Janet Napolitano: Aviation is Biggest Terror Target

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Terrorists continue to target aviation more than any other U.S. vulnerability, according to Department of Homeland Securiy secretary Janet Napolitano.

As the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks draw near, she said she expects Americans to question whether or not we are safer now than a decade ago. "The answer is yes, but there are no guarantees in a world of ever-evolving threats," she told the Associated Press.

The nature of terrorist threats is indeed evolving. The emphasis rests less on the fear that a nuclear weapon might fall into the hands of terrorists, as was a major concern in the days immediately following 9/11. Rather, it is unknown terror operatives that have officials fearful.

And what of all those TSA patdowns, full-body scanners and other security measures that Americans gripe about? It's for a reason: "Aviation continues to be the most-often referenced intel that we receive," said Napolitano.

In reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government staged its largest reorganization in years and amped up spending to bolster our terror defenses. The Department of Homeland Security, which came out of that, was a merger of more than 20 agencies.

A report released Thursday by the department reports the progress Homeland Security is making towards the implementation of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission – a third of which were directed at DHS. Napolitano tells the AP that her department has made "significant progress."

Some Americans complain that the security measures they are forced to endure serve little purpose other than inconvenience. But, that's not entirely the case according to the report. For instance:

Passenger Name Record Data helped identify individuals with terrorist ties in 3,000 cases. And, in 2010, about a quarter of individuals denied entry into the country for terrorist ties were identified through PNR.

Since 2010, through pre-departure vetting, Customs and Border Protection identified more than 2,800 passengers who would have likely been admissible upon arrival in the U.S.

But, the co-chairmen of the commission believe there's more work to be done by DHS, which could do more in terms of streamlining first responder disaster communication, as well as instituting a biometric system to track foreigners leaving the U.S.

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