Published: Tue, February 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Sensitive Super Bowl anti-terror documents left on commercial plane

Sensitive Super Bowl anti-terror documents left on commercial plane

CNN said on its website it had delayed reporting about its discovery until after the game, at the request of federal officials.

The documents, which came from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) BioWatch programme, were meant to be kept locked up during business hours and shredded before being thrown away. A CNN employee found the December 2017 after-action review of a simulated anthrax attack in Minneapolis, marked "For Official Use Only", in the seat-back pocket of a commercial airplane.

The BioWatch programme is responsible for providing early detection of bioterrorism attacks, and helping communities prepare for such events. One government scientist apparently didn't do so, as a CNN employee found out on a recent commercial flight, the network reports.

CNN could not verify that it was Walter who left the docs on the plane, however.

Someone found sensitive government documents detailing anti-terrorism preparations for last night's Super Bowl.

Quarterback Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates following victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"It is important that operators regularly exercise their capabilities against a wide range of scenarios in order to effectively counter the changing threat environment", Houlton said. 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.

The Department of Homeland Security often conducts exercises with state and local governments to guard against national security threats, Tyler Houlton, acting press secretary of the department, said in a statement in response to a Reuters inquiry about the CNN report.

This "made it hard for them to assess whether their city was at risk", and "creates a situation where local officials are deciding on courses of action from limited points of view", the documents said, according to CNN.

"DHS lacks reliable information about BioWatch Gen-2's technical capabilities to detect a biological attack and therefore lacks the basis for informed cost-benefit decisions about possible upgrades or enhancements to the system", the report stated.

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