Posts tagged ‘Homeland Security’
Food for Thought: Walter Pincus.
In his latest — and perhaps last — column in newsprint, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus offers some opinions and concerns about the state of journalism and how the media covers national security, a beat Pincus has covered for decades.
Like a lot of journalists who started out in the business using typewriters and carbon paper instead of computers and mobile devices, Pincus is concerned that in the era of 24-hour cable news, the Internet and Twitter “we have been moved further into a PR society and, sadly public relations has become a key part of government in our politics.”
On national security, Pincus says “the reality of the threat from terrorism” and terror groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda “needs to be put in some perspective.” He believes that even at the height of the Cold War, the United States did not “institute the security actions at home that have been taken and are being contemplated to meet what’s been described as a terrorist threat.”
He also believes, as many do, that when contemplating military involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia, one should remember the experience in Vietnam showed “that the American form of government is not easily transferred to other countries.”
It should be noted that Pincus spent a large part of his journalistic career writing about nuclear weapons, politics and arms control and is finishing a book about the U.S. nuclear weapons program. He’s won several awards but has also been controversial. In February, he says, he will be writing his column for the website, the Cipher Brief.
Six Month Warning.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveiled a new terrorism alert system Wednesday (December 16) while advising concerns about “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice.
According to the Associated Press, DHS is adding a new “Bulletin” category to two existing alert categories: elevated and imminent. An elevated warns of a “credible terrorism threat” while imminent alerts advise the public of a “credible specific and impending terrorism threat.”
This is the first change to the National Terrorism Advisory System since it replaced the color-coded system in 2011.
The first bulletin informed Americans that while there is no new intelligence of a specific, credible threat, the public should remain vigilant, according to NBC News. The bulletin will remain in effect until June 16, 2016. That’s right, until the middle of next year.
“We are in a new phase in the global threat environment, which has implications on the homeland. Particularly with the rise in use by terrorist groups of the Internet to inspire and recruit, we are concerned about the “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice,” the bulletin stated, adding that recent attacks in Paris as well as San Bernardino, California “warrant increased security, as well as increased public vigilance and awareness.”
House Defies Veto Threat.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Republican-backed legislation Thursday (November 19) to block plans to admit thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States.
By an overwhelming 289-to-137 vote, the House voted to suspend President Obama’s program to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. The measure, which 47 of the 188 Democrats voted for, would also intensify the process for screening refugees, according to Reuters.
The measure was quickly drafted this week following the Islamic State attacks that killed 129 people. It would require that high-level officials – the FBI director, the director of national intelligence and the secretary of Homeland Security – verify that each Syrian refugee poses no security risk. After the House vote, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called such screening both impractical and impossible.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said the bill would pause the program the White House announced in September. Ryan said it was important to act quickly “when our national security is at stake.” Some Republicans have said some refugees could be militants bent on attacking the United States, noting reports that at least one Paris attacker may have slipped into Europe among migrants registered in Greece.
The White House has threatened a presidential veto if the bill is passed by the Senate — which remains an uncertainty at this time. Republican leaders in Congress are threatening to include the restrictions in a must-pass spending bill to keep the federal government running past December 11, raising the specter of another government shutdown, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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Deja Vue All Over Again?
Calls by some Republican presidential candidates and the governors — mostly Republican — of more than 30 states to block the admission of 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, harks back to a similar sentiment in America just months before the beginning of World War II.
The Washington Post and other media sites have reminded readers about opinion polls taken in 1939 that showed Americans overwhelmingly opposed settling refugees from Hitler’s Europe in the United States. Upon hearing about this opposition, your 4GWAR editor was reminded of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about the Franklin Roosevelt White House during the war years “No Ordinary Time.” In it she noted that some U.S. State Department officials opposed allowing European refugees into the country for fear that some might be Nazi double agents merely pretending to flee Hitler.
An article in the New York Times Thursday (November 19) asked: How apt is the comparison between Syrians today and German Jews before World War II and what can and cannot be learned from it?
Some historians say that, while the two groups are not completely symmetrical, there are lessons to be drawn. Republican leaders and some Democrats have sought to halt the Syrian refugee program, fearing fighters from the Islamic State could be among the 10,000 migrants allowed to enter the country. “We cannot allow terrorists to take advantage of our compassion,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said. “This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry.”
In 1938, Jews sought to escape Nazi Germany at a time when the United States was struggling through the Great Depression, and Americans expressed similar concern over accepting refugees, the piece noted. “I don’t think it would meet the part of wisdom,” said Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota, according to the Nov. 5, 1938 edition of The New York Times. “Our conditions here at home prohibit accepting an influx of population.”
The words of the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus on the plaque above:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The shimmering aurora borealis seems to ride over the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy in the Arctic Ocean, October 4, 2015.
Click on the photo to enlarge the image. To learn more about the Northern Lights, click here.
July in the Arctic.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks through ice in the Arctic circle on July 14, 2015. We’d be the first to admit this blog doesn’t run enough photos of Coast Guard operations. So here’s one we thought was both pretty and arresting.
This image was taken — not from an airplane or helicopter — but from an Aerostat, an unmanned, airship that is tethered to the ground — or in this case, a ship. In fact in this photo you can see the cable tethering the aerostat to the Healy’s deck.
Aerostats, which have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to enhance perimeter security around the larger U.S. bases and in the Caribbean to monitor illegal drug trafficking by airplane, provide — in the words of this photo’s official caption– a “self-contained, compact platform that can deploy multiple sensor payloads [radar and video cameras] and other devices into the air.”
The recently released annual report on the world’s climate by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Meteorological Society finds that temperatures on the ocean surface reached their highest levels in 135 years of record keeping. For several years, experts have been worried about the rising rate of sea ice melt in the Arctic and its implications for climate, sea levels and maritime commerce. In March, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this year’s maximum extent of sea ice was the lowest on record since satellites began monitoring the Arctic.
Attack in the Homeland.
Four U.S. Marines were killed and another service member was wounded in two separate shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee, today (July 16).
The shootings took place at the Navy Operational Support Support Center, and at an armed forces recruiting center, officials said.
The gunman, believed to be acting alone, was also killed and a local police officer was wounded in the shooting spree. The FBI is leading the investigation. A motive for the attacks has not been determined but officials are treating it as a domestic terrorist attack.
The alleged gunman was identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stepped up protective measures at “certain federal facilities, out of an abundance of caution,” said DHS Secretary Jeh [Pronounced Jay] Johnson. For more than a year, Johnson has been saying that his biggest concerns are homegrown or self-radicalized lone wolf terrorists and citizens of Western countries returning home imbued with violent extremist Islamist ideology after fighting in war torn Syria and the territories controlled by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
The Navy Operational Support Center is used by Navy and Marine Corps personnel, and is often referred to as a “reserve center,” Navy officials said. It provides training and readiness support for reserve-component personnel to enable them to support the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps.
Get Shorty – Again.
Back in February we reported that the man considered the most powerful narco crime lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, had been recaptured by Mexican authorities after his 2001 escape from a Mexican prison.
Now word comes from Mexico that Guzman Loera has escaped from prison again. Mexican authorities once again are pledging to “Get Shorty,” — El Chapo means “Shorty.”
The kingpin snuck out of the prison through a subterranean tunnel more than 1.5 km (1 mile) long that ended at an abandoned property near the local town, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido told a news conference on Sunday (July 12), Reuters and other news organizations reported.
Guzman, who had bribed his way out of prison during an escape in 2001, was seen on video entering his shower area at 8:52 p.m. on Saturday (0152 GMT Sunday), then disappeared, the National Security Commission (CNS) said.
The escape from the maximum security Atliplano prison is a political embarrassment for the Mexican government and a personal one for President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has portrayed the capture of Guzman and other drug kingpins as a key to restoring safety and security in Mexico where the long battle between government forces and organized crime that has cost tens of thousands of lives sine 2007.
Guzman became infamous in 2001 after escaping from a high security prison and building up the Sinaloa Cartel – named for his home state and known for beheading its enemies or hanging their bodies in public places.