• 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

  • Critics charge Obama initiative is amnesty by executive order

    Critics of the Obama administration’s immigration order charge that the administration is”legislating by executive edict”; they say that the Obama administration is set, in effect, to begin implementing the DREAM Act amnesty on 15 August, even though the legislation was defeated by Congress as recently as December 2010

  • Bill to tighten admission procedures to flight schools

    A bill would require flight schools to check students, including U.S. citizens, against the terrorist watch list before they can be trained to fly aircraft of 12,500 pounds or more

  • Obama and Romney stopped talking about immigration until the Democrats dropped the Dream Bomb

    The 15 June announcement by DHS secretary Janet Napolitano of an executive order which, in effect, implements the Dream Act, gives the 2008 presidential election the appearance of offering a discussion of immigration issues; the fact remains, though, that since  the Immigration and Reform Act (IRCA) of 1986, both parties studiously avoided a serious debate of the issue during presidential campaigns; democracy is a messy form of government, and few other topics are as messy and convoluted as U.S. immigration policy, but both political parties are wrong to avoid a broad public discussion of this vital national issue

  • House bill allows Border Patrol to ignore environmental, safety protections along borders

    The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill which would allow the Border Patrol to ignore dozens of environmental protection laws — among them the Wilderness Act and Endangered Species Act — on all federally managed land within 100 miles of the Mexico and Canada borders; supporters argue that the measure is necessary to give the border patrol more freedom to chase illegal immigrants and drug smugglers; critics charge that the measure has little, if anything, to do with border security, and more to do with opening federally managed land to exploitation by private businesses, or pandering to local political constituencies

  • Lawmaker proposes restrictions on domestic drone use

    Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on Tuesday introduced legislation into the Senate which he says aims to protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly known as drones

  • King blasts Obama administration over bin Laden operation movie

    On Wednesday, Representative Peter King (R-New York), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, issued a statement scathingly critical of the Obama administration after the release of internal CIA and Department of Defense e-mail messages related to the planned Sony Pictures movie on the mission in which U.S. Special Operations Forces killed Osama bin Laden; King says that there was an “extremely close, unprecedented, and potentially dangerous collaboration” between the film makers and top officials at the CIA, DoD, and the White House

  • New law allows mobilizing reservists to respond to natural disasters

    Except for a crisis involving a weapon of mass destruction, the U.S. military reserves historically have been prohibited from providing a homeland disaster response; new authority in this year’s Defense Department authorization act changes that

  • Homeland Security appropriations bill passes Senate subcommittee

    The bill provides $45.2 billion in discretionary spending — $1 billion below fiscal year 2012; , among the measure’s highlights: $8.9 billion in discretionary spending for the Coast Guard, $6.1 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), and $16.9 million for cyber education; it also includes a provision adjusting the criteria used to determine whether Community Disaster Loans provided after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are eligible for cancellation

  • Congress considering biodefense measure

    H.R. 2356, the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011, will soon be debated before four different House committees, before going to the Senate to be debated further – all this four years after a congressionally mandated commission defined bioterrorism as a grave threat to the United States; critics charge that the reason is the unwieldy and dysfunctional manner in which Congress oversees DHS: currently there are 108 congressional committees and subcommittees with oversight responsibilities for different parts of DHS