Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 7, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 7, 2014

This week in 1918 the so-called Spanish Flu emerged at Ft. Riley, Kansas.  By noon on March 11, one-hundred soldiers were hospitalized.  The pandemic would peak in late 1918.  Estimates vary, but 25 to 50 million deaths worldwide are blamed on the virus.

On this day in 1942 in Smithfield, North Carolina a car collided with a truck carrying military munitions killing four and injuring more than 100.

On this day in 1965 a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama was intercepted by state and local law enforcement.  Police action resulted in seventeen marchers being hospitalized.  It came to be known as “Bloody Sunday”.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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Comment by John Comiskey

March 7, 2014 @ 5:05 am

HLS what ifs?

The 9/11 Commission lamented the U.S. government’s lack of foresight and most of all its lack of imagination.

Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon also thought communities of interests (COIs) should be doing more imagining. If COIs imagined more, they might unlock the “powers of possibility.”
See: http://www.amazon.com/Imagination-First-Unlocking-Power-Possibility/dp/1118013689/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1394131297&sr=8-3&keywords=Imagination

People in HLS do imagine. Sometimes they imagine with foresight and sometimes they imagine retrospectively.

Last week, one HLS blogger asked what if Ramzi Yousef had accomplished his goals? Another blogger asked what if NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly had implemented his 2002 Intelligence Enterprise in 1993? See:http://www.hlswatch.com/2014/02/26/alternative-reality-what-if-ramzi-yousef-had-accomplished-his-goals/

Today, this blogger offers three additional HLS-NYPD what ifs?

What if NYPD Police Commissioner Arthur Wood’s prescription for a national intelligence organization had been heeded after the July 30, 1916 Black Tom incident.

The Black Tom incident was the bombing of thousands of tons of munitions destined for Britain, France, and Russia in their war against imperial Germany. The attack was attributed to German saboteurs seeking to destroy supplies headed from neutral America to Germany’s enemies. Commissioner Wood said of the day’s events:

The lessons to America are clear as day. We must not again be caught napping with no adequate national intelligence organization. The several federal bureaus should be welded into one, and that one should be eternally and comprehensively vigilant.
See: Tunney & Hollister (1919) at: http://www.amazon.com/Throttled-detection-German-anarchist-plotters/dp/B002WU83N2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1393884722&sr=8-2&keywords=Tunney+%26+Hollister%2C+1919

What if NYPD Lt Ed Norris had been allowed to delve deeper into 1991 Meir Kahane murder suspect El Sayed Al Nosair four file cabinets full of Arabic documents?

Nosair was later convicted for his role in the 1993 WTC attack. The four file cabinets were telling. See: http://www.city-zournal.org/html/11_4_keeping_new_york.html

What if an Egypian immigrant had not told NYPD about his roommates’ bomb belts and plans to bomb the NYC subway in 1997?
See: Jihad in Brooklyn at: http://www.amazon.com/Jihad-Brooklyn-Stopped-Americas-Suicide/dp/0451214439/ref=pd_sim_b_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=19MVQCWN9R5ZT1YC1MEM

Alternative realities make for interesting reading and maybe more. What if the HLS Enterprise did more imagining and planning for the unthinkable? See: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/26762

What is your HLS what if?

This blog thread will be continued in Friday March 14

Comment by E. Earhart

March 7, 2014 @ 6:42 am

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Address by British Prime Minister David Cameron to MPs in the House of Commons on 15 June 2010 in response to the findings of the British Governments Saville Inquiry:

Mr Speaker, I am deeply patriotic. I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who I believe to be the finest in the world.

And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve. But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.

Comment by E. Earhart

March 7, 2014 @ 6:44 am

Sunday Bloody Sunday
British Prime Minister Cameron, cont.

Mr Speaker, this report and the inquiry itself demonstrate how a state should hold itself to account and how we should be determined at all times, no matter how difficult, to judge ourselves against the highest standards.

Openness and frankness about the past, however painful, they do not make us weaker, they make us stronger. That is one of the things that differentiates us from the terrorists. We should never forget that over 3,500 people from every community lost their lives in Northern Ireland, the overwhelming majority killed by terrorists.

There were many terrible atrocities. Politically-motivated violence was never justified, whichever side it came from. And it can never be justified by those criminal gangs that today want to draw Northern Ireland back to its bitter and bloody past.
No government I lead will ever put those who fight to defend democracy on an equal footing with those who contine to seek to destroy it. But neither will we hide from the truth that confronts us today.

In the words of Lord Saville, what happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed.

Comment by E. Earhart

March 7, 2014 @ 6:47 am

Boundless Moment, Robert Frost

He halted in the wind, and — what was that
Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
He stood there bringing March against his thought,
And yet too ready to believe the most.

“Oh, that’s the Paradise-in-bloom,” I said;
And truly it was fair enough for flowers
had we but in us to assume in march
Such white luxuriance of May for ours.

We stood a moment so in a strange world,
Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
A young beech clinging to its last year’s leaves.

Comment by E. Earhart

March 7, 2014 @ 6:49 am

If TS Eliot’s April is the cruelest month,
What if Robert Frost’s March can help us prevent it?

What If, by E.Earhart

Finding truth by losing preconceptions about the way we want the world to be;
“Not the Paradise-in-bloom . . . but the young beech clinging to last year’s leaves;”
Losing what we think we know in order to find what we least expect to see.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 7, 2014 @ 10:38 am

Thanks John for excellent post and links! Double E and others! You may find the BBC Contemporary Masterpiece show from several years ago entitled “Page Eight” concerning corruption by the political class of intelligence info.

Also the written masterpiece by C.P. Snow “The Corridors of Power”!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 7, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

Just a reminder that in four days it will be 3rd anniversary of the Fukishima Da-Ici events. Both an earthquake and tsunami followed by a core-melt nuclear accident.

I have labeled in the past this event as likely to be the largest concurrent crisis disaster in any single nation-state this century. IMO it is likely to change Japanese culture and IMO already has done so.

The UCS [Union of Concerned Scientists] has now published a book on this event available on Amazon.com!

I would appreciate any thoughts and/or links as this event is studied by anyone.

Domestically the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in turmoil over incorporating lessons learned from this event into their regulatory scheme. IMO there are in fact many lessons to be learned.

Do you know what nuclear power station is closest to where you live and how many reactors are at that site?

Comment by Justin Blake

March 7, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

In the past several weeks this blogger has been taking several different ICS classes. During this learning process I can see where mass confusion and organizational strategy can cause delays in response and recovery. There are very few incidents that reach over a lever three incident; a level three incident is most likely the largest and singular local agency will encounter. “A type two and type one incidents require resources from the national level, fill the requirements of the general and command staff positions, has above 200 operational personnel, and stretches over multiple operational periods.”(FEMA ICS-200) During these major incidents it is common to utilize Incident Management Teams or IMT’s to help facilitate the scope of the entire incident. For any large and extended operations IMT’s will be dispatched to help organize the different resources as well as give relief to the incident commander. Many of these IMT’s are not located anywhere near the actual location of the incident, which brings me to my next point. In order to speed up the response of these IMT’s and other supervisors it may be more effective to have a video or teleconference. This technology will allow the IMT members to instantly be in contact with the incident commander, as well as other members of the IMT. All information will be shared through the emergency network; this network will also have access to all GIS, elevation maps, and other needed information. This system can allow for all IMT’s to operate from only a few central locations divided into regions. This system will eliminate the need for individuals to fly all over the country constantly and increase the speed of the operations giving the operations branch a more organized approach in the initial operational periods.

ICS-200:Basic ICS Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

Comment by Meredith

March 7, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

Throughout many of our Homeland Security classes we always get into debates about privacy vs. security. This morning I came across an article called Spy game: Local police tap cell phones, and it sparked the debate of privacy vs. security in my mind. This article is about the Tallahassee Police Department in Florida that has been secretly spying on cell phone users. The way they have been doing this is with a surveillance device called a stingray. The stingray is “small mobile device that tricks cell phones into connecting to them as if they were cell phone towers. The technology gives police the ability to track phone movements and intercept both phone calls and text messages of any cell phone within range” (Patrick, 2014). http://watchdog.org/131254/local-police-spy/ The police in question admitted to “using the stingray over 200 times since 2010 without seeking a warrant” (Patrick, 2014).

In my opinion I am all for security, because I feel if you are not doing anything illegal and agencies are not abusing their power, why care? However, in this case of the Tallahassee Police department I feel as it they may have gone too far. For starters the police officers using these devices not only exposed personal information of countless individuals. But every police search they did with these devices is considered unconstitutional. To make matters worse, police officers in the agency “attempted to keep the practice secret, even from judges” (Patrick, 2014). Does anyone else believe the Tallahassee police officers went too far on this one?

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 7, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

Meredith! I could be wrong but believe STINGRAY implicated in use by police forces in Great Britain now causing a wide-scale public and MSM reaction!

And Justin videoconferencing has come a long way in last two decades! FEAR OF FLYING?

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 8, 2014 @ 6:31 am

Friday Free Forum:

Professor Sadie Creese one of the 500 most influential people in Britain

Professor Sadie Creese, Director of the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre at the Oxford Martin School, has been named as one of the 500 most influential people in Britain in recognition for her work in cyber security.

Cyber Security
The Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre

Our aim is to understand how to deliver effective cyber security both within the UK and internationally. We will make this knowledge available to governments, communities and organisations to underpin the increase of their capacity in ways appropriate to ensuring a cyber space which can continue to grow and innovate in support of well-being, human rights and prosperity for all.

We treat cyber security as a multi-dimensional concept spanning:

National and international policy and our ability to effectively deter and defend against cyber attacks.

Society, culture and the susceptibility of people to cyber crime, and their views on what is acceptable in terms of apportioning of responsibility for cyber risk and the use of cyber security tools.

The availability of a high-quality cyber security-skilled workforce and leadership, across the public, private and voluntary sectors, and the underpinning educational and training platforms required to develop and support them.

The legal and regulatory environments at large and their ability to stimulate good cyber security practice and to generally increase the resilience of cyber space and the people and organisations dependent upon it.

Availability and use of technology, processes, business models and standards to support control of cyber risk in the home, in the enterprise, across national critical infrastructures and across international cyberspace.

The Centre’s research and understanding the nuances of capacity across and within these dimensions, the types of activities which can be undertaken in order to deliver and increase capacity, where best practice exists, the conditions under which increase in capacity should be sought, and the ways in which the dimensions relate to and depend upon each other for success.

Our work is focused on developing a framework for understanding what works and what doesn’t work across all of these dimensions so that we might adopt policies which have the potential to significantly enhance our safety and security in cyber space in ways that respect other core values and interests, such as in privacy and freedom of expression.

Funded by the UK Government we are working with a wide range of global partners, including Governments, international organisations and the private sector.

Submitted by:

Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by E. Earhart

March 8, 2014 @ 7:36 am


Thanks for the thoughtful post. Privacy and security are antinomies that can coexist.

Is electronically tracking cell phones in this manner unconstitutional? If so where, some states or all states? If illegal in some but legal in others, who is right? Is a difference between right, wrong, legal and illegal?

The “C” and “U” word constitutional and unconstitutional are thrown around frequently based merely on “feelings”

I know there was a recent Supreme Court case ruling against the placement of GPS/tracking devices without a warrant. I know many argue that a cell phone with a GPS is no different. But have they ruled on tracking cell phones via GPS or via Stingray technology?

Comment by Kevin Gilhuly

March 8, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

Meredith & E. Earhart,
The questions E. Earhart proposes to Meredith made this user look into further research about the topic of warrantless cellphone GPS tracking. There were two big findings that I would like to reiterate in response to this matter of “constitutional or unconstitutional.” According to a federal appeals court on July 30th, 2013, it stated that “government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant” (Kravets, 2012). The reasoning behind this is because location data is “clearly a business record” and therefore not protected by the Fourth Amendment. Now looking back to a previous a federal appeals court case on August 14 2012, the authorities did not need a probable-cause warrant to track a suspect’s every move via GPS signals from a suspect’s mobile phone. Now the Obama administration upholds that “Americans have no expectation of privacy in cell-site records because they are in the possession of a third party — the mobile phone companies” (Sengupta, 2013). Now we can argue that cell site data is not as precise as GPS tracking however this analyst pushes that the concept of GPS tracking in a 21st century environment is utilizing cell site data.

SENGUPTA, SOMINI. (30 July 2013). Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Is Upheld. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/technology/warrantless-cellphone-tracking-is-upheld.html?_r=0
Kravets, David. (14 August 2012). Appeals Court OKs Warrantless, Real-Time Mobile Phone Tracking. Retrieved from: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/08/warrantless-gps-phone-tracking/

Comment by E. Earhart

March 9, 2014 @ 8:42 am

United States v. Jones

Holding: Attaching a GPS device to a vehicle and then using the device to monitor the vehicle’s movements constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.

Plain English Holding: The defendant’s conviction for drug trafficking must be reversed when some of the evidence to convict him was obtained through a GPS tracking device on his car, because the attachment of the GPS tracking device and then the use of that device to monitor the car’s whereabouts is a “search” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.
Judgment: Affirmed, 9-0, in an opinion by Justice Scalia on January 23, 2012. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion. Justice Alito also filed a concurring opinion, which was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan.

The five concurring members of the Court do not resolve the question of whether the search was reasonable in this case.


Comment by E. Earhart

March 9, 2014 @ 8:46 am

US v. Jones (from Scalia’s Opinion) interesting how he goes back to 1795 England to ascertain what the drafting founding fathers would have meant.


Argued November 8, 2011—Decided January 23, 2012

The Government’s attachment of the GPS device to the vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 3–12

JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

We decide whether the attachment of a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device to an individual’s vehicle, and subsequent use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements on public streets, constitutes a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

. . .

It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case: The Government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted. Entick v. Carrington, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C. P. 1765), is a “case we have described as a ‘monument of English freedom’ ‘undoubtedly familiar’ to ‘every American statesman’ at the time the Constitution was adopted, and considered to be ‘the true and ultimate
expression of constitutional law’” with regard to search and seizure. Brower v. County of Inyo,
489 U. S. 593, 596 (1989) (quoting Boyd v. United States, 116 U. S. 616, 626 (1886)).

Finality . . . Decided, right?

Comment by E. Earhart

March 9, 2014 @ 8:52 am

Not so fast . . . now that law enforcment can’t place a GPS tracker on a car, i.e. seizing private property, without a warrant, they must adapt, so they made greater use of cell phone data to track suspects.

The courts have ruled that the data itself are business records and there is no expectation of privacy, but that data is after the fact, catching someone after the crime has been committed. What about tracking in real time using Stingray or other devices?

Comment by E. Earhart

March 9, 2014 @ 8:53 am

US v. Melvin Skinner

Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Argued: January 19, 2012
Decided and Filed: August 14, 2012


ROGERS, Circuit Judge. When criminals use modern technological devices to carry out criminal acts and to reduce the possibility of detection, they can hardly complain when the police take advantage of the inherent characteristics of those very devices to catch them. This is not a case in which the government secretly placed a tracking device in someone’s car. The drug runners in this case used pay-as-you-go (and thus presumably more difficult to trace) cell phones to communicate during the cross-country shipment of drugs. Unfortunately for the drug runners, the phones were trackable in a way they may not have suspected. The Constitution, however, does not protect their erroneous expectations regarding the undetectability of their modern tools.


Comment by E. Earhart

March 9, 2014 @ 8:55 am

Jones distinguished from Skinner?

In so holding, the court distinguished its case from United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012) (previously covered by the Digest), in which the Supreme Court held that placing a GPS tracking device on a car violated the Fourth Amendment. Unlike Jones, in which police trespassed onto private property, Skinner purchased the phone himself and the phone freely emitted signals that revealed his location, which eliminated any reasonable expectation of privacy on Skinner’s part.

Comment by John Comiskey

March 10, 2014 @ 3:10 am

E. Earhart,

Implications of e-communications are far reaching.So says the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and at least one Texas Magistrate.

This blogger presumes that cell phone users expectation of privacy is limited. Of concern to this blogger is investigators and court knowledge of Stingray and cell tower technological capabilities.

I understand that in the case of cell towers and stingrays, phones can be geolocated and in some cases voice and text messages intercepted.

The Texas Magistrate and this blogger are concerned that the agents and U.S. attorneys making warrant requests didn’t provide details on how the tools worked or would be used — and even seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.

“Without such an understanding, they cannot appreciate the constitutional implications of their requests,” Magistrate Judge Brian Owsley wrote in an order last month, adding the government was essentially asking him to allow “a very broad and invasive search affecting likely hundreds of individuals in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

See http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2012/10/22/judge-questions-tools-that-grab-cellphone-data-on-innocent-people/tab/print/

Comment by Kevin G

March 13, 2014 @ 11:40 pm

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami with waves as high as 133 feet. More than 15,000 people died and about 6,000 were injured. From this horrible disaster, a horrible incident involving the Fukushima power plant occurred in which the power plant is now leaking radiation into the Pacific Ocean. We just recently passed the three year anniversary of this incident, and now the U.S. will start to feel the repercussions from this incident. According to multiple prediction models, this radiation should reach U.S. soil by April into early summer 2014. The current models also predict that the initial radiation will be at levels too low to harm humans; however the data is inconclusive so the need for further monitoring including at the federal level is necessary. “Models predict that Cesium 134 will be diluted in the ocean by the time it reaches the California’s coast. Cesium 134 has a half-life of two years, meaning it takes two years to break down into a more stable material (Loew, 2014 p. 1).” The debate then opens up as to the actual health risk of radioactive material in the environment. We know that large amounts of radioactivity exposure can cause “vomiting and hair loss, while more serious cases can damage the central nervous system” (Editor, 2014 p.1). The need to shift focus on this slowly approaching hazard should provide for numerous debates however, it seems the debate seems to be on the side of carelessness as if this radiation is being downplayed by Scientists. A re-evaluation of how much trust we are putting in these “prediction models” as a means for preparedness is being called forward by this blogger.


Editor.(12 March 2014). Radiation from Fukushima to reach West Coast in April. Homeland Security News Wire. Retrieved from: http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20140312-radiation-from-fukushima-to-reach-west-coast-in-april

Loew, Tracy. (9 March 2014). Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation. USA Today. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/09/scientists-test-west-coast-for-fukushima-radiation/6213849/

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