• Guns & terrorismNYPD commissioner to Congress: Do not allow people on terror watch list to buy guns

    NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton the other day called on Congress today to “start getting serious” about fixing the loophole which allows individuals on the U.S. terror watch list legally to purchase firearms in the United States. Bratton said: “If Congress really wants to do something instead of just talking about something, help us out with that terrorist watch list, those thousands of people that can purchase firearms in this country. I’m more worried about them than I am about Syrian refugees.”

  • U.S. & Syrian refugeesFBI director, DHS secretary criticize House Syrian refugee bill

    FBI director James Comey said he is deeply concerned about a bill which passed the house last week which would require him and other top national security officials personally to certify that each refugee from Syria and Iraq whose application for asylum in the United States is accepted, is not a security threat. DHS secretary Jeh Johnson echoed Comey’s criticism.

  • U.S. & Syrian refugeesHouse votes for an effective ban on Syrian refugees coming to U.S.

    The House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill which slows down, if not blocks altogether, the resettlement in United States of refugees from Syria and Iraq. Breaking with their president, dozens of Democrats joined all the Republicans present to pass a bill which requires the directors of the FBI and national intelligence personally to approve the acceptance into the United States of each refugee.

  • Visa WaiverVisa Waiver program more serious threat than refugees: Senate Intel. Comm. chair

    Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said that terrorists who are citizens of Visa Waiver countries – and who, therefore, can travel from Europe to the United States without a visa — pose a more serious threat to U.S. security than refugees from Syria. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), vice-chairman of the intelligence committee, said that around 13 million people enter the United States each year through the Visa Waiver program, but she also understands that more than 40 million stolen travel documents are on the black market in Europe.

  • U.S. & Syrian refugeesGOP lawmakers try to block funding for Syrian refugees settlement in U.S.

    Republican lawmakers in the House are drafting a bill which would block federal funding for resettling Syrian refugees in the United States until the federal government adopts a “processes to ensure that refugee and related programs are not able to be co-opted by would-be terrorists.” The draft bill also requires that the administration create a “longer-term monitoring process” to track Syrian refugees in the United States.

  • SurveillanceLawmakers want to know scope of federal agencies’ use of cellphone tracking technology

    Members of the House Oversight Committee on Monday sent letters to the heads of twenty-four federal agencies asking them whether or not their agencies employ the StingRay cell phone tracking technology. The technology simulates a cell phone tower so it can collect information on mobile phones and their users. The letters are indicative of a growing unease with the unregulated use of the technology by federal agencies.

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  • Cyber legislationAmendment to CISA: U.S. courts could pursue foreigners for crimes abroad against other foreigners

    A controversial amendment to an already-controversial cybersecurity bill will allow U.S. courts to pursue, convict, and jail foreign nationals in cases in which these foreigners committed crimes against other foreigners on foreign soil. The amendment to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) cleared a key Senate hurdle on Thursday. It aims to lower the barrier for prosecuting crimes committed abroad.

  • Cyber legislationEFF leads privacy advocates in opposing CISA

    Privacy advocates have intensified their campaign against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which the Senate will vote on sometime next week. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says it vehemently opposes the bill, as well as amendments which would expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. EFF says that CISA is fundamentally flawed. The bill’s broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and what EFF describes as “aggressive spying powers” combine to “make the bill a surveillance bill in disguise.”

  • TerrorismU.S. has no strategy to stop Americans from traveling overseas to join jihadists: House panel

    The U.S. government lacks a national strategy for combating terrorist travel and has not produced one in nearly a decade. Despite concerted efforts to stem the flow, the U.S. has largely failed to stop Americans from traveling overseas to join jihadists. Gaping security weaknesses overseas — especially in Europe — are putting the U.S. homeland in danger by making it easier for aspiring foreign fighters to migrate to terrorist hotspots and for jihadists to return to the West. These are the conclusions of a new report by the House Homeland Security Committee’s bipartisan Foreign Fighter Task Force.

  • Iran dealGOP caucus infighting stymies House vote on Iran deal

    The Senate is not likely to bring the Iran nuclear deal to the floor of the Senate for an up-or-down vote because forty-two Democrats have now announced their support for the deal. It now appears that the House will not vote on the Iran deal, either, but for a different reason: Infighting among House Republicans who oppose the deal. The more conservative members of the House GOP caucus say the Obama administration had not provided all the required information about the deal. Opponents of the deal insist it includes “secret side deals” about nuclear inspections, side deals which have not been revealed either to the public or to lawmakers. The critics say that the review act, which gave Congress 60-day window to debate and vote on the deal, has not been triggered on 19 July, as the administration insists, since the act required all the information and documents pertaining to the deal to be given to Congress. Since, they argue, not all the documents have been given to Congress, not only has the review act has not been triggered on 19 July – and cannot close on 17 September – but there should be not vote of approval or disapproval.

  • Iran dealIran nuclear deal close to clearing last hurdle as more Senate Democrats announce support

    The nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran is about to clear the last political obstacle to its implementation after two more Senate Democrats announced they would support the deal. Their support means that the Obama administration is just one senator short of having the required 34 votes in the Senate to sustain a presidential veto, which will follow the rejection of the deal by the Republican majority in the chamber. The president may yet not need to use the veto at all. With the growing number of Democrats coming out to support the Iran deal, there is a possibility that the Republican majority in the Senate – at fifty-four Senators — may fall short of even passing a vote of disapproval: Sixty senators would be required bring debate to a close and pass the motion of disapproval, meaning that if forty-one Democrats come out in support of the deal, the president will not have to use the veto at all.

  • CybersecurityEinstein 3 Accelerated (E3A) deployment gets a push forward

    The two recent network breaches at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which allowed the pilfering of sensitive personal information of millions of federal employees, their families, clearance applicants, and contractors, has drawn attention to the Department of Homeland Security’s $3 billion network monitoring program called Einstein. The question now is whether that program is the capable of preventing another intrusion in the future.

  • SurveillanceBill requiring Internet companies to report “terrorist activity” opposed by digital rights groups

    A coalition of digital rights groups and trade associations last week released a joint letter opposing a proposal in the Senate to require U.S. tech firms to police the speech of their users and to report any signs of apparent “terrorist activity” to law enforcement. The letter says that this sweeping mandate covers an undefined category of activities and communications and would likely lead to significant over-reporting by communication service providers. The letter urged senators to remove the “terrorist activity” reporting requirements from the Intelligence Authorization Act (S. 1705).

  • CybersecurityProposed bill would formalize DHS role in securing government networks

    The hacking of the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which resulted in the theft of records of twenty-two million federal employees and their families, has prompted a Senate response. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced a bill on the heels of that event, updating the original Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and formalizing the role of DHS in securing government networks and Web sites.

  • BudgetHouse Appropriations Committee approves DHS spending measure

    The House Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2016 spending bill funding homeland security programs. The bill provides DHS with $39.3 billion in discretionary funding, which is $337 million below the amount enacted for FY 2015 and $2 billion less than the president’s request. The committee’s consideration of the measure was dominated by acrimonious debate over sanctuary cities, and House appropriators adopted three Republican-sponsored amendments related to the killing of a San Francisco woman by an immigrant who was in the United States illegally after being deported to Mexico several times.