• The current chemical plant security law was passed in 2006 and expires in October; some lawmakers want to strengthen it, while the chemical industry want the law renewed without changes, saying chemical plants have taken steps to prevent accidental or terrorist-induced releases of dangerous compounds

  • World Cup watch

    In advance of the June-July 2010 World Cup tournament, South Africa this weekend is conducting a comprehensive aviation security drill; the exercise will resemble security precautions which will be put in place during the soccer event, which begins 11 June; an expansive security envelope will be established around the stadiums where the games are played, and other air travel restriction will go into place; the drill this weekend will examine how the SA security forces respond to various violations of these security rules

  • Al Qaeda terrorists fire two Grad rockets from the Egyptian-controlled Sinai peninsula at the Israeli resort town of Eilat, at the northern tip of the Red Sea; the rocket miss Eilat — one hit the neighboring Jordanian port city of Aqaba, the second fell into the sea; in 2005 al Qaeda terrorists used the same area of the Sinai to fire Katyusha rockets at a U.S. warship docked in the port of Aqaba

  • Nuclear matters

    There is a lot of weapon-grade nuclear material in the world — 1,600 tons of HEU and 500 tons of separated plutonium; keeping these stockpiles safe will take more than barbed wire; one method is a seal for HEU fuel rods with a pattern of flaws visible on ultrasound scans that cannot be removed without leaving telltale signs; the seals were installed last year in Romania and Pakistan; scientists work on other detection and safety methods

  • The future commander of U.S. Northern Command says that the U.S. military is increasingly concerned with small, hard-to-detect terror plots; the nation’s most serious challenge, he added, is protecting the country from extremists using weapons of mass destruction

  • The Israeli security authorities are now alerting pet owners that their pets, if they look like “suspicious animals,” may be subjected to X-ray screening before boarding; if the owners refused, the pet would not be allowed on the flight; more than four million pets are flown across the world each year

  • The Oklahoma bombing: 15 years on

    MSNBC is airing ‘The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist,’ tonight at 9:99pm EST; the film draws on forty-five hours of never-before-released interview audiotapes recorded during McVeigh’s prison stay; the film reveals the bomber’s descriptions of the planning and execution of the horrific attack and offers insight into how a decorated American soldier became a dangerous, anti-government terrorist

  • The Israeli security authorities are now alerting pet owners that their pets, if they look like “suspicious animals,” may be subjected to X-ray screening before boarding; if the owners refused, the pet would not be allowed on the flight; more than four million pets are flown across the world each year

  • Nuclear matters

    The nations of the world together have in their possession about 1.6 million kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and about 500,000 kilograms of plutonium; it takes only about 25 kilograms of HEU or eight kilograms of plutonium to make a crude nuclear bomb; thus the weapon-grade material now available in the world could yield 64,000 HEU-based bombs and 62,500 plutonium-based bombs

  • Nuclear matters

    Reviews ordered by President Obama have found weaknesses in the U.S. government’s stewardship of its nuclear cache, from weapons to the ingredients and classified information that go into them; before opening the nuclear summit earlier this week, Obama said that “Unfortunately, we have a situation in which there is a lot of loose nuclear material around the world”; this is true for the United States as well

  • Domestic terrorism

    DHS officials and lawmakers have been warning for months that law enforcement agencies are unprepared to deal with what they say is a mounting threat. Experts note that Michigan, in particular, is vulnerable because of its growing number of anti-government militia groups and the attractiveness of its large Arab-American population to radical Muslim groups

  • FCC will move forward on the with key recommendations in its national broadband plan — even though a federal appeals court this week undermined the agency’s legal authority to regulate high-speed Internet access; plan calls for advancing “robust and secure public safety communications networks”

  • Hamas claims Israeli intelligence uses information Palestinians from Gaza put in their profiles on Facebook to pressure them to become spies for Israel; it is not clear how someone can be blackmailed or coerced into a risky spying career using information in the public domain, and it seems more likely Israel is using social networking to map contact networks

  • The United States is replacing broad screening of all in-coming travelers with a more targeted approach; the intelligence-based security system is devised to raise flags about travelers whose names do not appear on no-fly watch lists, but whose travel patterns or personal traits create suspicions

  • Domestic terrorism

    Lieberman: “The level of discourse about our politics and about our country are so extreme and so incendiary that if you’re dealing with people who may not be clicking on all cylinders and, and may have vulnerabilities personally, there’s a danger that they’re going to do what this group of militia [the Hutaree] planned to do this week”

  • U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies say that in the past year, federal agents have seen an increase in “chatter” from an array of domestic extremist groups, which can include radical self-styled militias, white separatists, or extreme civil libertarians and sovereign citizens; in explaining why the FBI, DHS, and other agencies are worried about the letters sent to the governors, intelligence sources say officials have no specific knowledge of plans to use violence, but they caution police to be aware in case other individuals interpret the letters “as a justification for violence or other criminal actions”

  • Unease in Oklahoma; the alleged domestic terror plot by a Michigan-based militia was planned for April, the month of the Murrah blast; David Cid, a former FBI counter terrorism specialist and now the executive director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, formed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing to train law enforcement officers in counterterrorism measures: “In March 2009 we felt something would happen within a year — we missed it by about a month”

  • The FBI and DHS are investigating letters sent to 30 governors demanding their resignation within 30 days; “While there does not appear to be credible or immediate threats of violence attached to the letters, we are working with state and local authorities and continue to assess the matter,” the FBI and DHS said in a joint statement

  • Domestic terrorism

    The Michigan-based Hutaree group planned to kill a large number of law enforcement officers by mimicking the manner in which IEDs are used in Iran and Afghanistan against American soldiers; the purpose was to trigger a wide-spread, violent revolt against the U.S. government; some of information about the group’s violent plans came from an undercover FBI agent

  • Domestic terrorism

    The FBI raids the homes of members of a Michigan-based militia and arrests nine; the group members are charged in plot to wage war with U.S.; the men planned to kill a law enforcement officer and then attack and bomb that officer’s funeral, where there was certain to be legions of law enforcement attending