Napolitano testifies on U.S. terror countermeasures

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs Tuesday on the subject of safety a decade after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Napolitano highlighted the most significant work of the DHS to address recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report in many areas, including strengthening efforts to detect and report chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, Targeted News Service reports.
Napolitano said that the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which was formed in 2005 as part of the DHS, has worked in partnership with state, federal and local government agencies to prevent attacks through detection activities and forensic programs.
"DNDO helps integrate interagency efforts to develop nuclear detection capabilities, respond to detection alarms, conduct research and development, and coordinate the development of the global nuclear detection architecture," Napolitano said, according to Targeted News Service. "In December 2010, DNDO submitted to Congress the GNDA Strategic Plan, an interagency product designed to guide the nation's nuclear detection capacity and capability development over the next five years."
According to Napolitano, Immigration and Custom Enforcement established the National Export Enforcement Coordination Network to more effectively coordinate expert enforcement efforts to prevent terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products and sensitive technology, including components of weapons of mass destruction. ICE also created the Project Shield America initiative to reach out to exporters and manufacturers of strategic commodities that may be targeted for procurement by terrorist organizations and weapons proliferators.
Napolitano also said that DHS has created the BioWatch system to detect the release of aerosolized biological agents.
"Since the anthrax attacks 10 years ago, DHS also has made great strides in protecting the nation from, and preparing federal, state, and local governments to respond to biological attacks," Napolitano said, according to Targeted News Service. "In 2003, the department stood up the BioWatch system--a federally-managed, locally-operated, nationwide environmental monitoring system designed to detect the intentional release of aerosolized biological agents which is currently operational in approximately 30 cities. In 2010, the Department began testing the next generation of automated early detection systems, known as Gen-3 which will reduce detection times."
The DHS Office of Health Affairs also created programs to effectively distribute medical countermeasures to personnel during an emergency and to alert the public during such an emergency.
"Through the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate continues to provide critical biological threat analysis and forensic capabilities to understand the risks posed by biological threats and to attribute their use in bioterrorism or biocrime events," Napolitano said, Targeted News Service reports. "In addition, S&T supports the Chemical Security Analysis Center to increase awareness of chemical threats and the attribution of their use against the American public."
Other key areas Napolitano addressed during her testimony included enhanced screening for explosives, protecting cyber networks and critical physical infrastructure, and ensuring robust privacy and civil rights and civil liberties safeguards.
"While challenges remain, DHS continues to focus on minimizing risks while maximizing the ability to respond and recover from attacks and disasters of all kinds," Napolitano said, Targeted News Service reports. "This is a challenge that the more than 240,000 men and women of DHS commit themselves to everyday, with the support of Congress, our many partners within and outside of government, and the American people.