Sec. Chertoff spoke this afternoon at the Heritage Foundation to discuss the agenda for his second year at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security. The discussion covered three main topics which he identified as priorities for DHS this year: preparedness, illegal migration, and critical infrastructure protection.
The speech repeated many points from Chertoff’s speeches and congressional testimony over the past two months, but there were a few newsworthy items in the speech:
- He indicated that he will be traveling to Asia shortly, with an itinerary that includes a site visit to the cargo screening system at the Port of Hong Kong;
- On the topic of chemical security, he spoke out strongly against companies that are “free riding” on security among fellow companies with stronger track records, and indicated that this was unacceptable. He noted that progress has stalled for too long, and wants to see legislation passed soon. He indicated that he will outline the parameters of what DHS wants in chemical security legislation in a speech tomorrow (see this week’s events calendar for details on the speech).
- He outlined recent progress by DHS on the issue of rail security, noting the level of grant funds available to rail and transit agencies, mentioning the deployment of TSA VIPER teams, and making the case for investment in video surveillance as a valuable forensic tool.
- He indicated that DHS intends to revive the Transportation Worker Identification Credentialing (TWIC) program in the next two months at U.S. ports, admitting that it has “languished for too long” and that it was time to move forward. This comes on the heels of a very critical story in the latest issue of US News about the delays associated with the TWIC program.