July 22, 2009 - 5:08pm
By Sarah Ashey
Five years to the day the 9/11 Commission issued its report, the Homeland Security Department released a progress report outlining the advancements it has made.
The Commission identified intelligence failures occurring before the 2001 terrorist attacks. It also suggested recommendations to help prevent a similar attack.
Among DHS's new policies, initiatives and grants created since 9/11, the progress report reflects the department's focus on enhanced science and technology.
DHS says in a release it has increased transportation security by conducting 100 percent screenings for all checked and carry-on baggage through more than 500 explosive detection systems deployed to every major U.S. airport.
Passengers on all flights arriving in, departing from and within the United States also now are pre-screened prior to boarding a flight with their names being cross-checked against federal watch lists.
The original commission recommended that the U.S. improve its system for issuing identification documents and urged the government to set standards for the issuance of sources of identification.
Since then, DHS created the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). A result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, WHTI requires all travelers to use a passport or other WHTI compliant document to enter the United States.
DHS also recently asked Congress to replace the REAL program with the PASS ID, in an effort to enhance the security of driver's licenses. PASS ID, DHS says, would answer the privacy concerns the REAL ID Act raised.
DHS also created a methodology for allocating funds to states and cities based on risk.The system identifies areas eligible for homeland security grants based on threats to the area, population, economic output and prevalence of economic infrastructure.
DHS says it established new law enforcement agreements to improve collaboration and information sharing.
Most recently, DHS and the Justice Department signed an agreement to combat arms and drug trafficking.
DHS also designated 72 state and local Fusion Centers across the country as centralized sites for intelligence gathering and information sharing within their jurisdictions and with the federal government.
"The 9/11 Commission's recommendations have in many ways set the course for the Department's efforts to combat security threats," says DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"We have answered these challenges by building an agency far better equipped to combat terrorism, and we will continue to expand these capabilities as we move forward in our mission to keep America safe and secure."
On the Web:
DHS -- Press release
9/11 Commission -- Report