DHS releases draft infrastructure protection plan

The Homeland Security Department this week issued an overarching draft plan for protecting the nation's critical infrastructure and key resources from terrorist attacks.

The public has until Dec. 5 to submit comments on the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, according to a notice in the Federal Register. The 175-page plan can be obtained by sending an e-mail to NIPP@dhs.gov. It also has been published by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

"The NIPP provides an integrated, comprehensive approach to addressing physical, cyber and human threats and vulnerabilities. It uses a risk-based approach to enhance security and mitigate the risk of terrorist attack to the nation," the document states.

The department was required to develop the plan under a presidential directive issued in December 2003. DHS released an interim version of the plan last February, and has added further detail to it since then, according to this week's announcement.

The plan has three principal goals: building security partnerships to develop protection programs for critical infrastructure and key resources; implementing a long-term, risk-reduction program; and maximizing efficient use of resources for critical infrastructure protection.

The document says Islamic terrorist organizations, specifically those within the Sunni extremist movement, are particular threats.

"The number of high-profile terrorist attacks that have occurred following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center underscore the determination and resiliency of Islamic extremist terrorist organizations that have declared war against the West," the plan states. "Such terrorists - namely those within the broader Sunni extremist movement, to include al Qaeda and its affiliated elements -- have proven to be relentless and patient, in addition to being opportunistic and flexible."

"Although our information about possible terrorist targets is incomplete, everything we do know about terrorist goals and motivations points to possible strikes against America's vast array of [critical infrastructure/key resources]," the plan says.

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