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The Private Sector's Antiterror Role
September 27, 2010
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In a frank talk to members of ASIS International's Houston chapter earlier this month, Del Mitchell, corporate security director for Citgo Petroleum Corp., said private and public sectors must share responsibilities for the antiterrorism effort.

While military and law enforcement are charged with the common defense, the private sector must bring strong prevention, detection and documentation measures to the effort.

As I note on the Security Squared site:

Speaking at the monthly ASIS Houston chapter meeting, Mitchell gave a sobering assessment of the existential terrorist threat to critical infrastructure in the U.S., citing the importance of layered security and hardened facilities, physical and electronic protection, and accurate and reliable reporting systems. While acknowledging that new government demands for increased security raise costs, Mitchell, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, emphasized the importance of compliance with Department of Homeland Security initiatives such the Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC) program and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), as well as provisions of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA).

Although Mitchell did not go into specific technology solutions, he implied that effective security will require functional interoperability of systems within the enterprise that will, in a major emergency, extend out to larger management, communications and reporting systems shared by private and public security, defense and emergency response agencies in the vicinity.

Still, he said, much of the private sector antiterror role lies in effective identification of threats, both to physical and cyber infrastructure. TWIC, for instance, strengthens identity management of port personnel. CFATS sets rules for managing dangerous chemicals and detecting accidental spills or deliberate tampering with equipment. 

Mitchell gave good marks to the energy sector in Houston for its response so far, stating that area companies "were doing pretty good." But he did not mince words about the threat that terrorism poses to the Port of Houston and other port facilities throughout the country, which DHS has identified as strategic targets. Houston itself is a center for international terrorist activity, he said. Central communications for the 2008 Mumbai bombings were served out of Houston. Operational planning was done in Houston for a coordinated assault against U.S. oil interests in the Middle East--attacks that were thwarted by the arrests in Saudi Arabia of some 113 Al Qaeda militants in March.

Also during his talk, Mitchell, who was a lead FBI investigator in Afghanistan during the first two years of Operation Enduring Freedom, described the three principal types of terrorist threats to critical infrastructure, and provided insight into each. For more, see the complete post here.

 

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