Sunday, March 26, 2006

Homeland security group to meet away from public eye


--- update A new advisory committee in the Homeland Security Department is free to disregard a law designed to keep meetings open and proceedings public, according to a departmental notice.

The newly created Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council is charged with sharing information aimed at protecting the nation's infrastructure, cybercomponents included. Michael Chertoff, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, cited security reasons when he signed off on exempting the council from the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA.

The decision, which many private-sector players had strongly recommended, was released in a departmental notice published Friday.

The council, which plans to meet at least quarterly, will bring together various federal agency employees and private-sector representatives to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's infrastructure protection plan, which remains in draft form. The fields represented range from agriculture and energy to information technology and telecommunications. Participants include the U.S. Telecom Association, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Internet infrastructure services provider VeriSign.


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