Archive for June 20, 2013

HOMELAND SECURITY: Border Security surge; Nominee for FBI Chief [UPDATE]

More Border Agents?

If a compromise deal on pending immigration legislation holds up, it would double the number of federal agents on the U.S.-Mexican border. But according to Reuters, some officials question the benefits of the $50 billion pricetag for the boost from 21,000 to 40,000 border security agents.

Customs and Border Protection photo

Customs and Border Protection photo

In addition to the federal agent surge and completion of a 700-mile-long border fence, the compromise would also include $3.2 billion for a high tech border surveillance plan – including unmanned aircraft, infrared ground sensors and long range thermal imaging cameras, the New York Times reported.

James Comey tapped for FBI Post

[Updates with Comey nominated, praised by Obama, adds photo and link to 2008 UAV demonstration for FBI]

As predicted, President Obama formally nominated James Comey – a former high-ranking official in the George W. Bush administration – to be the nation’s next FBI director.

President Obama announced he is picking James Comey (left) to replace retiring FBI Director William Muller. (White House video screenshot)

President Obama announced he is picking James Comey (left) to replace retiring FBI Director William Muller. (White House video screenshot)

At a White House announcement in the Rose Garden, Obama praised Comey’s integrity — without going into specifics of his opposition, when Comey was Deputy U.S. Attorney General, to the continuation of a warantless eavesdropping program that he believed was  unconstitutional. Comey threatened to resign in opposition to the move. President George W. Bush later backed Comey’s position.

“This is a 10-year assignment.  I make this nomination confident that long after I’ve left office, our nation’s security will be in good hands with public servants like Jim Comey,” Obama said, calling for the Senate to “act promptly with hearings and to confirm our next FBI director right away.”

As a U.S. attorney in New York, Comey successfully prosecuted more than a dozen men for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. service members.

If he is confirmed, Comey, 52, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan and areas north of New York City, will replace Robert S. Mueller III, who is leaving the agency after a dozen years. Comey’s nomination has been expected since last month when news reports indicated he had emerged as the top candidate.

Obama also praised the outgoing FBI director. “Under his watch, the FBI joined forces with our intelligence, military and homeland security professionals to break up al Qaeda cells, disrupt their activities and thwart their plots,” the president said, adding: “Countless Americans are alive today, and our country is more secure, because of the FBI’s outstanding work under the leadership of Bob Mueller.”

Earlier this week, the current FBI director told Congress that while the FBI has used drones in its investigations, it has been rare and only for surveillance purposes.

According to NBC, Director Robert Muller acknowledged that the FBI used drones in investigative practices but said the agency is working to establish better guidelines for their use.

Back in 2008, when your 4GWAR editor was working at Aviation Week, we went down to Quantico, Virginia to see a demonstration for FBI officials of a catapult-launched Insitu Scan Eagle unmanned air vehicle. You can see a short video of the launch and recovery here.

June 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

MARITIME SECURITY: Satellite-based ship tracking conference in Cork, Ireland

Busy Island

The dust has settled from the most recent meeting of leaders from the world’s top economies in Northern Island. And we have more evidence that U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will never be Best Friends Forever.

But there’s another significant gathering next week at the other end of the Emerald Isle.

Scientists, space agency officials, security experts and maritime leaders will gather in Cork, Ireland to discuss keeping the world’s seas and ports safer by monitoring ocean-going vessels from space.

Ireland's National Space Centre, Elfordstown, County Cork, the site C-SIGMA's second day. (Courtesy of the National Space) Centre

The Elfordstown Earth Station in County Cork, the site C-SIGMA’s second day session. (Courtesy of the Irish National Space Centre)

On June 26th and 27th, international players from Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, the United States and elsewhere will gather in Cork, Ireland’s maritime hub, for C-SIGMA IV, a conference to discuss using commercial satellites to monitor the automatic identification transponders

C-SIGMA – which stands for “Collaboration in Space for International Global Maritime Awareness” – is an international initiative to foster wider cooperation among government and international agencies in the use of, satellite based maritime surveillance information at global level.

The concept is the brainchild of Guy Thomas a former Navy signals intelligence officer and retired science and technology advisor for the U.S. Coast Guard (who has been explaining the ins and outs of Maritime Domain Awareness to your 4GWAR for about 10 years).

The speakers list for the conference can be found here along with the agenda.

June 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment


June 2013


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