• 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

  • DHS suspects that there is a connection between the sale of counterfeit clothing and funding of terrorist actitivites; the Fresno police raids a clothing store in Fresno, California, and confiscated half a million dollars worth of phony designer jeans, T-shirts, handbags,
    and shoes.

  • In the trenches

    The USFA joins the CIA’s UAV war in Pakistan; President Obama has authorized a widening of the drone war in Pakistan; “Even more operations targeting terrorism safe havens,” one American official tells the New York Times; “More people, more places, more operations”; CIA director Leon Panetta says the drones are “the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the Al Qaeda leadership”

  • New antipiracy device uses compressed air to fire a plastic cylinder containing either a coiled rope or net up to a range of 400 meters; the coiled line of net or rope, which has a parachute attached to the end, will unravel and lay out across the surface of the water; as a pirate boat travels through the water its propeller shaft will pick up the line and become entangled

  • A new interactive image-based software can be used on touch-screen table-top displays and other large-screen systems better to manage the huge amounts of data collected in connection with alleged terrorist plots

  • In the trenches

    DARPA’s Counter Rocket-Propelled Grenade and Shooter System with Highly Accurate Immediate Responses, or CROSSHAIRS, project will engage enemy soldiers autonomously, or remotely operated, while simultaneously shooting rockets out of the air

  • There are more than 160 points of entry into Islamabad but four main entry points for goods carrying vehicles; the Pakistani government buys radiation detectors from China to prevent terrorists from smuggling a nuclear or dirty bomb into the city; worries about the health effects of the strong radiation the scanner emit

  • The Maersk Alabama was seized by Somali pirates in April and its captain taken hostage (he was later released by U.S. Navy commandos); last week, Somali pirates try to hijack it for the second time — but this time the ship used evasive maneuvers, Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), and small arms fire were among the tactics used to fend off the attackers

  • The 2010 DHS appropriation bill slashed Real ID funding by 40 percent, from $100 million to $60 million; proponents and opponents alike describe the act as being on life support

  • Theater of the absurd

    Last Thursday Munir Muthana of Rochester went amok, using his Nissan Maxima to run down pedestrians on the sidewalk; the police eventually stopped him, and seven people were admitted to the hospital with minor injuries; Muthana’s motive has not yet been established, by the police says he may have suffered from road rage — or even “sudden jihad syndrome”

  • The Obama administration is considering the Thomson Correctional Center on Monday, located 150 miles west of Chicago, as home for some detainees from Guantanamo Bay; Illinois officials say the move could provide up to 2,000 jobs and up to $1 billion in federal money to the area

  • Shipping companies report only a fraction of the actual cases of piracy for fear of their ships being impounded for long periods or because they simply do not want to pay the resultant higher insurance premium; the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) puts losses from piracy in 2008 alone at some €13 billion

  • The Israeli Navy captured a ship heading toward Syria with weapons for Hezbollah; the manifest said the ship was carrying “parts for bulldozers,” but containers on the ship were found to contain more than 500 tons of weapons — thousands of medium-range 107- and 122-millimeter rockets, armor-piercing artillery, hand grenades, and ammunition for Kalashnikov rifles; the haul included more than 3,000 rockets, which is the equivalent of about 10 percent of Hezbollah rocket arsenal

  • Pentagon advisory panel concludes that extreme terrorist events such as the 9/11 attacks cannot be predicted by computer models because the data re too sparse; “it is simply not possible to validate (evaluate) predictive models of rare events that have not occurred, and unvalidated models cannot be relied upon”

  • In the trenches

    The Pentagon has spent more than $26.8 billion to develop and build three versions of the largest Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, totaling some 16,000 vehicles, mostly for the Army and Marine Corps; another $5.4 billion is being spent to produce 5,244 M-ATVs, the smaller version that U.S. defense officials contend offers as much protection as the large models do, but is more maneuverable and better suited to Afghanistan’s dirt tracks and narrow mountain roads; insurgents in Afghanistan have found ways to cripple, and even destroy, the vehicle