Posts tagged ‘Homeland Security’

TERRORISM/REFUGEES: U.S. House Seeks to Block Syrian Refugees; Similar U.S. Concerns in 1939

House Defies Veto Threat.

(Photo: Statue of Liberty National Monument Facebook page)

(Photo: Statue of Liberty National Monument Facebook page)

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?

The plaque with the poem evoking the spirit of the Statue of Liberty (via wikipedia)

The plaque on Liberty Island with the poem evoking the spirit of the Statue of Liberty  (via wikipedia)

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!”

(via wikipedia)

November 19, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 16, 2015)

Northern Lights.

U.S. Navy photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory Men

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory Mendenhall

The shimmering aurora borealis seems to ride over the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy in the Arctic Ocean, October 4, 2015.

The Healy is supporting the National Science Foundation-funded Arctic Geotraces project, part of an international effort to study the distribution of trace elements in the world’s oceans.

Click on the photo to enlarge the image. To learn more about the Northern Lights, click here.

October 16, 2015 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 17, 2015)

July in the Arctic.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

U.S. Coast Guard photo

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.

July 17, 2015 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

HOMELAND SECURITY: Four Marines Killed in Tennessee Shootings

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).

Click on photo to enlarge. (Courtesy National Atlas via wikipedia)

Click on photo to enlarge.
(Courtesy National Atlas via wikipedia)

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.

July 16, 2015 at 10:40 pm Leave a comment

LATIN AMERICA: Notorious Mexican Drug Lord Escapes from Prison — Again

Get Shorty – Again.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera (Photo from DEA wanted circular)

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera
(Photo from DEA wanted circular)

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.


July 12, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

CYBER SECURITY: Coast Guard Commandant Discusses Cyber Strategy

Cyber Hygiene.

U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command Seal

U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command Seal

In a world where North Korea can hack a movie production company’s internal communication and employee data as an act of revenge and diplomatic pique and U.S. authorities are looking into cyber spying on a Major League Baseball team — possibly by another team — it should come as no surprise that another U.S. government agency is upping its cyber defense game.

The U.S. Coast Guard has developed a cyber strategy to guide its priorities over the next 10 years. Those priorities include: defending U.S. cyberspace and the Coast Guard’s network; recognizing cyberspace as an operational domain and defend the Coast Guard’s information and communication networks while developing capabilities to detect, deter and defeat malicious activity in cyberspace; protecting the information system infrastructure that the national Maritime Transportation System relies on, which has economic and national security implications.

Admiral Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant, outlined the strategy this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank. He noted that all aspects of modern life have been enhanced – but often made dependent — on information technology from mobile phones to data storage facilities. And that has made numerous entities, including the nation’s Maritime Transportation System vulnerable to a wide range of cyber attacks by adversaries ranging from terrorists and hostile nation states to transnational organized crime cartels and disaffected or sloppy IT workers.

A key defense, Zukunft said several times  was “cyber hygiene,” following safety practices when using government, corporate or personal computer systems. That includes not sharing passwords or using easily corruptible devices like thumb drives.

Zukunft noted that the nation’s security and prosperity is critically reliant on a safe and secure maritime domain, which, in turn is dependent on safe and reliable communications and digital networks. But the Coast Guard faces a daunting task. The two-year-old Coast Guard Cyber Command has just 70 members compared to the thousands at the Defense Department’s cyber unit. The cyber strategy notes that a recent report to Congress indicates an 1,121-percent rise in cybersecurity incidents reported to government agencies from 2006 to 2014. The report, by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) cites a significant rise in the compromise of sensitive information which could adversely affect national security, public health and safety.

June 18, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

CYBERSECURITY: Pentagon Looks to Private Sector for Cyber Security Partnerships

[Digital] Help Wanted.

Cyber operations at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas (U.S. Air Force photo by William Belcher)

Cyber operations at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas (U.S. Air Force photo by
William Belcher)


With every passing week, the necessity – and vulnerability — of cyberspace becomes more apparent.

Hardware and software failures on the Bloomberg LP network forced its iconic trading terminals to go dark for several hours on April 17 and financial markets across much of the globe ground to a halt.

The private correspondence of top executives and personal data of thousands of employees at Sony Pictures were revealed to the world last year by North Korean hackers after the movie company released a comedy about a plot to assassinate the dictatorship’s leader. The data was published again by WikiLeaks in mid-April.

And in the most recent incident, hackers, traced to Russia, penetrated an unclassified Pentagon network earlier this year before they were detected, identified and expelled. “They discovered an old vulnerability in one of our legacy networks that hadn’t been patched,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told an audience at Stanford University April 23.

The revelation came as Carter unveiled an updated version of the Defense Department security strategy for cyberspace. While the technology advances developed in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have made many things in modern life “easier, cheaper and safer,” Carter noted that “it’s become clear that these same advances and technologies also present a degree of risk to the businesses, governments, militaries, and individual people who rely on them every day … making it easier, cheaper, and safer to threaten them. The same Internet that enables Wikipedia also allows terrorists to learn how to build a bomb.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency (NSA), and his senior staff at the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. on March 13.  (Defense Department photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency (NSA), and his senior staff at the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. on March 13.
(Defense Department photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt)

To read more of this article by your 4GWAR editor, click here. To learn more about this important topic, visit

May 28, 2015 at 12:52 am Leave a comment

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