• Water securityWhy farmers and ranchers think the EPA Clean Water Rule goes too far

    By Reagan Waskom and David J. Cooper

    President Trump issued an executive order 28 February directing federal agencies to revise the Clean Water Rule, a major regulation published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Framers and ranchers are particularly worried that the Clean Water Rule could expand federal regulations that impact their private property rights. However, regulatory agencies and the regulated community need to know the limits of the Clean Water Act’s reach so they can take appropriate measures to protect water resources. If the rule is scrapped, we still will need to know which water bodies require protection under the law. If the Trump administration withdraws or weakens the Clean Water Rule, it is likely to leave regulators interpreting case by case whether tributaries and adjacent waters are covered, as they have been doing since 2006, and land and water owners guessing about what they can do with their resources. So in the end, repealing the rule won’t answer the underlying question: how far upstream federal protection extends.

  • PrivacyTech coalition fights DHS proposal to collect social media passwords

    Earlier this week, the Center for Democracy & Technology announced the creation of a coalition of tech companies, NGOs, and privacy advocates to oppose efforts by DHS to collect social media passwords from individuals entering the United States. The coalition focuses on visa applicants who might be compelled to share their passwords under new DHS policies.

  • National securityMichael Flynn's top aide fired from NSC after security clearance is denied

    A top aide to Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, was on Friday fired from his position as senior director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC) after the CIA rejected his application for a high-level security clearance. Flynn himself is in hot water for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about discussions he — Flynn — had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on 29 December, in which he told the Russian ambassador not to worry about the sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia that same day for its cyber-meddling in the presidential election, because Trump, after being sworn in, would lift these sanctions – as well as the sanctions imposed on Russia for annexing Crimea and invading Ukraine.

  • National securityNSA, worried about Trump's Russia ties, “withheld information” from briefings: Former analyst

    The New York Observer, a publication owned until recently by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has reported that leaders of the U.S. intelligence community are withholding the most sensitive intelligence from the White House. A former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer told the Observer that some of the U.S. intelligence agencies have begun withholding intelligence information from the Oval Office as a result of worries that the Russia “has ears inside” the White House situation room.

  • CybersecurityDHS S&T transitions eighth cybersecurity technology to commercialization

    DHS S&T has announced the eighth cybersecurity technology transitioning to commercialization as a part of its Cyber Security Division’s (CSD) Transition to Practice (TTP) program. ZeroPoint has spun off as a startup company called ZeroPoint Dynamics.

  • Muslim registryNYC mayor said city would sue U.S. government over Muslim registry

    New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city would sue the U.S. government if Muslims were required, under a Donald Trump administration, to sign up to a “registry.” “We will use all the tools at our disposal to stand up for our people,” he said. The Muslim registry plan advanced by Trump supporters like Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas, would require all Muslims in the United States sign to a registry in which they would reveal their identity, religious beliefs, and political affiliations. In its original form, the registry requirement would apply to Muslim visitors to the United States – students, business people, and tourists – as well as to Muslim citizens of the United States.

  • Nuclear wasteFeds sue to block acquisition of Dallas radioactive waste company

    By Kiah Collier

    The U.S. Justice Department is suing to block a Salt Lake City-based company’s acquisition of Waste Control Specialists, the Dallas-based company that wants to expand the nuclear waste dump it operates in West Texas. If the $367 million merger with proposed buyer EnergySolutions goes through, it would “combine the two most significant competitors for the disposal of low level radioactive waste (LLRW) available to commercial customers in thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico,” the Justice Department said.

  • CybersecurityCyberSeek: An interactive resource for cybersecurity career information

    The U.S. rapidly growing cybersecurity jobs market has many more openings available than trained workers to fill them. For example, there are 128,000 positions for “Information Security Analysts,” but only 88,000 workers currently employed in those positions — a talent shortfall of 40,000 workers for cybersecurity’s largest jobs. Jobs requesting cloud security skills remain open ninety-six days on average — longer than any other IT skill. NIST last week introduced CyberSeek, an interactive online tool designed to make it easier for cybersecurity job seekers to find openings and for employers to identify the skilled workers they need.

  • CybersecurityNICE framework provides resource for stronger cybersecurity workforce

    NIST released a resource that will help U.S. employers more effectively identify, recruit, develop, and maintain cybersecurity talent. The draft NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (NCWF) provides a common language to categorize and describe cybersecurity work to help organizations build a strong staff to protect their systems and data.

  • OversightCalls for creating centralized congressional focus on homeland security

    In preparation for the organization of the 115th Congress, the co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense last week delivered a letter to Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chair of the Committee on Rules, asking that special consideration be given to the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The letter says that current congressional oversight structure is severely fractured, resulting in reactive policymaking that threatens America’s ability to combat biological threats.

  • Border PatrolTrump’s union has long history of discrimination against female Border Patrol agents

    By Robert Lee Maril

    The union representing the agents of the U.S. Border Patrol, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), is a direct reflection in many ways of the U.S Border Patrol’s unique institutional history and present culture. That the NBPC leadership endorsed Donald Trump during the primaries is not surprising, nor is NBPC’s continued strong support for Trump to be our next president.As I documented more than a decade ago, the Border Patrol and the NBPC are both run by masculinist and militaristic bureaucracies more self-interested in their own agendas than reflecting the needs of their employees or union membership. NBPC’s endorsement of Trump is nothing less than support from the leadership of a labor union that has always been much too busy with other issues to support their own female Border patrol agents when they are discriminated against and harassed in a hostile work environment.

  • CybersecurityShould NSA and cyber command have separate leadership?

    By Stuart Madnick

    The National Security Agency is the nation’s digital spying organization. U.S. Cyber Command is a military unit focused on cyberwarfare. Does it make sense for one person to lead them both at the same time? I believe that the NSA and Cyber Command should be under separate leadership, so each can pursue its mission with undivided focus and complete intensity. The NSA can gather intelligence. Cyber Command can defend our military networks and be ready to attack the systems of our enemies.

  • R&DS&T selects RAND Corp. to operate new DHS research center

    DHS has selected the RAND Corporation to operate the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC), which will conduct technical and operational research and analysis to aid the department. The new center is a federally funded research and development center, and is funded under a five-year contract worth as much as $494.7 million.

  • SurveillanceFrom 2012 to 2014, FBI submitted 561 Section215 applications: DOJ OIG

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) last week released a June 2016 report examining the FBI’s use of the investigative authority granted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act between 2012 and 2014. The report notes that from 2012 through 2014 the DOJ, on behalf of the FBI, submitted 561 Section 215 applications to the FISA Court, all of which were approved.

  • Tomorrow’s security professionalsTraining future problem solvers at DHS Centers of Excellence

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says that focusing on the future does not just mean focusing on the technology, research, and development. Focusing on the future also includes the specialized research and education programs at the university-based DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs). It is this approach that has led S&T’s Office of University Programs (OUP), which manages the COEs, to offer grants, internships, and summer research experiences to help undergraduate and graduate students and recent graduates gain real-world exposure to homeland security challenges both in the field and in the lab.