Lucky Journalist Found Classified US DHS Docs Jeopardizing Super Bowl

Eagles players

On Monday CNN said one of its employees accidentally obtained highly sensitive information from the Department of Homeland Security in the back seat of a commercial airliner - a claim the DHS has corroborated to TheWrap.

A CNN employee discovered the document in December along with a boarding pass and a travel schedule of a DHS BioWatch program manager.

The report specifically includes handling instructions that say, "At a minimum, this document should be stored in a locked drawer after business hours".

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

DHS is also looking into how the documents were left on the plane.

The Department of Homeland Security documents critiqued the response to a simulated anthrax attack on Super Bowl Sunday.

CNN held off on reporting about the incident and the documents until after the game, held Sunday in Minneapolis.

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.

"In the end, confidence in the federal government at a time of crisis is what the American public deserves".

CNN said that DHS officials also argued that disclosure of some material contained in the draft reports could threaten national security, regardless of when it was published.

There has been a drumbeat of criticism surrounding the BioWatch program since its inception in 2003.

The DHS did not respond to questions about whether the issues laid out in the report had been resolved before the game.

Officials conducted such exercises in July and November, as part of the Department of Homeland Security's BioWatch program, according to CNN. Among some of the findings listed in the documents were "differences of opinion" over how many people had been exposed.

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. The system had cost the USA government and estimated $1bn by 2013, according to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's oversight subcommittee.

The BioWatch program operates an aerosol detection system that is created to provide early warnings in the event of a biological attack, CNN reports.

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