Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 8, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 8, 2014

On this day in 2007 an EF2 tornado struck Brooklyn, New York. (Swiss Re recently published a study of the tornado threat to US urban areas.)

On this day in 2009 a small plane and a tour helicopter collided over the Hudson River between Hoboken and Manhattan.  Nine died.

On this day in 2013 a suicide bombing at a funeral in Quetta, Pakistan kills over thirty.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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32 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 3:56 am

The abolition of the Water Resources Council and non-statutory river basin commissions by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 looms larger every year as one of the most self-destructive acts to the resilience of the USA by a President ever. Sadly all Presidents since could easily have remedied this huge mistake.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 4:04 am

Many completely wrong lessons are being drawn from Storm Sandy.

One of the worst IMO is that the National Flood Insurance Program is a problem for development in the Northeast over the rest of this century and not a solution to many problems.

Another is that more free disaster relief will solve the nation’s disaster problems.

Former Director of FEMA used to state that in his opinion 20% of FEMA employees did 100% of the work!

Today?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 4:07 am

Too bad more high ranking officials of DHS don’t write more books about their experiences. Two I would like to read would be written by Thad Allen and Juliette Kayyem!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 4:13 am

A decade it turns out that TSA and DHS are largely by culture and leadership Law Enforcement agencies or uniformed military. No problemo or a big problem?

One former TSA Administrator John McGaw was fired for trying to be too law enforcement oriented. As a former Ohio State Trooper and Secret Service agent seems he did what he knew.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 4:20 am

New postings continue on the Federation of American Scientists FAS/FEMA page at:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/index.html

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 4:26 am

Did you know that when Congress returns in mid-September from recess OMB budget guidance on Fiscal Year 2016 will have gone out to the federal departments and agencies? This guidance is always embargoed from public release until the President’s FY 2016 budget proposal is released after the State of the Union Address in January 2015.

What should that guidance be for HS?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 4:33 am

Long long ago in a galaxy far far away their was a formalism and formality to the federal budget that has almost disappeared.

The terms programs, functions, and activities were utilized largely tied to line-items in the budget.

If you are an official administering a program, function, or activity should it be of a concern that you have no line-item? Why or why not? Perhaps you run a program based on user fees. Should all of DHS’s budget be based on user fees?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 4:35 am

How many FTE’s in DHS allocated to criminal law enforcement?

Environmental protection?

Resilience?

Washing the laundry of other bureaucrats?

Comment by Frank Gorman

August 8, 2014 @ 7:22 am

Last night, President Obama addressed the nation regarding his authorization of air strikes against ISIS forces in northern Iraq who are committing genocide against Christians. The President also authorized humanitarian air drops of food and water to the Christians surrounded on a mountain. An hour or so after the airstrikes were announced; rockets resumed falling into Israel from Gaza. While this is conjecture on my part, I surmise these rocket attacks may be an act of support for ISIS by Hamas, as the United States is viewed as a staunch ally of Israel.
I applaud President Obama’s decision, although I wish he had acted sooner. This genocide has been underway for weeks. Showing weakness by allowing ISIS to run through Iraq unchecked has emboldened them and their allies; they are now saying they will raise the flag of Allah on the White House. While there is a risk that our air strikes may cause home grown extremists here in the US to go operational, they will be become operational sooner or later anyway. I know this is not always the case, based on the “stairs of terrorism” concept, however it is probable.. Preventing genocide is the duty of all global citizens.
Based on the state of world events, law enforcement and intelligence agencies should be on high alert for strikes against the homeland, and US interests abroad. ISIS has a sympathetic ear in Al Qaeda and other sworn enemies of America. After the murder of a two star general yesterday in Afghanistan, and us flying combat missions in Iraq again, our enemies, both foreign and domestic, are likely wishful, and/or planning an attack – particularly as the thirteenth anniversary of September 11th approaches.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 7:46 am

Well Frank appreciate your sentiments but why no UN resolution? Disclosure: I believe in Christ. But has the USA now formally adopted the mantle of Christian Nation
and willing to protect Christians anywhere?

Crusades may be out of date but is the USA in a de facto CRUSADE mow?

Would followers of that great western religion ISLAM agree?

Comment by Brian A. Lozada

August 8, 2014 @ 9:09 am

On Tuesday, August 5th, it was reported that Russian hackers successfully stole 1.2 billion Internet user names and passwords, which, according to CNN, may be “the largest collection of stolen digital credentials in history” (O’Toole & Pagliery, 2014). The criminals responsible for the compromise make money by hacking into email and social media accounts and posing as friends, advertising bogus products. They have been known to buy user data on the black market and, most recently, have been using an automated program that taps into website vulnerabilities.

The billions of user data that have been hacked this time are not currently seen as a cause for alarm, as the names and passwords are for websites that were not associated with users’ bank accounts or other sensitive information; however, given that humans are creatures of habit, we tend to use similar passwords for all accounts. For example, if a hacker steals a password for a magazine subscription, there is a likely chance that they could successfully use that same password to try to get into that person’s bank account, e-mail, etc. Even if the passwords are slightly different by a character or two, the probability of a hacker accessing additional accounts based on one stolen password is high.

Another cause for concern is the information that is accessible by each of the individuals who is compromised as a result of the hack. Of the 1.2 billion users who were affected by the Russian hack, how many were federal workers, state employees, or members of the homeland security enterprise? Should these users’ personal passwords be compromised, the agencies that they represent are also vulnerable.

For more information, please see the following article: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/05/technology/security/russian-hackers-theft/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Comment by Donald Quixote

August 8, 2014 @ 9:40 am

This is a rather infrequent occurrence:

Dear Mr. Chairmen and Ranking Members:

The undersigned federal Inspectors General write regarding the serious limitations on access to records that have recently impeded the work of Inspectors General at the Peace Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Justice. Each of us strongly supports the principle that an Inspector General must have complete, unfiltered, and timely access to all information and materials available to the agency that relate to that Inspector General’s oversight activities, without unreasonable administrative burdens. The importance of this principle, which was codified by Congress in Section 6(a)(1) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (the IG Act), cannot be overstated. Refusing, restricting, or delaying an Inspector General’s access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s performance.

http://www.grassley.senate.gov/sites/default/files/issues/upload/IG%20Access%20Letter%20to%20Congress%2008-05-2014.pdf

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 10:25 am

DQ! Good comment and you should also know that almost all IG’s struggle daily to be cleared for access and then given access to classified materials, and classified programs, functions and activities.

Suggest you search on WWW for term “DEEP STATE” our fourth and most powerful branch of government unsupervised, unregulated, with little Congressional oversight or accountability.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 10:30 am

RASHOMAN–one version of the truth:

Cumming, W. R., Rubin, C.B. and Renda-Tanali, I. 2004. A concept of homeland security functions. Revision 1a. (pdf document – 1 page)

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 10:31 am

To get link to document cited in my last comment go to:

http://www.vacationlanegrp.com

Comment by Dan O'Connor

August 8, 2014 @ 11:07 am

Bill;

Interesting series of questions re; Christianity. Yes, on the one hand interceding on the religiosity issue enflames the Islam debate…away from Judaism and current activities in Israel and Hamas.

On the other hand, Christianity is the most popular religion in the United States, with around 73% of polled Americans identifying themselves as Christian. Is the activity to thwart moral outrage or an opportunity to reintroduce military intervention in a most volatile region?

Well over 90% of Rwanda is/was Christian during the genocide and there was no intervention there.

Chemical weapons were used by Syrians on civilians and no intervention there either.

The political machinations and the opaque transparency the administration attempts to present further dilute purpose, in my opinion.

What if the operators and now air strikes are ineffective and those 40,000 +/- “Christians” are slaughtered anyway? And what if ISIS does either destroy the dam or cut the water flow to Baghdad and lower Iraq?

And then, just to add to the argument, young men and women who feel Christianity is now worthy of fighting for go to join the Yazidis or other emergent militant group and other Christians against ISIS?

If the West is producing and providing fighters for Islam than is it merely a matter of time to also see Christians do the same thing? I’m not a prognosticator, but this devolving situation has no “good” ending and will summarily cost hundreds of thousands to lose their lives.

If Edmund Burke did say; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing” than I would ask what is a good man and to whom does their allegiance lie?

Funny how looking for WMD and then looking the other way has led to this. Oh the unintended consequences of hubris.

Comment by Samantha Wilson

August 8, 2014 @ 11:54 am

In addition to the Russian hacking attack that was discovered this week, there is another cyber concern that came to light. On Wednesday, a company contracted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, US Investigations Services (USIS), reported it was the victim of a cyber attack. The attack seemingly targeted personal information about DHS employees. A cyber response team is currently working to determine the scope of the attack, but DHS employees have been warned to monitor their personal data and financial accounts. The company released a statement saying, “experts who have reviewed the facts gathered to-date believe it has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack,” and this is worrisome because it demonstrates that it may not just a bothersome hacker causing a nuisance. Instead, this could be a carefully-planned attack against the very individuals who are responsible for homeland security. By finding vulnerabilities amongst DHS employees, an adversary may be able to find other ways to exploit DHS and its personnel in the future. Whether coincidentally or not, this occurred within days of the Russian hacking that led to billions of passwords being compromised. In a comment above, Brian questions how many of those hacked individuals were federal workers and/or members of the homeland security enterprise. In this instance, all of the victims are homeland security stakeholders. Brian also states, “should these users’ personal passwords be compromised, the agencies that they represent are also vulnerable,” and this is why the cyber attack against USIS is concerning, as DHS is now vulnerable. This week illustrates how common and harmful cyber attacks have become.

For more information:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/07/us-usa-security-contractor-idUSKBN0G62N420140807

Comment by Arnold Bogis

August 8, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

Bill, at least half of your wish regarding former DHS officials memoirs is going to come true. From Juliette Kayyem’s facebook page:

As some of you know, I had put a book/memoir on hold during the campaign. After some serious discussions with my publisher Simon and Schuster, and some trepidation about writing again, I’m happy to announce that I’ll be spending the next few months finishing for a 2015 release. Entitled Home Sweet Homeland: a Memoir of a True Security Mom, it shows why our communities’ and country’s resiliency and strength begin at home. Some early take: “Spare capacity; flexibility in the face of the unexpected; and, perhaps most important, the empowering knowledge of preparedness. Yes, stuff happens, but Juliette shows that you’ve got this. We’ve got this. In Home and Homeland, her fantastically frank and funny account of what her husband called her “disastrous career,” Juliette Kayyem shows just how empowering knowledge can be in a world of terrorists, flu epidemics, lone gunmen, hurricanes, and oil spills. Strength and grit are true progressive values as Kayyem promotes adaptation to climate change, stronger gun control laws, an inclusive economy, and a commitment to immigration reform. Keeping the homeland safe has been Kayyem’s career, and for the mother of three, keeping the home safe from whatever risks couldn’t be more personal. As the news cycle endlessly reminds us, we live in a sometimes scary world. Home Sweet Homeland is at once an expert’s invitation into the often opaque world of homeland security, and a mother’s explanation of why there is strength and hope immediately available to each of us.”

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

Arnold many thanks and to Juliette also for her service and forthcoming book! She is best of the best IMO and she has learned the hard way the axiom beware the trust of Princes or Princess.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 8, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

Partial mobilization in Turkey but against Kurds or ISIS?

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 8, 2014 @ 10:26 pm

“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give … peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid …. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. … And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” —Leviticus 26:3-12

submitted by Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 8, 2014 @ 10:58 pm

Habakkuk

….an assembly of nations led by one.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 8, 2014 @ 11:00 pm

Habakkuk 1:6:

“(T)hat bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the
of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not their’s”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 8, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

….and here finally enters, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 8, 2014 @ 11:11 pm

Germany (Assyrians), the arch enemy of our good ‘ol America who continues to strategically spin its web of a new Confederate of Middle East states leading all in arms sales and especially given the utter weakness of a failed and ignorant US foreign policy orchestrated by Chicago city street organizer and nothing more, Barry Obama w/his perverted way in looking at our country, now so vulnerable from within….

War looms ahead! God Bless us all.

Christopher Tingus
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 8, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

Warning to the Cities of Judah

And you will say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened; then I will make this house like Shiloh, and this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth.”‘”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 8, 2014 @ 11:21 pm

2 Kings 9:7
You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel.

Ezra 9:11
you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other.

Jeremiah 7:13
While you were doing all these things, declares the LORD, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.

Jeremiah 25:3
For twenty-three years–from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day–the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

Jeremiah 25:4
And though the LORD has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention.

Jeremiah 29:19
For they have not listened to my words,” declares the LORD, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 32:33
They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline.

Jeremiah 35:15
Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you have not paid attention or listened to me.

Comment by E. Earhart

August 9, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

FEMA in need of fixing, but no one listening?

From GAO and DHS IG:

DHS IG report warns that many personnel “responsible for administering disaster grant programs have little to no experience managing federal grants”

IG also warned of management and accounting issues “four separate times,” indicating “FEMA’s inaction in developing more efficient management operations.”

and . . .

“In 2012, GAO recommended that the FEMA administrator implement goals for administrative cost percentages and monitor performance to achieve these goals. However, as of June 2014, FEMA had not taken steps to implement GAO’s recommendation.”

Homeland Security Today

http://www.hstoday.us/briefings/daily-news-analysis/single-article/fema-under-fire-for-excessive-costs-and-mismanagement-of-disaster-aid-programs/b8758dc05e62dd5658375c142ab7ace4.html

Comment by E. Earhart

August 9, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

See Something Say Something-US-Canada-Nice Job!

Genocide Suspect nabbed at US-Canadian Border:

Jean Léonard Teganya, a Rwandan citizen, arrested by CBP at the Maine-Canada border on a Canadian warrant. Teganya was “wanted for deportation for violating human rights under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act related to the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s.

Teganya was apprehended when a Border Patrol agent at the Houlton, Maine station “followed up on a citizen’s report of a suspicious person walking in the Houlton area near the international boundary between the United States and Canada.”

Bangor Daily News

https://bangordailynews.com/2014/08/06/news/aroostook/u-s-border-patrol-arrests-wanted-rwandan-man-near-houlton-border-crossing/

Comment by John Comiskey

August 11, 2014 @ 5:16 am

FYI,
2014 National Preparedness Report was released:

https://s3-us-gov-west-1.amazonaws.com/dam-production/uploads/1407346796234-91bc48efa09591e927c5c2e19fea3550/2014%20NPR_FINAL_508.pdf

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 11, 2014 @ 7:41 am

Thanks JC! Actually this annual report required by statute [PKEMRA 2006] and also is available at:

http://fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/natprep-2014pdf

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 11, 2014 @ 7:48 am

CORRECTION OF LINK IN LAST COMMENT:

http://fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/natprep-2014.pdf

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