• TSA’s roadmap for airport surveillance moves in a dangerous direction

    By India McKinney

    The Transportation Security Administration has set out an alarming vision of pervasive biometric surveillance at airports, which cuts against the right to privacy, the “right to travel,” and the right to anonymous association with others.

  • New Australian law would compel tech firms to hand over encrypted data

    Australia’s parliament earlier today (Thursday) passed a controversial measure which will force tech firms to give police access to the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals. The law, fiercely opposed by big tech firms, has engendered heated debate over national security and privacy at a time law enforcement agencies are struggling with how to access encrypted information to monitor illegal activities. The passage of the law may have global implications for encrypted communications. Critics say the law may unleash unintended consequences.

  • White nationalist groups are really street gangs, and law enforcement needs to treat them that way

    By Matthew Valasik and Shannon Reid

    Law enforcement has a classification problem, and it’s making America more dangerous. For the last two decades, local police and the FBI have categorized the criminal activities of white power groups as isolated incidents or hate-related. We believe that’s wrong and leads to a lack of understanding of the power of these groups and the direction they are taking. It also leads to the under-policing of these groups.

  • American terrorists: Why current laws are inadequate for violent extremists at home

    By Jason M. Blazakis

    For Americans, and for the U.S. government, terrorism is a foreign-linked threat, not a domestic danger. Groups which perpetrate violent acts at home are regarded as criminal groups, and law enforcement agencies treat and investigate them as such. The “terrorism” label is not used. Jason Blazakis, who for many years ran the office at the State Department in charge of terrorist designations, argues that this distinction needs to be changed. He offers a method for designating domestic terrorist groups, and for putting them on par with foreign-linked terrorists.

  • Machine learning masters the fingerprint to fool biometric systems

    Fingerprint authentication systems are a widely trusted, ubiquitous form of biometric authentication, deployed on billions of smartphones and other devices worldwide. Yet a new study reveals a surprising level of vulnerability in these systems.

  • Weapons experts: Satellite images confirm Netanyahu’s claims about Iran’s nuclear warehouse

    Satellite images obtained over the summer confirm charges made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September that Iran had a secret nuclear warehouse in Tehran, a team of weapons inspectors wrote in a paper.

  • National security in the Fourth National Climate Assessment

    NCA4 vol. 2: “Climate change presents added risks to interconnected systems that are already exposed to a range of stressors such as aging and deteriorating infrastructure, land-use changes, and population growth. Extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems, including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security. The full extent of climate change risks to interconnected systems, many of which span regional and national boundaries, is often greater than the sum of risks to individual sectors.”

  • Reflecting on the past to counter future terrorism

    Warfare in the future will increasingly be about manipulating perceptions, whether by hostile states or non-state actors, according to terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins. The creation of fear and anxiety by terrorists, and foreign meddling in U.S. politics, are components of contemporary conflict. A major challenge facing the U.S. is how to get better at countering foes while strengthening national institutions, and U.S. democracy depends on it, Jenkins said.

  • Responders provide technical expertise in case of nuclear weapons accidents

    Decades ago, technical experts from the national labs responded in an ad hoc manner to accidents involving nuclear weapons, called “broken arrows.” Thirty-two such accidents have occurred since the 1950s, so the Accident Response Group at Sandia Lab was created about five decades ago to provide technical expertise in assessing and safely resolving nuclear weapons accidents.

  • Israeli device that extracts water from the air helps California firefighters quench thirst

    By Abigail Klein Leichman

    An emergency response vehicle (ERV) carrying an innovative Israeli machine that pulls drinking water out of ambient air is on its way to California to provide hydration to police and firefighters dealing with the aftermath of two massive wildfires that have taken at least eighty-seven lives.

  • Were women and children or a “mob” tear-gassed at U.S. border?

    In a briefing with reporters Tuesday, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said what happened Sunday — when suffocating tear gas was fired by CBP officials against Central American migrants — was a “routine border protection mission against a violent mob of 1,000 people” (the Mexican government puts the number at 500). But the choking tear gas, known as CS gas, is considered to be a chemical weapon that was outlawed on the battlefield by the United States and other nations in a 1993 agreement.

  • AI could help crack unsolvable murder cases

    Some of history’s most notorious unsolved murder crimes could be laid bare thanks to new forensic research. Researches have shown that machine learning – a field of artificial intelligence – could be used to determine which ammunition, and ultimately which firearm, was responsible for a particular gunshot from the residue it left behind.

  • Climate change is driving wildfires, and not just in California

    By Jonathan Overpeck

    There are multiple reasons why wildfires are getting more severe and destructive, but climate change tops the list, notwithstanding claims to the contrary by President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. According to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on 23 November, higher temperatures and earlier snowmelt are extending the fire season in western states. By 2050, according to the report, the area that burns yearly in the West could be two to six times larger than today. For climate scientists like me, there’s no longer any serious doubt that human activity – primarily burning fossil fuels – is causing the atmosphere to warm relentlessly. Climate change is driving a rapid increase in wildfire risk that has become a national problem. At the same time, healthy forests have become essential for the many valuable benefits they provide the nation and its people. Neither more effective forest management, nor curbing climate change alone will solve the growing wildfire problem, but together they can.

  • Revolutionizing cybersecurity through quantum research

    Scientists have found a novel way to safeguard quantum information during transmission, opening the door for more secure and reliable communication for warfighters on the battlefield. Recent advancements of cutting-edge technologies in lasers and nanophysics, quantum optics and photonics have given researchers the necessary tools to control and manipulate miniature quantum systems, such as individual atoms or photons - the smallest particles of light.

  • Quick, precise method for detecting chemical warfare agents

    Sarin is a man-made nerve agent that can spread as a gas or liquid. According to the Center for Disease control, exposure to large doses will over-stimulate glands and muscles, and can lead to loss of consciousness or respiratory failure. Even small doses can cause a long list of distressing and dangerous symptoms. “Low-level nerve agent exposure leads to ambiguous signs and symptoms that cannot be easily discriminated from other conditions, which may result in a delay in treatment and permanent damage,” says an expert. “If trace amounts can be detected quickly, you can prevent permanent damage to human health.”