• Facing bipartisan outrage, House leadership abandons plan to postpone Sandy relief vote

    Responding to bipartisan outrage expressed by the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations, House Speaker John Boehner said he was committed to hold a House vote by 15 January on a large relief package for victims of Superstorm Sandy; in addition to abandoning the plan to postpone the vote, the House leadership also gave up on bringing to a vote the $27 billion relief measure proposed by the House Appropriations Committee, and instead will bring to a vote the White House-proposed and Senate-approved bill, which calls for $60.4 billion  in disaster relief

  • Deal would delay by two months $110 billion in automatic spending cuts

    The deal agreed on by Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and Vice President Joe Biden, and which was passed in the Senate in the early hours of New Year’s Day, would also delay, by two months, the $110 billion in automatic spending cuts which were set to go into effect on 3 January2013

  • Fiscal cliff discussions get in way of post-Sandy relief measure

    The post-Sandy rebuilding effort in the northeast has been stalled by the debate going on in Congress about a solution to the national debt

  • Major surveillance law heading toward its own end-of-year cliff

    While coverage of the tense negotiations over a resolution to the fiscal cliff threat has dominated the media, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments of 2008 is heading for a cliff of its own, as the provisions of the act are set to expire at the end of the year

  • Sandy relief bill says rebuilding effort should take into consideration climate-related risks

    The $60 billion Sandy relief bill being debated this week in the Senate does not specifically mention the words climate change or global warming, but it implicitly raises topics and themes which are part of the climate change discussion; the bill says that federal, state, and local agencies engaged in the post-Sandy rebuilding effort should take into consideration “future extreme weather events, sea level rise and coastal flooding”

  • Senate intelligence committee approves 6,000-page report on CIA interrogation of terrorists

    Senate panel completes a 6,000-page report into the techniques used by the CIA in interrogating terrorists; the report will now be submitted to the administration for review; GOP members of the committee object to the report being made public

  • First responders drill response to a “Night of the Walking Dead” scenario

    DHS funds were approved to pay the $1,000 fee for a week-long conference at Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego; the marquee event of the summit was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration; Strategic Operations, a tactical training firm, was hired to put on a “zombie-driven show” designed to simulate a real-life terrorism event; the firm performed two shows on Halloween, which featured forty actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit

  • New Homeland Security Committee chairman to continue outgoing chairman King’s pragmatic approach

    Rotation at the head of two House committees – Homeland Security and Transportation and Infrastructure — will bring to an end an on-going turf war over who has jurisdiction over Transportation Security Administration (TSA); the new Homeland Security chairman, Representative Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said he would end the push to dismantle the agency – a goal pursued by the outgoing T&I chairman John Mica (R-Florida); McCaul also distanced himself from calls to restrict screening of passengers at airports or limit the authority of TSA agents to conduct such screening

  • U.S. skies may soon be open to drones

    Unmanned drones are cheaper than manned aircraft and can be used in a variety of ways, such as assessing environmental threats and damage from natural disaster, tracking criminals trying to escape on a highway, and assessing wildfires; according to an FAA prediction, 30,000 drones could be flying in the United States in less than twenty years; lawmakers and privacy advocates want the use of these drones more tightly regulated

  • Jill Kelly’s FBI friend helped launch the investigation, then tipped lawmakers

    Jill Kelly, a Petraeus family friend, was warned in a series of anonymous e-mails not to get too close to CIA director David Petraeus; Kelly contacted a friend who worked in the FBI Tampa office, and he persuaded the agency cyber squad to investigate; in late October, fearing that FBI director Robert Muller would sweep the investigation’s results under the rug, he contacted Rep. David Reichert (R-Washington), who, in turn, alerted the majority whip,  Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia);  the Tampa agent is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI

  • Sen. Rockefeller asks Fortune 500 CEOs for cybersecurity best practices

    Last month, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) sent a letter to the CEOs of fortune 500 companies asking them what cybersecurity practices they have adopted, how these practices were adopted, who developed them, and when they were developed; many saw Rockefeller’s letter as an admission that the Obama administration does not have a basis for trying to impose cybersecurity practices on the private sector through the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, now stalled in Congress

  • Rancorous congressional hearings on Benghazi attack marked by partisan rift

    The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday held hearings on the events surrounding the 11 September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and the subsequent handling by the State Department of information released to the public; the hearings were marked by rancor and bitter political acrimony, with Democrats on the committee charging the Republican majority with political grandstanding

  • GOP lawmakers advise defense contractors to issue sequestration-related layoff notices

    The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires that an employer who employs more than 100 employees must provide a 60-day advanced notice to employees of mass layoffs or the closing of a plant; if the act is not followed, employees can sue for back pay and benefits for up to sixty days; the Obama administration advised defense contractors that they should not comply with the act, even in the face of the 2 January 2013 $500 billion cut in the defense budget which would go into effect if no deficit reduction agreement is reached; if contracts are cancelled and mass lay-offs ensue, the administration said it would cover the defense contractors’ non-compliance-related legal costs; Republican lawmakers say they would block any payments to cover such non-compliance, and advised defense contractors that they should follow the law

  • U.S. always ends up regulating new technologies for public safety; the Internet is no exception

    Homeland Security News Wire’s executive editor Derek Major talked with CSIS’s James Lewis about the cybersecurity challenges the United States faces, Stuxnet, China’s hacking campaign, cyber arms control efforts, and more; on the stalled cybersecurity bill, opposed by critical infrastructure operators as being too burdensome, Lewis says: “It takes America about 20-40 years to come to terms with a new technology, but we always end up regulating it for public safety. This will be no different. We are in year 17.”

  • Obama considering executive order for infrastructure protection

    President Barack Obama is exploring whether to issue an executive order to protect the U.S. critical computer infrastructure from cyber attacks; White House sources say an executive order is being considered after a 2 August procedural vote in the Senate that all but doomed a scyberecurity bill endorsed by Obama as well as current and former national security officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations