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Security Port
Contains relevant information that pertains to security related issues and solutions.

Security Port

Homeland Security

The US President's Executive Order issued October 8, 2001 established the US Office of Homeland Security. The Office is directed to develop and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen protections against terrorist threats or attacks in the US. The new Office will coordinate federal, state, and local counter-terrorism efforts. The Secretary of Homeland Security will provide assistance to state and local governments to develop all-hazards plans and capabilities, including those of greatest importance to the security of the United States homeland, such as the prevention of terrorist attacks and preparedness for the potential use of weapons of mass destruction, and ensure that state, local, and federal plans are compatible.

All federal departments and agencies shall cooperate with the Secretary of Homeland Security in the Secretary's domestic incident management role and shall participate in and use domestic incident reporting systems and protocols established by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The act designated the Department of Homeland Security as a "defense agency of the United States" for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 181, which accords the chief officer of any Federal department or agency so designated the right to inspect certain inventions that will be disclosed by the granting of a patent, and with respect to which disclosure might be detrimental to the national security, for the purpose of determining whether the invention should be kept secret.

The Secretary of Homeland Security is responsible for coordinating federal operations to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from all domestic incidents when any of the following conditions apply:

(1) the initial lead federal department or agency has requested assistance;

(2) the resources of state and local authorities are overwhelmed and assistance has been requested by the state and local authorities;

(3) more than one federal agency has become substantially involved in responding to the incident; or

(4) he has been directed to assume responsibility for the domestic incident by the President.

Departments included under homeland security now include: Domestic Emergency Support Teams previously under the Department of Justice that expeditiously provide expert advice, guidance and support to the Federal On-Scene Commander during an incident involving weapons of mass destruction or a credible threat. Nuclear Incident Response Teams, Atmospheric Release Advisory Capability, Radiological Assistance Program and the Aerial Measuring System previously under the Department of Energy that provides radiological response assets to respond during a radiological incident. Strategic National Stockpile previously under the Department of Health and Human Services that ensures the availability and rapid deployment of lifesaving pharmaceuticals, antidotes, and other medical supplies and equipment. Dissolve the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, and transfer reporting, funding, and administrative responsibilities for the National Infrastructure Advisory Council to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Attorney General has the lead responsibility for criminal investigations and intelligence operations concerning terrorist attacks and shall also work to ensure that members of the law enforcement community will work with the Secretary of Homeland Security as the official responsible for domestic incident management, to detect, prevent, preempt, and disrupt terrorist attacks against the United States.

Some versions of the homeland security department bill included a much narrower provision that required a connection to a terrorism investigation before such sensitive information could be shared.

The current version, according to the ACLU, is broad enough to sweep in minor criminal matters. Overly broad intelligence information sharing provisions between the Homeland Security department and other agencies, such as the FBI or the CIA and even with foreign law enforcement agencies. Some versions of the homeland security department bill included a much narrower provision that required a connection to a terrorism investigation before such sensitive information could be shared.

Shielding information from public scrutiny.
The bill exempts information about so-called critical infrastructure from the Freedom of Information Act. It even goes so far as to impose criminal penalties for government officials who disclose this information. As a result, officials who blow the whistle on threats to public health (uranium stockpiling or tainted blood) or private sector incompetence (poor maintenance of railroad tracks or computer networks) could become criminals. The legislation imposes these FOIA exemptions not just on the federal government, but also on states and municipalities by trumping all state and local open government laws.

About the Author:
Francesca Black develops educational material for http://www.security-port.com and http://www.security-protection.net a top resource for locating security related RSS feeds.

 


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