New homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano is re-evaluating the largest federal program for testing the country's ability to respond to terrorist attacks, says the New York Times. It is one of several Bush administration initiatives she has ordered to come under review. As Arizona governor, Napolitano sent a searing two-page letter to her predecessor as secretary, Michael Chertoff, complaining that a $25 million national exercise in October 2007, which she and 23,000 other federal, state and local emergency workers participated in, was too expensive, too long in planning and “too removed from a real-world scenario.” The exercise simulated a dirty-bomb attack on Phoenix and two other sites.
In her first weeks on the job, she has Napolitano has ordered a review of that program, formerly called TopOff (for “top officials”) and several others, including cybersecurity, a strategy for protecting the border with Canada, and the vulnerability of power plants and other critical infrastructure. The reviews reflect what homeland security analysts say is Napolitano's desire to apply her practical experiences as a border-state governor to several important homeland security policies. There have been four major exercises since 1998, simulating chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.