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FACT SHEET:  An overview of America's security since 9/11

09-07-2004

The country has made great strides toward improving the security of our homeland since September 11th. Whether by land, sea, or air, it is now substantially more difficult for terrorists to enter the United States; homeland security professionals are sharing information like never before; and America's citizens are better prepared for a natural disaster or terrorist attack. A snapshot of the ways we are safer today:

Curb to Cockpit: Air travel is safer now than ever before due to the layered security DHS has put in place - hardened cockpit doors on 100% of large passenger aircraft, vulnerability assessments at over 75 of the nation's largest airports, 100% of all checked baggage is screened, deployment of thousands of federal air marshals and a professionally trained screener workforce which has intercepted more than 12.4 million prohibited items since their inception. In addition, a robust screening system is in place for all international flights into the United States, and all passenger names for domestic flights are checked against an expanded terrorist watch lists.

Port to Port: New security measures specifically tailored to the individual port are now in place at every port in America. These layered measures begin overseas by screening cargo before it's loaded on ships in foreign ports. Homeland Security screens 100% of high risk cargo by targeting suspect cargo using a set of specific indicators.  Every port in America has submitted a security plan which includes security measures such as surveillance cameras, background checks on port workers.   The Department is also moving forward to implement "smart" technologies for cargo containers.

Secure Borders and Open Doors: The Department of Homeland Security has launched the US-VISIT system which links databases to provide valuable information to port of entry officials and consular officials overseas and creates a database of pictures and finger scans of everyone entering the United States with a non-immigrant visa (and soon to include visa waiver travelers).  This new tool means that we have a much better idea of who is entering our country. If a traveler's finger scan hits a match on the terrorist watch list, the Department is able to stop them from entering the country at the border. Over 200 people have already been turned away from our borders using this new system.

Increased Information Sharing: Several information sharing vehicles exist today that did not exist before September 11, 2001. The Homeland Security Information Network, which is available in all 50 states, makes threat-related information available to law enforcement and emergency managers on a daily basis through a web-based system. Members of the private sector now receive threat-related information through the HSIN system. In addition, members of 35 different Federal agencies are now all co-located together in DHS's new 24-hour Homeland Security Operations Center, which allows the information coming from various sources to be synthesized together and then shared with other federal partners such as the FBI and the Department of Defense. In addition, nearly 100 bulletins and other threat related communiqu?s have been sent to homeland security professionals across the country.

Citizen Preparedness: September is National Preparedness Month. More than 80 partners and all 56 states and territories are making individual and family preparedness a priority across the nation by hosting events, offering training sessions and distributing information. In addition, the public education campaign Ready and its Spanish language version Listo educates and empowers American citizens to prepare for and respond to potential terrorist attacks and other emergencies.  Ready, the most successful public service campaign launched in Ad Council history, delivers its messages through the www.Ready.gov and www.Listo.gov websites, radio, television, print and outdoor PSAs, brochures and a variety of partnerships with private sector organizations. Ready Business will be launched later this month to encourage small- to medium-sized businesses to take steps to safeguard their employees and assets while preparing for business continuity in the event of a disaster.  Also, more than 1,300 communities around the country, encompassing 50 percent of the U.S. population, have established Citizen Corps Councils to engage citizens in preparing, training and volunteer service, including delivering the important messages of the Ready campaign. 

Interoperability: DHS's Safecom program provides long-term technical assistance to federal, state, tribal, and local programs that build and operate radio systems, and the RapidCom program focuses on the immediate development of incident-response interoperable emergency communications in high-threat urban areas. RapidCom will ensure that high-threat urban areas have incident-level, interoperable emergency communications equipment by September 30, 2004. The program will establish communications interoperability in these urban areas for an incident area approximately the size of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers on September 11th.  At the incident area, all emergency personnel from various regional jurisdictions will be able to communicate using existing equipment that is made interoperable by a patch-panel device, interconnecting various models of equipment that would otherwise not be compatible.

Emerging Technologies: Homeland Security's Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) invests in the private sector, funding revolutionary new technological advances to make America safer. HSARPA has already delivered significant advances in radiological and nuclear detection, biological and chemical countermeasures, and ongoing projects include waterway vessel tracking technology and new cargo security technologies for advanced container security. There have also been great strides made in harnessing scientific advances in biometrics to strengthen travel security and to help detect and counter identity theft. Through the Homeland Security Centers of Excellence program, the Department is creating university-based partnerships to research issues essential to our security, with Centers already established on risk and economic analysis of terrorism, animal disease defense, and food security (and proposals are currently being received for a fourth Center focusing on the sociological and behavioral aspects of terrorism).

BioWatch/BioShield: An environmental monitoring system, BioWatch, monitors air samples on a frequent basis in major urban cities nationwide, providing early warning of a potential bio attack which would allow treatment before people get sick. Homeland Security is also deploying and evaluating mobile automatic air testing kits that house biological and chemical sensors for even quicker reporting. This program links the earliest detection possible with efforts to develop medical countermeasures and a program called BioShield that ensures vaccines, drugs and medical supplies are ready for rapid distribution.

Integrated Planning:  The Department of Homeland Security has led the development of the National Response Plan (NRP), which consolidates and reconciles multiple national-level incident response plans into a single, focused, universally understood strategy.  This effort includes the development of a new catastrophic incident response protocol that will greatly accelerate the delivery of critical federal assistance to domestic venues suffering from a mass casualty/mass evacuation incident.

More Money: The 2005 budget request of $40.2 billion for homeland security is $9 billion (29%) over the 2003 level and $20.4 billion over the 2001 level -- an increase of 103% over the 2001 level of homeland security funding. Furthermore, from FY 2002- FY 2004 $13.1 billion has been earmarked for first responder and public health terrorism preparedness -- an increase of 900% over the $1.2 billion spent in the previous three years. 

More Training: For FY 2004, Homeland Security has trained 205,480 first responders (451,634 since FY 2002.)  Also, DHS initiated the National Incident Management System (NIMS) ) and established the NIMS Integration Center, which ensures that Federal, state, and local governments and private-sector organizations are all using the same criteria to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from a terrorist attack or other major disaster.

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