Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSHAC) personnel, spearheaded by Chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), noted they recently convened a hearing to explore expanding homeland security threats.
“More than 20 years ago, the September 11th terrorist attacks changed our nation forever,” Peters said during hearing opening remarks. “In response, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and our entire national security apparatus focused on keeping Americans safe from international terrorism. However, in the more than two decades following those attacks, the threats to our communities have evolved and have become increasingly complex.”
Peters noted the scope and volume of the threats require Congress and the Administration to work together to ensure everything is done to keep Americans safe.
The hearing involved top national security and counterterrorism officials in examining the persistent threats, with Peters seeking insight from witnesses in the wake of a report he released determining DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are not adequately addressing the threat posed by domestic terrorism.
DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, FBI Director Christopher R. Wray, and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Director Christine Abizaid testified before the committee.
During the hearing, Peters pressed Mayorkas and Wray on the federal government’s inability to collect and report comprehensive data regarding domestic terrorist attacks despite being required by law to do so.
According to the committee, other issues addressed included increasing numbers of registered unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, creating a higher risk of both unintentional disasters or attacks using these technologies; and threats posed by chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons possessing the potential to cause mass casualties and incapacitation, to agricultural destruction.