Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 31, 2013

Throwing a little cold water on the Al Qaeda Threat?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on July 31, 2013

These are confusing…difficult…let’s just say unsettled times in the counter-terrorism field.

On one hand, the mainstream message seems to be that an extensive global drone strike campaign, combined with a vastly expanded intelligence and special forces capability, has disrupted not only Al Qaeda’s plots but the operations of it’s “central” organization and has kept the American homeland safe.

On the other, “Al Qaeda” is spreading among the chaos of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa.  While not the centralized, directed threat of the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, it is often posited as nonetheless a worrisome national security risk.

I’m not taking a side in this argument…at this point anyway.  However, I do think that Harvard Professor Steve Walt’s analysis (keep in mind he comes from the realist school of international relations)” is worth considering:

What is needed is a much more fundamental rethinking of the entire anti-terrorism campaign. As I suggested last week, part of that rethink means asking whether the United States needs to do a lot more to discredit jihadi narratives, instead of persisting with policies that make the extremists’ charges sound plausible to their audiences. A second part is to keep the jihadi threat in better perspective: They are a challenge, but not a mortal threat to Americans’ way of life unless the country reacts to them in ways that cause more damage to its well-being and its values than they do. Sadly, a rational ranking of costs, benefits, and threats seems to be something that the U.S. foreign-policy establishment is largely incapable of these days.

July 26, 2013

DHS Deputy Secretary confirmation fight exacerbates vacancies problem

Filed under: Congress and HLS,DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Christian Beckner on July 26, 2013

In late June the President nominated Alejandro Mayorkas, current Director of USCIS, to be the next Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  This nomination was a critical first step in addressing the issue of DHS leadership vacancies that I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago, and which has attracted notable media attention since Secretary Napolitano announced her resignation two weeks ago.

Until a few days ago, I assumed that this nomination would move forward smoothly, given Mayorkas’ very good reputation and his performance leading USCIS for the last four years.   But as has been reported in the news this week, there’s been a bump in the road in his nomination process, related to a reported DHS Inspector General investigation into certain investments made via the Immigrant Investor Program (known as EB-5), and Mayorkas’ alleged involvement in key decisions related to this matter.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held its confirmation hearing for Mayorkas yesterday (July 25th), likely having scheduled this hearing before this news broke with the intent to try to get him confirmed before the August recess.  Senator Coburn and the other Republican members of the Committee boycotted the hearing, arguing that these  issues raised by the IG needed to be resolved before the nomination should move forward.

I’ve reviewed the transcript of yesterday’s hearing, all relevant news clippings on this EB-5 matter, and the relevant documents released by Senator Grassley yesterday.  This is definitely the kind of issue that Senate Committees need to look at and sort out as part of a confirmation process.  There’s still a lot of confusing and contradictory information in the public record on this matter, so I don’t feel confident to comment on the substance of the allegations.  But from a process standpoint, I would note that these allegations are being brought forward publicly by the IG (who is under his own investigative cloud) in a way that seems very unfair to Mayorkas – who was perplexed and blindsided by these allegations at the hearing, and appears to have had no opportunity to respond to them in the year that the IG’s investigation has been open.   The IG’s actions in relation to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also appear to be very strange – the Committee apparently only learned about this matter from the IG earlier this week, and Senator Carper indicated at the hearing that he found no relevant information on this matter in Mayorkas’ FBI background report.

And unfortunately, the net result of this matter is that it now seems unlikely that Mayorkas will be confirmed before Secretary Napolitano departs DHS on September 7th.  (The Senate will be on recess from August 3 to September 9, so will have no opportunity to confirm him after next Friday, August 3rd).  That will create a significant and troubling leadership gap at the top of DHS, just in time for the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and right in the middle of hurricane season.  The Department is also likely to have a full legislative agenda this fall (cyber security, border security, appropriations etc.) and on the policy front is charged with working on the second Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) and updating the National Infrastructure Protection Plan this fall.   These issues will all suffer if there is a prolonged senior leadership gap after Secretary Napolitano’s departure.

For these reasons, I hope that the Senate will find a way to resolve this issue and move forward soon on Mayorkas’s nomination.  And it is also imperative that the White House nominate someone as soon as possible to be the next Secretary of DHS, and also finally move forward on nominating and appointing individuals for other key vacant positions (CBP, I&A, ICE, IG, etc.) as soon as possible.

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 26, 2013

On this day in 2009 Boko Haram attacked a Nigerian police station in Bauchi, the first use of organized violence by the Salafist organization.  Over the next four days at least 700 people were killed in sectarian strife.  In subsequent years at least 10,000 have died in violence associated with Boko Haram activities.  Conflict continues.

What’s on your mind regarding homeland security?

Congressional prospects for NSA operations

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on July 26, 2013

As I explained in an early June post, I have mostly been reassured by the controversy over NSA domestic intelligence gathering.  So far the evidence I have seen indicates operations have been undertaken consistent with the law, with judicial authorization, and with Congressional oversight.

The close vote on Wednesday night to continue funding NSA operations is another example of the system working as it ought.  It is helpful and appropriate that policy of this sort be actively and critically examined by the people’s representatives.  Our security mavens have been forcefully reminded of their obligation to consult with Congress on policy and strategy.  (And I even hope against hope that those in Congress may have learned to listen more carefully.  I know I’m a glutton for disappointment.)

If some are tempted to “learn” from this experience that they need to be even more secretive, they are idiots.  If they instead recognize the benefit of proactive and principled engagement at the policy level, we will all be better off: both in terms of our tactical security and the preservation of liberty.

I am glad the funding was continued.  I am glad the vote was close.  I am glad that other efforts are underway to ensure legal constraints on domestic intelligence operations.  Yesterday reporting by ProPublica identified six proposals still under consideration by Congress:

1) Raise the standard for what records are considered “relevant”

2) Require NSA analysts to obtain court approval before searching metadata

3) Declassify Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions

4) Change the way Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges are appointed

5) Appoint a public advocate to argue before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

6) End phone metadata collection on constitutional grounds

Read more on each proposal by Kara Brandeisky at ProPublica

July 25, 2013

A missing link in strategy?

Earlier this week I was re-reading the DHS Strategic Plan (2012-2016).  I perceived something — actually its absence —  I had not noticed before.

Community involvement is, of course, a recurring mantra in the Strategic Plan and many other DHS policy, strategy, and operational documents. “Whole Community” is prominent in Mission 5: Ensuring Resilience to Disaster.  Other missions include similar language.  For example Mission 1: Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security has a goal to “Increase community participation in efforts to deter terrorists and other malicious actors and mitigate radicalization toward violence.”

A close reading of the Strategic Plan suggests the whole is made up of the following parts:

Individual
Family
Household
Neighborhood
Community
Private and Non-Profit Sectors
Faith Based organizations
Localities
States
Tribes
Federal Partners
Nation
All Segments of Society

Especially with those catch-all terms it’s not that my “absence” is excluded.  But it is not given explicit attention.  Certainly not priority.

What prominent place in the life of most Americans is not referenced?

The workplace.

Indirectly this is part of the private sector or non-profit-sector or local and state government or whatever other sector in which you work. But these “sectors” are abstractions. The workplace is a concrete — often literally glass, steel, and concrete — place. Yet the only time “workplace” is referenced in the Strategic Plan is with workplace standards for protecting intellectual property and “workplace wellness” programs for DHS employees.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Americans age 25-to-54 spend an average of 8.8 hours per day at work. This is a larger block than any other activity, much larger than any other non-sleeping activity surveyed.

Yet the places where we work are not regularly conceived or engaged as venues where homeland security priorities can be pursued.

There are exceptions. I am aware of a few.  I welcome you highlighting successful exceptions in the comments.

The absence of the workplace from the DHS Strategy reveals a strategic perspective.  It is another example of the disconnect between private and public domains.  Clearly government is a place where homeland security is to be practiced.  There is considerable effort to engage neighborhoods and sometimes schools. These are real places too, but much more public than private in their character.

Is a “community” — whole or not — a real place?  It depends, in my experience, on the community and how an outsider approaches the putative community.

There are offices, distribution centers, power plants, factories and refineries, restaurants, hotels, retail stores and many more real places where each day the vast majority of Americans spend the majority of their waking hours.  Most of these places feature a task-oriented culture with management processes already in place.  Most of these places are self-interested in a reasonable level of safety, continuity, and resilience.

In my personal experience most of these places are wonderful contexts for the practical practice of homeland security.

There is a tendency for modern strategic thinking to be more comfortable with space than place.  See battlespace and cyberspace, even Space Command.  I am often an advocate for differentiating between Theater Command and Incident Command and perceive we give too little attention to the Big Picture.  But it is not, of course, one or the other: it is a continuum.

Real risks, threats, vulnerabilities and consequences usually unfold in real places where people come and go everyday.

Interesting what you can miss even when it’s right in front of you.  I’ve read that strategy a half-dozen times.  Wonder what else is hiding in plain sight?

July 23, 2013

Essence of Rat in Fed Insider Threat Program

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 23, 2013

Nick Catrantzos wrote today’s post.  Nick teaches Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is former security director for a regional water utility, and is the author of Managing the Insider Threat.  

————————

In a ham-handed implementation that can only be properly described as TSA-esque, the federal scramble to plug leaks now emerges as an exhortation to seize on coworker behaviors to flag them as suspicious and to rat out peers to some unmentioned body of enforcers with the wisdom and wherewithal to do something about real, impending betrayal.

Insider Threats mclatchy THUMB

That such a scheme should self-destruct is a surprise to no one but its armchair architects. (Details at this link.) It was doomed from inception. Why?

There are sins of omission and of commission raging through any program like this if it hasn’t been thought through. Let us begin with the latter.

Sins of Commission

1. Absent better guidance, such a scheme appeals to the baser instincts of human nature, becoming an instant invitation to settle scores.

Is Mary jealous of Irma for having won the last promotion? Then rat her out for too many restroom breaks on the pretext that she must be using them to pass on notes to terrorists. Is Fred unhappy that the boss turned down his requested leave dates because Joe has seniority and asked for them first? Then rat out the both of them for collusive behaviors that must be indicative of running a terror cell.

You get the idea.

Armchair theorists do not see this fatal flaw because they have never witnessed, from a manager’s perspective, the unintended consequences of a flawed implementation of an ethics or anti-harassment program. Run impetuously by amateurs, such programs invariably generate new — and spurious — business. The remedy soon becomes worse than the disease, a fear that dates back to Hippocrates’ warnings to early physicians.

2. The unthinking reliance on mass distribution of suspicious behavior checklists ends up making every worker the equivalent of the worst TSA automaton: a blind follower of printed instruction who is disincentivized from the all-important infusion of judgment.

Why does this happen?

Because we live in a society that slavishly follows the LITE mantra, namely Leave It To The Experts. We ask employees to rat others out but don’t trust them to think. That is the province of the unmentioned experts, whose expertise is usually assumed or self-conferred.

Sins of Omission

Perhaps the greater fatal flaw arises from what such programs neglect.

1. They respect neither the work force nor the workplace. Insider threats remain statistically rare. (See Managing The Insider Threat: No Dark Corners, for a lengthier and more scholarly treatment of this topic.) The bottom line is that most people, most of the time, are not going around betraying their employers or fellow workers.

It is mindless to treat the vast majority of honest employees as ex-cons scheming to violate their conditions of parole. It is equally unfair to the workplace to turn it into a Gestapo-run factory ruled by the lash. All organizations exist for a reason. They have a job that needs doing, and most of these employers cannot turn themselves into full-time witch-hunters without degrading their overall performance.

2. These programs hinge on the assumption that workers are fit only to spot suspicious behaviors as they exist on a checklist but not qualified to evaluate their own information. (See LITE, above.) So the employee who is urged to rat out a coworker is not trusted to do anything more. This situation invariable leaves the reporting employee bereft of feedback, while some self-styled expert runs with the lead or, equally, sits on it. No one can tell what happened outside the select cadre of experts.

This situation invites abuse and tends to incentivize expert lassitude, somnolence, and all the other kinds of reaction that attach to bureaucrats who are not, shall we say, all the way committed to excellence. Result? More sitting on data than timely intervention to prevent threats from materializing.

3. Finally, such programs neglect the value of lawful disruption. Face this reality: There are never enough experts or responders to handle every situation. Taking advantage of the initiative of someone on the scene of a catastrophic betrayal is not just the best chance for damage control. It’s usually the only chance. It’s also precisely the chance these insider programs squander by telling employees, “Leave it to the experts.” When insider threat programs stop short of saying this directly, they say it tacitly. They neglect to point out the nearly infinite options that exist for lawful disruption, that is, the short circuiting of pernicious activity through legally permissible actions (p. 135 of Managing the Insider Threat and also the beginning of the chapter on lawful disruption of the insider threat, as inspired by a Canadian senator leading an anti-terrorism committee who noted the importance of lawful disruption).

In the final analysis, this rat-out-your-peers approach to countering insider threats as outlined above epitomizes a potentially useful idea likely botched in its implementation.

It proves once again that there is no smart way to be stupid.

July 22, 2013

NPR picks up HLSWatch topic

Filed under: DHS News — by Philip J. Palin on July 22, 2013

Monday’s All Things Considered featured an interview with Christian Beckner on the same topic as Christian’s most recent HLSWatch post. You can hear the interview and related news reporting at: Lack of Leaders Puts Strain on Homeland Security Department.

Nuclear Explosion Simulators: Check out NUKEMAP 2.0…and 3D

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on July 22, 2013

The first NUKEMAP, a nuclear detonation simulator, appeared in February 2012. At the time I described it:

Created by Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics and blogger at “Restricted Data The Nuclear Secrecy Blog,” this simulator is the best example of an admittedly small class of apps. It allows one to pick the target and yield of the device, either through drop down boxes or by entering unique values.  For the sake of simplicity, it defaults with an idealized air burst which eliminates the computational messiness of modeling the influence of unique geography and weather.

So this isn’t your National Lab/FEMA 3-D model tailored to individual cityscapes.  But it gives you a general idea about the varying effects of different sizes of nuclear weapons.

A year later that program hit “10 million detonations” and Wellerstein was able to publish on the subject.  What particularly struck him about the popularity of his program:

There’s only one lesson that I’ve been a little disturbed by. An awful lot of people are amazed at how small the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were compared to thermonuclear weapons. That’s true —but it’s because the megaton-range weapons were insane, not because the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were small. By human standards, 10-20 kilotons should still be horrifying. From a view of 100,000 feet, though, it’s a lot less impressive than the Tsar Bomba, even though the latter was a lot less of a realistic threat than weapons of “smaller” yields, and is certainly a lot less of a threat today. When you put “small” nukes next to monstrous nukes, it is easy to lose perspective. That’s not my goal — my goal is to help people get a sense of scale, something that I think is even more important in a post-Cold War age.

He’s followed through with those thoughts and has released the next version(s) of NUKEMAP: NUKEMAP 2.0 and NUKEMAP 3D.

2.0 is:

“a massive overhaul of the back-end of the old NUKEMAP, with much more flexible effects calculations and the ability to chart all sorts of other new phenomena — like radioactive fallout (finally!), casualty estimates, and the ability to specify airbursts versus ground bursts. All of these calculations are based on models developed by people working for the US government during the Cold War for use in government effects planning.”

There is also an option, powered by Google (so please do not blame the programmer for any discrepancies) that allows for a count of affected hospitals and other medical offices, schools, and churches.  The casualty estimate comes from data that averages the population in the affected area over a 24-hour period, so that means it doesn’t just take into account Census data that looks at residency but also at who might be working in the area during the day (i.e. the number of people in down or mid town Manhattan).

The 3D version gets to his concern that some users were underwhelmed by the effects produced by “small” nuclear weapons.  As you can see from the picture at the beginning of this post, a little visual stimulus (combined with casualty estimates…) might go a long way to reversing this trend.

Alex developed the original and these follow up programs as educational tools for students of nuclear history and security programs/non-proliferation.  Yet I believe there is a strong argument for their use in the homeland security enterprise.

For those working in homeland security, I think a quote from Alex is very insightful in terms of the usefulness of this program:

“It hit this funny intersection between what people called ‘fun’ and ‘scary,’” Wellerstein said at a Thursday event, noting that this is “a really powerful intersection.”

Problem was, some users of Wellerstein’s original doomsday simulator have been surprised to find that the damage wrought on a city by a relatively low-yield bomb — say, one of 10 kilotons, the potential size of a North Korean or terrorist nuke — didn’t look all that catastrophic, he said.

“People lose the sense of scale because the big ones are so outrageously big,” he said.

I hope I’m wrong, but I would still bet that many professionals involved at the local or state level may still believe in the Cold War model that any nuclear explosion will mean that their city is gone.  They have no role.  Leave it up to the “feds.” While these sites represent educational rather than planning tools, the simulations made possible can still give local and state officials a picture of what they could face during their “worst case scenario.”  In addition, it could help those communities surrounding large urban areas begin to conceptualize what they could possibly face.

Nuclear attack is undoubtedly the definition of a low probability, high consequence event.  The NUKEMAP tools are useful educational tools for officials at any level.  And if you, or they, are concerned about the discrepencies that may emerge between the National Lab/FEMA reports and these programs, I would just suggest that those are also not useful for making specific plans.  I would argue they provide definitive answers regarding questions of sheltering in place vs. evacuation, but that the value of open source information could possible outweigh the “coolness” of FOUO reports and information.

At the very least, these sites deserve your interest:

2d: http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

3d: http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap3d/

July 19, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 19, 2013

During the night between July 18 and 19 in the year 64 CE the Great Fire of Rome began. The flames continued for six days consuming at least 10 percent and perhaps as much as 30 percent of the city. This is the event during which the Emperor Nero is remembered for playing his violin. But the most trustworthy sources report Nero was vigorous in organizing a response. Spin is not new.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

July 18, 2013

Repeating history and writing the future

Filed under: Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on July 18, 2013

In the early 1990s genocidal attacks against the Muslim population of the former Yugoslavia proceeded with little Western interference while the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan resulted in Western action to arm a wide range of insurgents, including a nascent Al Qaeda.

Some of the tactics and techniques developed in Afghanistan were deployed in the former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, eventually in Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, and lower Manhattan.  An echo of these days reverberated as recently as April 15.

Western hypocrisy and geopolitical competition fueled the emergence of a worldview, adversaries, and a preternatural expectation of cultures-in-conflict.

Today tens of thousands are killed in Syria and any mitigation — much less resolution — is stymied by Big Power geopolitical competition.  Across the Sahel Salafist fighters bomb and kill (Christian) teachers and school children.  In Somalia Ethiopian and Kenyan Christians are active in containing (Islamic) al Shabbab.  In Egypt a Western-funded military facilitates the overthrow of a popularly elected (conservative Islamic) President.

These are gross simplifications of very complex realities.  But this narrative sufficiently parallels reality that more complicated counter-arguments are seldom self-evidently compelling.

We have, perhaps, ten years to adjust the narrative. The analogy that comes to my mind is trying to write lyric poetry as Asiana Flight 214 hits the seawall at SFO. There is forward movement, there is a bit of time, you will probably survive to die another day, but the noise, destruction, fear, and pain do not lend themselves to much writing of any kind.

Yet if we cannot — in collaboration across religious, national, and tribal divides — craft a more mutually satisfactory narrative, we will suffer again and again explosions of self-righteous anger and revenge.

This week there was a modest effort, easily ignored and as easily dismissed, to at least conceive a different narrative.  Here’s a news release and here’s a 25-page report with recommendations.  Might be worth a glance between our show-trials, political melodramas, furloughs, and vacations.

We need better.  But we should start with what we’ve got.

July 17, 2013

Do you have a disaster plan…for your bunny?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on July 17, 2013

The Washington Post recently ran a story that struck me as both ridiculous and awesome at the same time.

The short of it: government regulations compel magician to develop a disaster plan for his rabbit.

Can it possibly get better than this?

To keep his rabbit license, Hahne needed to write a rabbit disaster plan.

“Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures,” Hahne said, listing a few of the calamities for which he needed a plan to save the rabbit.

If you want to skip the back story and read the plan, pass go and collect “Marty the Magician’s Disaster Plan for ‘Bunny’:”

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/marty-the-magicians-disaster-plan-for-bunny/320/

(In case you were wondering, yes the bunny has it’s own “go bag.”)

According to the Post, decades of creeping government regulation comes to a crescendo, for all manner of animals anyway, following Katrina:

This new rule was first proposedby the USDA in 2006 under President George W. Bush.

Its inspiration was Hurricane Katrina, in which animals from pet dogs to cattle to lab mice were abandoned in the chaos. Now, all licensed exhibitors would need to have a written plan to save their animals.

The government asked for public comments in 2008. It got 997. Just 50 commenters were in favor of the rule as written.

But that, apparently, was enough. After a years-long process,the rule took effect Jan. 30.

Eventually, this caught up with the magician in question, Marty Hahne.  While he engaged professional help, other magicians’ plans aren’t as robust:

“I’ll take a piece of paper and put down, ‘Note: Take rabbit with you when you leave,’?” said Gary Maurer, a magician with a licensed rabbit in South Carolina. “That’s my plan.”

But Hahne has obtained professional help.Kim Morgan, who has written disaster plans for entire federal agencies, heard about his case and volunteered to help write the rabbit’s plan for free.

So far, the plan she has written is 28 pages.

“That’s pretty short,” given what the USDA asked for, Morgan said. She covered many of the suggested calamities: chemical leaks, floods, tornadoes, heat waves.

As if this story could not get any better, the description of what seems like an entirely unconnected government over-reach may have inadvertently provided the homeland security enterprise with the long sought definition of success:

After the show, Hahne put Casey back in her case and drove home. His wife, Brenda, asked how it went. He told her there’d been no disasters.

“The show went well,” he said. “Nobody peed onstage.”

Addendum: Upon reflection, I realized I wrote this post a little too quickly.  In doing so, I omitted a few important points.  What I found silly is the situation that a man who owns a rabbit that spends most of its day as a pet, while occasionally leaving the house to appear in his magic act, is required to file a rabbit-specific disaster plan with federal authorities.  What I did not mean to do is dismiss pet preparedness in general — any individuals or families with pets should take them into account when making plans and go bags; and any business with a reasonable number of animals should have to account for them in case of disaster (i.e. pet store owners shouldn’t be allowed to evacuate in the face of a hurricane while leaving all the pets in their charge to fend for themselves).

 

Dear Malala in brotherly concern

Filed under: Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on July 17, 2013

Last Friday, on her 16th birthday, Malala Yousafzai addressed the United Nations Youth Assembly.  She has largely recovered from the October 2012 Taliban assassination attempt.  You can see/hear her address at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rNhZu3ttIU

While I admire Ms. Yousafzai’s courage and her arguments, I will admit to being even more interested in the response (below) authored by Taliban leader Adnan Rasheed.  His letter is — no matter how misguided, distasteful, or manipulative — an interesting window into a worldview that motivates violent extremism.

I found Mr. Rasheed’s original Open Letter at the UK’s Channel 4 News website.  I have added punctuation and corrected spelling to assist your reading but otherwise provide largely as written and in full.

–+–

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH THE MOST MERCIFUL AND BENEFICENT

From Adnan Rasheed to Malala Yousafzai

Peace to those who follow the guidance

Miss Malala Yousafzai

I am writing to you in my personal capacity, this may not be the opinion or policy of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan or other jihadi faction or group.

I heard about you through BBC Urdu service for the first time, when I was in Bannu prison. At that time I wanted to write to you, to advise you to refrain from anti-Taliban activities you were involved in. But I could not find your address and I was thinking how to approach you with real or pseudo name, my all emotions were brotherly for you because we belong to same Yousafzai tribe.

Meanwhile the prison break happened and I was supposed to be in hiding. When you were attacked it was shocking for me. I wished it would never happened and I had advised you before Taliban attacked you. Was it Islamically correct or wrong, did you deserve to be killed or not, I will not go in this argument now, let’s we leave it to Allah All mighty, He is the best judge. Here I want to advise you as I am already late, I wish I would have advised you in my prison time and this accident would never happened.

First of all please mind that Taliban never attacked you because of going to school or you were education lover, also please mind that Taliban or Mujahideen are not against the education of any men or women or girl. Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smear campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in Swat and your
writings were provocative.

You have said in your speech yesterday that the pen is mightier than sword, so they attacked you for your sword not for your books or school. There were thousands of girls who were going to school and college before and after the Taliban insurgency in Swat, would you explain why were only you on their hit list???

Now to explain you the second point, why Taliban are blowing up schools? The answer to this question is that not only Taliban in KPK or FATA are blowing up the schools but Pakistan Army and Frontier Constabulary is equally involved in this issue. The reason for this action is common between them, that is turning of schools into hide outs and transit camps once it comesunder control of either party Pakistan Army or Taliban.

In 2004 I was in Swat, I was researching on the causes of failure of the first revolution attempt by Sufi Muhammad. I came to know that FC (Frontier Corps) was stationed in the schools of Swat in Tehsil Matta and FC was using schools as their transit camps and hide outs. Now tell me who to blame???  Dozens of schools and colleges are being used by Pakistan Army and FC as their barracks in FATA, you can find out easily if you like. So when something sacred is turned lethal it needs to be eliminated. This is the policy of Taliban.

Blowing up schools when they are not being used strategically is not the Taliban’s job. Some black sheep of local administration may be involved to extract more and more funds in the name of schools to fill their bank accounts.

Now I come to the main point that is EDUCATION, it is amazing that you are Shouting for education, you and the UNO (United Nations) is pretending that as you were shot due to education, although this is not the reason.  Be honest, not the education but your propaganda was the issue and what you are doing now, you are using your tongue on the behest of the others and you must know that if  the pen is mightier than the sword then the tongue is sharper and the injury of sword can be hailed but the injury of the tongue never hails and in the wars tongue is more destructive than any  weapon.

I would like to share with you that Indian sub-continent was highly educated and almost every citizen was able to read or write before the British invasion. Locals used to teach British officers Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Persian. Almost every mosque was acting as school too and Muslim emperors used to spend a huge sum of money on education. Muslim India was rich in farming, silk, and jute and from textile industry to ship building. No poverty, no crises and no clashes of civilization or religion. Because the education system was based on noble thoughts and noble
curriculum.

I want to draw your attention to an extract from the minute written by Sir T.B. Macaulay to British parliament dated 2nd February 1835 about what type of education system is required in Indian sub-continent to replace the Muslim education system. He stated “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, –a class of persons Indian in blood and color, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

This was and this is the plan and mission of this so called education system for which you are ready to die, for which UNO takes you to their office to produce more and more Asians in blood but English in taste, to produce more and more Africans in color but English in opinion, to produce more and more non English people but English in morale. This so called education made Obama, the mass murderer, your ideal. isn’t it?

Why they want to make all human beings English? Because Englishmen are the staunch supporters and slaves of Jews. Do you know Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder and symbol of English education in India was a Freemason?

You say a teacher, a pen and a book can change the world. Yes I agree. But which teacher which pen and which book? It is to be specified, Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him said Iam sent as a teacher, and the book He sent to teach is Quran. So a noble and pious teacher with prophetic curriculum can change the world; not with a satanic or secular curriculum.

You have given the example that once a journalist asked a student why the Taliban was afraid of this education. He replied a Talib didn’t know what was in this book. The same I say to you and through you to whole world. That is why they are afraid of the book of Allah because they don’t know what is in it.  Taliban want to implement what is in the book of ALLAH and UNO want to implement what they have in man-made books. We want to connect the world to their creator through the book of  Allah and UNO want to enslave the world to a few evil creatures.

You have talked about justice and equality from the stage of an unjust institution, the place where you were standing uttering for justice and equality, all the nations are not equal there, only five wicked states have the veto power and rest of them are powerless. Dozens of time when all the world united against Israel only one veto was enough to press the throat of justice. The place you were speaking to the world is heading towards new world order. I want to know what is wrong the old world order? They want to establish global education, global economy, global army, global trade, global government and finally global religion. I want to know is there any space for the prophetic guidance in all above global plans? Is there any space for Islamic sharia or Islamic law to which UN call inhumane and barbaric?

You have talked about attacks on polio teams, would you explain why the then American foreign secretary of state Henry Kissinger, a Jew, said in 1973 to reduce the third world population by 80%. Why the sterilization and eugenics programs are running in different countries in one way  or another under the umbrella of UNO. More than 1 million Muslim women have been sterilized in Uzbekistan forcibly without their consent.

Bertrand Russell writes in his book the impact of science on society, “diet, injections and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable and any serious criticism of power that be will become psychologically impossible”. This is why we have reservations on the so called polio vaccination program.

You say Malala today is not your day, it is the day of every person who has raised voice for their rights. I ask you why such a day in not assigned to Rachel Corrie, only because the bulldozer was Israeli? Why such a day is not assigned to Affia Siddique because the buyers are Americans? Why such day is not assigned to Faizan and Faheem because the killer was Raymond Davis? Why such a day is not assigned to those 16 innocent afghan women and children who were shot dead by an American Robert Belas because he was not a Talib.

I ask you and be honest in reply, if you were shot by Americans in a drone attack, would the world have ever heard updates on your medical status? Would you be called ‘daughter of the nation?  Would the media make a fuss about you? Would General Kiyani have come to visit you and would the world media be constantly reporting on you? Would you were called to UN? Would a  Malala day be announced?

More than 300 innocent women and children have been killed in drones attacks but who cares because attackers are highly educated, non-violent, peaceful Americans.

I wish, the compassion you learnt from Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him should be learnt by Pakistan Army so they could stop shedding of Muslim blood in FATA and Baluchistan. I wish, the compassion you learnt from Prophet Jesus should be learnt by USA and NATO so they should stop shedding blood of innocent Muslims across the world and I wish the same for followers of Buddha to stop killing of innocent unarmed Muslims in Burma, and Sri Lanka and wish the same for Indian army to follow Gandhi jee and stop genocide in Kashmir.  And yes, the followers of Bacha Khan, the ANP has an example of non-violence in their five years regime inKPK province, for example Swat, where a single shot was not fired and we witnessed the followers of Bacha Khan implement the philosophy of nonviolence in its true soul, with support of jets, tanks and gunships.

At the end I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah and reveal the conspiracy of tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of new world order.

All praises to Allah the creator of the Universe.

15 July 2013

July 16, 2013

Kullu am wa antum bi-khair

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 16, 2013

The author of today’s post is a police chief who wishes to remain unnamed.  It was written a few days ago, after dinner.

It is 10:20pm and I have just gotten home after attending a Ramadan Banquet in my official capacity as Chief of Police.

In talking with the FBI ahead of time, I learned they were at this banquet last year.  They told me about the composition of the group, what the event commemorates, what type of food will be served, that I will be expected to speak to the attendees and they warned me that the men and women are separated into two different rooms.

I thought to myself, “Hmmm…. I wonder if they know I’m a girl??”

I arrived as the Imam was just finishing leading the men in prayers.  Some of the men walked by me without saying a word.  Others stared at me, so conspicuous in my police Class A uniform; long sleeve and tie, gunbelt on.

Finally, my contact came out and greeted me.  I was seated at a table marked “reserved,” along with the Imam and other officers for the board of their mosque.

In opening remarks, one Board Officer talked about their small community of 300 families and how they had finally secured a building to serve as their new mosque.  When he called me up to speak, I looked out into the crowd and felt certain that all 300 families were represented there.  Their presence spoke to strength of community; a powerful bond.

Before I left, the Board Officer asked me to go to the other room where the women were waiting for me.  I walked in and was immediately mauled by a group of girls all around the age of 5.  They hugged me, sat on my lap, touched my badge, and asked me if I had super powers.

As I said my goodbyes and walked towards my car, I thought how (with a few modifications, of course) this could have been an Easter dinner at my Church to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and the end of Lent.

I reflected on the power of community, regardless of the deity one worships.  I remembered that groups of people share similar dynamics, no matter what underlying beliefs drive them.

And, as so many of us in this Homeland Security enterprise are public servants first and foremost, I personally reaffirmed my oath of office to serve and protect those in my community.

Remembering that what drives one group of people is not so different than what drives another, helps to safeguard the good and eradicate the bad.

may you be well throughout the year

July 12, 2013

If Thad Allen ran DHS (revisited)

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 12, 2013

This post first appeared on July 31, 2012.

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If Thad Allen ran DHS

The homeland security enterprise got a glimpse of what DHS might look like if Thad Allen becomes the Secretary of Homeland Security.

 

He testified a few weeks ago at a senate hearing about “The Evolution of the Homeland Security Department’s Roles and Missions.”

Here’s some of what he had to say in his written statement.

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Allen reminded people how quickly DHS got started 10 years ago. The perception of urgency in 2002 meant “little time was available for deliberate planning and thoughtful consideration of available alternatives” for establishing the Department.

The consequence of “fire before aiming?”

Basic mission support functions of the department such as financial accounting, human resource management, real property management, information resource management, procurement, and logistics were retained largely at the component level in legacy systems that varied widely. Funding for those functions was retained at the component level as well. In those cases where new entities were created (i.e. Departmental level management and operations, the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office) support systems had to be created rapidly to meet immediate demands of mission execution. Finally, components and departmental offices that did not preexist the legislation were located in available space around the Washington DC area and the Secretary and number of new functions were located at the Nebraska Avenue Complex in Northwest Washington.

The result was an organizational mess.

According to Allen,

Many of these issues persist today, ten years later. Despite several attempts to centralize and consolidate functions …, most support functions remain located in departmental components and the funding to support those functions remains in their appropriations. Because of dissimilarities between appropriations structures of components transferred from legacy departments there is a lack of uniformity, comparability, and transparency in budget presentations across the department. As a result it is difficult to clearly differentiate, for example, between personnel costs, operations and maintenance costs, information technology costs, and capital investment….”

Allen outlines other structural and process problems that have “severely constrained the ability [of] the Department [to] mature as an enterprise.”

What to do about it?

In the May/June issue of Public Administration Review (subscription required), Allen wrote an article called “Confronting Complexity and Leading Unity of Effort.”  The title summarizes the approach he’d take to remedy the structural disarray that is DHS.

I proposed that the major emerging challenge of public administration and governing is the increased level of complexity we confront in mission operations, execution of government programs, and managing non-routine and crisis events. Driving this complexity are rapid changes in technology, the emergence of global community, and the ever-expanding human-built environment that intersects with the natural environment in new more extreme ways.

So far nothing very new here. Just another statement from someone stuck in what Sebastian Gorka, Michael J. Gallagher, and Joshua A. Geltzer call the Complexity Trap [one of the few articles I've found that challenges the assumption almost everything interesting is complex.]

Allen moves away in his testimony from the theoretical and suggests what his complexity analysis could mean for DHS: as a unit of analysis, DHS may be too small.

No single department, agency, or bureau has the authorizing legislation, appropriation, capability, competency or capacity to address complexity alone. The result is that most government programs or services are “co-produced” by multiple agencies. Many involve the private/non-governmental sector, and, in some cases, international partners. Collaboration, cooperation, the ability to build networks, and partner are emerging as critical organizational and leadership skills. Homeland Security is a complex “system of systems” that interrelates and interacts with virtually every department of government at all levels and the private sector as well. It is integral to the larger national security system. We need the capabilities, capacities and competency to create unity of effort within the Department and across the homeland security enterprise.

Allen is unwilling to wait for complexity and the magic of emergence to produce unity of effort in the system of systems that is the homeland security. He wants to createunity of effort. He’s shifting from a managerial toward a leadership perspective.

What is Allen’s vision for DHS?

As we look forward to the next decade I would propose we consider two basic simple concepts: Mission execution and mission support. Mission execution is deciding what [you do] and how to do it. Mission support enables mission execution.

For the mission execution piece of the vision, Allen wants to take another look (through the next QHSR) at what DHS is responsible for.

[T]here should be a baseline assessment of the current legal authorities, regulatory responsibilities, treaty obligations, and current policy direction (i.e. HSPD/NSPD). I do not believe there has been sufficient visibility provided on the broad spectrum of authorities and responsibilities that moved to the department with the components in 2003….

Once that’s done, he wants to look at how homeland security missions still worth pursuing are carried out, and “without regard to current stove piped component activities.”

Using borders as an example, Allen writes

envision the border as an aggregation of functions across physical and virtual domains instead of the isolated and separate authorities, jurisdictions, capabilities, and competencies of individual components.

Resilience also would get a new, expanded look:

Instead of focusing on “insuring resiliency to disasters” we should focus on the creation and sustainment of national resiliency that is informed by the collective threat/risks presented by both the natural and human built environments. The latter is a more expansive concept than “infrastructure” and the overall concept subsumes the term “disaster” into [the] larger problem set that we will face. This strategic approach would allow integration of activities and synergies between activities that are currently stove piped within FEMA, NPPD, and other components. It also allows cyber security to be seen as activity that touches virtually every player in the homeland security enterprise.”

Allen succinctly illustrates the mission support element of his DHS vision this way:

[W]hen you go to work … every day you [do] one of two things: you either execute the mission or you support the mission…. [If] you cannot explain which one of these jobs you are doing, then we have done one of two things wrong … we haven’t explained your job properly or we don’t need your job.

How to accomplish the vision Allen sets out?

… I see three possible ways forward. The desirable course of action would be build the trust and transparency necessary for the Department and components to [collectively] agree to rationalize the mission support structure and come to agreements on shared services. The existing barriers are considerable but the first principals of mission execution apply here as well … unambiguous, clearly communicated strategic intent and unity of effort supported by transparency and exploitation of information. A less palatable course of action is top down directed action that is enforced through the budget process. The least desirable course of action is externally mandated change.

I think what that paragraph says to the people in DHS is “You’ve been building this agency for a decade. Get your act together internally and fix what you know is not working. If you don’t do it on your own, you will be directed to do it either through the budget or through law.”

I don’t believe the last two options can work. They depend on control, and I think the evidence — including DHS’s first decade — is very clear: deliberate control is not a property of a complex social system, like homeland security.

The first option might work. But it’s up to the men and women inside DHS and the enterprise to make it work. That takes leadership. Not leaders.

One more vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 12, 2013

Napolitano resigns as Homeland Security secretary

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday she is resigning to take a job running the University of California education system.

“I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects,” Napolitano said in a statement.

Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, is only the third person to lead the Department of Homeland Security. She held the job throughout President Obama’s first term.

July 11, 2013

Missing Homeland Security PPDs – why not online?

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Port and Maritime Security — by Christian Beckner on July 11, 2013

One of my ongoing frustrations over the past few years, since the merger of the Homeland Security Council into the National Security Council in 2009, has been the decision of the White House not to publicly release – with some exceptions – the Presidential Policy Directives (PPD’s) issued by the President.

This is not an issue of classification or related security concerns – to the best of my knowledge, the relevant homeland security PPD’s discussed below are unclassified and have no control markings.

Steven Aftergood at the Federation for American Scientists has a webpage that is the best online repository of these PPD’s.  As you can see on the list, six of them (2, 7, 8, 17, 18, 21) are on matters that are directly related to homeland security, but only two of these – PPD-8 on national preparedness and PPD-21 on critical infrastructure security and resilience – have been directly released by the Administration. One of them on the FAS site (PPD-2 on biological threats) is a watermarked leaked copy, apparently from DOD, and the other three are not publicly available.

The other three directives are nowhere to be found on the Internet.

PPD-7 is on the National Threat Advisory System, adopted in 2010 to replace the Homeland Security Advisory System.  I received a copy of this one while I was working at the Senate after requesting it, and all it really does is set roles and responsibilities for the rollout of the new system.  There’s no reason why it couldn’t be released publicly.

PPD-17 is on Countering Improvised Explosive Devices, and is apparently linked to this White House strategy on the topic released in February of this year.  The predecessor directive to PPD-17 by the Bush Administration, HSPD-19, was publicly released in February 2007 on the White House website.   Given the renewed attention to this issue in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, I would think that state and local law enforcement and emergency management agencies would benefit from a full understanding of current federal policy on this issue.

PPD-18 is on Maritime Security, and is referenced in a few places online, including a Coast Guard notice in the Federal Register, a US Navy document,  a LinkedIn profile, and a (now deleted) job posting at SAIC, but the directive itself is nowhere to be found on the Internet.  This directive replaces NSPD-41/HSPD-13, which was released publicly on the White House website in 2004, and DHS at the time released many of its supporting implementation plans (e.g. this one).

Given that the maritime domain is dominated by non-federal stakeholders – state and local governments, private sector entities, international partners – I do not understand why this directive has not been publicly released.  Without its public release, key stakeholders are likely still assuming that NSPD-41/HSPD-13 is the top-level federal policy directive on maritime security issues, when in reality it was rescinded nearly a year ago.

Why this lack of transparency for a category of documents that had been publicly released in the previous administration? I suspect a primary cause of this is the integration of the Homeland Security Council (HSC) into the National Security Council (NSC) in 2009.  The parts of the HSC that were absorbed into the new structure seem to have taken on the internal processes of the NSC, which has traditionally operated in the classified domain and worked on issues where federal agencies and international governments are the primary (if not sole) actors.  However, for nearly all homeland security issues, the participation of non-federal stakeholders is essential.

It’s not serving anyone’s interests for these directives to be kept so close hold.  Given the issues covered in these directives as well as the President’s stated commitment to government transparency, it’s overdue for these three PPD’s to be publicly released, and for the National Security Staff to become more transparent and forward-leaning in terms of releasing future PPD’s on homeland security-related issues.

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