Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Update on Today’s HS Markup Hearing

The House Homeland Security Committee web site shows that there will now be an amendment in the nature of a substitute (ANS) offered today by Rep. Hahn (D,CA) during the mark-up of HR 4005, the Gauging American Port Security (GAPS) Act today.

The requirement for the production of a classified report on the current gaps in port security is being modified somewhat in the ANS. While the report will still be classified DHS is also being required to produce an ‘unclassified annex’ to the report {§2b}. Presumably this will allow for sharing of some of this information with the public, though such annexes rarely see the lite of day.

This still doesn’t deal with the issue of over classification of information that so many of Ms Hahn’s Democratic colleagues on the Homeland Security Committee have been decrying over the years. Port security is specifically addressed under the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) Program. That program provides the security requirements for documents of this sort as sensitive but unclassified documents rather than classified. The public still won’t see the information, but port security personnel will be better able to access the appropriate information.

One would suspect that Ms. Clarke (D,NY) or Ms. Jackson-Lee (D,TX), both leading opponents of over-classification, would offer an amendment to this bill to change the ‘classified’ report to a ‘PCII’ report. They certainly would if the bill had been authored by a Republican.

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