• There are about 200,000 small and medium-size aircraft in the United States, using 19,000 airports, most of them small; last Thursday’s suicide attack on an office building in Austin, Texas revives debate over the security threat small planes pose, and how strict the security measures applied to general aviation should be

  • Some experts compare the economic impact of a major cyberincident to the 2003 Northeast blackout, which cut service to fifty million people in the United States and Canada for up to four days; economists place the cost of that event between $4.5 [billion] and $10 billion — which they regard as a blip in the $14.2 trillion U.S. economy

  • South Dakota’s U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says all aspects of agriculture can be targets of terrorists, but Johnson said meat production is the most vulnerable; “Livestock are the number one target for terrorists attacking the agriculture system…. If you want to get a bunch of cattle sick at once, it’s not rocket science on how to do it”

  • A defense expert says that the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran will lead to growth in exports of American weapons systems, training, and advice to U.S. Middle Eastern allies; this would give the American defense industry a needed shot in the arm; Boeing has been making noise about shifting out of the defense industry, which would mean lost American jobs and would also put the United States in a difficult position should it be threatened by a rising military power like China; “a nuclear Iran could forestall such a catastrophe”

  • In the wake of 9/11, the EU gave the U.S. government free access to European bank and financial data under the SWIFT agreement; the Civil Liberties Committee of European MPs has just recommended that the EU reject renewal of the treaty; for the United States such access is essential to the fight against terrorists and their finances

  • Cathy Lanier, the chief of the Washington, D.C. police, says the one thought that keeps her awake at night is the threat that has not occurred to anyone — the failure of imagination as to what may come next; “What is it that we haven’t thought of that could happen?…That still scares me because I know it is there”

  • Denis Blair, director of national intelligence, told legislators that the U.S. intelligence community is conducting “scientific research” to find better, more effective research techniques to use on terrorists

  • Terrorists hack gambling Web sites to finance terrorist operations; one group of al Qaeda sympathizers made more than $3.5 million in fraudulent charges using credit card accounts stolen via online phishing scams and the distribution of Trojans; the group conducted 350 transactions at 43 different online gambling sites, using more than 130 compromised credit cards

  • The United States and Canada have established a pilot project to enhance security in the waters of Puget Sound and off the Pacific Coast, in which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the U.S. Coast Guard will cross-train, share resources and utilize each others’ vessels

  • Analysis

    In July 2002, nearly a year before DHS was created under former president George W. Bush, a handful of advisers hastily drafted in private a 90-page national homeland security strategy; that document was later criticized for being partially responsible — by overemphasizing terrorism at the expense of natural disasters — for the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina; in October 2007 the Bush administration updated its homeland security strategy; the Obama administration has now revised and expanded Bush’s 2007 changes; the new strategy states that preventing terrorism remains the cornerstone of homeland security, but it expands the definition of homeland security to include other hazards, among them mass cyberattacks, pandemics, natural disasters, illegal trafficking, and transnational crime

  • The organizers of three big sporting events – the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, and the soccer World Cup – are taking extra security measures to ensure the safety of participants and spectators; The Winter Olympics’ security budget initially projected at $175 million now tops $900 million, and the force for the games will include more than 15,000 people, a surveillance blimp hovering over Vancouver, and more than 900 surveillance cameras monitoring competition venues and crowd-attracting public areas; at the Super Bowl, nearly everyone entering the stadium will be subjected to a pat-down search; exceptions would be a police officer in uniform, a player in uniform, and the president of the United States

  • Suicide bombing

    The suicide bombing campaign by al Qaeda and its Sunni Arab allies in Iraq is second only to the Japanese Kamikaze campaign during the closing stages of the Second World in the number of suicide bombers it employed; the Islamic suicide bombers, though, managed to kill more people; the Kamikaze sank 34 U.A. and Allied ships and damage 368 others; about 4,900 Allied sailors died; the Islamic suicide bombers in Iraq killed 216 U.S. military personnel, 2,500 Iraqi troops and police, and more than 10,000 Iraqi civilian

  • The report criticizes the U.S. counterterrorism (CT)community for not connecting the dots related to the Christmas Day plot; “Unfortunately, despite several opportunities that might have allowed the CT community to put these pieces together in this case, and despite the tireless effort and best intentions of individuals at every level of the CT community, that was not done”

  • Yemen is disintegrating, and jihadists are moving in; the mayor of Boston says it is unsafe to allow tankers delivering liquefied natural gas from Yemen into Boston Harbor; “They cannot be coming into a harbor like Boston, where there is less than 50 feet between the tankers and residential areas,’ the mayor says of Yemeni tankers’

  • There is only one technology that could have detected the explosives hidden in the Nigerian terrorist’s underwear: whole-body scanning; TSA already has 40 of these machines installed in 19 U.S. airports; trouble is, in June the U.S. House of Representatives voted 310 to 118 to pass a measure that prohibits the TSA from using whole-body imaging as a primary means for screening passengers; security experts say that privacy concerns notwithstanding, these machines, which offer anatomically correct images of the human body, should now be deployed as the primary scanning technology at airports

  • A con man, sensing the U.S. government’s post-9/11 desperation for more intelligence on terrorist activities, was able to persuade the Pentagon, CIA, and other government agencies to pay him millions of dollars for software which was supposed to decipher operational instructions to terrorists hidden in al Jazeera’s broadcasts

  • Tech. Sgt. Nathan Gallahan posts holiday greetings from Afghanistan; what do U.S. soldiers carry with them in the war zone? “The only possessions these soldiers had were what they could carry on their back and holiday cards from school children from across our beautiful nation”

  • India and Israel both face Islamic militants and nuclear-armed, or would-be nuclear armed, adversaries; the defense and intelligence cooperation between the two countries has been steadily growing, and is now in the open

  • The administration, in its February 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, will declare that stopping nuclear terrorism is its central aim on the nuclear front; countering nuclear terrorists — whether armed with rudimentary bombs, stolen warheads, or devices surreptitiously supplied by a hostile state – will become a task equal to the traditional mission of deterring a strike by major powers or emerging nuclear adversaries; shift in nuclear emphasis would mean devoting less money to modernizing bombers, missiles, and submarines, and more to surveillance satellites, reconnaissance planes, and undercover agents