DHS releases report on U.S. preparedness

On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security released a report looking at how far the U.S. has come to fulfilling specific 9/11 Commission recommendations over the past seven years.
The report looks at issues ranging from protecting cyber networks, screening for explosives and bolstering security along the U.S. border to strengthening airline passenger programs. Those connected with the commission cited progress and room to improve, CNN.com reports.
"Over the past decade, we have made great strides to secure our nation against a large attack or disaster, to protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks, and to engage a broader range of Americans in the shared responsibility for security, " DHS secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement released by the department, according to CNN.com.
One of the major highlights is the evolution of the screening for airline passengers in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks by using a risk-based, multi-layered system.
"Today, DHS requires all airlines flying to the United States from foreign countries to provide advance passenger information and passenger name records prior to departure; checks 100 percent of passengers on flights flying to, from, or within the United States against government watch-lists through its Secure Flight program; and has expanded trusted traveler programs, expediting travel for passengers who provide biometric identification and pass rigorous, recurrent security checks," a homeland security news release said, according to CNN.com.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, acknowledged improved information-sharing but pointed out security incidents in the past few years.
"When it comes to our homeland security, however, we are truly only as strong as our weakest link," Collins said, according to CNN.com. "Troubling examples of not connecting the dots persist, including the Fort Hood shooter and the Christmas Day bomber. At the other extreme, it troubles many Americans to see TSA screeners putting the very young and the very elderly through intrusive, and in most cases unnecessary, pat downs."
Collins also mentioned the two Iraqi refugees associated with al-Qaeda arrested in Bowling Green, Ky., who were able to enter the country on humanitarian grounds.
"This year, we will commemorate the worst attack ever on the United States," Collins said, according to CNN.com. "In doing so, we must ask ourselves, 'Are we safer?' Or, are we just safer from the tactics the terrorists already have tried?"