HEARING OF THE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: DHS: THE PATH FORWARD
CHAIRED BY: REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS)
WITNESS: JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at www.fednews.com, please email Carina Nyberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-216-2706.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY): (In progress) -- on the issue of funding -- the USASI funding and other homeland security funding. I believe that the department has, over the last two years, reached a level which I think is consistent with our national needs, but obviously that's going to be reviewed by you, and I would just ask that you work with us on that. We had several bad years with a lot of conflicts between the committee and the department. I think, again, over the last two years significant progress has been made, but again, I would just ask on that particular -- probably the worst problem the department had on that was when they just dramatically changed the formula without advising anyone in the Congress or without discussing it with us at all, and it really created some very heated hearings. And I thank -- Chairman Thompson was at that time the ranking member. We worked together on that and I think we were able to bring about considerable progress.
Also, on the issue of Guantanamo, there's obviously different views on that. The president has made his decision. I know, speaking for myself and most on this side of the aisle, we disagree with the decision to close Guantanamo but it is going to be closed. That's just going to be happening, and I know you're going to be on the review committee, deciding what's going to happen -- what's going to happen with the detainees, how that's going to be processed. You're one of those. I think this is a very significant homeland security issue, and we would again ask to be able to work with you on that so we can be apprised and have our input as it goes along. Especially with you being on that committee, it gives us direct access to a key play in that final decision.
Also, one final thing, and I'm not trying to get into semantics on this, but I do notice in your prepared testimony, the word "terrorism" is not even used. And I know your absolute commitment to fighting terrorism, I know the president's commitment to that, and the chairman's as well, but one concern I have had -- maybe it's -- of course myself, Congressman Pascrell, Congresswoman Clarke -- coming from areas which have been hit so hard, each day we go past September 11th it recesses it into people's memories, and the terrible impact of that day is, if not forgotten, is pushed back. And I think it's important for us in positions of leadership to constantly remind people how real that threat is and how it's an ongoing threat, and if we don't do it, it's going to be harder for us to get legislative support for the measures that we think have to be taken.
So I would just urge that on you and, again, assure you as I assured the president, we will not use this issue for partisan purposes. It's too important. And the chairman and I have worked very well together. As a committee we want to work together. There will certainly be specific differences we have, but this is one issue overall that we agree on, and that's to protect our nation from terrorism, to do all we can to avert another situation like Katrina in terms of natural disasters, and also to work together to secure our border.
So, with that, Madam Secretary, I thank you for your career in public service, and the best is yet to come. With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. THOMPSON: The members of the committee are reminded that under the committee rules, opening statements may be submitted for the record.
Again I welcome our witness today. Janet Napolitano was sworn in on January 21st, 2009 as the third secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Secretary Napolitano was midway through her second term as governor of Arizona. As governor she implemented one of the first state homeland security strategies in the nation, opened the first state counterterrorism center, and spearheaded efforts to transform immigration enforcement. Secretary Napolitano previously served as the attorney general of Arizona and U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
Madame Secretary, I thank you for your service and appearing before the committee today. Without objection, the witness's full statement will be inserted into the record. Secretary Napolitano, I now recognize you to summarize your statement for five minutes, or thereabout, but since this is you first time, we will allow you to come in your own way.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member King, members of the committee. I appreciate the invitation to be with you today to share with you my initial thoughts on how we take a relatively new department that you have been an integral part of building and supporting and move it forward to confront and prepare for threats that face this nation, be they man-caused and terrorism -- Representative King I believe falls in that category and is essential to that category -- be they caused by nature. And then if a threat is to develop, how do we respond and recover with efficiency and resiliency?
Those issues really cover the broad continuum of this department. It is the protection of our borders, it is the protection of our coasts, it is the protection of our infrastructure and what all that entails, from pipelines and electric power grids, to the cyber infrastructure of this country. It is the protection of our people and it is the ability to, as I said earlier, respond, recover with the efficiency and resiliency the American people have demonstrated time and time again.
Now, to do that requires lots of subsets and lots of different areas of expertise within the Department of Homeland Security, and one of the things I have overall been pleased with, the quality of the mea and women who have been serving there. Many of them came to the department because of the events of 9/11, and that is really the central motivating factor of the department every day. And what I've encouraged our people to do is to say to themselves, when they wake up in the morning, what are they going to do that day to improve the safety and security of Americans, and when they leave work that evening, what did they accomplish that day to improve the safety and security of Americans?
For my part, what we are doing is kicking the tires, looking at some issues afresh with a fresh set of eyes, and thinking about -- as you said, Mr. Chairman, and as I titled my testimony -- how we move forward. What should our immigration enforcement policy be, and how will we carry it out? How will FEMA interact with first responders, cities and states in the event of a natural disaster?
By the way, let me just pause there and say, one of the things we need to do is to remind people that FEMA is not a first responder. I mean, I think that's one of the myths perhaps that grew out of Katrina-Rita, but emergency response starts with cities, localities that have the police and the fire. They bring in states when the circumstances require, and then FEMA is there to back up and provide overall support. So, lots of issues there.
Thirdly, intelligence and analysis -- a very, very important part of the overall work of this department, how that occurs, and, more importantly, how do we make sure that we have an integrated intel ability that integrates with state and local officials, and that we are sharing information adequately and on a real-time basis and getting information back adequately and on a real-time basis? I believe that is one area that will be a major focus of my tenure as the secretary of the department. I could go on. I won't because I want to invite the time for questions, but those are a few of the things that we are doing.
Now, let me, if I might, pause with the committee and our relations. My hope is that we have a very strong relationship. I view this committee as a committee to help us accomplish these myriad goals and the myriad tasks for the protection or our people that the Department of Homeland Security is assigned. We will be open. We will do everything in human power to be timely. But I hope that we can have a relationship that allows us to exchange information, ideas, and, as you said, Mr. Chairman, move the department forward. So that is my goal with respect to congressional relations, as it were.
So, protection of our people, protection of our lands, protection of our property, and the ability to respond with efficiency, resiliency -- that is the umbrella goal with many subsets, but that is what we in the department are going to be focused on every day. Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you, Madame Secretary, for your testimony. I will remind each member that he or she will have five minutes to question the secretary. I will now recognize myself to being questioning.
Again, thank you, Madam Secretary, for your testimony. I'm glad to learn that you've requested a review of the continuing hurricane recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast. As you know, many people in my home state of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas are still displaced.
Recently FEMA reported to this committee that only one-half of the $2.8 billion in federal disaster funds provided to Mississippi had been spent, three and a half years after Katrina.
I would like for you to have your people report back to the committee on why it's taken so long to spend the money for those Katrina-affected areas. Some of us think it's a long time. And after you provide that information, if you can provide to us how you think we can do a better job in helping citizens who are impacted with any natural disaster, I would appreciate it.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, thank you. We'd be happy to provide that information. But I think as important is how we're going to unclog these recovery efforts so that we can begin to move those issues forward and close some of the chapters out of Katrina, Rita and the Gulf Coast.
The secretary of HUD and I are going there next week to do not only site visits but to look at what we need to do to unclog some of the issues about housing. And I've also directed my staff to give me a process by which we can begin to resolve the claims, the public assistance claims, that have been at issue between the federal government and state and local governments in the Gulf Coast for these many years. So that is well underway, and I look forward to reporting back to you. Actually, I look forward to reporting back to you and saying that we have a process to begin closing some of these claims out.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. In light of that also, Madame Secretary, there is some concern of no-bid contracts and other things that the department has been criticized for. If you can expand that to see how we can limit the number of no-bid contracts, that also would be appreciated for the committee.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Mr. Chairman, absolutely. In fact, earlier this week President Obama held a fiscal summit. Some of you were present. I actually was in the breakout group on procurement. And I don't know how I got that assignment, but it turns out that that's the nuts and bolts of how you make government more competitive, more efficient, how you make sure that every vendor has a chance to compete for federal tax dollars. So that's an area of keen interest. And we are looking at that and look forward to working with the committee on that.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. Border violence. As you know, having been the governor of a border state, you have first-hand knowledge of so many of the things that occur; one of the things we have, as a committee and as a Congress, been very supportive of providing resources.
Can you -- Secretary Chertoff talked about a surge potential if violence started moving in the wrong direction. Can you share with the committee what efforts are underway or you think should be underway to address this escalating border violence?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I only have 37 seconds left, but it may take me a little longer. I've actually found the situation in Mexico one of the top priority items on my desk. It was on my desk when I was governor of Arizona, but as the secretary of Homeland Security I see it in a much broader way.
I believe our country has a vital relationship with Mexico and I believe that Mexico right now has issues of violence that are of a different degree and level than we've ever seen before. That is primarily the product of the president of Mexico and his government going after these large drug cartels, so that we never run the risk, never run the risk, of Mexico descending into, say, where Colombia was 15 years ago.
As those efforts have been ongoing, it has increased the level of violence within Mexico. Last year there were 6,000 drug-related homicides in Mexico. Since January, there have already been a thousand. They've been targeting in some of those homicides public officials, law enforcement officers, as a process of intimidation.
We are working to support President Calderon in his efforts. I believe this is going to require more than the Department of Homeland Security, so that we are reaching out to the national security adviser, to the attorney general and others about how we within the United States make sure we are doing all we can in a coordinated way to support the president of Mexico.
I've met with the attorney general of Mexico and the ambassador already. One of the things that I particularly am focused on is southbound traffic in guns. Particularly assault weapons and cash are being used to funnel and fund these very, very violent cartels.
So working with Customs, working with ATF, we're looking at ways that we can help suppress that traffic. But in my view, from a Homeland Security standpoint, this is going to be an issue, working with Mexico, that is going to be of real priority interest over these coming months.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. And I want to just put a footnote there that the committee is real concerned about this issue. And to the extent that we can be helpful in addressing it, I want you as secretary to feel free to work with us.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Very good.
REP. THOMPSON: I now recognize the ranking member of the full committee, the gentleman from New York, Mr. King, for questions.
REP. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, you said you look forward to working with Congress. I don't know if you'll change your opinion over the next few years about that. But seriously, we do enjoy this level of cooperation.
I think it's important, though -- and this is probably more our problem than yours -- that you could end up testifying before 80, 90, 95 different House and Senate committees. So we certainly want to do what we can to consolidate that. We believe that the Committee on Homeland Security should be the central committee, not for any position of gaining turf but because I think it should be coordinated, similar to the armed forces relationship with the Defense Department. So that will be an ongoing issue up here on Capitol Hill. And any moral support you can give us in that, we'd appreciate.
Several issues. One, on the issue of UASI funding, Homeland Security funding, one of the main recommendations of the 9/11 commission was that funding be risk-based. And as I mentioned in my opening statement, that has been an issue of some controversy over the last several years. You've been in office less than five weeks, but do you have any thoughts as to what can be done to ensure that we do at least as good a job if not a better job at determining how risk- based funding should be implemented?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes. And to your first point, I asked the question how many hearings the department had with the House in the last session, and the answer was in the last session there were 269 hearings involving the Department of Homeland Security -- 126 involving this committee or its subcommittees, 111 involving other authorizing committees, 32 involving Appropriation Committee or its subcommittees.
And so while it would be presumptuous of me to recommend to Congress how it be organized, I think that's a fact that is relevant. And indeed, one of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, the only one that hasn't been acted on, is the need to now streamline and focus on the Department of Homeland Security from a congressional oversight perspective.
With respect to UASI and risk-based, we have now consolidated 99 percent of the grants and grant funding. Most of it comes -- that 99 percent all comes under FEMA. And what I have said is -- and I'll tell you the way we're approaching it is everywhere in the country has some sort of risk. And it can be interruption of the food chain supply by an event happening in Kansas. It can be interruption of the gasoline supply to the country because of the refineries located in the Gulf Coast. It can be, as we tragically saw in 9/11, interruption of our markets and stock exchanges by a terrorist act in New York City. So we have all kinds of risks. So some base level of funding needs to accommodate that.
But above and beyond, there are areas of particular risk that would have particular and broader impacts on the country.
And that is where I think we need to focus our analysis and sharpen: what are those risks, what are the impacts to the country if something untoward were to happen.
And so, as we move forward, I'd be happy to work with and inform the committee about this, but that's where I believe the analysis of the risk-based work needs to be done. It's beyond kind of a base level of risk that every areas shares -- although they're different, there's a base level there. But, beyond that, we know there are certain areas where, if risks were to materialize there would be an undue impact on the rest of the country.
REP. KING: Thank you, Madame Secretary.
Another issue raised by the 9/11 Commission was the sharing of intelligence at the federal level, and then, of course, part of your responsibility is to share that down to the local level. At the federal level itself, though, it was my impression in the first several years of the Department that DHS was sort of excluded, or the other power players tried to keep DHS out of the intelligence gathering, or didn't share as much as they should have with them. I think when Mr. Charlie Allen came on-board that improved somewhat.
I would just ask if you can do what you can to make sure that DHS does get the intelligence it should be getting, so you're in a better position to provide that to local governments. And, again, if you need assistance in that, I'm sure we would agree that the Department should have more of a role to play as far as receiving the intelligence gathered from the other intelligence agencies.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
I think one of the, perhaps, advantages I have is that this is the first time there's actually been a transition of administrations where you have a Department of Homeland Security from day-one, and, indeed, a secretary from day-one. And I think that helps with some of those issues that Secretary Ridge and perhaps Secretary Chertoff experienced.
I believe that the Department right now is fully a partner in intelligence sharing. And if it's not, I will be fighting for that. And I think, at this point, the key challenge we have -- as I said in my opening statement is, how do we better share with state and locals, and also get their information back, because they, quite frankly, have more eyes and ears than the federal government will ever have.
REP. KING: Thank you, Madame Secretary.
REP. THOMPSON: The chair will now recognize other members for questions they may wish to ask the secretary. Again, I urge members to be mindful of the five-minute rule and the secretary's limited time with the committee.
And, in accordance with our committee rules, I recognize the members who were present at the start of the hearing, based on seniority on the committee, alternating between majority and minority. Those members coming in later will be recognized in the order they arrive.
The chair now recognizes the gentlewoman from California for five minutes, Ms. Sanchez.
REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you Madame Secretary for being before us.
I actually really look forward to this change in administration and having you head our Department. Why? Because, first of all, I'm the vice chair of this committee; and secondly, I chair the subcommittee that has much of what has been happening in Homeland. Which means that I have had to see the -- oversee the TWIC program, Project 28, SBInet, Deepwater, US-VISIT, Western Hemisphere -- all of which have had major, major problems. So, I really look forward to talking to you about that and figuring out how we get things underway at the Department.
In addition to that, I have the global counterterrorism, or the international aspect of all the intelligence gathering and information, and I look forward to talking in a separate meeting with you with respect to how we might incorporate that better into the Department of Homeland Security.
And, of course, the border violence, the drug trafficking -- I'm not going to talk much about that because I have a feeling that my ranking member, Mr. Souder, who has worked on these issues for a long time, will probably ask you many questions with respect to that.
Cyber security: As a Californian, I think that's going to be one of the biggest areas. We have to take a look at. And I also sit on that subcommittee.
But, today I have some individual questions. The first one is that, in the last Congress I introduced House Resolution 68 -- 69, which is the Border Security Search Accountability Act.
This has to do with being stopped at entry into the country, and taking people's laptops, or BlackBerries, or what have you, and not really having a good policy with respect to why we take them; how long they're gone; will we return them to whomever, et cetera. And it poses a lot of issues. You can imagine if you had your work on your laptop, and you went to a country and they took it away from you and might never return it.
So, Madame Secretary, during your Department's review of the Bush-era policies, are you open to updating the border-search electronic seizure policies, and working with me to add accountability to that process?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes.
And let me share with you on the issue of laptops and laptop searches. The law here is very straightforward and, quite frankly, very broad that at the border the federal government possesses the ability to search. But that doesn't answer the question, "should it" search; and what are the elements that should be incorporated into a decision to search; and then what do you do after a search is complete, with respect to return of material?
We have now appointed a chief privacy officer for the Department. And there are a number of issues that we handle, including the laptop issue, that have really key privacy concerns, such as the ones you raised, inherent in them. So, I look forward -- she reports to work in a week or two, to putting her to work and helping us develop further refinement of what we are doing; and, of course, working with the committee about what we are doing.
REP. SANCHEZ: Right, well we intend to introduce some type of legislation with respect to that, so I'd like to work with you to ensure that we know what we're doing, and getting it through the Congress.
The second issue I have for you is that this April I plan to hold my fourth hearing on the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or the TWIC card. And what plans do you have in place to help workers obtain TWIC cards during these last seven weeks before the April 15th deadline?
I just have a feeling a lot of people haven't (pulled them ?); there's going to be a mad rush to try to get them. How will you ensure that people aren't out of work after April 15th if they don't have this card to get on the port system, et cetera? And would you consider temporary measures, like allowing unescorted access for 30 days for individuals who didn't get them but may have had part of the background check done? I mean, how -- this is a train wreck waiting to happen, I believe.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, here's the status of TWIC right now. It's been implemented in all but about seven or eight ports. There are about 1.1 million workers who need a TWIC card. Around 920,000 already have their cards, or their cards are just about ready to be issued. So, that process is well underway.
The ports that are left are some of our larger ports -- New York, Houston, Los Angeles-Long Beach. And so we want to make very sure that the process goes smoothly at all our ports, but particularly those that haven't yet fully implemented TWIC.
All I can say is that it is not only on our radar but the subject of daily questions from me about how we're doing; who has the cards; what problems are we experiencing; how are we resolving those problems?
But, the point of fact is is that the TWIC card, and having identity about those who are getting into secure areas in our ports, I believe, is a very important part of homeland security and securing our country. So, we want to move this process along, and move it and enforce it.
If there need to be exceptions, that's something I prefer not to talk about in the committee because I don't want people thinking that the deadline is going to move or something's going to change. TWIC is where we're going. It's well underway. The problems we've encountered so far have been dealt with and we're moving forward.
REP. SANCHEZ: Thank you, Madame Chair (sic).
And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
The chair now recognizes the gentleman from California for five minutes, Mr. Lungren.
REP. DAN LUNGREN (R-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Congratulations on your appointment, and it's nice to see another former attorney general making good.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: (Laughs.)
REP. LUNGREN: First of all, let me just say that I was not here serving when Secretary Ridge was heading the Department. I have been here for four years while Secretary Chertoff was. I happen to think he did a very good job in trying to amalgamate all of those agencies and departments. I think there was much progress made, but we all know a lot more needs to be done and I appreciate your dedication to doing that.
If I could follow up on what Mr. King said about us talking at least about the issue of terrorism. One of the things that has struck me, over the last four-plus years that I've been back, is that it is awfully easy to lose our sense of urgency -- both in terms of the public and in terms of this Congress.
As a fellow Westerner, since we were so far away from 9/11 sometimes it is difficult to keep that image in the minds of our people so that they understand that it could happen anywhere.
And you and I know the potential for an uncontrolled border, for soft spots for terrorists to come across. So I appreciate your dedication.
And I particularly appreciate what you said about Mexico. I think there's a misunderstanding about Mexico sometimes in this body. And that is I think the current administration there is doing precisely what we want them to do to fight narcoterrorism. And the increase in violence is not an indication that they're not doing something. It is an indication that the bad guys are pushing back, and that could very well spill over and has spilled over somewhat into our sovereign territory. And that's why we need to work so closely with that country. So I appreciate what you have said on that.
And I think your experience as a governor of one of the border states will help us bring that issue to the fore even more. So I thank you for that.
Let me just bring up a couple of things. One is now we're doing a number of full-body imaging scans at a number of different airports. I see that some in the privacy community have raised issues. And so let me just throw out a very simple thing, and that is I happen to be someone who has an artificial hip. It is less an invasion of my privacy to go through a full-body imaging than it is to have people placing their hands on my body all over the place.
I would say that if you run into a problem with respect to privacy questions, think about creating an "I don't care" line. I happen to think -- (laughter) -- no, I'm very serious about this. I think if you had an "I don't care" line, many of us would rather go through that. And I think you would find that some of the privacy issues that may otherwise bubble up might be alleviated by making it very clear that you can go through that line, you're going to go through a full-body scanner, fully knowing what's happening. And I would just hope that you would consider that because I don't think we should lose that technology. And I see some articles coming up about some concerns about that.
Secondly, cyber security. If I were to review all of the areas that we have worked on, that is both the Congress and the department in the last four years, the one area I think we've done the last is in cyber security. And I think that's a reflection of our society at large. And I know that you have indicated that it is one of your concerns or top 12 or 20 or whatever that list was. Could you talk a little bit about that and what you think we need to do, both as a governmental entity but also to work with the private sector in that regard?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Certainly. With respect to the full-body scans, we are piloting them. We began in Tulsa, I believe, last week. There are four or five other airports, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City and so forth, that will be using them as a pilot as well. And we don't have an "I don't care" line. We actually have an "I care deeply" line -- (laughter) -- because there's always an option to use the regular magnetometer for a passenger who doesn't want to go through the full- body scanner.
I believe, as you do, that it's actually less intrusive and easier to use the full-body scanner. And I think the key question for us is going to be, can we make it more rapid so that we don't develop lines at the airports? So that's moving forward. And that technology seems to be very, very good, very promising at the least.
In terms of cyber security, the national director of intelligence has begun a 60-day review of what we are doing federal government-wide on cyber and, in particular, what we are doing to reduce portals of entry into the system, what we are doing to respond to intrusions but, more importantly, what we are doing to implement technologies that would prevent intrusions.
I believe, as you do, that the private sector has to be not only our partner in that but they are actually, in a way, key consumers of what we are doing. And so while I can't tell you right now what the actual operative structure is going to be to make sure the private sector is included, I have instructed our cyber folks to make sure that we are reaching out to the various private sector groups.
REP. : I think you'll find that members of this committee want to work very closely with you on that as a priority -- very, very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
The chair now recognizes the gentlelady from California -- it must be a California day today -- Ms. Harman.
REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA): Mr. Chairman, every day is California day. (Laughter.) Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased that President Obama has selected a good personal friend and an able woman to head the department. And I would just point out to the secretary that this committee wants to be your partner. I know the chairman said that. We want to be your partner. And we have a strong history of bipartisanship in this committee. We may be jurisdictionally challenged, but we try to punch above our weight. And this issue couldn't be more critical.
Let me just put out a few things because time is very short and invite your comment to all of them. First of all, I applaud the new tone of the department. As I have told you personally, I think your role is to prepare not scare the America public. Yes, terrorism is a challenge. Yes, we have more to do and much to fear since 9/11. But if people are personally prepared for what might come their way, first they'll know what to look for, but second of all they'll have that resilience that you just talked about and not be terrorized. So I appreciate what you're doing.
Number two, on the intelligence function which is of keen interest to me, I applaud your comment that your challenge is, how do we share with state and locals and get their information back? I think that the INA function at Homeland, unfortunately, at least up to this point, is more of a stovepipe than an information-sharing vehicle. And that is why I have urged you and I continue to urge you to appoint a cop to be the head of INA because I think that that expertise is critical. And I don't think the problem is getting information from the federal government. I think the problem is forcing that information down to the person who will actually uncover and prevent, hopefully, or disrupt the next terror attack on our soil.
Third, the National Applications Office which was stood up by your predecessor and, I gather, still is operating at some weak level inside the Homeland Department, I think it's a mistake to have an office at Homeland Security that could task military satellites to conduct homeland security functions over the United States. I think there's a posse comitatus problem, but I also think existing law is adequate. And that is why Congressman Norm Dix, a former member of this committee, and I sent you a letter recently, urging you to shut it down. I really think that would be in our national interest.
And finally, I mentioned that we're jurisdictionally challenged here. I would just welcome any comments you have and invite them for the record about how hard it is for Homeland Security officials, especially the secretary, to appear at 88 committees and subcommittees in the United States Congress and why it might make more sense to put most of the jurisdiction in this committee.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you. A few points on the state and local information sharing. Obviously, as a former governor and state attorney general, I really appreciate that need. I'll be giving an address in two weeks at the National Conference for Fusion Centers. And I believe fusion centers, we really need to pump up that effort and make them a much more vital part of our national security network in terms of information sharing. So look for those comments.
With respect to the National Applications Office, that's one of the issues that I am reviewing. They do have an appropriation, actually, from the Congress. And so what I've said is, look, I want to know what we're doing. What are the issues impacting privacy and expectations of privacy that should be taken into account? And I'll be happy to report back to you, the committee, Congressman Dix about that as we go forward.
And so we have lots of issues to work on jointly, but I look forward to that partnership.
REP. HARMAN: Well, Mr. Chairman, I have 51 seconds remaining, so I would invite the secretary to put on the record how many appearances her predecessor had to make before the Congress because I think it's useful for the audience tuning in to hear about this.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you. I should have done that in response to your question. But last session, it was 269 hearings in the House, 126 before this committee or its subcommittees, 111 from other authorizing committees, 32 from the appropriations side. And I would say Secretary Chertoff was a great partner to work on in the transition from one administration to the next on Homeland Security. It is a nonpartisan issue. It's a very functional, operational issue. It's nuts and bolts.
But I think one of his comments and strong feelings was work of the department was sometimes interrupted, unduly delayed and lots of hours spent preparing for hearings and so forth when in fact better answers could have been prepared if more work could have actually been done prior to a hearing.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you.
The chair recognizes for five minutes the gentleman from Alabama Mr. Rogers.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-AL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Madame Secretary, for being here.
First, there is some talk in the last couple of years about pulling FEMA out of the department. I want to know your thoughts. And to be up front, I'm very opposed to that. This has become a well- organized department. It's taken several years to get that way. We've had some real rough spots when they initially put these 22 agencies together. Things are starting to work better now, and I think it would be very disruptive. And I'm of the opinion that given how well FEMA has performed over the last couple of years, it's evidence that it's working. But what are your thoughts on this effort to remove FEMA from the department?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you, and several things. One is I've not yet had the opportunity to speak about this with President Obama, nd should he wish to seek that statutory change, you know, he needs the space with which to do that. There are, though, as you know, many efficiencies to be encountered by where FEMA is now. And the issue, to me, is one of leadership and operations.
If FEMA is working well, responding, backing up state and locals -- and again, the expectation that it's a first responder; that's a public perception that is inaccurate and historically inaccurate. We need some help changing that expectation.
But if it's doing its job working with state and locals in preparing and responding, if there's good leadership and management, where it fits in the federal organizational chart becomes less of an acute issue.
So right now it's within the Department of Homeland Security. It's part of my charter. I look forward to when the president nominates an administrator, but in the meantime, we keep working with the men and women in that department. And again, kind of a parallel to the state and local intel sharing I talked about earlier, working with our first responders and our state and locals -- I'll be speaking to the National NEMA Conference in the near future -- also an important part of FEMA's work.
REP. ROGERS: Thank you.
We put quite an effort into raising the number of Border Patrol agents from roughly 12,000 to around now a little over 18,000, which was the goal. I still think it's too few. I think we should be over 20,000, but we've hit that goal.
But I'm concerned that we haven't done anything on the ICE side. The number of agents has been flat for years. Do you have any opinion as to when that's going to change or have you looked at that? Are you aware of any effort to try to grow the number of ICE agents to be more compatible with the growth we put on Customs?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
We are looking at staffing levels across the department, but also between the departments. Immigration is a system. It begins with the apprehension of someone illegal in our country and works not only through DHS, but also through the Department of Justice, because you've got to have marshals to transport detainees, you've got to have facilities, you've got to have courtrooms and all the rest.
And so the attorney general and I have begun -- if I could say -- almost a joint review of the immigration system and what the federal government needs to do to support it.
REP. ROGERS: And lastly, I have the Center for Domestic Preparedness in my district. It's a wonderful facility -- the only one like it in the world -- to train first responders from all over the world. And it's a facility where they offer the training free. They have to come, whether it's a fireman or woman or a police officer or rescue department -- they come, they spend two weeks of training and it's free.
The problem is my district is very rural and most of the first responders are volunteers and they work during the day and they can't take two weeks and go to the center. So I've been an advocate for the center to try to package more of that training and take it out in increments -- three or four hour training for regional departments to come together.
I would like to see you push that some more, because most of us -- if you look at our districts -- most of the responders are, in fact, volunteers and they're never going to be able to take advantage of this state-of-the-art training that we've got at the CDP.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
Yeah, it is a wonderful facility. I look forward to actually doing a site visit at some time. That's an interesting idea. Let me pursue it and let me get back to you.
REP. ROGERS: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
We have some votes to --
REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D-OR): Mr. Chairman, we have 10 minutes. Could I do my set of questions?
REP. THOMPSON: Just as soon as I finish, I'll be happy to.
The plan is to recess the hearing, take the three votes and then come back.
The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Oregon, Mr. DeFazio, for five minutes.
REP. DEFAZIO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, welcome.
When we created the Transportation Security Administration, at the insistence of the then Republican majority, there was a provision that at the discretion of the then-secretary, which would have been Transportation Mineta, that the employees could be precluded from collective bargaining rights unionization if it was in the national interest. Unfortunately, Secretary Mineta made that decision.
As you know from the surveys of the employees in Homeland Security there are a lot of morale problems. A lot of it goes to the management of the Bush administration, the misdirection, but some of it goes to the fact that they are denied these rights, which are made commonly available.
Do you have the authority to reverse that decision by then- Secretary Mineta, since it's now under your jurisdiction? I was asked by a TSA employee on my way through two weeks ago, reminding me that we have an administration now that might be receptive to restoring their rights. And if you don't have that authority, will you ask for it from this committee and Congress?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: The answer to your question is that I've asked our general counsel's office exactly that question and I don't have a response yet.
But obviously, I appreciate that the valuable men and women who work -- and some of these jobs are very difficult jobs in difficult settings and I appreciate what they're doing. So we are looking at that right now from both a legal and a policy standpoint.
REP. DEFAZIO: They have to deal with grumpy members of Congress and others traveling through their checkpoints.
The second point would be on the equipment that they're utilizing. I believe that the so-called stimulus package had some equipment acquisition in there and I believe some of it was going to be dedicated to replacing the equipment at the checkpoint. Because even though you wouldn't have had to go through it, everyone else in here went through superior equipment that guards our buildings -- and all the other federal buildings in terms of having multidimensional capabilities so they don't have to say "Can I take your bag and turn it and run it through again", slowing down the line, trying to get a look at something suspicious.
Is that going to happen? Are we going to get them the same equipment that is readily available we have here or better?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I can't speak to precisely the equipment that's going to be purchased, but the stimulus package did include a generous share for TSA so we'll be looking at, I'm sure, a variety of different types of scanning equipment.
The goal is, obviously, to be able to identify something that requires a second look and to do it with a lot of speed and accuracy. And that's what we're asking in the scanning and that's what we're looking for in our scanning process. So that's what the equipment needs to be purchased for to accomplish.
REP. DEFAZIO: I'm glad you recognize that. We had trouble with the last administration on that issue.
And then finally to cargo -- now we're switching from aviation over to ports -- I think the greatest single threat of a nuclear weapon is not someone launching something at us. It's someone secreting it in a container with a GPS or trigger device attached.
We put through -- over the objections of the last administration, shippers and everybody else -- a requirement that by 2012, that everything be screened overseas. The last administration made clear to us that this wasn't really doable and that they weren't really going to push for it.
What's the attitude of this administration regarding this threat and the possibility of meeting the deadline in 2012 of scanning all the containers before they depart foreign ports?
The bizarre thing was the last administration was actually going to scan -- they assured us they would scan all the containers before they left our ports to go to the interior, in case they contained threats. And I guess that made our ports sacrifice zones. I never understood that position.
So could you tell us: Are we going to do it overseas?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That's something we've been look at. And I must share with the committee my initial view is that the 2012 deadline is not going to work and we're going to have to work on what we do beyond that.
To do 100 percent scanning requires, for example, agreements with many, many countries. There are lots of issues with that. There is a difference between screening and scanning in the lexicon of the cargo world and I believe we're close to 100 percent screening now --
REP. DEFAZIO: Right, which is sometimes meaningless with the C- TPAT program deficiencies and others.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Exactly. So that's something I'm looking at right now more deeply. But my initial review is 2012 is a deadline that may not be reached under the current state of the program.
REP. DEFAZIO: Okay we'd love -- I think, and I believe the chairman shares my view -- we'd love to discuss this issue further and see if we can help that along.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you.
We'll now recognize the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Dent, for five minutes and that will be our last questioner for this series, Madame Secretary. We plan to come back around 20 minutes.
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Madame Secretary, thank you for coming before this committee today. I'd like to start by saying how appreciative I am of your efforts and your staff's efforts and your prompt responsive to two recent constituent queries into my office. So that you for that.
The first one involved a constituent named George Pujouti (sp), a lawful permanent resident of Lebanese decent currently living in my district and currently working in Iraq in support of the U.S. government.
George is a bilingual security advisor who has worked for the United States Department of State for over 20 years, most of which was overseas. Specifically he oversaw the protective detail of Ambassador Ryan Crocker in both Lebanon and now in Iraq. However, because his government job requires him to reside overseas, it may take him another five years to become a U.S. citizen. In fact, George has been working four-month deployments in Iraq with 20 days respite at home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since 2004 as a legal permanent resident. And I suspect that George's case may or may not be unique but, nevertheless, this is a problem. He's certainly worthy of citizenship.
What process -- processes or procedures does the department have in place to assist or expedite citizenship applications from these patriotic individuals serving U.S. security interests abroad and, in this case, in a combat zone?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you. And that's something that goes to a department called Citizenship and Immigration Services. And one of the things we need to have the flexibility to do it to deal with special cases, perhaps one such as the gentleman you referenced. So I don't know that a statutory or procedural change is necessary. I think it need to be a sensitivity change, that when we have a particular case come forward that we can expedite it.
REP. DENT: Well that would be appreciated.
Would you oppose making targeted amendments to the Immigration Nationality Act? You mentioned statutory changes may or may not be necessary but I'd like to at least give you some discretion with respect to citizenship requirements under circumstances like this. In fact, I have a letter from Ambassador Crocker urging that this man be made a citizen, even stating that on more than a few occasions that this individual probably saved his life as well as others. And so I'd like to give you that type of authority. How would you feel about that type of discretion?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well I'm always glad to have discretion. I think any secretary would say the same on any matter. But I'd be glad to work with you on that.
REP. DENT: And the second case -- and again, I recently brought to your department's attention -- this involved the transportation worker identity, identification, credential, the TWIC card. And as the new ranking member on the Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee this is an issue that I look forward to exploring further in this Congress.
And there's going to be a photo on the screen somewhere, I don't see it up here but -- the photo's not up on the screen but there was -- oh it is, oh there it is. Oh there's the photo, there it is. Well that photo -- I wanted you to see that -- is the boat called the Josiah White the second. It's being pulled by Hank and George along a canal. So we're very clear, Hank and George are the mules. This is part of an exhibit at the National Canal Museum in my district in eastern Pennsylvania. Now, Hank and George, while sometimes ornery, they are not terrorists. This much we're certain. However, the current TWIC statute requires that the individuals in colonial garb to have TWIC cards. While the photo's funny, the unintended consequences of this particular statute are not. So I have two questions.
First, Madam Secretary, do you believe that the mule tenders in this photograph should be required to have terrorist watch list background checks and TWIC cards? I mean, I know it's sort of facetious but at the same time it's serious, they are required.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, let me just say this, obviously, this is a picture designed to say, hey, isn't there kind of a -- isn't this absurd that they be required to have TWIC cards? Let's work with you on this particular case if we might.
REP. DENT: Yeah, and I'd like to work with you on a more common sense approach to this, you know, a risk based approach to requiring TWIC cards under circumstances like this. It's costly and, obviously, it's common sense. It's not just involved this particular situation but it could involve the, you know, fishing boat and others who are just going off or taking a few people off the coast for a few hours.
And finally, I just want to mention one other issue with which I've been working. There are about 139,000 people in this country awaiting removal or they have valid removal orders against them. They come from about eight countries; China, India, Vietnam, Laos, Jamaica, and a few others. Those countries will not repatriate their citizens. We are trying to send them back. They will not accept them. I have introduced legislation, along with Senator Spector and Mike Hassell and others, to basically hold up visas from those countries until those countries repatriate these citizens, their citizens. Many of these individuals are criminals, a large number of them are criminals but they have removal orders against them. We'd like to have them sent back.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Madam Secretary, if you could hold that. We have to run vote. The committee stands in recess for about 20 minutes.
REP. HENRY CUELLAR: -- (in progress after audio break) -- we've done a good job of putting men and women in green, but we need men and women in blue, which is what somebody asked a few minutes ago, not only ICE but the ports of entry because the wait lines are pretty long, as you know.
We added, I believe, $720 million in the stimulus package, part going to you all, part to GSA. I would ask you all to streamline the process to get that done because 88 percent of all of the goods coming into the U.S. come to the land ports. We've done a good job putting money into the airports and the seaports, which we need to continue doing. But the land ports, 88 percent of all the goods are coming in.
In my hometown of Laredo, which I'm hoping that you'll visit us soon, 40 percent of all the trade between the U.S. and Mexico comes through the Port of Laredo. We get about 13,500 trucks going north and southbound, about 1,200 rail cars every day. This is just on a daily basis. And I would ask you to move on those ports funding as soon as possible to streamline the process on that. So I would appreciate your help.
The other thing I would ask you is -- I asked the former secretary and I never got a response, and I think even the chairman asked him also -- could you give us a best-case scenario how many personnel you would need for Customs officials to man all the ports north and south and what sort of infrastructure needs you need? Because we've been estimated about $4.9 billion, we added 720 (million dollars). But if we can get those two responses because we never got it from the other secretary. I would ask you to provide that to us as soon as possible.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you. Yes. And if I might speak to the issue of the land ports of entry, those ports are absolutely key. And I was delighted that the Congress did include 720 million (dollars) which will allow us to accelerate three identified projects to enlarge and modernize those land ports. Many of them haven't been improved since the '70s, and the amount of trade that goes back and forth, as you know, has exploded in the meantime.
So what we are doing to streamline actually is we are putting together a joint GSA-Customs planning office for the improvements in those ports so that instead of going sequentially -- first, Customs looks at it and says, well, this is what this port needs, and then it goes to GSA that puts its own imprint on it, and then it goes back and forth -- we actually have in one place the people who have to operate the port with the people that have to do the contracting and the construction of the port improvements. I'm hoping that we'll seem some real streamlining by doing that.
And then with respect to what our analysis is of manpower and building out for the out years on those ports, we'll be happy to get information to you. I will say this, however. Part of the manpower needs depends, in part, about how fast we improve the ports. Because theoretically, as we add technology to the ports, it may help us adjust downward our manpower needs. So there's going to be some flexibility there as well.
REP. CUELLAR: A couple of quick questions. One, whatever you can do to streamline the grants, those grants that go out, if we can streamline the paperwork and the time to get them down to our firefighters, I would ask you to do that. And if you have any proposals to streamline the process, I would ask you to do that.
Last questions. Well, actually, one quick question and then one border question. FEMA -- have you talked to the -- I know the president was asked about FEMA, but I believe Chairman Oberstar has filed or will be filing the legislation today. Could you give us what the administration's position is on this? Because maybe if we got some direction on this, this will prevent some of the legislation from being filed.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: The answer is no, I have not yet had the opportunity to speak with the president about this. So it would be premature for me to say what position they'll take on that legislation.
REP. CUELLAR: Last -- I've got about 22 seconds. As you know, the fence in Texas has been -- and Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to enter into the record a document that I'm distributing, and I think members should have gotten some photographs, that reference the border fence project. I believe that has been given out to the members -- I think staff has gotten both sides.
REP. THOMPSON: Without objection. I'm not certain they have it, but we'll get it to them.
REP. CUELLAR: Let me -- Madame Secretary, down there in Texas, we were told -- and this is the picture that was used for a fence in the south Rio Grande Valley. They said, if we put a fence, more like a levy, it was a levy control, it would provide levy protection. And this is the picture that was given to us that Secretary Chertoff went down there and said this is what we're going to have. What we see now is actually this. And there's a little difference between what was given to us. And I believe in truth in fencing, if you want to use that. (Laughs.) This is the southern part. In other words, you still have the levy part of it. But instead of having this, they put the fence on top of that.
I sold it to folks down there, our governor, our mayors down there. And I would ask you to look into it. I know we don't have much time. But if somebody is going to say this is what you're going to do, and then they provide you that, and on top of that there's a little difference on that. So I would ask you to -- I know I'm out of time -- but I would ask you to please look at that, sit down with your staff. And if they said it was in the fine print, they should have told that to the people when they had the public hearings.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, I'll do that. Just a question. Is the airport landing, that part of the fence, is it actually on top of the concrete structure or behind it?
REP. CUELLAR: Right. It's on top of this. We're looking at -- I actually went to go see it myself -- pictures that we took when I was there. This is the top part. So we're looking from here that way. So the levy part is there, and then they added this. And you know, I can understand the response. The Border Patrol is going to give tactical reasons, et cetera. I know all the buzz words. But I wish they would have told us because otherwise there would have been a different type of opposition. And they agreed, as you know -- we agreed to this levy fence, bu they didn't tell us that on top of this levy fence -- and this is looking out. This cement is on the other side. They added this huge, huge fence. I mean, it's 18 feet tall or so.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yeah, I'll look into that.
REP. CUELLAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you.
The gentleman from Georgia Mr. Broun.
DR. PAUL BROUN (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary Napolitano, congratulations, and we're thankful for your coming here today. In your testimony, you state that government does nothing more fundamental than protecting the citizens, and I could not agree with you more than that.
We have some very serious problems that we have either inadequately or failed to address. And I'm looking forward to working with you and the department on a number of these issues, including counterintelligence, radicalization, cyber security, securing our borders, oversight on inbound, reevaluating TSA's proposed large- aircraft security program and a host of other issues.
But first, I'd like you to know how disappointed I am with the DHS's lack of transparency and accountability in the NBAF site selection process. We're going to find out whether a truly objective, merit-based decision was reached.
Today, however, I'd like to talk with you about counterintelligence and radicalization. DHS is not going to be a respected member of the intelligence community unless it takes counterintelligence seriously. And I know you have been very much involved in that in Arizona. DHS is too large of a target for foreign intelligence services and terrorist organizations to neglect a vigorous counterintelligence program.
I would like your assurance that counterintelligence will be a priority for you and for the department. I'd like to see a fully implemented and a vigorous DHS counterintelligence program. Are you working with FBI in counterintelligence to improve your partnerships and coordinate your programs on a large scale? And what can this committee do to help you expand these programs and protect your department from foreign penetration and collection activities?
And secondly, we've done a lot to prevent terrorist attacks and protect our homeland, but we're still vulnerable to the homegrown radicalization and violent Islamic extremism. Although not at the levels in Europe, we've seen radicalization in prisons, mosques, community centers and even some schools. As a leader in protecting the homeland, what do you see is the department's grand strategy in going forward? And how will you coordinate with other agencies? What tactics will you use? And do you have any recommendations for our committee on ways that we can help prevent or address radicalization on U.S. soil?
And in asking those questions, I just want to tell you that in my own district there is a community that I have calls about all the time, whether these people are becoming radicalized and trying to create a problem in Georgia where I live. And I see this as a huge problem that we face as a nation. And I know there are many other areas like this of communes or centers where radicalization may or may not be occurring. So I'm eager to work with you and the department on that issue as well as the counterintelligence issue.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, thank you. And, yes, counterintelligence is a priority and we'll be doing some things moving forward, I think, in that area. I have already had very substantive meetings with, for example, Director Mueller of the FBI, Admiral Blair from the NDI, and Mike Linder (sp) from the Counterterrorism Center, about how we mold our efforts together and make sure that not only are we coordinated, which is a word that is thrown around a lot, but that the coordination actually means that we are targeted and not overlapping but yet, sharing amongst ourselves and again, with state and locals, what is going on.
With respect to radicalization, I agree with you that this is an area where, indeed, we have some work to do. And again, working with the Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, we actually have a unit within the department that I have tasked with, looking at the process of radicalization and then how it can be interrupted. And in what areas of the country would we best be focusing some of those efforts. And while I'd rather not share some of that in a public setting, it clearly is on my radar screen.
REP. BROUN: Well thank you so much. I just encourage you to be very aggressive in this endeavor. I get a lot of calls in my district about concerns about this and I'm sure other members do also.
And back to the intelligence and counterintelligence, I think, my perspective is that we need to have a very strong, not only intelligence community within the department, but a very aggressive counterintelligence community within the department. And I for you want to work with you and for you and I'm sure many members of this Congress, of this committee do, to make sure that those counterintelligence efforts are very aggressively sought out and promoted within the department. So, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. For the benefit of those present, it's the chair's intention to continue the hearing. We have a member who's already gone to vote and will come back. So we'll try not to interrupt.
We now have Mr. Carney scheduled for five minutes. Other individuals can go and come back if they wish. Mr. Carney, for five minutes.
REP. CHRISTOPHER CARNEY (D-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, as you know, I chair the Oversight Subcommittee so all this is of interest to me. (inaudible).
But I did have a question on the, kind of the discussions that you're having with the national security advisor on merging or somehow working in parallel in terms of the Homeland Security committee, as opposed to the National Security committee. How are those talks coming? Are you coming to any conclusions, any new ideas, new arrangements?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes. I spoke, actually, before the inauguration, about this analysis of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council and what needs to be done. So, what we're looking at is what functions are preformed and really taking a fresh set of eyes at all, with the goal of making sure that the President has the best advice for security both internationally and domestically and also in terms of response and recovery. That process is underway. We told the President that it would not be one of these two year study jobs, that we were moving with all deliberate speed to get some recommendations to him. We'll be happy to let you and your staff know where we're headed.
REP. CARNEY: Please. It is our concern that the Homeland Security committee and National Security don't trip over each other in doing this. You know, we want to make sure there is efficiency and streamlining too.
Now, I'm sure you're very aware of Project 28 down on the border. And I visited there a couple times last year and was disappointed to see how progress wasn't made despite promises from the prior team.
We want to kind of understand what you take as lessons learned from Project 28 and how you're going to change the result. You know, we're back up in terms of what we're able to do in the SBInet because of this. Various sections, in the Ajo section, for example, that that's not up to speed, not running the way it's supposed to. It has been years now and millions of dollars and I would love to get your views on that, please.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, I am familiar with Project 28, given that it was in Arizona. And also given that, in my view, a border protection system requires boots on the ground and technology and that's key. And if we're going to require technology, the technology has to work. And it has to do what the vendors told us it would do.
So, I think, an initial take-away is, what were the initial contract representations made as to what this system would do.
I think a second take-away is to make sure that in our bidding process, and our competitive bidding process, we really from the get- go take into account the operational needs of the agents who actually have to do the apprehension and interdiction. I think there was perhaps there, that was late to the table in terms of actually looking at what that technology needed to empower.
REP. CARNEY: Well you're exactly right. In fact, the people whose lives depended on that technology working were not a part of the process when it was being developed by contract, which is utterly ridiculous.
So we will see you, or your staff, a number of times over the coming term. I look forward to being a partner with you and, you know, making sure things work well as they're advertised and making sure this nation stays safe. And I thank you for your time today.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I look forward to working with you.
REP. CARNEY: I yield back, Mr. Chair.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Carney.
What I would like to do is expand that a little bit, given your local experience. To what extent did your office as Governor, to your knowledge, communicate with the department during Project 28? Was just a stovepipe, DHS project with, to your knowledge, little or no state and local participation?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, I'd have to go back. I know there was some correspondence back and forth but I think it would be fair to say, in terms of overall project design, contract requirements, timing, you know, kind of the length of the contract and so forth, that was a federal job and so the state was really part of the process.
REP. THOMPSON: Well, and I say that for a couple of reasons. In talking to some of the local law enforcement along the border, we were talking about towers being constructed where there was some towers in the area already built that could've been utilized. And so we felt that the collaboration was essential for state and locals or anything along the border if we're to be successful. And I think that's going forward as well.
But I do have a question that I want to get on the record, Madam Secretary. I understand that the DNI testified this morning that Al Qaeda remains determined to conduct a spectacular attack in the homeland. Given the understanding of that statement, have you been fully briefed on the current threat picture? And how is DHS coordinating with other agencies to meet and mitigate the challenge from Al Qaeda?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes and Mr. Chairman, if I might, let me just --- we talked earlier with the committee about intelligence sharing among federal agencies but, you know, I start early each morning with a briefing that includes not just as the Department of Homeland Security Intel section but also the FBI and the CIA. And so I get that full daily briefing and I also receive the President's daily briefing. And so from the get-go every morning we have that level of exchange at the federal, at the very, very highest level.
We know, and I know, that there are risks out there. There are people out there who, quite frankly, seek to harm the United States. The issue for us always is, who, are they prepared to do it, and what fashion, what are we doing to prevent, to interdict and the like? And it's not just Al Qaeda but it can be other groups as well.
So, it is incumbent upon us, the Department of Homeland Security, to make sure that we are fully informed and doing what we can in a universe where it is impossible to put the entire United States under a bubble.
REP. THOMPSON: So you're comfortable with information you're receiving and that entities responsible are, in fact, sharing and coordinating to your satisfaction?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
Ms. Harman will be here shortly so we can continue.
I don't want to impose on you. I know you have an awful lot to do to keep us safe. So, if I can say, we'll recess no more than five minutes and we'll have you complete by 12:45.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. Committee stands in recess.
REP. SANCHEZ: (Gavel sounds.) The hearing will come to order again. Our apologies to the witness for the interruption of votes, but we are doing the best we can.
The chair will now recognize Ms. Clarke, from New York, for five minutes.
REP. YVETTE CLARKE (D-NY): Thank you. Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
Madame Secretary, we find ourselves in a unique moment in American history. There are many difficult security challenges before us, but we have strong new leadership at the White House, here in Congress, and in you, at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security.
As the new chair of the subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cyber Security, Science and Technology in the 111th Congress, I'm encouraged that one of your first acts in office you issued an action directive on cyber security, instructing specific offices to gather information, review existing strategies and programs, and to provide oral and written reports back to you by mid-February.
I look forward to reviewing those reports about the authorities and responsibilities of DHS for the protection of the government and private sector domains, the relationships with other government agencies, especially the departments of Defense, Treasury and Energy and NSA, and the programs and timeframes to achieve the Department's responsibilities and objectives. I believe that you are asking the right questions about DHS's role in the cyber security mission.
I have a few questions about several issues that are near and dear to my heart, which are critical in DHS's mission. I'm from New York City -- Brooklyn, New York, and so much of the quality of lives of the people of my town and my district relies on our success in meeting the challenges of your agency head-on.
Recently, the House unanimously passed H.R. 559, a bill I sponsored which requires the secretary of Homeland Security to furnish the comprehensive cleared lists to all DHS components, and to other federal and state and local and tribal authorities, and others that use the terrorist watchlists to resolve misidentifications. This, we call the Redress Act -- the FAST Redress Act.
Once the bill becomes law, what steps will you take to ensure that adequate and thorough passenger redress procedures are integrated in department -- department-wide?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you.
And, obviously, people who are erroneously mistaken for someone who is on a watchlist, and the ability to get that corrected quickly, is, you know, it's part of the ongoing evolvement or evolution of the lists. But, we will work with you on implementation. We've already begun looking at some things that we can do in the interim. But I share your concern, and we will want to -- want to make that that is implemented when it passes.
REP. CLARKE: Wonderful. You know, I think at this stage it has become an issue of civil liberty for many Americans, and certainly visitors who come to our nation. And it's important that we, sort of, evolve into a more proactive approach, because at a certain point the saturation of that list becomes, you know, really something that we can't use as an accurate tool to be able to address our main concern, which is ID-ing those terrorists as they move about. So, thank you very much.
The other issue is with regard to immigration. There's a squeeze-play that's taking place in many communities, in communities like mine, and this has to do with the back-log that takes place in terms of USCIS and the processing of individuals seeking to receive their citizenship. They fall into this nebulous area of being "undocumented" because they're in the process of moving from a permanent -- legal permanent resident status to becoming citizens.
And at the same time they are also vulnerable because, for whatever reason, there are all kinds of raids going on. Many of them are not in the workplace, as some of my colleagues may have experienced, but in the households in which individuals live. And it is my hope that as you talk about the immigration system infrastructure and bureaucracy, that we will get rid of this antiquated system that is not really serving the American people and our civil society in a way that it should.
I was so happy to hear that you are looking at that system, because there are hardworking rank-and-file employees working for USCIS but they don't have the tools available to them to do the processing in an expedient manner. It's costing a lot of individuals who are seeking to adjust their status hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every time there's a problem there. So, I'm going to wrap-up and ask if you would just address that issue.
Thank you, Madame Chair.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I can, very quickly.
First, if someone is here and they're a lawful permanent resident, we don't -- I don't consider them undocumented, per se. They just -- they're not a naturalized citizen, but they're not undocumented.
But, secondly -- CIS, you are right. There are wonderful men and women who work there, and they are there because they want to help those who have come into our country legally and who seek to become, and get the benefits of citizenship to get there.
We've been involved, and they've been involved, on a very aggressive back-log reduction process. By June, the average processing time will be below five months, which is 50 percent of what it's been. And we're looking for other things as well that we can do administratively to facilitate the process and make it easier -- more consumer friendly, as it were, to help people who seek to become citizens and enjoy the benefits of citizenship to get there.
REP. CLARKE: Thank you.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you.
Mr. Olson, of Texas, is now recognized for five minutes.
REP. PETE OLSON (R-TX): I thank the chair.
Madame Secretary, welcome. Thank you for coming today. We greatly appreciate your service to your home-state of Arizona and our nation.
I have a particular question about the recovery from Hurricane Ike. In your written testimony you mentioned that you issued a specific action directive in regards to the recovery efforts of Hurricane Katrina and Rita, and yet you made no reference to Hurricane Ike.
Ike was the third most destructive hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States. Damages of Ike, in the U.S. coastal and inland areas, are estimated to be about $24 billion. 95 percent of the constituents in my district lost their power for a significant amount of time and about 112 Americans, and counting, lost their lives in the storm.
As the recovery costs continue to rise, could you please discuss what the Department is doing to help those people who were affected by Hurricane Ike? And, most importantly, can you ensure that those populations affected by Hurricane Ike will receive the same attention, in terms of recovery funding and assistance, that -- (audio break) -- hurricanes Katrina and Rita?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you. And I hope you don't -- (audio break) -- Katrina and Rita -- (audio break) -- Katrina and Rita is over three years old -- (audio break) -- focusing on is what needs to be done to complete or move through some of the pending recovery issues.
But, I've also spent some significant time looking at where we stand on Ike. Literally, hundreds of millions of dollars actually have been sent from FEMA to the State of Texas. I need to understand where those stand in the state process, in terms of distribution to the actual people in your district that need the help for their recovery from Ike.
With regard to equivalent treatment between Katrina and Rita, and Ike and the communities there, I'd be happy to meet with -- and have someone meet with you and your staff about where that stands in terms of the measurement of damage and the flow of money. But, my key concern, I think, is the one implicit in your question, which is: how do we make sure that the flow of money is facilitated, and that claims that are at issue are resolved expeditiously for the communities and the individuals who were involved in Ike.
REP. OLSON: Yes, ma'am. I mean, anything we can do to streamline the bureaucracy within the Department and get the assistance to the people back there as quickly as possible. And I appreciate your comments. It would be greatly appreciated down there. I mean, again, they are still working very, very hard to recover their lives.
Changing course a little bit, I'd just like to briefly talk about immigration and the situation on the border down there, particularly what's happening in Mexico. As some of my colleagues alluded to earlier, we have a serious problem in that country right now. The drug cartels are at war, for lack of a better term, with the federal government.
As you mentioned earlier, there's a significant arms flow south out of our country, and very advanced, very capable arms, including hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades. And, you know, clearly we have a border. You, being a border governor, understand the concerns that we have in the great state of Texas.
But what is the department doing? Is there a contingency plan if things continue to deteriorate in Mexico and we see a massive influx of immigrants running away from the situation down there? Do we have a plan to address that and to make sure our country is just not overrun in a very short time period?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Congressman; a few things. One is, Secretary Chertoff had developed a contingency plan. And I'm looking at that, evaluating that, making sure that we can provide resources to state and local law enforcement in those border areas, should we see that kind of flow-over of the drug war in Mexico at that level into the United States.
One of the things I'm doing right now is making sure that we are actually physically talking with the sheriffs in those border counties. My experience is that the best intel sometimes in a border county is that local sheriff. And I'm going to stay in regular touch with them to see if we're seeing any, you know -- what is actually happening on the ground in the border communities that may be related to the drug war in Texas -- drug war in Mexico, excuse me.
But then, as I said earlier, I think we need to all recognize that within the country of Mexico, the president, the federal government are really engaged in a serious, serious effort against these drug cartels. It is having a big impact on the level of violence within Mexico, and it is something that deserves our utmost attention right now.
REP. OLSON: Well, thank you. And Henry -- Mr. Cuellar is not here, my colleague, but his brother is a border sheriff, and I assume he would share your opinion of the border sheriffs. And I just want to extend my invitation as well from the Congress, my fellow Texans here. We'd love to have you come down, tour the Ike area, and go down to the border.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Mr. Olson.
Madame Secretary, I understand you have to leave in 15 minutes. Is that correct? We have --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, you're the committee, but it would be helpful.
REP. HARMAN: Well, if we could extend that just a bit. There are seven people who have not asked questions. And we'll confine the questions and the answers to a strict five minutes so that everyone gets a turn. Would that work for you?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That'd be fine.
REP. HARMAN: I appreciate that very much.
Ms. Richardson, another California woman on the committee, is recognized for a strict five minutes.
REP. LAURA RICHARDSON (D-CA): Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.
Madame Secretary, my question -- first of all, I was very encouraged by reading -- I read your hearing confirmation, your action directives. And one of the things you talked about is the risk analysis. And the report says that you view determining the national priorities and taking judicious distribution of resources are a major element of the department's mission. In fact, you said today, "Although we have many risks, we have to focus the broader impact -- focus the analysis on risks that would result in an undue impact on this country."
My concern is, and part of why we have independent bodies and legislative separate, is we're going to hear a lot of people. I heard today discussions of land ports and all that, and that's fine. But there's only one port complex in this country that's number one, and that's the port complex in Long Beach and Los Angeles. There's only one port complex that's number three in the world, and that's the San Pedro complex.
If we're going to regain the trust and integrity that our president talked about, we've got to see in your, as you call it, judicious distribution of resources, there's got to be a bigger difference between 1 and 2 percent of a cargo of a port that represents 45 percent of this nation's cargo.
And so my question to you is, I like what I hear so far, but we really need that commitment that the view is going to be not everything around the Christmas tree is national significance. It might be important. It might be a risk. But it's not necessarily the number one.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, as I said, there is risk everywhere -- risks to life; mass casualties always something to be taken into account; risk to trade; risk to basic infrastructure; risk to things like our gasoline supply system, our food supply chain and all the rest.
But beyond that, we have to be very -- I'll use the word judicious because that's what I wrote. But we really have to be very acute about risks that, if they materialize, would cause undue damage to lives, casualties, to commerce and the like. And the ports and the port that you describe, you know, is a key critical port for our nation.
I look forward to be able to perhaps coming out to tour the port, the port area with you, so I can get a better scope of things. But clearly there are some things that require more attention than others.
REP. RICHARDSON: Right. We appreciate that. Very briefly, the background in that port complex alone -- if you have a dirty bomb that comes in, you talk about losing 3,000 people in 9/11; talk about looking at the number of half a million people in minutes. And so when we talk about the things of the cargo, folks coming in, we have people who are coming in who are being smuggled in, and it's being identified weekly, monthly. So we appreciate your interest and we look forward to you coming.
The last part of my question has to do with interoperability. In your directives, we -- as a Congress, we talked about the Office of Emergency Communications, which Congress felt was a focal point to be included in your department. I can tell you right now we don't have local, state and federal government that has a clear interoperable channel, so that if a disaster happens, we can communicate and effectively work together.
You do talk about radio technology in your material. But talk about your commitment of the Office of Emergency Communications with interoperability.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, OEC obviously requires a real focus. And it's also a key issue with our relationships with state and locals.
I think we need a fresh look, and that is, interoperability among whom? Is it the police officer and the fire department who's responding? Is it their commanders? Is it higher up? Because I think one of the problems has been this paradigm that if everybody isn't interoperable all the time, you don't have interoperability. Who needs to be talking with whom in radio? But also we need to be looking at computer interoperability or intersection, so other areas as well. So I intend to focus on this. This was a key frustration that I had as governor.
But one of the things I found was for emergency response situations, we had -- for example, we used Homeland Security money to purchase vans that could be driven anywhere, and they were mobile communication vans and they were a patch between different responders.
I just saw one -- I was in Kansas last week and saw some of those vans that were moved there, and I was in Kentucky and saw moved there, because Kentucky, in its ice storms, they lost their telecommunications system. So these vans were brought in and within hours were set up to provide that sort of coverage.
So I think we need to really look at some of these other methodologies that are available and say, "Okay, let's define what we mean by interoperability, what technologies we can use, and whether we can do and get functional interoperability more quickly than what we've been given so far."
REP. RICHARDSON: Thank you, Madame Secretary. You're a welcome sight.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you very much.
Mr. McCaul of Texas, ranking member on the Intelligence Subcommittee, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Thank you, Madame Chairman.
And Madame Secretary, congratulations to you in your new position, and I think you bring a wealth of experience to this job that I look forward to working with you. Being a former U.S. attorney, state attorney general, governor of a border state, I feel like I have something in common with you. I was a federal prosecutor, worked in the AG's office, worked in Texas, in a border state. So I think you have an appreciation for a lot of the same issues we have.
I appreciate your comments about the intelligence, the eyes and ears on the ground being important, and that information coming back to the federal government is an important piece.
Secondly, last year we -- I was ranking member on the Cybersecurity Subcommittee. We issued a report, a recommendation to the 44th president, Mr. Obama. We say the appointment of Melissa Hathaway as the cyber directorate, if you will, was a great choice. And we look forward to working with you and her on that issue as well. I hope you'll give that report that CSIS produced at least a read.
Two quick issues; Mexico. The governor of my state just called today for 1,000 troops to be dispatched to the border. The violence has increased; over 5,000 deaths last year, more than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
It is a state of war.
I congratulate, commend President Calderon for his efforts to bring the cartels to justice.
I hope you will consider, along with the Merida Initiative, also a funding on our side of the border for increased Border Patrol, ICE, and the sheriffs that you alluded to, who I think provide a vital role.
With the limited -- and if you'd like to comment on that in your response, I'd love to hear that.
Lastly, I just want to mention Guantánamo. We had the first delegation down to Guantanamo since the executive order was signed to close the base. I know that you were on the review committee.
And I just want to give you my observations, and I hope you'll take those to heart as you make this very difficult decision.
We did go down there. What we saw was, I think, similar to what the Pentagon's report issued, pursuant to the president's order, and that was no evidence of torture. There was -- and in compliance with the Geneva Convention. And the facility itself is probably better than most federal prisons I've seen in the United States.
So having said that, we know in that facility there are some very dangerous people. In fact, the top al Qaeda leadership we know are down there, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. That gives me grave concern as we decide how to go forward with Guantánamo.
I hope this administration will give careful consideration and exercise caution on the decision as to where to move these individuals. I'm very concerned, as a former prosecutor, that some of these individuals could, in fact, get into -- if they're moved into the United States and they go through the federal court system, the federal rules of evidence would allow them to get released because of perhaps relying on intelligence information to prosecute, or relying on confessions that may not come into evidence.
And then we'd be stuck with a situation where some of these very dangerous actors would be released onto the streets into the United States. And that's a result I would like to avoid.
And I hope you'll -- and I know you share that concern, and I hope you'll take into consideration, as you weigh how to deal with that challenge.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, yes, thank you. And pursuant to an executive order by the president, we are -- I am part of a review committee that is going case-by-case. And as you recognized, there are some difficult decisions that need to be made with respect to the detainees in Guantánamo.
And with respect to Governor Perry's call for troops, I look forward to speaking with him directly -- I read about it as well in the clips -- in terms of what he's anticipating.
Is he asking for a renewal of Operation Jump Start, for example? Are there specific places he would like to see those troops placed as a backup to civilian law enforcement?
And always, we -- always the balance we're striking, we do not want to militarize the border, but what help is he thinking that they could provide? So I look forward to talking with Governor Perry about that.
REP. MCCAUL: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you very much. The chair now recognizes Ms. Kirkpatrick, a new member from Arizona, for five minutes.
REP. ANN KIRKPATRICK (D-AZ): Thank you, Madam Chairman, and welcome, Secretary.
As governor, I know you made securing our border one of your top priorities, providing additional funding and even the help of the National Guard to address this issue.
However, it seems like that has not been enough at the federal level, and the situation at the border is actually getting worse.
Recent reports say that the Arizona and other borders are seeing a record number of abductions, including Americans taken right out of their homes. Just this last week, several publications have reported that battles using machine guns and grenades are being waged near the border and that this may soon push north as well.
We must do whatever we can to prevent this and minimize the threat as best we can. Now that you have the tools of the federal government at your disposal, how do you see your Department addressing this growing concern?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you. And, again, it is a grave concern.
It's at several levels. One is interaction with Mexican law enforcement, particularly the federal government of Mexico, and dealing -- really addressing the fact that he's got a drug war on his hands, and it's a big one.
Secondly is looking at, government-wide, at what we can do to stop the southbound export of weaponry, particularly assault-type weapons and grenades that are being used in that drug war.
The third is to stay in constant touch with local law enforcement, sheriffs and the like, along that border. And should they identify gaps that they have or they see, to identify what we can do to help fill those gaps.
And fourth is to have a contingency plan to deal with worst-case scenarios.
REP. KIRKPATRICK: Thank you, Secretary. I look forward to working with you on this Committee.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. HARMAN: I thank the members for taking less time than is allotted. That's appreciated. It's kind of rare.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That's an Arizona trait.
REP. KIRKPATRICK: (Chuckles.) Yes. We're brief and concise.
REP. HARMAN: I appreciate that very much.
The very patient Mr. Souder of Indiana is recognized for five minutes.
REP. MARK SOUDER (R-IN): And thank you for your patience today and for dealing with all the committees here in Congress.
One of the biggest challenges you have is that the day-to-day operations of your agency don't necessarily square with the reason why your agency was created. The Coast Guard's trying to get tipped-over sailboats and protect fisheries. The -- immigration is a huge thing to the Border Patrol and to ICE. FEMA's running around dealing with tornadoes, sometimes in my district, and floods in my district.
And yet the reason FEMA is in your agency isn't because of tornadoes and floods; it's there in case we have a catastrophic -- because only Homeland could coordinate something like that.
Coast Guard's there -- to interdict terrorists and narcotics and things related to terrorism. Border Patrol and ICE, the same way, in that it's important that in what's perceived as a little bit of backpedaling on focus on terrorism, that doesn't turn into wholesale retreat.
The primary purpose -- and you're the only person -- even though my district is the number one manufacturing district in the United States, each Silverado or Sierra pickup has 100 border crossings in Canada. That's, number one, a responsibility of the Department of Commerce.
You need to work with them, but at the table, if something happens like a 9/11 incident or something else, they're going to turn to you and say, what happened?
And that it's -- in our Committee, we need to make sure we back you up, as that's the number one reason there's a Homeland Security Department, is to focus on terrorism in particular and not lose focus, even if everybody else in the whole country starts to lose focus.
Because it's our responsibility that -- on a couple of related issues that I've raised some concerns here and, as you heard, I'm ranking member on Border with Congresswoman Sanchez.
And I'm concerned that counternarcotics is not as much in the administration plans or in some of the committee plans. And yet we've had 20 (thousand) to 30,000 people a year die because of illegal narcotics in the United States, or 160,000 since 9/11.
And that you have the bulk of the agents that deal with this -- Border Patrol, Coast Guard, and ICE -- that these things, in meeting with President Calderon last week on Tuesday and talking with him and the attorney general about the guns and the narcotics and the kidnappings and the problems in Phoenix, as well as Mexicali and over in Texas, these things are very interrelated.
And counternarcotics is heavily focused in your agency. Now, if you don't get enough time here to address my three questions, I'd appreciate a written kind of what's your philosophy towards are you committed to being even more aggressive in counternarcotics, especially since it's the number one border violence issue, number one domestic violence issue, and is largely the same groups as are doing other financing -- terrorism, kidnapping and any kind of smuggling, because these different groups, cartels, are controlling the different sections of the border.
Second question: You were supportive of the National Guard, as governor. You just mentioned Operation Jump Start. We heard about Governor Perry's request.
Do you support -- because rumor is there's still a hole here or there along the border that -- do you support using the National Guard along that border?
Thirdly, the REAL ID Act has been one of the most critical parts of the ability to do intel tracking. If you don't know who the person is, if you can't sort that basic thing out, it's impossible to get good identification of who they're hooking up with, who needs to be monitored and for what risk level.
You expressed some concerns about the REAL ID Act in the past, and I'd be interested to hear how you see that moving forward.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you.
And in terms of counternarcotics, dealing with these drug cartels as they are organized in Mexico is really the organized crime fight of the Southwestern United States. And that's how I dealt with it as a prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office. That's how I dealt with it as an attorney general, as I dealt with it as governor.
You have to go after the money. You have to interrupt that chain of money that goes in the millions of dollars back and forth with these cartels.
You've got to go after the traffickers; you've got to have the tools to work from the low level to the high level and try to interrupt and interdict their operations.
We have a demand-side issue on the United States side. The drugs are coming in because of demand for illegal drugs. I look forward to working with the ONDCP, among others, to see what we can do about that particular problem, because it's a supply issue; it's also a demand issue.
With respect to the issue of terrorism, there's no one more conscious than I am about the reason for this Department, why it was stood up, and what our fundamental responsibilities are.
And it is something that guides our decisions and actions every day.
With respect to REAL ID -- the problem with REAL ID were several fold. One is it was stood up without adequate consultation with governors who actually deal with the nuts and bolts of how do you handle drivers' licenses. So there were a lot of just implementation issues. And secondly, there was no money put behind it. And it was budgeted and it's very expensive to do.
And so what I am doing is working now with a group of the National Governors Association to say, what can we do and should we do now with the cooperation and consultation of governors -- of both parties, I might add -- to convert REAL ID into something that actually can happen on the ground and can happen on a real time basis.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you very much.
I hate to rush you or our questioners, but I'm trying to accommodate three more people, starting with the very mild mannered Mr. Pascrell of New Jersey for five minutes.
REP. BILL PASCRELL (D-NJ): Good luck to you, Madame Secretary. You know, you had two good people before you -- two competent people. The problem is that they very seldom presented things within the urgency of the time. And I suspect -- I suspect that that was driven by an administration that was not committed to the things that this committee was committed to on both sides of the aisle.
I'm glad that you are supportive of a bottom-up intelligence. I really support the U.K. model, which I think is important and critical. And rather than a top-down situation, which we've experienced.
We have a very serious problem on the southern border. And I believe, having been to Mexico with the chairman, in dealing with these matters there is no oversight, there is no enforcement, there is no urgency and there are very little resources. And it's very interesting that we did have the beginning of resources two years and they were cut off when they started to intercept weapons going from the states down to Mexico.
I want you to please think about that. I know it's -- we're not supposed to touch that issue on both sides of the aisle and apparently, we declared a recess. But people are getting killed and it's affecting America. And if we don't do something about that situation, then I can picture some day that situation being equal to the murderers who are preparing themselves in Pakistan at the epicenter of terror.
So I want to talk to you about first responders -- very close to my heart, obviously very close to your heart. Every year, the previous administration would submit a budget to the department for the Department of Homeland Security that would literally gut or try to zero out critical programs that deliver homeland security grants to local and state governments -- to our brave first responders.
Year after year, this committee -- on a bipartisan basis -- rejected those cuts and have indeed increased the budget allocations for these grants. And I'm talking the State Homeland Security Grant Program, the Community Oriented Police Service COPS programs, the staffing for adequate fire in an emergency response -- the SAFER Act. The grant program -- the assistance to firefighters grant program. I'm very familiar with those, and I know you are too -- God bless you -- same situation every year without exception.
So Madame Secretary, with President Obama's overview budget plan coming out tomorrow -- the overview of the budget anyway -- can you commit to this committee right now that this administration will not try to gut or eliminate these vital and successful -- successful grant programs that go directly to our local communities and first responders, circumvent the bureaucracies and anybody trying to take off from the top -- can you commit to this committee about that today?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: You'll find no one more supportive of those grants than I am. And I can commit to you that we are operating under that assumption.
One of the things that I want to do -- and I will be happy to work with you on -- I think now, particularly on some of the first responder grants that were used, for example, to purchase equipment, we need to be looking at what we are doing to fund sustainability -- replacement, repairs, proper training of people to operate equipment. In other words, all of these efforts need to be part and parcel of the web and weave of what we do for our homeland security, not just this year, but moving on forward.
And sometimes I think -- I fear that grant programs are not written or designed with long-term sustainability in mind.
So, as now the four-week secretary of Homeland Security, I will share with you that one of the things I'm looking at is what are we doing to make sure that we're not just providing for the beginning of something but really for its long-term success.
REP. PASCRELL: And just in completion, Madame Chair, I just wanted to say this. Before we spend any money and increase personnel anyplace, that we do what I think you suggested before, and that is have concepts in place and policy in place so it makes sense, and I think this is what's gotten us in problems in the past.
Thank you so much and good luck to you.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thanks.
REP. HARMAN: Mr. Cao of Louisiana is now recognized for five minutes.
REP. ANH "JOSEPH" CAO (R-LA): Thank you, Madame Chair. First of all, I would like to thank you, Secretary Napolitano, for being here. And I'm from the Second District of Louisiana, which is comprised mainly of New Orleans and part of the West Bank. And as you know, the district was very much devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the district remains pretty much devastated three-and-a-half years after Katrina, so one of my main concerns obviously is the rebuilding of the district. And we have delved into the issues of efficiency of FEMA and accountability of FEMA, so I'm very much encouraged by your statement today about looking at the leadership and the transparency with respect to how FEMA operates.
We have done some investigations lately with respect to the TRO offices down in New Orleans, and we found some very serious problem there -- allegations of cronyism, allegations of nepotism, of ethics violations, of significant equal employment opportunity abuses, of sexual harassment, and I believe all of these issues interfere with the rebuilding of the district. And I'd like to know whether or not you are going to implement a system to oversee some of these offices and to hold, if these allegations are true, people accountable for these allegations?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, I can't speak to those specific allegations. That's the first I've heard of some of those, but we will obviously follow up. But, yes, my goal is to have a process in place by which the Gulf Coast can continue its rebuilding efforts by which we facilitate the resolution of disputed claims and by which we take and use the opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes to look at some of the disputes that have clogged up the system, as it were, to see what we can do to expedite people being housed, small businesses being restarted, and people's lives being restored to the extent possible.
I'll be traveling there, as you know, next week with the secretary of HUD, in part so that we can not only exchange information but see with our own eyes what needs further to be done.
REP. CAO: I would love to accompany you in your trip. And I have one more question with respect to the Stafford Act. Post-Katrina we have learned that the Stafford Act does not adequately address the issue of devastation with respect to -- at the level of Katrina. Actually, maybe the Stafford Act might be adequate for smaller disasters, but at the level of Katrina there are certain inadequacies and limitations to the Stafford Act. Do you have plans to review the Stafford Act and look at possible ways to amend the act in order to address disasters as large as Katrina?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Once there is a new administrator of FEMA, I think one of the things we would seek to do is not look at the Stafford Act, or not just look at the Stafford Act, but regulations, policies and procedures that have been layered up over time to carry out the Stafford Act. And the goal obviously is to see what needs to happen so that not just for the immediate emergency response, but really where the most complaints are now is in the long-term recovery area, and what needs to be done in terms of improving the process, the facilitation of long-term recovery for areas. It can be Texas, it can be Galveston, it can be the Gulf Coast -- other areas that have been devastated by disaster.
REP. CAO: Thank you very much.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you very much. The chair now recognizes Mr. Himes of Connecticut for five minutes.
REP. JAMES HIMES (D-CT): Thank you, Madame Chairwoman, and welcome, Madame Secretary. Thanks very much for being with us today. A couple of quick questions for you. I am very interested -- I come from a state that doesn't have county government and so I'm very interested to hear you perhaps expand a little bit on your comments around interoperability and communications. It's a very serious issue for my first responders -- fire, police, et cetera. And I appreciated what you said about being very precise about who's talking to whom and really what we mean when we're talking about interoperability.
I wonder if you could provide just a bit more detail on how you are thinking or how the department is thinking about interoperability as it affects first responders, particularly in those areas of the country that don't have county or other regional structures.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: You know, that's an interesting point. I didn't recognize that Connecticut didn't have counties.
REP. HIMES: Well, we do have counties but there's no county government.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: You know, we live in a wonderful country. (Laughter.) There are lots of variations here.
Rather than give a premature answer, let me just say that as we put forward or really begin re-looking at interoperability, I'll be happy to keep you and the committee apprised of our efforts.
REP. HIMES: Thank you. I appreciate that, and it really is sort of particularly sharp when we don't have regional or governmental structures, as we don't in Connecticut.
And I promise I'm coming in under five minutes, so my second question is, it's my understanding that you're reviewing the department's efforts to implement the 100 percent maritime screening recommendations mandated by the implementing resolutions around the 9/11 Commission Act. I wonder, can you give us a sense of what you've learned so far and what you expect with respect to completing your review?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, as I already shared with the committee, I think the 2012 deadline for 100 percent screening is difficult if not impossible to attain, given where we are on screening right now. There are many issues. For example, there are literally hundreds of agreements that would have to be reached with foreign countries to get to a 100-percent screening regimen. That being the case, what I'm doing is really looking at, well, what needs to happen, how fast can it happen, what's it going to cost to happen, what's the value added to our security if it happens, how do we protect the lives and the people of the United States? And I cannot give you a timeline on when that review is going to be complete. What I can tell you is I know that it is key concern of this committee, so I have asked a number of people to get involved in that so we can move it right along.
REP. HIMES: Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that, and I thank you on behalf of the people of my district for taking this job. It's an enormous challenge, and hats off. Thank you very much.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thanks.
REP. HIMES: I yield the balance of my time.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Himes.
Madame Secretary, let me just point out that on interoperability, the reason we're going through this DTV transition right now -- some folks listening in might wonder why this is happening -- is to free up analogue spectrum, the 700-megahertz band, for a national interoperable communications capability. And as one from a state that has a lot of wildfires, I'm not sure that that bridging technology you mention, which is these flatbed trucks with the ACU1000 integrators can get to the scene surrounding these fires in time, given all the blockages. So we really do need, I believe, some additional bandwidth and some strategies beyond just this bridging technology.
But we can pursue it later, and I have abused the time of two final members, so let me first recognize Mr. Lujan of New Mexico for five minutes.
REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D-NM): Thank you very much, Madame Chair. Madame Secretary, it's great to see you again here. And I can tell you, as a governor who has a certain appreciation for my great state of New Mexico, it's great to have you serving in the capacity, and appreciate your commitment to public service.
Madame Secretary, I share the concerns of many of my colleagues with what's happening down in Mexico with the battles that we're having with the drug cartels, but I would ask you also, do not forget some of the problems that we're also encountering in some of the boundaries of our sovereign nations around the country where they're seeing how they can exploit some of the laws to be able to traffic in those areas, and that we remember that when we're looking and we're bringing the support that we need to the border, that we also include some of the leaders within our sovereign nations around the country as well.
The passion that my friend and colleague, Mr. Pascrell, shares for our first responders as well, to remember the work that they truly do when we make the distinction between FEMA and what our first responders truly do, that we do have the commitment that they get the resources they need, so they not only keep us safe, but that they can get home safely to their families after they put their lives on the line on a daily basis.
I'd like to shift, though, Madame Secretary, to an area where I know that we have to pay some special attention as well with the multiple interdependent infrastructures that we depend on daily. A disruption of our transportation, energy, communication, health or economic networks would threaten the stability of other networks around the country. Of particular note is the vulnerability of the smart grid system, transmission systems of the country communications, and the cyber attacks that we're seeing on a daily basis. Los Alamos, the National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories in my home state, have leveraged existing research and development activities to establish the National Infrastructure, Simulation and Analysis Center.
The NISAC utilizes simulation previously known but unknown in some areas, and a secure scientific computing environment to discover previously unknown relationships to develop insights about possible infrastructure vulnerabilities. The center would also help policymakers like us to prepare for disasters or terrorist attacks, but would also help first responders gauge the extent of the damage as the incident was ongoing. We heard today about concerns that we have with areas that are prone to natural disaster concerns on our borders, and where we can make sure that we have some technology that exists today to be able to fully deploy it.
I was curious, Madame Secretary, if you could comment on your plan for protecting our electric grid from cyber attacks, what we're going to be doing in this specific area, and if your department has considered how it plans to implement the NISAC program.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, thank you, and New Mexico of course is the state I grew up in so I have a lot of fondness for your state and for your district. In terms of protection of the grid, this goes to the larger question of protection of infrastructure. And we saw it in dramatic fashion three weeks ago in Kentucky where the ice storm took out the electric power for almost 50 percent of the population, and the total telecommunications network, because the towers all buckled under the ice. We did use the mobile trucks there, by the way, and I wasn't suggesting they should be an exclusive solution, but they are part and parcel of rethinking what we really need with the broadband. But one of the things we are working on -- and this is where we need to have greater connectivity with the private sector. They own these structures. They own these utilities. So we need to work together on a protection plan.
Where some of this computer modeling is very helpful is not just in terms of protection but in terms of consequence identification and management, so that we can better prepare our first responders and so forth, because sometimes the consequences themselves are inordinately complicated and involve many, many layers of the private sector, the public sector and the like. So that is an area that we're going to very much be pursuing. We'll be pursuing it through our national planning office and all that capacity that you all have helped build within the department.
REP. LUJAN: Thank you. And, Madame Secretary, I know our time is short, and I look forward to hearing you later on this week on some of these other issues that we'll have a chance to discuss, but I would just also encourage you -- I know that we have so much phenomenal research that's taking place in our laboratories across the country, some of which is being tested in airports. You mentioned Albuquerque Airport, where we have some technology which is currently on a trial run, which is a scanning machine that adapts magnetic residence imaging techniques to identify concealed liquids and substances, and I just would want to encourage you that we take advantage of this research and technology as we work to protect our nation. Thank you.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. LUJAN: Thank you, Madame Chair.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Mr. Lujan. Just so members are alerted, votes are coming up in 10 minutes, and we have one more questioner, Ms. Lofgren from California -- one of four California women on this committee.
REP. : Wow.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Madame Secretary, I come from Santa Clara County, and you, I'm sure, already know that people in Santa Clara County are quite thrilled with your appointment, and the University of Santa Clara is especially proud that you are where you are. I look forward to working with you on the many, many issues that the department faces.
I want to raise one issue today, and I don't expect that you will necessarily know the answer because I just found out about it and you may not know about it either, and although immigration policy and non- border enforcement are primarily the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee, I want to raise it here today to avoid having another appearance by you or someone else.
The Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act, as you know, requires that the government have a reasonable ground to suspect that a person is not in the United States legally before that person is detained. And there has been concern that that requirement has not always been adhered to in the past number of years. Yesterday -- and I think this is the first time this has happened since the Obama administration, I am advised by reports as well as the Seattle Times that ICE agents did raid a small company in Bellingham, Washington. Seventy-five ICE agents in riot gear at 9:00 a.m. raided the plant and detained 126 workers -- most of them were United States citizens -- and held them for a number of hours.
I am concerned about -- obviously we need to enforce our laws. No one disagrees with that -- but there is concern that Americans have repeatedly, in the past years, been held in some cases for 10 and 11 hours against their will, and it does not seem to comport with the requirements of the law or the Constitution. So if you have something to say on that now, I would welcome it. If you want to research it, I would certainly understand, but I would hope to get some information about that specific instance and what our efforts are going to be to make sure that as we enforce the law we also live within the law.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, I was briefed about that action early this morning, and I did now know about it beforehand. So I've asked a number of questions about what was the predicate for this. Now, there's a lot of different allegations going around -- was it 70, was it 40, was it 30; what were they wearing? There were earlier allegations that helicopters were used. They were not. But I want to get to the bottom of this as well, so I've already issued those directives to ICE to get me some answers.
Let me just close with this: In my view, we have to do workplace enforcement. It needs to be focused on employers who intentionally and knowingly exploit the illegal labor market. That has impacts on American workers, it has impacts on wage levels, often has undue impacts on the illegal workers themselves, and our ICE efforts should be focused on those sorts of things and we should really have thought through the prosecutions that are going to result and the deportations that will result after any sort of workforce action. So that is the direction in which we seek to move.
REP. LOFGREN: Let me just mention quickly two other items -- and I know that you have other obligations and we have a vote coming -- and they really have to do with three things: one, the national infrastructure protection. I'll tell you now -- you don't have to agree -- the list is inadequate. And in order to adequately protect our infrastructure, we really need to have a map of what it is and also what vulnerabilities there are for cascading failures across that infrastructure. We don't have it, we've never had it, and I'm just hoping that as you move forward in this very important job -- there are tremendous resources, mentioned by Mr. Lujan, in the national laboratories, to assist in this. Lawrence is one of them, as well as the lab in New Mexico, which has a -- and they are -- I've talked with them and worked with them. They are way ahead of where our department is on some of this and are a wonderful resource -- I wanted to mention that to you -- as well as in the cyber security area where we have tremendous vulnerabilities, and we, in my judgment, are not nearly where we need to be.
And a final note: I am so concerned -- and you mentioned it -- about the arms flowing south into Mexico. We've met with members of the Mexican Congress, with the attorney general of Mexico. I mean, they are at a point where the very existence of civil society and government at Mexico is at risk. And I think as a priority for our department -- I mean, ICE has jurisdiction also over that. I can't imagine the refugee crisis that will be at our door if we don't do a more effective job of cutting off the flow of arms. So I look forward to working with you on that.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you very much, Ms. Lofgren. I would like to thank Secretary Napolitano for staying an extra half hour to accommodate member questions, and Ms. Titus of Nevada for forgoing her questions in the interests of promptly wrapping up and anticipating the next vote.
Let me just observe, as one member here said, quote, "She's a well-trained lawyer, but she can speak to the general public." Those are usually inconsistent activities. (Laughter.) As a lawyer myself, I would observe that. And we appreciate the fact that you came ready to answer a range of questions and that you have a lot of other issues under review. This will be an ongoing process. Sorry, Mr. Green (sp), we're closing down the hearing. But if the committee has additional questions for you, we would ask you to respond expeditiously in writing to those questions, so I assume that would be fine.
Having no further business, the committee stands adjourned. (Sounds gavel.)
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.