A decade after Sept. 11 attacks, Homeland Security leaders reflect on progress

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Wednesday looped industry leaders into the See Something, Say Something messaging campaign by showing them new public service announcements for their company websites.

The public awareness movement, which was launched by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now is ubiquitous in the Washington area, encourages everyday people to report incidents that raise suspicions of terrorism. As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, the department has been praising the public's vigilance for keeping other potential attackers at bay.

Speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, Napolitano noted that city workers in Spokane, Wash., likely thwarted a deadly bombing on Martin Luther King Day when they reported a backpack, later found to contain explosives, along a parade route. In another example of business community intervention she cited, a gun store owner near Fort Hood, Texas, prevented a potential attack against U.S. troops by calling authorities when he spotted an individual in his shop behaving oddly.

"When you return home to your businesses and your communities, you can share the PSAs with your colleagues, with your employees, and you can help us reach an even broader audience by showing them in your own venues, by showing them in things like stores, businesses that you operate, linking them to company websites," she said.

The online videos show a woman leaving behind a bag on a bench at a train station and, outside the station, a man planting what appears to be a wireless-enabled bomb in the trunk of car. Passersby pause when they notice these actions and, at the end of each segment, notify security.

The government's policy is that only reports documenting "behavior reasonably indicative of criminal activity related to terrorism" will be shared with federal agencies such as the FBI.

But privacy groups say witnesses do not have the proper training to discern between a suspect from a terrorist group photographing a bridge and a person from a tourist group photographing a bridge.

"We are concerned about moving the program beyond law enforcement," said Michael German, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and a former FBI special agent. "They are specifically being told, 'Don't make your own determination. Report it all.' What is likely to happen is people are going to report people they are already biased against." He fears the campaign will open the door for racial profiling.

Meanwhile, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who also was in attendance on Wednesday, said he was "agitated" that the government has failed, after 10 years, to create a way for public safety officers to talk to each other and share data on a reliable network during an emergency.

"I think it's a national disgrace," he said. "It's simply unbelievable in my mind that on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 , knowing what transpired at the Twin Towers and knowing the inability of these men and women who rushed in to save the lives of other Americans and international visitors and citizens, were unable to communicate."

Senate leaders had been pressing to dedicate a hunk of broadband spectrum known as the D-block to first responders before Sept. 11, 2011. But their plan ran up against resistance from some House Republicans who want to auction off the airwaves to broadcasters.

"We have the capacity. We have the technology," said Ridge, now a private security consultant. "What we don't have is the political courage and the focus of trying to help these men and women who we celebrate with speeches."

German suggested the money funding the See Something campaign perhaps could go toward communications hardware or radios to assist first responders. "There are certainly better ways to spend the money that is spent on this program," he said.

NEXT STORY: President Obama joins Foursquare

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.