In the air
Homeland Stupidity published an opinion piece from Ron Paul (the Republican member of Congress from Texas, Ron Paul) called “On Real Respect for the Constitution.” The author asks what the nation’s new found interest in the Constitution might mean; “Will we end all unconstitutional federal departments, including [the Department of] … Homeland Security…. [and] the Transportation Security Administration?
TSA’s Blogger Bob writes about the first airport tests of new body scanning software that eliminates “passenger-specific images and replaces them with the generic outline of a person.” As is often the case, some of the best reading in Blogger Bob’s posts are the comments – almost 200 of them last time I checked – and Blogger Bob’s push back.
Bruce Schneier passes along a probably apocryphal story about a UK Immigration officer who “… decided to get rid of his wife by putting her on the no-fly list, ensuring that she could not return to the UK from abroad. This worked for three years, until he put in for a promotion and — during the routine background check — someone investigated why his wife was on the no-fly list.”
On the web
The U.S. Army has a new 2011 social media handbook . According to the blog I got this information from (a blog that may be subscription only), the update to the Army’s 2010 handbook, “provides additional tips and best practices, along with information on operations security tips, branding information, checklists, regulations and frequently asked questions.” Tips include: Setting privacy setting options to “friends only;” not revealing schedule information and event locations; turning off the GPS function of smartphones to avoid geotagging; reviewing photos and videos before they’re posted online to make sure they don’t give away “sensitive” information; and making sure family members understand what type of information can and cannot be posted on social networks.
Oregon’s Emergency Management blog discovered an iTunes app called Disaster Readiness 2011. For 99 cents you can get information that will help you prepare for — and deal with the consequences of – Terrorism, Fires, Wildfires; Thunderstorms; Floods, Landslides & Tsunamis; Winter Storms; Tornadoes; Hurricanes/Cyclones; Heat Waves; Earthquakes; Chemical Emergencies; and Nuclear Blasts.
idisaster 2.0 shares its entry to a FEMA preparedness challenge: peer to peer preparedness. Kim Stephens and Scott Reuter want to involve teens in preparedness activities through “a scholarship contest to foster the development of student-produced disaster preparedness information in a multi-media format for national distribution.”
In the Homeland Security Blog, Sara Estes Cohen suggests an uber hashtag as a way to keep up with continuously emerging and changing twitter hashtags related to events and other items of interest.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Leadership Journal apparently has not posted anything new since November 9, 2010. If you don’t recall what the DHS leadership journal is about, “The Leadership Journal is a forum for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and key DHS officials, to share news and insight. It brings you closer to the people and policies working to keep our nation secure, build a culture of readiness, enforce our immigration laws, and unify our department. And it welcomes your thoughts.”
At the enemy
On Reason.com, Shikha Dalmia asks the question, “What Islamist Terrorist Threat?” Dalmia claims the country’s 2 trillion dollar expenditure on the terrorism wars is not worth it: “… the Islamist enemy [The U.S.] is confronting is not some hyper-power capable of inflicting existential—or even grave—harm. It is, rather, a rag-tag band of peasants whose malevolent ambitions are far beyond the capacity of their shallow talent pool to deliver…. Security hawks—just like climate change warriors—maintain that no expenditure is too big to deter another attack. But that is utter foolishness…. Over 5,000 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq without on balance saving any civilian lives. It is time to call off the “war” on terrorism. Al Qaeda is not worth it.”
The National Terror Alert Response Center repeats Newt Gingrich’s echo from CNN: “Any honest assessment on 9/11 this year, ten years after the attack, I think will have to conclude that we’re slowly losing the war…. We’re losing the war because there are madrassahs around the planet teaching hatred. We’re losing the war because the network of terrorists is bigger, not smaller.”
The Counterterrorism blog links to a speech delivered last month at the Homeland Security Policy Institute by Australia’s Ambassador for counterterrorism, Bill Paterson. Paterson talks about the Australian view of progress in the global terror wars and significant challenges.
Jordan Nelms talks about the three Ts of terrorism (target, tactics and technology) and finding those facts in the news, in a commentary for Domestic Preparedness. Nelms offers a framework people can used to make their “own fact-check assessments of a major mass-casualty event or incident, relying on … facts rather than on amateur speculations and unwarranted assumptions.”
Security Debrief points to an article in Wired about Mike McConnell’s prediction when the U.S. will take the cyber threat seriously: “When it comes to developing cyberwarfare policy, the United States will likely wait for a catastrophic event and then overreact,” Wired reporter Kim Zetter wrote, summarizing the former intelligence chief’s view.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports on a plan by Terry Jones (of “International Burn a Koran Day”) to host an “International Judge the Koran Day” on March 20th. According to the SPLC, Jones published a video about the event: “Here’s your opportunity, all you so-called peaceful Muslims…. We are accusing the Koran of murder, rape, deception, being responsible for terrorist activities all over the world. … Present to us your defense attorney who is going to defend the Koran. Let us really see. We challenge you: do it. Let us not talk. Let us have some action and proof.”
Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) has introduced S. 341: A bill to require the rescission or termination of Federal contracts and subcontracts with enemies of the United States.
About the bucks
On the Emergency Management blog’s Homeland Protection Zone, Josh Filler provides his analysis of the proposed FY 2012 homeland security grants. He concludes “…the FY 2012 proposed homeland security grant budget is reasonable and could have been a lot worse for States and localities.”
The Center for Investigative Reporting summarizes several security stories from February 7 through 13th, having to do with homeland security grants, the expanded use of video cameras for surveillance, and several other stories about homeland security spending and budget politics.
In other news
The Recovery Diva reports the “Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) is presenting an online symposium on Community Recovery From Disaster, March 21-25. The symposium will bring to practitioners and public officials practical information about the latest research and lessons learned in several dimensions of recovery. There is no charge, but registration is required.” You can register for the seminar by following this link.
Arthur Rizer, in a Harvard National Security Journal article “explores the national security implications of energy dependence from both an environmental and a foreign threat perspective,” and “…argues that a nuclear renaissance would greatly improve the United States’ national security.” While you are visiting that site, you might want also to check out Daniel Geer’s remarkably powerful and straight forward analysis of cyber security and national policy.
Jason Sigger, the usually sophisticated and unflappable senior analyst at the Armchair Generalist blog, was “shocked, shocked” to learn that Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials, was lying to those officials about Saddam Hussein’s WMD program. “I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” Curveball said. “I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance.”
I am sure over the weekend Jason will quickly regain his usual analytical balance.