Learning lessons from the Mumbai terror strikes, the Obama Administration has taken several steps in intelligence gathering and security infrastructure to thwart any similar attack on a major U.S. city, according to a top official.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the administration has taken several steps to make sure that terrorists do not strike soft targets.
“On the soft target issue, you’ll find most of that under the NPPD (National Protection and Programmes Directorate) and also in the private sector office. We’ve had a lot of outreach, we’ve had outreach with the hotel associations and the hotel operators in the past months,” Ms. Napolitano said.
Appearing before a key Congressional panel, she said that “over the holiday season, we met with the representatives of the 700 largest shopping malls in the country, and we also prepared and had online training for shopping mall employees on what to watch out or, what to look for, and the like.”
“That’s the kind of thing that provides direct assistance in the soft target environment that I think is very, very useful,” Ms. Napolitano told members of the House Homeland Security Committee on Friday.
Her remarks came in response to a question from Benny Thompson, Chairman of the Committee, who pointed out that in the wake of Mumbai attacks in 2008, “there was a real focus on the problem with soft targets” but that seems to have diminished now, though the threat has not diminished.
“Representing a community like Las Vegas... I would ask you to show me where in the budget, or explain what parts of the budget have some commitment to going back to that emphasis on the soft targets?” Mr. Thompson asked.
He had written a letter to Ms. Napolitano in this regard a couple of weeks ago.
“We’ve got a transient population. We’ve got thousands of visitors on any given day, a host of potential targets in the area, just so you can see how the public and private sectors are working together, and see how we might incorporate some more of that as part of our national policy,” he said.
Mr. Thompson had conducted a hearing on Mumbai terror strikes last year on what lessons the U.S. can learn from such an attack.