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Super Bowl anti-terrorism documents left on plane

Published: February 5, 2018
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Source: CNN

(CNN) The Department of Homeland Security documents critiquing the response to a simulated anthrax attack on Super Bowl Sunday were marked "For Official Use Only" and "important for national security."

Recipients of the draft "after-action" reports were told to keep them locked up after business hours and to shred them prior to discarding. They were admonished not to share their contents with anyone who lacked "an operational need-to-know."
 
But security surrounding the December 2017 reports suffered an embarrassing breach:
 
A CNN employee discovered copies of them, along with other sensitive DHS material, in the seat-back pocket of a commercial plane. The reports were accompanied by the travel itinerary and boarding pass of the government scientist in charge of BioWatch, the DHS program that conducted the anthrax drills in preparation for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
 
The reports were based on exercises designed to evaluate the ability of public health, law enforcement and emergency management officials to engage in a coordinated response were a biological attack to be carried out in Minneapolis on Super Bowl Sunday.
 
The exercises identified several areas for improvement, including the problem that "some local law enforcement and emergency management agencies possess only a cursory knowledge of the BioWatch program and its mission."
 
CNN decided to withhold publication of this article until after the Super Bowl after government officials voiced concerns that publishing it prior to the game could jeopardize security for the event. A DHS official told CNN that areas for improvement identified in the draft reports had been addressed prior to Sunday's game and that the agency had "great confidence" in its preparedness.

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