WASHINGTON — Certainly it’s not what we want to hear.
Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security told a Congressional committee Wednesday that the terrorism threat “facing our country has evolved significantly in the last ten years – and continues to evolve – so that, in some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks.”
Appearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security, she said:
“In addition to the direct threats we continue to face from al-Qaeda, we also face growing threats from other foreign-based terrorist groups that are inspired by al-Qaeda ideology but have few operational connections to the core al-Qaeda group.
“And, perhaps most crucially, we face a threat environment where violent extremism is not defined or contained by international borders. Today, we must address threats that are homegrown as well as those that originate abroad.
“One of the most striking elements of today’s threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens. We are now operating under the assumption, based on the latest intelligence and recent arrests, that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of violence might be in the United States, and they could carry out acts of violence with little or no warning.”
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Chairman King, Ranking Member Thompson, and members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the changing terrorist threat that the United States faces, and how the Department of Homeland Security is responding. I am glad to be here today with my colleague, Director Leiter. I look forward to continuing to work with this Committee and its leadership in this new Congress, and I expect that, working together, we will continue to make great strides in securing our country.
The Response to a Changing Threat
Since 9/11, the United States has made important progress in securing our Nation from terrorism. Nevertheless, the terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly in the last ten years – and continues to evolve – so that, in some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks. This fact requires us to continually adapt our counterterrorism techniques to effectively detect, deter, and prevent terrorist acts.
Following 9/11, the federal government moved quickly to build an intelligence and security apparatus that has protected our country from the kind of large-scale attack, directed from abroad, that struck us nearly ten years ago. The resulting architecture yielded considerable success in both preventing this kind of attack and limiting, though not eliminating, the operational ability of the core al-Qaeda group that is currently based in the mountainous area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Today, however, in addition to the direct threats we continue to face from al-Qaeda, we also face growing threats from other foreign-based terrorist groups that are inspired by al-Qaeda ideology but have few operational connections to the core al-Qaeda group. And, perhaps most crucially, we face a threat environment where violent extremism is not defined or contained by international borders. Today, we must address threats that are homegrown as well as those that originate abroad.
One of the most striking elements of today’s threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens. We are now operating under the assumption, based on the latest intelligence and recent arrests, that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of violence might be in the United States, and they could carry out acts of violence with little or no warning.
Over the past two years, we have seen the rise of a number of terrorist groups inspired by al-Qaeda ideology – including (but not limited to) al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) from Yemen, al-Shabaab from Somalia, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – that are placing a growing emphasis on recruiting individuals who are either Westerners or have connections to the West, but who do not have strong links to terrorist groups, and are thus more difficult for authorities to identify. We saw this, for instance, in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of attempting to detonate explosives aboard a Detroit-bound plane on December 25, 2009; and Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a bomb in Times Square in May of last year. These groups are also trying to inspire individuals in the West to launch their own, smaller-scale attacks, which require less of the advanced planning or coordination that would typically raise red flags. The logic supporting these kinds of terrorist plots is simple: They present fewer opportunities for disruption by intelligence or law enforcement than more elaborate, larger-scale plots by groups of foreign-based terrorists.
This threat of homegrown violent extremism fundamentally changes who is most often in the best position to spot terrorist activity, investigate, and respond. More and more, state, local, and tribal front-line law enforcement officers are most likely to notice the first signs of terrorist activity. This has profound implications for how we go about securing our country against the terrorist threat, and requires a new kind of security architecture that complements the structure we have already built to protect America from threats coming from abroad.
Over the past two years, the Department of Homeland Security has been working diligently to build this new architecture in order to defend against this evolving threat. There are two dimensions of this architecture that I will discuss today before I detail other major developments in our defenses against terrorism over the past year.
The first part of our effort is working directly with law enforcement and community-based organizations to counter violent extremism at its source, using many of the same techniques and strategies that have proven successful in combating violence in American communities. Law enforcement at the state, local and federal levels are leveraging and enhancing their relationships with members of diverse communities that broadly and strongly reject violent extremism.
Second, DHS is focused on getting resources and information out of Washington, D.C. and into the hands of state and local law enforcement, in order to provide them with the tools they need to combat the threats their communities face. Because state and local law enforcement are often in the best position to first notice the signs of a planned attack, our homeland security efforts must be interwoven in the police work that state, local, and tribal officers do every day. We must make sure that officers everywhere have a clear understanding of the tactics, behaviors, and other indicators that could point to terrorist activity. Accordingly, DHS is improving and expanding the information-sharing mechanisms by which officers on the beat are made aware of the threat picture and what it means for their communities. DHS is doing so in alignment with the vision of Congress and the direction the President has set for a robust information sharing environment. These efforts include providing training programs for local law enforcement to help them identify indicators of terrorist activity, as well as our work with our partners at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, which has created a standardized system for reporting suspicious activity so that this information can be analyzed against national trends and shared across jurisdictions. And we are encouraging Americans to alert local law enforcement if they see something that is potentially dangerous through the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. The kind of vigilance that this campaign promotes has helped to foil terrorist plots in the past, including last month in Spokane, Washington.
Taken together, these steps lay a strong foundation that police and their partners across the country can use to protect their communities from terrorism and violence. While many kinds of violent motivations threaten our security1, these initiatives are helping to build a strong foundation of preparedness that will be embedded in the fabric of cities and towns across the Nation. Indeed, what we are building to secure America from every type of attack is a homeland security architecture that helps law enforcement everywhere protect their communities from any type of attack. This homeland security architecture will be paired with efforts to better understand the risk confronting the homeland, and to protect the privacy rights and civil liberties of all Americans.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)
Since 2009, more than two dozen Americans have been arrested on terrorism-related charges. More broadly, a report last month from the New York State Intelligence Center, the fusion center for the State of New York, examining 32 major terrorism cases in the United States related to al-Qaeda-like ideology since 9/11, shows that 50 of the 88 individuals involved in those plots were U.S. citizens at the time of their arrests, and among those citizens, a clear majority of were natural-born.2
This report demonstrates why we must confront the threat of homegrown violent extremism in order to truly secure our country. We have a clear path forward to guide our efforts on this front. The Homeland Security Advisory Council’s (HSAC) Countering Violent Extremism Working Group – comprised of security experts, elected officials, law enforcement leaders, community leaders, and first responders from around the country – has provided DHS with a number of recommendations on how to support local law enforcement and community-based efforts to identify and combat sources of violent extremism.
One major recommendation was to develop a CVE curriculum for state and local law enforcement that is focused on community-oriented policing, and that would help enable frontline personnel to identify activities that are indicators of potential terrorist activity and violence. We have now developed the first iteration of this curriculum, through partnership with the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Department of Justice, the Counter Terrorism Academy, and the Naval Postgraduate School. The first training with this CVE curriculum will take place this month at DHS’ Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Law enforcement from New York, Detroit, the Twin Cities, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles are invited to participate. This curriculum will continue to be developed and refined in consultation with our partners, and it will become widely available through regional policing institutes, in addition to FLETC. The eventual goal is to include this curriculum in the basic and in-service training that is provided to all new law enforcement personnel.
In forming these kinds of community-based partnerships, it is important that communities learn from each other about what works in countering violent extremism. To support this effort, we work closely with a diverse collection of religious, ethnic, and community organizations. As the President said in his State of the Union address, in the face of violent extremism, “we are responding with the strength of our communities.” A vast majority of people in every American community resoundingly reject violence, and this certainly includes the violent, al-Qaeda-style ideology that claims to launch attacks in the name of their widely rejected version of Islam. We must use these facts as a tool against the threat of homegrown violent extremism. In conjunction with these communities and with the Department of Justice and the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment, we have published guidance on best practices for community partnerships, which has been distributed to local law enforcement across the country. DHS also holds regular regional meetings – which include state and local law enforcement, state and local governments, and community organizations – in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis. These regional meetings have enabled participants to provide and receive feedback on successful community-oriented policing and other programs aimed at preventing violence.
DHS has also issued, and continues to compile, unclassified case studies that examine recent incidents involving terrorism so that state and local law enforcement, state and local governments, and community members can understand the warning signs that could indicate a developing terrorist attack. These case studies focus on common behaviors and indicators regarding violent extremism to increase overall situational awareness and provide law enforcement with information on tactics, techniques, and plans of international and domestic terrorists.
DHS has also conducted “deep dive” sessions with the intelligence directors of major city police departments and with the leadership of state and major urban area fusion centers. DHS leaders meet with these individuals to discuss case studies, terrorist techniques, and current or novel indicators of terrorism, so that these leaders can inculcate these lessons in their own institutions.
The United States government as a whole is also working with our international allies who have experience with homegrown terrorism. The State Department has the lead for these international activities, but DHS is also working with foreign governments that share many of our security concerns. In the past several months, DHS has participated in bilateral conferences with partners in Canada and the United Kingdom on countering violent extremism, and these and additional conversations will continue to leverage lessons our partners have learned that may benefit law enforcement in the United States.
We will also leverage grant programs to support training and technical assistance in building community partnerships and local participation in the SAR Initiative. Pending our FY 2011 appropriation, DHS, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) within DOJ, and the DOJ Bureau for Justice Assistance within the DOJ are working together to develop a joint grant resource guide for state and local law enforcement that leverages relevant funds and programs for community-oriented policing. At the same time, DHS is expanding engagement through our Privacy Office and our Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to help DHS personnel and law enforcement on the ground better understand and identify threats and mitigate risks to our communities while ensuring these efforts respect the rights enjoyed by all Americans.
Supporting Law Enforcement with the Information and Resources They Need
As I mentioned above, a major role of the Department of Homeland Security is to get information and resources out of Washington, D.C. and into the hands of law enforcement throughout the country. Local law enforcement, community groups, citizens, and the private sector play as much of a role in homeland security as the federal government. That is why we emphasize that “homeland security starts with hometown security.”
DHS has been working to expand our efforts to build the capacities of state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement over the past two years to support four main priorities. First, the information and intelligence provided to states and local authorities should be timely, actionable, and useful to their efforts to protect local communities from terrorism and other threats. Second, we should support state and local law enforcement efforts to recognize the behaviors and indicators associated with terrorism, and incorporate this knowledge into their day-to-day efforts to protect their communities from terrorist acts violent crime. Third, we should ensure that information about terrorism-related suspicious activity is shared quickly among all levels of government, so that information from the front lines can be factored into larger analytic efforts regarding the threat picture across the whole country. Fourth, we should encourage a “whole of nation” approach to security, where officers on the ground are supported by an informed, vigilant public that plays a key role in helping to secure our country against new and evolving threats.
We have dedicated significant resources to building four major pieces of our new homeland-security architecture to work towards these goals. The four pieces are Joint Terrorist Task Forces (JTTFs), state and major urban area fusion centers, the Nationwide SAR Initiative, and the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.
Joint Terrorism Task Forces
A critical piece of the homeland security architecture is the mechanism created to jointly investigate terrorism cases: the Joint Terrorism Task Forces led by the FBI. Hundreds of DHS personnel from eleven DHS components are currently working to support and participate in the 104 JTTFs across the country, all of which marshal resources from a number of sources to jointly conduct terrorism investigations. Our Nation’s JTTFs have been successful in mitigating the terrorist threat in a number of instances, including in the investigation of Najibullah Zazi, who was arrested in 2009 for a terrorist plot to attack the New York transit system. In that case, several FBI field offices and their JTTFs (including the New York JTTF) contributed to efforts in identifying Zazi, conducting surveillance of him, and arresting Zazi before he could execute his attack, while also identifying Zazi’s associates.
The second element is the network of state and major urban area fusion centers, which serve as focal points for information sharing among all levels of government. While JTTFs are investigative teams that bring agencies together to investigate particular terrorism cases, fusion centers are analytical and information-sharing entities that bring agencies together to assess local implications of threat information in order to better understand the general threat picture. These centers analyze information and identify trends to share timely intelligence with federal, state, and local law enforcement including DHS, which then further shares this information with other members of the Intelligence Community. In turn, DHS provides relevant and appropriate threat information from the Intelligence Community back to the fusion centers. Today, there are 72 state- and locally-run fusion centers in operation across the nation, up from a handful in 2006. Our goal is to make every one of these fusion centers a center of analytic excellence that provides useful, actionable information about threats to law enforcement and first responders. To do this, we have deployed 68 experienced DHS intelligence officers to fusion centers across the country. We are committed to having an officer in each fusion center. DHS further supports fusion centers through the grants process,and, as fusion centers become fully operational, by deploying the Homeland Security Data Network to provide access to classified homeland security threat information to qualified personnel. Our support for fusion centers is focused on supporting them to fully achieve four baseline capabilities: the ability to receive classified and unclassified threat-related information from the federal government; the ability to assess the local implications of threat-related information through the use of risk assessments; the ability to further disseminate to localities threat information, so local law enforcement can recognize behaviors and indicators associated with terrorism; and the ability to share, when appropriate, locally-generated information with federal authorities, in order to better identify emerging threats. The Department of Justice also work closely with fusion centers to ensure that the analytical work of fusion centers and the investigative work of JTTFs complement each other.
Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative
The third piece of our homeland security architecture that I described earlier is the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting, or SAR, Initiative, which DHS is working closely with DOJ in order to expand and improve. The Nationwide SAR Initiative creates a standard process for law enforcement to identify, document, vet, and share reports of suspicious incidents or behaviors associated with specific threats of terrorism. The reports then can be used to identify broader trends. To date, the SAR Initiative is under various stages of implementation at 33 sites that cover two-thirds of the American population, and it should be fully implemented across the country by September of this year.
Importantly, this initiative also trains frontline, analytic, and executive personnel to recognize behaviors and indicators associated with terrorism, and to distinguish them from non-suspicious and legal behaviors. Thus far, more than 13,000 frontline federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel across the country have received SAR training, and it is expected that virtually all frontline law enforcement personnel in the United States – hundreds of thousands of officers – will receive this training by the autumn of this year, thanks in large part to the partnership of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. As part of the SAR Initiative, we are also installing information-sharing technologies within DHS that enable suspicious activity reports that are vetted by specially trained analysts to be forwarded to JTTFs and to be accessible to other fusion centers and DHS offices. In conjunction with the Nationwide SAR Initiative, DHS is also working to provide reporting capability directly to owners and operators of critical infrastructure.
The initial stages of this program have underscored the value of this initiative. For example, over the two years it was involved in the pilot, one major city reported that implementation of the initiative resulted in seventeen reports related to an open FBI terrorism case. Over those same two years, a total of 393 reports were accepted by local JTTFs for further investigation, and local investigations resulted in 90 additional arrests for weapons offenses and related charges. Separately, as the media has already reported, a Chicago Police Department officer filed a suspicious activity report in summer 2009 about David Coleman Headley based on observations the officer made in a Chicago park. Headley was subsequently tied to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November of 2008 and was arrested on U.S. charges as well. In addition, fusion centers in New York, Florida, and Virginia used suspicious activity reports and other documents to identify associates of both Faisal Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi.
“If You See Something, Say Something”
The fourth element of the homeland security architecture I referenced is the effort to spread awareness about the role the public plays in our security. The vigilance of Americans continues to help save lives and aid law enforcement and first responders. We saw this last month in the brave responses of many Americans in the moments after the shootings in Tucson, when members of the public subdued the shooter. We saw how the vigilance of the public can prevent an attack when a potentially deadly bomb was found prior to the start of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington, after several city workers noticed a suspicious backpack and reported it to police. Of course, we all remember how last May, a street vendor alerted police to smoke coming from a car and helped to save lives during the attempted bombing in Times Square. Time and time again, we see vivid examples of why the American public’s vigilance is a critical part of our security.
To foster this vigilance, we have taken a public awareness campaign with a familiar slogan – “If You See Something, Say Something,” initially used by New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority and funded in part by DHS – and are spreading it across the country. This program is based on those tenets of community-oriented policing that enable the public to work closely with local law enforcement to protect their communities from crime. The campaign outlines a positive role that Americans can play in our shared security. This public education effort is being expanded to places where the Nationwide SAR Initiative is already being implemented, so we can ensure that calls to authorities will be handled appropriately and in an environment where privacy and civil-liberties protections are in place. The campaign has already been launched in a number of state and local jurisdictions, as well as within several key sectors, including Amtrak, the general aviation community, the Washington Metro, New Jersey Transit, with the NFL and the NCAA, the commercial services sector at hotels and major landmarks such as the Mall of America in Minnesota, and national retailers like Walmart; and at federal buildings protected by the Federal Protective Service.
In addition to these four major pieces of our homeland security architecture, we are further enhancing our Nation’s defenses against threats through reforms we have made to the DHS grants and the grant process. Our state and local partners everywhere are struggling to pay their bills and fund vital services. As a former governor, I know the hard choices they face. But it is critical to our national security that local communities maintain and continue to strengthen their public safety capabilities. In 2010, DHS awarded $3.8 billion to states, cities, law enforcement, and first responders to strengthen preparedness for acts of terrorism, major disasters and other emergencies. We are also changing the grant process to help them stretch these dollars even further. We have eliminated red tape by streamlining the grant process; expanded eligible expenses to fund maintenance and sustainability; and made it easier for fire grants to be put to work quickly to rehire laid-off firefighters and protect the jobs of veteran firefighters.
We also are making significant changes to the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), which will make the system a better tool for disseminating information about threats both to the public and to specific sectors. Last month, I announced the end of the old system of color-coded alerts, and that we are moving forward on a 90-day implementation period in which state and local governments, law enforcement agencies, private and non-profit sector partners, airports, and transport hubs will transition to this new system.
Americans have a stake in our collective security, and we trust them to do their part in our shared responsibility for our Nation’s security. The new system is built on the simple premise that when a threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell the public and provide whatever information we can.
The new system reflects the reality that we must always be on alert and ready. When we have information about a specific, credible threat, we will issue a formal alert with as much information as possible. The alert may also be limited; depending on the nature of the threat, alerts may be issued only to law enforcement, or, for example, to a segment of the private sector such as shopping malls or hotels. Alternately, the alert may be issued more broadly to the American people. The alert may ask Americans to take certain actions, or to look for specific suspicious behavior. And alerts will have an end date.
This new system was developed collaboratively. It was largely the work of a bipartisan task force that included law enforcement, former mayors and governors, and members of the previous administration. I look forward to continuing to work with our many partners and with this Committee to improve this system as it moves forward.
Strengthening Vulnerable Sectors
In addition to building this foundation, DHS has also been at work strengthening sectors that have been – and continue to be – targets of attacks.
The latest threat information indicates that commercial aviation is still the top target of terrorists, a fact that is underscored by the terrible bombing in Moscow’s Domodedovo airport last month. The attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day 2009 illustrated the global nature of the threat to aviation. That incident involved a U.S. plane flying into a U.S. city, but it endangered individuals from at least 17 foreign countries. The alleged attacker, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is a Nigerian citizen educated in the United Kingdom. He received training in terrorist tactics in Yemen, purchased his ticket in Ghana, and flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam before departing for Detroit.
After this attempted terrorist attack, the U.S. government moved quickly to strengthen security. We took immediate steps to bolster passenger screening, while addressing larger systemic issues on a global scale. We launched a global initiative to ensure international aviation security efforts were stronger, better coordinated, and designed to meet the current threat environment. With the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations body responsible for air transport, we held five regional aviation security summits which resulted in five major regional aviation security declarations, and worked closely with U.S. and international airline and airport trade associations and airline CEOs on a coordinated, international approach to enhancing aviation security. These meetings culminated in the ICAO Triennial Assembly at the beginning of October, where the Assembly adopted a historic Declaration on Aviation Security, which forges a historic new foundation for aviation security that will better protect the entire global aviation system from evolving terrorist threats.
DHS coupled these international efforts with significant advances in domestic aviation security. We have deployed additional behavior detection officers, air marshals, and explosives-detection canine teams, among other measures, to airports across the country. Through the Recovery Act, we accelerated the purchase of Advanced Imaging Technology machines for deployment to airports around the country, and currently have 486 deployed. The President’s fiscal year 2011 budget request would provide funding for a further 500 AIT machines for deployment to our Nation’s airports. We are also purchasing and deploying more portable explosive detection machines, Advanced Technology x-ray systems, and bottled liquid scanners. In addition, in April 2010, the United States implemented new, enhanced security measures for all air carriers with international flights to the United States that use real-time, threat-based intelligence to better mitigate the evolving terrorist threats. And in November, DHS achieved a major aviation security milestone called for in the 9/11 Commission Report, as100 percent of passengers on flights within or bound for the United States are now being checked against government watchlists.
The global supply chain
In addition to our ongoing efforts to enhance international aviation security, last month I announced a new partnership with the World Customs Organization to enlist other nations, international bodies, and the private sector to strengthen the global supply chain. As illustrated this past October by a thwarted plot to conceal explosive devices onboard cargo aircraft bound for the United States from Yemen, the supply chain is a target for those who seek to disrupt global commerce.
Securing the global supply chain is an important part of securing both the lives of people around the world as well as the stability of the global economy. Beyond the immediate impact of a potential attack on passengers, transportation workers and other innocent people, the longer-term consequences of a disabled supply chain could quickly snowball and impact economies around the world. One consequence, for example, could be that people across the world would find empty store shelves for food, serious shortages in needed medical supplies, or significant increases in the cost of energy.
To secure the supply chain, we first must work to prevent terrorists from exploiting the supply chain to plan and execute attacks. This means, for example, working with customs agencies and shipping companies to keep precursor chemicals that can be used to produce improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from being trafficked by terrorists. We must also protect the most critical elements of the supply chain, like central transportation hubs, from attack or disruption. This means strengthening the civilian capacities of governments around the world, including our own, to secure these hubs; establishing global screening standards; and providing partner countries across the supply chain with needed training and technology. Finally, we must make the global supply chain more resilient, so that in case of disruption it can recover quickly. Trade needs to be up and running, with bolstered security, if needed, as quickly as possible after any kind of event.
I am confident the global community can make great strides on all of these fronts in 2011. Just as the nations of the world were able to make historic progress on enhancing international aviation security in 2010, so too can we make global supply chain security stronger, smarter and more resilient this year.
DHS has also taken major steps to strengthen security for surface transportation, including passenger rail and mass transit. Many of the steps I have already described are especially important in helping to secure that environment. We conducted the initial launch of the national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign at Penn Station in New York, in conjunction with Amtrak. The Nationwide SAR Initiative is also geared toward detecting signs of terrorism in mass transit hubs and vehicles like train stations, buses, or rail cars. This initiative includes as law enforcement partners the Amtrak Police Department as well as all police agencies serving rail networks in the Northeast corridor, providing officers to use this upgraded reporting system to refer suspicious activity to DHS and the FBI. This is in addition to the intelligence sharing that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducts with Amtrak on an ongoing basis, and the information-sharing work conducted by the Public Transportation Information Sharing Analysis Center. TSA special operation teams, known as Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, work with local partners to support several thousand operations every year. The expansion of the Nationwide SAR Initiative will continue to include our partners in the transportation sector.
We are moving forward on the implementation of the 20 recommendations made in the Surface Transportation Security Assessment, released in April as part of an Administration-wide effort to address surface transportation security. DHS has the lead on 19 of these recommendations; to date we have completed five of the recommendations3 and are making significant progress toward implementing the remainder. We are also in the rulemaking process to require background checks and security training for public transit employees, and to require vulnerability assessments and security plans for high-risk public transportation agencies, railroads, and bus operators. All of these actions will help to address a landscape where the threats to these systems are clear.
At the same time that we work to strengthen the security of our critical physical infrastructure, we are also working to secure cyberspace – an effort that requires coordination and partnership among the multitude of different entities in both the government and private sector that share responsibility for important cyber infrastructure. Indeed, in just the last year, we have seen the full spectrum of cyber threats, from denial-of-service attacks and spamming to attacks with spyware. However, we have made – and are continuing to make – substantial progress at building the capability necessary to address cyber incidents on a national level.
DHS has expanded its capabilities to further secure cyberspace. Last year, we entered into a new agreement with the Department of Defense and National Security Agency to enhance our capabilities to protect against threats to civilian and military computer systems and networks. Through this agreement, personnel from DHS and the DOD are now able to call upon the resources from each other and the NSA in order to respond to attacks against our interlinked networks. We also continue to expand the number of cyber experts working for DHS, a number which has increased about fivefold in the past two years.
The Cyber Storm III exercise was another milestone in 2010. This exercise simulated a large-scale cyber attack on our critical infrastructure and involved participants from DHS and seven Cabinet-level federal agencies, but also from 13 other countries and 11 states. It represented an important test for the country’s National Cyber Incident Response Plan.
DHS has opened and is now growing the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), which is a 24/7 watch-and-warning center that works closely with both government and private-sector partners. In 2011, DHS will complete the deployment of the EINSTEIN 2 threat detection system across the Federal space. In addition, the Department will continue to develop, and begin deployment, of EINSTEIN 3, which will provide DHS with the ability to automatically detect and counter malicious cyber activity.
The terrorist threat to the homeland is, in many ways, at its most heightened state since 9/11. This threat is constantly evolving, and, as I have said before, we cannot guarantee that there will never be another terrorist attack, and we cannot seal our country under a glass dome. However, we continue to do everything we can to reduce the risk of terrorism in our Nation.
Our efforts are guided by a simple premise: to provide the information, resources and support that the hardworking men and women of DHS, our federal partners, and state, local, tribal, and territorial first responders need to effectively prevent and recover from acts of terrorism and to mitigate the threats we face. This support helps to build the kind of foundation that can guard against – and bounce back from – any kind of attack, from newly emerging threats to specific sectors that have been terrorist targets in the past. Working with our federal partners, law enforcement across the country, the private sector, and the American public, we are making great progress in addressing today’s evolving terrorist threats.
Chairman King, Ranking Member Thompson, and members of the Committee: Thank you for inviting me to testify today. I can now take your questions.
1 An examination of 86 terrorist cases in the U.S. from 1999 to 2009 by the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions (“Building on Clues: Examining Successes and Failures in Detecting U.S. Terrorist Plots, 1999-2009,” October 2010) shows that nearly half of those cases were related to al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda-inspired ideology, with the remainder due to a number of other violent extremist motivations.
2 New York State Intelligence Center, “The Vigilance Project: An Analysis of 32 Terrorism Cases Against the Homeland,” December 2010.
3The completed recommendations are: Number 1, Cross Modal Risk Analyses; Number 3, Evaluate and Rank Critical Surface Transportation Systems and Infrastructure; Number 12, Gap Analysis of Existing Risk Tools and Methodologies; Number 15, Secure™ and FutureTECH™ Programs; and Number 18, Transportation Research & Development Input Process