Homeland Security

Statement By Secretary Nielsen On House Passage Of H.R. 3359 To Create The Cybersecurity And Infrastructure Security Agency

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:22
Release Date: December 11, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON - “I commend the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 3359. I urge the Senate to pass similar legislation. As the events of this morning illustrate, our nation’s critical infrastructure can often be prime targets for adversaries of all types, including terrorists, nation state and other non-state actors, hackers, and ordinary criminals. As the threat landscape shifts and becomes more complex, our approach to security must evolve.

“I want to personally thank Chairman McCaul for his tireless work to reach this important milestone in furtherance of the Department of Homeland Security’s mission. This legislation, which has bipartisan support, has been a priority of this Administration from day one. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress to move this important legislation forward.”

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Keywords:  Legislation
Categories: Homeland Security

Statement By Secretary Nielsen On Attempted Terror Attack In New York

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:57
Release Date: December 11, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen spoke with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James O’Neill regarding the details of the attempted terrorist attack in New York City. Secretary Nielsen released the following statement on the Department’s role in coordinating a federal response to terror-related incidents.

“The Department of Homeland Security is taking appropriate action to protect our people and our country in the wake of today’s attempted terrorist attack in New York City. We will continue to assist New York authorities with the response and investigation and we urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity. More broadly, the administration continues to adopt significant security measures to keep terrorists from entering our country and from recruiting within our borders. The enemy we face is persistent and adaptive. But they should know this: Americans will not be coerced by terrorism, and we will not allow it to become the new normal. We will fight back aggressively and bring terrorists to justice.”

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Topics:  Preventing Terrorism, Transportation Security Keywords:  attack, federal response, new york, physical security measures, security measures, suspicious activity, suspicious behavior, terrorism, travel security
Categories: Homeland Security

Secretary Nielsen Announces the Establishment of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:05
Release Date: December 7, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

DHS Undertaking Critical Reorganization to Protect the Homeland  

WASHINGTON –Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen today announced the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office.  The CWMD Office will elevate and streamline DHS efforts to prevent terrorists and other national security threat actors from using harmful agents, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material and devices to harm Americans and U.S. interests.

The office consolidates key DHS functions and will lead the Department’s efforts to counter WMD threats. It will also allow for greater policy coordination and strategic planning, as well as provide greater visibility for this critically important mission.

“The United States faces rising danger from terrorist groups and rogue nation states who could use chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents to harm Americans,” said Secretary Nielsen. “That’s why DHS is moving towards a more integrated approach, bringing together intelligence, operations, interagency engagement, and international action.  As terrorism evolves, we must stay ahead of the enemy and the establishment of this office is an important part of our efforts to do so.”

The United States faces a rising danger from threat actors who could use chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents to harm Americans or U.S. interests.  Intelligence analysis shows terrorist groups are actively pursuing WMD capabilities, are using battlefield environments to test them, and may be working to incorporate these methods into external operations in ways we have not seen previously.  Certain weapons of mass destruction, once viewed as out-of-reach for all but nation states, are now closer to being attained by non-state actors.  A terrorist attack using such a weapon against the United States would have a profound and potentially catastrophic impact on our nation and the world.

The CWMD Office will be led by Mr. James McDonnell, who was appointed by President Trump in June 2017 to serve as the Director of the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).

Next week, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke will deliver remarks regarding the CWMD Office at The Hudson Institute. More information can be found here.

Topics:  Biological Security, Chemical Security, Explosives, Nuclear Security, Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  Biological, Chemical Security, countering terrorism, dhs, nuclear security, Radiological security, Secretary, weapons
Categories: Homeland Security

Written testimony of DNDO, OHA, and S&T for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications hearing titled “Examining the Department of Homeland Security’s Efforts to Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction”

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 23:00
Release Date: December 7, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairman Donovan, Ranking Member Payne, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, thank you for inviting us to speak with you today. We appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) work to bolster efforts to counter the threat of terrorist actors using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against the Homeland. As the leaders of the organizations involved in the reorganization of WMD functions into one office within DHS, we appreciate your interest in this matter. We also appreciate the support from former Secretary John Kelly and Acting Secretary Elaine Duke in pursuing a Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office aimed at elevating and streamlining DHS’s role in the WMD mission and further unifying associated activities under one office.

Background

As Acting Secretary Elaine Duke stated in her September 27, 2017 testimony to the Senate, our intelligence professionals have seen a renewed terrorist interest in WMD. The United States faces a rising danger from threat actors who could use chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents to harm Americans or U.S. interests. For instance, DHS believes terrorist groups are actively pursuing such capabilities, are using battlefield environments to test them, and may be working to incorporate these methods into external operations in ways we have not seen previously. Certain WMD, once viewed as out-of-reach for all but nation states, are now closer to being attained by non-state actors. A terrorist attack using a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapon against the United States would have a profound and potentially catastrophic impact on our Nation and the world.

Since the creation of the Department more than 15 years ago, DHS has lacked a focal point in the WMD threat space. Through presidential directives and legislation, various WMD-related programs and projects were established within the Department and across multiple components. In some cases, components were established through presidential directives and delegations of authority, but lacked full legislative authorization to carry out such vested responsibilities. This resulted in fragmented missions and uncoordinated activities across the Department, ultimately leading to a lack of strategic direction in this critical mission. Further, the current structure of CBRN functions within the Department resulted in a lack of visibility for the mission space, weak internal coordination and disjointed interagency cooperation.

DHS believes it is imperative to streamline and elevate its counter-WMD efforts. Multiple reviews in the last decade—both internal and external to the Department—have highlighted the Department’s shortcomings in this space, as well as the need for a focal point on CBRN matters. Five years ago, Congress required the Department of Homeland Security to study the issue, to rationalize its WMD defense efforts, and to report on whether a reorganization was needed. The previous Administration conducted such a study and made an affirmative determination to pursue changes1 that resulted in the Department of Homeland Security CBRNE Defense Act of 20152.

This year the Department again reexamined previous reviews, shortcomings in the mission space, and whether a re-organization would remedy such issues. As the new leadership team explored these issues, they took into consideration challenges associated with advancements in chemical and biological detection capabilities. Due to challenges in the chemical and biological defense space, and in light of the current threat environment, DHS determined that steps needed to be taken expeditiously to improve the effectiveness of our WMD defense functions. DHS leadership, including former Secretary John Kelly and Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, decided to establish a CWMD Office to elevate, streamline, and bolster an internal “unity of command” for our CWMD capabilities.

1 In the June 2015 “DHS Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Functions Review Report” to House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees, the Department reviewed its CBRN programs’ organization, operations and communications pursuant to Congressional direction in the Joint Explanatory Statement (JES) and House Report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2013 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (Pub. Law No. 113-6). In the JES, Congress identified the need to “elevate and streamline the Department’s focus on efforts to address [CBRN] threats and deter and counter weapons of mass destruction.”
2 H.R. 3875, Department of Homeland Security CBRNE Defense Act of 2015, sec. 2 (Passed House amended (12/10/2015). H.R. 3875 was referred to the Senate.

 

Current CWMD Office

As an initial step, the Department established the CWMD Office that unified the management structure and consolidated the following components and elements within the Department into one office: the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), the majority of the Office of Health Affairs (OHA), select elements of the Science & Technology Directorate (S&T), and select DHS Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans (SPP) and DHS Office of Operations Coordination (OPS) functions and personnel.

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office

The CWMD Office subsumed DNDO in total with all current functions remaining intact. DNDO was chartered, in law and presidential directive, using an interagency construct to coordinate technical efforts across the U.S. Government to technically detect and protect against radiological and nuclear threats. DNDO conducts a holistic program of end-to-end efforts in technical nuclear detection and nuclear forensics, including planning, research and technology development, technology acquisition, and support for federal, state, local, tribal and territorial operators in the field.

The Office of Health Affairs

The CWMD Office also includes the majority of OHA, retaining biological and chemical defense functions, external coordination of Department medical preparedness and response activities, health incident surveillance, and health security intelligence and information sharing functions. The CWMD Office is currently exploring enhancements to current biodetection technologies with the goal of acquiring and deploying new technology to reduce capability gaps in biological detection. Current DHS programs address specific elements of chemical defense, detection, security, and risk analysis. By elevating the mission and unifying Departmental efforts, the CWMD Office is optimizing existing DHS resources to better protect the Nation against chemical threats.

The CWMD Office, through the Chief Medical Officer, is continuing to provide advice and support to DHS leadership and public and medical health officials nationwide to prepare for, respond to, and recover from threats to the Nation’s health security. Ensuring the first-responder community receives health-related expertise in a CBRN incident is vital. The CWMD Office is continuing to provide support for emerging health and medical issues of national significance and support for external-facing medical first responder coordination.

The Science & Technology Directorate

The Department reassigned certain non-R&D functions from S&T to the CWMD Office, specifically the non R&D functions performed by S&T related to chemical, biological, and integrated terrorism risk assessments and material threat assessments as required by presidential directive and the Project BioShield Act of 20043. This will harmonize terrorism risk assessment efforts across the WMD spectrum within one organization, and result in a rigorous requirements development process. We expect this realignment to improve risk-informed strategy and policy development and further enhance our nation’s ability to protect against WMD terror threats.

The Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans (SPP) and the Office of Operations (OPS) Coordination

Lastly, the Department permanently reassigned a limited number of SPP and OPS personnel with WMD defense expertise to the CWMD Office. These transfers will allow the CWMD Office to leverage existing subject matter experts that had previously been in other parts of DHS to support effective planning and policy for WMD threats.

3 Pub. Law No. 108-276

 

Proposed CWMD Organization

To fully integrate these capabilities, we are requesting this Congress’ support and establish this organization through congressional authorization. The proposed CWMD Office would be responsible for advancing the Department’s CWMD capabilities by taking a comprehensive approach to the spectrum of threats. As part of this proposal, the CWMD Office would coordinate a global WMD detection and early warning architecture and infrastructure that would, in coordination with interagency partners, account for chemical, biological, and nuclear detection and data sharing capabilities. We intend to accomplish this by leveraging the existing Global Nuclear Detection Architecture.

During the reorganizational review of WMD-related support functions and activities, the Department found that components shared a number of related lines of effort that could be leveraged. For example, both DNDO and the Office of Health Affairs have acquisition activities that could be mutually leveraged. Conversely, the Department also found it lacked critical acquisition and requirements functions in its chemical and biological missions. For example, DNDO coordinates with the interagency planning and analysis activities related to the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture. Utilizing DNDO’s analysis and requirements generation capabilities for the chemical and biological detection mission across the US government is an opportunity to better accomplish this mission.

The proposed CWMD Office would leverage best practices from across the Department to fill gaps in the Department’s the chemical and biological defense functions by coordinating similar functions prescribed in law for DNDO. In particular, the CWMD Office will seek to approach chemical and biological defense activities holistically, much as is currently done for radiological and nuclear threats—from gap and requirement identification to operational deployment and support.

With regard to the leadership structure of the proposed CWMD Office, the Office would be most optimally organized by having a presidentially appointed Assistant Secretary to lead the organization and who would report directly to the Secretary. This leadership structure would empower the Assistant Secretary to coalesce and elevate CWMD matters to the Secretary in support of the DHS Operating Components and act as a DHS representative on relevant matters within the Federal interagency, as well as with external stakeholders at the state level, local level, and with private sector partners. The Assistant Secretary would be supported by a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary to serve as the deputy and an advisor on WMD issues.

Congress authorized a Chief Medical Officer within DHS in the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (Pub. Law 109-295) (“PKEMRA”).4 Congress vested the Chief Medical Officer with primary responsibility within DHS for medical issues related to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, including serving as the principal advisor to the DHS Secretary and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator on medical and public health issues, and coordinating DHS biodefense activities.5 Shortly thereafter, DHS reorganized to implement the various changes in PKEMRA as well as additional organizational improvements.6 Under the 2007 reorganization, the Department established the Office of Health Affairs, to be led by the Chief Medical Officer. Since then, the Office of Health Affairs has been responsible for non-R&D chemical and biological defense non R&D activities, medical readiness, and component services functions.

After re-evaluating the Department’s WMD activities, leadership determined that the Chief Medical Officer would be most effective in the CWMD Office supporting the Assistant Secretary. The Chief Medical Officer will continue to serve as an independent medical advisor to the Secretary and other senior DHS officials including the FEMA Administrator. This proposed permanent re-alignment would ensure the Chief Medical Officer’s expertise is regularly leveraged not only on chemical and biological issues, as is largely the case today, but also on radiological and nuclear matters. Moreover, this permanent relocation of the Chief Medical Officer to the CWMD Office would ensure expertise is utilized on the full range of critical CWMD matters involving emerging WMD threats of national significance. Lastly the re-organization will ensure the Nation’s front-line responders are able to prepare for and respond to all threats, for which the Chief Medical Officer will provide advice, as appropriate.

Reorganizational Benefits

With Congress’ support and codification of the reorganization, it would ensure the CWMD Office has the authorities and strategic focus on developing and enhancing the full range of the Department’s CBRN support programs and capabilities to secure the homeland from WMD terrorism. This approach will ensure partners across the Federal government, within the Department, and across state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions have the support needed to protect the United States from WMD threats.

The Department anticipates the proposed CWMD Office will offer the following improvements:

  1. Enhanced U.S. defenses against CBRN threats. Integration of CBRN elements will elevate and streamline DHS efforts to prevent terrorists and other national security threat actors from using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents to harm Americans and U.S. interests. The Department has long sought to bring unity of effort to this space, and in doing so, it will be able to confront these challenges more decisively. This includes providing better support to DHS front-line components, which are responsible for keeping such dangerous agents from entering the United States.
  2. Improved strategic direction. The CWMD Office will help advance the Department’s strategic direction related to CBRN threats. In particular, U.S. strategies on chemical and biological defense have lagged behind the threat landscape. The CWMD Office will help close this gap by better equipping DHS to put in place effective chemical and biological defenses and ensuring the Department is able to more effectively drive forward planned strategies being developed in the interagency.
  3. Reform through sharing of best practices. The CWMD Office will better leverage related lines of effort, functional activities, and administrative structures within the Department. This new construct will allow for seamless sharing of best practices and create new opportunities for reform. In particular, DNDO’s successful business model will help inform improvements to the chemical and biological defense mission space.
  4. A clear focal point for CWMD within DHS. The Department’s current fractured approach to CWMD has created policy coordination challenges, both internally and externally. With the changes the Department plans to undertake, stakeholders in the interagency, industry, and at the state and local level will be able to better engage with DHS to deal with CBRN defense and detection matters. For example, the creation of CWMD will enable DHS to collaborate closely with interagency partners such as the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, which is the focal point for WMD-related matters within the FBI.
  5. Reduced overlap and duplication. In the past, the Department has been forced to reevaluate and terminate major CWMD-related programs and acquisitions due to under-performance, cost overruns, or ineffectiveness. In some cases, these failures could have been avoided with better oversight, leadership, and strategic planning. The CWMD Office will leverage best practices and lessons learned to prevent such mistakes from occurring in the future. Moreover, the reorganization offers potential efficiencies, such as eliminating duplication of effort in cross-cutting functions such as operational support programs, and interagency and intergovernmental coordination.
4 Section 516 of the HSA, codified at 6 U.S.C. § 321e.
5 Id.
6 Notice of Implementation of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 and of Additional Changes Pursuant to § 872 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 from Secretary Michael Chertoff to Senator Michael B. Enzi (Jan. 18, 2007).

 

Change Management

Recognizing that the success of this reorganization is imperative, the Department has heeded GAO’s prior recommendation to use, where appropriate, the key mergers and organizational practices identified in past reports and audits.7 Prior to and following the Department’s decision to establish a CWMD Office, the Department actively engaged internally among DHS components and with external stakeholders.

DHS has undertaken a number of activities to ensure compliance with GAO-identified best practices in organizational changes. First, an Implementation Team was created with a specific task to engage an independent and objective party to monitor and examine the Department’s reorganization and consolidation. Second, a methodology was developed, independent of management, to gather documentation and conduct interviews across Departmental components. Following the decision to pursue a re-organization, DHS started interviewing employees at the Department to ensure a smooth transition and bolster employee engagement. The Department intends to continue to use GAO-identified best practices as benchmarks by which we can measure progress for the current CWMD Office and the proposed Office.

While we are excited to elevate the Department’s CWMD mission, we have not forgotten about the men and women of DHS who work every day to ensure our Nation is secure. Departmental reorganizations require engagement among senior management as well as with staff at the working level. On numerous occasions, top leadership in the Department have hosted stakeholder meetings, joint employee town hall events, and developed internal and external communications strategies to create shared expectations with all relevant entities.

7 GAO Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives, Homeland Security – DHS’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Program Consolidation Proposal Could Better Consider Benefits and Limitations, GAO-16-603 (Aug. 2016), p. 18.

 

Conclusion

Chairman Donovan, Ranking Member Payne, and distinguished Members of this subcommittee, thank you again for your attention to this important mission and for the opportunity to discuss proposed efforts to enhance support capabilities across the CBRN spectrum. We look forward to further working with Congress and this subcommittee on fully integrating WMD capabilities to secure the Homeland from WMD terrorism. With your help, we have full confidence that our Department can improve our strategic direction in this threat space and ensure our Nation is safer than ever before. We look forward to answering your questions.

Topics:  Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  CBRNE, CWMD
Categories: Homeland Security

Kirstjen M. Nielsen Sworn-in as the Sixth Homeland Security Secretary

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:25
Release Date: December 6, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Today, Ms. Kirstjen M. Nielsen was sworn-in as the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security. Secretary Nielsen was joined by White House and Department officials during a brief swearing-in at the White House. Secretary Nielsen is now the first former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employee to become the secretary.

“It is my greatest honor to serve as Secretary alongside the remarkable men and women of DHS,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Our nation faces a complex threat landscape that is constantly evolving. I will do my utmost to ensure that the Department meets the threats of today and tomorrow, and to ensure our frontline personnel have the tools and resources to accomplish their vital missions.

“I am humbled by the trust placed in me to lead our Department. I want to thank Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke for her exceptional leadership over the past four months - especially her work leading the response during the destructive Atlantic hurricane season. I look forward to continuing this Administration's work to raise the standards for the security of our homeland in all areas - including securing our borders, protecting Americans from terrorist threats, and securing our cyber networks.”

 


(DHS Official Photo/ Jetta Disco)

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Keywords:  department of homeland security, dhs, Secretary
Categories: Homeland Security

Written testimony of I&A for a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing titled “Adapting to Defend the Homeland Against the Evolving International Terrorist Threat”

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 23:00
Release Date: December 6, 2017

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member McCaskill and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today – along with my colleagues from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and the Department of Defense (DOD) – to discuss how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) helps protect the homeland in today’s dynamic threat environment. In my testimony today, I will characterize the evolving threat and describe how I&A is working to share intelligence and information with our domestic and international customers in support of counterterrorism activities in the homeland and around the world.

Today, the threat we face from terrorism is much more diverse than during the 9/11 period. While we have made it harder for terrorists to execute large-scale attacks, changes in technology have made it easier for adversaries to plot attacks in general, to radicalize new followers to commit acts of violence, and to recruit beyond borders. The problem is compounded by the use of simple, “do-it-yourself” terrorist tactics conveyed via highly sophisticated terrorist marketing campaigns to audiences across the world.

As Acting Secretary Duke testified before this committee in September, we at DHS are rethinking homeland security for this new age. In the past, we often spoke of the “home game” and “away game” in the context of protecting our country, with DHS especially focused on the former. But that line is now blurred. The dangers we face are becoming more dispersed, and threat networks are proliferating across borders. The shifting landscape challenges security, so we must move past traditional defense and non-defense thinking. This is why DHS is overhauling its approach to homeland security and bringing together intelligence, operations, interagency engagement, and international action in new ways and changing how we respond to threats to our country.

The rising tide of violence we see in the West is clear evidence of the serious threat. As our government takes the fight to groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and ash- Sham (ISIS) and al-Qa’ida (AQ), we will continue to see operatives disperse and focus more heavily on external operations against the United States, our interests, and our allies. While much of today’s hearing will focus on terrorist threats from Syria and Iraq, it is important to emphasize that the terrorist threat is fluid. Many terrorist groups continue to pose a risk to our security and safety.

Core AQ and its affiliates remain a major concern for DHS. Despite the deaths of many AQ senior leaders, the group and its affiliates maintain the intent, and, in some cases, the capability to facilitate and conduct attacks against U.S. citizens and facilities. The group and its affiliates have also demonstrated that capability to adjust tactics, techniques and procedures for targeting the West.

Likewise, we continue to monitor the evolving threat posed by ISIS. ISIS fighters’ battlefield experience in Syria and Iraq have armed it with advanced capabilities that most terrorist groups do not have. Even as the so-called “caliphate” collapses, ISIS fighters retain their toxic ideology and a will to fight. We remain concerned that foreign fighters from the U.S. or elsewhere who have traveled to Syria and Iraq and radicalized to violence will ultimately return to the U.S. or their home country to conduct attacks.

In addition to the threat of foreign fighters overseas, the threat from ISIS also contains a domestic component. ISIS utilizes a sophisticated messaging and propaganda capability, which enables it to reach a global audience as it encourages acts of violence wherever its followers are able. The group regularly disseminates high-quality media content on multiple online platforms. ISIS members continue to attempt to recruit and radicalize to violence Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) through social media. The reach and popularity of social media has enabled HVEs to connect more easily with terrorist organizations, such as ISIS. We assess there is currently an elevated threat of HVE lone offender attacks by ISIS sympathizers, which is especially concerning because mobilized lone offenders present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt their plots.

In order to address this threat, DHS, and I&A with the assistance and input it receives from DHS components, works to share intelligence and information with our domestic and foreign partners to help front-line operators identify, disrupt, and respond to developing threats. We are committed to continuing our efforts, along with our colleagues in the Intelligence Community (IC), to give our customers at DHS and in the homeland the information they need about terrorist tactics, techniques and procedures to better protect the homeland, and to partner with international counterterrorism allies to share information about terrorist threats.

I&A is the only member of the IC statutorily charged to share intelligence and threat information with state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector (SLTTP) partners. To help these partners address the evolving terrorist threat, I&A produces tailored assessments on the motivations of HVEs, suspicious behavioral patterns, likely tactics and techniques, and preferred targets. Additionally, I&A partners with the FBI and fusion centers across the nation to produce intelligence products for state and local law enforcement on the trends and observable behaviors in individuals seeking to commit violence in the homeland.

On the international front, DHS continues to broaden and deepen international liaison efforts through DHS Attaches at post to improve our ability to share information with key foreign allies. As a part of that effort, I&A engages with foreign partners to share analytic and targeting methodology, chiefly by conducting analytic exchanges, to enhance the ability of DHS and foreign allies to identify individuals and travel routes, and prevent foreign fighter travel to foreign conflict zones.

The terrorist threat is dynamic, as those who operate individually or as part of a terrorist organization will continue to challenge our security measures and our safety. DHS will continue to work with our international counterparts and our colleagues within the FBI, NCTC, DOD, the Department of State, and across the IC to identify potential threats to our security, both at home and abroad.

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member McCaskill, and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to answering your questions.

Topics:  Countering Violent Extremism, Information Sharing, International, Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  counterterrorism, Homegrown Violent Extremists, Intelligence Community, International partnerships, state and local partnerships
Categories: Homeland Security

Acting Secretary Duke Statement on the Senate Confirmation of Kirstjen Nielsen

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:10
Release Date: December 5, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke today released the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Kirstjen Nielsen as the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security:

“Congratulations to Kirstjen Nielsen on becoming the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security. Ms. Nielsen is a homeland security expert with a deep understanding of the issues facing the Department and is well-positioned to lead us into the future. It has been an honor to serve as the Department’s Acting Secretary, and I look forward to working alongside Ms. Nielsen as her deputy as we continue to carry out the DHS mission of safeguarding the American people, our homeland, and our values.”

Incoming Secretary Nielsen will be sworn-in in the coming days.

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Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Secretary, senate
Categories: Homeland Security

DHS Announces Progress in Enforcing Immigration Laws, Protecting Americans

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 09:25
Release Date: December 5, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

ICE and CBP Release End of Fiscal Year 2017 Statistics

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its end-of-year immigration enforcement numbers, the results of a year-long return to enforcing the law, upholding the integrity of our lawful immigration system, and keeping America safe. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 310,531 apprehensions nationwide, 303,916 of which were along the Southwest border, underscoring the need for a physical barrier at the border. Additionally, in FY 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted 143,470 arrests and 226,119 removals. While 2017 marked a successful year in border security efforts, reducing illegal cross-border migration, increasing interior enforcement, and dismantling transnational criminal enterprises, multiple challenges still remain in providing immigration officials with the tools needed to keep criminals off the streets, eliminate the pull factors for illegal immigration, and remove aliens who have violated our immigration laws from the country. The previously announced Trump Administration’s immigration priorities would address these challenges by enhancing border security, implementing a merit-based immigration system, and closing loopholes that encourage illegal immigration.

“We have clearly seen the successful results of the President’s commitment to supporting the frontline officers and agents of DHS as they enforce the law and secure our borders,” said Acting Secretary Elaine Duke. “We have an obligation to uphold the integrity of our immigration system, but we must do more to step up and close loopholes to protect the American worker, our economy, and our communities.”

“We have seen historic low numbers this year - an almost 30 percent decline in apprehensions in FY17, but we are very concerned about the later month increases of unaccompanied minors and minors with a family member,” said Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello. “We are also concerned about the significant uptick in the smuggling of opioids and other hard narcotics, including heroin and cocaine, which generally increase when illegal border crossings spike. The men and women of CBP, working along our borders and at the ports of entry protecting our great nation, are doing outstanding work. For us to truly have an operationally secure border, we must close loopholes in our laws that help fund the cartels.”

“These results are proof of what the men and women of ICE can accomplish when they are empowered to fulfill their mission,” said Thomas Homan, ICE Deputy Director. “We need to maintain this momentum by matching the dedication and drive of our personnel with the resources they need to perform at even higher levels. We need to confront and address misguided policies and loopholes that only serve as a pull factor for illegal immigration. We must continue to target violent gangs like MS-13, and prevent them from rebuilding what we have begun to dismantle.  Finally, we need to find a solution to the dangerous sanctuary city policies and the politicians who needlessly risk innocent lives to protect criminals who are illegally present in the United States.”

Customs and Border Protection

In FY17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded the lowest level of illegal cross-border migration on record, as measured by apprehensions along the border and inadmissible encounters at the U.S. ports of entry. However, in May CBP began to see a month-over-month increase in apprehensions and inadmissible cases along the Southwest border, most notably from children, either as part of a family unit or unaccompanied by their parent or legal guardian.

In addition to the 310,531 apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol agents there were 216,370 inadmissible cases by CBP officers in FY17, representing a 23.7 percent decline over the previous year. Illegal migration along the Southwest border declined sharply from January 21 to April, which was the lowest month of border enforcement activity on record.

By the end of the year, family-unit apprehensions and inadmissible cases reached 104,997 along the Southwest border. Another 48,681 unaccompanied children were apprehended or determined to be inadmissible.

CBP continues to be concerned about steady increase in the flow of unaccompanied children and family units from Central America, as transnational criminal organizations continue to exploit legal and policy loopholes to help illegal aliens gain entry and facilitate their release into the interior of the country.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The most significant changes in immigration enforcement strategy can be found in the interior of the United States. The executive orders issued by President Trump in January 2017 strongly emphasized the role of interior enforcement in protecting national security and public safety, and upholding the rule of law. By making clear that no category of removable aliens would be exempt from enforcement, the directives also expanded enforcement priorities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Overall, in FY 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted 143,470 arrests and 226,119 removals. Notably, from the start of the Trump Administration on January 20, 2017 through the end of the fiscal year, ERO made 110,568 arrests compared to 77,806 in FY2016 - an increase of 40 percent. During the same timeframe, removals that resulted from an ICE arrest increased by 37 percent, nearly offsetting the historically low number of border apprehensions, a population that typically constitutes a significant portion of ICE removals. Total ICE removal numbers for FY17 (226,119) reflect a slight decline (6%) from FY2016 (240,255), largely attributed to the decline in border apprehensions.

ICE continued to prioritize its resources to enhance public safety and border security, which is demonstrated by the data, which reflects that 92 percent (101,722) of aliens ICE administratively arrested between January 20, 2017 and the end of FY2017, were removable aliens who had a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, were an ICE fugitive, or were an illegal re-entrant.

The executive orders also prioritized efforts to dismantle transnational gangs, with a specific focus on MS-13, one of the most violent gangs in the United States. In FY2017, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 796 MS-13 gang members and associates, compared to 434 in FY2016 – an 83 percent increase. Overall, HSI made 4,818 criminal arrests related to gang activity and 892 administrative arrests as a result of gang investigations. Additionally, ERO administratively arrested 5,225 gang members and associates.

Overall in FY17, HSI conducted 32,958 total criminal arrests and seized $524 million in illicit currency and assets over the course of investigations into human smuggling and trafficking, cybercrime, transnational gang activity, narcotics enforcement, human smuggling and other types of cross-border criminal activity.

Employee Satisfaction

In addition to these improved numbers, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results for CBP and ICE personnel significantly improved this year, reflecting that the Administration is allowing them to faithfully execute their duties and fully enforce the law.

Earlier today, ICE, CBP and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services participated in a press briefing to announce the end of year numbers. Click here to watch.

The Office of Immigration Statistics will release their annual report on DHS-wide enforcement data in January.

Link to CBP report

Link to ICE reports

# # #

 

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Apprehensions, cbp, ERO, ICE, immigration enforcement, southwest border, U. S. Border Patrol
Categories: Homeland Security

As Historic 2017 Hurricane Season Comes to an End, Federal Support to Recovery Continues

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 14:56
Release Date: November 30, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – While Nov. 30 marks the end of a historic hurricane season, FEMA and its partners continue to work diligently in support of disaster survivors recovering from the devastating season.  Four hurricanes made landfall:  Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate (the first three were classified as major hurricanes, which affected roughly 25.8 million people). Also during this season, nearly two dozen large wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres of land in northern California. 

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma marked the first time two Atlantic Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the Continental United States, in the same season.  Hurricane Harvey set a new record for the most rainfall from a U.S. tropical cyclone, with more than 50 inches of rain in some areas. The storm resulted in catastrophic flooding in Texas and western Louisiana.  Two weeks later, Hurricane Irma became the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record. Winds peaked at 185 mph, and Hurricane Irma remained a hurricane for 11 days. Irma was the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane since Ivan in 2004.  The public response to Hurricane Irma, as the storm approached, resulted in one of the largest sheltering missions in U.S. history.

Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico soon after Hurricane Irma struck their shores. Hurricane Maria was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on the main island of Puerto Rico in 85 years, and the resulting response became the longest sustained air mission of food and water in FEMA history. In addition to these hurricanes, prior to the 2017 season FEMA already had 17 Joint Field Offices working 28 presidentially-declared disasters.

Since Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, the President has granted 16 Major Disaster declarations and 14 Emergency Declarations, while FEMA has authorized 25 Fire Management Assistance Grant declarations. Over a span of 25 days, FEMA and our partners deployed tens of thousands of personnel across 270,000 square miles in three different FEMA regions. 

So far, more than 4.7 million disaster survivors registered for federal assistance with FEMA – more than all who registered for hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Sandy combined.  To respond to the historic demand, FEMA expanded its call center capacity by tenfold, and increased the number of home and property damage inspectors fourfold.

“This historic hurricane season should serve as a gut check and an opportunity for citizens, businesses, state, local, tribal and federal officials to re-evaluate how we prepare for and respond to any disaster,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “Response and recovery is dependent upon the whole community to be successful. While we continue to support the recovery from these storms, we must also take the opportunity to become better prepared for future disasters.”

To date, FEMA has placed more than $2 billion in disaster assistance into the hands of disaster survivors to help them recover from these events.  As of mid-November, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders filed approximately 120,000 claims, resulting in payments totaling more than $6.3 billion.

“State, local, tribal, and territorial governments, along with the residents in the impacted areas, are the true first responders,” said Administrator Long. “FEMA alone cannot deliver assistance to this vast number of survivors. We must hit the re-set button on the culture of preparedness in our country.”

Non-profit organizations provide crucial services to sustain lives in partnership with the rest of the response and recovery infrastructure.  The private sector also plays a significant role in disasters, as businesses work to restore critical services and donate their time and resources – in close coordination with emergency management personnel – to help communities rebound in the wake of disasters. 

Thousands of members of the federal workforce were deployed to Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, including 13,892 staff from various offices of the Department of Defense (DoD), including the military services. For the first time, FEMA extended the Department of Homeland Security’s “Surge Capacity Force,” to all federal agencies, deploying over 3,800 non-FEMA federal employees. 

FEMA search and rescue teams saved nearly 9,000 lives, in addition to those saved or assisted by DoD, the Coast Guard, state and local partners, first responders, and neighbors helping neighbors. 

While the 2017 Hurricane Season has ended, recovering from these devastating hurricanes will take years, and FEMA and our federal partners will continue to support affected governments and survivors as they build back stronger.

For information on how you can prepare for the 2018 Hurricane Season, see https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes or download the FEMA App: https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app.

For the latest information about FEMA support to response and recovery efforts, see:

Hurricane Harvey:  https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-harvey   
Hurricane Irma:  https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma  
Hurricane Maria:  https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-maria

Topics:  DHS Enterprise, Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, natural disasters
Categories: Homeland Security

Acting Secretary Duke: We Are Rethinking Homeland Security For A New Age

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:57
Release Date: November 30, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Says the Fundamentals of Terrorism Have Evolved

WASHINGTON – Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security for a hearing on World Wide Threats: Keeping America Secure in the New Age of Terror.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is addressing the evolving threat landscape and moving past traditional defense and non-defense thinking. DHS is enhancing its approach to homeland security and bringing together intelligence operations, interagency engagement, and international action in innovative ways.

In her written testimony submitted to the committee, Acting Secretary Duke said, “Acts of terrorism and mass violence against soft targets have become so frequent that we associate them with the names of cities that have been victimized: Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, Orlando, Istanbul, Nice, Berlin, London, Barcelona, and most recently in New York City on Halloween.” As a result, DHS is enhancing coordination with state and local officials. In her oral testimony, Acting Secretary Duke stated, “I also want to make clear today that DHS is not standing on the sidelines as these threats proliferate. And we will not allow frequent terrorism to become the new normal.”

Additionally, DHS is “raising the baseline” of the United States’ security posture by examining everything from traveler screening to information sharing, and setting new standards to close security vulnerabilities. Acting Secretary Duke said, “At the Department, we are building an action-oriented, results-centric culture. We are pushing our border security strategies and pressing foreign partners to enhance their security so that terrorists, criminals, and other threat actors are stopped well before they reach our shores.”

The Acting Secretary’s full written testimony can be found here, oral testimony as prepared here, and excerpts below.

Acting Secretary Duke on Rethinking Homeland Security for a New Age:

“We are seeing a surge in terrorist activity because the fundamentals of terrorism have changed. Our enemies are crowd-sourcing their violence online and promoting a “do it yourself” approach that involves using any weapons their followers can get their hands on. We saw this just last month right here on our own soil when a terrorist killed and wounded pedestrians in New York City using a rented vehicle. But New Yorkers rallied, and they refused to be intimidated by this heinous attack.

“I also want to make clear today that DHS is not standing on the sidelines as these threats proliferate. And we will not allow frequent terrorism to become the new normal.

“The primary international terror threat facing our country is from global jihadist groups. However, the Department is also focused on the threat of domestic terrorism. Ideologically-motivated violence here in the United States is a danger to our nation, our people, and our values.

“We are tackling the overall terror threat to the United States head-on... [W]e are rethinking homeland security for a new age. There is no longer a “home game” and an “away game.” The line is blurred, and the threats are connected across borders.

“That’s why DHS is moving towards a more integrated approach, bringing together intelligence, operations, interagency engagement, and international action like never before.”

Acting Secretary Duke on Raising the Baseline of Our Security Posture

“We are also strengthening everything from traveler screening to information sharing. We now require all foreign governments to share critical data with us on terrorists and criminals—and to help us confidently identify their nationals. We must know who is coming into our country and make sure they do not pose a threat. That is why I recommended—and the President approved—tough but tailored restrictions against countries that pose a risk and which are not complying with our requirements.

“And we are trying to stay a step ahead of emerging threats. We are planning next to launch a new Office of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction next week, to consolidate and elevate DHS efforts to guard against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats.

“Separately, our Global Aviation Security Plan is making it harder for terrorists to target U.S.-bound aircraft with concealed explosives or by using corrupted insiders.

“At the same time, we are rededicating ourselves to terrorism prevention to keep terrorists from radicalizing our people. And our newly reorganized Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships will lead the charge.

“Finally, we have stepped up DHS efforts to protect soft targets, which will not only help better defend our country against terrorists but against tragedies like we have witnessed in Las Vegas and Texas.”

# # #

Topics:  Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  terrorism, terrorism prevention
Categories: Homeland Security

Oral testimony of DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke for a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing titled “World Wide Threats: Keeping America Secure in the New Age of Terror”

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 09:01
Release Date: November 30, 2017

Chairman McCaul, Ranking Member Thompson, and distinguished members of the Committee:

It is my honor to testify on behalf of the men and women of DHS, who shield our nation from threats every single day, often times in increasingly dangerous environments. 

We were reminded of that this past week when we lost Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez in the line of duty. I truly appreciate, and know our country appreciates, his service and sacrifice.

While we do not know for certain the circumstances of his death – we do know that he courageously chose a dangerous job with DHS because it is so important to our nation’s security.

When his father was asked why his son chose the Border Patrol his son told him “I want to defend my country from terrorists … I want to prevent terrorists and drugs from coming into the country.”  And he loved his job. 

I want to begin by noting that right now the terror threat to our country equals, and in many ways exceeds, the period around 9/11. 

We are seeing a surge in terrorist activity because the fundamentals of terrorism have changed. 

Our enemies are crowd-sourcing their violence online and promoting a “do it yourself” approach that involves using any weapons their followers can get their hands on. 

We saw this just last month right here on our own soil when a terrorist killed and wounded pedestrians in New York City using a rented vehicle.

But New Yorkers rallied, and they refused to be intimidated by this heinous attack.

I also want to make clear today that DHS is not standing on the sidelines as these threats proliferate.  And we will not allow frequent terrorism to become the new normal. 

The primary international terror threat facing our country is from global jihadist groups.  However, the Department is also focused on the threat of domestic terrorism.  Ideologically-motivated violence here in the United States is a danger to our nation, our people, and our values.  

We are tackling the overall terror threat to the United States head-on and in two ways. 

First, we are rethinking homeland security for a new age. 

There is no longer a “home game” and an “away game.”  The line is blurred, and the threats are connected across borders. 

That’s why DHS is moving towards a more integrated approach, bringing together intelligence, operations, interagency engagement, and international action like never before.

Second, we are raising the bar of our security posture across the board to keep dangerous individuals and goods from entering the United States.

That includes building a wall on the southwest border and cracking down on transnational criminal organizations that bring drugs, violence, and other threats into our communities. 

Illegal immigration puts our communities and country at risk, which is why our border security strategy is multi-layered and includes robust interior enforcement operations to deter and prevent illegal entry. 

We are also strengthening everything from traveler screening to information sharing. 

We now require all foreign governments to share critical data with us on terrorists and criminals—and to help us confidently identify their nationals.

We must know who is coming into our country and make sure they do not pose a threat.  That is why I recommended—and the President approved—tough but tailored restrictions against countries that pose a risk and which are not complying with our requirements. 

And we are trying to stay a step ahead of emerging threats.

We are planning next to launch a new Office of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction next week, to consolidate and elevate DHS efforts to guard against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats.

Separately, our Global Aviation Security Plan is making it harder for terrorists to target U.S.-bound aircraft with concealed explosives or by using corrupted insiders.

At the same time, we are rededicating ourselves to terrorism prevention to keep terrorists from radicalizing our people.  And our newly reorganized Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships will lead the charge.

Finally, we have stepped up DHS efforts to protect soft targets, which will not only help better defend our country against terrorists but against tragedies like we have witnessed in Las Vegas and Texas.

Americans are also alarmed by the spike in cyber attacks.

Our adversaries continue to develop advanced capabilities online.  They seek to undermine our critical infrastructure, target our livelihoods, steal our secrets, and threaten our democracy. 

That is why DHS is engaging with Congress on legislation that would establish a new operating component dedicated to our cybersecurity mission. 

On behalf of the entire Department, I appreciate the critical role this committee plays in helping us execute our mission, and I want to thank this Committee for passing a reauthorization bill for our Department earlier this year and look forward to working with the  Senate as they move their bill through the process.

I want to thank the men and women of DHS for their dedication and courage.  And I want to thank you on the committee for supporting our people.

Topics:  DHS Enterprise Keywords:  Acting Secretary Duke, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Elaine Duke, Threat
Categories: Homeland Security

Written testimony of DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke for a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing titled “World Wide Threats: Keeping America Secure in the New Age of Terror”

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 23:00
Release Date: November 30, 2017

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairman McCaul, Ranking Member Thompson, and distinguished members of the Committee, I would like to thank you for inviting me to testify on the threats facing our great Nation and what we are doing to confront them. First though, I would like to recognize the service of former Secretary John Kelly. While his tenure at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ended early, his impact was substantial. General Kelly visibly lifted the morale of the Department, set a new standard for leadership, and—most importantly—established the foundation for historic improvements in our Nation’s security. The Department has not missed a beat since his departure, and it is my honor to continue to advance the work he set in motion until such time as the Senate votes to confirm the President’s nominee, Kirstjen Nielsen.

Make no mistake, the threats our country faces are serious. Our enemies and adversaries are persistent. They are working to undermine our people, our interests, and our way of life every day. Whether it is the violent menace posed by international and domestic terrorists or the silent intrusions of cyber adversaries, the American people will not be intimidated or coerced. I am proud that the men and women of DHS are driven to address these challenges, and they are more than equal to the task.

I would like to stress three themes today.

First, we are rethinking homeland security for a new age. We sometimes speak of the “home game” and “away game” in protecting our country, with DHS especially focused on the former. But the line is now blurred. The dangers we face are becoming more dispersed, and threat networks are proliferating across borders. The shifting landscape is challenging our security, so we need to move past traditional defense and non-defense thinking. This is why DHS is overhauling its approach to homeland security. We are bringing together intelligence, operations, interagency engagement, and international action in new ways and changing how we respond to threats to our country.

Second, we are “raising the baseline” of our security posture—across the board. DHS is looking at everything from traveler screening to information sharing, and we are setting new standards to close security vulnerabilities. Since 9/11, we have spoken too often of the weaknesses in our systems without taking enough decisive action to fix them for the long haul. This Administration aims to change that. At the Department, we are building an action-oriented, results-centric culture. We are pushing our border security strategies and pressing foreign partners to enhance their security so that terrorists, criminals, and other threat actors are stopped well before they reach our shores.

Third, this unprecedented hurricane season has truly tested us as a nation and tested many of our assumptions about what works in disaster response and recovery. While each year the hurricane season officially comes to an end on November 30, the lessons that we are learning from the response and recovery operations that we are performing this year, under the most difficult circumstances possible, will transform the field of emergency management forever.

Homeland Security in a New Age of Terrorism

Today, the magnitude of the threat we face from terrorism is equal to, and in many ways exceeds, the 9/11 period. While we have made it harder for terrorists to execute large-scale attacks, changes in technology have made it easier for adversaries to plot attacks in general, to radicalize new followers, and to recruit beyond borders. The problem is compounded by the use of simple, “do-it-yourself” terrorist tactics.

The rising tide of violence we have seen in the West is clear evidence of the serious threat. Acts of terrorism and mass violence against soft targets have become so frequent that we associate them with the names of cities that have been victimized: Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, Orlando, Istanbul, Nice, Berlin, London, Barcelona, and most recently in New York City on Halloween. As our government takes the fight to groups such as ISIS and al-Qa’ida, we expect operatives to disperse and focus more heavily on external operations against the United States, our interests, and our allies.

We are seeing an uptick in terrorist activity because the fundamentals of terrorism have evolved. This includes changes in terrorist operations, the profile of individual operatives, and the tactics they use. With regard to operations, terrorist groups historically sought time and space to plot attacks. But now they have become highly networked online, allowing them to spread propaganda worldwide, recruit online, evade detection by plotting in virtual safe havens, and crowd-source attacks. The result is that our interagency partners and allies have tracked a record number of terrorism cases.

Terrorist demographics have also created challenges for our frontline defenders and intelligence professionals. ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and other groups have managed to inspire a wide array of sympathizers across the spectrum. While a preponderance are young men, they can be young or old, male or female, wealthy or indigent, immigrant or U.S.-born, and living almost anywhere.

The change in terrorist tactics has likewise put strain on our defenses. Global jihadist groups are promoting simple methods, convincing supporters to use guns, knives, vehicles, and other common items to engage in acts of terrorism. At the same time, they are experimenting with other tools—including drones, chemical weapons, and artfully concealed improvised explosive devices—to further spread violence and fear. We have also seen a spider web of threats against the aviation sector, which remains a top target for global jihadist groups. In short, what was once a preference for large-scale attacks is now an “all-of-the-above” approach to terrorism. This is particularly exacerbated by the increased emphasis on so-called soft targets. Locations, venues, or events associated with public gatherings are increasingly appealing targets for terrorists and other violent criminals because of their accessibility and the potential to inflict significant physical, psychological, and economic damage.

The Department is also concerned about violent extremists using the battlefield as a testbed from which they can export terror. We continue to see terrorist groups working to perfect new attack methods in conflict zones that can then be used in external operations. Operatives are packaging this expertise into blueprints that can be shared with followers online. In some cases, terrorists are even providing the material resources needed to conduct attacks. We recently saw this in Australia, when police foiled a major plot to bring down an airliner using a sophisticated explosive device reportedly shipped by an ISIS operative overseas.

The primary international terror threat facing the United States is from violent global jihadist groups, who try to radicalize potential followers within our homeland and who seek to send operatives to our country. However, the Department is also focused on the threat of domestic terrorism and the danger posed by ideologically-motivated violent extremists here in the United States. Ideologies like violent racial supremacy and violent anarchist extremism are a danger to our communities, and they must be condemned and countered.

The Department is not standing on the sidelines as these threats spread. And we will not allow pervasive terrorism to become the new normal. We are closely monitoring changes to our enemies’ tactics, and we are working to stay a step ahead of them. This means ensuring that our security posture is dynamic, multi-layered, and difficult to predict. We are doing more to identify terrorists in the first place, changing our programs and practices to adjust to their tactics, and working with our interagency and international partners to find innovative ways to detect and disrupt their plots.

DHS is also working to help our state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector partners —and the public— to be better prepared. We actively share intelligence bulletins and analysis with homeland security stakeholders nationwide to make sure they understand trends related to terrorism and violent extremist activity, know how to guard against nascent attack methods, and are alerted to the potential for violent incidents. For example, in the days prior to the tragic events in Charlottesville, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis partnered with the Virginia Fusion Center to produce and distribute an assessment alerting state and local law enforcement to an increased chance for violence at the upcoming demonstration.

DHS is working closely with private industry and municipalities to help secure public venues and mass gatherings that might be targeted by terrorism and violent extremist activity. We have also continued to refine our outreach to make sure members of the public report suspicious activity and don’t hesitate to do so. Sadly, we have seen many attacks at home and around the world that could have been stopped if someone had spoken up. We want to break that pattern of reluctance.

In many of these areas, we will continue to need Congressional assistance. The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget calls for a number of counterterrorism improvements that need robust funding. But more must be done to keep up with our enemies. In some cases, DHS and other departments and agencies lack certain legal authorities to engage and mitigate the emerging dangers we are seeing. For example, we lack the authorities needed to counter threats from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). We know that terrorists are using drones to conduct aerial attacks in conflict zones, and already we have seen aspiring terrorists attempt to use them in attacks outside the conflict zone.

Earlier this year, the Administration delivered a government-wide legislative proposal to Congress that would provide additional counter-UAS authorities to DHS and other federal departments and agencies to legally engage and mitigate UAS threats in the National Airspace System. I am eager to share our concerns in a classified setting, and I urge the Committee to help champion efforts to resolve this and other challenges.

Blocking Threats from Reaching the United States

The Department is undertaking historic efforts to secure our territory. The goal is to prevent national security threat actors, especially terrorists and criminals, from traveling to the United States, while better facilitating lawful trade and travel. The Administration has made it a priority to secure our borders and to provide the American people the security they deserve. We are making it harder for dangerous goods to enter our country. And as part of our across-the-board approach to rethinking homeland security, DHS is improving to the screening of all categories of U.S.-bound travelers, including visitors, immigrants, and refugees.

Our forward-leaning counterterrorism approach is exemplified by the Department’s recent aviation security enhancements. As noted earlier, terrorists continue to plot against multiple aspects of the aviation sector, in some cases using advanced attack methods. Based on carefully evaluated threat intelligence, DHS took action this year to protect passenger aircraft against serious terror threats. This summer, we announced new “seen” and “unseen” security measures, representing the most significant aviation security enhancements in many years. Indeed, our ongoing Global Aviation Security Plan is making U.S.-bound flights more secure and will raise the baseline of aviation security worldwide—including additional protections to prevent our enemies from placing dangerous items in mail or cargo.

Today, terrorists and criminals are exploiting what they see as a borderless world, which is why stepping up our border security must be among the highest national priorities. DHS is actively focused on building out the wall on the Southwest Border and a multi-layered security architecture to keep threats from entering America undetected. We are making measureable progress, and we are cracking down hard on transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), which are bringing drugs, violence, and dangerous goods and individuals across our borders. These organizations have one goal—illicit profit, and they couldn’t care less about the enormous human suffering they cause.

TCOs pose a persistent national security threat to the United States. They provide a potential means for transferring weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to terrorists or for facilitating terrorists’ entry into the United States. We have already seen aliens with terror connections travel from conflict zones into our Hemisphere, and we are concerned that TCOs might assist them in crossing our borders. TCOs also undermine the stability of countries near our borders, subvert their government institutions, undermine competition in world strategic markets, and threaten interconnected trading, transportation, and transactional systems essential to free markets.

The Department is fighting back against this threat by using its full authorities and working in concert with other federal partners. DHS is leading the development of a stronger, fused, whole-of-government approach to border security. Stove-piped agencies cannot prevail against highly-networked adversaries, which is why we are bolstering Joint Task Forces to protect our territory and embedding border security professionals in other relevant departments and agencies. Our Components are working together on initiatives such as the DHS MS-13 Working Group and the DHS Human Smuggling Cell. The former, run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is identifying gang members previously unknown to law enforcement. The latter is a multi-agency unit staffed by personnel from across the Department that is allowing us to bring together intelligence and operations to go after human smuggling organizations more effectively.

We are also developing comprehensive plans to step up security in the Western Hemisphere and to push the U.S. border outward by shutting down TCOs and smuggling networks. For example, ICE’s Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP) is helping train and equip foreign counterparts to collect biometric and biographic data on persons of interest and potential threats. The data allow us to map illicit pathways, discover emerging TCO trends, and catch known or suspected terrorists and criminals while they are still far from our border.

Beyond border security, DHS is improving almost every stage of the vetting process for U.S.-bound travelers. Front-end investigations of applicants are being modified to more quickly detect individuals with terror ties, including through ICE’s Visa Security Program. Security checks are being brought into the digital age with measures like continuous immigration vetting, a real-time, systematic process that constantly analyzes visa files against law enforcement and intelligence holdings to identify possible matches to derogatory information. At the same time, we are gathering additional data from prospective travelers to more effectively validate their identities and determine whether they pose a risk to our country.

DHS is better leveraging unclassified and classified datasets to find previously undetected threats. We have already seen real successes. I cannot get into the details in this setting, suffice to say that these enhancements have allowed us to detect and disrupt terror suspects we likely would not have identified otherwise. And at our ports of entry, CBP’s Tactical Terrorism Response Teams are connecting dots and finding suspicious individuals we might also have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

In the medium term, DHS is aiming to streamline how we organize our screening activities. We are examining specific ways to consolidate screening functions, better integrate intelligence data, leverage law enforcement information, and fuse our efforts to protect our country. Both of the witnesses here with me today have been critical partners as we do this and make sure our national vetting efforts are a top priority.

The Administration is also pursuing major initiatives to improve international information sharing. Working with the State Department and interagency, we are pressing foreign countries to provide us more information on terrorists and criminals, and we are urging them to use the information our government already provides to catch global jihadists and other threat actors residing in or transiting their territory. DHS is exploring additional measures that could be taken to require foreign governments to take swifter action and how we can better assist them in doing so.

For the first time ever, DHS established a clear baseline for what countries must do to help the United States confidently screen travelers and immigrants from their territory. As required under President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (EO 13780), all foreign governments have been notified of the new standards, which include the sharing of terrorist identities, criminal history information, and other data needed to ensure public safety and national security, as well as the condition that countries issue secure biometric passports, report lost and stolen travel documents to INTERPOL, and take other essential actions to prevent identity fraud.

DHS assessed whether countries met the new standards, in consultation with the Department of State and the Department of Justice. Countries that failed to do so were recommended to the President for travel restrictions or other lawful limitations, which he imposed through a Presidential proclamation in October. Most foreign governments have met these minimum standards or are on the path to doing so. For those that the President has designated for restrictions, we have indicated that we will consider relief, but first they must comply with these reasonable, baseline requirements.

This has nothing to do with race or religion, and our goal is not to block people from visiting the United States. America has a proud history as a beacon of hope to freedom-loving people from around the world who want to visit our country or become a part of our enduring democratic republic. Rather, the goal is to protect Americans and ensure foreign governments are working with us—and not inhibiting us—from stopping terrorists, criminals, and other national security threat actors from traveling into our communities undetected.

We are also focused on working with our foreign partners to close overseas security gaps that allow dangerous individuals to travel uninhibited. Many countries, for instance, lack the border security policies, traveler screening capabilities, intelligence information sharing practices, and legal tools to effectively stop terrorist travel. DHS is examining the full array of tools at our disposal to incentivize and assist foreign governments in making these improvements so these individuals are caught before they reach our borders.

I commend the House Homeland Security Committee for examining these matters as part of its Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States. As you prepare your final recommendations, the Department stands ready to work with you to implement them.

DHS is not just concerned with threat actors but also threat agents, such as weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Our intelligence professionals have seen renewed terrorist interest in WMD and are aware of concerning developments on these issues, which can be discussed further in an appropriate setting. That is one reason why the Department is setting up a focal point within DHS for our work to protect Americans against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats.

The Department’s previous approach to addressing CBRN threats was inadequate and our organization for this mission has been fragmented. For nearly a decade, DHS considered internally reorganizing to ensure our Department’s counter-WMD efforts were unified. Given the growing threats and the need to enhance DHS’s ability to help respond, I notified Congress of our intent to create a Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office using the Secretary’s re-organization authority under Section 872 of the Homeland Security Act. We are exercising this authority for a limited, internal re-organization to achieve unity of command, and we intend to work collaboratively with Congress formalize this office and ensure it is postured appropriately to confront the threat. We look forward to continuing to engage with this Committee as we examine how to consolidate our counter-WMD efforts, with the goal of ensuring our Nation is safer than ever before.

Preventing Terrorist Radicalization and Recruitment in Our Communities

In addition to counterterrorism, the Department is rededicating itself to terrorism prevention. Americans do not want us to simply stop violent plots, they want us to keep them from materializing in the first place. As part of this effort, we have launched an end-to-end review of all DHS “countering violent extremism,” or CVE, programs, projects, and activities. In the coming months we will work to ensure our approach to terrorism prevention is risk-based and intelligence-driven, focused on effectiveness, and provides appropriate support to those on the frontlines who we rely on to spot signs of terrorist activity.

DHS efforts to combat terrorist recruitment and radicalization fall into four primary lanes.

First, we are prioritizing education and community awareness. Before terrorists have a chance to reach into communities and inspire potential recruits, we are making sure those communities are aware of the threat. This includes extensive outreach to states and localities, awareness briefings, intelligence products regarding threats and trends, training for frontline defenders and civic leaders, and more.

Second, we are focused on counter-recruitment. We know that terrorists will continue to seek new followers through persuasion and propaganda, which is why we must support efforts to actively push back against such solicitations. This includes continuing to encourage non-governmental organizations to counter-message terrorist propaganda, leveraging credible voices to dissuade potential recruits, working with social media companies and supporting their efforts to make online platforms more hostile to terrorists, and more.

Last month, I met with the Interior Ministries of the G7 counties in Italy and some of the largest technology companies and discussed the next steps the companies plan to take in the effort to prevent their platforms from being misused by terrorists, including better identifying online terrorist propaganda and shutting down terrorist accounts. The meeting emphasized the importance of working together with our foreign partners while we continue to engage industry on this important issue. The U.S. Government has already made progress by supporting the companies’ efforts—including the establishment of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism—to identify terrorist content so they can voluntarily remove content that violates their terms of service as soon as it is discovered.

Many companies, however, still have substantial challenges in quickly identifying and addressing the volume of terrorist accounts and propaganda online. DHS, along with interagency partners, will continue sharing information and educating private sector partners on how to more quickly identify and address terrorist content. We will also strongly emphasize the importance of counter-messaging and using credible voices to fight back against the false narrative of terrorist groups. Ultimately, as terrorists crowd-source their violence, the best way to fight back is to turn the crowd against them.

Third, we are emphasizing the importance of early warning. Even with strong community awareness and counter-recruitment, terrorist groups will succeed in reaching at least some susceptible minds. That is why we are working to detect potentially radicalized individuals and terrorist activity earlier. This includes building trust between communities and law enforcement, expanding “If You See Something, Say Something™”-style campaigns, ensuring there are appropriate and confidential means for the public to provide tips regarding suspicious activity, and more.

Finally, DHS is looking at what more can be done to counter terrorist recidivism. It is inevitable that some individuals will be recruited, radicalized, and attempt to engage in terrorist activity. So we want to make sure that once they are caught they do not return to violence. A number of inmates with terrorism affiliations are scheduled for release from U.S. prisons in the next few years. We need to work with the Department of Justice and its Bureau of Prisons, and other interagency partners, to make sure they do not return to violence once released. I look forward to engaging with the Committee further on this subject as we identify effective ways to prevent terrorist recidivism.

This summer the Department announced the award of $10 million in grants to 26 organizations to advance terrorism prevention efforts. These grants will help inform our efforts and illuminate what works—and what doesn’t work—in combating terrorist recruitment and radicalization in our homeland. We look forward to sharing the results with Congress.

I also want to note that although our terrorism prevention activities will be risk-based, they will also be flexible enough to address all forms of terrorism. Any ideologically-motivated violence which is designed to coerce people or their governments should be condemned, prevented, and countered. That is why our approach must be agile so it can help mitigate everything from the global jihadist threat to the scourge of violent racial supremacy. It must also engage and not alienate communities targeted by these fanatics. This means working with people of all races, religions, and creeds as partners in the fight against terrorism.

Securing Soft Targets

As I mentioned earlier, terrorists and other violent criminals are placing significant emphasis on attacking soft targets. We have seen this with recent tragedies in Nevada, New York, and Texas. Although the Department has previously focused on enhancing the security of such facilities, it has recently placed further emphasis on assisting the critical infrastructure community to secure these vulnerable facilities. For example, the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) will make the Department the national leader on technology, standards, and best practices relating to soft target security. The intent of the effort is to:

  • Demonstrably reduce the risk of a successful attack on soft targets;
  • Ensure the Department has the capability to support visible efforts to enhance soft target security in order to safeguard the American people;
  • Develop a center of gravity for Department-wide resources available to support the critical infrastructure community in securing soft targets;
  • Promote a dynamic process to identify and address soft target security gaps based on threats and incidents.

Efforts such as the Hometown Security Initiative, in conjunction with our programs that provide training and informational resources focused on active shooter preparedness, play a key role in preparing facilities and their employees to proactively think about the role they play in the safety and security of their businesses and communities.

In addition, the S&T SAFETY Act Program provides important legal liability protections of qualified anti-terrorism technologies in order to encourage the development and deployment of effective products and services that enhance security. The Program is intended to provide critical incentives for the development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by providing liability protections for "qualified anti-terrorism technologies."

Defending America’s Digital Frontier

The past year marked a turning point in the cyber domain, putting it in the forefront of public consciousness. We have long faced a relentless assault against our digital networks from a variety of threat actors. But this year, Americans saw hackers, cyber criminals, and nation states take their attacks to another level. Our adversaries have and continue to develop advanced cyber capabilities. They have deployed them to undermine critical infrastructure, target our livelihoods and innovation, steal our secrets, and threaten our democracy.

Cybersecurity has become a matter of national security, and one of the Department’s core missions. With access to tools that were previously beyond their reach, non-state actors now have the ability to cause widespread disruptions and possibly, destructive attacks. This is redefining homeland security as we know it. And it is affecting everyone, from businesses and governments to individuals who get swept up in data breaches affecting millions of Americans.

Many of these threats are novel, as illustrated by the attacks on the Ukrainian power grid in 2015 and 2016, and the use of Internet-connected consumer devices to conduct distributed denial of service attacks. Other recent global cyber incidents, such as the WannaCry ransomware incident in May and the NotPetya malware incident in June 2017, exploited known vulnerabilities in software commonly used across the globe to create widespread disruptive effects and cause economic loss. .

DHS defends from these attacks and provides tools to mitigate ongoing incidents through the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), which is in addition to protecting civilian federal networks collaborates with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, and the private sector to defend against cyber threats. Through vulnerability scanning, NPPD limited the scope of potential incidents by helping stakeholders identify the vulnerability on their networks so it could be patched before the incident impacted their systems. Recognizing that not all users were able to install patches, DHS shared additional mitigation guidance to assist network defenders. As the incidents unfolded, DHS and our interagency partners led the Federal Government’s incident response efforts in accordance with agencies’ responsibilities set forth in Presidential Policy Directive 41, including providing situational awareness, information sharing, malware analysis, and technical assistance to affected entities.

Cyber actors continue to target the energy sector with various goals ranging from cyber espionage to developing the ability to disrupt energy systems in the event of a hostile conflict. In one recent campaign, advanced persistent threat actors targeted the cyber infrastructure of entities within the energy, nuclear, critical manufacturing, and other critical infrastructure sectors. In response, DHS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Energy shared information to assist network defenders identify and reduce exposure to malicious activity.

In the face of these digital threats, it is a DHS priority to work with Congress on legislation that would focus our cybersecurity and critical infrastructure mission at NPPD. We are pursuing changes that would streamline and elevate NPPD’s mission. Through transition from a headquarters component to a DHS operating component, with better structure, the DHS Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency would be better position to drive our cybersecurity mission.

We are also endeavoring to enhance cyber-threat information sharing across the globe to stop attacks before they start—and to help Americans quickly recover. We work closely with technology providers, information-sharing and analysis centers, sector coordinating councils, and critical infrastructure owners and operators to brief them on cyber threats and provide mitigation recommendations, and our hunt and incident response teams provide expert intrusions analysis and mitigation guidance to stakeholders who request assistance in advance of and in response to a cyber incident.

In all its cybersecurity efforts, DHS draws upon its experience in emergency management and counterterrorism by taking a broad risk management approach. DHS considers cybersecurity risk within the landscape of overall threats to the Nation and an assessment of the likely consequences of cyber incidents which may or may not result in physical impacts. To increase the security and resilience of nonfederal critical infrastructure, DHS leverages information and expertise gained from the federal protective mission. DHS makes technical capabilities and programs available to nonfederal entities and provides cybersecurity information and recommendations to, and partners closely with, a variety of private sector, State, local, tribal, and territorial, and international stakeholders. This information and technical assistance allows our stakeholders to make informed risk management decisions and to improve their cybersecurity.

At the same time, the U.S. Secret Service and ICE Homeland Security Investigations work closely with FBI, as well as other law enforcement partners, to aggressively investigate, disrupt, and dismantle criminal actors and organizations using cyberspace to carry out their illicit activities. The efforts of the network protection and law enforcement experts must be increasingly coordinated within the Department and with other agencies and non-federal entities. Information about tactics and trends obtained through law enforcement investigations inform other network protection efforts, including those through NPPD, to raise the defensive capabilities of the Nation. And the efforts of network protectors can identify trends, practices, and potentially new victims to shape law enforcement investigations. Together these efforts are an important part of an overall national approach to deterrence by denying malicious actors access to critical U.S. targets, increasing resilience of networks, and by identifying and punishing those who try to use cyberspace for illicit purposes.

Bringing together its network protection, law enforcement, risk mitigation, and emergency management expertise, DHS plays a lead role in the federal government’s response to cyber incidents. Such incidents can result from malicious activity as well as natural or accidental causes. NPPD and DHS law enforcement components provide assistance to impacted entities. I&A and component intelligence offices play a supporting role by providing relevant intelligence support to DHS components from across the intelligence community. Sector specific agencies provide unique expertise and insights to response activities and help DHS ensure that lessons learned from incidents are incorporated into efforts to protect critical information systems. DHS works closely with sector specific agencies, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the FBI before, during, and after incidents.

In support of these operational efforts, DHS also works to strengthen the overall security and reliability of the cyber ecosystem. As cyberspace is inherently global, DHS collaborates with the international community to exchange and advocate for best practices and promote the development and adoption of normative behavior to increase security and reliability. Additionally, in order to build up capacity for tackling emerging challenges and supporting the overall cybersecurity mission, DHS drives research, development, and technology transfer efforts and works with industry stakeholders to make the Internet and new technologies, like the Internet of Things, more secure. Finally, DHS prioritizes the expansion of its human resource programs to recruit, hire, develop, and retain personnel with strong cybersecurity skillsets.

2017 Hurricane Season

To say the 2017 hurricane season has been historic is an understatement. To date, we’ve had four hurricanes make landfall this season, three of which have been major hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria). Prior to Harvey making landfall on August 25, 2017, FEMA was supporting 28 presidentially-declared disasters. Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, the President has granted 14 Major Disaster declarations and 14 Emergency Declarations, while FEMA has authorized 25 Fire Management Assistance Grant declarations. Hurricane Irma was unique not only because it struck both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but also because it struck the entire State of Florida. Hurricane Maria, following in quick succession, then struck the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, more than 1,000 nautical miles from the mainland United States, devastating an area with already fragile infrastructure and facing challenging economic circumstances. In a span of 25 days, DHS, FEMA, and our partners deployed tens of thousands of personnel across 270,000 square miles in three different Regions.

The impacts of these events are substantial. Roughly 25.8 million people were affected by these three storms – eight percent of the entire U.S. population. As of November 13, 2017, more than four and a half million survivors registered for FEMA assistance, which is a greater number than Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Sandy combined. FEMA’s Individual and Households Program (IHP) has thus far approved almost $2.5 billion in disaster assistance to respond to the three hurricanes, a number we expect to continue to grow. As of mid-November, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders filed approximately 121,000 claims, and the NFIP has paid over $5 billion to them.

DHS and FEMA alone cannot deliver assistance to this vast number of survivors. Unity of effort is required for disaster response and recovery on any scale, but especially during this historic season. When emergency managers call for unity of effort, we mean that all levels of government, non-profit organizations, private sector businesses, and survivors must work together – each drawing upon their unique skills and capabilities – to meet the needs of disaster survivors.

For our part on the Federal level, FEMA called upon the vast majority of their workforce, while I engaged over 3,800 other Federal employees through the DHS “Surge Capacity Force.” This is significant. FEMA employees come to FEMA knowing they will be deployed into disaster areas, work in austere conditions, and assist survivors. However, when personnel from other Federal agencies volunteer for the Surge Capacity Force, they volunteer to leave their jobs and families, receive just-in-time training, and work in an environment that is completely unfamiliar and outside of their normal job responsibilities. I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues from across the Federal government for supporting this important initiative, and for allowing their hardworking and dedicated personnel to support disaster survivors who have been impacted by these historic events. Over 22,300 members of the Federal workforce were deployed to Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. This includes 13,892 staff from various offices of the Department of Defense, including the military services. We could not do this without them.

Conclusion

I want to emphasize that we are overhauling homeland security to cope with changes in the threat landscape. Our leadership team is breaking down legacy bureaucratic barriers to make DHS operate more efficiently and effectively to counter threats to our nation. We are ramping up unity of effort within the Department and tight collaboration with law enforcement, the intelligence community, and our allies. And we are looking at ways to further integrate intelligence and operations, so that our actions are driven by timely information and that we respond quickly to new dangers.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS. I am committed to working with this Committee to forge a strong and productive relationship as we work to achieve the shared objective of securing our homeland.

Topics:  Critical Infrastructure Security, Cybersecurity, DHS Enterprise, Disaster Response and Recovery, Disasters, Homeland Security Enterprise, Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  CBRNE, counterterrorism, CWMD, TCO, Transnational Crime Organizations, Visa Security Program
Categories: Homeland Security

Written testimony of NPPD for a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittees on Information Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs hearing titled “Cybersecurity of Voting Machines”

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 23:00
Release Date: November 29, 2017

2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Chairman Hurd, Chairman Palmer, Ranking Member Kelly, Ranking Member Demings and members of the Subcommittees, thank you for inviting me to participate in today’s hearing on securing our elections from malicious cyber activity. This is an especially timely topic given the elections earlier this month. As you know, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) performs a critical mission focused on reducing and eliminating threats to the nation’s critical physical and cyber infrastructure, including how it relates to our elections.

Given the vital role that elections play in a free and democratic society, the Secretary of Homeland Security determined that election infrastructure should be designated as a critical infrastructure subsector. With the establishment of an Election Infrastructure Subsector (EIS), the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) and federal partners have been formalizing the prioritization of voluntary cybersecurity assistance for election infrastructure similar to that which is provided to a range of other critical infrastructure entities, such as financial institutions and electric utilities.

During the 2016 election period and since that time, the federal government and election officials have been meeting regularly to share cybersecurity risk information and to determine effective means of assistance. Recently, the EIS Government Coordinating Council (GCC) met to establish goals and objectives, to develop plans for the EIS partnership, and to lay the groundwork for developing an EIS Sector Specific Plan (SSP). The GCC framework provides a well-tested mechanism across critical infrastructure sectors for sharing threat information between the federal government and council partners, advancing risk management efforts, and prioritizing services available to sector partners in a trusted environment. EIS-GCC representatives include DHS, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Buruea of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Defense (DoD), and key state and local election officials. Participation in the council is entirely voluntary and does not change the fundamental role of state and local jurisdictions in overseeing elections

In addition to the work of the EIS-GCC, DHS continues to engage state and local elections officials – coordinating requests for assistance, risk mitigation, information sharing, and incident coordination resources and services. In order to ensure a coordinated approach across DHS, NPPD has brought together stakeholders from across the Department as part of an Election Task Force (ETF). The ETF increases the Department’s efficiency and efficacy in understanding, responding to, communicating, and sharing information related to cyber threats. The ETF serves to provide actionable information to assist states in strengthening their election infrastructure against cyber threats.

Within the context of today’s hearing, my testimony will provide DHS’s unclassified assessment of malicious cyber operations directed against U.S. election infrastructure during the 2016 elections, but not the overall Russian influence campaign covered in the January 2017 declassified Intelligence Community (IC) Assessment. My testimony will outline DHS’s efforts to help enhance the security of election infrastructure operated by state and local jurisdictions around the country.

Assessing the Threat

DHS continues to robustly coordinate with the EAC, the intelligence community, and law enforcement partners. Among non-federal partners, DHS has been engaging state and local officials, as well as relevant private sector entities, to assess the scale and scope of malicious cyber activity potentially targeting the U.S. election infrastructure. In addition to working directly with state and local officials, we partnered with stakeholders to analyze relevant cyber data, including the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors.

We also used our field personnel deployed around the country, to help further facilitate information sharing and enhance outreach. Such engagement paid off in terms of identifying suspicious and malicious cyber activity targeting the U.S. election infrastructure. A body of knowledge grew throughout the summer and fall of 2016 about suspected Russian government cyber activities, and understanding that helped drive collection, investigations, and incident response activities. On October 7, 2016, DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a joint statement to the public on election security and urged state and local governments to be vigilant and seek cybersecurity assistance.

We continue to assess that mounting widespread cyber operations against U.S. voting machines at a level sufficient to affect a national election would require a multiyear effort with significant human capital and information technology (IT) resources available only to nationstates. The level of effort and scale required to significantly change a national election result, however, would make it nearly impossible to avoid detection.

Enhancing Security for Future Elections

DHS continues to focus our efforts on ensuring a coordinated response from DHS and its federal partners to plan, prepare, and mitigate risk to the election infrastructure. We recognize that working with stakeholders is the only sure way to ensure more secure elections. Based on our assessment of activity observed in the last election, DHS is engaged with stakeholders across the spectrum to increase awareness of potential vulnerabilities and enhance security of U.S. election infrastructure.

Our election process is governed and administered by state and local election officials in thousands of jurisdictions across the country. These officials manage election infrastructure and ensure its security on a day-to-day basis. State and local election officials across the country have a long-standing history of working both individually and collectively to reduce risks and ensure the integrity of their elections. In partnering with these officials through both new and existing, ongoing engagements, NPPD is working to enhance their efforts to secure election systems.

Improving Coordination with State and local partners

Increasingly, the nation’s election infrastructure leverages IT for efficiency and convenience. Similar to other IT systems, reliance on digital technologies introduces new cybersecurity risks. NPPD helps stakeholders in federal departments and agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector to manage some of these cybersecurity risks. Consistent with our long-standing partnerships with state and local governments, we have been working with election officials to share information about cybersecurity risks, and to provide voluntary resources and technical assistance.

DHS works with the MS-ISAC to provide threat and vulnerability information to state and local officials. Created by DHS over a decade ago, the MS-ISAC is partially funded by NPPD. The MS-ISAC’s membership is limited to state and local government entities, and all fifty states and US territories are members. It has representatives co-located with the NCCIC to enable regular collaboration and access to information and services for state chief information officers.

Providing Technical Assistance and Sharing Information

Through engagements with state and local election officials, including working through the Sector Coordinating Council, NPPD actively promotes a range of services to include but are not limited to the following:

  • Cyber hygiene service for Internet-facing systems: This voluntary service is conducted remotely, afterwards, NPPD provides state and local officials with a report identifying vulnerabilities and mitigation recommendations to improve the cybersecurity of systems connected to the Internet, such as online voter registration systems, election night reporting systems, and other Internet-connected election management systems. During the 2016 election, we provided cyber hygiene services to 33 state and 36 local election jurisdictions.
  • Risk and vulnerability assessments: These assessments are more thorough and executed on-site by NPPD cybersecurity experts. These evaluations require two to three weeks and include a wide range of vulnerability testing services, focused on both internal and external systems. When NPPD conducts these assessments, we provide a full report of vulnerabilities and recommended mitigations following the testing. These assessments are available on a limited, first-come, first-served basis.
  • Incident response assistance: We encourage state and local election officials to report suspected malicious cyber activity to the NCCIC. On request, the NCCIC can provide on-site assistance in identifying and remediating a cyber incident. Information reported to the NCCIC is also critical to the federal government’s ability to broadly assess malicious attempts to infiltrate election systems. This technical information will also be shared with other state officials so they have the ability to defend their own systems from similar malicious activity.
  • Information sharing: NPPD will continue to share relevant information on cyber incidents through multiple means. The NCCIC works with the MS-ISAC, and election officials can connect with the MS-ISAC or their State Chief Information Officer directly as one way to benefit from this partnership and rapidly receive information they can use to protect their systems. State election officials may also receive incident information directly from the NCCIC. In 2016, best practices, cyber threat information, and technical indicators, some of which had been previously classified, were shared with election officials in thousands of state and local jurisdictions.
  • Classified information sharing: NPPD provides classified briefings to cleared stakeholders upon request, as appropriate and necessary.
  • Field-based cybersecurity advisors and protective security advisors: NPPD has more than 130 cybersecurity and protective security personnel available to provide actionable information and connect election officials to a range of tools and resources to improve the cybersecurity preparedness of election systems; and to secure the physical site security of voting machine storage and polling places. These advisors are also available to assist with planning and incident management for both cyber and physical incidents.
  • Physical and protective security tools, training, and resources: NPPD provides advice and tools to improve the security of polling sites and other physical election infrastructure. This guidance can be found at www.dhs.gov/hometown-security. This guidance helps to train administrative and volunteer staff on identifying and reporting suspicious activities, active shooter scenarios, and what to do if they suspect an improvised explosive device. Officials can also contact a local NPPD PSAs for access to DHS resources.
2017 Elections and Beyond

This hearing is timely given the elections earlier this month. We have been working with election officials in all states to enhance the security of their elections by volunteering operations support and by establishing essential lines of communications with election infrastructure partners at all levels – public and private – for reporting both suspicious cyber activity and incidents. To quickly and effectively evaluate and triage any potential cyber-related events related to Election Day, DHS enhanced its state of readiness. Our goal was to enhance transparency and have visibility of aggregated elections-related cybersecurity efforts. These enhanced operations exercised interagency coordination, incident escalation, and incident communications to better improve guidance and planning in preparation for elections operations in 2018 and beyond.

In closing, the fundamental right of all citizens to be heard by having their vote accurately counted is at the core of our American values. Ensuring the integrity of our electoral process is a vital national interest and one of our highest priorities as citizens in a democratic society. We have confidence in the overall integrity of our electoral system. Our voting infrastructure is diverse, subject to local control, and has many checks and balances. As the threat environment evolves, the Department will continue to work with state and local partners to enhance our understanding of the threat; and to provide essential physical and cybersecurity tools and resources available to the public and private sectors to increase security and resiliency.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittees today. I look forward to your questions.

Topics:  Critical Infrastructure Security, Cybersecurity Keywords:  Election infrastructure, Election security
Categories: Homeland Security

Welcome the Holiday Season with Giving Tuesday

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:56

Every year, Americans participate in Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, which help you find great deals and support local businesses. Today marks a different way to get in the holiday spirit, with Giving Tuesday, a global day to celebrate and encourage giving. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to promote philanthropy, give back to your community, and support causes you care about.

On November 20th, Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady joined other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and employees to kick off the 2017 DHS Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). The mission of CFC is to promote and support philanthropy, and is the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign. This year, DHS has pledged $2.8 million to CFC. DHS encourages its employees to contribute through CFC, but there are limitless ways for both federal and non-federal employees to participate. Through Giving Tuesday’s website, you can search for organizations in your area and find ways to get involved.

Giving Tuesday is also an opportunity to support organizations providing relief to regions affected by national disasters. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) lists trusted organizations which are already coordinating relief and response efforts. They are currently offering volunteer opportunities in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as Californians impacted by the wildfires. You can donate or find ways to volunteer through their website.

Ways to participate in Giving Tuesday:

  • Support a cause you care about through CFC
  • Donate or volunteer through NVOAD
  • Volunteer with a charity or community organization
  • Donate clothing or food to local organizations
  • Use the hashtag, #GivingTuesday, to tell your friends why you give
Topics:  What You Can Do Keywords:  DHS Pride Public Affairs
Categories: Homeland Security

Written testimony of ICE for a Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing titled “S.1241: Modernizing AML Laws to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing”

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Mon, 11/27/2017 - 23:00
Release Date: November 28, 2017

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and distinguished members of the Committee:

On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today to discuss how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the largest investigative DHS Component, is combatting the money laundering efforts of transnational criminal organizations – what we refer to as “TCOs.” ICE HSI’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration.

With more than 6,000 special agents working in 210 domestic offices and 50 foreign countries, HSI is uniquely positioned to combat transnational and cross-border financial crimes. HSI special agents work from the understanding that virtually all crime is financially motivated and, as such, our investigations focus on the financial aspects of transnational crime and how illicit funds are earned, moved, laundered and stored. One of our key responsibilities is to ensure that the U.S. financial system is not exploited to launder illicit funds and, as such, we work to eliminate vulnerabilities in our financial system and institutions. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, HSI initiated 4,059 financial crime investigations, effected 2,049 financial related criminal arrests, and seized $467,534,795 in illicit proceeds.

Because of the nature of the transnational crimes that HSI investigates, HSI money laundering investigations focus on a very broad array of money laundering threats and vulnerabilities, with varying degrees of sophistication and challenges. The money laundering techniques that HSI faces include Bulk Cash Smuggling, Trade-Based Money Laundering, criminal exploitation of Money Services Businesses, Third-Party Money Launderers, and most recently the use of virtual currency. I will talk about each of these threats and what HSI does to counter them along with some of our challenges.

The Cornerstone Program

As I mentioned, one of HSI’s key responsibilities is to work with other Federal Government agencies and the U.S. financial sector to ensure that the U.S. financial system is not exploited to launder illicit funds. HSI recognizes that the financial industry is the frontline in detecting financial and money laundering crimes. HSI and other law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to partner with financial institutions and educate them about what law enforcement knows about how institutions are, or could be, exploited by money launderers. In 2003, HSI established the Cornerstone Program which serves as our national umbrella effort to engage and share criminal typologies and red flag indicators with financial institutions throughout the United States. The Cornerstone Program is aimed at anchoring HSI’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) capacity building efforts. Internationally, HSI uses the Cornerstone Program to provide capacity building through training, including cash courier interdiction training, and technical assistance to various nations to encourage compliance with international standards as recommended by the Financial Action Task Force to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The Cornerstone Program is administered at the Headquarters level by the HSI Illicit Finance and Proceeds of Crime Unit. In FY 2017, HSI Special Agents made Cornerstone presentations to 26,624 financial sector representatives.

Bulk Cash Smuggling

With some exceptions that I will speak to later, transnational crime remains, at the core, a cash business. The first challenge for any TCO is to get the cash that they have amassed in the United States back to their home country. The domestic and cross-border movement of illicit cash has been the focus of HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), other Federal agencies and State and local law enforcement for decades. We continue to see Bulk Cash Smuggling as a significant threat. However, due to the vigilance of U.S. financial institutions and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting, including Currency Transaction Reports and Suspicious Activity Reports instituted in the 1980s, TCOs are limited in their ability to place their illicit funds in U.S. banks and other financial institutions.

The National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center

Recognizing the threat that Bulk Cash Smuggling presents, in 2009, HSI established the National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC) to develop investigations into the illicit domestic and cross-border movement of cash derived from criminal activity and to further support HSI financial investigations through the production of operational intelligence. The BCSC has initiated and substantially contributed to investigative leads resulting in criminal convictions and the seizure of illicit bulk currency. Through its operational expertise and the application of analytics, the BCSC supports domestic and international law enforcement agencies in their efforts to restrict the flow of criminal proceeds.

National Targeting Center – Investigations

The companion to the BCSC is the National Targeting Center-Investigations (NTC-I), established by HSI and housed at CBP’s National Targeting Center, to enhance and integrate HSI and CBP’s focus on targeting of transnational crime. HSI’s presence at the NTC supports the entire border security continuum, from CBP interdictions and HSI investigations, to the joint exploitation of intelligence. The BCSC and NTC-I work closely with CBP to target cross-border, outbound bulk cash shipments for interdiction and seizure.

Trade-Based Money Laundering

As it has become more difficult for TCOs to place their illicit cash proceeds directly into U.S. banks and other financial institutions, they have been forced to resort to more complex methods to place and launder their illicit proceeds. One of the most challenging international money laundering techniques faced by U.S. law enforcement is referred to as Trade-Based Money Laundering (TBML). The foundation of TBML is the conversion of illicit cash into another commodity such as electronics, automobiles, clothing, precious metals or other merchandise, which is then exported from the U.S. to another country where the goods are sold in the local currency and the proceeds are returned to the TCO, effectively completing the laundering process and allowing the TCO to legitimize their illicit proceeds.

Trade Transparency Units

HSI has learned that one of the most effective ways to detect TBML is to compare U.S. export data with the import data from the countries where TCOs import their goods. We have learned over time that trade-based money launderers also commit other violations in the TBML process, primarily Customs and other trade fraud violations, and the analysis of trade data allows us and our foreign partners to identify TBML schemes. In order to exploit this opportunity, HSI has leveraged existing bilateral Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements and established Trade Transparency Units (TTUs) that share trade data bilaterally to detect TBML and Customs fraud such as overvaluation, undervaluation, and false invoicing. To date, HSI has 16 partnerships with corresponding foreign country TTUs.

One example of how trade and financial data are beneficial to TBML investigations is Operation “Fashion Police,” a HSI-led, Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. Beginning in 2014, this investigation targeted numerous Los Angeles-based importers/exporters of Chinese textiles who accepted narcotic proceeds in payment for textiles exported to Mexico. The identification of the money laundering scheme was achieved through analysis of the trade and financial data. As a result, approximately $140 million in assets were seized, including $90 million in U.S. currency, the largest bulk cash seizure in U.S. history.

Money Services Businesses

Abuse of Money Services Businesses (MSBs) is another method we have seen criminals use to facilitate activity or launder illicit proceeds from several areas of transnational crime that HSI investigates. For instance, MSBs are often used to facilitate the payment of smuggling fees for aliens smuggled to the U.S. and also by illegal aliens that have obtained employment in the United States to send money to their families in their home countries. HSI also sees MSBs used to facilitate payments for cyber-enabled crimes such as the on-line sale of intellectual property infringing materials, drugs and other illicit goods. In the scheme, illicit proceeds were transported to El Paso, Texas, and deposited in Mr. Delgado's Interest on Lawyers Trust Account bank account.

In another investigation, HSI developed a corruption investigation targeting Roberto Enrique Rincon who was conducting suspicious financial transactions involving several businesses. Mr. Rincon facilitated rigged energy contracts involving Venezuela’s state-owned and controlled oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) in order to personally enrich numerous Venezuelan public officials. These deals, some of which involved U.S.-based companies, were part of a massive bribery and kick-back scheme that began after 2010 when former President Hugo Chavez signed a decree declaring an energy emergency in Venezuela and nationalized the oil industry. To date, four PDVSA officials and six businessmen have pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit in excess of $80 million in U.S. currency.

Virtual Currency

Many of the traditional transnational crimes that HSI investigates have begun to migrate to become “cyber-enabled,” with significant parts of the crime committed over the internet, including both the “indexed” internet and the “unindexed” dark web. Transnational crimes that HSI investigates, including child exploitation, drug smuggling, intellectual property rights violations, illegal export of firearms, and money laundering now all have cyber-enabled elements to them. This transition has paralleled the growth of e-commerce, generally, and poses challenges for law enforcement, in particular HSI and CBP.

In addition to the traditional complexities posed by conducting cyber investigations, many of the illicit activities conducted in cyber-enabled crimes are paid for with virtual currency, including both centralized and decentralized convertible virtual currencies. The latter are sometimes referred to as cryptocurrencies. Virtual currencies are not issued or backed by any sovereign nation, and are distinguished from fiat currency or “real currency,” which is the coin and paper money of a country that is issued and guaranteed by the country; designated as its legal tender; and circulates and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the issuing country. HSI agents are increasingly encountering virtual currency, including more recent, anonymity enhancing cryptocurrencies (AECs), in the course of their investigations. AECs are designed to better obfuscate transaction information and are increasingly preferred by TCOs. Some illicit virtual currency exchangers have also begun to cater to TCO actors, including through the use of “mixers” or “tumblers” that anonymize virtual currency addresses and transactions by weaving together inflows and outflows from different users, further increasing the challenge to law enforcement’s ability to tie virtual currency transactions to real world individuals.

In November 2016, HSI special agents investigated and seized $1.2 million in cash from Utah resident Aaron Shamo, who led a Xanax and fentanyl pill production organization. Shamo sold his illicit products via the dark web, and an investigation led to the identification of his virtual currency wallet address. Through the use of Blockchain analysis tools, agents were able to identify Shamo’s Bitcoin transactions and seize bitcoins valued at approximately $2.5 million in U.S. dollars. Shamo was indicted in December 2016 and the subject of a supersceding indictment in May 2017.

In another HSI opioid smuggling investigation, Pennsylvania resident Henry Koffie was arrested in July 2017 and indicted with Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death and Importation of a Controlled Substance. Koffie, a.k.a. NARCOBOSS, was a dark web vendor of fentanyl who filled more than 7,800 orders between July 2016 to June 2017, most of it paid for with bitcoin. HSI seized $154,000 from Koffie’s accounts.

Financial Institution Integrity Initiative (F3I)

While HSI partners with financial institutions regularly through the Cornerstone Program, we have also targeted financial institutions that fail to maintain effective money laundering programs or are willfully blind to their institutions’ facilitation of money laundering. HSI has partnered with TEOAF and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) to target financial institutions where warranted.

An example of this was when HSI New York initiated and led an investigation that resulted in a deferred prosecution agreement and $1.256 billion forfeiture against HSBC Holding plc and HSBC Bank USA N.A. (collectively, HSBC) in 2012. The investigation identified millions of dollars in illicit drug proceeds transmitted through HSBC in addition to HSBC’s failure to maintain an effective Anti-Money Laundering Program and to conduct appropriate due diligence on foreign accountholders, violations of the Trading with the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The investigation exemplified HSI’s capabilities and potential with regard to financial institution investigations.

Similarly, in a 2017 HSI investigation conducted with DOJ’s MLARS and four U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Western Union admitted to criminal violations including willful failure to maintain an effective AML program and aiding and abetting wire fraud, and agreed to forfeit $586 million. The investigation revealed that Western Union agents were complicit in fraud schemes targeting U.S. victims and allowed criminals to illegally structure financial transactions. The investigation also revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars were sent to China in structured transactions designed to avoid reporting requirements of the BSA by illegal immigrants to pay their human smugglers.

In April 2017, HSI formalized its relationship with MLARS and TEOAF and implemented the Financial Institution Integrity Initiative (F3I). The objective of the F3I is to identify, support, and expand significant, complex HSI criminal cases throughout the United States and abroad by investigating financial institutions, their employees, and their agents for violations of the BSA, U.S. economic sanctions and money laundering laws in coordination with MLARS.

Transnational Criminal Investigative Units

HSI’s money laundering efforts are also global in nature. HSI currently has 12 vetted and operational Transnational Criminal Investigative Units (TCIUs) overseas that facilitate information exchange and rapid bilateral investigations of the violations of law that are both jointly within HSI and our foreign partners’ investigative purview, to include financial and money laundering crimes. TCIUs identify targets, collect evidence, share intelligence, and facilitate the prosecution of TCOs both in-country and through the U.S. judicial system.

As an example, on November 1, 2017, based on HSI-derived information, the HSI Bogota TCIU made a bulk cash seizure of $200,000 in U.S. currency and arrested a Mexican national, for money laundering related to bulk cash smuggling in violation of Colombian law. This Mexican national belonged to a network of couriers operating on behalf of a drug trafficking and bulk cash smuggling organization operating between Mexico, Colombia, Europe, and the United States.

Other Partnerships

An essential element to HSI’s financial investigative portfolio of cases is its relationship with the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). HSI’s access to FinCEN’s data collected in accordance with FinCEN’s unique enforcement authorities to detect, disrupt and deter key illicit finance threats is invaluable. HSI has also benefitted from FinCEN’s authorities to implement special measures for domestic financial institutions, such as Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs) issued under the BSA. GTOs impose additional recordkeeping or reporting requirements on domestic financial institutions or other businesses in a specific geographical area over a period of time, generally not to exceed 180 days. Some recent examples of these GTOs involved real estate transactions, TBML and Armored Car Services.

Conclusion

Each criminal case that HSI investigates has a potential financial nexus. We remain committed to working towards disrupting and dismantling cross-border illicit financial activities, by both individuals and transnational organizations engaged in money laundering, fraud, and bulk cash smuggling. These criminals will continue to manipulate and exploit legitimate banking, financial, and commercial trade systems to sustain and expand their illegal operations. HSI will continue to work aggressively to utilize its resources and ensure that money launderers and illicit actors are detected, apprehended, and brought to justice.

Topics:  Fraud and Counterfeit, Information Sharing, International, Law Enforcement Partnerships, Preventing Terrorism, Trade Keywords:  cash smuggling, Homeland Security investigations, Money Laundering, NTC, TCIU, Transnational Criminal Investigative Units, Virtual Currency
Categories: Homeland Security

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Martinez Laid to Rest

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Mon, 11/27/2017 - 15:46
As American flags flew at half-staff across the country, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was laid to rest on Saturday, Nov. 25, in El Paso, Texas.  DHS leaders attending the service included Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, Acting CBP Deputy Commissioner Ron Vitiello, and Acting Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost.
  Agent Martinez died on Nov. 19, at the University Medical Center in El Paso as a result of serious injuries he suffered while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector in Texas. Agent Martinez was responding to activity while on patrol with another agent, who was also seriously injured and remains hospitalized.  CBP is working closely with the FBI, which is conducting an investigation into the incident. The investigation is expected to take several weeks.   In her Thanksgiving message to DHS employees, Acting Secretary Duke announced that she had ordered all American flags at DHS facilities to fly at half-staff for a three-day period in honor of Agent Martinez. She also asked employees to remember Agent Martinez’s family and his injured partner in their thoughts and prayers.   In a separate message to CBP employees, Acting Commissioner McAleenan noted that the work of Border Patrol agents “often means operating in challenging terrain, difficult environments, and against transnational threats. Your safety is our number one priority. Please remain vigilant of your surroundings and look out for one another.”   Agent Martinez is survived by his parents, Jose and Elvia; his brothers, Enrique and Miguel; his son, Sergio; his fiancée, Angie Ochoa; three step-children, Abby, Arianna and Alex; and numerous nieces and nephews.
 

Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez is laid to rest Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, at Restlawn Cemetery in Alps, El Paso, Texas.  (Photo courtesy of CBP)

Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, cbp, U. S. Border Patrol Public Affairs
Categories: Homeland Security

Beware of Online Shopping and “Cyber Monday” Scams

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:20

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes celebrations and gift-giving. An increasing number of consumers are conducting their holiday shopping online. You have probably heard of “Cyber Monday,” a marketing term for today, the Monday following Thanksgiving, when online retailers often begin to offer discounts and promotions to shoppers.

While online shopping offers increased convenience, it also provides opportunities for scammers to target consumers through fake websites, phony offers, and malicious apps. Ensure you have a safe and secure holiday shopping experience by following the tips below.

Improve your cyber posture and avoid online shopping scams by:

  • Remembering to hover over hyperlinks and think before you click. A common phishing tactic during the holidays is a phony email saying an order has shipped, with links like “Click here for expected delivery date” or prompts for your login and password to a particular website.
  • Avoiding making purchases over public Wi-Fi. Use your cellular data for financial transactions instead.
  • Using your credit card rather than your debit card for online purchases. Credit cards offer more consumer protections if your card is compromised and will not impact your checking account like a debit card. Continue to monitor your credit card and bank statements regularly to detect any fraudulent activity that might go unnoticed.
  • Choosing encrypted shopping websites for safer transactions. There are two ways to tell if a site uses encryption: a closed padlock icon in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window or at the top of the browser window, or a website address that begins with “https:” rather than just “http:”.
  • Heeding “certificate error” messages. If you receive a notice that says “certificate error,” examine who issued the certificate, ensure the name matches the site you are visiting, and ensure the certificate has not expired.
  • Downloading vetted apps. Never install software outside of your phone’s designated app store, and only use trusted vendor apps when shopping from your phone.
  • Creating strong passwords. Avoid using the same password for your online accounts; otherwise, one compromised account can translate to multiple compromised accounts.

Additional cybersecurity information, resources, and training can be found on the Stop.Think.Connect page.

Topics:  Cybersecurity Keywords:  Cybersecurity, cybersecurity education, cybersecurity tips, NPPD Public Affairs
Categories: Homeland Security

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke Announcement On Temporary Protected Status For Haiti

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 18:48
Release Date: November 20, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON— Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti with a delayed effective date of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019. This decision follows then-Secretary Kelly’s announcement in May 2017 that Haiti had made considerable progress, and that the country’s designation will likely not be extended past six months.

The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.

Acting Secretary Duke met with Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue and Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor recently in Washington to discuss the issue.

In 2017 alone, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conducted extensive outreach to the Haitian communities throughout the country. These include but are not limited to community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Haitian community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, regular meetings with TPS beneficiaries, news releases to the Haitian community, meetings with Haitian government officials, meetings at local churches, and listening sessions.

Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent. Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.

In May 2017, then-Secretary Kelly announced a limited extension for Haiti’s TPS designation, stating that he believed there were indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continued at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018. At the time, then-Secretary Kelly stated that his six-month extension should give Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.

To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for Haiti will be delayed 18 months. This will provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible. It will also provide time for Haiti to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens. During this timeframe, USCIS will work with the State Department, other DHS components and the Government of Haiti to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.

Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods. Further details about this termination for TPS will appear in a Federal Register notice.

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Topics:  DHS Enterprise, Homeland Security Enterprise, International Keywords:  Haiti, USCIS
Categories: Homeland Security

Statement by Acting Secretary Duke on Tragic Death of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 16:30
Release Date: November 19, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke released the following statement on the tragic death of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez.

“Earlier this morning, I was notified that Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez died as a result of serious injuries suffered while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector of our southern border in Texas. Agent Martinez was responding to activity while on patrol with another agent, who was also seriously injured. We are fully supporting the ongoing investigation to determine the cause of this tragic event. On behalf of the quarter of a million frontline officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition.”

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Topics:  Border Security Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, southwest border, U. S. Border Patrol
Categories: Homeland Security

U.S. - EU Statement Following the U.S. - EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting

Dept. of Homeland Security News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 14:29
Release Date: November 17, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – On 17 November 2017, the U.S - EU Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs took place in Washington, D.C. The meeting reaffirmed the importance of the long standing partnership between the United States and the European Union in addressing common threats to security, and of practical outcomes of this cooperation.

The United States, hosting the meeting, was represented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke.

The European Union was represented by the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Union Security Commissioner Julian King, Estonia's Minister of Justice, Mr. Urmas Reinsalu, and the Minister of Interior, Mr. Andres Anvelt on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The United States and the European Union discussed their shared efforts to combat terrorism. The discussion focused specifically on the importance of operational cooperation and effective information sharing. The two sides noted the importance of collecting, using, and sharing airline passenger information, including Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, to detect and disrupt threats, and discussed the state of play of the implementation of the EU PNR framework, which will be in place by April 28, 2018. Further, the two sides discussed progress in the implementation of joint measures to address threats from terrorism to aviation security and to raise the baseline for global aviation security. The issue of U.S.-EU cooperation in combating terrorism financing and money laundering, including within the Financial Action Task Force, was also emphasized. The EU side gave an update on its rules on beneficial ownership transparency, in line with G20 conclusions.

The two sides exchanged views on action to jointly counter the misuse of the internet for terrorist purposes, in cooperation with multiple stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society. The European Union provided updates regarding increased efforts to counter the use of the internet for terrorist purposes under the umbrella of the EU Internet Forum. The United States and the European Union agreed on the need to jointly address cybersecurity and counter cybercrime and, in this context, took note of the conclusions of the 14 November U.S. - EU Cyber Dialogue.

The two sides discussed the importance of ensuring swift cross-border access by law enforcement authorities to electronic evidence, in line with their respective legal provisions. In that respect, the two sides agreed to continue their regular dialogue, in order to update each other on legislative and judicial developments.

The United States and the European Union reaffirmed the need to counter the production and trafficking of cocaine and illicit opioids, including fentanyl and its analogues. Both sides noted good examples of joint U.S. – EU operations in this area, and welcomed their practical results.

The United States and the European Union noted the progress in cooperative discussions towards reciprocal and secure visa-free travel under their respective legal frameworks.

Underlining the progress made and the continued need to face terrorism and crime together, the United States and the European Union remain committed to continue common work and meet again in the first half of 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
 

Acting Secretary Duke pictured with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Estonian Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu, Estonian Minister of Interior Andres Anvelt, EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Security Union Julian King, EU DG JUST Director General Tiina ăstola, Bulgarian Minister of Interior Valentin Radev, Bulgarian Minister of Justice Tsetska Tsacheva, and EUROPOL Director Rob Wainwright. (DHS Official Photo/ Jetta Disco)

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Topics:  Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, aviation security, countering terrorism, information sharing
Categories: Homeland Security

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