Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 13, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 13, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 13, 2015 @ 12:20 am

A number of recommendations of the 9/11 Commission in their final report have not yet been accomplished. One was reorganization of Congress to enhance Homeland Security.

Another was to create an interoperable communications system for FIRST RESPONDERS. That system is in development and several notices have been published in the Federal Register on the so-called FIRSTNET system.

Can anyone provide links to discussion of this system including its funding and implementation?

In a Congressional hearing this week both the panel giving testimony and members of Congress pretty much agreed that current social media and cell phones were not robust enough to be of much use in catastrophic situations.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 13, 2015 @ 12:22 am

I would be interested in whether the NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] has addressed e-mail in its government wide mandatory directives?

Comment by Maggie Szymczyk

March 13, 2015 @ 5:19 am

For my post this week I would like to discuss SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems). SCADA is a very important computer system that is controlling our critical infrastructure. According to Fortinet (2010) SCADA controls one of the most important critical infrastructure in our nation like “Nuclear power stations, electrical distribution stations, water pumping and waste treatment plants, oil processing facilities and chemical plants” (pg. 3). All of these critical infrastructures are important part of everyday life and without them the whole country would be paralyzed. SCADA does not only control things that we need to function on daily basis like sewage, water, electric, waste and oil processing facilities but also our nuclear power stations which might have to be used in the time of serious danger. This one computer system has a lot of power to do a serious damage to our nation. This is a great vulnerability that the US has a need to keep protected from because if there is no power, oil, electricity or water, there wouldn’t be much of a life and everything including the economy would go down. Robles (2009) states that “The US President issued an Executive Order 13010 which states that “certain national infrastructures are so vital that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on the defense or economic security of the United States” (pg. 29). This is a very serious issue and if a successful attack would take place, it would crash the US and left us vulnerable to physical attacks as well as the type of life we as Americans know would change.
There have been several attacks on SCADA system in the last ten or so years and they continue to emerge. There was a serious attack on water system in Illinois in November of 2011. According to Fortinet (2011), “A recent US Department of Homeland Security Bulletin warned of interest in SCADA systems from the hacker group Anonymous 24 who have been targeting a large biotech company and posted to Twitter the results of browsing the directory tree for a Siemens SIMATIC SCADA system which they had been developing attack code for. In an intriguing turn of events a recently reported breach of the Illinois water system from IP addresses originating in Russia which reportedly resulted in damage to a pump 25, was emphatically denied by the Department of Homeland security” (pg. 7). This is just one serious cyber attack that has taken place in the US, there are several other like Stuxnet worm which was a virus that has attacked computers around the world. According to Breslin (2011), “Stuxnet targets industrial control systems in order to take control of industrial facilities, such as power plants.” Power plants are crucial to normal lives on daily basis and if they would to get attacked, we would have been stuck in the dark without power for months.
These are only two example of incidents in which crucial infrastructure has been attacked but there are many other incidents that took place and there will be many more to come. According to Symantec (2014) “in 2010, there were 15 public SCADA vulnerabilities, an increase over the 14 vulnerabilities in 2009.” This is a serious problem because the number of attacks keeps on going up instead of down and the US needs to protect their critical infrastructure if we want to decrease the vulnerabilities which ultimately makes us prone to cyber and physical attacks. Cyber attacks have become a serious problem, not only on systems like SCADA but everywhere in general. There seems to be a trend to cyber attacks on the US and there is much that needs to be done to protect the infrastructure as well as the citizens and the homeland. SCADA is a great system but according to Ashford (2013), “US researchers have identified 25 zero-day vulnerabilities in industrial control SCADA software from 20 suppliers that are used to control critical infrastructure systems”. Ashford’s article also mentions that out of those 25 vulnerabilities 9 were concerning US Department of Homeland Security. Department of Homeland Security is the most important agency when it comes to securing the critical infrastructure and it is a serious concern that there are nine vulnerabilities in the system that deal with that agency. DHS needs to work to reduce their vulnerabilities in the future and ensure that their systems are safe and hard to hack or manipulate by terrorists and other enemies that are trying to attack the United States.

Ashford, W. (2013). US Researchers find 25 security vulnerabilities in SCADA systems. Retrieved from http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240207488/US-researchers-find-25-security-vulnerabilities-in-SCADA-systems
Fortinet. (2011). Securing SCADA Infrastructure. Retrieved from http://www.fortinet.com/sites/default/files/whitepapers/WP_SCADA.pdf
Breslin, M. (2011). Some believe Stuxnet worm marks new age of super-cyber weapons. Retrieved from http://www.intelligentutility.com/magazine/article/203221/scada-cyber-attack
Robles, R. (2009). Asessment of the Vulnerabiltiies of SCADA, control systems and critical infrastructure systems. Retrieved from http://www.sersc.org/journals/IJGDC/vol2_no2/3.pdf
Symantec. (2014). SCADA Vulnerabilities. Retrieved from http://www.symantec.com/es/es/threatreport/topic.jsp?id=vulnerability_trends&aid=scada_vulnerabilities

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 5:35 am

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent authority within NTIA to provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed, broadband network dedicated to public safety.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 5:46 am

While First Response and whatever we here on “Main Street USA” can do to assist our first response teams in every way, this FirstNet system Bill references seems to win much praise from those who understand its effectiveness and it is time that more funds are allocated to enable states to benefit:

FirstNet has held six regional meetings so far to solicit input from stakeholders, and it has received requirements documents from several groups, including the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) and SAFECOM. Individual state meetings are also being planned.

“EMS needs to be at the table when the network is being planned and grants are discussed,” says McGinnis. “They need to know who the single point of contact for grants is.”

State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) funds will enable states to perform research and data collection to provide FirstNet with information about available infrastructure and resources needed for the network build-out. Although the contact list has not yet been released, EMS leaders can call the governor’s office to find out who their single point of contact for grants is. The FirstNet staff can also be contacted to identify the point of contact in each state.

According to what I have been researching:

“Many states have already been awarded grants to support state planning, consultation and outreach activities as these states prepare for the launch of the first nationwide public safety broadband network. Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Ohio will receive a total of $13.1 million. All U.S. states and territories are eligible to apply for the grants, and a partial match is required. Future grants to the remaining states and territories will be awarded on a rolling basis” –

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 5:57 am

Donahue, Amy, and Robert Tuohy. “Lessons We Don’t Learn: A Study of the Lessons of Disasters, Why We Repeat Them, and How We Can Learn Them.” Homeland Security Affairs 2, Article 4 (July 2006).


— “communications systems fail, command and control structures are fractured, resources are slow to be deployed” —

“On February 23, 2006, in a press conference to release the White House report on lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Frances Townsend said ‘[The president] demanded that we find out the lessons, that we learn them and that we fix the problems, that we take every action to make sure America is safer, stronger and better prepared.’

The lessons Townsend called out in her briefing concerned planning, resource management, evacuation, situational awareness, communications, and coordination.

In fact, responders can readily predict the problems that will arise in a major incident and too often their predictions are borne out in practice. Even a casual observer can spot problems that recur: communications systems fail, command and control structures are fractured, resources are slow to be deployed” –

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 5:58 am


Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 6:09 am

….and when we talk about the urgency of updating communications and what concerned individuals and dedicated officials see as a prerequisite, others folks are engaged in another worthy effort as 100 Resilient Cities explains:

“100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks – earthquakes, fires, floods, etc. – but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis. Examples of these stresses include high unemployment; an overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system; endemic violence; or chronic food and water shortages. By addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.

Cities in the 100RC network are provided with the resources necessary to develop a roadmap to resilience along four main pathways:

Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government, a Chief Resilience Officer, who will lead the city’s resilience efforts; Expert support for development of a robust resilience strategy;
Access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public and NGO sectors who can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies; and Membership of a global network of member cities who can learn from and help each other.

Through these actions, 100RC aims not only to help individual cities become more resilient, but will facilitate the building of a global practice of resilience among governments, NGOs, the private sector, and individual citizens.

We began working with our first group of 32 cities in December of 2013. In 2014, we received 330 applications from 94 countries for our second cohort. We will announce the next class of cities in December of 2014.

100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation is financially supported by The Rockefeller Foundation and managed as a sponsored project by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides governance and operational infrastructure to its sponsored projects” –

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 6:58 am

and the “Chicago-Hollywood-Washington” charade continues and Christians are being slaughtered by Lucifer’s foot shoulders and YOU could give a damn until….

The Real War on Christianity – http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/12/the-real-war-on-christianity-iraq-syria-islamic-state/

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 7:34 am

From Politico this morning:

SENATE PASSES CYBERSECURITY BILL – The Wall Street Journal: “The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence easily passed a bill that encourages-but doesn’t require-companies to share information about cyberattacks with each other and the federal government, responding to a growing prevalence of data breaches at large U.S. companies. The 14-1 vote was the first step in what is likely to be a lengthy battle this year over how to prod firms, many of which are skeptical of government data collection, to collaborate more with federal officials to deter attacks.”

–” ‘It is the first leg of a very long race,’ the panel’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.), told reporters after the vote … The Senate intelligence panel vote, per custom, was held behind closed doors so the public wasn’t privy to debate or discussion. Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) was the only lawmaker to vote against the bill, issuing a statement that said the measure ‘lacks adequate protections for the privacy rights of American consumers, and that it will have a limited impact on U.S. cybersecurity.'”

My question:

What are we doing to protect our electric grid which seems so vulnerable and such vulnerability open to attack could cause a calamity never imagined?

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 13, 2015 @ 7:38 am

Thanks Maggie and Chris for useful info and great links.

Comment by Matt Doyle

March 13, 2015 @ 7:41 am

Last week I started my post with the following quote from the Worldwide Threat Assessment regarding cyber-attacks against the systems controlling our critical infrastructure: “particularly the Industrial Control System (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems used in water management, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power distribution, and mass transit, provide an enticing target to malicious actors (ODNI, 2014, p. 2). I then proceeded to explain two examples of cyber-attacks causing physical damage: Aurora (an experiment on a generator) and Stuxnet (a worm used to destroy Iranian centrifuges). This week, I want to reflect on the impact Stuxnet had and will continue to have on the cyber threat environment.

According to Singer and Friedman (2014), the Stuxnet attack was a groundbreaking attack in the sense that it will completely change the landscape of cyber warfare. Singer and Friedman (2014) write “to make a historic comparison, building Stuxnet the first time may have required an advanced team that was the cyber equivalent to the Manhattan Project. But once it was used, it was like Americans didn’t just drop this new kind of bomb on Hiroshima, but also kindly dropped leaflets with the design plan so anyone else could also build it…” (p. 159). The Stuxnet attack laid out the template for more attacks to follow. The fear is that destructive attacks like Stuxnet will increase because less sophisticated hackers will have access to the Stuxnet template.

A recent cyber-attack in Germany may lend support to Singer and Friedman’s (2014) claim that destructive cyber-attacks are going to increase. In late 2014, a German Steel Mill experienced a cyber-attack which caused massive physical damage. According to Lee et al. (2014) this recent attack is only the second publicly known and verified destructive cyber-attack: “to date, the only other public example of a cyber-attack causing physical damage to control systems was Stuxnet” (p. 1). The attack is believed to have started after someone in the plant opened a phishing email containing malware. Once opened, the malware made its way through the mill’s computer systems and corrupted the mill’s ICS. Few details have come out on the extent of the damage, but it is believed that the attack targeted the mill’s furnace with the hope of causing it to overheat or in an extreme scenario explode. Zetter (2015) writes that “They did so by manipulating and disrupting control systems to such a degree that a blast furnace could not be properly shut down, resulting in “massive”—though unspecified—damage” (p. 1). While this cyber-attack has been verified, little is known about why it was done and who is responsible. It is possible that the German government never discloses what happened.

While the German Steel mill attack is only the second confirmed destructive cyber-attack against ICS and SCADA systems, there has been much speculation about other destructive cyber-attacks. For instance, in 2008 there was a significant oil pipeline explosion in Turkey. The Turkish government downplayed the event, but to “western intelligence agencies, the blowout was a watershed event. Hackers had shut down alarms, cut off communications and super-pressurized the crude oil in the line” (Robertson and Riley, 2014, p. 1). No one has been publicly implicated in causing the “attack,” but many experts believe that the attack was caused by the Russians based on the fact that the pipeline “follows a route through the former Soviet Union that the U.S. mapped out over Russian objections…” (Robertson and Riley, 2014, p. 1). Days later, the Russians displayed even greater aggression in the region by bombing the neighboring nation of Georgia. There is no doubt that this new age of destructive cyber warfare will continue to evolve and become more common. Whether attackers target power grids, oil/gas pipelines, or the manufacturing industry, this new realm of cyber warfare is a threat to our security and stability.

Lee, R.M., Assante, M.J, and Conway, T. (2014). ICS CP/PE (Cyber to Physical or Process Effects) case study paper – German Steel Mill Cyber Attack. SANS Industrial Control Systems. https://ics.sans.org/media/ICS-CPPE-case-Study-2-German-Steelworks_Facility.pdf
Office of the Director of National Intelligence (2014).

Worldwide Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community. Statement for the record: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Given by DNI James R.Clapper. January 29, 2014. http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Intelligence%20Reports/2014%20WWTA%20%20SFR_SSCI_29_Jan.pdf

Robertson, J., and Riley, M.A. (2014). Mysterious ’08 Turkey Pipeline Blast Opened New Cyberwar. Bloomberg Business. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-12-10/mysterious-08-turkey-pipeline-blast-opened-new-cyberwar

Singer, P.W. and Friedman, A. (2014). Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know. Oxford University Press: New York.

Zetter, Kim (2015). A Cyberattack Has Caused Confirmed Physical Damage for the Second Time Ever. Wired Magazine. http://www.wired.com/2015/01/german-steel-mill-hack-destruction/

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 8:14 am

…and we continue to negotiate w/Tehran who I prefer referencing as they are and calling them the “Brutes of Tehran” as they are with so much blood of our precious youth on their hands and has sponsored terror globally and now holds the reigns of five states given our weakness and again, because why? Oh yes, because this eight year resident of the Wh and his illustrious Rev Wright has preached the same for 20+ years to Barry Obama from his pulpit and in ’08 made it quite clear:

If the “Zionists” have WMD, why not Tehran? Given the now long history of this present US administration so perverse so anti-American in so many ways dismissing our Israeli brethren so easily and our our Judeo-Christian values and attempting to circumvent our Constitution and in fact, itself lawlessness in its mannerisms, well again, why are we enabling Tehran to have nuclear weapons w/multiple launchers:

Foreign Policy


A News Brief from the Middle East

Friday, March 13, 2015

Iranian Leader Hits Back at Republican Senators

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement that an open letter signed by 47 Republican senators regarding the negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program was “a sign of…the destruction of the American establishment from within.”

As the deadline for a deal approaches, Khamenei has also continued to support the Iranian negotiators. In remarks on Thursday, he described the Iranian diplomats as “good and caring people, who work for the country.” However, he worried whether the United States would adhere to any agreement, saying, “the other side is a sneaky and crafty one who stabs with a dagger in your back.”

Comment by Gianna Gallo

March 13, 2015 @ 10:49 am

This week I wanted to focus on unmanned, unarmed aircraft systems used by Customs and Border Protection and all the benefits these drones can have on our nation’s security.

Customs and Border Protection guard the American people and our nation’s critical infrastructure by detecting, interdicting, and preventing acts of terrorism and the illegal movement of people, illegal drugs, and other contraband toward or across United States borders. Border patrol agents face challenging and dangerous tasks every day. With the development of new and innovative technology, CBP officers may be aided in their mission to protect our nation. The use of unmanned aircraft systems on our soil and near our borders can provide surveillance of suspected smuggler’s tunnels amongst other capabilities. This has become a controversial and concerning topic for American citizens. Some individuals feel that our civil rights may be violated. However, if utilized correctly, UASs could prove to be extremely beneficial to the United States and the officers dedicated to safeguarding our nation.
The use of unarmed, unmanned aircrafts over our country’s borders has been reviewed and criticized an innumerable amount of times. Despite the negative opinions of this technology, I believe drones can be an effective and useful tool in the defense of the United States. “The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for guarding nearly 7,000 miles of land border the United States shares with Canada and Mexico and 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida peninsula and off the coast of Southern California,” (Eckardt & Cantor, 2013, p.2). This is an incredible amount of space that needs to be patrolled and watched over all day, every day. To achieve this mission, the CBP employs several types of aircraft, including unarmed, unmanned aircraft systems, for border surveillance and law enforcement purposes. “These aircraft are equipped with video, radar, and/or other sensor technologies to assist CBP in patrolling the border, conducting surveillance as part of a law enforcement investigation or tactical operation, or gathering raw data that may assist in disaster relief or other emergencies,” (Eckardt & Cantor, 2013, p.2). UAS differ from manned aircrafts because they are able to fly farther distances for longer hours continuously.
CBP aircraft, both manned and unmanned, are used in the following scenarios: (1) to patrol the border; (2) to conduct surveillance for investigative operations; (3) to conduct damage assessment in disaster situations; and (4) in response to officer safety scenarios (Eckardt & Cantor, 2013). UASs are capable to conduct missions in areas that are too rugged and remote for ground access, or otherwise considered too high-risk and dangerous for manned aircraft or ground officers. As for investigative and emergency situations, UASs aid in the safety of officers, U.S. citizens, and our nation’s critical infrastructure. For example, “the UAS could conduct surveillance over a building to inform ground units of the general external layout of the building or provide the location of vehicles or individuals outside the building,” (Eckardt & Cantor, 2013, p.5). Also, UASs may also be used during natural disasters. For example, “the UAS may fly missions in support of other government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or FEMA to provide video or radar images of flooding,” (Eckardt & Cantor, 2013, p.6). In disaster situations, UASs are both valuable and efficient.
As with any technology utilized by Homeland Security, officers and agents must be highly trained in using unmanned aircraft systems and they must be skilled in processing and interpreting the intelligence and information gained from these programs. Unmanned aircraft systems provide the CBP with a variety of mobile platforms from which to obtain signals information, video, still, and radar images of persons, vehicles, and natural disasters in the border area that ground patrols would normally not be able to reach or attain. Traditional border security and law enforcement practices and procedures coupled with the innovative technologies of UASs will make for a stronger, more effective national defense.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 11:47 am

Special Event | The Wilson Center

Current Challenges to Euro-Atlantic Security:
Strategies for Co-operation and Joint Solutions

OSCE Security Days Conference, the first held outside of Vienna. Foreign Ministers, Ambassadors, prominent leaders, and global policy makers will address the current challenges to Euro-Atlantic security at this all day meeting.

This gathering takes place against the backdrop of a deteriorating European security environment and is expected to produce actionable recommendations on how to resolve ongoing crises and foster common strategies to address future challenges.

8:45 – 9:15am:
Introductory Remarks
9:15 – 10:45am:
Ukraine and the Crisis of Euro-Atlantic Security
11:15 – 12:45pm:
Afghanistan and Central Asia: Enhancing Stability and Security in the Region
2:00 – 3:30pm:
Confronting the Challenge Within: Preventing Radicalization that leads to Terrorism

3:45 – 5:15pm:
Strategies for the Future
5:15 – 5:30pm:
Concluding Remarks

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 11:52 am

Starnes: Gov’t-Sanctioned Mobs Lay Siege to Ferguson While Obama Jets Off to Hollywood

By Todd Starnes

Whether they admit it or not, the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri got what they wanted this week. Two police officers ambushed — Blue Blood spilled on the streets, the latest casualties in a government-sanctioned war on law enforcement.

At some point you have to wonder when the police are just going say, “You know what folks? Just patrol your own blasted streets.”

For months now, the White House has used Ferguson to advance a false narrative about racism in America. “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” — a lie. A bald-faced lie.

Instead jetting off to Ferguson on Air Force One to console the officers and deliver a pro-law enforcement speech, President Obama flew right over Ferguson on his way to Hollywood, where he made a case for moral equivalency on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

He also tweeted: “Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together. – bo”

With all due respect, Mr. President – that’s a bunch of BS.

There’s a war on cops – government-sanctioned mobs out to satisfy their bloodlust. And that’s all you’ve got? A hundred forty characters and a late-night punchline?

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

Bill, I believe that fellow Hellene Socrates voiced a few ideas about World peace –


Comment by Dina Russo

March 13, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

he Department of Homeland Security defines Fusion centers as “focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat- related information among federal and state, local, tribal, and territorial partners. They produce actionable intelligence for dissemination, which may aid law enforcement organizations in their investigative operations” (Department of Homeland Security, 2013). These centers are owned by state and local entities and they serve the specific jurisdiction they are in while also supporting homeland security entities.

After 9-11, as we all know, there were many changes to our homeland security landscape. The 9-11 Commission Report discusses the government failures that allowed the 9-11 terrorist attacks to happen. The report cited “breakdowns in information sharing and the failure to fuse pertinent intelligence (i.e., “connecting the dots”) as key factors in the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks” (Bjelopera, 2011). There are many examples to portray the ineffectiveness of the government to connect the dots and information share. First, on August 15, 2001 FBI agents initiate an investigation in to Zacarias Moussaoui after his flight school instructors reported concerns that he might be a terrorist. Similarly, Minneapolis FBI agent Harry Samit sends a memo to headquarters in Washington that Zacarias Moussaoui is “conspiring to commit a terrorist act.” The memo goes unread by FBI counter-terrorism chief Michael Rolince. Also, FBI agent Margaret Gillespie “learns for the first time that two known al Qaeda operatives have been tracked to the United States from Malaysia by the CIA, which kept the information secret from domestic law enforcement agencies” (ABC News , 2011). Finally, FBI agents at the “Alec Station,” a joint FBI-CIA operation established to hunt Osama bin Laden, “demand to know why the FBI was not notified by the CIA of the arrival in the U.S. of two known al Qaeda operatives, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, in January 2000” (ABC News, 2011). Obviously, there was a clear lack of information sharing and a lack of a tool to help the government share information easy and effectively.

However, we have learned from our mistakes and fusion centers have greatly helped us increase the amount of information sharing and collaboration on all different levels of government. The fusion centers are able to combine national intelligence with state, local, and regional information which helps to understand the larger picture and connect the dots with different information. The fusion centers utilize relationships with state and local governments to assist law enforcement and homeland security in their missions. “They support the implementation of risk-based, information-driven prevention, response, and consequence management programs within their respective communities. Further, fusion centers across the nation are seeking to form a National Network bridging jurisdictional boundaries to provide effective communication channels and collaborative opportunities” (Department of Homeland Security, 2013). Overall, fusion center need to keep growing in order for our homeland security benefit and to keep all citizens safe.

ABC News . (2011, September ). While America Slept: The True Story of 9/11. Retrieved from ABC News : http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/ten-years-ago-today-countdown-911/story?id=14191671#all

Bjelopera, J. P. (2011, June 10). Terrorism Information Sharing … Retrieved from Congressional Research Service : http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/166837.pdf

Department of Homeland Security. (January 9, 2015). Fusion Center Locations and Contact Information. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved fromhttp://www.dhs.gov/fusion-center-locations-and-contact-information

Department of Homeland Security. (June 2013). 2012 National Network of Fusion Centers: Final Report. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved fromhttp://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/2012%20National%20Network%20of%20Fusion%20Centers%20Final%20Report.pdf

Comment by Mike Upham

March 13, 2015 @ 1:45 pm


One of the most beneficial advancements in technology is the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to secure American soil. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is the main area that can benefit from both UAV and RFID technology.
CBP use of UAV is highlighted by four main areas, (1) to patrol the border; (2) to conduct surveillance for investigative operations; (3) to conduct damage assessment in disaster situations; and (4) in response to officer safety scenarios (Eckardt & Cantor, 2013).
These UAVs provide CBP with the ability to map/GIS remote locations across the thousands of miles of northern and southern boarders to the US. Additionally, UAVs provide infinite benefits for monitoring interdiction, physical border vulnerabilities, natural disasters, and movement of goods and humans across the border. These systems also provide critical intelligence for ground units before arriving on scene to critical incidents of safety. These UAVs can conduct surveillance of a building or critical infrastructure site to inform ground units the layout, vehicle locations, or threat areas to the facility. Additionally, these systems can provide mapping, photos, videos of high-risk areas before and after natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and large drug transports across borders to teams on the ground.
Another benefit to these systems is the ability to operate from secure locations with no risk to operator safety. These UAV systems can do the work of hundreds of ground units, cover more area, and provide accurate, real-time information and intelligence to inform additional units, teams, and departments. UAVs provide operators the ability to monitor large sections of the border without risking ground units safety or security.

Eckhardt, L. & Cantor, J. (2013). Privacy Impact Assessment for the Aircraft Systems DHS/CBP/PIA-018. The Department of Homeland Security: Washington, D.C.. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/privacy-pia-cbp-aircraft-systems-20130926.pdf

Comment by Mike Upham

March 13, 2015 @ 1:46 pm


The CBP is again one of the departments that can benefit greatly from the emerging technology of RFID to enhance our national security. The ability to securely track and monitor goods, people, vehicles, and drugs can be greatly enhanced using RFID technology. RFID technology, or Radio-Frequency Identification, could allow CBP teams to create more secure border movement and create a faster transaction at checkpoints.
CBP can utilize RFID by implementing requirements for RFID chips to be mandatory for all shipments coming across the border. The ability to securely monitor drivers, shipments, goods, drugs, money, and other items coming across the border would greatly increase national security. It could also create a new system of monitoring goods, packages, and cargo across borders. If RFID scanners read an RFID card that is implanted into a cargo load and when the cargo is searched, if there are any differences in that load, immediately an investigation would begin from the driver, shipping company, manufacturer, and any other individuals involved.
RFID additionally can provide CBP the ability to monitor and track suspicious persons across the borders. The ability to identify, and label high risk targets such as drug lords, cartel members, frequent criminals who are continually deported, and wanted felons. These RFID tags can be discreetly attached to vehicles, persons, packages, and cargo.

Manaher, C. & Teufel, H. (2008). Privacy Impact Assessment for the Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology for Border Crossings. The Department of Homeland Security: Washington, D.C.. Retrieved from http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/privacy_jan08.pdf

Comment by Mike Upham

March 13, 2015 @ 1:52 pm

Targeting Anwar Al-Aulaqi: A Case Study in US Drone Strikes and Targeted Killing

The use of UAV or Drones for targeted killings has proven extremely proficient, effective, safe, and successful. While the targeting killing of individuals has sparked a heated debate on the legality and ethics involved in such planned attacks, the use of UAVs and Drones has saved American soldiers lives which may have been lost to raids executed on foot. The use of UAV and Drone technology has proven extremely beneficial in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the steady increase in UAV targeted killings annually shows that this technology is the future of war tactics. The targeting of AQAP leader Anwar al-Aulaqi and similar attacks proved that strategic planning can eliminate specific targets without risking innocent civilian lives. These UAV attacks have time and time again proven their effectiveness in the world of war, but this technology can also become beneficial on US soil.
The use of UAVs can be utilized to enhance our prevention, protection, and response mission in the United States in similar ways to its utilization overseas. The use of UAV technology can be implemented into daily law enforcement type surveillance and monitoring. These tools do not only have to be used as weapons, but can provide that ability if the situation arises. The ability of this technology to fly into hostile situations and gather high definition video which can used to GIS Map the location, gather information and intelligence on threats or real-time location information, identify threats and targets, and possibly eliminate threats without jeopardizing innocent lives proves extremely beneficial. Though tactics and techniques that UAVs are commonly used to deploy overseas would be rare on US soil, these advanced tools provide more than simply killing power (although they are extremely effective in this manor as well).
Similar to UAVs oversea use, drones can be used to monitor individuals movement, associates, locations, vehicles, patterns, and secrets. This information gathered virtually invisibly can be used by law enforcement, CBP, DHS, DEA, FBI, CIA, and all of the alphabet organizations to gather information and intelligence on suspects, suspicious individuals, known terrorists or associates, criminals and criminal organizations, and drug lords. This technology can additionally provide information and intelligence to fire departments fighting large forest fires, to FEMA when a large scale natural disaster occurs, or to Secret Service agents who need to closely monitor valuable assets across the US or abroad.

Farley, Benjamin R. “Targeting Anwar Al-Aulaqi: A Case Study in U.S. Drone Strikes and Targeted Killing,” American University. National Security Law Brief, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2012).
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/nslb/vol2/iss1/3

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 13, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

Thanks for all further comments. SECDEF ASH CARTER spoke at CYBER COMMAND HQ earlier this afternoon at Ft. Meade, MD, and explained its co-location with NSA.

In response to a uniformed questioner the SECDEF indicated that the Cyber Forces might one day be like the 4 existing uniformed services but that we had to learn to walk first before learning to run.

Comment by Justyna Gromadzka

March 13, 2015 @ 3:18 pm

For this week’s forum I would like to discuss the benefits of using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enhance our nation’s security. RFID’s could be domestically utilized to enhance our safety by using the technology in managing hazardous materials. Hazardous materials are transported more often then we would like to think. Additionally, even when they reach their destination they must be carefully monitored and secured. Proper identification and tracking procedures are crucial in order to keep us safe from these not-so-safe chemicals. RFID’s can be used to identify hazardous materials as well as track them in their journey from facility to facility (Homeland Security News Wire, 2009). By using this technology we can reduce the likelihood of such materials being “misplaced’ in storage facilities and better ensure their safe keeping.
The Department of Energy (DOE) used RFID technology while managing the cleaning up of the Hanford nuclear site. Before this technology the operators had to manually key in the identity codes for the truck and each steel can (Wyld, 2005). The RFID technology saves time by eliminating this process since it has a 98% read rate even when using metal cans. Not only does the technology replace certain human processes it goes far beyond that. NASA conducted a pilot study during which the tags were also able to detect temperature and could be used to trigger an alert if the substance was reaching a threatening temperature. Additionally, alerts could be triggered in the event that containers were moved or stored incorrectly (Wyld, 2005).
RFID tags allow for each container of hazardous material to be identified and tracked independently. By reading an RFID tag an employee can see what material the container contains and where it should be kept, in addition to where the container has been in the past. This technology most definitely shows significant potential in improving handling of hazardous materials. Not only would the process become more efficient it would also become safer for the employees involved. The use of RFID can decrease in the number of individuals needed to manage hazardous materials in a storage facility. Additionally, it would allow for employees to perform some of the oversight tasks from nearby location and not necessarily the facility itself keeping them safer.


Homeland Security News Wire. (2009). New RFID technology tracks nuclear materials. Retrieved , from http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/new-rfid-technology-tracks-nuclear-materials

Wyld, D. C. (2005). RFID: The right frequency for government. IBM Center For Business of Government. Retrieved from http://www.ok-safe.com/files/documents/1/RFID_The_Right_Frequency_for_Government_IBM.pdf

Comment by Drew Buffalino

March 13, 2015 @ 3:49 pm

For my post this week I want to discuss the importance of the psyche in relation to terrorism. Fear and anxiety are sometimes used interchangeably when describing the onset of something like public PTSD. However, the distinction between fear and anxiety is an important one to make in the study of terrorism. Davis et al (2010) outlines nicely in their review the three defensive stages that have been observed in rodents: 1). Pre-encounter – where a predator has been previously encountered but is not present; 2). Post-encounter – where a predator is identified at a distance; and 3). Circa-strike defense where physical contact with the predator is made or is imminent. When examining these three stages Davis et al (2010) reveals that anxiety is a response to less specific and less predictable threat that are physically and psychologically more distant. Anxiety, in this case, would apply to the 1st and 2nd stages of defense, where the predator is not of an imminent threat. Fear, on the other hand, is described as being prompted by imminent and real danger. It is an emotion that comes on quickly and dissipates once the threat is gone. Fear, in this case, is applied more to the 3rd stage of circa-strike defense, as it is the movement where the threat of danger is imminent. In applying this to individuals’ responses to terrorism and the events of 9/11, we find interesting relationships. Prior to the attack the citizens of New York did not have much anxiety to a major attack, but were aware of the possibility of one. As the planes struck the World Trade Center, even as they were approaching the building, the terrorists involved were successful in instilling fear in the population as they gave them an imminent threat they were now facing. Those around ground zero suffered from a great amount of fear during this time, but after the building had fallen and time has past, their feeling switched from fear back to anxiety.
As for the rest of the country not involved in an attack, citizens, since they were not in imminent danger, only experienced increased levels of anxiety going from stage 1 defense to stage 2, where they have now identified their predator at a distance. The 3 defensive stages help to explain the emotions that U.S. citizens went through during the events of 9/11 and what responses the terrorist attacks incited. As for the incidence rate of terrorism impacting the responses of individuals, I believe that it has some impact on the extremeness of the anxiety felt, but may lessen the overall fear.
LeDoux (2003) states that when looking at the Pavlovian fear conditioning that responses of fear “…are not learned and are not voluntary. They are innate, species-typical responses to threats and are expressed automatically in the presence of appropriate stimuli.” (pg. 728). LeDoux further states that, “Fear conditioning thus allows new or learned threats to automatically activate evolutionary tuned was of responding to danger.” (2002, pg. 728). The individual rapidly learns of new threats and adapts to them through the emotional responses. The immediately present stimuli and stored representations of anxiety and fear “…are integrated in working memory by way of interactions between prefrontal areas, sensory processing systems (which serve as shot-term memory buffers), and the long-term explicit (declarative) memory system…” (LeDoux, 2003, pg. 732). Since the events continuously stimulate the different areas of the brain upon re-experience, it could be assumed that the individual will be better able to deal with their responses to terrorism the more the emotions of anxiety and fear are elicited by it. However, I believe that since anxiety is a reaction to the less specific and less predictable it would be hard for somebody to rationalize their way through this emotion and learn how to deal with it. As opposed to fear, which is the emotion from imminent danger where one can learn from the face to face interaction with their predator, and, through experiences, become less fearful and more knowledgeable on how to deal/face the predatory threat (terrorism). The knowledge on the differences between these emotions offers crucial information on the individual’s response to terrorism. Re-stimulating the brain and subjecting all areas of it to fear conditioning (i.e. freezing or escape response, changes in blood pressure or heart rate, fight or flight response) may damage areas of the amgdyla resulting in a greater inability to function and a likelihood of running away (flight) from the danger, or the emotions could possibly be overcome and learned from resulting in a better ability to face (fight) the threat of terrorism. This is just an assumption based loosely off of the information provided in the articles. Either way, I think that it comes down to the individual whether or not they will be desensitized to the continuance of domestic terrorism or not. Desensitization, in my opinion, will come down to whether or not the person decides to chose to run away from the threat or face it head on.


Davis, M., Walker, D. L., Miles, L., & Grillon, C. (2010). Phasic vs sustained fear in rats and humans: Role of the extended amygdala in fear vs? anxiety.
Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 105-35.

LeDoux, J. (2003). The emotional brain, fear, and the amygdala. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 23(4/5). 727-38.

Comment by Drew Buffalino

March 13, 2015 @ 3:56 pm

To begin this weeks second post, I want to begin with a quote on 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) and the collaborative strategies required to deal with it. Manwaring (2011) on the definition and environment of which 4GW operates in. He states:

“4GW [4th Generation Warfare] is an evolved form of insurgency rooted in the fundamental precept that superior political will, when properly employed, can defeat greater military and economic power. It uses all available networks – political, economic, social, informational, and military – to convince the enemy decisionmakers that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefits.” (Manwaring, 2011, pg. 15)

This concept of 4GW and is one of the most interesting to consider in the field of homeland security and one that I have thought a lot about. It is and has been the basis of operations for the non-state terrorist organization and insurgency groups who have become incredibly evasive as they move from country to country blending with local populations. In this field 4GW is something that must be considered going into the future.
4GW works by giving the weaker of a military battle the advantage. For example, a non-state aggressors (al-Qaeda), when facing the much larger and economically backed nation-state of the United States, will utilize the strategy of defeating the U.S.’s political will and not their military force in order to achieve their victory. By attack the political will of the enemy, weaker non-state aggressors disrupt the stronger enemy by taking away from them the will of their citizens and their government to carry on with the mission of defeating certain rebel groups. Since this type of warfare cannot be won by applying more force to the battlefield and instilling oppressive-type regimes (as this will counter the moral battles also involved) a separate strategy must be undertaken.
Jamison (2006) presents the notion that a focus on intelligence strategy is the key to winning 4GW. Jamison (2006) asserts that 4GW results in a greater dispersion on the battlefield, decreased dependence on centralized logistics, and small, highly maneuverable, agile forces instead of masses of man and firepower. Because of this fact, he believes that he state no longer has a monopoly on war as it has been dispersed to individual organizations and groups of non-state actors. The U.S., still affected by military build-up from the nation-state-to-nation-state tension of the Cold War has outdated and ineffective intelligence systems. Since the systems were initially built to counter the Soviet Union, they consist of a centralized hierarchical organization, with slow dissemination of information, and are ineffective at gathering intelligence on small groups or individuals that characterized 4GW.
As a result of this, Jamison (2006) recommends a change to the U.S. intelligence collection and analysis strategy. He believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not won because too well the enemy knew these high-tech intelligence capabilities and this hampered their effectiveness. Jamison states when discussing these unsuccessful wars, “Despite the United States’ and its coalition partners’ sophisticated technical intelligence capabilities, the wars have yet to be won…They know in advance when satellites will pass overhead and have learned to circumvent them. They are quick to learn about communications collection capabilities and even quicker to adapt low-technology to counter them.” (2006, pg. 4). 4GW impedes upon modern technological advances in warfare as high-technology can be side stepped by use of low-technology. Also, being warfare based more highly on psychology, perception, and selling of defeat to the enemy, rather than physically defeating them makes modern military technology that instills deadly force somewhat ineffective.
The change in strategy, according to Jamison (2006) needs to come in the form of adapting our intelligence capabilities. Jamison recommends modifications in the categories of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), Cultural Intelligence, Intelligence Indicators, Intelligence Processing and Analysis, and Intelligence Dissemination. HUMINT should be adjusted from its present strategy of mainly consisting of counter intelligence to make HUMINT officer into full-spectrum human collection operators (Jamison, 2006). A fall-back of HUMINT is, however, that human to human interaction is among the most unpredictable. Due to a wider range of intelligence gathering need be incorporated. Utilizing OSINT puts the U.S. and its opposition on an equal playing field in that all available information is known and taken into consideration. This can include, but is not limited to, gathering communication and organization mission statements from online forums, websites, and/or social media profiles conducted by terrorism organization or other nation states. Cultural intelligence is then another addition to the success in 4GW. Since it is a psychological battle, knowing how the enemy things and interacts culturally will give the U.S an advantage. However, this strategy of providing cultural intelligence to U.S. military and homeland security community must be universal. Jamison states, “For example, the Marine Corps has invested in cultural training to better understand the enemy they are fighting and the people they are helping, whereas the Army has only provided limited training. As a results, there is a noticeable difference between how the Marine and the Army interact with the indigenous population of Iraq.” (2006, pg. 11-12). Reducing the difference in conduct and interactions by the U.S. between them and foreign countries will provide a more solidified and presentable goal of defeating terrorism and instilling freedom; a goal that is much needed in the aforementioned “Netwar” by Jamison (2006). This Netwar, he declares, should be the main focus of the United States in 4GW. A Netwar is a strategy by the enemy that is used to damage and disrupt or modify what a target population knows or thinks it knows about the world around it (Jamison, 2006).
In addition to providing a solid moral high-ground and identical approach to the enemy by every member of the homeland security and intelligence community, the U.S. should also increase its efforts in discovering Intelligence Indicator through processing, analysis and dissemination of information. Collaboration across the board is needed for this to occur. As was stated before, the hierarchical and centralized organization of intelligence does not work to share information effectively. Instead, the U.S. in 4GW needs to develop partnership that create networks in which intelligence is shared, analyzed and disseminated to the proper agencies/department so actions can quickly be taken. Doing so will utilize indicators to their fullest and allow for tasks forces to respond and disrupt attempts at terrorist attacks.
Finally, a strategy of collaboration among the whole community must be achieved before counterterrorist techniques are implemented on a global or national scale. Maintaining that all citizens are on-board with entering conflict and disrupting terrorism and infringements on the natural rights of others abroad is crucial in 4GW that aims to use Netwar tactics. Manwaring states,
“In 1984, Secretary of Defense Weinberger outlined six conditions that a conflict should meet before the United States should consider becoming involved:
1. It should be of vital national interest to the United States and its allies;

2. Intervention must occur wholeheartledly, with a clear intention of winning;

3. There must be clearly defined political and military objectives;

4. The relationship between the objectives and the forces must be continually reassessed and adjusted as necessary;

5. There must be a reasonable assurance that the American people and Congress will support the intervention; and,

6. Commitment of U.S. military forces should be a last resort. (Manwaring, 2011, pg. 14)
Failing to follow these guidelines and others like it will result in almost certain failure in 4GW. Since Netwar in 4GW aims to disrupt how a target population thinks in order to defeat the political will of those involved, the U.S. needs to be collaboratively strong in its convictions of getting involved in international conflict. As was seen in the past, starting wars on the basis of a lie (Iraq War: Possession of WMD) can and will drastically affect the political motivation to continue and win. In order to be successful in the future, the United States must maintain that collaboration from beginning to end is necessary. Assuring that a declaration of war is passed by Congress, instead of the ill-defined and manipulated “Authorization of the Use of Military Force”, would be a step in the right direction in relation to involvement in future 4GW conflicts.
Overall, I believe the strategies laid out by both Manwaring (2011) and Jamison (2006) provide a useful stepping stone for the United States to base future actions on. Adapting an outdated intelligence community and educating military members on key of the enemy and their culture will help to gain a greater understanding of the complex opposition involved in 4GW. In adaptation to advancement in the collaboration of the intelligence community, the notion that a collaboration of the whole community is of vital importance to winning a 4GW as Netwar attempts to dissolve collaborative support of military action. Manwaring states, “…4GWs are lengthy. They are measured in decades rather than months or years.” (2011, pg. 15). If the U.S is to enter a war that is not fully supported by the Congress and the American citizens then it becomes more and more likely that it will not be one. As the 4GWs are stretched out further and further they require more of a dedicated and motivated country that is fully supportive of its mission to from beginning to end in order to achieve victory. Failing to possess this will leave the U.S. in a vulnerable position where the effects of Netwar and aims to crush the political will of the U.S. set in more quickly and possibly lead to defeat.


Jamison, E. (2006). Intelligence Strategy for Fourth Generation Warfare. U.S. Army War College: Strategy Research Project.

Manwaring, M. G. (2011). The Strategic Logic of the Contemporary Security Dilemma. U.S. Army War College: Strategic Studies Institute.

Comment by Tom Russo

March 13, 2015 @ 4:28 pm

Great posts on SCADA by Matt and Maggie and Dina’s post on fusion centers.

As my homeland security class wades into threats, there is obvious interest in these topics and I’ll have to offer a link to these great resources.


Comment by Chris Kears

March 13, 2015 @ 5:28 pm

I want to discuss the benefits of “Cloud Computing” and how it can be an ascending technology for the homeland security enterprise. Cloud computing introduces many elements that build horizontal interoperability and create innovation to the homeland security stakeholder community. According to Becker (2012), cloud computing “interoperability affords novel innovations, providing opportunities for interconnection, portability, and low-cost computing that can benefits business and individuals alike” (p. 21). Cloud computing introduces the promise for technological innovation, such as the Internet of Things; and fosters new radical ideas that have the ability to provide numerous innovative possibilities. Becker discusses three scenarios that focus on the benefits of cloud computing and how it can change the future. Although all three scenarios are vital in his case study, I found the third scenario, Blue Skies, to be the most important scenario in building horizontal interoperability.

According to Becker (2012), Blue Skies would enable the broadest degree of horizontal interoperability through the utilization of today’s open standards, open interfaces, and open source software. The goal for Blue Skies is to “effectuate a single, global cloud in which new authentication, security, and privacy-enhancing technologies could be deployed globally” (Becker, 2012, p. 22). As our world becomes more heavily-depended upon technology to achieve daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals, the need for a single, global cloud is highly recommended. Much like how the homeland security stakeholder community is utilizing the “whole community” approach, it would be wise to adopt a similar approach in where technology users are collaborating with a single, global cloud rather than operating as separate entities. As Becker stated, the benefits of Blue Skies are: reduce incompatibilities and inconsistencies between data security policies; identify management under different cloud operators; and harden security qualifications. Therefore, companies that wish to use the services of multiple cloud providers will have to ensure more than raw technical interoperability (security clearance) among providers if they want to gain access to Blue Skies.

To support Becker’s argument for Blue Skies, he addressed that the health care field would be very beneficial because Blue Skies can provide numerous opportunities for hospitals to reduce costs, improve services, and develops innovative approaches for quicker access of information (Becker, 2012). As we all know, the health care field plays a vital role in our nations’ critical infrastructure and it is important that policy makers make sure that these hospitals are keeping up with consistent technology and practices so that practitioners have access to more efficient deployment of resources for their patients. For example, Becker (2012) stated that “storing patient data in the cloud improves care and aids emergency response because it allows practitioners to access the information they need in real time without being constrained by access to the hospital, state, or even country in which the patient ordinarily resides” (p. 23). Moreover, Blue Skies would be advantageous in today’s ever-changing threat environment because it allows for faster access to information and resources and creates for more innovative possibilities for the future.


Becker, M. B. (2012). Interoperability Case Study Cloud Computing. Massachusettes: The Berkman Center for Internet & Society .

Comment by Ally M.

March 13, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

This week I would like to discuss the 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment which focuses on the major threats to this nation’s security. The threat of terrorism is one that entire globe has to face. The threat of terrorism continues to grow and change to include a more diverse array of actors. The threat of a sophisticated and large scale attack from al-Qa’ida directly against the United Stated has dropped. This however does not mean that the threat of terrorism has gone away. Terrorist organizations have created instability in the Middle East and North Africa (Clapper, 2014). While this is a threat that the United States needs to work with the rest of the world to create a solution this instability has also caused the rise of another threat, Radicalization. Homegrown violent extremists are beginning to emerge and join the terrorist movement over in the Middle East. It is these individuals that pose the greatest threat to the United States citizens, property, and interests.

With the recent and growing threat from the known terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), radicalization of Americans has become a major concern. The U.S. estimates that about 15,000 foreign fighters have flown to Syria, located in the Middle East. This number is up from a previous estimate of 12,000. It has been determined that over 100 of these foreign fighters are Americans. The chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Michael McCaul, has said, ‘ “These radicalized Westerners represent an exceptionally grave threat to the U.S. homeland because of their militant training, extremist connections, ease of travel, and intimate knowledge of the West,” ’(Committee on Homeland Security, 2014). The problem in the Middle East does not stop at its borders. Due to media coverage it spreads across the globe.

The extremists that are American citizens will pose the most frequent threat to the homeland. And if left unchecked they will continue to do so. As this nation knows because of the tragic attack in Boston in April 2013, those homegrown violent extremists who act either alone or in small groups can represent challenging and lethal threats (Clapper, 2014). Radicalization is when one adopts an extremist ideology whether it is religious or political based that is usually hostile to the West. Those who have these views use terrorism to change society in the way they want it to be. This way of thinking is influenced by the world around the believer. Parenting, socioeconomic status, and life circumstances can lead one down the path towards radicalization. This pathway has stages in which an individual travels along completing each phase becoming more and more a part of the extremist group. This is not a one way street. An individual may turn back before they reach the final phase, a terrorist attack. The first stage is pre-radicalization. It is here where one’s life changes, just before they start towards radicalization. This is the most important step to recognize because it is at this moment that a person is looking for someone to help them. Through research the homeland security community may be able to find a way to locate these individuals and give then the proper help they may need.

Clapper, J. R. (2014). Remarks as Delivered by DNI James R. Clapper on the 2013 Worldwide Assessment. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Retrieved from http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/140129/clapper.pdf

Committee on Homeland Security. (2014). FBI, DHS, NCTC Heads Agree: ISIS Recruitment and Radicalization of Americans Dangerous and Difficult to Track. Retrieved from http://homeland.house.gov/press-release/fbi-dhs-nctc-heads-agree-isis-recruitment-and-radicalization-americans-dangerous-and

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 9:02 pm

While many Americans are quite contrary to any talks and negotiations w/Tehran and this state sponsoring “Brutes of Tehran” – the following and another twist w/Saudi Arabia now forced to sign a contract given their expectation that neither the US or Europe has the strength and determination to thwart any such Iranian WMD and multiple launchers.

Saudi Nuclear Deal Raises Stakes
for Iran Talks

Wall Street Journal | March 11

As U.S. and Iranian diplomats inched toward progress on Tehran’s nuclear program last week, Saudi Arabia quietly signed its own nuclear-cooperation agreement with South Korea.

That agreement, along with recent comments from Saudi officials and royals, is raising concerns on Capitol Hill and among U.S. allies that a deal with Iran, rather than stanching the spread of nuclear technologies, risks fueling it.

Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief,  Prince Turki al-Faisal,  a member of the
royal family, has publicly warned in recent months that Riyadh will seek to match the nuclear capabilities Iran is allowed to maintain as part of any final agreement reached with world powers.

This could include the ability to enrich uranium and to harvest the weapons-grade plutonium discharged in a nuclear reactor’s spent fuel.

Several U.S. and Arab officials have voiced concerns about a possible nuclear-arms race erupting in the Middle East, spurred on by Saudi Arabia’s regional rivalry with Iran, which has been playing out in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and
Yemen in recent months. …

Current and former U.S. officials said there is particular concern about Saudi Arabia’s decades long military alliance with Pakistan, a nuclear-armed
state with a history of proliferating military technologies. …

Saudi Arabia, however, has so far balked at accepting [nuclear-cooperation terms that explicitly ban it from developing nuclear weapons].

“We’ve been pressing them to agree not to pursue a civilian fuel cycle, but the Saudis refuse,” said Gary Samore, who was the White House’s top official working on nuclear issues during President Obama’s first term. …

Current and former U.S. officials said they remained skeptical that Pakistan would directly sell or transfer atomic weapons to Saudi Arabia in response to the perceived threat of Iran. But they said they couldn’t discount Islamabad deploying some of its weapons in the kingdom.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 13, 2015 @ 9:09 pm

….and given the continued anti-American rhetoric we hear from Tehran which is no surprise as the Iranians continue to broaden their reach throughout the Middle East especially given the weakness or the agenda of this eight year American sitting executive WH administration so apologetic in every instance to Islamic fundamentalists, an interesting perspective from the following article to add for serious consideration:

What Will Happen to Iran When Khamenei Dies?
David Vejil | March 11

On Tuesday, Iran’s Assembly of Experts chose ultraconservative hardliner Ayatollah Mohammed Yazdi as its chairman. He defeated Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered more moderate by the West.

The Assembly of Experts selects the nation’s supreme leader, who is the real leader of the country. This council is made up of more than 80 high-ranking religious leaders who represent each of Iran’s provinces. Currently the council is
filled with hardline conservatives.

Reports are surfacing of 75-year-old Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s declining health. Although impossible to tell if the rumors are true, it is worth considering the effect his death would have on Iran.

The assembly’s recent decision reveals the likelihood that if Khamenei were to die soon, he would be replaced by someone at least as conservative
and hardline as he is, if not more so. If the next supreme leader is more extreme, he could easily reverse any nuclear deal made with the
United States.

Iran’s political direction can be forecast by understanding the makeup of its Assembly of Experts, especially when a transition is possible.

The Trumpet Magazine believes Iran will continue to push
its aggressive anti-Western agenda as it seeks to gain nuclear capability.

Tuesday’s election confirms that belief.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 14, 2015 @ 8:15 am

Again nks for these terrific comments.

New topic: On CBS 60 minutes a week or so back there was an interview with Brad Keiserman, formerly Coast Guard and formerly Chief Counsel FEMA, about falsified engineering reports for NFIP claims in Storm Sandy. Now it has been announced that 100% of those claims will be reviewed in their entirety. Per NYTimes.

Some background: The leaders of the property/casualty insurance business gathered at Camelback Mountain resort in the late 60’s and decided to support a federal flood insurance program. Actually under President a federal flood insurance statute was enacted but never funded. Why? There was no provision for mitigation or floodplain management in that legislation.

When the National Flood Insurance Program was enacted into law as a title of the 1968 Housing Act it contained such measures. A brilliant young lawyer and administrator, George K. Bernstein, had been named Federal Insurance Administrator, and assisted that effort. George had been the Deputy Insurance Commissioner in NY State, perhaps the best of the State insurance regulatory agencies. George had openly advocated for flood insurance even while explaining it was really a land use program not an insurance program.

More to come!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 14, 2015 @ 8:29 am


When George Bernstein arrived at HUD not a single state had a statewide floodplain management agency, or at least not an effective one. George helped create those building on the FPM expertise of the TVA and USACOE.

I arrived at HUD on July 1st 1974 and immediate took over all NFIP litigation. It was not until 1979 however that all NFIP claims litigation was controlled by HUD and led by me.

I used the NFIP litigation to support land use and FPM not to support the insurance industry’s use of the NFIP to support their theories for fire insurance. In fact the insurers who actually wrote the first policy for the NFIP simply substituted the single peril of flood for the single peril of FIRE in the 1941 Standard NY State residential fire policy.

My efforts included an effort to file Amicus Briefs on all state land use cases involving flooding. I also established a subrogation program for the NFIP using paid claims under the NFIP to reduce future flood losses where manmade efforts, often grossly negligent, aggravated or even caused flood damages.

Both those efforts and my policy decisions when to help prevent the breakup of FEMA I took over the National Security portfolio and Preparedness portfolio in the General Counsel’s office of the then independent FEMA.

The review of the Storm Sandy claims by FEMA is amazing to me because since I left lawyering for the NFIP on July 1st 1986 the consumer and FPM has largely been ignored by the Insurance & Mitigation leadership of FEMA.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 14, 2015 @ 8:35 am

Perhaps tragically for many both Republican and Democratic FEWMA leadership since 1986 has almost totally failed to protect the consumer or managed the FEMA mosaic of statutes to assist in reducing property loss from flooding.

THEY [FEMA’s leadership]JUST DON’T GET IT [reduction of flood losses through non-structural measures] DESPITE STATUTORY AND EXECUTIVE MANDATES.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 14, 2015 @ 9:51 am

In a recent conversation mentioned that I believed PKEMRA 2006 [effective March 31, 2007] was an important EM milestone. When asked if I thought it had impacted Storm Sandy response and recovery I stated only that FEMA has largely been left alone by
DHS leadership to make its own mistakes [largely repetitive all the way back to Hurricane Hugo-1989].

Wondering if this statute has been discussed by academics or others? Links? Both CRS and GAO have noted its lack of full implementation and missed deadlines by FEMA.

URL for PKEMRA 2006 follows:


Comment by William R. Cumming

March 15, 2015 @ 9:59 am

RECOVERY DIVA on today’s post announce the release of FEMA guidance on Statewide Mitigation Plans. Required by law since May 1974 and by regulation since 1979. FEMA has NEVER sanctioned any State by denying disaster RELIEF as required since 1974.

The federal ATM run by FEMA continues to operate without much oversight.

Some have suggested up to $16B has gone out for MITIGATION since 1974 with almost no documentation as to effectiveness. The NGA suggest MITIGATION be part of them paradigm in their 1978 reort on EM, together with PREPAREDNESS, RESOPNSE, AND RECOVERY. PREVENTION added to that paradigm by PKEMRA 2006 [a title of P.L. 109-295]!

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