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Entries in Janet Napolitano (25)

Wednesday
Feb082012

TSA to Expand Expedited Passenger Screening Program

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday morning the expansion of the airline passenger pre-screening program that allows passengers who are enrolled to have expedited screenings.

Those associated with "Pre-Check" face fewer hassles; they no longer have to remove their shoes or belts, they can wear light jackets, and they can keep their computers in their bags and their three-ounce liquids and gels in their carry-ons.
 
“By the end of March, Pre-Check will be operating here at Reagan National, and also we are expanding it to New York's JFK Airport, Salt Lake City International and Chicago O'Hare.  By the end of calendar year 2012, we will have Pre-Check up and running at 28 of the nation's busiest airports. Expanding TSA Pre-Check is about more than just speeding up travel. It's part of a fundamental shift in how we approach aviation security,” said Napolitano at a news conference at Reagan National Airport Wednesday morning.


[CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 28 AIRPORTS GETTING PRE-CHECK LATER THIS YEAR]


“Immediately after the attacks of 9/11, we simply did not have the information and analytic capability to identify travelers who posed the greatest potential risk and so we had to take a one-size-fits-all approach,” she said.  “Our experience over the past several years has made us smarter about the evolving threats we face and how best to deal with them.”
 
Pistole said that random screening checks would still be employed by TSA officers despite an individual's enrollment in Pre-Check, but he described how the program would normally work.

“The key is that we have done pre-screening before somebody ever gets to the checkpoint.  So when the person arrives, they will have in their -- on their boarding pass, embedded in the bar code, the fact that they are part of the TSA Pre-Check program.  And so there will be a dedicated lane for those individuals. Thus far in the seven airports where it's currently operating, we've had over 310,000 flyers go through this program.” Pistole said.
 
The program is currently being used with frequent flyers with American Airlines at airports in Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and with Delta at airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis.  US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines will begin to have their frequent flyers enroll in the program later this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

Loss of Life Possible in Major Cyber Attack, Warns Homeland Security

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that a major computer attack against critical U.S. infrastructure could result in a loss of life and massive economic damages.

“The network intrusion that shuts down the nation’s critical infrastructure … could cause loss of life but also a huge economic loss,” Napolitano said at a cybersecurity event sponsored by the Washington Post. “We’ve seen attempts on Wall Street, transportation systems, things of those sorts.”

Cybersecurity experts have long warned that hackers could target electrical grids and power plants, which could affect hospitals and water treatment plants.

Napolitano added that DHS offices had been probed in computer intrusions by hackers attempting to infiltrate the department’s systems. She declined, however, to comment on the details of the intrusions or specify if the intrusions had targeted her office.

Napolitano discussed a wide range of computer security issues at the event and urged Congress to push forward with cybersecurity legislation that the White House proposed in May. Napolitano said she hoped the legislation could gain strong bipartisan support.

“Cyber attacks are increasing in frequency, in complexity and in consequence,” Napolitano said. “In [fiscal year] 2011 alone, our U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, CERT, responded to more than 100,000 incident reports and released more than 5,000 actionable cybersecurity alerts and information products.”

Although the DHS secretary declined to address specific instances, there have been a slew of high-profile hacking intrusions in the past two years:

  • The FBI and U.S. Secret Service are investigating intrusions into computer systems run by NASDAQ-OMX, the parent company of the NASDAQ stock exchange, which were compromised last year.
  • Earlier this year RSA, the security division of the EMC Corp., suffered a computer intrusion that resulted in a breach of its firm’s intellectual property, Secure ID, which provides encrypted authentication services.
  • During 2009, groups in China were behind a highly sophisticated hacking of Google and more than 30 other companies that went undetected until January 2010.


“We are in a constant state of seeing activity against critical infrastructure,” said Greg Schaffer, DHS assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, who also spoke at Thursday’s event.

U.S. officials believe that China had been behind many of the infiltrations; members of Congress have recently mentioned this, but diplomatic and security officials are more reluctant to attribute the infiltrations to China.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Sec. Napolitano Blames Congress for Border Security, Immigration Reform Issues

United States Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) -- At a speech at American University in Washington on Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano forcefully defended the administration’s immigration policy.

She both aimed to set the record straight on the issue, and put the burden on Congress to act now on immigration reform.

"We know the immigration system needs to be updated, and we committed then, and continue today, to seek reforms that make sense and are meaningful." Napolitano said, "But Congress hasn’t acted and states continue to pass a patchwork of their own laws in an attempt to fill the void.  It is this Administration’s position that Congress needs to take up immigration reform once and for all.  We have put forward our ideas and are ready to act quickly and collaboratively to support passage of reforms that make sense."

Napolitano claimed that previous efforts at immigration enforcement policies such as work site enforcement raids, neighborhood sweeps, and going after college students made “no sense.”

"Using the claim that the border is not secure as a reason to block immigration reform is not reasonable.  We are continuing to answer the call, and for the last two and a half years, have seen dramatic declines in illegal immigration and dramatic increases in seizures."

She also maintained that the ICE is more focused now on targeting criminal aliens who actually pose a threat to public safety and that “removing people unlawfully in the country who have been booked into jail” will continue to be a “top priority.”

Napolitano voiced support for the DHS-ICE program, Secure Communities, which acts to cross check offenders in jail with FBI and ICE databases that are looking for criminal offenders.

When asked about laws that states have passed to deal with specific immigration laws, Napolitano responded “If states are acting individually, that’s because Congress hasn’t acted.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep162011

Napolitano on Disaster Relief Fund: 'We Do Not Have Enough Money'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed frustration Thursday that Congress has not moved swiftly enough to pass a supplemental funding bill for FEMA in this year of wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes.

“The fight we’re in now is to get money for the disaster relief fund.  We do not have enough money -- given the number of disasters we’ve had this year -- to finish the fiscal year, and to do all the things we have to do,” Napolitano said Thursday at the Aspen Institute.

“I had to have a meeting with my FEMA director about things we will have to stop in places around the United States, unless Congress signals that they’re ready to put a supplemental into the Disaster Relief Fund,” Napolitano said.

There are competing packages in the Senate and House about how much extra money should be provided to FEMA and the agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.  The White House has said that Hurricane Irene will cost $1.5 billion through 2012.  The Office of Management and Budget has said there is an additional $5.2 billion needed for non-Hurricane Irene disaster needs.

“It means existing joint field offices in disaster areas around the country, where we’re doing recovery,” Napolitano said of the implications of the budget crunch and what services may cease without the funding.  “It means public assistance for things like rebuilding fire stations and schools that were destroyed in the tornadoes in the spring and the flooding in the spring, and what we’ve seen recently.  It may even mean going back as far as some of the investments that we made to repair Katrina.”

According to DHS officials, the Disaster Relief Fund currently stands at $351 million.  After Hurricane Irene and deadly spring tornadoes and severe flooding in the Dakotas, the fund has been strained.  In recent weeks, the fund has dropped almost $450 million.  DHS officials said that on Aug. 30, the fund stood at just under $800 million.

FEMA had to place funding restrictions on longer-term repair and rebuilding projects from previous and current disasters because the fund had dropped below $1 billion.  FEMA officials say that when the Disaster Relief Fund has been under $1 billion they have used a funding method called “Immediate Needs Funding,” which prioritizes the immediate needs of disaster survivors, states, and communities during disasters, so that FEMA can continue its focus on response and urgent recovery efforts without any interruption."

“The survivors that are eligible for assistance are still getting funds.  Individual assistance programs were not affected by this, nor was any protective measures, or any debris clearance or any project that had already been approved,” said FEMA Director Craig Fugate said at a White House briefing on Aug. 29, 2011 after Irene had passed up the East Coast.

“The only thing that we have postponed is new projects that are permanent work that had not been started when we go into immediate needs funding.  And that is to ensure that we still have funds to do this response, continue to meet the needs of the survivors of the previous disasters, while supporting the initial response to Hurricane Irene,” he said.

Similar funding limitations went into effect in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Napolitano: Revised Pat-Down Policy for Kids Is Months Away 

Kevin Moloney/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Defense Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that the TSA would begin enforcing a revised pat-down procedure for children under the age of 12.

She said that soon, DHS would begin a more “risked based” approach to passenger screening.

According to Napolitano, although there will still be some random checks, even for children under the age of 12, there will also be certain changes recognized by the general public in the months to come.

At the hearing, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had expressed personal displeasure with some examples of TSA screening. He pointed to an instance in which an eight-year-old girl had to be patted down due instructions relating to a child suicide bomber in Kandahar.  He stressed the importance of putting “some sense” into the security procedures.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

ABC News Exclusive: Napolitano on Al Qaeda, Homegrown Terror Threats

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Heading into the 10th anniversary weekend of the 9/11 attacks, the nation’s top counterterrorism officials have ramped up security measures, and are looking out for a “lone wolf.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told ABC News that “we don’t right now have intelligence that a big plot is in the works.”

But while there is no known specific plot by al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, Napolitano warned, “now that differentiates from the lone wolf, the lone actor that we may not know about, who may already be in the United States and so it requires us to be vigilant and the public to be vigilant. ”

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Napolitano surveyed the state of U.S. defenses against al Qaeda.

While “core al Qaeda” in Pakistan and Afghanistan has deteriorated, she said, al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has grown into a real threat.

A big reason al Qaeda is so potent, she said, was its leader, Anwar Alwaki.  Alwaki is an American Imam who became radicalized and is now operating his own terror group in Yemen.  Sources have told ABC News that Alwaki is intent on striking the U.S. in any way he can.

In fact, an ABC News analysis shows that Alwaki is either behind, or has inspired, 19 Americans who federal prosecutors say were homegrown radicals.

“He is at the top of the list, if not at the top,” Napolitano said of Alwaki when asked if he was a prominent threat.  “He knows Western ways, he kind of knows how to market to Westerners and we know that al Qaeda is trying to recruit."

Napolitano said Alwaki is using online magazines and videos to try to lure disaffected Americans into his violent ideology.

“You know the Internet is a powerful tool for good, for friendships, for commerce, for what have you, but it also can be used for evil,” the DHS secretary said.  “And we see it being used to recruit young Americans, not necessarily even young Americans, to a terrorist-type ideology.”

She added that one of the biggest changes she has seen as DHS secretary, “is the movement toward the home-grown violent extremist.  The person who for whatever reason decides to attack his fellow citizens.”

To combat the surge in homegrown terror, Napolitano said, “requires us to focus more on training local law enforcement, they’re the eyes out there.”  And she emphasized, getting the public engaged, through the “See something, say something” program, is key to stopping homegrown threats.  “The public,” she said, “are our other set of eyes.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Napolitano's Future: Airline Passengers Can Keep Shoes On

Digital Vision/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sees the future of American air travel, and it is full of passengers who are allowed to keep their shoes on through security.

"We are moving towards an intelligence and risk-based approach to how we screen," Napolitano said Tuesday, according to Politico, at an event sponsored by the news organization. "I think one of the first things you will see over time is the ability to keep your shoes on. One of the last things you will [see] is the reduction or limitation on liquids."

Airports began demanding passengers remove their shoes for a separate scan after convicted terrorist Richard Reid unsuccessfully attempted to set off explosives hidden in his shoes during a transatlantic flight in December 2001.

"[T]he threat posed by shoe bombs didn't end with the so-called shoe bomber," the Transportation Security Administration says on its website. "Government tests have shown how a shoe bomb could easily slice through metal and potentially take down a plane."

Napolitano said "new technology" was the solution to the current "inconveniences" of air travel security -- such as shoe removal -- but did not elaborate on what that technology was. However, she said that technology does not yet exist that is capable of distinguishing harmless liquids from potential bombs in one, quick scan, meaning it could take much longer to ease the restrictions on liquids, according to the Politico report.

Napolitano's comments come less than a week after Germany declared full-body imaging systems currently in use in some U.S. airports too unreliable to use in their airports -- partially due to what the German government said was a high frequency of false alarms, including the system's reported inability to distinguish human sweat from potentially deadly chemicals.

As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks approaches, Napolitano joined the chorus of government officials who said there is so far no "specific or credible information" on an impending attack, but Napolitano warned the symbolic date could be a tempting target for a "lone wolf" actor.

"It's also a possibility that we will have...a lone wolf decide, 'This is a great day to get some attention. I'm going to do something,'" she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

US Warns on Terror Vigilance Around 9/11 Anniversary

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The United States is warning Americans at home and abroad to be vigilant because al Qaeda may look to strike around the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. At the same time, authorities say there is no indication an attack is imminent.

“We remind our federal, state, local partners, and the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement authorities,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement Friday morning.

“We remain at a heightened state of vigilance and security measures are in place to detect and prevent plots against the United States should they emerge,” she said.

A Worldwide Alert issued by the State Department Friday issued similar advice to Americans living and traveling abroad. The alert is quick to note, however, that the United States has no information that suggests an attack is in the works.

“While we have not identified any specific threats from al-Qa’ida affiliates and allies to attack the United States or our interests on the 9/11 anniversary, U.S. citizens should be aware that al-Qa’ida affiliates and allies have demonstrated the intent and capability to carry out attacks against the United States and our interests around the world.  In the past, terrorist organizations have on occasion planned their attacks to coincide with significant dates on the calendar,” it says.

Documents captured during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden indicate that the former al Qaeda leader remained obsessed with the thought of another massive attack against the United States and eyed doing so around the Sept. 11 anniversary. The documents indicate he discussed some options with top aides right until he was killed in the May 2 operation, but U.S. officials believe those plans were not fully developed. One document from Feb. 2010 revealed that bin Laden explored a plan to derail a train here around this year’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Law enforcement officials, meanwhile, are not taking any chances. ABC News’ Pierre Thomas and Richard Esposito reported yesterday that security agencies are scouring communications for any sign of a terror plot. So far they have not found any intelligence to suggest an attack is imminent. The New York Police Department is on high alert and has deployed extra teams to be on the lookout for danger and to respond to any incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug282011

Irene Moves On: Millions Without Power, 14 Dead

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Irene, downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, swept through the Northeast Sunday, leaving at least 14 dead in its wake, millions without power and an estimated $7 billion to $13 billion in damages.

"We're not out of the woods yet. Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

The storm made landfall in Coney Island, N.Y., at 8:45 a.m. Sunday morning as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds, but by 10 a.m. patches of blue sky and sunshine began peeking through in lower Manhattan.

The storm, which created flood conditions up and down the East Coast, is accompanied by heavy rainfall and powerful winds. But Irene appeared to have caused less damage than anticipated in the New York area, and forecasts indicate the tropical storm will weaken in New England and become a post-tropical cyclone tonight or early Monday.

The hurricane is moving through southern New England Sunday afternoon.

While Irene's strength has declined and residents return home, government officials are warning the public that the storm still poses safety dangers.

"We encourage you to stay off the roads so much as possible," Napolitano said at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) news conference.

"We still have a ways to go with Irene," she said.

Some areas are still prone to tidal flooding and heavy will be the ongoing issue as the storm passes through New England today to eastern Canada overnight, FEMA officials said.

Officials said it will take time to assess total damage costs but Peter Morici, a professor at University of Maryland predicts that the projected dollar figure will surpass Hurricane Katrina.

"Revised estimates of the direct damage caused by Hurricane Irene are in the range of $20 billion. Add to those the loss of about two days economic activity, spread over a week, across 25 percent of the economy, and an estimated of the losses imposed by Irene is about $40 to 45 billion," Morici said.

At least 14 people have reportedly died as a result of Irene's assault on the East Coast, including victims of car accidents and falling tree limbs.

Tornadoes reportedly touched down in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware, according to the National Hurricane Center's John Cangialosi.

For an hour on Saturday night, there was a tornado warning for Philadelphia's Center City, though there was no indication a tornado actually touched down. Tornadoes often form during hurricanes, but are hard to spot or track because of all the violent weather around them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul222011

US 'Stronger and More Resilient than Ever Before' in Fighting Terrorism

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. government in a new report obtained by ABC News says the nation “is stronger and more resilient than ever before” when it comes to fighting terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security report does acknowledge that “challenges remain,” but praises the information sharing now taking place between various federal agencies, law enforcement and international partners.

The report also cites improved aviation screening and cyber network protection efforts in the country’s fight against terrorism.  The report does, however, state that the nation needs to be vigilant because threats “persist and continue to evolve.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told ABC News Radio that today's information sharing, which didn’t exist on 9/11, is key because it offers “layered protection” for the American people in a sense that if one agency or law enforcement group fails to pick up a terrorist threat, other Department of Homeland Security partners are there to spot it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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