Homeland Security (October 2009)

Cybersecurity: a shared responsibility

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama described our cyber networks and systems as “strategic national assets” and “keys to our prosperity in the 21st century.” Protecting these networks from attack is an urgent national priority.

H1N1 pandemic tests our ability to prevent, respond

As medical experts warned last spring, the H1N1influenza virus has moved with alarming speed this fall and taken an exceptionally high toll at a time of year when we don’t normally encounter significant cases of flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now reports that H1N1 has spread to all parts of the U.S., with almost all states reporting widespread or regional outbreaks. While this new flu strain seems to be affecting most people mildly, it is clearly affecting a small percentage quite seriously, which raises the question of whether the virus is getting ahead of the public health system’s capacity at this moment to prevent it and respond to it.

Bill would protect chemical plants

A weapon, a target and a terrorist:  These are the fundamental elements of a terrorist attack, and generally every attack, whether in the U.S. or abroad, has them. In some cases, such as in an attack on a chemical plant, there’s a possibility that the target and the weapon are one and the same.  This takes one of the elements out of the equation, possibly simplifying the process for any terrorist wanting to inflict harm on our nation.

U.S. weak in foreign-visitor tracking, particularly departure enforcement

One of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) key responsibilities is keeping track of foreign visitors entering and leaving the United States. From a homeland security perspective, it is essential that we have a meaningful, effective tracking system to ensure that those visiting this country have the right documentation, and leave when those documents expire. In order to help achieve this mission, DHS created the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology initiative, otherwise known as US-VISIT.

Securing the Cities program is about securing our nation

On Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda terrorists hijacked two commercial airliners and used them to bring down the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, murdering thousands in the first wave of that day’s despicable attacks, all of America gasped, mourned and was outraged because America was under attack that morning.