Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 20, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 20, 2014

On this day last year the Canadian province of Alberta experienced the start of a period of sustained flooding that displaced more than 100,000 and caused damage exceeding $5 billion.

On this day, also last year, the Colorado Black Forest Fire was declared 100 percent contained after burning more than 14,000 acres, destroying 486 homes, and resulting in two deaths.

Symantec, the computer security firm, has released a warning related to cyberattacks planned for today.  According to the warning the target will be the global energy industry.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?


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Comment by John Comiskey

June 20, 2014 @ 4:47 am

Flash: 2014 QHSR released.

Chris B said, notwithstanding a comma, his initial spoonful was hope.

Hope is hidden everywhere including Pandora’s box. Selfishly, I too am hopeful. I have high hopes for my son and daughter 21 and 18. The 21 year old is an NYPD police cadet. They bear my hopes and prayers.

In addition, I have high hopes for my students who also bear my hopes and prayers.

The 2014 QHSR affirms much of the 2010 QHSR and repeats the 5 basics HLS missions.

My first takeaways include:

HLS is an evolving landscape

Terrorism is primary mission

Natural disasters effected by climate change and aging and independent infrastructure

Homeland Security Architecture is maturing.

Intelligence is more adept at identifying and disrupting terrorism.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 20, 2014 @ 7:35 am

Another perspective….Friday Free Forum —

Expert view:

Andreas Krieg, a Middle East security analyst at King’s College London in Qatar

With jihadist fighters closing in on Baghdad with such apparent ease, could they really take control of Iraq? And do they even want to?

Here, Andreas Krieg, a Middle East security analyst at King’s College London in Qatar, gives MailOnline his verdict on ISIS’s chances of toppling Baghdad and whether they can achieve their ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic state.
Will ISIS try to take Baghdad?

It is clear that ISIS is moving towards Baghdad so it seems they are trying to take Baghdad.

It would be unrealistic to seize Baghdad considering the concentration of Iraqi military, private armed contractors, Shi’a militias and armed neighborhood watches there.

Also, I think that the U.S. will draw a red line when it comes to Baghdad.
It depends how far ISIS is willing to go into Baghdad before they realise that it might not be worth the costs. One needs to consider as well that ISIS as a jihadist organisation also tries to spread fear and terror.

So what’s the alternative?

For them, it might be sufficient to demonstrate to the population of the city that they are not safe as long as they support Maliki (the Iraqi Prime Minister).
They can do that by drawing Iraqi security forces into fierce urban combats or by using their terrorist wing to plant bombs. These tactics, however, will not bring about control of the city.

They might enter the city and bring about a stalemate, but it seems unlikely at this moment to expect Baghdad to fall.

So what happens then?

In order to achieve their strategic objective of creating an actual caliphate (Islamic state), they do not need Baghdad.
It would be more sensible at this point to consolidate power and control over these areas under its responsibility.

What is a caliphate?

The idea of caliphate in their minds is quite a vague concept. All jihadi as well as many moderate Islamist organisations ultimately seek to establish a caliphate.
ISIS is the one organisation that has come the closest of actually controlling territory.

For Al Qaeda, the concept of the caliphate is a more utopian concept. This is where ISIS breaks with Al Qaeda and its own past.
They have proclaimed Al Baghdadi as the Emir of their caliphate, which now comprises large areas stretching from northern Syria to Iraq.

How will they go about establishing one?

ISIS is mostly regarded as a foreign entity as most of its fighters are not from the Levant. Most of ISIS in Iraq are not from Iraq and most of ISIS in Syria are not from Syria.

So they need to recruit mujahedeen from abroad in order to not just keep on fighting but also hold the territory and establish a governance structure.
So far, they have taken only basic public services such as collecting garbage, collecting taxes (zakat), enforcing Sharia law, replacing Imams in bigger cities with their own Imams etc.

But for the most part administering is done through coercion.
Law and order is enforced by deterrence. They have public show trials where defendants get publicly lashed or executed.

With limited forces available to administer the country, the local population could probably cause major problems if they rose up against ISIS.
ISIS control is very fragile as people only co-operate due to fear not because they want to. Just because they have seized territory from official statutory power, it does not make them a statutory power.

But they are learning and if there are able over the coming months and years to consolidate their power, they might be able to erect a quasi-regime loosely keeping all those territories together

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 20, 2014 @ 7:40 am

Friday Free Forum – The Trumpet Magazine – Iraq/Iran and the US —

In times of crisis, real warriors come to the surface and demonstrate their leadership.

“And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid” (1?Samuel 17:24). Saul offered a great reward to anyone who would stand up to Goliath. But no one would fight, even for riches. You see the same pathetic spirit of timidity and fear in the United States today.

Why were these men so shamefully fearful?

It was primarily because of Saul’s poor leadership. Young David had a totally different spirit. “And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (verse 26).

David saw these men, not as the armies of Israel, but the armies of the living God! Who would dare defy the armies of the living God? he asked. Not one person in that army looked at it that way, and David was just shocked at their shameful cowardice.

This was a real crisis of Israel’s leadership! It is exactly the state to which America has descended. And young David is a picture of the kind of leadership necessary to empower the nation—even today.

In times of crisis, real warriors come to the surface and demonstrate their leadership.

David wanted to remove the “reproach” this situation was bringing on Israel. That word means scorn, contempt, vile dishonor. That is what the Philistines had brought on the nation! David took that as a personal insult!

Don’t we see the exact same reproachful attitude today toward the United States by nations such as Iran, Russia and China? Nations all over this Earth routinely despise and taunt the United States, regardless of America’s superior strength. There is no respect or fear of the United States.

Where is the David-like leader to stand up and defend the honor of the nation?

Who in America would stand up and fight for the honor of their nation—or even the honor of God? Even America’s valiant soldiers are restrained by disgraceful and incoherent policies from the top. No longer do the nations of Israel fight for their own honor.

Weakness is revealed when a nation does not put down that dishonor. When enemies see that weakness, they become increasingly contemptuous, and grow bolder and more dangerous.

There is a gaping hole in our society today! Our leaders simply will not fight for the honor of God or our nation.

King David’s example is there for all of us to learn from, especially our leaders! ?

Comment by Brian Lozada

June 20, 2014 @ 7:41 am

Despite the U.S. military being out of Iraq since 2011, Special Forces are now being considered to be deployed as a result of the recent ISIS uprising. ISIS continues to add to the number of casualties incurred over the past few weeks, most recently with a car bomb and two road bomb explosions just forty miles outside the nation’s capital, killing three people and injuring fifteen others. In response to these actions, the Pentagon has suggested that President Obama send up to one hundred Special Forces advisors to Iraq to partner with the Iraqi military. In addition, both manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Iraq have already begun to gather intelligence on ISIS activity (Carter, Smith-Spark, Fantz, & Labott, 2014).

My concern with sending Special Forces to assist in Iraq’s fight against ISIS is that it will end up resulting in a battalion in the end, causing U.S. ground troops to return to Iraq after being absent for the past three years. The larger issue here is that every time Iraq is in trouble with threats to their own security, they will continue to ask the U.S. for assistance. This ongoing cycle will ultimately produce a country that is unable to defend itself; therefore, we are doing Iraq a disservice should we send troops in response to this radical group’s insurgence.

For more information, see http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/19/politics/iraq-crisis/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews

Comment by Samantha Wilson

June 20, 2014 @ 9:14 am

Today, I am concerned about the threat to the American advisers that President Obama is sending to Iraq and the future of America’s involvement in Iraq. As I was watching President Obama speak yesterday, I was wondering what exactly these advisers would be doing and who they are, and I am not alone. A retired Marine sergeant believes the term “adviser” is the wrong word to use, citing this language as political. He says, “We are calling them adviser now … instead of combat troops or boots on the ground.” He, along with myself and others, is understandably concerned that these advisers’ roles will subtly morph into combat roles, and the U.S. will once again be involved in Iraqi conflict. Although the ISIS militants are targeting Shiites, I am concerned that by inserting ourselves into the area and into the conflict, the U.S. will make itself a target, as well. ISIS militants, described as being “semi-illiteral (illiterate) thugs driving around in pickup trucks with machine guns” will probably not care that the Americans in Iraq are only there as advisers; if they want to harm Americans, they will, regardless of their reasons for being in Iraq. U.S. involvement, no matter how small the involvement may seem, is threatening to America.

For more information:

Comment by John Comiskey

June 20, 2014 @ 9:25 am

(Continued from 4:47 a.m. post. I experienced technical issues)

Examples continued:

TSA Pre & Global Entry demonstrate efficient risk-based security (note this is a DHS claim)

Most important notes:

1. Risk-awareness and management preeminent
2. Shared governess awareness (strengthening national preparedness and resilience includes “corollary responsibility” to become more efficient across a large and decentralized structure).

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 20, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

U.S. military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways over the past decade, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

Documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes.

Read more at:

Comment by Darryl Cleveland

June 20, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

I’m new to this site, but was encouraged by a colleague to post a thought on here. I recently attended a couple of homeland security and emergency management higher education symposiums that broadened my horizons of thought and consideration on these subjects.

I received an email with attached video while attending one of these symposiums. The video link is


It has raised a very curious issue for me that I had not before considered… Wildfires as a significant Homeland Security concern. This is an exceptionally well done video highlighting “Mega” fires in the US and Australia over the last few decades. Interestingly, this is a subject that has been a large part of my fire service career over the past 32 years, but more interestingly, thinking about the omissions and commissions that got us here let alone the potential homeland security risk that these “Mega Fires” pose. Let me explain.

Certainly there is nothing we can do about cyclic weather patterns such as drought and wet seasons. I believe they are normal cycles in a very cyclic world (without engaging in the climate change argument albeit I believe there is some merit to it). However, what I have observed is more of a definitive man made phenomena. Nearly simultaneous to our US policy of suppressing all fires, due to urban sprawl and environmental concerns, we also, for environmental reasons, stopped managing forests through responsible logging in many parts of the country. There is no doubt that logging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were very irresponsible and those scars still exist today.

However, what we have adopted as national policy, suppress all fires and logging simultaneous to each other, has led to these now, “Mega” fires we experience today. Forests cannot survive both a lack of vegetative management, too many trees per acre, and no healthy ground fire, in conjunction with prolonged drought conditions such as are experienced regularly and frequently in the western United States and much of Australia. This combination of policies and now cultural norms have added to the high fire severity we see today, where yearly we are witnessing both entire ecosystems being completely destroyed and communities alike.

So what is the homeland security concern? Could fire be used as a weapon of mass destruction and chaos in our rural, suburban and even urban communities?

And, is there a potential solution? Could this situation be better managed by re-introducing responsible, healthy timber harvesting in these much over-grown forests? Would such a proposal add economic viability to these locations by creating jobs while at the same time minimizing a significant disaster and homeland security potential? Or, are we now beyond the tipping point after multiple decades of policy that led to the perfect storm of “Mega Fires” as a significant environmental and homeland security concern?

Comment by Frank Gorman

June 20, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

Today, I had business at Newark Airport near the terminal for private and corporate jets. I am probably not the only person to be concerned about this, but it occurred to me that a 9/11 aviation attack might easily be undertaken by exploiting the lack of security at such facilities. A well-funded terror organization could charter a medium sized jet, and have pilot trained hijackers pose as passengers. There is minimal screening of baggage and passengers at such facilities, so smuggling hand weapons aboard would not pose much of a challenge.
Once airborne, the passengers (hijackers) could seize control of the aircraft and turn it into a missile. Granted, the largest plane available may be a 737, but an extended range model carries a large quantity of fuel. I hope this never happens, but it does seem feasible. Even a small Lear or Falcon jet could destroy a tank farm or energy generation plant if deliberately crashed.
The role of TSA should be expanded to provide further scrutiny of these aviation operations. I am sure there would be considerable resistance from the corporate fliers of the world, but I believe these current arrangements merit another look in the interest of aviation security.
Also on the subject of transportation, it is equally troubling that passenger railroad trains do not require engineers to be locked in the control cab of their rolling stock. The Metro-North derailment in December 2013 at Spuyten Duyvel, Bronx, NY was a tragic accident. Four were killed, and scores injured on an early Sunday morning train, which was comparatively empty, compared to a weekday rush our train. Hijackers could easily re-enact this incident on a packed train, with no explosives, and potentially kill hundreds. Better security measures are needed now on commuter rail – it is only a matter of time before terrorists exploit this easy target, and lax attitudes of traincrews and their supervision.
All forms of public transportation are easy targets, we should not make it easier on our adversaries.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 20, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

Breaking News:


When the Executive WH, the AG himself and even the IRS refuse to never mind explain, no apologies accepted, where emails are intentionally lost to cover up wrong doing just as those of our brave died at the “Benghazi Massacre” with no orders to support our men….really….

….and this intentional deception of the American people and breach of faith is allowed to continue by these Congressional and Senate “clowns” leading this disgraceful “Chicago-Hollywood-Washington charade” with Barry Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Bush, Billy boy and his no sex and the whole lot failing to honor our American Democracy, our beloved Republic, our Judeo-Christian values and our Constitution and their solemn pledge to – faithfully execute the duties and responsibilities of their office – well folks….

Enough is enough….

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