08:31 GMT +321 October 2019
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    US Department of Homeland Security

    DHS Treating Lost Super Bowl Attack Docs as 'Breach of Responsibilities'

    © AFP 2019 / MANDEL NGAN
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    Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke said on Wednesday that leaving sensitive DHS documents on a commercial plane is a breach of responsibility and that the case that occurred last week will be dealt with as a personnel matter.

    Sensitive Homeland Security documents based on drills for a biological warfare attack at the Super Bowl were discovered by a CNN employee in the seatback of a commercial plane prior to the event. A travel itinerary and boarding pass belonging to Michael V. Walter, who runs the DHS BioWatch Program, was found with the materials. The BioWatch program maintains an aerosol detection system, designed to alarm in case of a biological attack.

    The papers reportedly contained an analysis of the exercises, designed to boost the ability of local and federal public health and law enforcement to coordinate a response if a biological attack took place in Minneapolis on Super Bowl Sunday.

    During a roundtable discussion, Duke told Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee member Doug Jones (D-AL), that the documents were "old information."

    "It's what we tend to call a hot wash of what we see and what we're looking forward to," the deputy secretary said, adding that it was still a breach of their responsibilities.

    "The actual leaving of the documents we will be handling under a personnel matter, similar to anything else that is a breach of our responsibilities of our employees," she said, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

    Due to the risk of a terrorist attack, the DHS gave the Super Bowl a Level 1 special event assessment rating, the highest security designation available.

    The discovered DHS report, though not classified, was marked "for official use only" and "important for national security" and instructed recipients to keep it locked up after business hours and shred it before discarding.

    The documents revealed that during the drills, conducted in July and November, local health agencies were confused about the meanings of alerts that were issued. Those who participated in the exercises also had different opinions on how many people had been affected by the simulated anthrax attack and therefore how best to respond, according to the documents.


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