Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 1, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 1, 2014

On this day the Great Flood of 1993 is thought to have peaked along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.  Thirty-two died.  Over $15 billion in damages.

On this day in 2007 the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing thirteen and injuring over 140.

On this day in 2013 the Department of State closed several US diplomatic missions across the Middle East and North Africa.  The official announcement noted, “Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.”

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 1, 2014 @ 12:30 am

Brennan’s apology to the US Senate over ransacking of Senate computers by the CIA leaves open the issues raised by technology and separation of powers IMO!

At the University of Delaware in Newark DE a PhD student has been dismissed for running over 20 surveillance cameras in women’s restrooms for over two years. Are you safe, including safe from surveillance when living in a congregate care or school setting?

What is status of CCTV in USA?

Comment by Samantha Wilson

August 1, 2014 @ 10:07 am

As a nation, we must be paying close attention to the Ebola outbreak that is occurring in West Africa. News stations are currently spending a great deal of their time covering stories about border legislation and the violence occurring in Gaza, but Americans must also pay attention to information about the Ebola virus. Just yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory, warning individuals to avoid non-essential travel to West Africa. As of yesterday, 729 have died from the disease, and many others are ill, including two Americans. These two Americans are being evacuated and brought home to the U.S., and although they are being brought to medical facilities and will be treated in a contained environment, it is a bit unnerving to think about the effects of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. There is neither a vaccine nor a cure for the disease, and if the virus seeped into the general public, the results could be devastating for the general public health of the nation and homeland security. An outbreak would lead to a breakdown of daily life in America, with individuals staying home, avoiding work, and avoiding public places, allowing the nation’s economy and stability to wear down. This would leave the U.S. vulnerable to other threats, as attention would largely be focused on the health crisis. It is possible that, within the near future, the U.S. can see the Ebola virus within its borders, and this is a very real threat. If it does not occur with this virus (which I hope it does not), there will be other outbreaks in the future that the homeland security community will have to worry about. As a headline on CNN’s homepage reads, this is a “deadly virus in a globally connected world,” and the U.S. is certainly a part of the countless ties that bind the world together.

For more information: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/31/cdc-ebola-travel-advisory/13413437/


Comment by Frank Gorman

August 1, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

Today, Fox News is reporting on its website that, “SUNNI MUSLIM EXTREMISTS of the Islamic State — formerly known as ISIS — are using social media like Twitter and Facebook, and video sites like YouTube and LiveLeak to post graphic images of beheadings to strike fear across the Middle East in its brutal campaign to create a caliphate across North Africa to Iraq.” (Chiaramonte, 2014). Perry Chiaramonte also reported that these Islamic Statists have grown into a full-fledged army, which has threatened to strike Jordan, other Arab states, and the United States.
These are both concerning developments. The use of modern mass and social media by a group that wishes to impose shahera (sic) law is ironic, but could prove very dangerous to the US and our allies. We know from past incidents, and the terror researcher/expert Hoffman has written about how violent home grown extremists often rely on social media to learn about hate, conjure up ideas for attacks, etc. ISIS may not yet be able to directly attack the US, but they sure are trying to entice HE’s to do so on their behalf. I am not a fan of censorship, but certain things should be banned – organizations such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., should do a better job of filtering terrorists’ posts.
The other concern, is the threats to Jordan, and other nations in the mid-east by ISIS. While not yet a clear and present danger to the US, if ISIS manages to interfere with the flow of oil from the region, the US, and the global economy, will be severely adversely affected. The US must work with its allies, and even with traditional adversaries, such as Iran to stop ISIS now.
Works Cited
Chiaramonte, P. (2014, August 1). Fox News. Retrieved from Foxnews.com: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/01/social-media-jihad-islamic-state-ramps-up-gruesome-internet-campaign/

Comment by Brian Lozada

August 1, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

This Monday, July 28th, three bills to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks were passed by the House of Representatives. The National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2014 (HR 3696), the Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Advancement Act (HR 2952), and the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (HR 3107) express the mutual goal “to strengthen efforts to combat cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure through the distribution of cyber threat information, the development and procurement of new technologies and support for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity workforce” (Homeland Security Today, 2014).

The first bill, HR 3696, has a particular interest in fostering partnerships between the private sector and DHS in an effort to promote real-time cyber threat information sharing; the second bill, HR 2952, calls for an amendment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to improve laws related to advancing cyber security technologies; the third bill, HR 3107, requires an assessment of the cybersecurity workforce to identify and address any gaps (Homeland Security Today, 2014).

The bi-partisan cybersecurity measures addressed by these three acts will be crucial to the successful preparation of, response to, and recovery from future cyber-attacks against our nation’s critical infrastructure, whether from nation-states, terrorist groups, SCADA systems vulnerability, or similar threats. The passing of these bills comes just a few months after Clapper (once again) identified cyber-related attacks as the number one threat to the United States in the 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment.

For more information, see the following link: http://www.hstoday.us/briefings/daily-news-analysis/single-article/3-bills-to-protect-critical-infrastructure-from-cyber-attack-passed-by-house/23ae7921394489cf0714febca24c5f57.html

Comment by E. Earhart

August 2, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

Top 10 Most Dangerous Groups-
Based on Terrorist & Rebel Activity Over Past 30 Days
as of 21 Jul. 2014- Group Threat Index (GTI)

Rank Terrorist/Rebel Group GTI Score

1 Islamic State (IS) 624
2 Boko Haram 458
3 al-Shabaab 448
4 Donetsk People’s
Republic (DPR) 298
5 Taliban 197
6 al-Qaeda Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP) 176
7 al-Huthi Rebels 134
8 Jabhat al-Nusrah 105
9 Islamic Front 98
10 National Movement for
Liberation of Azawad
(MNLA) 40

Source: http://intelcenter.com/reports/charts/gti/

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 3, 2014 @ 4:02 am

The race to find an EBOLA vaccine in the USA has started!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 3, 2014 @ 6:24 am

Thanks Brian, addressing our infrastructure is a real priority and this news is so encouraging! Concerns to the vulnerability of our electric grid is so very, very important as a nation to assure the lights stay on!

Breaking News:

The EU has banned its citizens from any long-term investments (over 90 days) in Russian state-owned banks. This includes Sberbank, the largest lender in all of central and Eastern Europe. Its share price has fallen by nearly a third since the start of the year. vtb, another major bank on the EU’s sanctions list, has seen its share price fall by one-fifth over the same time period.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 3, 2014 @ 6:30 am

Rouhani: ‘Festering Zionist Tumor’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at Israel in vitriolic terms on Wednesday, referring to Israel as a “festering Zionist tumor.” Rouhani, who has been championed by Western media as a moderate reformer who could change Iran’s ex- tremist ways, appears to be adopting a violent tone similar to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has advocated for the complete destruction of Israel in recent days.

“Today, this festering Zionist tumor has opened once again and has turned the land of olives into destruction and blood, and littered the land with the body parts of Palestinian children,” Rouhani was quoted as saying in a statement that was translated by the Brookings Institution.

Rouhani’s comments have received little attention in the Western media, which rushed to congratulate the Iranian leader last year for sending
a greeting to Jews during the Rosh Hashanah holiday.
Rouhani went on to compare Israel to the jihadists affiliated with the Is- lamic State of Iraq and the Levant (isil or isis), which Iran is fighting against in Iraq.
isil is “a second festering tumor that murders people in the name of Islam,” Rouhani said, adding that “analysts say that both of these tumors [are] derived from the same origin.” …

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iranian dissident and cofounder of Iranian Lib- eral Students and Graduates, warned that Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the lead negotia- tor in talks with the West, are fooling the world by posing as moderates.

“Rouhani and Zarif to Khamenei are the same as Joachim von Ribben- trop was to Adolf Hitler,” Ghassemi- nejad said. “Both are loyal servants to a dangerous apartheid regime that wants to change the world order dramatically and is ready to use any means available to reach its deal. Like Ribbentrop, it is their job to fool the world, buy time for the regime, and


Just 90 minutes into the “humanitarian” “ceasefire” Hamas emerged from a terror tunnel, detonated a sui- cide bomb and took one Jew hostage back through the tunnel.

Terrorists emerged from a tunnel shaft, and a suicide bomber detonated near soldiers prior to the suspected kidnapping; the Israel Defense Forces (idf) says … it is in the midst of efforts to track down [the] missing soldier.

Some of the terror tunnels are almost 2 miles long and cost upwards of $1 million each to construct. Some of that construction money comes from American taxpayers. Some of those tunnels were built with entrances in- side United Nations buildings, ostensi- bly with tacit UN approval.

A former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq, slammed U.S. media for perpetuating the myth that Rouhani is a Western-style moderate. “The Iranian government counts on the fact that the American media will act as useful idiots,” Rubin said. “Some self-censor for access, oth- ers simply believe what they read in English—for example Rouhani’s Rosh Hashanah tweet—and ignore com- pletely what the Iranian leadership says in Persian.” … Rubin noted that several years ago Rouhani boasted about his ability to appease the United States with promises of diplomacy. …

As Western leaders such as Presi- dent Barack Obama seek to get closer to Rouhani, his regime has armed ter- ror groups such as Hamas and sought to spread regional chaos. …

“The mullahs in Tehran have signifi- cantly increased their influence as the United States wants to please Iran by recognizing what is being called Iran’s legitimate interests as a major power in the Middle East,” [Ghasseminejad] said.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 4, 2014 @ 12:44 am

Ebola toll headed towards 1000!

Comment by Stephen Swain

August 6, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

There are a few issues that are presently happening that are presenting challenges to those involved with Homeland Security. First is the problem with undocumented unaccompanied children crossing our borders. Prior to 2012, there were 6,000-8,000 undocumented children without a guardian entering the United States every year (MacArthur Foundation, 2014). In 2012 the number of children entering without guardians rose to 13,625, in 2013 the number rose to 24,668, and in 2014 the government predicts that there will be over 60,000 children that enter the US (MacArthur Foundation, 2014). The majority of these children come from Central America, Mexico, and China (MacArthur Foundation, 2014).

Right now President Obama is considering an executive action to help with the large surge of undocumented immigrants that are crossing the border. Obama considers Undocumented Unnacompanied children a larger problem, but realizes that he needs to assist border security agencies with the flow of all immigrants across the border. According to an article published by ABC news, supporters of immigration reform are pushing Obama and his administration to consider issuing work permits for more of the 11 million immigrants that live here in the United States (ABC, 2014). If Obama is to act on an executive action, since Republicans and Democrats cannot reach a conclusion, there is the possibility that his decision could make the influx of those trying to get across the border worse.

Another issue that has surfaced in recent weeks is the large outbreak of the Ebola virus. While I will not express my thoughts exactly on what could happen with this due to the fact that this is an online forum that anyone can access, I think it is extremely important for Homeland Security officials to “think like the bad guy”. It would not take much for me to believe that there is not a terrorist somewhere in the world that would like to take the Ebola virus and exploit its deadly effects in a populated area of the United States.

Homeland Security officials should be working close with the CDC and public health officials to make sure that there are appropriate plans in place should an Ebola outbreak occur in any designated area of the United States. One of the most important phrases that has ever been taught to me is “failing to plan, is planning to fail”.


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