Langevin Calls for Homeland Security Threat, Vulnerability Assessment

Jul 14, 2005

(Warwick, R.I.)–Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack, joined other Committee Democrats today in issuing the Protecting America Against Terrorists report, which outlines the case for a comprehensive reorganization of DHS. The report was prepared in response to yesterday’s announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff of several proposed changes at DHS intended to streamline and improve the Department’s functions and capabilities.

“While I appreciated learning the outcome of Secretary Chertoff’s long-awaited review of the Department, it is obvious that changes are still needed to make our citizens safe,” said Langevin. “A primary frustration of mine is that critical decisions are being made in the absence of a reliable threat and vulnerability assessment. I understand the complexities of this undertaking, and I am sure many people are working hard to complete the task. Nevertheless, I find it unfathomable that these assessments are still being cobbled together, while at the same time we’re allocating scarce resources year after year without a meaningful basis for our decisions.”

Langevin will continue to push for answers as to who is now ultimately responsible for the completion and dissemination of this threat and vulnerability assessment under the proposed reorganization, and when it is expected to be finished. He also plans to ask for more details about the Secretary’s proposal to create a Chief Intelligence Officer to coordinate intelligence functions at DHS.

“While I think creation of a Chief Intelligence Officer is a promising development, many questions remain about the role and responsibility of this new department-wide officer,” Langevin continued. “We need a more complete understanding of how this officer will interact with the newly-appointed Director of National Intelligence, what authority he or she will have over intelligence offices in other agencies within DHS, and how information will be shared with state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.”

The Democrats’ 13-page report also covers issues including border security, privacy protections, and making ground transportation a priority of the Transportation Security Administration.

"Going forward, we also must make certain we are paying appropriate attention to our railroad and mass transit systems in an effort to make them as safe a possible,” stated Langevin in the report. “In addition to advocating for the long-overdue national transportation security plan, I will continue to press for dedicated transit and rail security funding as well as money to ensure that our citizens are better prepared."