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Homeland Security's anti-terror Super Bowl plans left on plane

06 February 2018

Before you get off the plane, always check the seat-back pocket for your headphones, any magazines you might want, and those super-sensitive Homeland Security documents outlining how to protect Super Bowl attendees from an anthrax attack. The reports described exercises officials in Minneapolis could use to respond to a possible biological weapon attack during Sunday's game, according to CNN.

They were also told not to share the report's contents with anyone without "an operational need-to-know".

Still, there are other documents in the folder CNN retrieved that DHS has told them to keep under wraps, as they could "threaten national security".

CNN said a travel itinerary and boarding pass in the name of Michael V. Walter was found with the documents.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Walter is a microbiologist who has been the program manager of BioWatch since 2009. Created in 2001in response to the increased threat of bioterrorism, the program operates via a system of filters located within existing Environmental Protection Agency air filters that monitor air quality. Multiple government reports issued over the course of more than a decade have raised questions about its cost and effectiveness.

CNN said it notified DHS to let government officials know it found the documents.

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The report also stated that there were significant differences of opinion within the United States government about BioWatch. The news agency did not disclose the most sensitive information in the documents.

What makes the secret Super Bowl documents so secret?

The documents reportedly make recommendations for responses to an anthrax attack on US Bank Stadium, where the Super Bowl was played, and criticises a planned response.

The exercises, conducted in June and November of previous year, showed that "some local law enforcement and emergency management agencies possess only a cursory knowledge of the BioWatch program and its mission", according to the report.

The documents, which concerned the national security response to an exercise simulating a biological attack on the Super Bowl, were found weeks ago.

Former DHS official turned CNN contributor Juliette Kayyem says leaving the docs on a plan was a "really stupid thing".

Homeland Security's anti-terror Super Bowl plans left on plane