Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 20, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 20, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by Maggie Szymczyk

March 20, 2015 @ 5:49 am

For this week’s post I would like to discuss how terrorists exploit media to their advantage. Terrorists exploit the media for their purpose by making sure that their attacks are big enough to attract the media’s attention and then they use the media to transform the reporting style and try change public opinions about their group and reasoning behind their attack. Media is used to attract attention, publicity and coercive power from the incident to the terrorist groups. They want to create a story that will be remembered for a long time, just like the media does so both of their goals are similar in this matter. TWA hijacking was the best example of how media is used by the terrorists. “During the seventeen day crisis, nearly 500 news segments- and average of 28.8 per day- were broadcasted by three major US TV networks” (Hoffman, pg.174). There was no other news shown on TV than the TWA hijacking; it seemed like nothing else mattered. The same thing happened in Boston bombing. I remember sitting at home, watching the news and the reporters talked about the bombings for hours. And when anything new about the Boston bombing was discovered, every major TV news station was talking about it. It seemed once again that no other news was important except for the bombing. The bombing was a terrible event and news should have reported about it but by talking about it non-stop it showed that terrorist’s tactics to use media to their advantage do work. They want people to keep watch them because that gives them both attention and publicity.
Various media use different kind of aspects to attract the public. The use of TV, Internet and video production changed forever the way the news and/or information is being transmitted. Television started the shift of the way the information is being shared not only in the US but also globally. The internet is used widely by everyone around the world and it has tremendous capabilities of getting information to places where it would be impossible with TV. “For some audiences, the sites maintained by terrorist’s movements and their sympathizers alarmingly present an increasingly compelling and indeed accepted alternative point of view” (Hoffman, pg. 226) which is very alarming because more people seem to be terrorist supporters. Internet sites, even if created in the US or anywhere in the world, are available in places like Middle East, where there are a lot of terrorist supporters. Video production has been on the rise and it is a very discrete but easy way to communicate. Everyone has seen the video that Osama bin Laden made and was released after 9/11. There are films called “mujahideen films” which are sold in Iraq and they ask people to take actions against the US. They also teach how to use weapons and how to plan and execute an attack and also appeal for financial contributions but the most alarming thing is that they are able to recruit people from places like Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and even United States to join and take a stand against the US. Various media can portray the terrorist organization different but terrorism exists all over the world and there are ways for terrorists to reach out to people all around the globe through the use of media and technology. Media usage changes every decade and new way to stay connected and spread the word evolves. Media is a very powerful tool that is definitely used by terrorists to their advantage.
Terrorists often do represent biased or political platforms in order to send a message to the public. Referring back to the TWA hijacking, they wanted to make a point by the use of media, which showed the agony that the families of the kidnapped went through and any news about the hostages. The policymakers’ decision was difficult because media was “focusing on individual tragedies, completely deliberates national policymakers from making rational decisions in national interest” (Hoffman, pg.176) which is a very well thought-out tactic. They want to make people feel bad for them so that the policymakers do too and they are unable to clearly decide what they actions to take. When emotions are taken into considerations than the outcome of the decision might not be the same. Media usually sees thing from a certain point of view which can be seen today. Fox News is more conservative and CNN is more liberal, there is no question about that. Each of those stations can cover the same story like Boston bombing or Navy Yard shooting but because they have different views because they are different political parties, their coverage will vary and their solution of what actions should be taken will be different.
Hoffman, B. (2006). Inside Terrorism: Revised and Expanded Edition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 20, 2015 @ 6:24 am

As we see quite clearly today, the media which has prostituted itself to the politician and the greed of individuals in their lust for power and self-serving schemes oh so dismissing our Judeo-Christian values and our Constitution, allowing those who seek our demise to gain from this perverted and oh so biased government about us in its divisive ways, prompts a recollection of the following call for those truly committed to the profession of journalism and a free press and the prerequisite requirement to a Homeland Security who today number about the same as the real true friends one person can call to when in need:


Comment by Matt Doyle

March 20, 2015 @ 7:37 am

This week I wanted to discuss the importance of trust when it comes to cyberspace and a particular threat that can greatly affect users’ trust. Trust is essential when it comes to cyberspace and financial stability. Singer and Friedman (2014) write that “for cybersecurity, the users must trust the systems, and the systems must know how to trust users” (p. 46). The CISCO 2014 report highlights the current trust problem, cyber-attacks go “beyond criminals exploiting vulnerabilities or preying on users through social engineering: it undermines confidence in both public and private organizations” (p. 2). If there is no trust or confidence in the ability of the government or businesses to protect people’s information online, the system will break down.

Überbots are a growing threat that has the potential to undermine consumer trust, confidence, and financial stability because they threaten the actual infrastructure of cyberspace. The CISCO 2014 report specifically warns about the growing sophistication of cyber-criminals who are no longer concerned with gaining access to a few websites, computers, or networks, but are instead hoping to undermine the entire infrastructure of cyberspace. Überbots can be used by hackers to gain access to web-hosting servers, name servers, and data centers. CISCO (2014) writes that “we appear to be witnessing a changing tide, where the infrastructure of the web is being used to form what can only be described as a very large-and very powerful-botnet. This überbot can be used for sending spam, delivering malware, and launching DDoS attacks on a scale never seen before” (p. 47). By targeting hosting servers, name servers, and data-centers, the entire infrastructure would be threatened. Cisco (2014) writes that “this trend in targeting internet infrastructure means the foundation of the web itself cannot be trusted” (p. 44). Cisco (2014) cites the DarkLeech and Linux/CDorked attacks as evidence of cyber-criminals trying to undermine the entire stability of the web.

Überbots would be capable of destabilizing portions of the financial system, including banks and financial institutions within the federal government. Targeted attacks against the sectors responsible for the finances and the economy of our nation would have disastrous consequences. Colarik (2006) writes that “financial markets place value on products and services based on public demand and their associated perceptions. If such a system…were attacked in a meaningful manner, then products and services such as personal savings accounts, retirement accounts, and trade investments would be perceived as having greater risk” (p. 127). As the risk increases, investments and trust in the system would decrease. According to Cisco (2014), there is evidence that confidence and trust are already eroding. The Cisco (2014) report states that one of reasons for the erosion of trust in cyberspace is the “mounting evidence that malicious actors are defeating trust mechanisms, thus calling into question the effectiveness of network and application assurance, authentication, and authorization architectures” (p. 2). The system is built on trust, if trust does not exist, many people will not risk losing money, property, or personal information.

The interconnected nature of cyberspace and the global economy means that Überbot attacks against the infrastructure within the United States would have profound effects on the entire world. Mcafee (2014) writes that cybercrime “damages trade, competitiveness, innovation and global economic growth…” (p. 3). Mcafee (2014) already estimates that annual losses from cybercrime are between $375 billion to $575 billion. Überbots represent a much larger scale of attack and the resulting erosion of trust in cyberspace would cause financial losses to skyrocket.

The scale and complexity of an überbot threat make it difficult to develop strategies to combat it. My first recommendation would be to increase the amount of collaboration between the government and private sector leaders who are primarily responsible for the stability of cyberspace. The 2015 National Security Strategy states that “we are working with the owners and operators of our Nation’s critical cyber and physical infrastructure across every sector—financial, energy, transportation, health, information technology, and more—to decrease vulnerabilities and increase resilience” (p. 9). A second recommendation is to address the “talent gap” that is threatening cyber security. The Cisco (2014) report states “most organizations do not have the people or the systems to monitor their networks consistently and to determine how they are being infiltrated” (p. 60). There is no doubt that potential hackers and cyber-terrorists are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks and more experienced, our nation must strive to remain a step ahead. This means we must invest in education and training for cybersecurity so that we can close the current talent gap.


Cisco (2014). Cisco Annual Security Report. Cisco Systems Inc. http://www.cisco.com/web/offer/gist_ty2_asset/Cisco_2014_ASR.pdf

Colarik, A.M. (2006). Cyber Terrorism: Political and Economic Implications. Idea Group Publishing. Hersehy, PA.

Mcafee (2014). Net Losses: Estimating the global cost of cybercrime: economic impact of cybercrime II; Report Summary. http://csis.org/files/attachments/140609_McAfee_PDF.pdf

Office of the President (2015). National Security Strategy. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy.pdf

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

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2015 @ 7:57 am

Thanks Maggie and Chris. Bruce Hoffman truly one of the West’s real experts on terrorism and longtime at RAND if memory serves.

Whatever the MSM problems I just that the MSM understood the difference between propaganda, public information, and emergency public information [this includes issuance of PAR’s (protective action recommendations)!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2015 @ 8:16 am

Sometimes the tip of the iceberg suggests a looming policy change. In this case the debate in DoD as to whether its cyber warriors should be in uniform and perhaps eventually a fifth branch of the military. Note that there is a Cyber Command collocated with NSA at Ft. Meade in Maryland between D.C. and Baltimore.

I retired from FEMA October 1st, 1999, even as the Y2K preparedness effort was underway. Note that the Presidential Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection [also called the Marsh Commission after the retired Air Force General who headed it (not to be confused with former Secretary of the Army John Marsh) had issued its final report in September 1997.

The PCCIP final report identified cyber protection as the future of Critical Infrastructure Protection as opposed to physical security issues.

IMO the Y2K preparedness effort was the largest in American and perhaps world history outside of military preparedness.

And a footnote that may well be of interest. Even before I retired from FEMA I was using both EMP [are you listening Quin?] and Y2K to potential cyber attacks. In the run-up to Y2K the General Counsel of OMB asked the department and agency General Counsel’s to send him a memo on their legal authorities to deal with Y2K.

FEMA’s answer is contained full text on the FAS/FEMA page AT:


and is captioned:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Authorities Available To FEMA For A Y2K Disruption
In The United States And Abroad

If you read the memorandum you will find out that it concluded that FEMA could do nothing to help with Y2K preparedness.

To Be Continued:

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2015 @ 8:22 am

Thanks Matt for great comment and useful links.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2015 @ 8:35 am

The administration of President William Jefferson Clinton started on January 20th of 1993. The first WTC bombing was soon to follow with a Presidential declaration under the Stafford Act and FEMA responded. That Administration left office on January 2oth, 2001.

In response to the final PCCIP the NSC staff held about a dozen drafting sessions on formulating a PD [Presidential irective] to respond to the report. I attended and participated in five of those sessions. The star of the sessions I attended IMO was Michael Vatis of DoJ [Department of Justice]. The PD issued was PD-63 [1998].

But the history of FEMA and CIP is imbedded in the papers and activities of the Marsh Commission. FEMA lent to the Commission a brilliant PhD inn Physics and career SES, Dr. John Powers, to assist in its work. John came to FEMA from DoE around 1982 and in 1987 led the outstanding effort to design and conduct a capability analysis of FEMA.

So despite the GC opinion on Y2K some understood cyber world issues in FEMA.


Comment by Dina Russo

March 20, 2015 @ 9:13 am

For this Fridays discussion I would like to discuss interoperability. Interoperability essentially means to use technology to communicate and exchange information in an effective manner, which then the data exchanged will be utilized by the parties. Each party should not have their productivity reduced by practicing interoperability, the goal is actually to have each party function more effectively and create better products by working together.

I believe that interoperability is essential for the homeland security community members, especially all emergency responders. I think that even at a local level interoperability is a necessity. It is essential that local police, fire, and emergency services can all work together to achieve the best result. If there is a cut in communication lives can be cost. However, I also believe that local services should also be interoperable with larger services such as state and federal entities as well. There needs to be a communication not just on the same level, but also through different levels of agencies. For example, only 51 percent of cities were interoperable with the state police (Gilbert). I think that this is very low, and that all local police should be communicating with the state police. While there is just one state police, there are many different local police in a state. The state police needs to utilize the local police in order to have more resources.

It has been reported that DHS has curtailed full scale exercises of interoperability throughout the nation (GAO). I believe that they should be using the grants for these exercises and to build a long term plan so the nation is fully interoperable, as well as a backup plan if the lines of communication fail. Without communication chaos will ensure, and there needs to be direct plans on what to do when a crisis happens. Technology can always fail, especially thinking in a homeland security sense with cyber-attacks. Funding should be used to strengthen these systems and to make sure the nation is communicating and working together in order to keep the nation safe.

Government Accountability Office. (2007 April). First Responders Much Work Remains to Improve Communications Interoperability.

Gilbert et al. (February 2005). Toward Interoperable First Response. Crisis Communications.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2015 @ 9:41 am

Director James Lee Witt arrived in FEMA in February 1993. He received after his arrival the NAPA report [team led by Gary Walmsey of VPI and Claire Rubin of commenting on this blog and the RECOVERY DIVA blog].

The NAPA report was captioned COPING WITH CATASTROPHE
and is available on-line from the NAPA website. While an outstanding report it did not discuss FEMA’s role in terrorism [Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 that created FEMA did discuss a FEMA terrorism mission and a chronology of that mission by Dr. Thomas Baldwin, formerly of ANL [Argonne National Lab] is available on the FAS/FEMA website. The NAPA report also was silent on CIP even though both a KEY ASSET and Non-Industrial Facility did exist in FEMA.

When Witt arrived in FEMA he also brought in Lacey Suiter, the long-serving head of OEM in the State of Tennessee. Lacey became the SES head of the Policy shop in FEMA. Later and by the time of the Y2K effort Lacey was the Acting Associate Director of the Response and Recovery Directorate. He has been deceased for most of a decade.

Lacy was handed the Y2K opinion of FEMA’s GC but at the same time was in frequent contact with John Kosinken, the Y2K preparedness Czar and currently the Commissioner of the IRS.

In early 1999 the Congress was getting very nervous about Y2K and its impact. So it held a series of hearings and preparedness was pushed by Senators Bennett of Utah and Kyle of Arizona. They had created a statutory mandate for the PCCIP in 1995-95.

John K. and the WH picked Lacey to accompany JK in a number of hearings and briefing. That same year Lacey and Clay Hollister briefed the RUDMAN Commission on FEMA generally and its role in terrorism. No notes or memorandum of record on that briefing exist even in the records of the RUDMAN COMMISSION.

Forced to answer under oath and ON THE RECORD in a Congressional hearing Lacey not only did not follow the OGC opinion but volte face announced that FEMA could be of major assistance on Y2K especially if there would be a Presidential declaration of disaster or emergency. None was ever issued but again FEMA detailed another career SES. William W.F. Jones to assist J.K. throughout the Y2K incident/event among other support.

IMO the OGC memorandum is in error as to both rationale and conclusions and should be formerly rescinded in writing with a detailed analysis of FEM’s role in preparedness and response to a major cyber security event.

Comment by Gianna Gallo

March 20, 2015 @ 11:19 am

This week I wanted to focus on the use of radio frequency identification technology by Customs and Border Protection and all the benefits these identifiers can have on our nation’s security.

The use of radio frequency identification technology for border crossings assists in the authentication of the identity of the traveler attempting to enter the United States. Customs and Border Protection issue a specific number to each individual traveler. This aids in the border crossing process. “While the individual traveler is in line to cross the border, the RFID reader triggers the wireless transmission of the RFID tag number from the RFID card, provides the ID number to backend computer systems that identify the appropriate record(s) and makes them available to the CBP Officer before the traveler reaches primary inspection,” (Manaher & Teufel, 2008, p.3). The RFID number also activates automated background checks against appropriate law enforcement databases and terrorist watchlists. When the individual traveler reaches primary inspection, the relevant border crossing information is already pre-positioned on the CBP Officer’s computer screen and the officer can be prepared to either process the border crossing more quickly or be ready to refer the traveler to secondary inspection to address any negative information related to the traveler (Mahaner & Teufel, 2008). Essentially, the use of RIFD technology speeds up the border crossing process and creates a more efficient experience for both the traveler and the CBP officer.
Potential privacy impacts of RFID’s are minimal. RFID enabled cards used in CBP’s processing of a border crossing event contain only a limited amount of information that is presented by the RFID transmission process. The only information exchanged during the border crossing is the unique RIFD number assigned to the individual traveler. “While this unique identifier will eventually be associated with a particular traveler, at the time the RFID number is created it is not generated or based in any way on personally identifiable information related to an individual traveler… All personally identifiable information used in the border crossing clearance process is stored in secured systems and on a secured computer network,” (Mahaner & Teufel, 2008, p.6). Information through this system can also be shared on a “need to know” and case-by-case basis with internal organizations, such as ICE, CIS, TSA, and I&A.
As with any technology utilized by Homeland Security, officers and agents must be highly trained in using frequency identification technology and they must be skilled in processing and interpreting the intelligence and information gained from this program. The automated process of RFID technology enables the CBP officer to quickly compare the information presented on the computer screen with the information on the travel card and the traveler, and thus enhances security and completes the clearance process faster than before. Traditional border security and law enforcement practices and procedures coupled with the innovative technology of RFIDs will make for a stronger, more effective national defense.

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 claire rubin

March 20, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

Correction needed for Bill Cumming’s post #239621

The NAPA team,an excellent one, was headed by Gary Wamsley (prof. of public admin. at VA Tech) and Roger Sperry (formerly with GAO. I was a staffer on the team.

The team leaders gave James Lee Witt a briefing on their findings before the report was officially released, as a courtesy to the incoming Administrator.


Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2015 @ 1:49 pm

Thanks Claire!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2015 @ 1:50 pm

Thanks Dina and Gianna for your excellent comments!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 20, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

…and in reading Homeland Security events of the day, I am expressing my disappointment as a Greek-American, born to parents also born in this great nation and toiled day and night to create a family and a living, an utter disappointment and feeling left out that my high school failed in reciting our American Pledge of Allegiance in Greek for I am fortunate to speak Greek fluently and I see in today’s Homeland Security News notations that:

Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic Draws Backlash Against NY High School – When my Grandparents arrived from Sparta, Greece (Hellas), even they knew how to speak English and who are these folks whether Arabs or another who feel so special and a school district and a teacher who tells a student that he should stand for it is disrespectful to do so and he and others stating that when OUR National Anthem is recited in English, they will stand, otherwise nada!

God Bless these young brave warriors who stand forthright unlike this eight year WH resident who runs to cairo to make apology for America and today in hearing Homeland Security News, good ‘ol Barry is addressing the Iranian people as if they or the “Brutes of Tehran” could really give a damn about America – their Great Satan who will now be enabled to have WMD in hand by the illustrious ranting of the Rev Wright spewing such absurdity for some 20 years to the attentive ear of Barry Obama, ya know, the pal to the Muslim Brotherhood!

How dare you? The decision to recite the National Anthem in Arabic was made by an administrator and that administrator or more should be fired!

…and by the way, yes, WE are at war w/Islam! Don’t kid yourselves for there are some 10% (estimated) of Muslims even living here in America who have little trouble w/terrorist actions towards the infidels….

Now we will give WMD’s to Iran w/o Congressional interaction in any ongoing talks with these deceivers who hold their own people hostage from the real Democracy they are entitled to as educated Persians and a rich history- get your bunkers and food readied and hold your arms held high for all lawful purpose as Barry Obama and the ever corrupt UN will try every angle to weaken America and it is time that Congress cuts funds to the UN for we do not need to support these biased and hateful thieves portraying themselves as supposed diplomats! (lol)

God Bless America!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 20, 2015 @ 4:28 pm

Check this story out at ForeignPolicy.com! http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/20/chinas-weapons-of-mass-consumption/

Comment by Drew Buffalino

March 20, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

For this weeks post I would like to discuss the creation of ISIS and the future consequences the group and others like them have on homeland security. Mark Danner correctly states in his 2003 essay on the insurgency in Iraq,

“Like the terrorists who hijacked American airliners and flew them into American buildings, the fighters daily ambushing American troops are attacking not American military power but American will. And thanks to the way President Bush and his colleagues chose to build the case for war, and the errors they have made in prosecuting it, American will is an increasingly vulnerable target. In the end defeat or victory in Iraq will be judged not by who controls Baghdad but by whether the war has left Americans more secure than they were before it was undertaken.” (Danner, 2003)

The invasion of Iraq was intended to make the United States more secure than we were in the past, but it did not succeed. Mistakes made, failed directives, failed policy and failed politics resulted in an insurgency that eventually grew through the Arab Spring of the Syrian Revolution. The power vacuum created by a failed attempt to nation build in Iraq was one factor, however, when coupled with chaos and disorder in Syria, this vacuum resulted in more consequences for homeland security than one could ever imagine. Disorder in Syria allowed for groups to spawn such as the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, Jaysh al-Islam, Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF), and the Al-Nusra Front (BBC News, 2013). These groups provided many of those involved and angered by the invasion, toppling, and expelling of Sunni Muslims from Iraqi politics by the U.S. Coalition a second chance and a breeding ground for which to turn to. The Iraqi Sunni insurgency eventually succeeded in gaining support and organizational strength through the combined creation of ISIS as a result of the Arab Spring revolution and eventually made it’s way back into Northern Iraq. Talking in relation to the initial invasion of Northern Iraq by ISIS, in a PBS documentary, author Thomas Ricks states, “What’s going on in Iraq is not 800 Syrian militants running into Iraq. It’s the Sunni tribes, probably 20% of the country, have lost patients with the government in Baghdad by prime minister al-Maliki.” (PBS, 2014). Disgruntled Iraqi’s had been given an opportunity to leave Iraq and joined up with Syrian rebels in hopes of later retaking the country that was lost to them during the Iraq War. This exodus multiplied the forces of rebel groups, and eventually allowed for one strong organization, ISIS, to emerge.

This combination of failed politics and nation building that resulted from the Iraq War and the Arab Spring were the two elements needed to create a fire that later developed into the horrible situation it the Middle East we have today. Among the chaos and battles that are going on in Syria it is difficult to ensure that weapons, ammunition, and supplies are placed into the right hands. U.S. efforts of damage control, mitigation, and trying to regain allies and partners in the region by supplying rebel groups with ideologies of freedom (Free Syrian Army) have in turn failed and resulted with more arms and supplies falling into the hands of those fighting against us. It seems to be evident that the preconceived strategy for homeland security of: prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery; seems to be in a state of confusion and lost direction within counterterrorism efforts in the Middle East. The more the we try to stop the spread by supplying arms and becoming more involved, the more we fuel the fire and support/supply organizations such as ISIS. Moving into the future as homeland security professionals there are going to be a lot of questions as to best ways to mitigate the damages and consequences that have ensued from the events that have occurred overseas.

In my opinion, it is clear that past strategies need to be dropped. In order to defeat terrorism we must stop supporting what we perceive to be ideological allies involved in the fight. The chaos and disorder in Syria makes it so that one can never be sure who’s side an individual is on and where the U.S. supplies are going to. Instead of physical supplies, it would be effective to send human intelligence and military support to allies in the form of Special Forces groups if at all. By doing so, we ensure that the help is being given to the right people and not falling into the hands of our enemies. Ultimately, the create of ISIS is in one way or another the fault of our past actions. This is an enemy that is different in that it is evasive and now growing stronger in number and resources. It is an enemy that effects the will of the American people rather than simply attacking us militarily. They are a part of the new 4th Generation Warfare that I discussed in my post last week. In order to defeat an enemy such as this there must be a collaborative and moral approach that is individualistic in nature and one in which we seek to create more friends and fewer enemies. It must recognize the consequences of collateral damage and take into account risk management on every level conceivable. Though the defeat of terrorist groups may not be completely achieved, the reduction of their power, strength, resources, global reach, and overall will to fight can be. This, however, can only be achieved through high morality of actions in which U.S. support becomes multiplied by the steps we take.


BBC News. (2013).Syria crisis: Guide to armed and political opposition. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003

Danner, M. (2003). Iraq: The New War. Retrieved from http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2003/sep/25/iraq-the-new-war/

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). (July, 2014). Losing Iraq. FRONTLINE. Retrieved
from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/losing-iraq/

Comment by Chris Kears

March 20, 2015 @ 7:16 pm

For this week’s post, I want to address the importance of New York’s fusion centers and how its intelligence gathering-and-sharing is a vital component to the homeland security enterprise. As New York City remains one of the most attractive targets for terrorist organizations, New York’s fusion centers must continue to be “very active” in gathering, analyzing, and evaluating intelligence. First, it is useful to understand the role of fusion centers and how they support law enforcement officials in intelligence-led policing. Fusion centers are important, not only because they gather information, but they develop and disseminate intelligence through a combination of multiple agencies in one location while pooling resources and personnel together to share and collaborate intelligence accordingly (Dorn and Johnson, 2015). Collaboration from fusion centers allows strategies, such as the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing (NCISP) and National Strategy for Information Sharing, to achieve their full potential when working along with law enforcement officials from local, state, tribal, and federal agencies. Fusion centers continue to lay the “foundation for successful data integration and exchange” (Dorn and Johnson, 2015, p. 1); as they produce positive results; known as knowledge management.

Knowledge management allows fusion centers to strengthen U.S. counterterrorism, which seems to be a primary contributor in protecting the homeland. Again, it is important to address that New York remains one of the world’s most attractive targets for terrorist organizations. Therefore, New York’s fusion centers must continue to provide 24-hour intelligence operations so that all levels of government are provided with the intelligence needed to counter suspicious activity from homegrown-violent extremists(HVEs) and foreign-based actors. The New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) has become a multiagency endeavor, as it coordinates and receives support from numerous agencies, such as the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Sheriff’s Association, and many federal and state agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the NYS Department of Corrections, and the NYS Division of Parole (Dorn and Johnson, 2015). This combined coordination provide law enforcement officials an advance warning on possible terrorists, criminals, and other persons of interest. NYSIC uses both qualitative and quantitative measures to convert information into intelligence and it has been successful in countering previous scenarios. These successful scenarios include:

1. Location of missing girl student: NYSIC utilized resources from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify addresses of possible locations. Before NYSIC support, the investigative leads to finding the girl were slim as previous work had not revealed a possible location. The collaboration and resources utilized by NYSIC and ICE helped find the girl alive.
2. Identifying smuggling and terrorist funding: New York State Police (NYSP) requested information regarding subjects that provided inconsistent information during a vehicle and traffic stop. NYSIC and FBI provided intelligence on these suspects to NYSP and found that these individuals were involved in cigarette smuggling, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and terrorism funding.
(Dorn and Johnson, 2015)

Moreover, the following two scenarios illustrated successful responses by NYSIC; however, I want to focus on how to counter threats that target a bigger audience; such as a possible terrorist attack that has the capability of replicating the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Bombing Marathons. These are two examples that incorporate both HVEs and foreign-based actors, such as al-Qaeda. For example, our nation is aware by now that the threat of terrorism is quickly ascending and has multiple “faces.” Our counterterrorism tactics were successful in hollowing al-Qaeda’s core with the death of Osama bin Laden; however, other al-Qaeda affiliates, such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has emerged (Smith-Spark, 2015). Today, AQAP poses a significant threat to our homeland and the NYSIC must strengthen its response with all levels of government to combat its emergence. Fusion Centers have provided intelligence that helped U.S. military utilize a drone strike, which killed one of their primary leaders Anwar al-Awlaki (Morgan, 2011). Stopping al-Awlaki was a great step for fusion centers and the homeland security enterprise; however, what made this death interesting is that al-Awlaki was an American-born jihadist and is said to be the first U.S. citizen killed by the U.S. Al-Awlaki has been linked to multiple terrorist attacks that have happened in the U.S.; and was a spiritual inspiration on the Tsarnaev brothers, who were responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombings (Smith-Spark, 2015). Even with one of their primary leaders gone, AQAP are still recruiting. Although they are primarily trying to take over the Yemeni government, they are still coordinating with HVEs in our homeland. Since New York remains a high interest target, NYSIC needs to enhance its ability to share information, collect intelligence, process intelligence, and deliver actionable responses to all levels of government to ensure New York, as well as our nation’s critical infrastructure, is protected at all times.


Dorn, S., & Johnson, B. R. (2015, March 30). Fusion Centers: New York State Intelligence Strategy Unifies Law Enforcement. Retrieved from http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=1419&issue_id=22008
Morgan, D. (2011, September 30). Who was Anwar al-Awlaki? Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/who-was-anwar-al-awlaki/
Smith-Spark, L. (2015, January 14). What is al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula? Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/14/middleeast/yemen-al-qaeda-arabian-peninsula/

Comment by Colton Strano

March 20, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

Cyber attacks can happen whenever and where ever to whomever, depending on the motives of the attacker, America’s cyber security has shown its vulnerabilities. Jim Louis is the director at the Center of Strategic and International Studies and has stated on 60 Minutes in 2010, that in 2007 there was the Pearl Harbor is cyber attacks. This attack was carried out by an unknown attacker and penetrated all of the high tech agencies and all of the military agencies and downloaded multiple terabytes of information. We have seen hackers penetrate banking networks and steal money, but this attack comes with a much greater risk.
Attacking a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA) or Industrial Control System (ICS) can have a much more devastating result on our country than any other cyber attack. “If the human operators also have access to the Internet on the same devices through which they control the human-machine interfaces (HMI), the threat of penetration of the SCADA networks increases. Furthermore, many SCADA networks lack effective identification, authentication and authorization schemes to control access to the control systems. Firewalls are often missing because they slow down network throughput and therefore harm response time for critical actions in cases of trouble” (Kabay, 2010). Not being connecting to the internet, a SCADA system of ICS can be penetrated by another form of attack, one much like the Stuxnet worm. The Stuxnet worm was a virus that was used to attack an Nuclear Power Plant in Iran. This system was completely off the grid from the internet or any other network. The worm was implemented via a thumb drive or USB drive and then spread on its own from computer to computer “looking” for its target. Its target was one of the Uranium cooling rod systems, which if shutdown or reprogrammed. This virus had the means of staying undetected for over a year until found and disarmed without any consequences. The attack was non-malicious but had the opportunity to completely destroy the power plant and harm the surrounding population.
Within America, we have seen banks robbed without anyone entering the bank and have seen top secret information stole without a trace of who did it. SCADA systems and ICS are the target for any terrorist or attacker and must be secured properly. The SCADA systems and ICS provide power and monitor the electrical grid, water lines, gas and oil lines and means of public transportation. Any one of these systems can be attacked and cause horrendous consequences to the nation as a whole, but narrowing it down to just one, the electrical grid would be the number one target. Last week, we looked at how important the electrical grid is to the nation and how important electricity is to America, but this power grid also powers the water treatment plants for drinkable water and the network of public transportation systems along with every other utility and plant in America. Without power, attackers have free reign over any and every critical infrastructure building, means of using mother nature against us, if attacked in the dead of winter there would be no electric heating or in the heat wave of summer with no air conditioning. And multi-pronged attack would start with the power grid and then cascade to other means of harming us. Humans can go only a few days without drinkable water and supermarkets would be wiped clean of any and all drinkable substances, leaving the general public at risk of chaos or death in mass quantities. Over time, the population would be weak and the leaders weaker, allowing for the perfect time for an assault or physical attack to follow and have little means of defending ourselves.
SCADA systems and ICS power our country and should be the number one priority to protect from cyber attacks above all else. The power grid is what fuels this nation both economically, by allowing banks and other utilities to maintain power and revenues, and also fundamentally. Without power, all fundamental necessities become lost luxuries.


Kabay, M. (2010, November 15). SCADA security and terrorism: The X-Force Report. Retrieved from Network Worlds: http://www.networkworld.com/article/2194149/security/scada-security-and-terrorism–the-x-force-report.html

Kroft, S. (2010, June 13). CyberWar. Retrieved from CBSNews: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/cyber-war/

US Environmental Protection Agency. (2012, July). Cyber Security 101 for Water Utilities. Retrieved from EPA: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/features/upload/epa817k12004.pdf

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 20, 2015 @ 8:20 pm

Obama Humiliated as Allies Join China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Washington Times | March 19

The battle of wills between Beijing and Washington over a China-sponsored development bank for Asia is turning into a rout, and the Obama administration has found itself isolated and embarrassed as its top allies lined up this week to join the proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

In what one analyst dubbed a “diplomatic disaster” for the U.S., Britain became the first major European ally to sign on as a founding member of the Shanghai-based investment bank, joined quickly by France, Germany and Italy, which dismissed public and private warnings from the U.S. about the bank’s potential impact on global lending standards and the competition it could provide to existing institutions such as the U.S.-dominated World Bank. Luxembourg, a major global financial center, revealed this week that it would sign up. China also is wooing Australia and South Korea, two of America’s closest Asian allies, to join before the March 31 deadline. A South Korean wire service reported Wednesday that Seoul was “seriously considering” the offer. The reason for the stampede is clear: China’s market and its huge hoard of cash to invest override any concerns voiced by the U.S. Treasury Department and State Department over Beijing’s half-ownership stake in the bank. … With 32 countries on board and more expected in the coming days, Chinese state media have begun to gloat about the failure of the Obama administration to rally even its closest allies and trading partners to shun the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. … “Welcome Germany! Welcome France! Welcome Italy!” the official Chinese Xinhua News Agency wrote in a commentary published Wednesday. “Despite a petulant and cynical Washington,” more and more major countries are joining, the commentary noted. “Holding sour grapes over the aiib makes America look isolated and hypocritical.” … Underlying the public debate was a clear clash between Washington and Beijing over clout in the globe’s leading financial infrastructure, set up largely by the United States in the wake of World War ii and still largely dominated in the senior ranks by U.S., European and Japanese officials. … Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman said this week that the saga “is turning into a diplomatic debacle for the U.S.” “By setting up and then losing a power struggle with China,” he said, “Washington has sent an unintended signal about the drift of power and influence in the 21st century.” “Bible prophecy shows that Europe and China will form a brief but robust economic alliance called a ‘mart of nations’ (Isaiah 23:1-3). China overtook the U.S. in 2011 to become the EU’s number one trading partner. …

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has explained that the economic alliance between China and Europe would be underpinned by both sides’ desire to dominate global trade at America’s expense: ‘Two great trading blocs are positioning themselves to control the world. Both power conglomerates are discussed in Daniel 11:40-45 and in Isaiah 23. … The relationship we see developing between the king of the north [Europe] and the kings of the east [China, Russia, etc.] is exactly what Isaiah prophesied over 2,700 years ago!’” —theTrumpet.com, Oct. 28, 2013 MIDDLE EAST | EUROPE | ASIA | AFRICA/LATIN AMERICA | ANGLO-AMERICA | OTHER NEWS

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 20, 2015 @ 8:39 pm

Trust In God…however given this perverse and ill-intentioned eight year WH resident, trust in US government is becoming less and less and Barry Obama is now clearly depicting the pledge many have believed he is committed to and that is of course to his Father, Hussein Obama and his anti-Christian, anti-colonial and anti-American Kenyan pals and no other pledge is regarded much like the “Brutes of Tehran” who will never keep any agreement or pledge in tact with the infidel!

Listening quite attentively to the Israeli PM last evening, until the Hebrews are shown real commitment and an end to this bias best represented by Barry Obama et al towards our best friend and ally, Israel, there will be no deal and it is time to stop US funding to the corrupt UN as well. We all seek a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian challenge and those self-serving seek to thwart any such attempt….What a pity for Palestinian youth are not able to pursue education and become competitive as a result of this ongoing intent and bias as clearly understood by the Middle East saying, “Keep the oven hot to make sure the bread bakes” – enough is enough!

The world Respects Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and any other free choices and we are looking to technology to enhance the quality of Life for all God’s children and humanity as in history before is being hoodwinked by the tyrants and led by this eight year WH resident who cares little for our Constitution nor our pride as a nation of a populace comprised of Muslims, Christians, Jews and other Respectful of one another….

To the Iranian youth who have a Persian history so well documented and a history and people that they must be proud of..yes, you are quite correct when you hear Barry Obama making a speech to you and you recollecting how Barry Obama made not one response in your direction back in ’09 when you were on the streets of Tehran pleading for this administration’s direct assistance.

None of us will ever forget the precious blood of a young Persian woman on the streets of Tehran seeking Democracy for a youthful Persian population so well educated and when the report of her death spread globally, no words from this Iranian supporter and his illustrious Rev Wright will ever be accepted by the educated Persian youth:

God Bless this young woman and her death will not be in vain:

The report from Cairo in ’09:

“She lies in the Tehran street with her headscarf half-off, blood pooling around her jeans and white sneakers.

“Don’t be afraid, Neda dear, don’t be afraid,” a white-haired man says desperately in Persian. Another man presses on her chest, trying to keep her alive.

Scarlet blood gushes from her nose and mouth and courses across her pale face. Men and women scream in horror as they realize she is dead or dying.

The death of the woman identified as Neda Agha Soltan was captured on amateur videos and spread around the world in less than 48 hours on YouTube, Facebook, blogs and Twitter. It turned the woman described as a 27-year-old music student into an instant icon of the clash between Iran’s cleric-led government and the self-described “green wave” movement that claims hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole his June 12 re-election through fraud.

The seconds-long videos also thwarted government attempts to suppress details surrounding election protests. Rules imposed last week barred independent media from street reporting and turned the people of Iran into an essential source of information on the unrest, documenting it with camera phones and e-mailing the images out to the world.

Caspian Makan, who identified himself as Soltan’s boyfriend, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday that she was not a part of any of the groups vying for power.

“She only ever said that she wanted one thing, she wanted democracy and freedom for the people of Iran,” Makan told a reporter in the Los Angeles bureau of the AP.”

Comment by Michael Upham

March 20, 2015 @ 9:08 pm

The area of focus for this discussion will spotlight the Virginia Northwest Regional Intelligence Fusion Center. This particular region encompasses a large geographical area, with a smaller population than metropolitan locations, however, maintains a large number of people who travel to Washington DC, and is located on a major travel corridor of the east coast, the I-81 / Rt. 66 hub. The location of this region is a main travel corridor for criminal enterprises traveling from to and from Baltimore MD, Pittsburgh PA, and Washington DC. Due to the low cost of living relative to the Northeast Region of Virginia (Northern VA, Fairfax County) this particular region provides a robust threat environment for law enforcement, DHS, and private enterprises, which may be relevant across the entire east coast of the United States.
Due to the accessibility of major cities using I-81 and Rt. 66, it is critical for this fusion center to communicate, collaborate, and share information and intelligence in a timely manor with all fusion centers along the east coast. Although this particular region does not face significant risk to national threat vulnerabilities, it is located on a major travel route for criminals wishing to conduct such activity. This is why it is critical for this fusion center, and all fusion centers to share information with each other using the National Network. The National Network allows the federal government, SLTT, and private sector partners to participate as full contributors to, and beneficiaries of, the homeland security enterprise (DHS, 2014). The National Network focuses on Four Critical Operational Capabilities (Receive, Analyze, Disseminate, and Gather) and four Enabling Capabilities (Privacy/Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Protections, Sustainment Strategy, Communications and Outreach, and Security) (DHS, 2014).
This fusion center can utilize knowledge management (sharing of information in a strategic, organized manor) to enhance its ability to share information, collect intelligence, process intelligence, and deliver actionable products to the state, local, and private sector partners. The first way that knowledge management can be improved is to encourage law enforcement agencies to share intelligence and information with fusion centers who can then determine what other departments or agencies should be aware of specific threats, persons, groups, or activity. State and Local Law enforcement, as well as citizens, private organizations, and businesses must constantly report suspicious activity, behavior, persons, and groups. This behavior, threats, or activity can then be cross referenced with intelligence on file across the national network which can then be used to identify threats, vulnerabilities, targets, and areas of focus.

DHS 2014. State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers. Retrieved from: http://www.dhs.gov/state-and-major-urban-area-fusion-centers

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 21, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

….and we trust this Chicago city street slicker to dictate to Homeland Security – how darB. HUSSEIN OBAMA: ‘I WILL STAND WITH THE MUSLIMS. . .

Will Injustices In America Ever Go Away Completely?
by: j. grant swank, jr | published: 07 01, 2008

Note what B. Hussein Obama says in his own words. They are from his books entitled “Dreams of My Father” and “Audacity of Hope.

In “Audacity of Hope” he writes: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The quote comes from page 261 of the paperback edition of “The Audacity of Hope.

B. Hussein was writing about the injustices suffered by some in America. In that context he wrote that sentence.

Will injustices in America ever go away completely? No. We live in an imperfect world. Therefore, will the situation ever arise by which Muslims in the United States will cry out for B. Hussein to lean in their favor. Of course. And will he?

Well, he’s already said he will “stand with the Muslims.” Need we go any further?

More from “Dreams of My Father,” B. Hussein writes: “I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.

And further in that same book: “I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother’s race.

There is more: “There was something about him that made me wary, a little too sure of himself, maybe. And white.

Has the Jeremiah Wright twenty year tutoring of anti-white, pro-blackism wedded to B. Hussein’s perspective regarding blacks and whites? No doubt.

B. Hussein writes in “Dreams of My Father” that “it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.

This is particularly telling and frightening: “I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn’t speak to my own. It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa , that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself , the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.

Did you get that? Malcolm X, racist who despises white people, is his hero.

Concerning his father, note: “He comes from a father who was a Muslim,” said civil rights author Juan Williams of National Public Radio. “I mean, I think that given we’re at war with Muslim extremists, that presents a problem.

In addition, Obama’s stepfather was a practicing Muslim.

Now we have him carrying with him a Hindu charm. Because of this, Hindus have congregated worldwide to celebrate B. Hussein’s election as US President.

For instance, in India there is the All-India Congress Committee member Brij Mohan Bhama having organized an 11-day religious ceremony at Karol Bagh for B. Hussein’s success in the presidential elections. All this is because Hindus learned that B. Hussein carries a miniature Hanuman idol in his pocket.

A larger configuration of the charm is formed as an impressive idol to be mailed to B. Hussein.

“We will ensure that Mr. Obama receives the idol by August 24, a day before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado,” said Mr. Bhama.

No wonder B. Hussein truly despises biblical Christians usually referred to as “evangelicals.” His situation ethics relativistic liberal religion is antithetical to biblical Christianity.

If in the Oval Office, he will see to it that biblical Christianity is erased completely. There will not be one sign of the Judeo-Christian heritage left once B. Hussein is in the White House.e you?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 22, 2015 @ 5:44 am

Mr. Tingus: You are using a rhetoric that makes you sound like a religious bigot. From our conversations over the years I don’t believe this is accurate. But you must listen to or read bigots and incrementally pick up their sounds. These are sounds that mostly serve to obliterate your argument.

In terms of the President’s faith: I have read many of his quotes that you have excerpted. In context I come away with an entirely opposite impression regarding his faith journey, values, and beliefs. I could offer several quotes that communicate explicit Christian devotion self-chosen by a mature man. Here’s just one from April 2011:

I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason — because as busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there’s something about the resurrection — something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective.

We all live in the hustle and bustle of our work. And everybody in this room has weighty responsibilities, from leading churches and denominations, to helping to administer important government programs, to shaping our culture in various ways. And I admit that my plate has been full as well. The inbox keeps on accumulating.

But then comes Holy Week. The triumph of Palm Sunday. The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we’re reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.

In the words of the book Isaiah: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this “Amazing Grace” calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son — his Son and our Savior.

I often disagree with the President. His angle on the world is considerably different than mine. I am sure we disagree on matters of faith at least as often as other matters. But I see no cause to question Mr. Obama’s own explanation of his faith or doubt his devotion to Jesus Christ.

In any case, this issue is only relevant to Homeland Security Watch to the extent the President might be conceived as some fellow-traveler, collaborationist, or fifth-columnist with Salafist-inspired terrorism. The accumulation of evidence contrary to such a conception strikes me as beyond any reasonable doubt.

Comment by John Comiskey

March 22, 2015 @ 6:49 am

Worth noting that Jeb Bush’s Team Plots Vast Effort to Win Florida has been code named “Homeland Security.” See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/us/politics/jeb-bushs-team-plots-vast-effort-to-win-florida.html?_r=0

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 22, 2015 @ 8:26 am

Thanks Drew, both Chris’s and Colton for your comments. All of interest!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 22, 2015 @ 8:28 am

And John! Fugate expecting to stay on at FEMA if Bush wins. I doubt it!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 23, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

Senator Ted Cruz announced for the US Presidential election. Fortunately, IMO, he is Constitutionally ineligible since born in Canada!

Also the Congress recesses the end of the month for two weeks.

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