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Homeland Security News

4
May
The Future of Terrorism and Fear

Terrorist tactics can empower even the smallest groups, increasing the number of prospective adversaries capable of inflicting injury and destruction.  Furthermore, there are multiple threat vectors available to terrorists, most of which fall within critical infrastructure and key resour...

 




4
May
Smuggling: The Subterranean Threat

The current issue of Inside Homeland Security has an article about smuggling tunnels, which are a security concern on the U.S. southwestern border. In \"Smuggling Tunnels: The Need for a Transnational Analysis,\" Terrance G. Lichtenwald and Frank S. Perri warn about the ease with which a tunnel for smuggling drugs could easily become a conduit of terror.

The writers compared the use of tunnels in other security hot spots across the globe and found that terrorists and criminals may share tunnels, and that one type of smuggler may coexist or cooperate with the other. Conditions are right for hybrid tunnel use on our southwest border, they conclude.

Illegal tunnel activity has been on the rise since the first documented tunnel was discovered in 1990. Since then, 154 tunnel attempts have been discovered, all but one of which were located along the southwest border, James A. Dinkins, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Executive Associate Director, told senators...

 




23
Jan
Transnational Terrorism: The Role of Financial Intelligence Examined

 




23
Jan
 




16
Jan
 Cyber security bill moving ahead

Daily Times reports: National legislation designed to bolster the nation’s defense against the types of cyber attacks that devastated Target is expected to receive a markup in subcommittee this week.

The National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act was introduced last month by a bipartisan group of legislators, including U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby.

The bill is designed to strengthen efforts to protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks. It establishes an equal partnership between private industry and the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to mitigate damage from cyber attacks. It also prohibits any new DHS regulations.

Meehan serves as the chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies.

“The cyber bill is one of the things that can be of significant assistance in terms of enabling us to work collabo...

 




13
Jan
Citizens helping victims of chemical spill in Elk

CHARLESTON, WV — After distributing 7,000 gallons of water in a two-hour period Friday evening, Jimmy Gianato, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said he was tired, but at the same time, inspired.

“The response has been incredible,” Gianato said. “The governor (Earl Ray Tomblin) set up a food and water drop-off place here at the Capitol, but it turned into a distribution site. We have plenty of soldiers with the National Guard here, some additional troops, folks from the county, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) personnel, and volunteers here to help.

“The lines stretched back to where you couldn’t see the end, but everyone got what they needed,” Gianato said. “To me, it was just another example of West Virginians helping West Virginians. I’ve been through several challenging events, but one thing has been constant — West Virginians helping West Virginians.”

The spill from Fre...

 




7
Jan
Cartel leader arrested in Amsterdam on SD charges

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported:

A suspected top enforcer for Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel is facing extradition to San Diego on drug trafficking charges after his arrest in Amsterdam this week.

Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa, who goes by the nickname “El Chino Antrax,” was arrested Monday after his flight from Mexico City landed at Schipol airport in the Netherlands, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A San Diego federal grand jury indicted Arechiga on Dec. 20 with conspiracy to distribute drugs and conspiracy to import drugs, specifically methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, according to the indictment, which was unsealed Friday.

The court issued a warrant for his arrest and reached out to foreign authorities to aid in his capture. He had taken a KLM airlines flight under a fake name, U.S. attorney spokeswoman Kelly Thornton said.

The U.S. is seeking his extradition to San Diego. No further d...

 




29
Dec
Camp Shelby looks to future in cyberspace, drones

Mississippi Business Journal Reports: As Camp Shelby’s role as the National Guard’s largest mobilization center is winding down, its leaders are focusing now on a future in cyberspace and drones for the facility.

Camp Shelby [located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi] will be in the center of a research project just getting under way that will bring together the Army, Navy, Air Force and Department of Homeland Security to figure out the most efficient use of open source software for their unmanned aircraft systems.

It’s quite a leap for the historic Forrest County facility. “Camp Shelby has been here for almost a century,” said Lt. Col. Rick Weaver, the operations officer. “We were built on tanks and Howitzers and now we’re looking at the realm of cyberspace and the UAS market.”

A study in July by the Government Accounting Office urging agencies with unmanned aerial vehicles to share their best practices using open source systems pro...

 




12
Dec
 ‘Imagine America Without Los Angeles’: Expert Warns Southern California Isn’t Ready For Major Quake

CBSLA.com Reports:

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A leading earthquake expert has issued a dire warning to Californians about the expected impact of a major disruption to the San Andreas fault line.

The title of Dr. Lucy Jones’ lecture this week to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco was “Imagine America without Los Angeles”.

As KCAL9′s Dave Bryan reports, Jones, a Science Advisor for Risk Reduction at the U.S. Geological Survey, says when the “Big One” hits Southern California, the damage could be

much greater, and could last much longer, than most of us ever imagined.

“Loss of shelter, loss of schools, loss of jobs and emotional hardship. We are risking the ends of our cities,” she said during the presentation.

According to a USGS study called the “Shakeout Report”, when a high-magnitude earthquake rocks the San Andreas fault, the damage will go far beyond the collaps...

 




9
Dec
Spared from Hagel’s Cuts: Homeland Defense, Countering WMDs

Defense One reports:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel just announced plans to trim his staff by about 200 positions over the next five years. But inside the secretary’s top policy shop, a closer look at the planned cuts show where Hagel’s priorities lie after more than a decade of war.

In the office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Jim Miller, Hagel is making sure to protect several key areas, namely homeland defense, cyber threats and the pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. Miller, who spoke to a small group of reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday, said despite the budget crunch, key policy areas were protected, including outer space threats and countering weapons of mass destruction. The Homeland Defense and Americas\' Security Affairs units will actually be beefed up in the restructuring. “The reality is that the world has changed since 2009 when the current structure was put in place,” Miller said.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Ma...

 




27
Nov
Thanksgiving Day Message from Secretary Of Defense Chuck Hagel

One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. Though it was a time of hardship, Thanksgiving

was a day for Americans to express gratitude for the many blessings they enjoyed, including the sacrifices of those serving in uniform and their families. Every year since,

Americans have come together during this season to reflect and to give thanks.

As this special American holiday draws near, I want to extend my personal gratitude to the entire Department of Defense community for your work to keep our country strong and

secure. Whether you are in uniform or a civilian, whether deployed abroad or stationed here at home, it is your service and commitment that allows Americans to enjoy the

blessings of Thanksgiving. Your strength, selflessness, and patriotism are deeply respected by the American people, and we are very thankful for your ...

 




19
Nov
Homeland Security: Silk Road Vendor Sent Obama Ricin Letter

Mashable reports:

A former vendor on the now-defunct online black market bazaar known as Silk Road sent a letter laced with the poison Ricin to U.S. President Barack Obama, according to a letter submitted by an official at the Department of Homeland Security.

Brian de Vallance, the acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs for DHS, briefly mentioned the poisoning attempt in a letter he sent the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Officials from various federal agencies submitted letters to the committee, which had requested information in August for a hearing on digital currencies that took place Monday.

Prior to Monday\'s hearing, a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee aide emailed Mashable de Vallance\'s letter, in addition to others...

To read the full article see: http://mashable.com/2013/11/18/silk-road-ricin-obama/

 




19
Nov
Cyberattacks more serious domestic threat to U.S. than terrorism: FBI

Homeland Security News Wire reports:

The heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), Department of Homeland Security(DHS), and National Counterterrorism Center(NCTC) have declared cyber attacks as the most likely form of terrorism against the United States in the coming years. “That’s where the bad guys will go,” FBI director James Comey said about cyberterrorism. “There are no safe neighborhoods. All of us are neighbors [online].”

The heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) have declared cyber attacks as the most likely form of terrorism against the United States in the coming years.

Testifying in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, FBI director James Comey asserted that cyber attacks would be a more common form of terrorism. “That’s where the bad guys will go,” Comey said. “There are no...

 




15
Nov
Disaster Politics Why Natural Disasters Rock Democracies Less

Foreign Affairs featured article:

On January 12, 2010, Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was struck by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that caused widespread destruction and killed approximately 222,000 people. The next month, Chile was hit by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake -- approximately 500 times stronger than that in Haiti -- but only 500 people died…

…Governments cannot prevent earthquakes and other natural disasters, but they can prepare for them and ameliorate their effects. Measures to do so are well known. That so many countries in earthquake-prone regions of the world fail to adequately regulate construction, for example, seems to defy logic. Yet when faced with a choice to insist on the use of reliable cement in construction projects or to award contracts to cronies who are less inclined to use safe materials, politicians too often choose the latter, with disastrous consequences. In 2003, an earthquake in Bam, Iran, killed at least 30,000. China is ...

 




7
Nov
Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month

The Department of Homeland Security reports:

November is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, which recognizes the important role critical infrastructure plays in our nation’s way of life and why it is important to expand and reinforce critical infrastructure security and resilience.

What Critical Infrastructure Means To You

The nation\'s critical infrastructure provides essential services that underpin American society and sustain the American way of life.  Critical infrastructure supports the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation systems that get us from place to place, the bridges that connect us and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family.

Securing critical infrastructure and ensuring its resilience is a shared responsibility of federal, state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector partners, as well as individual citizens. Jus...

 




6
Nov
Hard National Security Choices

Lawfare reports:


So, what are we to make of claims that the NSA scandal will lead other countries to set up their own non-USA cloud?  I really can’t speak to the political imperative, but this is pretty notable:  Google is building a new data center in Finland worth roughly $1 billion.  Meanwhile, Microsoft is reportedly spending $130 million on a data center in Ireland and $250 million on one in Finland. By contrast, the EU Commission investment to start the development of cloud systems in Europe is a mere10 million Euros.  The contrast is striking. http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/11/money-talks/


Data Center Knowledge Reports:

Google Data Center Investment in Finland Tops $1 Billion USD

Google’s data center spending and investment continues to soar. The Internet giant announced a EUR450 million (which is about 608 million U.S. dollars) expansion at its Hamina data center in Finland. This ...

 




5
Nov
Holder says his plan to try 9/11 suspects in civilian court in New York was ‘right one’

The Washington Post reports:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. appeared to criticize the pace of military commission trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying Monday that he was correct four years ago when he attempted to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other suspects on trial in New York for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“I think that had we gone along the path that I announced at that time, we would not have had to close down half of Manhattan. It wouldn’t have cost $200 million a year,” Holder said at a news conference. “And the defendants would be on death row as we speak.”

Holder announced the plan to try Mohammed and the other defendants in federal court in Manhattan in late 2009. He had to reverse course after being criticized by political leaders in New York and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress, who said a trial on U.S. soil carried too many security risks and costs.

Although the Obama administratio...

 




5
Nov
Vietnam Medal of Honor Winner Remembered by his Hometown

CBS NEWS Reports:

In May 1968, Douglas Fournet\'s U.S. Army platoon was under sniper fire as it advanced uphill in Vietnam\'s A Shau Valley.

When the right flank man discovered a mine in front of them, Fournet ordered his men to take cover. Drawing his knife, he ran forward and, using his body as a shield, tried to slash its control wires.

But the mine denoted and the first lieutenant from Lakes Charles, La., was killed instantly.

Fournet was 24.

Two years later, President Richard Nixon awarded him the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House.

\"Five men nearest the mine were slightly wounded, but 1st Lt. Fournet\'s heroic and unselfish act spared his men of serious injury or death,\" the citation reads.

His hometown has never forgotten his bravery, Lake Charles\' Mayor Randy Roach said. This Saturday, 45 years after his death, it will unveil a statue of him in its...

 




4
Nov
 




4
Nov
Oklahoma Islamic Group says Seminar Speakers are Anti-Muslim

Tulsa World reports
By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau



OKLAHOMA CITY- The leader of an Oklahoma Islamic group said Monday that a law enforcement training council is being used to promote anti-Muslim speakers.

Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked that anti-Muslim speakers who are scheduled to speak Friday at the Legislative Counterterrorism Caucus-sponsored seminar in the House chamber be dropped.

Attendees at the seminar can obtain seven hours of Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) credit, according to a news release from Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, chairman of the caucus.

The seminar is titled \"Iran, Hezbollah and the Drug Cartels: Counterterrorism Considerations.\"

The scheduled speakers include retired Lt. Gen. William G. \"Jerry\" Boykin; Frank Gaffney, president and founder of the Ce...

 




4
Nov
Former SoCal TSA Employee Arrested After Threats to LAX Los Angeles Airport

NBC Los Angeles reports:

“A former TSA employee who worked at Los Angeles International Airport was arrested Tuesday night after he allegedly made threats to terminals and left a suspicious package at the airport the same day he quit his job, the FBI announced early Wednesday as a bomb squad conducted a search in connection with the investigation.

Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, a U.S. Army veteran from Inglewood, resigned from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday -- a position he has held since 2006 -- and left a package later that afternoon at the TSA\\\'s LAX Headquarters addressed to another TSA employee, according to an FBI statement.

The package was treated as suspicious and inspected by a Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad, but it only contained an eight-page letter detailing his disdain for the United States and other opinions about what led to his suspension and ultimate resignation.

Hours late...

 




4
Nov
All clear at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth airport following bomb threat, evacuation Birmingham Skyline

All Alabama.com reports:

Passengers are returning to the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport after a bomb threat led to a two-hour evacuation and flight delays today.

Birmingham Police responded to a bomb threat at the airport at about 4 p.m., Sgt. Johnny Williams Jr., spokesman for the department, said. He said authorities made the decision to clear the airport and that bomb dogs were brought in to sweep the airport.

Reports have indicated the threat was in the form of a written note.

The Transportation Security Administration  said via email just after 6 p.m. that all was clear at the airport. Williams said that nothing was found after the sweep of the airport and that the facility is fully reopened.

The TSA has said they\\\'ve brought in extra staff to expedite security screening of passengers returning to the airport.

Because of the evacuation, a number of flights were delayed or...

 




1
Nov
Should U.S. Law Protect the Privacy of Foreigners Abroad?

An Analysis from the Lawfare blog:
 
Professor Orin Kerr, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School, provides an overview of privacy laws in regards to intelligence collection.
 
Professor Kerr questions the argument that foreigners should be protected by U.S. privacy laws for intelligence collection. Professor Kerr’s argument concludes by questioning the notion that spying on allies harms national security. These type of arguments are made on a “utilitarian” level, but often not accompanied with data to support the claim, according to Professor Kerr.
 
For Professor Kerr’s full analysis:
http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/11/should-u-s-law-protect-the-privacy-of-foreigners-abroad/
 
For the critiqued article arguing that foreigners should be protected by U.S. privacy laws:
http://justsecurity.org/2013/10/29/foreigners-nsa-spying-rights/

  ...

 




1
Nov
Female senators unite behind security-clearance proposal

Female senators unite behind security-clearance proposal

The Washington Post and CNN Reports:

A bipartisan team of Senators prepare to introduce legislation to increase scrutiny on background checks for federal employees and contractors, according to a Congressional aide quoted in the Washington Post.

According to the newspaper, the planned legislation was penned by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Heidi Heitcamp (D-N.D.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). Specifically, the plan “would require at least two random audits over a five-year period for every security clearance, according to Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley. Current policy requires follow-up background checks every five, 10 or 15 years, depending on the level of designation.”

The proposal comes after a former civilian defense contractor, with a valid security clearance, went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., ...

 




1
Nov
Prepare for the worst

 There\'s an ABCHS (American Board for Certification in Homeland Security) certification that confirms a candidate’s preparation for all types of disasters. The year 2011, which has become the year of disasters, illustrates the need for the kind of awareness you demonstrate when you become Certified in Disaster Preparedness, CDP-I®:
 
    •    Floods along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers have displaced people and destroyed infrastructure, including 130,000 acres of Illinois farmland that the U.S. Army Corps of engineers flooded to save the town of Cairo, Illinois.
 
    •    Massive tornados destroyed wide swaths of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri, killing hundreds of people. Smaller communities have been wiped off the map.
 
    •    In addition to natural disasters, the year began with a shocking manmade disas...

 










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