Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 28, 2007

DHS Agency Holds All-Day Workshop on Employer Verification

Filed under: Immigration — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 28, 2007

Yesterday I participated in the USCIS E-Verify Evaluation Workshop here in Washington. The purpose of the one-day workshop was to bring together a cross-section of the stakeholder community (employers, contractors, not that many policy folks) to identify and prioritize issues that should be a part of an upcoming evaluation of the USCIS E-Verify program, which remains in design phase. Lisa Roney, Director of Research and Evaluation at the DHS Office of Policy and Strategy, presided over most of the day.


We were broken up into the following working groups:

  • Using Biometrics (e.g., the Photo Tool) for Verification
  • Resolving Tentative Non-confirmations
  • Timing of Employee Verifications
  • Focusing on Special Employer Types: Designated Agents and the Employers Using Designated Agents
  • Focusing on Special Employer Types: Employment Agencies and Temporary Help Services
  • Focusing on Special Employer Types: Infrequent Users (smaller employers and participants rarely or not using E-Verify)
  • Readers may recall the August 31 post here that covered the announcement by DHS Secretary Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Gutierrez on a series of border security and immigration measures that included e-Verify and the Social Security No-Match rule. The Administration has described these efforts as the next best alternative to legislation that would have reformed several immigration polices had any legislation passed. E-Verify is the current form of a program already underway called the Basic Pilot, which is run by USCIS.

    The e-Verify program enables employers to check the work status of their employees online. The-Verify system compares information taken from the I-9 work eligibility verification form and matches it against the Social Security Administration’s database and the DHS immigration databases. An official description of E-verify is available here, along with the agenda from yesterday’s workshop, and a description of the workgroup topics.

    We should see a report based on the workshop out around year’s end.

    November 21, 2007

    A Future for the White House Homeland Security Council?

    Filed under: General Homeland Security,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 21, 2007

    In a CQ story today, Matthew Johnson invokes the perennial question of whether we need a Homeland Security Council in addition to a National Security Council at the White House. The non-government experts interviewed both suggest the HSC’s days are numbered, while Congressman Peter King defends the need for a separate HSC.

    P.J. Crowley at the Center for American Progress gets the award for most cutting response:

    “… it doesn’t make sense to have an Iraq policy where you are creating terrorists disconnected from a homeland security policy where you are supposed to be able to defend against them.”

    Whether one agrees that the Iraq war is making more enemies than friends, it stands to reason that if combating terrorism overseas is a national security concern, why would defending against terrorism at home not be? No one would argue that the two efforts are completely disconnected, but sometimes all it takes is a little extra bureaucracy to install a stovepipe.

    Imagine if the next President had a national security advisor with two deputies responsible for different portfolios that required a great degree of coordination and shared assets/resources (like the President’s attention)? One deputy for national security, the other for homeland security. The NSC staff would enlarge enough to accommodate the extra workload and the membership on the NSC would be rebalanced to include some of the members from the former HSC. (The Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Transportation may be the only two members of the HSC who are not also members of the NSC.)

    CSIS’s David Heyman agrees. Not to put too fine a point on it, David clarifies that “We should abolish the HSC and it should be subsumed by the National Security Council….”

    And in the other corner: Peter T. King of New York, the Ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, opposes the idea of merging the two Councils.

    “Just as the president has a secretary of State and needs a national security adviser, he also needs a Homeland Security secretary and a homeland security adviser,” King said.

    By this logic, we’ll need a Housing and Urban Development Advisor and a HUD Council at the White House, along with an Education advisor and National Education Council.  You see where I’m going with this.

    Determining the HSC-NSC fate requires a different argument from this one.  Consider the unique roles that the HSC carries out that have no obvious overlap with the NSC (i.e. State and Local coordination, Emergency Preparedness and Response, or Critical Infrastructure Protection) and ask the following questions:

    “Do these portfolios require a separate structure to serve the President or can they be represented by individual senior directors on an expanded NSC staff?”

    “Do these responsibilities require direct White House coordination and guidance in the fist place?”

    “Would a double deputy and single National Security Advisor be effective in managing a broadened portfolio?”

    “Is homeland security a separate endeavor from national security?”

    November 19, 2007

    White House Homeland Security Advisor Resigns

    Filed under: DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 19, 2007

    The White House announced today that Francis Fragos Townsend, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, resigned.  She served as head of the President’s Homeland Security Council for the last nearly five years and oversaw the development of the recent update to the National Strategy for Homeland Security, the lessons learned report on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and the fires on the west coast. 

    Townsend with Chertoff and HHS Secretary
    No word yet on who will replace Ms. Townsend.  Her recently appointed deputy, Joel Bagnal, stepped in for former Deputy HLS Advisor Ken Rapuano after he deployed for a tour in Afghanistan.  Will Mr. Bagnal step in for Townsend?The President reportedly asked all senior political appointees nearly a year ago to decide promptly if they’ll stay until the end of his term.  If not, they were to step down soon to be replaced.  Every President faces an exodus near the end of the second term, and that makes the request sensible.  That Townsend is leaving now — and without an immediate replacement — prompts questions about that wing of the White House.  Who fills that job takes up a great task of shepherding a homeland security mission during very difficult times, and does so by inheriting a new strategy he or she may or may not have had a hand in writing.  Given these circumstances, expect an insider like Bagnal to be named. 

    I sure could be wrong on Townsend’s replacement.  Readers are encouraged to comment on who they think will be the new Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

    November 13, 2007

    Europe Updates Anti-Terrorism Strategy

    Filed under: International HLS,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 13, 2007

    Reader Michael Stanton-Geddes sent in word from Brussels that the European Commission is evolving its counterterrorism (CT) strategy. Commissioner Franco Frattini, who has the Justice, Freedom and Security portfolio for the EC, rolled out the new CT “package” last week as we continue to review the Homeland Security strategy recently released on this side of the Pond. There are some similarities, but differences are apparent in substance as well as style.

    Like the U.S. strategy, this EU document begins with an assessment of the threat. Both acknowledge that terrorism poses an evolving risk to respective civilian populations and both consider the potential threat of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons sought by terrorist groups. The threat assessments differ mostly at this point.

    The U.S. is chiefly focused on al-Qaeda, whereas the EC doesn’t mention this group. Ours goes on to cite Hizbollah, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and even the threat of “homegrown terrorists.” The Europeans are surely aware of this last possibility, but they do not mention it in thier description of the threat. Of course, the potential audience on the Continent is far more heterogeneous than ours and the EC therefore faces a more daunting communications challenge in describing this difficult subject.

    Europe’s more discrete efforts under this strategy reveal more similarities:

    • Stopping violent radicalization;
    • Protecting our critical infrastructure;
    • Improving the exchange of information between national authorities and cooperation between all stakeholders when appropriate;
    • Reacting to non conventional threats;
    • Improving the detection of threats;
    • Depriving terrorists of financial resources;
    • Supporting victims;
    • Research and technological development

    The U.S. Strategy organizes its goals as follows:

    • Prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks
    • Protect the American people, critical infrastructure, and key resources
    • Respond to and recover from incidents

    It is important to note the similarities across the Atlantic when considering big-picture approaches such as those we’ll find in strategy documents. It is also important to note that the big picture is defined differently by the U.S. than by our allies overseas. While the EC document reaches beyond combating terrorists to more long term preventative measures (e.g. radicalization in general), the U.S. invests in management challenges (homeland securty management system) and cultural issues (preparedness, radicalization at home) to support its strategy.

    Future posts will look into this ongoing update of Europe’s counterterrorism strategies. For more on this topic in the meantime, CDI published a detailed paper last year on EU CT efforts.  A CRS study released this summer provides a very helpful distillation of US-EU CT cooperation.  Finally, these recent posts offer relevant links and information:

    9/11 Is Over?

    Hearts, Minds, and the Homeland

    Other HLSWatch posts on international HLS issues.

    November 12, 2007

    Busy Week Ahead for DHS

    Filed under: DHS News,Events — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 12, 2007

    DHS leadership flung across the country for a very high profile week of events:

    Monday, November 12

    8:00 AM PST
    Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator David Paulison will deliver remarks to the International Association of Emergency Managers Annual Conference
    Silver Legacy Hotel
    Exposition Hall A
    407 North Virginia Street
    Reno, NV

    11:00 AM EST
    U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen will participate in the annual Coast Guard Veterans’ Day Wreath-layering Ceremony on Coast Guard hill
    Arlington National Cemetery
    Arlington, VA

    Tuesday, November 13

    9:00 AM EST
    U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen will deliver remarks and participate in a ground breaking ceremony for a new Landfill Gas Co-Generation Plant at the U.S. Coast Guard Yard
    2401 Hawkins Point Road
    Baltimore, MD

    9:30 AM MST
    Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator David Paulison will deliver remarks to the National Congress of American Indians Annual Conference 64th Annual Convention
    Hyatt Regency
    650 15th Street
    Denver, CO

    10:00 AM EST
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations Admissibility Requirements and Migration Control Executive Director Paul Morris will testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight, Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia on human capital needs of the CBP “One Face at the Border” initiative.
    342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC

    2:00 PM EST
    Management Chief Human Capital Officer Marta Pérez will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Management, Investigations and Oversight on Department of Homeland Security efforts to recruit, hire and promote veterans.
    311 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC

    Wednesday, November 14

    8:00 AM HST
    Under Secretary for Science and Technology Jay M. Cohen will address the 2007 International Test and Evaluation Association Symposium
    The Kauai Marriott Resort
    3610 Rice Street
    Lihue, HI

    9:00 AM EST
    Screening Coordination Office Director Kathleen Kraninger will provide an overview on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative at the Changing Borders Conference
    Washington County Community College
    US Route 1 South
    Calais, ME

    10:00 AM EST
    Transportation Security Administration Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security on covert testing practices.
    311 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC

    10:30 AM EST
    US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny, U.S. Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Response Operation RDML Wayne Justice and U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District Commander RADM Dave Kunkel will participate in a media event announcing the success of the US-VISIT/U.S. Coast Guard Biometrics at Sea Initiative.
    100 MacArthur Causeway
    Miami Beach, FL

    11:00 AM EST
    Federal Emergency Management Agency Director of Management and Chief Acquisition Officer Deidre Lee will testify before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management on the use of contract workers.
    2167 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, DC

    11:00 AM CST
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Citizenship Chief Alfonso Aguilar will participate in a press conference to introduce the Polish version of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services publication, “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants”
    Copernicus Center
    5216 West Lawrence Avenue
    Chicago, IL

    1:45 PM EST
    Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Greg Garcia will participate on the Securing Cyberspace Panel at the TechNet North 2007 Conference
    John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center
    900 Boylston Street
    Room 302
    Boston, MA

    Thursday, November 15

    10:00 AM EST
    Transportation Security Administration Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on GAO Investigation of Airport Security Checkpoints
    2154 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, DC

    10:00 AM EST
    Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Operations Directorate Assistant Administrator Glenn Cannon will testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, and Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness on the status of U.S. response following a radiological dispersal devices attack
    342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC

    12:30 PM EST
    Secretary Michael Chertoff will deliver remarks at the 8th Annual U.S. Customs and Border Protection 2007 Trade Symposium
    Ronald Reagan Building
    1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Atrium Hall
    Washington, DC

    2:00 PM EST
    Federal Emergency Management Agency Policy and Program Analysis Director Marko Bourne will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness, and Response on leveraging mutual aid for effective emergency response
    311 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC

    8:30 PM EST
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Emilio Gonzalez will provide the keynote address at the VISTA Magazine Awards Dinner
    Biltmore Hotel
    1200 Anastasia Avenue
    Coral Gables, FL

    Friday, November 16

    2:00 PM GMT
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Policy and Strategy Chief Carlos Iturregui will deliver remarks on the “U.S. Immigration Landscape – 2007 and Beyond” at the International Bar Association 3rd Biennial Global Immigration Conference
    Renaissance Chancery Court
    London, England

    November 9, 2007

    Nuclear Plant Penetrated in S. Africa

    Filed under: Infrastructure Protection,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 9, 2007

    The Pelindaba nuclear facility in South Africa was the target of an armed assault yesterday. Nevermind the talk of flying airplanes into reactors, this is a real world case wherein armed men were able to penetrate a series of security measures and actually enter the control room. This article was sent in by reader Steve Bogden.

    A CRS study in 2005 entitled “Nuclear Power Plants: Vulnerability to Terrorist Attack,” argues that despite the heightened security measures imposed on nuclear facilities in the U.S. by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, industry has been slow to implement them.

    The NRC explains its position on protecting nuclear facilities here with its three phase plan that was to be completed by now. I do not know where this effort stands.

    In the past, security measures known as “buffers” or “layers” were considered the best way to restrict unauthorized access to such crucial infrastructure as a nuclear power plant’s control panel. Earlier this month, a man was discovered to be bringing a pipe bomb into a nuclear plant in Arizona – the largest one in the country in fact.  If the perpetrators of the break-in at Pelindaba had been armed with such a bomb, it is doubtful that any existing buffers would have stopped a terrible outcome.

    Here is the article:

    Attack at Pelindaba nuclear facility
    By Graeme Hosken
    The Pretoria News
    November 09, 2007

    A brazen attack by four gunmen on the Pelindaba nuclear facility has left a senior emergency officer seriously injured.

    Anton Gerber, Necsa emergency services operational officer spoke to the Pretoria News from his hospital bed hours after the attack.

    He was shot in the chest when the gunmen stormed the facility’s emergency response control room in the early hours of Thursday morning.

    The shooting comes four months after Necsa’s newly appointed services general manager Eric Lerata, 43, was gunned down in front of his Montana home after returning from a business trip in France.

    ‘one of them attacked me with a screwdriver’
    Pelindaba is regarded as one of the country’s most secure national key points.

    It is surrounded by electric fencing, has 24-hour CCTV surveillance, security guards and security controls and checkpoints.

    The attack comes as the country prepares to preside over an International Atomic Energy Agency convention on nuclear safety.

    The convention is aimed at achieving a high level of global nuclear safety via safety related technical co-operation; establishing and maintaining effective defences in nuclear installations against potential radiological hazards and preventing accidents with radiological consequences.

    A visibly shaken Gerber, who was rushed to Eugene Marais hospital, on Thursday said that he was sitting in the control room with his fiancée Ria Meiring when he heard a loud bang.

    ‘I could not let anything like that happen’
    Meiring, who was working nightshift, is the supervisor of the control room.

    Gerber said he kept Meiring company. “I do not like it when she is at work at night and I go with her to keep her company and ensure that she is safe,” he said.

    Describing the attack Gerber said they were inside the electronically sealed control room when they heard a loud bang.

    They then spotted the gunmen coming into the facility’s eastern block.

    It is believed that the attackers gained access to the building by using a ladder from Pelindaba’s fire brigade and scaling a wall.

    The men are thought to have forced open a window by pulling out several louvers.

    Pushing Meiring underneath a desk, Gerber attacked two of the gunmen as they forced their way into the control room and ran straight for the control panel.

    “I did not know what they were going to do. I just kept on hitting them even when one of them attacked me with a screwdriver.

    “I knew that if I stopped they would attack Ria or do something to the panel.

    “I could not let anything like that happen,” he said.

    Unbeknownst to Gerber one of the robbers had shot him in the chest as he fought them off.

    The bullet narrowly missed his heart breaking a rib before puncturing his lung. Doctors said the bullet missed his spine by 2cm.

    Gerber, who at one stage thought he was going to die, said he had been very scared.

    “The facility is meant to be safe. There are security guards, electric fences and security control points. These things are not meant to happen,” he said.

    Necsa spokesperson Chantal Janneker confirmed the attack.

    She declined to say how the gunmen had gained access to the facility or whether they had stolen anything.

    Janneker said Necsa was conducting an internal investigation into the attack.

    Once the police investigation was complete Necsa would divulge what happened, she said.

    Later in the afternoon, Pretoria News was phoned by a man identifying himself as a Necsa legal adviser, saying the newspaper will be breaching the National Keypoints Act by publishing the story.

    He said that Necsa may seek a court order preventing dissemination of the story.

    He claimed that the interview with Gerber was “unethical” as “he was under sedation and thus incoherent” when it was conducted.

    Pretoria News sought and was granted permission to interview Gerber, by hospital management, and Gerber himself. While he was obviously in pain, he appeared coherent and made sense throughout the interview.

    His recall of the events was sequential and to the point. He also agreed to have his picture taken in his hospital bed.

    North West police spokesperson Superintendent Louis Jacobs said that no arrests had been made.

    “A case of armed robbery and attempted murder are being investigated,” he said.

    November 8, 2007

    New White House Cybersecurity Initiative Underway

    Filed under: Cybersecurity — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 8, 2007

    Cybersecurity just got a $154 million boost as part of a seven-year Presidential initiative that may reach into the billions of dollars according to a White House whisper yesterday.  It is hard to know why the Presidential peep about such a major undertaking didn’t warrant more of a podium.  I couldn’t even find a press release.

    Siobhan Gorman at the Baltimore Sun, always plugged in to the intel community, was among the first to report on the non-announcement.  The president requested the funds in a letter to Speaker Pelosi.  Tracking threats in cyberspace on both government and private networks is what the White House promised to do in more than one national strategy document.  There is a National Cyber Security Division at DHS. (See HSPD-7, section 16 for more detail.)  The PATRIOT Act (love it or hate it) extends authorities to combat terrorist activities on the Internet.  Few would suggest that the job is done.  Yet, why the mere murmur?

    Perhaps because there are so few details settled.  The initiative would be led by DHS with support from the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National  Intelligence, and other intelligence community members, including the FBI.  Another touchy aspect may be the financing of this effort.  According to Siobhan’s story and the OMB documents attached to the president’s letter, funds for the “Cyber Initiative” will be redirected from such things as the Coast Guard, Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, border security, the Inspector General’s office, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Whoa.  I wouldn’t broadcast that either.  Cutting funds for the Coast Guard is unpopular everywhere.  I’m pretty sure the Lower Ninth hasn’t been rebuilt since the last time I was there after Katrina.  Just wait until Lou Dobbs hears about the border security.  The Inspector General?  He might actually need a boost.  And FEMA.  That may actually be warranted.  (I can hear reader WRC’s keyboard already.)

    Update: Further funding details are in Jason Miller’s story at FCW.com, wherein he specifies that the president recommends using unobligated funds from a number of different DHS offices, including the chief information officer ($873,000), the Customs an Border Protection automation modernization project ($6.1 million) and the Science and Technology Directorate ($216,000). All such details can be read in this attachment.

    November 7, 2007

    National Counterterrorism Strategy Analyzed by CRS

    Filed under: Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 7, 2007

    The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, released by the White House in 2006, cites a “Freedom Agenda” as the basis for pursing the following goals:

    • Advance effective democracies as the long–term antidote to the ideology of terrorism;

    • Prevent attacks by terrorist networks;

    • Deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states;

    • Deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror; and

    • Lay the foundations and build the institutions and structures we need to carry the fight forward against terror and help ensure our ultimate success.

    Last week, Raphael Perl of the Congressional Research Service published what I believe is his final work in a long list of valuable analyses while at CRS. Raphael reports November 12 for a new post at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The November 1 paper from CRS examines the National Strategy and suggests a series of issues that Congress may want to address in overseeing the execution of that strategy.

    It is an ambitious one. Accomplishing those five bullets above represents a task that requires the combined effort of the entire Executive Branch and a generation or two of committed Americans. However, this new study by Raphael suggests a few areas that remain unfinished or flawed. He identifies seven areas that could pose challenges for the U.S. if the Strategy isn’t augmented. In classic CRS style, the following are listed as “issues for Congress”:

    • Democratization as a counterterrorism strategy

    • Assumptions about terrorist adversaries

    • The role of the U.S. invasion of and continued presence in Iraq in spreading terrorism

    • How the National Strategy addresses the threat of rogue states

    • How the National Strategy addresses certain threats raised in recent National Intelligence Estimates

    • Reducing radicalization and extremist indoctrination, particularly among the young

    • The effectiveness of public diplomacy

    This is not a criticism of the National Strategy. It is a useful analysis that deserves a broader audience than Congress. (CRS reports are not normally distributed to the public, but FAS and CQ made this one available.) Ultimately, the paper suggests that a core challenge that may need to be addressed by the next Administration in revisiting this Strategy is the fundamental way in which it characterizes the nature of the threat of terrorism, including its primary drivers.

    November 5, 2007

    New DHS Technology Task Force Underway

    Filed under: DHS News,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 5, 2007

    DHS has formed a new Task Force under the Advisory Council Act to assess the ways in which the Department of Homeland Security can improve its acquisition of essential technologies. Under the auspices of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Essential Technologies Task Force, as it is called, is sponsored mainly by Under Secretary for Management Paul Schneider, TSA Administrator Kip Hawley, and Chief Information Officer Scott Charbo.

    With very explicit terms of reference, and a very short amount of time to do its work, this may be one of the better run advisory councils yet for DHS. The topics under discussion ranged into critical areas of strategy, process, and leadership during the Task Force’s first hearing this past Thursday.

    Both Scott Gould, VP of Strategy & Change at IBM Public Sector, and I were invited to testify before the Task Force to address a number of issues we believe ought to inform the process of improving DHS decision making in this area, as well as a number of options for immediate, near term, and long term improvements to DHS technology acquisition. The hearing was closed and so I’ll refrain from uploading our comments here or those of others who appeared before the panel. However, the Task Force’s final report will be made public. Following are the members of the Essential Technologies Task Force for DHS.

  • George A. Vradenburg III, President, Vradenberg Foundation – Chairman
  • Joseph White, CEO, American Red Cross, St. Luis MO – Co-Vice Chair
  • John L. Skolds, President, Exelon Energy Delivery and Exelon Generation – Co-Vice Chair
  • Dr. Richard Andrews, Senior Director, National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination
  • Nelson Balido, President and CEO, Balido &Associates
  • Elliott Broidy, Commissioner, Los Angeles City Fire and Police Pension Fund
  • Dan Corsentino, Former Sheriff, Pueblo County, Colorado
  • Dr. Ruth David, President & CEO, Analytic Services, Inc. (Arlington, VA)
  • Dr. Victoria F. Haynes, President, Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle, NC)
  • Phillip E. Keith, Former Chief of the Knoxville Tennessee Police Dept. (Knoxville, TN)
  • Stephen Payne, President of Worldwide Strategic Partners and Worldwide Strategic Energy
  • Richard “Rick” Stephens, Senior VP, Human Resources and Admin., The Boeing Company
  • Dr. Lydia C. Thomas, President and CEO (Ret.), Noblis
  • David Wallace, Mayor of Sugarland, Texas
  • Allen Zenowitz, Retired General and FEMA Senior Official
  • Ex-Officio: Judge William Webster, HSAC Chair, Partner, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP
  • Ex-Officio: Dr. James Schlesinger, HSAC Vice Chair, Chairman, Board of Trustees, The MITRE Corporation
  • November 2, 2007

    DHS Publishes “Chemicals of Interest” and New Industry Regs

    Filed under: Chemical Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 2, 2007

    DHS today released an additional appendix to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). Section 550 of the DHS Appropriations Act of 2007 gives DHS the authority to regulate high risk chemical facilities. At risk facilities fall into one of three main categories:
    • chemical manufacturing, storage and distribution facilities;
    • petroleum refineries, and
    • liquefied natural gas storage (peak shaving) facilities.

    The CFATS is part of the growing library of what DHS calls Chemical-terrorism Vulnerability Information (CVI). Chemical-terrorism Vulnerability Information includes the following according to DHS documentation:

    • Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVA);
    • Site Security Plans (SSP);
    • Documents relating to the Department’s review and approval of SVAs and SSPs, including Letters of Authorization, Letters of Approval, and responses to them;
    • Written notices and other documents developed to comply with the interim final rule;
    • Alternative Security Programs;
    • Documents related to inspections and audits;
    • Notices of deficiency;
    • Records of training, exercises, and drills;
    • Incidents and security breaches;
    • Maintenance, calibration and testing of security equipment;
    • Objections and appeals;
    • Records required to be created and maintained by regulated facilities;
    • Sensitive portions of orders, notices, or letters;
    • Information developed pursuant to the Top-Screen process; and
    • Other information designated as Chemical-terrorism Vulnerability Information by the Secretary.

    Appendix A lists about 300 “chemicals of interest,” including common ones such as chlorine, propane, and anhydrous ammonia.  Possession of certain levels of these chemicals requires the submission of what DHS calls a “Top-Screen.” This is an online questionnaire that chemical facility owners and operators submit to DHS, which it uses to determine whether the facility presents a high level of security risk. The Top-Screen is part of the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT). More about it can be found here.

    Three security concerns dictate whether a certain type and quantity of chemicals require a facility to complete the Top-Screen. They are:

    • Release: quantities of toxic, flammable, or explosive chemicals that have the potential to create significant adverse consequences for human life or health if intentionally released or detonated.
    • Theft or Diversion: chemicals that have the potential, if stolen or diverted, to be used as weapons or easily converted into weapons, in order to create significant adverse consequences for human life or health.
    • Sabotage or Contamination: chemicals that, if mixed with other readily available materials, have the potential to create significant adverse consequences for human health or life.

    Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Bob Stephan will host a pen and pad media briefing on the release of Appendix A of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards at 2PM today at CBP Headquarters in the Commissioner’s Large Conference Room located at:
    Ronald Reagan Building
    1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC