First Aspen Security Forum draws diverse crowd |

First Aspen Security Forum draws diverse crowd

ASPEN – The Aspen Security Forum – a new event organized by The Aspen Institute to delve into the fight against terrorism in the United States and abroad – has attracted a mix of corporate security officials, national media and curious local residents, according to a sampling of the crowd at an event Tuesday.

About 200 people attended the opening presentation by Jane Holl Lute, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Tuesday morning. She was presented with questions from a diverse segment of the crowd after her talk.

Inquirers included an official with Hunter Defense Technologies Inc., which designs and manufactures military and homeland defense products, according to its website. Officials from corporate giants such as Boeing and IBM also attended.

Several top government officials are among the presenters in the forum but there are also bureaucrats in the audience. One question was popped Tuesday by a staff member from the Committee on Homeland Security, which provides congressional oversight on the Department of Homeland Security. Another staffer attended from the Homeland Security and Defense Business Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of the leading companies that provide homeland security and defense services.

Local officials in attendance Tuesday included Pitkin County Emergency Management Services Coordinator Ellen Anderson and Kent Blackmer, co-director of operations at the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. A handful of local residents also attended simply to learn more on terrorist-related topics.

Numerous reporters are attending, including representatives of The New York Times, which is co-sponsoring the event, Newsweek, CNN, Fox News, USA Today and the Washington Times.

The forum kicked off Monday night with a presentation by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top military leader. It concludes Wednesday with a variety of presentations, including two open to the public. Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will give a presentation called, “The Terror Threat Picture and Counterterrorism Strategy” from 9 to 10 a.m. in the Doerr-Hosier building. The presentation will be moderated by Michael Isikoff of NBC News. Tickets are $20.

Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will be in a conversation with Brian Ross of ABC News from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Doerr-Hosier building. Tickets are $30.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 920-5770.

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