dicks. Could you give us a percentage, a number, how
many of these, of the people who are overstaying their visas
are checked each year?
Secretary Chertoff. I will supply that to you. I don't have
that off the top of my head.
Mr. Dicks. I would like to know that. I think we need to
know that because this may be another area that we need to
strengthen in terms of checking on these----
I find that in our office, a lot of the people who come and
have problems are people who have overstayed their visas.
Secretary Chertoff. I will say we know--it is not--the
difficulty here is not hard to know who overstayed. We know who
overstayed not 100 percent but largely. The difficulty is
finding them if they have overstayed. Because if you have
100,000 people who, let's say, have overstayed, they are not
necessarily staying in the same place----
Mr. Dicks. Do they have to stay where they are going to be?
Secretary Chertoff. They do. I have some experience dealing
with fugitives. It is not going to surprise you that many of
these people flee and hide somewhere else. And it is a big
country. So the challenge is when we are searching for them is
prioritizing to search for the people we are most concerned
Mr. Dicks. Just one final comment. I don't expect an
answer. I was somewhat taken back again when I looked at these
infrastructure lists that some of the key infrastructure in the
State of Washington was not on the list. And I made that clear
to the State officials and to your people. But it still worries
me that some of the key infrastructure was not listed. And it
is a classified matter so I can't get into it. But I just want
to bring that to your attention. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, during
the 9/11 conference, we sought information on visa waiver, and
overstays. And in light of what Mr. Dicks' questioning, we
basically were told that no system exists for identification of
individuals who overstay. So I look forward to whatever you can
get back to us to shed some light on that issue. It is a
problem, as your office has already identified, Mr. Dicks. We
now recognize the gentleman from Texas, Mr. McCaul, for 5
Mr. McCaul. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you,
Mr. Secretary, for being here today. And let me say it was an
honor to be with you in the Justice Department when you were
assistant attorney general. I believe whether you return to the
Department or stay in your current position, I know that you
will serve your country well. And you have served your country
well. I want to just echo the ranking member's comments on the
9/11 bill. As a conferee, we really tried hard to implement the
recommendation. It had to do with Congress providing a
principal single point of oversight. I know that you have had--
you have about 88 different committees and subcommittees. You
have had about 4,000 different briefings and hearings. And
while we have the responsibility of oversight, I believe we
need to conduct that in a responsible way. And I believe that
recommendation should have been implemented. I am sorry that it
was not. Your time is valuable. And I think you need to--you
need ample time to do what you were supposed to be doing, that
is tracking the terrorists and protecting the homeland. We had
a very important debate last month in the Congress. You
referenced to it.
But I wanted to get your--just your viewpoints not only as
the head of the Homeland Security, but as a head Justice
Department official, and that is the FISA modernization. I
worked on these FISAs, the national security wiretaps, when I
served. You had to be an agent of a foreign power in the United
States. What we were hearing is that even if you are an agent
outside the United States talking to someone outside the United
States in a foreign country, that we would still have to go
through the FISA court.
Fortunately after a lot of opposition and a very healthy
debate, we did pass that measure, and it was signed into law by
the President. But the fact of the matter is, intelligence is
the first line of defense in the war on terror. The old adage,
we have to be right every time. They only have to be right
once. Through your good work, we were able to stop the JFK
plot, the London arrests, and now recently we have heard in
Germany and Denmark the success. And people tend to forget
about these things.
We all remember 9/11. We tend to forget about the successes
we have had in stopping this. I don't know to what extent you
can comment on these two plots and what was entailed. And also
with respect to Pakistan, we have a very volatile situation
brewing where we have the military, Pakistani Army being taken
hostage by Islamist radicals. Obviously Pakistan has nuclear
weapons, and the idea of Pakistan being taken over by Islamic
extremists is of great concern to me and this Congress. So if
you could just comment if you will on the impact you believe
that this new law that we passed in the Congress, what impact
that will have with respect to your new job.
Secretary Chertoff. Well, first of all, let me echo what
you said about focussing oversight of the Department and this
committee. Not only is it a matter of saving time, but I think
this committee, and of course the appropriators who deal with
us, are the two bodies in the House that are best situated to
have a holistic view of what goes on here. And not to look at
the Department as an accumulation of individual components that
have, you know, where you have a little slice of jurisdiction
but where you really have the big picture. And oversight is
important, but it should obviously be disciplined and
coordinated oversight. And anything we can do to help support
strengthening this committee's ability to conduct its important
mission is something we would be happy to do.
I think as you know from your own experience, Congressman,
the best way to stop something bad from happening is to have
the intelligence detected so you can intervene. Otherwise, you
are relying upon your ability to spot something while it is
underway. And I think in the modern world, the ability to
intercept communications, both from my own experience doing
criminal cases and from what I have seen in the national
security areas, probably the number one tool. To use the
analogy Congressman Shays used earlier with respect to the Cold
War, this is like radar, and not to have this tool would be as
if in the middle of the Cold War we had said, we are going to
take our radar system down, and when the enemy bombers come
over, you see them over the horizon, then we will launch our
fighters. You would not have wanted to fight the Cold War that
I think it is important that the bill which Congresses
passed over the summer be extended and made permanent so we can
make sure that our intelligence community can have the
confidence that they will they will be able to use this tool
Mr. McCaul. And to the extent I have a little bit more
time, is it possible to comment or elaborate on the two plots
that were foiled?
Secretary Chertoff. I will limit myself just to what the
foreign governments have said. I don't want to step on their
toes. The Danish have confirmed that they saw al-Qa'ida
connections with the people that they arrested. And I think the
Germans have indicated that the people they arrested, the three
individuals were connected with Jihad Islamic union, which is
an affiliated group. And both countries have confirmed that
there was some training activity that occurred in South Asia. I
do think, as the National Intelligence Estimate said, we are
very aware and concerned about training activities in certain
parts of Pakistan. I think in the last couple of months, the
Pakistani Army and government has been more vigorous in
pressing on some of those locations where activities are taking
place. But I don't think we should underestimate the challenge.
You have groups of fighters who are collecting in Pakistan and
perhaps in other parts of south Asia, and in Iraq, frankly,
looking for safe havens in which they can train. And the more
space they get, the more efforts we are going to see like what
we have seen in Denmark or in Germany, particularly recruiting
foreigners coming from western Europe, training them and
sending them back in order to carry out missions. And it is
only a 6-hour plane ride from western Europe to the United
That is why we are working not only to build up the--to
toughen our visa waiver program up but we are working to get
more intelligence and more signals intelligence so we can help
our friends overseas protect themselves. Because that is good
for us as well.
Mr. McCaul. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. Following up on your
comment, Mr. McCaul, we will schedule a classified briefing at
the committee SCIF to talk on this very subject.
We now yield the gentlelady from California 5 minutes, Ms.
Ms. Harman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome, Mr.
Secretary. For my two cents, I hope you stay in this job until
the end of the Bush administration. I think it has been a tough
job for you and for the country. I think perhaps we were too
ambitious in the way we set up the Department. But nonetheless,
after the heroic effort you have made and the learning curve
that you have, I think it would be a disappointment if you were
to move elsewhere.
I would also just opine that should you move to the Justice
Department, I think you would spend a year and a half digging
out of a very deep hole. And I am not sure if I were you that
that would be something I would really want to do. You don't
need to respond. But I did want to put it out there.
I want to thank you on behalf of Los Angeles City and Los
Angeles County for enormous effort made to keep that part of
the country safer. I appreciate your three trips at my
invitation out there to look at the port, to look at the fusion
center, to talk to key people. I think it has made a big
difference. And when I hear you testify this morning, I hear
some of the material that we have discussed in the past and I
appreciate the effort that you are making.
I agree with others, and I certainly agree with Mr. McCaul
that the world is getting more dangerous. I want to commend the
Department for the involvement it had in Denmark and in Germany
and elsewhere with respect to the takedowns that just occurred.
And I did appreciate briefings by Charlie Allen on those
situations in my role as chairman of the Intelligence
subcommittee. But now let me make a comment and ask a question.
My comment is that you are right, that it is critical for
us to intercept conversations and e-mails in real time and to
find out whether foreigners or Americans are plotting to harm
us. But I strongly disagree that the best way to do this is
through the legislation that Congress just passed. I think that
legislation permits unfettered executive power, and I would
prefer to restore the checks and balances that the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act put in place 30 years ago, and
which, in my view, could be modernized and be a better way to
go to get the same information than the way we are going.
And so I am working on a bipartisan basis to see whether we
can amend the law we just passed to provide review by an
Article 3 court--and I know you understand very well that
Article 3 courts are separate from the executive brancH--of the
basic scope and parameters of the program to prevent any
executive, not just this one, but any executive in the future
from using what is a very valuable tool for the wrong purposes.
My question is this, in your testimony, you scarcely
mentioned intelligence, your written system and your oral
testimony. You mentioned it in response to Mr. McCaul. But the
9/11 bill, H.R. 1 spends a lot of time on intelligence. And one
of the things that it does is to try to improve the way the
Department and our Federal intelligence community shares
information with State and locals. In fact, it compels their
participation in the National Counterterrorism Center through a
means that we have agreed on called the Interagency Threat
Assessment and Coordination Group, the ITACG and with the
purpose of making certain that intelligence products
incorporate their views of what they need and the form that
would be useful to them.
So my question to you is, would you like to elaborate your
testimony on the importance of information sharing vertically
with state and locals?
Secretary Chertoff. And I didn't mean to slight it. Often
when you get into discussion of intelligence, then you wind up
getting into classified matters, so you really can't talk about
the value of it except in generalities. Let me say that I do
think that vertical intelligence sharing--I think we have done
quite a good job horizontally with intelligence sharing. Unless
you want to elaborate on that I won't get into that. Vertical
intelligence sharing, particularly using fusion centers, is I
think the next big step forward. And our vision is to have, you
know, 20 to 30 fusion centers with our--having some analysts
embedded in the fusion center before the end of the President's
Part of what we are trying to do is enable and empower
local and State law enforcement to use the tools of
intelligence themselves in order to detect particularly
homegrown threats, which they are more likely to be able to
detect than we are because they are very low signature, they
are not going to have necessarily international communications
involved. And in order to do that, we do need to have an
ability through the ITACG, I guess is the way we would say the
acronym, to understand what the customer is looking for.
We have identified some people, some State and local law
enforcement people who are currently assigned to DHS, to send
over, and we are looking to have this stood up this month. I am
hoping that as we develop the concept we will get greater and
greater enthusiasm from more and more State and local law
enforcement people for participating in this process. I want to
be careful in how I say this, but I do want to give you one
anecdote that supports this. My understanding is that because
of the South Carolina fusion center, we were rapidly able to
determine after the initial stop of the two south Florida
students in South Carolina that this was a matter that would be
of interest to a broader community than just the local traffic
And I think that that is a great example of how a fusion
center should operate. It should take something that my might
ordinarily, you know, traffic police might shrug his shoulders,
and it gives that--creates a vehicle for sharing that
Ms. Harman. Well, I thank you for that answer. I would
commend to you, Mr. Secretary, H.R. 1955, based on your
testimony, which was unanimously--I believe unanimously
reported by this full committee on homegrown radicalization. We
think that commissions should be set up to study this carefully
to understand the specific point of which someone who may be
radical--being radical is permitted under our Constitution. But
committing radical violent acts is not. We want to understand
that the point at which someone changes. And I hope your
Department will take a look at it, and I also applaud your
support of the fusion centers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for
allowing me to go over my time.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. We now recognize the
gentleman from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis.
Mr. Bilirakis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much. Good
morning, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. Secretary, last month, two students at the University
of South Florida, close to my congressional district, were
arrested in South Carolina, charged with carrying explosive
devices. One student has since been indicted by a Federal grand
jury with transporting explosives while the other was charged
with transporting explosives and helping terrorists by aiding,
teaching and demonstrating the use of an explosive device in
furtherance of an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of
violence. I know you can't comment specifically on the case.
But there are several questions that need to be answered as
soon as possible to better understand the larger homeland
security implications of this matter. And I would like to ask
these questions. To what extent is DHS working in conjunction
with DOJ to determine whether this is an isolated case or
whether there could be connections between these individuals
and suspected terrorists or terrorist groups?
Secretary Chertoff. In every case like this, not only DHS
and DOJ, but the intelligence community from the very moment
that something is detected, the first priority is to see what
are the connections and linkages between the people who are
looking at and anybody else? So I can guarantee you that from
the, you know, literally the day of the arrest, priority number
one was to examine any connections or linkages between
individuals arrested and anybody else that might pose a threat.
Now sometimes they turn out to be, you know, innocent linkages.
But there is nothing that we could do that is more important
than getting our arms around the full scope of a network if we
focus on a particular threat.
Mr. Bilirakis. Thank you. Does DHS have the ability to
monitor whether those here on student visas are actually
complying with the terms of those visas and not simply using
them as a way to gain entry into the country for other
Secretary Chertoff. We do to a limited extent. We rely upon
the school. Once someone gets a visa, and they are supposed to
enroll in a course of study and be attending school for a
certain amount of time. If someone falls out of that status
requirement, the school is obliged to notify us, and at that
point we will pick up the student and deport the student. Many
schools live up to that. Some schools do not. We have, from
time to time, run operations to validate whether schools are
complying with the rules or not. And in cases where we have
found people for example out of status and it wasn't reported,
we will obviously find the person and deport them.
Most schools try to honor their obligation. There are some
that do not, and we have actually I believe yanked the
privilege of hosting foreign students from some of the schools
that are not living up to their end of the bargain.
Mr. Bilirakis. I don't know if you will know the answer to
this question, but I need to know how many foreign students
have entered the U.S. since 9/11 and enrolled in classes but
not subsequently attended them? And if you don't know that
question, if you could please provide that to us, maybe other
members of the committee would be interested as well.
Secretary Chertoff. I will get back to you on that.
Mr. Bilirakis. Okay. Thank you. There are several different
Federal agencies that process and monitor the entry of foreign
students in the United States. My understanding is that
potential foreign students must satisfy the DOS consular
officials abroad and DHS inspectors upon entry to the United
States, that they are not eligible for visas under the
Immigration and Nationality Acts, grounds for
inadmissibilities, which include provisions regarding one's
past criminal history.
What criminal acts would preclude the issuance of a visa or
deny entry into the United States of a nonimmigrant foreign
student? And I understand that this may apply in this
particular case that I am speaking of.
Secretary Chertoff. I don't think I could give you a
comprehensive list off the top of my head. Obviously felonies
would be a disqualifier. I don't know what misdemeanors would
be. And there may be some variations in legal systems that make
it a little bit complicated to categorize something as a felony
or a misdemeanor.
Mr. Bilirakis. Can you please provide that information to
Secretary Chertoff. Yes.
Mr. Bilirakis. I would appreciate it. Do you believe that
there is proper coordination and sharing of information between
various Federal agencies responsible for the admission and
monitoring of foreign students in the schools which they are
attending? And you did touch on that. Can you expand upon that?
Secretary Chertoff. I believe there is very good sharing
among Federal agencies. I don't think it is perfect or
flawless. And given that you are dealing with thousands and
thousands of people coming to the U.S. every year, just human
error is going to result in problems once in a while. I think
the harder issue is in dealing with the schools. I think some
schools are reluctant to report students who drop below their
course requirement or make themselves absent because they don't
want to see themselves as enforcement tools for the U.S.
Government. I think that the danger is that that creates a
vulnerability in the program. And as a consequence, we do have
to sanction schools. And I am not hesitant to do so.
Mr. Bilirakis. That is good to know. Thank you very much.
Appreciate it, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. We now yield 5 minutes
to the gentlelady from Virgin Islands, Ms. Christensen.
Mrs. Christensen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome, Mr.
Secretary. Before I ask the question, I just wanted to let you
know that on a positive note that I see that we have an Office
of Health Affairs, and we had an opportunity to meet with Dr.
Rungy a few months ago and see his mission and his jurisdiction
becoming clearer and they have good goals, measurable
objectives. And while they have probably still a few vacancies,
I think that if all of the other directorates and offices were
coming together like that, the Department would really be in
That being said, I still have a health question. And we had
a hearing on May 15 where FEMA Director Mr. Paulison was here,
and the chairman asked him then about formaldehyde in travel
trailers. He had assured us at that hearing that there were no
problems. Of course now we know differently. The committee also
wrote to you recently asking if you planned on conducting a
health assessment to determine whether or not the trailers are
a problem and whether the people living in them are at risk.
Could you tell us what you have done on that or how you plan to
ensure that the trailer occupants are safe?
Secretary Chertoff. Let me begin by saying, and I know you
know formaldehyde is a common building material. There probably
is formaldehyde in the room here. And there is no--somewhat to
my surprise, there is no standard for the acceptable level of
formaldehyde in travel trailers. People have drawn analogies
based on OSHA and other standards. The doctors I have talked to
say that is really an imperfect analogy. So we don't really
have an actual standard.
We have asked the Centers for Disease Control and EPA to
put together a protocol to test and set a standard to determine
what would be a safe level. But I didn't want to wait for the
scientists. So I very clearly said a few weeks ago in New
Orleans, if anybody is in a trailer and is concerned about
formaldehyde, either because they are uncomfortable physically
or because they are just because they are just anxious about
it, we will get you out of the trailers, no ifs, ands or buts.
We will put you someplace else. We will have to find
alternative housing, it may not happen immediately.
Those in greater distress, we will put in a hotel. We got
about 1,000 people out of the total number that are left that
requested to be moved. Ironically, we also got a significant
number of people who asked if this meant they wouldn't be able
to buy their trailer because they wanted to keep the trailer.
For the time being, until we get a satisfactory scientific
answer, we will not sell or give trailers away. And I think for
this year, we are not going to rely on trailers. I have always
be been skeptical of trailers certainly as a group housing
solution. I think it is a very bad solution. So we will err on
the side of safety here and look for alternative housing if
people need to have that in the event of a catastrophe.
Mrs. Christensen. I do think that in addition to asking
what EPA and CDC can tell you what a safe level of formaldehyde
might be, CDC, through their agency for toxic substance and
disease registry can do health assessments to see if there is a
problem and work backward from there, and I think that would be
Secretary Chertoff. We have a 1-800 number where people can
call up to get information. And if they have any questions
about health, they can refer to a CDC person who will answer
their questions and help them through the medical process.
Mr. Dicks. Just for a brief comment. A lot of people--some
people have allergies, and the people that react to this have
Mrs. Christensen. I guess it was when you did your second
stage review you put TSA, Border Patrol and ICE directly under
you in your reorganization. And I had questions about that at
that time. Can you tell me how that has or has not improved
their collaboration and their operation? And if you plan to
continue that going forward or are you planning to change that?
Secretary Chertoff. No. I think that has actually worked
very well. Let me give you a couple of concrete examples. First
of all, we have created something called viper teams, which
started out as a mobile TSA security unit, a quick response
team that we could use to do surge security operations. And it
has worked so well that we have expanded it to have a DHS viper
team so we have Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard and
TSA working together to train and deploy mixed teams, depending
on the particular environment. We have done similar kind of
cross training and cross-exercising with respect to Coast Guard
and Customs and Border Protection at our seaports where we
literally have interoperability between Coast Guardsmen and
Customs and Border Protection on inspections. All of this is
part of a big element of what we are trying to do with the
departments, which is try to build one DHS with interoperable
Instead of having done it with this middle layer between
the Secretary and the Deputy and the component heads, the way
we work now is we have something we call the gang of seven,
which all of the operating heads meet once a week either with
the deputy or with me and we all discuss common policy issues
and problems. And that is the way in which we actually make
sure that the component heads are constantly talking to one
another and we are getting the benefit of that collective
wisdom. So I have to say I think this was a good thing. It
flattened the organization, it actually promoted cross
And more and more we see the components themselves seeking
out opportunities to plan and work together. Last thing, if I
can be real quick, a big lesson for the Defense Department in
Goldwater-Nichols was jointness. We have a management directive
now that basically tells people who want to be SCS that in
order to make their application more attractive for Senior
Executive Service, they should plan to spend a rotation out of
their component either in a joint activity of the Department or
in another component to kind of build the sense of jointness.
So this is what we are doing to kind of build that unity.
Mrs. Christensen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My time is up, I
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. We now recognize the
gentlelady from Florida, Ms. Brown-Waite, for 5 minutes.
Ms. Brown-Waite. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. I can only imagine
putting together so many different agencies under one umbrella.
It is kind of like herding cats. It is not an easy job to do.
There recently was, I believe, it was a GAO report, and I
meant to bring it down with me to be able to actually quote it
correctly, and I left it up in my office. But that said that
customs lacks the ability to track cargo supposedly going
through the United States. In other words, it comes into a port
and it is then transported supposedly either to Canada or to
Mexico, or possibly even over to the west coast. So we are
losing a lot of Customs money that should be collected because
these items are actually being dumped in the market in the
United States. Are you familiar with this report?
Secretary Chertoff. I don't think I have seen that report.
I can find it and I am sure the head of--the commissioners of
Customs and Border Protection has seen it if it is out there.
Ms. Brown-Waite. Okay. If you could get back to us on what
is being done to remedy this, number one. And number two, let
me relate it to the potential dangers of some of the trucks
coming in from Mexico. And if we can't track the cargo that is
supposed to be going through the country, not being dumped into
the country, I don't think that a lot of Americans have a lot
of warm fuzzy feelings about the trucks coming in through
Mexico as to what the contents may very well be.
Secretary Chertoff. Well, this I should make clear. In
terms of trucks from Mexico, the new rule about trucking
doesn't change what has always been the case, which is we
inspect the cargo that comes in, and we target the cargo for
inspection, you know, in the same way we do for any other
cargo. All that the truck rule does is instead of offloading
the cargo 25 miles inside the U.S. to a U.S. trucker, it allows
the trucker to continue on into the interior. I know there are
issues that are raised about the safety of the drivers, those
fought with the domain of the Department of Transportation. But
from the standpoint of the security of the cargo, allowing
Mexican drivers to drive into the interior does not change,
does not relax or in any way modify the existing security
Ms. Brown-Waite. Do you not see a correlation between the
cargo that we can't track that gets dumped into our economy
because of a lack of a system there and a problem?
Secretary Chertoff. Not having seen the GAO report, and I
don't know if they were talking about land ports of entry or
sea ports of entry, I don't think the existence of--I don't
think whether the trucker is Mexican or if they get a new
driver to come in at 25 miles in necessarily tells you anything
about what happens with trans-shipments. But I am flying a
little in the dark because I don't have the GAO report so I
probably will get back to you.
Ms. Brown-Waite. If you could get back to the committee,
that would be very helpful. Let me ask another question, and
that is sanctuary cities are an insult to law abiding citizens.
If the Federal Government cut off any Federal aid to sanctuary
cities, do you think that this would help stem the illegal
Secretary Chertoff. I think--you know people use the term
sanctuary city in different ways. So I am never quite sure what
people mean. Some cities have a policy that if somebody comes
in and is the victim of crime, they are not asked about their
status. Others may go further and not report felons who are
illegal to us to be removed. I think that is actually very a
foolish and counterproductive policy. I am not aware of any
city, although I may be wrong, that actually interferes with
our ability to enforce the law. I certainly wouldn't tolerate
I will tell you I think there is a proposal in one location
to prevent us from using basic pilot in the city, and we are
exploring our legal options. I intend to take as vigorous legal
action as the law allows to prevent that from happening,
prevent that kind of interference.
In terms of funding, I don't have the authority I think--I
mean let's assume we have homeland security funds for
particular city, I don't know that I have the authority to cut
off all homeland security funds if I disagree with a city's
policy on immigration. And of course, I have to say that the
consequence of that might be to put the citizens at risk, you
know, in the event of a natural disaster or something which--I
don't want to put people's lives at risk. But I do think where
the law gives me the power to prevent anybody from interfering
with our activities, we will use the law to prevent that
Ms. Brown-Waite. Mr. Secretary, I am not just referring to
funds through your Department, but say transportation money,
any Federal funds that would flow into a city that sets itself
up as a sanctuary city, if that were done, do you think that
there would be less of a tendency for areas to be considered
Secretary Chertoff. I have to say, honestly, I don't know
what the reaction would be depending on what was cut off. I
think it would depend on the city. I mean I could probably
guess there are some cities, they would become more stubborn.
Others might change their policy. It is hard for me to guess in
Ms. Brown-Waite. Thank you. I yield back the balance of my
Mr. Thompson. Thank you very much. We now recognize the
gentlelady from Texas for 5 minutes, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome Secretary
Chertoff. Let me, first of all, quickly congratulate you for
the increased numbers of border patrol. I think we have spoken
about that over the years post-9/11, and a number of us had
comprehensive immigration reform that included adding upwards
of 15,000 or more border patrol agents. And you are certainly
making that particular journey. Let me also acknowledge--and
because our time is short, the anniversary of Hurricane
Katrina. And I imagine that FEMA, under your leadership and
Director Paulison who, by the way, was particularly attentive
and responsive during the number of threats and continued
threats of hurricanes, that it has now moved to HUD.
My simple question, or my simple point on the record is,
New Orleans remains a calamity. The gulf coast remains a
calamity, and pushing it from one agency to another solves no
problems. And I just want to put that on the record for a
possible brief comment.
But I want to focus on aviation. And I am very glad that
Department of Homeland Security has itself recognized that
transportation modes remain an attractive and conspicuous
target for terrorists.
The JFK incident, and then, of course, in the last 48
hours, the discovery of the German plot. It is comforting that
you have discovered that even though general aviators mostly of
great means oppose any intervention, it is crucial that we
assess the general aviation industry. And I might suggest we go
further. I have videotape showing the complete penetratable
opportunity in small general aviation airports across America.
And frankly, I look forward to our committee and my
subcommittee looking at this question very carefully. So I ask
you the question about general aviation as a whole, the
airports which are without security and can be penetrated. I
would appreciate your response to that.
Let me finish one or two other points. The TWIC card has
been difficult. It is about to be rolled out. There are
benchmarks. Workers are concerned. They want to know what the
procedures are. Are we going to remove people from their
ability to provide for their family simply because they have
had a traffic ticket or some other infraction? We need to be
able to balance the homeland security with the civil liberties
and civil rights of our workers. Then I know that there has
been a legal action taken. But let me lay on the record for you
the difficulty with the progress or the plan for the employee
verification. I hate for people to mix apples and oranges and
suggest how the Social Security process of employer
verification is going to substitute for a comprehensive
immigration reform and of course catch all the terrorists in
What it is going to do is to put restaurants out of
business, it is going to put all of these small businesses who
really need an extended period of time. So I have written the
President asking for an extended assessment to see how we can
ensure that we have homeland security, but we have a
verification process that does not eliminate huge segments of
the business community and not big businesses but restaurants
and small construction contractors who are trying to do their
best to answer this question.
So I would appreciate your answers to the questions I have
laid out, and particularly with the focus on aviation security
in the general aviation area. Thank you very much.
[The statement of Ms. Jackson Lee follows:]
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for convening this important hearing
today regarding holding the Department of Homeland Security accountable
for security gaps. I would also like to welcome our witness today, the
Honorable Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland
The purpose of the hearing today is to receive testimony from
Secretary Chertoff regarding his tenure as the Secretary of the
Department of Homeland Security and his plans for the future of the
Department during the time remaining in this Administration. Under the
Homeland Security Act of 2002, The Department of Homeland Security and
its Secretary are responsible for preventing and deterring terrorist
attacks and protecting against and responding to threats and hazards to
the nation. In examining the performance of the department, several
pressing and critical issues rise to the surface. Along with the
progress the Department has made under Secretary Chertoff?s leadership
I remain very concerned about several critical issues which have not
yet been resolved.
First and foremost, no organization with a mission as critical as
the DHS with a mandate to protect our citizenry from terrorist threats
can afford to have a vast number of critical vacancies which still
exist at DHS. In addition to the high critical vacancy rate, an issue
of particular concern continues to be the number of important programs
that have not met their deadlines. Also, recognizing that the need to
stay ahead of the terrorists requires intelligence capabilities, one of
my concerns regarding the Department is that while it develops
intelligence and data-sharing capabilities, it should try to stay true
to our essential American values such as preserving the privacy of our
With regards to the critical vacancies continuing to exist at DHS
and affecting its mission, the July 9, 2007 report of the Majority
Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security entitled, ?Critical
Leadership Vacancies Impede United States Department of Homeland
Security? found that nearly one quarter of the senior leadership
positions located in the Department of Homeland Security are vacant.
According to the report as of May 1, 2007 there were 575 senior
leadership or ``executive resource'' positions at DHS1. One-hundred and
thirty-eight of these were vacant (24%).
48% leadership vacancies at the Asst. Sec. for Policy
47% leadership vacancies at the Office of Gen. Counsel
36% leadership vacancies at the Asst. Sec. for
34% leadership vacancies at US Citizenship and
31% leadership vacancies at FEMA
31% leadership vacancies at ICE
29% leadership vacancies at the Coast Guard
The report brings to the surface another unsettling pattern by
establishing that an unusually high number of critical positions at DHS
are filled by political appointees rather than career professionals.
The quadrennial Plum Book by the Office of Personnel Management, states
that ?as of September 2004 the 180,000-employee Homeland Security
Department had more than 360 politically appointed, non-career
positions. These political appointees serve at the pleasure of this
President. Therefore, at the conclusion of this Administration, each of
the positions currently filled by a political appointee will become
vacant. It is possible and in many cases preferable to have employees
in career civil service position fill these executive level positions.
For instance by way of contrast, the Veterans Affairs Department--the
government's second-largest department, at 235,000 employees--had only
64 executive level political appointees. And the Defense Department--
far and away the largest department in the government, at 2.\1\ million
employees, including military and civilian--counted 283 appointed, non-
career positions. That figure includes political appointees at the
Army, Navy, and Air Force. Inexplicably, instead of seeking to reduce
this over-reliance on political appointees, DHS' own reports show that
since 2004, it has often added more political positions to its ranks,
and more frequently, than other large departments.'' \2\
\1\ The terms ``senior leadership and executive resource'' refers
to those positions in the highest salary bands of the Federal
\2\ ``Homeland Security could face transition problem'' by Shane
Harris, National Journal June 1, 2007
I should note that the types of jobs filled by political appointees
are of a critical nature. However, with an eye on the inevitable
transition from the current administration to the next, the critical
mission of the Department could be secured only if the department has a
solid foundation consisting of career civil service professionals. I am
concerned that with such a high ratio of political appointees with deep
professional roots in the homeland security field, the American public
could be made more vulnerable by the heightened disorganization and
dysfunction caused by the precipitous departure of the current
inordinately high number of political appointees.
Another issue of great concern to me is the great number of
critical DHS programs that have missed their deadline for completion.
The inability of DHS to deliver on time with regards to such critical
items as providing a strategic plan for detection of explosives at
airports or missing the February 2007 deadline to create the DHS Office
of Emergency Communications certainly reveals the Department?s security
gaps that Congress and this Committee has ht to address.
Similarly, the inability of DHS to make progress regarding vital
homeland protection programs such as SEAL (Container Security and
Procedures) and the National Response Plan, aimed at all-hazards
approach to manage domestic incidents, suggests that the Department is
not doing enough to protect the American public from very real threats.
As I have spoken in this Committee and the Committee on the
Judiciary, while intelligence gathering is a critical tool in our
efforts to combat terrorism, we must not sacrifice our American values
in the process, especially constitutionally protected rights of
Given the unprecedented amount of information Americans now
transmit electronically and the post-9/11 loosening of regulations
governing information sharing, the risk of intercepting and
disseminating the communications of ordinary Americans is vastly
increased, requiring more precise--not looser--standards, closer
oversight, new mechanisms for minimization, and limits on retention of
inadvertently intercepted communications. I have expressed these
concerns during our recent debate about FISA and share them with you
here now in the context of our discussion focused on DHS. The mission
of the DHS will not be properly executed, unless all safeguards are in
place when it comes to preserving our fellow citizens' fundamental
rights to privacy which are increasingly encroached upon, I am afraid,
by an aggressive expansion of DHS' intelligence sharing and data-
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I look forward
to Secretary Chertoff's testimony. I yield the balance of our time.
Secretary Chertoff. I agree with you, general aviation is a
concern. And in particular, we draw a distinction between
aircraft that are, I think, 12,500 tons and those that are less
than that. There is a certain cutoff because of the danger that
the aircraft itself with the fuel could become a much more
effective weapon as opposed to a smaller thing like a Piper
Cup. What we are looking to do is begin with the biggest
threat, which is a possibility of somebody smuggling something
in from overseas.
We do have, through TSA, an ability to use security
directives to tighten up on security at airports. And we are
also looking at the possibility of some additional regulations
with respect to vetting crews and who are flying in private
aircraft, particularly in the larger private aircraft. Again, I
mean, there seems to be a proliferation, particularly in very
small light aircraft, and we are going to have to draw the line
somewhere between aircraft that are a serious threat because of
their size and their weight of their jet fuel and aircraft that
are sufficiently light, like that unfortunate plane which had
the incident in New York last year with Cory Lidle, where if it
was a hidden ability, it would be bad, it wouldn't be a
On the TWIC card, I can assure you traffic tickets are not
a disqualifier. The regulation we put out does list the crimes
that are disqualifying. Some of them are disqualifying for life
like treason or terrorism. Some of them are disqualifying if
you have been convicted or served a sentence within a certain
number of years. Some of them are not disqualifying. By way of
example, there was a recent incident where, I think, a trailer
truck overturned on an overpass in San Francisco and caused
damage to the bridge. And it turned out to the driver had some
old drug conviction and then some people said well, why did you
let this person drive? Why can they get a commercial driver's
Again, I have to say we are going to have to balance. We
are not going to treat every misdemeanor drug possession as a
disqualifier. On the other hand, if someone has been a
racketeer, they are not getting on the docks. So we are going
to draw the line somewhere between those two. On the no match
issue, I actually--obviously we have got a legal case here
which I think may delay us a little bit.
I am convinced that this is not going to be a problem for
legitimate workers. In fact, for people where there is a
clerical error, it is going to be to their benefit to find that
out and correct it so that they don't wind up 20 years from now
not getting benefits they are entitled to. The larger question
you raise is what is going to happen in those industries where
it turns out that there is a lot of illegals being employed?
And the answer is that is going to be a hardship. And I don't
think I have been--I think I have been pretty open in
acknowledging that fact. But here is what I can't do. I can't
not enforce the law. We have told--we told Congress frankly you
ought to find a way to address this issue.
Congress has not yet acted. The one thing I can't do, and I
think this is the root of the problem we have had over the last
20 years is for us to simply close our eyes to the problem and
get everybody off the hook by not enforcing the law. And then
what happens is people turn to the agencies and they say the
agency is derelict in its duty, the agency is failing. It is
not fair to my agents to put them in that position. I have to
tell my agents, I am going to support you in enforcing the law
100 percent even if it turns out there is going to be some
Secretary Chertoff. In the end, I think we are going to
find this issue of immigration reform is a matter that has to
be revisited, and I hope that it can be revisited. I don't
claim to have the perfect solution. I hope it can be revisited
sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we will carry out
our oaths to execute the laws.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Chairman, my last sentence simply is
comprehensive immigration reform should be called upon by the
administration, you should take the lead because what you are
doing is destroying innocent families caught up in the illegal
immigration, undocumented immigration system and probably
undermining huge numbers of small businesses. And I yield back.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. We now yield 5
minutes to the gentleman from Alabama, Mr. Rogers.
Mr. Rogers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome back. I am glad to see you. I understand in your
earlier testimony--I just came from the Armed Services hearing.
But I understand that you had already testified to the border
patrol training status.
Secretary Chertoff. Yes.
Mr. Rogers. We, according to your testimony, now have over
14,000 trained border patrol agents.
Secretary Chertoff. That is correct. We have sworn in over
Mr. Rogers. And I understand further that your testimony
was that within 16 months, at the end of 2008, we are going to
hit the threshold of 18,003 that you have been targeting.
Secretary Chertoff. Correct.
Mr. Rogers. That is admirable. I am pleased to hear that.
That is an area I paid a lot of attention to and I hope that
you are you right and you all hit that target.
But what I want to talk to you more specifically about
today is canines. You have talked to this committee before
about that and you have already expressed your respect for that
asset and its efficiency and effectiveness. As you are probably
aware, in the 9/11 Commission Act that we passed and was signed
into law by the President, it requires the establishment of a
national explosive detection canine training team and gives you
180 days to get that set up and begin producing these dogs. Do
you know where that program is at present?
Secretary Chertoff. I don't. I do have to obviously say, as
you know, money has to be appropriated in the 2008 fiscal year
for this. So we don't yet have a bill. So obviously all this is
contingent on Congress appropriating the money. Other than
that, in terms where we are in the planning on that I would
have to get back to you.
Mr. Rogers. If you would. One of the things that I found in
my visits to the various border ports of entry is that we are
grossly understocked in canine assets. And because of that
rotation of the dogs on and off, many of the spotters watching
folks come across the border are able to alert their clients as
to when is a good time to come across. So that is not
acceptable. But we also found recently when I went down to
Mississippi for a field hearing that they don't have enough
cadaver dogs either in service.
One of the things I would urge you to consider is in
addition to explosive detection dogs and of course dogs that
can detect drugs we could look at cadaver dogs as well. As you
know, post-Katrina, 9/11, the various hurricanes, we always
have a need for this and we can establish some real
partnerships with local governments to maintain them, be called
into service when necessary.
From my understanding, these are very inexpensive dogs to
train. They don't require the same sophisticated breeds, which
brings me to the second point. And that is, in touring the
various facilities around this country and seeing the teams,
both in the Department of Defense and in Homeland Security, I
find that most of the dogs that we have in service are obtained
from overseas. We don't have a sufficient level of breeding
programs here domestically. These dogs are brought in primarily
from Germany and Holland and places such as that. And we urged
in the bill that you all try to find ways to obtain an adequate
source but also look at possibly establishing domestic breeding
Is that something that you would feel comfortable pursuing,
given that we have an over reliance of foreign sources for
Secretary Chertoff. First of all, I have a high opinion of
the dogs and I would be, again subject to appropriations, happy
to see what we can do to increase the supply. I recognize that
not all the dogs succeed in training so you have to breed more
than you can deploy. Time and again they seem to be in terms of
reliability, portability and usefulness, about the top of the
line on a whole variety of functions, human smuggling, as well
as explosives and things of that sort.
So I would certainly be interested in pursuing whatever we
can legally do. Some of this would be the Department of
Agriculture, to promote breeding of these dogs.
Mr. Rogers. Within your TSA organization, you have got some
pretty sophisticated technology research going on at Lackland
and there is other research going on domestically. But I am
concerned about the fact that we are relying so heavily on
foreign imported dogs and that frankly many of our allies in
Europe are also. And that is just not prudent in my view.
I want to change gears. Recently, Chairman Carney and I had
a field hearing on agriterroism in Pennsylvania and we had the
Department's chief veterinarian testify before us. And we were
concerned at the fact that he only had one full-time employee
beside himself in there and some pretty aggressive planning and
policy making goals set before him. And I understand that by
2010 he is to have 37 people. I know the challenges you have in
getting personnel into the Department. But can you speak to
this specific instance and what you think you can do to step up
Secretary Chertoff. The foundation for setting this up--and
let me lead by saying we recognized early on that we needed to
have a focus on health and that involved not only human health
but animal health and food safety which tend to be linked
together. Now obviously the real expertise is in the Department
of Agriculture and the FDA. But we needed to have our own
capability, particularly through a system which is the
integration of all of the intelligence. We now have an Office
of Health Affairs set up. We put a veterinarian as the number
two. And again subject to appropriations, and we have asked for
a budget for this year that would grow that office. We are
looking to expand it, not because we want to supplant the
Department of Agriculture, because in doing our planning and
coordinating for incidents we want to make sure we have enough
in-house expertise so we can do it in an intelligent way. At
the same time through our Operations Coordination Division and
the President's Incident Management Executive order, we do have
Department of Agriculture and HHS expertise on issues like food
and animal health participating in our integrated planning and
our incident management if we have an incident. So we can draw
upon those existing resources to supplement what we have.
Mr. Rogers. Thank you, sir.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. We now recognize
the gentleman from Pennsylvania for 5 minutes, Mr. Carney.
Mr. Carney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Mr. Chertoff.
Good to see you again. Back in February the Comptroller General
and the Department's IG testified to Congress about
difficulties they were having in getting DHS to cooperate with
their work and response requests in a timely manner. In fact,
my subcommittee investigated these allegations. And Mr. Rogers
and I held a hearing in April to address these concerns. Your
Department committed then to rectifying two of the GAO's
primary concerns, the difficulty in getting access to documents
and to program officials. Yet we are here almost 5 months later
and the GAO has reported to my subcommittee staff that at the
day-to-day level, nothing has improved. Even worse, at the
senior level DHS appears now to be refusing to address the two
primary difficulties they had previously committed to fixing.
In fact, the nonpartisan GAO says of all of the Federal
agencies and entities it deals with, DHS is by far the worst
when it comes to cooperation and timeliness.
Perhaps, Mr. Secretary, when you meet with the Gang of
Seven on your weekly meetings--I think it is a great idea by
the way--you could please bring this up. I mean, it is
imperative that we do our job and you have to help us in that.
And timeliness and the cooperation is essential. So I would
like to ask for your assurance that this is going to happen,
Secretary Chertoff. I also have to say that if there is a
particular issue that they have they are free to bring it to my
attention. I am always a little surprised when I hear a
complaint that comes in a roundabout way as opposed to somebody
picking up the phone and calling me.
Mr. Carney. We have your phone number. That is good.
Secretary Chertoff. And as far as the Controller General,
if he has an issue about a particular matter.
Mr. Carney. Good. Okay. We will remind him as well that
they can call. Also, I was surprised to see no mention in your
testimony of the upcoming TOPOFF exercises, TOPOFF for--we know
that large scale exercises like TOPOFF IV generate lots of
experiences and lots of insights and lessons learned. Certainly
from my background in the military we call that--my
understanding is that the after action report for TOPOFF III
was completed about 6 months after the exercise; is that
Secretary Chertoff. That sounds about right.
Mr. Carney. Yet it took another year at least for your
office to review and to approve it for release. I checked with
committee staff yesterday and they still haven't received a
Secretary Chertoff. I will find out where that is. The
reason I didn't mention TOPOFF was not because it is not
important, it is because there is a limit to what you want to
read about in my testimony. Not only do we think these are
important, but I personally participate in these and I
encourage my Cabinet colleagues to do it and the President
encourages them to do that because we do recognize the value of
these exercises. I will find out where it is in the process.
Mr. Carney. Great. Because TOPOFF IV is right around the
corner and we would like to have them in a timely manner, again
those reports and the insight and the lessons learned, et
cetera. We all have a job to do and we have to cooperate and
make sure we protect this Nation, sir.
Secretary Chertoff. I agree with you.
Mr. Carney. I appreciate your efforts. I yield back.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. I appreciate you
assuming the responsibility of the calls from Members on
reports, but as you know, most of those come forward with the
timeline already in existence. And I think it would help us if
you would, without the extra communication from us, just
implore your people under you that these timelines are not
going away and we have to meet them. That is what we are
Secretary Chertoff. I have done that. Let me be clear. We
have actually put a very focused effort on accelerating the
pace of our response to congressional reports, and I think we
are doing better because I have been tracking it. I think this
was a much narrower issue having to do with GAO feeling that
somehow they disagree with either how quickly we are responding
or whether they agree or disagree with whether we are giving
them the information they want. And as I was beginning to say,
if the Controller General has an issue with this, he can call
me. I am not hiding from him. I do direct that we cooperate.
And I recognize sometimes GAO wishes we didn't have lawyers
present. We feel we need them present and that is a
disagreement. But I was not aware there was a particular
problem or general problem with what they perceived as
cooperativeness, and if the Comptroller General wants to raise
that issue he should say to me I have a problem and be specific
Chairman Thompson. Chairman Carney would like to make a
Mr. Carney. Just briefly, Mr. Secretary. When we request
and the committee actually requests from DHS some documents, we
are told we have to go through a process. I don't know that we
should have to do that, sir. We are the oversight committee and
we should be able to see these documents, in fact, unredacted.
I mean, we had that earlier. We just brought this up an hour
ago or so. But still I think this is part and parcel to a
larger problem, that you want the transparency and so do we
certainly and then we must work toward that.
Secretary Chertoff. I will find out about that issue.
Mr. Carney. Thank you, sir.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. And we will follow
up on that because in the interest of transparency, and Mr.
Carney is chairman of the oversight committee, we need a
reasonable time frame to get information and once committee
staff on the majority or minority side request it, it is just
like it is coming from the committee.
Secretary Chertoff. I understand.
Chairman Thompson. I will now recognize the gentleman from
Washington for 5 minutes, Mr. Reichert.
Mr. Reichert. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, good
to see you again, thank you for being here. I just want to make
a general comment to start out with.
We had talked about lawyers and laws and policy and reports
and hearings, all those things that we are all involved in. But
really the bottom line is that when it gets down to doing the
job the people in your organization are the people that we
depend upon to do the job, and I know early on, a couple of
years ago, when we began the discussion about Homeland Security
in 22 departments and almost 200,000 employees, there was a
morale issue. And I know that has been touched upon a little
bit. I think Congress need to do a better job. Having you and
your department report to 85 committees and subcommittees is
ridiculous, and we need to do something about that. How is
morale, though, in your organization today and are those 22
departments finally coming together and looking at themselves
as the protector of this Nation?
Secretary Chertoff. Let me say, first of all, we have
looked at the question of morale. It was kind of a negative
report out a few months back. I asked management to do a more
in-depth survey and try to understand what was positive and
what was negative about morale. One positive statistic that
came out more recently is apparently, putting to one side TSA,
our turnover is lower than average of Federal departments and
even TSA compares favorably with the private sector among those
areas of industry that do the same kind of work. So that is
positive. But I have made a big focus for management here to
try to understand what we can do to build morale.
As far as unity, though, I think there we have made a lot
of progress. As I said earlier, we now plan to integrate across
the Department. Our intermodal security team, our VIPR teams
which began as a TSA operation where we brought people together
to do surge security has now become a DHS-wide operation.
Interestingly--since we are talking about the State of
Washington--as a consequence of some of the issues with the
ferry system, we put a DHS VIPR team, Coast Guard and TSA and
FBI working jointly together, planned and executed in the
Seattle ferry area. And we are--and increasingly the components
themselves are finding opportunities to plan and train jointly.
Customs and Coast Guard are now interoperable in a number of
ports with respect to how they deal with ship boardings and
things of that sort.
Our airframe platforms for helicopters in Customs and
Border Protection and Coast Guard are now the same. And through
this so-called Gang of Seven mechanism, the chief operating
officers of each of the components, or CEOs of each of the
components, meet weekly with either the deputy and/or me to
talk about common issues and common approaches.
Finally, we have a management directive now that strongly
encourages those who want to be applicants for Senior Executive
Service to serve out of their component, either in a joint
activity or in another component, as part of building their
resume for the purpose of becoming an SES. This is a concept we
borrowed from DOD through Goldwater-Nichols.
Mr. Reichert. I am glad to hear that. I sensed that myself
as I traveled around and visited the different fusion centers
across the country, and I think there is a partnership that is
very strong amongst the partners in the fusion center which
makes up the Federal agencies, DHS included. You know, we in
the King County sheriff's office use the Coast Guard platform
for our helicopters. So there is a partnership there and I
think as we look at the canines and further partnerships with
locals, I think that would be a great opportunity for us.
But just if I could touch on one more thing, Mr. Chairman.
In H.R. 1, we allowed the States and localities to use Homeland
Security grant funding for hiring intelligence analysts. Is
that program moving along? Where do you see that today and into
the future, here in the near future?
Secretary Chertoff. Well, we will allow use of Homeland
Security money to hire intelligence analysts and we are also
embedding--we are looking ultimately to have between 20 or 30
of our own analysts embedded in fusion centers around the
country and we also we have developed a fellowship where we are
bringing law enforcement people from State and local government
into DHS not to simply represent their community, but to
actually work here for a period of time and get the benefit of
the experience and the expertise they develop here before they
go back. So I think--I mean, the best value we can get in terms
of particularly detecting homegrown threats is to enhance the
capabilities of State and local intelligence gathering so that
they can detect the kind of thing that we won't pick up with a
satellite or overseas communications.
Mr. Reichert. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And thank you, Mr.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. We now recognize
the gentleman from North Carolina for 5 minutes, Mr. Etheridge.
Mr. Etheridge. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you,
Secretary. Welcome. With an agency so broad and so diverse and
so much to take care of, I commend you. It is difficult. But I
want to shift a little bit because all of the issues are
important. We are in the midst of hurricane season, another
major area of your Department. And right now we just missed
Dean hitting Texas and Central America is being devastated
again by the second hurricane, Felix.
Can you share with us briefly, Mr. Secretary, as a result
of the high alert that FEMA went on in DHS as related to Dean
in the wake of the near miss after the fiasco of 2 years ago
where we--what our preparedness was then and what gaps do you
think still remain in our preparedness. Because there is
another disturbance now churning in the Caribbean that could
very well turn into one that we might not miss next time.
Secretary Chertoff. This is my least favorite time of year
now. I think Dean was actually a good exercise in terms of
where we are and to take us out of the realm of simply planning
exercise and training and into the realm of actual operations.
What we did during the period of time when we thought there was
a real risk of Dean hitting south Texas is we worked--first of
all, the President authorized a pre-disaster declaration so we
could fund prepositioning of items in advance of the hurricane.
That was not an authority that existed or was exercised 2 years
ago during Katrina.
The second thing that we did was we had partly through some
prior work with the Texas emergency authorities quickly
identified gaps that they had in terms of capability to
evacuate people with compromised medical positions, making sure
they had adequate buses for people who didn't have
transportation, making sure we had an airlift plan for people
that we wanted to be able to move further away. And we actually
were able to either preposition or have readily at hand the
assets necessary to do all of that work. And we kept them in
place until the point in time it came that we were confident
that this storm was not going to hit and then we released them.
So that was a good exercise and frankly a pretty dramatic
illustration of the benefit of advanced planning which we did
not have 2 years ago. So I think those capabilities are there.
We did move into place communications equipment as well as
interoperable communications equipment, mobile communications,
trucks and those, of course, have now been returned to where
they are typically housed, Thomasville, Georgia, or elsewhere.
So I think it was a good fire drill. No doubt--as they say,
no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. But I
think it is a much better plan than it has ever been.
Mr. Etheridge. I would like to ask you about the FEMA
Reform Act which passed Congress overwhelmingly. How would you
assess the Department's progress in implementing those reforms,
and I am particularly interested in the Department's ability to
make those changes with--in connection with how DHS is going to
implement the 9/11 Commission that the President signed last
month? Because all of these things coming together at once, I
know you can, as someone said, you can swim and talk too, but
we need to make sure this is so critically special when this
season is at its highest level right now.
Secretary Chertoff. There is no question we had a little
bit advance sense of the FEMA Reform Act. So we did put some
preparation into effect to do the transition. As I said
earlier, we are over 95 percent fully staffed at now FEMA. We
have permanent people heading each of the regions. We have got
GOG planners in the regions.
So I do think we have got that implemented. And the 9/11
reforms will be another challenge. We are going to get that
implemented too. But I guess underlying the question is you are
accurately recognizing that every time we have a reorganization
there is a cost in money and time. And it is easy to always say
every time there is a change, oh, let us reorganize again. I
think we are at the point now where we would benefit greatly
from a pause in organizational churn to allow us now to not
only implement, but to really get people acclimated to the
current structure, which is a good structure. I am not saying
it is the best of all, but I think it is good and it needs a
chance to work.
Mr. Etheridge. I will close, Mr. Secretary, and I will say
as you look at the number of vacancies across the Department
along with the political appointee vacancies, I would encourage
a lot of attention be paid to that in the months and time to
come so that at the end of this term of the President there is
not a big gaping hole as we try to continue to make an agency
work in the broad section it has to work with. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. We now recognize
Mr. Brown of Georgia for 5 minutes.
Mr. Broun. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, we
haven't had the opportunity to meet yet. I am Paul Broun from
A few moments ago you were talking about the illegal
aliens. In your testimony you said you changed from having a--
excuse me--You have changed from having a catch and release
program for the non-Mexican aliens to catch and remove. Now,
does that mean that you are still doing the catch and release
type program for the Mexican aliens?
Secretary Chertoff. No. First of all, as you say this is at
the border. Mexican aliens--we have always removed them because
it is really something we do in 24 hours. You catch them, you
fingerprint them, you photograph them and you send them back.
The problem with catch and release came because non-Mexicans--
we couldn't just put them back across the border in Mexico. We
had to send them back to their country of origin. And it took
so much time to arrange that that we ran out of bed space. So
what we did was we cut the amount of time to remove people,
increased the number of beds, we managed the beds more
effectively, and that allowed us to get to the point that now
everybody caught at the border who is eligible to be removed is
detained until their removal occurs.
Mr. Broun. So this is all illegal aliens, they are removed
Secretary Chertoff. Right.
Mr. Broun. The next question is under the interpretation of
the 14th amendment babies of illegal immigrants that are
delivered here in this country, the so-called anchor babies,
are being given citizenship. Do you believe that this amendment
is being interpreted correctly? And then second, do you believe
that legislation like the Birthright Citizens Act that I am a
cosponsor of would have a measurable impact on decreasing the
magnet for these people to come here?
Secretary Chertoff. I can't say I have studied the law
enough on this to give you a legal opinion. I will say that one
of the issues when we debated comprehensive immigration reform
that we did focus in on as part of the proposal was this issue
of whether people would try to have children in the country in
order to bring extended families in. And the suggestion we had
was to actually transition the system from one that is based
principally on family relationships to one that is based on
work or other considerations.
So as you look at this issue, the question may be not so
much whether you legally can affect citizenship or people born
in the U.S., but whether you extend the privilege to someone
born in the U.S. of the legal parents, whether you extend them
the privilege of bringing in their family as under the existing
immigration laws. That isn't a 14th amendment problem. I think
that is just a question of how you write the immigration laws.
Mr. Broun. Well, in my opinion, first thing they shouldn't
be granted citizenship to begin with. I think this is an
improper application of that amendment. And hopefully one of
these days we will get the Birthright Citizenship Act put into
law so that there won't be any question. But I believe it is,
at least in my area of Georgia, a strong impetus to bring
people into this country illegally. And these people are
draining the health care system. I am a medical doctor and I
know the health care system is being drained tremendously in
our area. The educational system is being drained tremendously.
And I hope that the administration will help to promote the
Birthright Citizenship Act so we can bring a legal
determination of this and stop this flow of these illegal
aliens into this country.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you and I yield back.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much, Mr. Brown. We now
recognize Mr. Green of Texas for 5 minutes.
Mr. Green. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I thank you, of
course, and the ranking member for hosting this hearing. It is
exceedingly important. Mr. Secretary, it is an honor to see you
again. And I know that you have a tough job and I would like to
talk to you for a moment, if I may, about some deadlines and
timelines. In fact, timelines can become deadlines or they can
be lifelines and I have before me a document that if we were in
court I would say do you recognize this and can you tell me
what it is.
Secretary Chertoff. I see it up here. I haven't gotten my
Mr. Green. Having an opportunity to see it before, I
suppose I could share this one with you.
Secretary Chertoff. I actually can't read it.
Mr. Green. May I approach, Mr. Chairman?
Chairman Thompson. Please.
Mr. Green. In court I say Your Honor.
Chairman Thompson. You may approach.
Mr. Green. Thank you. I have checked off items 3, I
believe, and 4. And I would like to as a predicate indicate
that there is an adage that one must plan one's work and work
one's plan and a corollary of this adage is a failure to plan
is a plan to fail. Number 3 on the checkoff list which is
styled, I believe, the Chertoff checkoff list, Number 3 on that
list deals with the NPR, National Response Plan. And for
edification purposes, there was a deadline or timeline I
believe of initially June 1, 2007 that was extended to July
1st. And it is my belief that we still do not have a final
National Response Plan in place. The National Response Plan is
of vital importance, as you and I will agree, because it
coordinates the efforts of the State, the local, the tribal
governments and the private sector if we should have a
dastardly deed perpetrated by some human or if we should have a
national disaster comparable to Katrina, which we just
celebrated the second anniversary of.
So the question that we have to embrace, Mr. Secretary, is
that of the timeline and what assurance do we have that we can
have a timeline that we can be assured of?
Secretary Chertoff. First, let me say we actually do have a
national response plan in effect currently as we speak. We
updated it and retooled in light of Katrina in 2006. That
remains in effect. The new national response plan which we
actually called the National Response Framework, we completed
the draft about a month or so ago. We circulated it--this was
the product of a lot of work among State and local
stakeholders. We then wrote it up, circulated a draft, received
comments and I expect the final version to be circulated this
month. It will not immediately become effective, of course,
because once you issue the plan or the framework, people have
to then train to it and exercise to it and we don't want to
actually do that in the middle of hurricane season. So
everybody has been told if the existing NRP remains in full
force and effect through this hurricane season, the new
framework will come out this month and then people can train
and exercise to it for next----
Mr. Green. If I may, Mr. Secretary, am I to assume that the
end of this month, which, of course, is September, at the end
of September, we will have the new plan that we were--we were
indicated would occur--indicated to us would occur in July and
then before that June?
Secretary Chertoff. Yes.
Mr. Green. Now, moving to another topic if I may. The TWCC
cards. Some of our friends in labor have some concerns about
the TWCC card. One concern is the cost, of course, and the
second is who will bear the cost. But more importantly, the
whole concept of one accepting the responsibility for the cost
and how this will in the long run impact one's commitment made
because many times we start out anticipating that we will pay
an initial cost, but then other things are added on to it and
what became a cost for a card becomes a cost for a number of
security measures. Will the TWCC card first of all be--the
ports be announced to us at any time soon, what 10 ports, and
will this be just the first of many fees that will be imposed
Secretary Chertoff. I don't think it will be the first of
many fees. We are going to start issuing these cards beginning
I think in Wilmington, Delaware this fall. We should have 10
ports done by the end of this calendar year.
Mr. Green. Quickly I will say this. Much is said about the
southern border, but much also should be said about the
northern border. The 9/11 hijackers did not come in through the
southern border. The Millennium bomber did not come in through
the southern border. Mr. Ressam had his foray into Europe and
decided he wanted to covertly come back into the country. He
did not come in through the southern border. Northern border.
At some point I think we have to make it abundantly clear to
the public that the southern border, while it is important, it
is not the border of paramount importance to the exclusion of
the northern border, to the exclusion of the Virgin Islands,
which is the southernmost border.
So if you would quickly, tell me how do you plan to handle
the northern border and how do we plan to let the public know
as well that the northern border has a great importance to us?
Secretary Chertoff. I couldn't agree more. I think that we
do have to be mindful of the northern border and I say that
recognizing that Canadians have been great partners on law
enforcement and intelligence. That is why we have been very
aggressive with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, to
make sure we do have secure documentation for people who are
coming through our ports of entry. We have put more assets up
on the northern border. Now, the flow in the northern border
tends not to be between the ports of entry but through the
ports of entry. But we do find that--for example, I think Peace
Bridge in Buffalo has the highest number of terrorist watch
list hits of any land port of entry, meaning people that we
pick up and we send back. So although I think the strategy in
the northern border may be a little different than the
Southwest because of the flow between the ports of entry, the
security concern is every bit as important. And that is why
even though we get pushed back sometimes frankly from some of
the communities in the north, we are insistent on continuing to
raise security measures on the northern border as well.
Mr. Green. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back the
balance of my time.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Since you mentioned the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, we are going
to give the lady who knows more about it than probably anybody
else here, the gentlelady from New York, Mrs. Lowey, for 5
Mrs. Lowey. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to as
this hearing winds down express my appreciation to the chairman
for holding this hearing and the fortitude of our Secretary and
all of us who are here to pursue these very important issues.
So I thank you very much.
Before I get to my question, which concerns FEMA and Indian
Point in Westchester County--and we can talk about the Peace
Bridge another time. I just wanted to review again--and I am
glad that you have the to-do list, because as an appropriator,
I know firsthand that all of these items on the list have been
funded adequately and we are concerned that there is still
critical vacancies at the Department that should not exist;
two, the container security standards and procedures should be
put into place immediately. There is funding for it. There has
been mention by my colleague of the National Response Plan or
Framework. This is really serious because as you know not only
do many of the Federal agencies not have the plan, State and
locals don't have a final plan. And if you are expecting them
to follow certain routines, they should have the final plans.
And this has been discussed. I won't go into it again. I would
hope this can be concluded immediately.
Also there has been mention of the TWCC cards. I just want
to say in my contact with current workers at the port they are
very concerned about bureaucratic problems. They are very
concerned as to the speed of an appeal process. So I think it
important that we move ahead on this issue. Again, this has all
been funded. And there must be a strategic plan for explosives
detection at passenger screening checkpoints as required by the
9/11 bill. I am very concerned about this issue. My
constituents are very concerned about this issue. Again, there
has been funding for this.
And lastly, I would hope that you could properly implement
the US-VISIT programs and Project 28, which has been referenced
by our Chair. I don't understand why this is taking so long.
But since I want to get to FEMA and Indian Point, we can
discuss this at another meeting. We certainly can't complain
that delay in implementing these programs is for the lack of
proper funding. As you know, they have been funded.
So with regard to Indian Point, FEMA, which is under your
jurisdiction of course, has a role in reviewing emergency plans
for nuclear facilities. And this is of particular interest to
me as an incident at the Indian Point nuclear facility located
in New York metropolitan area could adversely affect 15 million
people living within 50 miles of the plant. Entergy Nuclear
Northeast owns and manages the plant. They missed three
deadlines to provide FEMA with information to test its warning
sirens. And I won't go into all of the other problems at this
plant. Most recently the person in charge of the command post
was found sleeping. There have been leaks, real problems there.
But this is related to FEMA and the sirens. This is just
Last month I wrote a letter to FEMA Administrator Paulison
urging an expedited review of operational data related to the
emergency notification system at Indian Point after Entergy
finally submitted the information. And this is just one recent
example of FEMA allowing Entergy to operate a nuclear facility
without adequate emergency planning. Former FEMA Director James
Lee Witt, the State of New York and local emergency managers
have asked FEMA not to certify Entergy's emergency plan but
FEMA has inexplicably certified its response plans allowing it
to continue to operate.
To me this is a failure of leadership and an utter
disregard for the safety of the community. FEMA and the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission should not allow a nuclear plant to
operate if none of the surrounding jurisdictions have
confidence in emergency response plans and if the plan has no
way of warning its employees or the general public of a
If you can tell me, why does FEMA certify emergency
response plans for a nuclear plant such as Indian Point when
those charged with implementing the plant have no confidence
that they will be affected?
Secretary Chertoff. I am going to have to take up with
Administrator Paulison exactly what the sequence is with
respect to Indian Point. Obviously in certifying plans, the
capability of warning is an important element of the plan. I
don't know how Indian Point satisfied FEMA on that point if
they did. I will have to get back to you on that.
I do want to make sure, though, I make one point clear so
there is no misunderstanding. There is a national response plan
that is final and in effect as we speak. It is the plan that is
currently in existence. The new plan which is coming out this
month will not be effective immediately because we will have to
train and exercise to it. But I don't want anybody in the
emergency management community to be under any illusion. If
tomorrow we had an event there is a national response plan
which everybody has, has trained to and exercised to, and until
such time as a new plan becomes effective that is the final
plan that is in effect.
It is the same way as when you pass a new law, you know,
the old law remains until the new law is effective. So I don't
want anybody to be confused in the community out there.
Mrs. Lowey. Well, if we can get back to FEMA, or if you'd
rather get back to me on that, that would be fine.
Secretary Chertoff. I will on Indian Point. Let me get back
to you on that.
Mrs. Lowey. Again, on the issue of the emergency response
plan, there seems to be some confusion, certainly in the
reports I am getting from State and locals. So thank you for
clarifying. I would hope the word can get out.
Secretary Chertoff. We will push that word out.
Mrs. Lowey. One other point. On September 11th, American
Airlines Flight 11 flew over Indian Point en route to the World
Trade Center. And in 2002, al-Qa'ida stated that a nuclear
plant was initially set as a target. In 2003, former FEMA
Director James Lee Witt wrote an independent report that found
major deficiencies in the emergency preparedness plans in this
facility, Indian Point. That is why I have introduced
legislation with my Hudson Valley colleagues that would grant
DHS the authority to declare a no-fly zone over Indian Point.
Now, this would extend the same authority DHS has to implement
no-fly zones for special events such as the Super Bowl to
nuclear facilities. It seems to me if you can do it for the
Super Bowl, you can do it for the nuclear facility.
Do you consider the operations of a nuclear facility in the
most popular region of the country a risk worthy of examination
Secretary Chertoff. I think of all the sectors we deal with
in infrastructure protection, certainly the top tier things to
worry about are nuclear facilities now. A lot of that work is
done through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which we treat
as the government lead on this, but we--I have had, myself and
others, have conversations with the NRC leadership to make sure
that in terms of issues like design and required safety
measures, they are constantly upgrading what they do. Because I
do agree that--although I think it would not be the easy thing
to attack or destroy a nuclear plant because of the measures
already in place, this is an area where the consequence is so
great we need to be a little more focused than we might be on a
movie theater or restaurant.
Mrs. Lowey. Thank you very much. I thank you for your
generosity and I thank you for your comments, and I look
forward to continuing the discussion on the items on the
checklist and your review of a potential no-fly zone over
Indian Point, again which affects 15 million people in a 50-
mile radius. And I thank you very much again. We are all aware
of the tremendous responsibility you have, And I do hope you
stay here too.
Secretary Chertoff. Thank you.
Mrs. Lowey. Thank you very much.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. I also have in my
district, Mr. Chairman, an Entergy nuclear facility and I think
Mrs. Lowey has kind of struck something that I would ask that
you provide the committee with whatever compliance requirements
that FEMA and DHS has in its authority for all of the nuclear
plants we have in the country.
Secretary Chertoff. We will do that.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you. We are now yielding to the
gentleman from Rhode Island for 5 minutes, Mr. Langevin.
Mr. Langevin. Mr. Secretary, thank you for testifying
today, for your patience. I know it has been a long morning. I
know one thing is for certain, you have been waiting to get to
my questions. And since I am last, I will be brief. I wanted to
just say I basically agree with your philosophy that rather
than trying to eliminate risk, that we need to basically try to
reduce and manage it--that should be our strategy. As the
chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats,
Cybersecurity, Science and Technology, that has been my
philosophy. I put it in terms of identifying those clear
vulnerabilities and to then moving quickly to close those gaps.
It would be difficult, if not impossible to protect against
every contingency. I am pleased that you touched on in your
testimony two of the things that concern me right now the most,
and that is the issue of nuclear weapons or nuclear material
potentially being smuggled into the country, and that is why we
need to have the radiation portal monitors deployed as quickly
as possible, making sure that they are operational. Also you
addressed the issue of cyber security. So those are the two
areas that I wanted to focus on.
We have held several hearings in my subcommittee on the
deployment of radiation portal monitors. I have great respect
for the work that Director Oxford is doing. I have had the
opportunity to travel to California. I have seen the radiation
portal monitors in action. I recognize that it is vitally
important that we both have the detection in place, that we can
detect nuclear material if it is being smuggled into the
country. Equally important, that we are not slowing down
commerce or interfering with commerce. And it looks like we
have a good plan in place. We are anxious, of course, to get
the ASP deployed as quickly as possible, make sure that they
obviously can do what they say they can do.
That is--we wanted to go with my first question. I would
like to discuss the certification process of DNDO's advanced
spectroscopic portal program with you. This program is
important to our nuclear protection capabilities and we must be
assured that the review process is conducted with the highest
levels of scrutiny. While I am supportive certainly of your
recent decision to have techno experts from outside DHS conduct
an independent review of the ASP program, I am concerned about
a few aspects. Again as chairman of the subcommittee
responsible for oversight of the ASP program, let me assure you
that I don't intend at all to interfere with the investigation.
However, it is essential that Members of Congress have
information about the members of this panel, I believe, and
their backgrounds and their qualifications.
So my question and my comment would be by disclosing the
makeup of the review panel, I believe you will increase the
confidence the American public has in this process, as well as
the committee itself. Would you please provide the committee
with the list of members that make up this review panel? And if
you can't provide the list now, can you assure us that you will
do so by the end of the week? That is the first question.
The second thing I wanted to ask is in May I, along with
members of this committee, sent a letter to GAO requesting an
independent review of the ASP program prior to certification,
recognizing that GAO is going to be involved at some point. I
am a big believer--before we go ahead in spending an enormous
amount of money, $1.2 billion, let us hear what GAO has to say,
let us dot our I's and cross our T's. As you know, we recently
sent a letter to your office requesting that you consider GAO's
findings in addition to the third party review that you
So to that point, do you intend to give equal consideration
to GAO's findings and those of the third party panel of
Secretary Chertoff. First of all, I am not sure if every
member of the third party panel has been selected. But as soon
as they are selected, we will give you the names. I have no
problem with that in the background. And I will certainly
consider any findings from GAO along with the findings of the
panel before I do a certification.
Mr. Langevin. That is great news. By the way, for the
record, we have been assured by GAO that they can do their
review within a matter of weeks. We are talking in the order of
2 or 3 weeks from what they tell us. I will insist that they
are held to that because, like you, I want to get this ASP
equipment deployed as quickly as possible. It is the right
thing to do to protect America. And I appreciate the work that
you are doing.
The other thing I wanted to get to is the issue of cyber
security. As you are aware, my subcommittee recently held a
hearing on cyber security vulnerabilities at DHS. I was
extremely disappointed at the Department of Homeland Security,
the agency charged with being the lead in cyber security, had
suffered so many significant security incidents on its network.
In fact, DHS reported to the committee that it experienced 844
cyber security incidents in fiscal years 2005 and 2006. Those
incidents are occurring everywhere. And we have heard recently
that yet again forge in hackers have infiltrated the systems at
the Department of Defense just like they have done at virtually
every government agency. When I asked if the Department's Chief
Information Officer--who I met with in my office and we had
testified reports--whether he received briefings on cyber
threats, DHS information networks, particularly including cyber
security vulnerabilities and penetrations at the Department of
Defense and Department of State, meeting with his counterparts,
his response basically was that you don't know what you don't
know. And the question included cyber attacks by the Chinese.
That is where my question was going. I will ask you the same
question. Have DHS computers ever called or phoned home to
Chinese servers, number one? And have you ever requested or
received intelligence briefings about Chinese hackers
penetrating Federal networks? And on a scale of 1 to 10, how
concerned are you about this threat? And do you think that
there needs to be more aggressive oversight and leadership in
departmental management specifically to address these concerns?
Secretary Chertoff. This is an area which is heavily
intertwined with classified information. So I am limited in
what I can say in this setting. Let me say this. I would say
that starting earlier this year or late last year, as we were
kind of looking at, you know, where we are in the Department,
where we made a lot of progress, where we have progress that
needs to be made in terms of our overall mission, the one
significant area I was not fully comfortable with was cyber
security. It is a very hard area to deal with. Since then, I
and senior leaders with the Department have intensively been in
discussion with other agencies in the government at a very high
level about this whole issue and how we as a government as a
whole can deal with it and what our strategy ought to be to
pursue this, which we are currently in the process of
developing, and doing it with a considerable amount of urgency.
I can tell you it is an issue which receives consistent
attention at the very highest levels of the United States
Government. We are, of course, at the same time dealing with
the old--the separate but not unrelated issue of integrating
our own IT into a one-net structure and limiting the number of
entry points in different systems, which I think will be good
for IT management but good from also a security standpoint. So
we have now within the Directorate of National Protection and
Programs centered a program office to be focused with our Cyber
Security Division on how to work with other agencies to take
necessary steps to increase not only the protection of
government computers from intrusions, whatever the source, but
also to help the private sector with that as well. And it is a
matter that we are going to focus on as one of the highest
priorities or the highest priority level of the Department over
the next 16 months.
Mr. Langevin. I think it is one of those areas that falls
into the category of clear vulnerabilities and something that
we need to address in an aggressive and comprehensive way. And
we look forward to working with you on that issue.
Mr. Chairman, I know I have gone over my time, but since we
are in the hurricane season, I have one more related to FEMA
and evacuation plans if you would indulge me with additional
Chairman Thompson. The gentleman requests additional time.
Mr. Langevin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, my
only question. On August 6, 2007, my staff met with FEMA and
the Office of Civil Rights--Civil Liberties regarding FEMA's
plans to provide evacuation plans for special needs
communities. During this meeting it was revealed the FEMA
disabilities coordinator, Ms. Cindy Daniel, that I had an
opportunity to meet with myself, that she has not seen a draft
of the National Response Plan that has been put together by the
Department. First of all, would you make sure that she has seen
this plan? This is a great concern given that we are in the
height of this year's hurricane season right now. Can you
please tell us the status of the Department's evacuation plans
for special needs communities and the status of overall efforts
to assure that special needs and disabled populations are able
to effectively evacuate during a major event?
Secretary Chertoff. First off, I will make sure if she
hasn't already seen it that she sees the most recent annex
draft for the new plan. We are working under the existing plan.
But I will tell you this. There is probably no area of
evacuation planning that gets more focused attention than the
issue of special medical needs. I was just down at the Gulf
last week. Starting September 1, as part of our emergency
communication system, we now have capability to deliver warning
messages to people with hearing impaired using modern
technology on the computer. Every one of the evacuation plans
has specific attention paid to the method in which people who
cannot evacuate on their own because of physical impairment
will be evacuated. And when we did Dean--and I was part of this
personally--we sat down--not literally in the same room, but
virtually in the same room--with the State of Texas talking
about making sure we had adequate assets, ground ambulances,
air ambulances and other transportation vehicles so we could
make sure people who are disabled have an ability to evacuate
or people who have special needs of any kind and if they can't
be moved because moving them would itself imperil them, to make
sure there are facilities that are capable of withstanding the
storm so people can shelter in place because that has to be an
option as well.
So we are looking at the whole range of issues relating to
special medical needs and we will continue to do that. That is
a very high focus area for FEMA.
Mr. Langevin. Thank you. I appreciate your answer and the
attention given to this. With that, I just want to thank you
for your leadership. I know you have a very difficult job to
do, and I appreciate your passion and dedication to the
Department and to protecting the country. Thank you.
Secretary Chertoff. Thank you. And I enjoy working with the
committee and enjoy appearing here as well.
Mr. Langevin. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. We now yield 5
minutes to the gentleman from California, Mr. Lungren.
Mr. Lungren. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank
you for your testimony, Mr. Secretary. Sorry I had to leave,
but we had a Judiciary Committee hearing on FISA, which is also
rather important that we not only keep the law that we passed
but that we re-enact a law in 6 months. And I know you touched
on this, but I would like to get into it specifically. I was
home in the district and just before that I had a teletown hall
and three town halls back home. And the biggest question I have
on immigration has to do with the confidence in the Federal
Government that we are going to do something about securing the
border. I share your objective in getting a comprehensive
approach. I don't think the Senate bill in its form was what we
needed, but I share your belief that we need an overall global
approach to it. But we are not going to get that unless we have
the confidence of the American people on security.
The one thing they kept asking me is the fence, the fence,
the fence. I know there is a lot more than the fence and I
argue that, but that has become a symbolic icon and in these
presidential debates there is some criticism saying they have
only completed 13 miles of fence and you are laying down on the
job and not doing it. For the record, can you give us exactly
how much fence we have, when we will have a significant amount
of the fencing done, and the Congress authorized 700 miles. As
I recall, it is a 1,960-mile border on the southern part. 700
miles is what we have asked for. Can you give me some figures
specifically so I am not just the one giving it, I can actually
say Secretary Chertoff said this is where we are and this is
where we will be?
Secretary Chertoff. As of today, we have 120 miles of
fencing and 112 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern
barrier. As of the end of this month, September, we will have
approximately 145 miles of fencing in place along the southern
border. That is exactly what we promised to have at the end of
this fiscal year. As of the end of the calendar year 2008 we
will have 370 miles of fencing along the border. I can't tell
you exactly what the amount of vehicle barriers will be,
between 2--and 300 miles.
I should observe that just as some people are passionate
about the fences as an icon, if you go to certain communities
in Texas people are up in arms saying they don't want to fence.
So we won't make everybody happy. But I will say we are on
track to build the fencing and the delta between the 20--120
miles currently in place and the 145 miles will be closed
rapidly because we have the bollards in place along almost the
entire border. We are building it close to a rate of two miles
a day. So if you do the math there is about 25 miles we have to
do to hit the target and we should be able to do that in about
12 to 15 days barring an act of God.
Mr. Lungren. When you say 120 miles of fence is that along
the border? In some places it is double fencing?
Secretary Chertoff. Border miles covered.
Mr. Lungren. Okay. Secondly, with respect to the project of
what I call the virtual fence, the integrated strategy, you
testified before with respect to--I will use the word
``disappointment,'' that you couldn't complete it at this
point, you couldn't take delivery because it wasn't there. Are
we learning things on the southern border with respect to that
integrated approach that will help us on the northern border?
Secretary Chertoff. Yes. The reason we went forth and did
it with 28 miles first is so we could really experience
operationally how it worked and take those lessons and take
them elsewhere. Now, obviously the exact array is going to be
different depending on where you are geographically, whether
the south or the north. For example, parts of the northern
border are really maritime domain. So that is not going to be
an issue for land based radar and things of that sort. Parts of
the northern border are best really handled using unmanned
aerial vehicles or air assets. And we are going to deploy those
along there. There other parts of the northern border where
some kind of virtual fence or, you know, we do use sensors
already up there. So whatever we can do to integrate better
will be helpful. But the idea is to get this right in the 28
miles and then deploy those lessons as we extend it along the
other parts of the southern border and the relevant parts of
the northern border.
Mr. Lungren. Mr.Secretary, two areas. What is the state of
the cooperation you are getting from the railroad industry on
enhanced security and the chemical industry?
Secretary Chertoff. Both have been very cooperative with
us. The chemical industry I think has always been cooperative.
We always worried a little bit about a few outliers, but I
think the regulations we have in place now, you know, once we
issue the final appendix that lists the cutoff quantities will
give us the authority to police people who might not do what is
in their own self-interest. So I am--I think we have made
progress with both industries.
Mr. Lungren. Mr. Secretary, I just want to say I echo the
comments of the chairman that I am pleased you made a
commitment to stay through the last day of the administration.
As much as I think you would be qualified to be Attorney
General, I think it would be a big mistake to remove you from
the position now because I have the sense that the Department
of Homeland Security is moving in the right direction. You have
more than gotten your sea legs, you have given it direction. We
need follow-through. And I would view it as a detriment to the
country if you were to be replaced there before the end of your
time because we spent a lot of time treading water and I think
we are now moving in the right direction, and I thank you for
Secretary Chertoff. Thank you.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much. On a sad note, we
have just been notified that a former member of this committee,
the original select committee, Representative Jennifer Dunn,
has passed. And as you know, Mr. Reichert replaced her when she
left Congress. And in addition to that, Representative Gillmor
has also passed since this hearing has started. So it has been
a tough morning for a lot of us.
Mr. Secretary, we want to thank you. We agreed to 3 hours.
We have met the timeline on that. You have been most gracious
for giving us that 3 hours and there will be some follow-up, as
you know, to the area. But I also ask unanimous consent to
insert into the record the Secretary Chertoff's to-do list
which we share with you.
I would also like to remind the committee that tomorrow we
will be holding a hearing on what I hope will be a series of
hearings on spy satellites, the homeland and related issues. We
have invited the Department of Homeland Security, privacy and
civil liberties experts, and the DNI to testify. I know Ranking
Member King is as interested in this issue as I am and welcome
his support for these hearings.
Hearing no further business, the committee stands
[Whereupon, at 1:04 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]
Appendix: Additional Questions and Responses
Questions from the Honorable Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman, Committee on
Responses from the Honorable Michael Michael Chertoff, Secretary, U.S.
Department of Homeland Security
Question 1.: In the 9/11 bill, the expansion of the Visa Waiver
Program is closely tied to the completion of not only a biometric
entry-exit system, but also an electronic travel authorization (ETA)
system. The Committee has been briefed by the Department that it can
have an ETA system online within 6 to 12 months, yet we have heard from
industry that this timeline might be overly optimistic. What is the
current status of the ETA? Does the Department have a plan for
implementing ETA and, if so, what specific steps will be taken? Which
office within the Department will be responsible for its
implementation? When will ETA be operational?
Response: A working group was established to develop a concept of
operations and project plan, and to begin the project management
process for initiating development and investment. Currently, the
initiative requires start up funding to cover system development costs
and contracted support in the project management area. Once funding has
been identified, and based on the project plan, which is already
developed and which outlines the policy decisions and general
requirements of the system, a Request for Proposal would be issued to
solicit industry involvement in the development. Approximately 8--12
months after funding is made available, the system would be ready to
begin operations. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in cooperation
and coordination with all stakeholders, will be responsible for
Question 2.: In May, the Department announced that it intended to
implement a new biometric air exit procedure that would be incorporated
into the airline check-in process. GAO has questioned the planning
documents for this new process and it has not even been piloted. How
are you going to ensure that the Department will not be handing over an
unfinished system to the next Administration?
Response: Between January 2004 and May 2007, US-VISIT piloted
biometric exit procedures at 12 airports and two seaports. The
Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) final evaluation of the pilot
program determined that traveler participation was low because exit
procedures were not embedded in the existing travel process.
DHS plans to issue a proposed rule by the end of this year
proposing to implement biometric exit procedures at air and sea ports
of departure. This regulatory action will include a public comment
period, and these comments will be considered as the final rule is
developed. We anticipate issuance of a final rule and implementation of
the exit program by December 2008, before the end of the current
Question: Mr. Secretary, in your testimony you state that up to
3000 National Guardsman will continue to be deployed along the
southwest border. This is roughly half of what was initially deployed.
While I understand that our Guard is already stretched very thin with
the ongoing war, I am concerned about reports that describe Border
Patrol Sector Chiefs asking for volunteers to build fences and to fill
other non-frontline posts. Can you describe how the loss of 3000
Guardsmen will affect Border Patrol operations and why we need to ask
for fence builders when we are supposed to be bringing nearly 18,000
new agents online in the near future?
Response: Operation Jump Start was a two year initiative to assist
Border Patrol in gaining operational control of the border during a
period of enhanced hiring of agents and deployment of tactical
infrastructure. New hires and the redeployment of personnel have offset
any reduction in Guard personnel due to the drawdown, and approximately
3,000 additional agents are expected to be on board by the end of CY07.
The deployment of Border Patrol Agents to assist in building
portions of fence was a short term deployment to overcome factors that
could have prevented timely completion and address shortfalls to
include weather and delays in material deliveries, and is not in
relation to the OJS drawdown. These agents have been returned to border
enforcement operations now that the fence building program is back on
schedule. The tactical infrastructure completed by OJS and the Border
Patrol's temporary augmentation will remain in place far beyond the
drawdown to assist in gaining operational control of the border.
Question: In the August/September 2007 issue of the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Update there is an article which
states, ``In addition to the increase in FOTs, ICE ended the practice
of catch and release along the border in September 2006.'' Mr.
Secretary, can you please clarify if catch and release has ended only
the border or if DHS has ended the program in the interior?
Response: ICE has effectively ended ``catch and release'' along the
Southwest Border and Northern Border. This was accomplished by
increasing efficiencies within the immigration removal process,
including rapid activation of additional detention capacity, expanded
use of expedited removal authority, substantial reduction in the cycle
time required to remove aliens, and increased use of the Justice
Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS).
In an effort to maximize detention capacity supporting the end of
``catch and release,'' ICE has worked closely with the Department of
State and foreign governments to streamline ICE repatriation efforts.
ICE has made technological advances, such as Video Teleconferencing
(VTC) and the Electronic Travel Document (eTD) program, available to
foreign governments to facilitate their issuance of travel documents
used in the removal process, further increasing the efficiency of this
process, while minimizing the length of stay in detention.
In order to optimize the use of its nationwide detention capacity,
ICE has created the Detention Operations Coordination Center (DOCC).
The DOCC transfers detainees from field office jurisdictions with
detention capacity shortages to jurisdictions with surplus capacity,
thus ensuring that aliens subject to removal proceedings are not
released solely due to a lack of detention space.
Generally all aliens apprehended by ICE's Office of Detention and
Removal Operations (DRO) or turned over to DRO, whether at the border
or in the interior of the U.S., are taken into DRO custody. Having said
this, ICE must also make efforts to manage funded and available bed
space in support of the DRO mission. In order to remain within funded
limits, DRO must actively manage its detained population using
alternatives to continued detention when appropriate.
Question 4.: Under the SAFE Port Act, the Department was supposed
to initiate a rulemaking proceeding to establish minimum standards and
procedures for securing containers in transit to the United States.
This rulemaking was supposed to be initiated by January 13, 2007 and
the interim final rule was supposed to be completed by April 13, 2007.
This deadline was not met. Why was the Department unable to meet this
mandate? When is the Department going to initiate the rulemaking?
Response: On May 18, 2007, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) notified appropriate members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of
Representatives of its decision not to initiate a rulemaking proceeding
to establish minimum standards for securing containers in transit to
the United States within the mandated timeline. Although DHS readily
acknowledges that the process of securing the container is a critical
component of a multi-layered strategy to secure the entire supply
chain, the department does not believe, at the present time, the
necessary technology exists for such a comprehensive solution.
Accordingly, no date to initiate a rulemaking proceeding to establish
minimum standards and procedures for securing containers in transit to
the United States can be established until adequate technology exists.
Question: Section 201 of the SAFE Port Act required a Strategic
Plan to Enhance the Security of the International Supply Chain. This
plan was supposed to include protocols for the expeditious resumption
of the flow of trade in the event of a transportation disruption or a
transportation security incident. According to GAO, the Department did
not achieve success with this plan. Secretary Chertoff admitted this
fact at an August 16, 2007 meeting of the Advisory Committee on
Commercial Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He told
COAC members that day that the final product ``not a detailed plan.''
When is the Department going to produce a detailed plan?
Response: The Strategy to Enhance International Supply Chain
Security, delivered to Congress on July, 13, 2006, explained how the
Department's layered strategy for cargo security operates, as well as
the interplay between multiple initiatives and programs. The Department
provided this information in satisfaction of Section 201 of the Act as
an initial submission. The final Strategy is due for delivery to
Congress in July 2010.
The plan provides overarching protocols for the prioritization of
vessels and cargo, identifies incident management practices specific to
trade resumption in support of the National Response Framework, and
describes guidance for the redeployment of government resources and
personnel. In doing so, the strategy recognizes that there exist many
different types of incidents which might impact the supply chain, but
that resumption itself is an ``all hazards'' requirement.
The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are,
under a joint Senior Guidance Team, developing both tactical protocols
for communications with the trade, and agency-specific plans for
resumption activities. Further, in keeping with the Maritime
Transportation and Security Act of 2002 (MTSA), the Area Maritime
Security Committees are in the process of developing resumption annexes
to each of the Area Maritime Security Plans. These revisions to the
area plans are being conducted within the timelines of the mandated
review and update cycle, with completion scheduled for mid-2009.
Question 6.: How much money did the Department spend on this less-
Response: The Department expenses associated with this plan were
principally in the area of staff time. A writing team of roughly 30
individuals from across the components and agencies worked on the
document over the 270 days of its development. Some individuals
contributed greater amounts of time than others, depending upon their
organizational involvement in the subject matter. At the Department
headquarters level, the project lead, who conducted the majority of the
review, consolidation, and drafting work, was a U.S. Coast Guard O-5
detailee. An estimated 40% of his time over the development cycle was
devoted to the project.
Question: According to Philip Spayd in an August 27, 2007 article
in the Journal of Commerce, ``many in the trade community anticipated
an operational plan that would clearly set out the roles and
responsibilities of government officials who would manage a trade
security incident. What they received was a 128-page plan that would
receive a high grade as a research project for a graduate school class
in international logistics, but which lacks any operational
grounding.'' What is your response to this critique?
Response: While we welcome Mr. Spayd's input, it is clear that he
misinterprets the intent of the document and the requirements of the
Act. The DHS Strategy to Enhance International Supply Chain Security,
especially in its initial form, is intentionally a high-level strategic
document. It is not a detailed plan, as detailed plans have been and
are being prepared by the specific components with authority and
jurisdiction over the supply chain. With respect to Mr. Spayd's opinion
that the strategy lacks operational grounding, it is worth noting that
the writing team which developed the document consisted of roughly 30
individuals from the involved agencies, each with decades of field
level operational experience. Their operational expertise greatly
informed the process.
Question 8.: It has come to my attention that Colonel Velez, Acting
Director of the Office of Emergency Communications is expected to
resign from her post in the next couple of weeks.
Could you please confirm if there is any truth this?
Who do you have in place to fill this critical post?
What are the specific accomplishments of the Office of Emergency
Communications to date under the leadership of Colonel Velez as it
related to the mandates outlined in the Post-Katrina Reform Act?
Response: Col. Victoria Velez resigned from her position as Acting
Director of the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) effective on
September 14, 2007. She had been on detail from the Air Force to the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since August 2005.
A new director has been selected and will be named in the coming
weeks. Currently, Mr. Michael Roskind, Deputy Director of OEC, is
serving in the role of Acting Director.
Colonel Velez led the Department's efforts to stand up the OEC.
Title XVIII of the Homeland Security Act, as amended, assigns OEC the
critical and difficult mission of advancing interoperable and operable
emergency communications through collaboration with Federal, State,
local, and tribal partners.
Through Colonel Velez' efforts and the hard work of the DHS team,
OEC became operational on April 1, 2007. Since that time, OEC has
stayed focused on meeting its mission requirements and integrating
three interoperability programs that transferred from other DHS
entities: the Federal wireless programs under the Integrated Wireless
Network; the Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program
(ICTAP); and outreach, guidance, and tool development by the SAFECOM
Col. Velez' service to the Department and public safety community
will ensure that OEC's mission will have lasting effects upon the
safety and security of the Nation.
Key OEC accomplishments include:
Worked with key OEC stakeholders at the Federal,
State, and local level to identify their needs and gain a
better understanding of the ever-changing interoperable
communications environment--including working to bridge
interoperability gaps among Federal, State, and local
governments. As an administrator of external Federal wireless
programs, OEC has begun establishing and implementing projects
through the Federal Partnership for Interoperable
Communications, a cooperative partnership of Federal, State,
and local agencies with a public-safety mission, to enhance the
operability and interoperability of Federal departments and
Built relationships with our Federal, State, local,
and tribal partners as part of our extensive stakeholder
outreach and engagement mission. OEC participated in and
supported several stakeholder forums and initiatives to promote
awareness and help build consensus among Federal, State, and
local entities on policy and technical issues affecting
Collaborated with the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) on establishment of the Public Safety
Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Program and the Fiscal Year
2008 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP). Made significant
progress in the area of statewide interoperability planning.
Laid the groundwork for a partnership with FEMA and
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
(NTIA) to develop a peer review process for the evaluation of
the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plans (SCIPs).
This process will enable States and territories to receive
meaningful feedback from their peers on how to improve their
interoperability planning efforts. As a result, the Department
expects the SCIPs to become living documents that States and
territories regularly update and enhance--not a one-time
commitment that becomes ``shelf-ware.''
Coordinated the accelerated delivery of communications
equipment and training services three months early to several
hurricane-prone States in preparation for the 2007 hurricane
season. This training addressed the use of the equipment in its
designated communications planning environment, as well as the
need for coordination, governance, and a regional set of
standard operating procedures for communications. OEC also
provided technical assistance support to 48 of 56 States and
territories for their SCIPs or with the Communications Asset
Survey and Mapping tool.
Participated in the Golden Phoenix Interoperability
Joint Training Event, which included participation by Los
Angeles City and County multi-jurisdictional emergency
responders, the California National Guard, and the Department
of Defense (DOD). OEC ICTAP provided technical evaluators and
planning assistance to measure and evaluate communications
interoperability across the continuum of first responders, DOD,
participating State and local government entities, and Non-
Governmental Organizations. The event underscored the need for
training opportunities among the various response groups and
the challenges that might be encountered.
Question 9.: Section 901 of H.R. 1 says that the Department ``may
develop guidance or recommendations and identify best practices'' to
``foster action'' by the private sector in order for it to be prepared
for a human-made or natural disaster.
What is the status of the guidance and recommendations?
How are you working with the private sector to better understand
How will these guidance and recommendations encourage the private
sector to plan to recover from an event in order to resume its
Response: Within the Department, FEMA has been assigned the
responsibility to make recommendations regarding how the Department
will implement Section 901. At this stage, the Department has not
decided exactly how it will develop guidance or recommendations and
identify best practices as discussed in HR 1. Many of the operating
elements of the Department, including FEMA, Science and Technology,
Infrastructure Protection and others have extensive relations with
various private sector organizations through which the Department
learns and can learn about best practices for preparedness. In
particular the 17 Critical Infrastructure and Key Resource Sector
Councils are and will be a source of best practices.
Until the potential guidance and recommendations are created, it is
premature to speculate on how they will ``encourage the private sector
to plan to recover from an event.'' Given the vast number of mandated
taskings that are called for in the 9/11 Act, we are focusing first on
what we must do by certain deadlines, and then will turn our attention
to suggested taskings in the 9/11 Act.
What is the Infrastructure Data Warehouse (IDW) and how is it
different from the National Asset Database (NADB)?
Response: Some functions of the previously existing National Asset
Database (NADB) will combine with new, advanced capabilities to form
the Infrastructure Data Warehouse (IDW). Instead of a single database
(the NADB), the IDW will establish a distributed IT architecture using
a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to integrate existing data sets
from Federal, State, and commercial sources through a rapid ingest
capability that will improve data collection time/cost efficiencies.
The SOA will virtually eliminate the need to copy and paste information
from other data stores into a single DHS database (NADB) by providing
the capability to link the existing data stores through a larger,
virtual IT architecture. This architecture will reduce duplication of
effort and improve the robustness of existing information at a lower
cost, while facilitating data maintenance and verification by numerous
partners and entities within the homeland security community.
The IDW will require, maintain, and publish comprehensive DHS
Enterprise Architecture-compliant metadata on all data products under
its control. Metadata will include detailed information on the content,
provenance, context, precision, and accuracy of all data records. These
records will be openly accessible to the SOA through a dynamic (live,
synchronized) connection between the IDW data stores and a metadata
catalog service. This service may by operated at the enterprise level
or maintained locally in synchronization with approved DHS standards
for federated metadata catalog resources. Role-based access controls
will ensure that all appropriate records and products within IDW are
transparently accessible to the entire DHS SOA user community.
Will the National Asset Database, codified by the ``Implementing
Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007,'' be used to inform
the IDW? If so, to what extent?
Response: The information previously maintained in the National
Asset Database will be incorporated into the Service-Oriented
Architecture of the Infrastructure Data Warehouse. This pre-existing
information will be coupled with information collected through other
means, such as the Automated Critical Asset Management System, which is
used by State and local law enforcement partners, or existing Federal
databases, such as the Army Corps of Engineers' National Inventory of
Dams, to offer a robust and more complete data set that all
infrastructure protection and incident management personnel can use.
The law requires that the Secretary ``shall use the database
established under [it] in the development and implementation of
Department plans and programs as appropriate.'' What is the status of
the construction of the data collection guidelines, per the language of
Response: The Office of Infrastructure Protection's (IP's)
Infrastructure Information Collection Division (IICD) was established
to lead IP's efforts to provide standardized, relevant, and customer-
focused infrastructure information to homeland security partners. A
primary focus of the division is to establish a collection-management
process to identify and prioritize information requirements and drive
data collection efforts. A strategic collection management process was
developed in fiscal year 07 and is currently being implemented. Request
for Information (RFI) templates are being used to outline customer
requests for geospatial and informational products. In addition, IICD
has begun working with various infrastructure protection partners to to
identify information requirements. This has been initiated with primary
IP partners such as those that conduct risk analysis (Infrastructure
Analysis and Strategy Division) and incident management (Contingency
Planning and Incident Management Division). During fiscal year 2008,
the coordination on RFI templates will expand to other DHS components
and the Sector-Specific Agencies (SSAs). Additionally, IP will
collaborate with the SSAs to update the Infrastructure Taxonomy, which
outlines the categories of infrastructure types within each of the 17
Critical Infrastructure-Key Resources sectors. This effort was
initiated in 2005 and is updated annually to ensure an accurate
representation and categorization of assets within the sectors.
How will you engage State homeland security officials in order to
acquire relevant and appropriate information about assets to inform the
National Asset Database?
Response: DHS will continue to work through the State and
Territorial Homeland Security Advisors (HSAs) to conduct data calls and
requests for information, which include requests to verify or validate
portions of infrastructure. One such annual data call focuses on the
Tier I/II effort to collaboratively work with the HSAs to identify
infrastructures of highest national significance. Guidance and criteria
is established to provide awareness and detailed instructions to the
State and Territorial HSAs.
Additionally, HSAs can coordinate through their respective
Protective Security Advisors to review the infrastructure information
within the Infrastructure Data Warehouse (IDW) for accuracy and
relevance. This can be done at any point, and feedback can be provided
to IP to update the data store. Once the IDW is operational (Initial
Operational Capability is planned for September 2008 and access is
provided to the HSAs through a Web-based portal, State and local
personnel will be able to access the IDW holdings directly for review
and can provide recommendations for additions, deletions, and updates
as needed. These recommendations will proceed through a quality control
and approval workflow prior to acceptance for all users to access.
In addition to the data calls and verification and validation
efforts, HSAs will also be requested to identify existing data stores
that may be integrated with the IDW through the Service Oriented
Architecture. This will improve information robustness and accuracy,
while reducing the collection burden on Federal, State, local, and
private-sector entities through more effective and efficient
How will you work with the Homeland Security Advisors from the
Response: DHS will continue to work through the State and
Territorial Homeland Security Advisors (HSAs) to conduct data calls and
requests for information. Homeland Security Advisors will be the
primary conduit to all State and territorial agencies and
organizations, as well as some private-sector owner and operators. IP
will work with the Department's Office of Intergovernmental Programs to
help ensure proper communication and coordination with the HSAs.
Under the framework of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan
(NIPP), the recently established State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal
Government Coordination Council (SLTTGCC) will be a vital collaborative
partner in the establishment or processes and guidelines to facilitate
effective and efficient information exchange and sharing.
How will you work with the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial
Government Coordinating Council?
Response: The STTLGCC will serve as the primary strategic level
partner for IP in national-level policy and program development.
IP will also work with other State, territorial, tribal, and local
organizations such as the National Governors' Association Homeland
Security Advisors Council, National Sheriffs' Association,
International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of
Counties, and American Legislative Exchange Council on national level
policy and programs. In working with all of these groups, IP's senior
leadership recognizes that the SLTTGCC will remain the primary
organization to help IP achieve the strategic goal of working
collaboratively with its State, territorial, tribal, and local partners
in the development and implementation of infrastructure-protection
policies and programs. The SLTTGCC should serve as a means to reach
back and into many of the above organizations and associations to
ensure their full input and impact.
As you know, the private sector owns and operates a large portion
of critical infrastructure in this country. What methods will you use
to acquire relevant information from the private sector to inform the
database? How will you use the Protected Critical Infrastructure
Information (PCII) Program?
Response: The private-sector owners and operators have various
options to enable DHS information management and collection.
Information for inclusion in the Infrastructure Data Warehouse can be
collected through the use of the Risk Analysis and Management for
Critical Asset Protection tools, Vulnerability Identification Self-
Assessment Tool, and other National Infrastructure Protection Plan-
compliant methods. This will enable users, whether private-sector
owners and operators or State and local entities, to assess their
infrastructure using common metrics and methods that provide
comparative results within and across sectors or jurisdictions. Private
sector owners and operators may also leverage their Local Law
Enforcement and First Responders to collect and manage infrastructure
information. DHS has made available the Automated Critical Asset
Management System (ACAMS) for use by State and Locals to collect and
manage infrastructure information.
Additionally, the private sector can work under the framework
established by the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) to
provide information through their respective Sector Coordinating
Council (SCC). The SCCs, which are made up of sector-specific private
entities, associations, and owners/operators, are the primary method
for private sector participation and input.
IP recognizes that information security is a vital concern. IP will
continue efforts to ensure that private-sector collection tools are
certified by the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII)
Program Office and that, as applicable, information is designated and
protected as PCII. The Automated Critical Asset Management System
exemplifies this effort. This operational tool enables State and local
law enforcement and first responders to collect information that can be
designated and protected as PCII by DHS where applicable. The PCII
program and designation system is vital to the collection of
information and detailed coordination between the Federal Government
and private-sector entities.
Question 11.: What is the status of the National Infrastructure
Protection Consortium? Do you have some prospective members?
If so, then who?
Response: The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission
Act granted the Secretary the authority to establish a National
Infrastructure Protection Consortium in newly enacted Section 210E(f).
I have not yet exercised this authority and no action has been taken.
No prospective members have been identified.
Question: The Homeland Security Act of 2002 requires that the
Department ``carry out comprehensive assessments of the vulnerabilities
of the key resources and critical infrastructure of the United States,
including the performance of risk assessments to determine the risks
posed by particular types of terrorist attacks. . .'' Furthermore, the
H.R. 1 requires that the Department provide Congress with ``a report on
the comprehensive assessments'' for fiscal year 2007 and each
subsequent fiscal year.
How effective have these comprehensive assessments been?
Response: The Office of Infrastructure Protection's (IP's)
Protective Security Coordination Division (PSCD) has developed several
programs that include vulnerability assessments of critical
infrastructure and key resources (CI-KR): the Site Assistance Visit
(SAV) and the Comprehensive Review (CR). Both the SAV and CR examine
the vulnerabilities of specific CI-KR to attack and the potential
consequences of such an attack, and ultimately provide recommendations
for enhancing the preparedness of the surrounding jurisdiction and the
security posture of the site. As 85 percent of CI-KR throughout the
Nation are privately owned and operated, IP has designed the SAV and CR
programs as holistic, non-regulatory initiatives that foster
interagency coordination and cooperation among Federal, State, and
local governments, and private industry.
The SAV program is designed to facilitate vulnerability
identification and mitigation discussions between the Government and
owners and operators of CI-KR sites. SAV brings together Federal
partners, State and local law enforcement, other emergency responders,
and CI-KR owner/operators to conduct an ``inside the fence'' assessment
that identifies critical assets, specific vulnerabilities, and security
recommendations. Since 2003, IP has conducted 722 SAV assessments
throughout all 17 CI-KR sectors.
The CR is a cooperative, regional, IP-led analysis of high-
consequence CI-KR. The CR considers potential terrorist actions for an
attack, the consequences of such an attack, and the integrated
preparedness and response capabilities of the owner/operator, State and
local law enforcement, and emergency response organizations. The
results are used to enhance the overall security posture of the
facilities, their surrounding communities, and the geographic region
using short-term improvements and long-term risk-based investments in
training, processes, procedures, equipment, and resources for the
community. In July 2007, IP completed Chemical Sector CRs for six
regions throughout the Nation. The regions selected have significant
concentrations of high-consequence chemical facilities. Additionally,
in September 2007, IP completed Nuclear Sector CRs for all 65 of our
Nation's commercial nuclear power plants. Currently, IP is planning and
developing the California Water Project CR, the first system approach
to a comprehensive assessment.
The SAVs and CRs have been effective in identifying vulnerabilities
of the Nation's CI-KR and improving the security and preparedness
posture of the surrounding jurisdiction. The effectiveness of these
assessments is contingent upon the collaboration of Federal, State,
local, and private-sector owner/operators to identify vulnerabilities,
capabilities, and potential consequences, and to provide collective
protective measures to secure the Nation's CI-KR. Furthermore, the
information captured in SAVs is used to publish sector-based Common
Vulnerabilities (CV), Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activity (PI),
and Protective Measures (PM) reports. These reports help owners and
operators detect and prevent terrorist attacks. CV reports provide
insight into the common characteristics, general vulnerabilities, and
likely consequences of an attack for representative facilities in a
given sector. PI reports identify possible signs of an attack to better
facilitate early detection, reporting, and prevention of terrorist
activities on a sector-by-sector basis. PM reports describe likely
terrorist objectives, methods of attack, and corresponding protective
measures and their implementation in accordance with the Homeland
Security Advisory System, on a sector-by-sector basis. All of these
reports are available for use by law enforcement, security
professionals, and asset owners and operators upon request.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has aligned
SAVs and CRs with the Buffer Zone Protection Program (BZPP). Results of
the SAVs and CRs provide substantive justification for the distribution
of BZPP grant funding, as BZPP grant money is provided to mitigate
specific vulnerabilities identified during SAVs and CRs.
Who has carried them out?
SAVs are conducted by IP and tailored to meet unique requirements
of each CI-KR, such as the scope of the assessment, State and local
involvement, and other requirements from the owner/operator. IP uses a
combination of Federal employees with contract support to conduct these
assessments. Generally, a SAV team consists of a Federal team lead,
assault planner/physical security specialist, and systems/
The core Federal team tasked to conduct CRs consists of
representatives from the Federal agencies responsible for security and
response efforts of CI-KR. The team composition is contingent upon the
unique attributes of each CI-KR sector and the assets located in the CR
footprint. For example, the inter-agency teams for the Nuclear and
Chemical sector CRs included representatives from IP, the State, the
Chemical and Nuclear Sector-Specific Agencies, United States Coast
Guard, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
Transportation Security Administration, industry-based Sector
Coordinating Councils, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's
National Preparedness Directorate. IP is currently coordinating a
multi-agency CR team for the California Water Project CR.
To what extent are you receiving cooperation from the private
sector and State and local governments?
Private-sector and State and local government partners have been
integral in IP's CI-KR assessment activities. Because SAVs and CRs are
voluntary, non-regulatory assessments, the cooperation of the private
sector and the integrated efforts of the Government are essential
components of these programs. SAVs are conducted at the request of the
owner/operator or DHS and typically incorporate law enforcement and
other first responders. Many SAVs have brought together owners/
operators and emergency responders who have had little to no
interaction prior to the assessment. The SAV also provides an avenue
for open communication among Federal, State, local, and private
industry security partners, providing the foundation for integrating
efforts in the protection of CI-KR. CRs require extensive coordination
among Federal, State, and local governments, the Sector Coordinating
Councils, Sector-Specific Agencies, and numerous private sector owner/
How have you attempted to encourage their involvement? What
difficulties have you found and what measures have you taken to
eliminate those difficulties?
The effectiveness of all IP programs is contingent upon the
collaboration of Federal, State, local, and private-sector owner/
operators to identify vulnerabilities, capabilities, and potential
consequences, and to provide collective protective measures to secure
the Nation's CI-KR. Such collaboration and cooperation is essential, as
IP vulnerability assessments are not required; rather, these
assessments are conducted on a voluntary basis. Significant portions of
the most high-consequence CI-KR Sectors are regulated by other
organizations that have the capability to impose additional
requirements or penalties upon these sites. For this reason, the
private sector has been (at times) reluctant to host DHS-led
IP has 68 Protective Security Advisors (PSAs) deployed across the
Nation, covering 60 districts. IP PSAs work daily to establish
relationships with Federal, State, local, and private-sector partners,
and discuss information sharing, coordination, collaboration, and IP
programs--including comprehensive assessments of CI-KR. PSAs have been
deployed to represent DHS at the Federal, State, territorial, local,
and tribal levels, serving as the Department's onsite critical
infrastructure and vulnerability assessment specialists, and as vital
channels of communication among DHS officials and private-sector owners
and operators of CI-KR assets.
As a result of their locations throughout the United States, PSAs
are often the first Department personnel to respond to incidents.
Consequently, PSAs are uniquely able to provide early situational
awareness to DHS and IP leadership during an incident, often performing
duties as the Infrastructure Liaison at the Joint Field Office in
support of the Principal Federal Official. PSAs also coordinate
requests from CI-KR asset owners and operators for services and
resources, including training, SAV scheduling, Buffer Zone Plans, CRs,
and verification and technical assistance visits.
Because information sharing is voluntary, the Protected Critical
Infrastructure Information (PCII) Program, also within IP, is designed
to encourage private industry to share its sensitive security-related
business information with the Federal Government. PCII is an
information-protection tool that facilitates information sharing
between the Government and the private sector. DHS and other Federal,
State and local analysts use PCII in pursuit of a more secure homeland,
focusing primarily on:
Analyzing and securing critical infrastructure and
Identifying vulnerabilities and developing risk
Enhancing recovery preparedness measures.
If the information submitted satisfies the requirements of the
Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002, it is protected from
public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and State and
local disclosure laws. The information is also protected from use in
Given that the private sector has not provided you a lot of
information regarding its assets, do you feel that these comprehensive
assessments adequately assess the vulnerabilities of the key resources
and critical infrastructure of the United States?
Because 85 percent of CI-KR throughout the Nation are privately
owned and operated, DHS/IP has designed the SAV and CR programs as
holistic, non-regulatory initiatives that foster interagency
coordination and cooperation among Federal, State, and local
governments, and private industry. DHS/IP believes that these
assessments provide significant value to private sector owner and
operators. The findings of IP assessments have been used as short-term
improvements and long-term risk-based investments, helping secure our
Question 13.: Mr. Secretary: The tragic events of September 11,
2001, the Madrid and London bombings, and Hurricane Katrina each
demonstrated the need to not only protect against different types of
hazards, but to also prepare to recover from such events. In fact, the
private sector and local levels of government have been encouraging the
Department to broaden its focus from protection and prevention to
recovery and continuity planning. You, too, Mr. Secretary appeared to
pick up on this theme during a speech at the Center for Risk and
Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events in Los Angeles on July 20, 2007.
When speaking about the Strategy to Enhance International Supply Chain
Security, you said that ``. . .importantly, [the strategy] specifically
focuses on resumption of trade following an incident.'' Unfortunately,
though, this theme of ``resumption'' following an incident does not
seem to manifest itself in many other areas of DHS planning. For
instance, it does not appear to be a strong theme in the 17 Sector-
Specific Plans that were released under the National Infrastructure
Protection Plan earlier this year.
How has DHS been encouraging the private and public sectors to
focus on the resumption of operations following an incident rather than
only focusing on protection and prevention?
Response: The protective programs for CI-KR identified in the
National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) and the Sector Specific
Plans (SSPs) may include actions that mitigate the consequences of an
attack or incident, such as recovery. Actions under these plans are
focused on the following aspects of preparedness:
Mitigate: Lessen the potential impacts of an attack,
natural disaster, or accident by introducing system redundancy
and resiliency, reducing asset dependency, or isolating
Respond: Activities designed to enable rapid reaction
and emergency response to an incident, such as conducting
exercises and having adequate crisis response plans, training,
and equipment; and
Recover: Allow businesses and government organizations
to resume operations quickly and efficiently, such as using
comprehensive mission and business continuity plans that have
been developed through prior planning.
As a specific example of addressing recovery for CI-KR, DHS
released the ``Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
Guide for Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources'' in September 2006
as part of the Department's pandemic preparedness strategy. The guide
supports the efforts of the public--and private-sector CI-KR community
to develop and execute their essential pandemic contingency plans and
preparedness actions. Working closely with its private-sector partners,
DHS designed the guide based on the principle that disaster planning
and preparedness is a fundamental requirement of good business
practice. All organizations must ensure that the capability exists to
continue essential operations in response to potential operational
interruptions, including a pandemic influenza.
The compounded effects of health impact assumptions, proposed
disease mitigation strategies, extended duration, and resultant
implications for all businesses place a severe pandemic at the extreme
end of a disaster continuum. Pandemic influenza has the potential to
cause levels of global illness, death, economic disruption, and social
disturbance like no other. To date, business continuity plans have
integrated most of the known disaster scenarios but, until recently,
have generally not included a pandemic influenza. The CI-KR Pandemic
Guide recommends an exhaustive review of all existing continuity of
operations (COOP) plans to update and address the specific impacts and
implications for pandemic influenza, including updates to address the
extreme case, called a Continuity of Operations Plan-Essential (COP-E).
DHS designed COP-E as an extension and refinement of current
business contingency and COOP planning that fully exploits existing
efforts and integrates them within the suite of business disaster
plans. The COP-E process assumes severe pandemic-specific impacts to
enhance and complement existing business continuity plans. COP-E
integrates the additional actions needed to identify and prioritize
essential functions, people, and material within the business, across
business sectors, and as important for the community and the Nation. It
highlights actions and options to protect and sustain these at each
pandemic phase from preparation to recovery. In addition, COP-E
incorporates a measured approach for ``survival'' and recovery of
operations under distinct COP-E scenarios.
COP-E planning assumes a major disaster of national significance,
like a pandemic, cascades into a national and international
catastrophe. It assumes planning for degrees of ``essential''
operational requirements based upon a dramatically worsening situation
and the need to sustain not only the business but also the community
and the Nation. Thus, the scale and scope of the impacts and possible
outcomes demand a dedicated level of effort, investment, and planning
beyond typical business continuity planning. COP-E expands initial
business continuity plans to create an agile, actionable plan for
responding to and recovering from a potential catastrophic failure on a
national or international scale. COP-E scenarios provide business
planners a broad yet detailed perspective within which to develop
graduated response and recovery actions. COP-E assists planners in
prioritizing their actions and costs in a measured fashion, and it
prepares them for the rapid adjustments necessary as pandemic impacts
In particular, how has DHS used the Sector Partnership Framework to
encourage continuity planning in the aftermath of a disaster in order
for systems and assets to be up and running as soon as possible?
The Sector Partnership Framework is used to achieve the underlying
goal of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP): to build a
safer, more secure, and more resilient America. To accomplish this, the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with our sector
partners to implement a long-term risk-management program. This program
includes efforts to encourage continuity planning to ensure the
resiliency of CI-KR against known threats and hazards in addition to
planning for rapid CI-KR restoration and recovery for those events that
are not preventable. Collaborative work using the sector partnership is
evident in the creation of the Sector Specific Plans and the National
Response Framework, both of which address the issue of resiliency.
Specifically, for example, DHS is currently following up on the CI-
KR Pandemic Guide by working with each of the 17 CI-KR sectors to
develop Sector-Specific Pandemic Guidelines and workshops for the
owners and operators throughout each of the critical infrastructure
sectors. Each of the guidelines, which will act as annexes to the main
guide, will be developed and endorsed by the sectors themselves. Each
Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) and Government Coordinating Council
(GCC) will have many opportunities to comment upon and edit the
guidelines during their development. Eventually, each SCC and GCC will
be asked to endorse the guidelines. The guidelines are designed not
only to plan for the impacts of a severe pandemic outbreak but also to
prepare companies and organizations to continue providing their
essential products and services throughout a pandemic and its
aftermath. The guidelines will outline the seven major areas of
vulnerability the sectors face and provide actions, supporting actions,
and questions to consider in determining the appropriate strategies to
employ to recover from a pandemic outbreak.
How has the Strategy to Enhance International Supply Chain Security
encouraged stakeholders to focus on resuming operations in the
aftermath of an incident?
The Strategy to Enhance International Supply Chain Security was
developed in response to Sections 201 and 202 of the Security and
Accountability For Every Port Act and was released in July 2007. It is
set within a framework of other national strategies including the
National Security Strategy, the National Strategy for Homeland
Security, the National Strategy for Maritime Security, the National
Response Plan/Framework, the National Infrastructure Protection Plan,
the National Maritime Transportation Security Plan, and other strategic
plans. As a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) strategy, it does not
replace these documents; rather, it seeks to harmonize their goals into
a multi-layered, unified approach for further development by Department
Although DHS was the lead Department for the development of the
strategy, its successful implementation is dependent on stakeholders
from across the Federal Government, State and local governments,
foreign governments and the private sector. Components of the Maritime
Government Coordinating Council (GCC) were large contributors to the
drafting of the strategy, specifically Customs and Border Protection
and the United States Coast Guard. Coordination between Federal
agencies and the private sector is essential, and work continues among
all Sector Coordinating Councils and GCCs to address issues of
prevention, protection, response, and recovery.
Question 14.: A new school year has recently started. As the former
North Carolina schools superintendent, I know that taking care of our
children while at school is a top priority for educators across the
country, and they are doing a great job of making our schools safe and
secure. However, vigilance is a continuous process and requires
knowledge and resources. Last May, this Committee held a Full Committee
hearing on ``Protecting our Schools: Federal Efforts to Strengthen
Community Preparedness and Response.'' In this hearing and in a GAO
report I requested with the Chairman, we discovered a lack of
coordination by the Federal Government to streamline programs and
grants to help schools develop and implement emergency management
plans. You and I have spoken before about what the Department is doing
to get information to schools on security and preparedness, and about
the need for Federal funding to help communities enhance school
I know you have worked with the Department of Education to develop
a web-based clearinghouse, but would like to hear more about how you
will make sure the most relevant and up-to-date information is
available to schools. School children are at school the majority of the
day, and are among our most vulnerable citizens in the event of an
emergency. What steps is the Department taking to ensure that first
responders and school administrators are working together to develop
emergency management plans and that school administrators get the
resources they need to implement these plans?
In your testimony, you speak about changes at FEMA that make it a
more nimble and better equipped organization, with ten regional offices
that work directly with state and local emergency management
communities. How do you plan to raise awareness of school preparedness
within this new structure? Can you give some examples of regional
initiatives that incorporate schools in their ``management
communities'' through direct interaction or planning?
Response: FEMA has a number of ways to support State and local
efforts to address school preparedness issues including its Citizen
Corps Programs, the Emergency Management Institute training programs,
and the support provided by its Homeland Security Grant Programs. The
Citizen Corps Program, for example, is a Federal initiative that helps
coordinate State and local Citizen Corps Councils. Sponsored by local
government, and typically involving local emergency management
agencies, Citizen Corps Councils bring together representatives from
public and private sector community groups--including schools--to
identify priorities, integrate resources, and learn about and practice
response skills. More than 2,200 Citizen Corps Councils are active
across the country, with groups in every State and U.S. Territory. It
must be understood that the efforts to support school preparedness are
based on the priorities established at the State and local level for
the use of the resources available to them.
Preparing and securing school communities--faculty, staff,
students, parents, visitors, and academic facilities--is a critical
part of Citizen Corps' mission. The Councils' school representatives
play key roles of integrating school emergency plans with community
plans, coordinating alert systems, and helping the academic community
learn about and exercise disaster preparedness.
In addition to helping schools get involved in local preparedness
plans, Citizen Corps also has several national initiatives and local-
led initiatives that address school issues.
On the national level, Citizen Corps has partnered with the U.S.
Department of Education to enhance the relationship between schools and
Citizen Corps Councils. The Department of Education is one of Citizen
Corps' 25 national affiliates that expand the number of emergency
responders and nongovernmental resources and materials available to
States and local communities. In an effort to enhance public alerts and
warnings for schools, one national initiative distributed about 97,000
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Public Alert
Radios to all K-12 public schools in 2005 and 2006. The ``America is
Safer when our Schools are Safer'' NOAA Public Alert Radio Distribution
Program is a collaborative effort of NOAA at the Department of
Commerce, FEMA's Citizen Corps at the Department of Homeland Security,
the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of
Education. In cooperation with Citizen Corps, the Department of
Education, and Department of Health and Human Services, NOAA maintains
a radio distribution website with resources and tools to connect
schools, emergency managers, and Citizen Corps Councils. The website's
materials encourage Citizen Corps Councils to work with their local
schools and school administrative officials, and encourage schools to
take an active role in their community's alerts and warnings systems
and emergency operations planning.
Citizen Corps and the Department of Education also collaborate on
preparedness resource materials for emergency managers and schools.
Citizen Corps, for example, has provided presentations for the
Department of Education at national conferences and meetings. This
fall, Citizen Corps and the Department of Education were featured on
the Department of Homeland Security's Town Hall Meeting on School
Preparedness Webinar. The webinar, designed for schools and emergency
personnel across the country, highlighted resources for schools from
several agencies: the Department of Education's Office for Safe and
Drug-Free Schools offered educational materials and grant programs for
school preparedness; FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate offered
ways to tap into the Homeland Security Grant Program; FEMA's Emergency
Management Institute highlighted free training available to schools for
emergency preparedness; and the Citizen Corps Program discussed the
importance of school participation on Citizen Corps Councils.
Many programs are organized at the State and local level. Through
the Citizen Corps national affiliates program, those State and local
efforts are able to partner with national organizations that offer a
number of services, including public education, outreach, and training;
representation for volunteers interested in helping to make their
community safer; and volunteer service opportunities to support first
responders, disaster relief activities, and community safety efforts.
Many Citizen Corps affiliates provide age- and grade-appropriate
preparedness curricula for schools. For example, the Home Safety
Council's Get Ready with Freddie and Literacy Project introduces
children to the importance of both safety and reading; Operation Hope
introduces students, teachers, and parents to the importance of
financial preparedness and banking basics; and the Red Cross' ``Masters
of Disaster'' and First Aid programs teach students how to prepare for,
respond to, and recover from a disaster.
Schools also may access resources to learn about grant funding.
Citizen Corps continues to build partnerships with school
representatives to participate in coordinated State, Urban Area, and
local efforts to apply for community preparedness funding through
Citizen Corps and other grant programs. It is important for school
administrators to recognize that school participation on Citizen Corps
Councils helps ``leverage'' grant funding for school and community
preparedness. At the State level, school administrators and State
Citizen Corps Programs have worked together on funding initiatives in
schools. One such example includes the facilitation of Teen Community
Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train the Trainer courses.
Administered by DHS, the CERT program educates people about
disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response
skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster
medical operations. Using their training, CERT members assist others in
their neighborhoods and workplaces following events, and they take more
active overall roles in preparing their communities. In addition to
Teen CERT, this program has expanded in recent years to include Campus
CERT, which offers CERT training to America's teenagers and young
At the local level, schools and local emergency managers and/or
Citizen Corps Council leaders have collaborated on preparedness
outreach efforts to include students, parents, and faculty. Some
DeSoto County, Mississippi, and the State of
Mississippi: The State of Mississippi has made working with
schools a priority for its Citizen Corps Program. In DeSoto
County, emergency management officers work with the local
school system on emergency planning and provide CERT training
to school faculty. Also in DeSoto, Citizen Corps volunteers and
professional responders help schools develop emergency plans
according to the hazards they face and design exercises to test
the plans. Statewide, the Mississippi Citizen Corps Council has
focused on the delivery of CERT training for educators in
elementary and secondary schools, as well as universities and
colleges. Last year, DeSoto's Citizen Corps Council began
providing CERT training to faculty at all 26 elementary and
secondary schools in the district.
Eugene, Oregon, Police Department: Through the
department's School Resource Team, police officers volunteer to
mentor students by having lunch with them, assist with crime
prevention class presentations and development of social skills
classes, tutor students in after school homework clubs, and
interact with students, staff, and administrators.
Hillsborough County School Board (Tampa, Florida) and
Sarasota County School District's North Port High School (North
Port, Florida): The Hillsborough County School Board and North
Port High School offer CERT training to students, teachers, and
safety professionals. They are currently offering basic CERT
training, as well as advanced/refresher training in Terrorism,
Fire Scene Rehab Support, Mass Casualty Scenarios, and Bio-
readiness for Safety Professionals. Hillsborough County is on
track to train 150 students and Sarasota County plans on
training 300 participants.
Four Citizen Corps Partner Programs may be of interest to local
schools, first responders and others who are interested in education,
training, and preparedness activities for the community:
An expanded Neighborhood Watch Program (NWP)
incorporates terrorism awareness education into its existing
crime prevention mission, while also serving as a way to bring
together residents to focus on emergency preparedness and
emergency response training. Funded by the Department of
Justice, Neighborhood Watch is administered by the National
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program strengthens
communities by helping medical, public health, and other
volunteers offer their expertise throughout the year as well as
during local emergencies and other times of community need. MRC
volunteers work in coordination with existing local emergency
response programs and also supplement existing community public
health initiatives, such as outreach and prevention,
immunization programs, blood drives, case management, care
planning, and other efforts. The MRC program is administered by
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) works to enhance
the capacity of State and local law enforcement to engage
volunteers. VIPS serves as a gateway to information for and
about law enforcement volunteer programs, including programs
geared toward young people. For example, VIPS has produced a
10-minute video on ``Engaging Youth through Volunteerism.''
VIPS also sponsors a Police Explorers program for teens and
young adults ages 15 to 21.
The Fire Corps promotes the use of citizen advocates
to enhance the capacity of resource-constrained fire and rescue
departments at all levels: volunteer, combination, and career.
Citizen advocates assist local fire departments in a range of
activities including fire safety outreach, youth programs such
as its Explorers program, and administrative support. Fire
Corps provides resources to help fire and rescue departments
create opportunities for citizen advocates and promote citizen
participation. Fire Corps is funded through DHS and is managed
and implemented through a partnership among the National
Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire
Fighters, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.