"Every time my phone rings at an odd time, I wonder if it's started," he says. Payne, chief of the Office for Bombing Prevention at the Homeland Security Department, is referring to terrorist bombings in the United States. For all the attention on potential dirty bombs, biological agents and chemical weapons, the tactic government leaders most expect terrorists to use in this country is the conventional explosive. "The attack weapon of choice still is the IED," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a Sept. 10 hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Payne has personal experience with improvised explosive devices; he served more than 20 years in the Navy, working in the explosive ordnance disposal field, where he eventually was commissioned as chief warrant officer in 1998. Like many EOD officers, Payne is tight-lipped about the details of that work, but he is vocal about what his office is doing now.
The Office for Bombing Prevention is part of the Infrastructure Protection section of DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate. One of its primary responsibilities is to coordinate all Homeland Security efforts on bombing, which includes 100 different programs, offices or activities.