New Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, in Charlotte yesterday for his first meeting with top advisers from government and industry, wants his agency to do a better job prioritizing the dangers terrorists pose, says the Charlotte Observer. He met with the Homeland Security Advisory Council, a group created by predecessor Tom Ridge, that includes governors, mayors, CEOs and a former CIA director.
Chertoff said Charlotte was a good city for his first visit because it has several security risks — from two nuclear power plants to the nation’s No. 2 banking center — and is dealing well with them. Chertoff got to see the city’s new command post at police headquarters and a $1.5 million mobile hospital — touted as the only one of its kind in the world — that was bought with homeland security grants. The council told Chertoff more needs to be done to protect vital infrastructure, from pipelines to power lines to fiber optic phone lines. About 80 percent of critical facilities, such as power plants and financial centers, are privately owned. Companies have made improvements in protecting their assets since Sept. 11, but in a largely scattershot way, said Ruth David, president of ANSER, a public service research institution and a former CIA official.