DHS Orders Increased Security at Federal Facilities

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Defense Department file photo

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday announced that he had ordered increased security at federal buildings in Washington and “other major cities and locations.”  

“The precise actions we are taking and the precise locations at which we will enhance security is law-enforcement sensitive, will vary and shift from location to location, and will be continually re-evaluated,” Johnson said in a statement.

The Federal Protective Service provides security for over 9,500 facilities owned or leased by the General Services Administration, through which 1.4 million visitors and workers pass daily, according to DHS.

“We are taking this action as a precautionary step, to safeguard U.S. government personnel and facilities, and the visitors to those facilities,” Johnson said, citing "the continued public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere, including against law enforcement and other government officials, and the acts of violence targeted at government personnel and installations in Canada and elsewhere recently."

In what Canadian officials have called a terrorist attack, a gunman on Oct. 22 shot and killed a soldier guarding Canada's National War Memorial in Ottawa before storming the Parliament building, where he was fatally shot by the sergeant at arms. 

Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, told CBS last week that he was more worried about a terrorist attack in the United States than he has been in a long time. “We have the self-radicalization problem ourselves. We’ve got the possibility that ISIS might send fighters here to conduct attacks. We still have al-Qaeda in Pakistan, al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Khorasan group planning attacks. And we have the fact that what Edward Snowden did has made it much more difficult for law enforcement and intelligence to track these guys, so we are at, I think, a very dangerous time here,” Morell said. 

Johnson said DHS was urging state and local governments, law enforcement personnel and critical infrastructure owners and operators to be aware of the potential for "small-scale attacks by a lone offender or a small group of individuals."

"Likewise, we continually urge the public at large to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to appropriate authorities,” Johnson said.

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