Government

  • The State of New York launches disaster preparedness initiatives

    The state of New York is implementing a proactive strategy to deal with the threat of terrorism and natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy. Local municipalities have been granted state support for emergency preparedness projects, and the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services(DHSES), led by commissioner Jerome Hauer, has expanded its regional footprint from five planning/response regions to ten. “Mother Nature has become much more aggressive, so we too must adopt a similar posture to ensure we are ready to respond effectively when the next disaster strikes, Hauer says.

  • R&D at DHS is “inherently fragmented”: GAO

    The GAO says that DHS does not know how much it spends on R&D, making it difficult for the sprawling agency to oversee and coordinate those efforts. David Maurer, GAO’s director of Homeland Security and Justice, told a House hearing that R&D at DHS is “inherently fragmented.” The reason is that each of several components of the agency — the Science and Technology Directorate, the Coast Guard, and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office — are given R&D responsibilities by law. At the same time, other DHS components conduct their own R&D efforts as long as those activities are coordinated through the S&T office, Maurer said.

  • U.S. tightens scrutiny of U.S.-bound airline passengers

    Roughly 1,000 of the 4,000 fighters who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS carry passports of one of the thirty-eight Visa Waiver Program countries – countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter the United States. U.S. officials are now reviewing methods used to screen airline passengers with passports from Visa Waiver countries before they board U.S.-bound flights.

  • Lawmaker says more needs to be done to counter domestic radicalization

    House Homeland Security Committeechairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) says the Obama strategy to defeat ISIS fails to discuss plans for battling home-grown terrorists. McCaul wants the White House to appoint a lead agency to oversee the government’s counter-radicalization programs, adding that the Obama administration has no clear way of measuring the impact of its current initiatives to counter terrorist recruitment efforts.

  • ME Sunni states join anti-ISIS coalition

    The U.S. strategy to confront and defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) received a major boost yesterday when Middle Eastern governments formally agreed to join the war coalition against the Islamist group. The details are yet to be worked out — for example, what country will make what contribution, how to conduct the war against ISIS inside Syria in a way which will strengthen the moderate opposition rather than the Assad regime — but the fact that Sunni countries in the region have agreed openly to side with the United States against fellow coreligionist is important. The Obama strategy would have to be calibrated carefully. A major element of Obama’s strategy is the strengthening of the moderate Syrian anti-Assad rebels so they can become a more effective force against ISIS. The moderate rebels’ greater military capabilities may well, at some point, be turned again against the Assad regime, and regional supporters of the moderate rebels such as Saudi Arabia would want the now-strengthened rebels to finish the job of removing Assad from power. The administration has studiously avoided becoming involved in the Syrian civil war, but the campaign against ISIS inside Syria may see the United States getting sucked into that conflict.

  • Political traffic by Arabs on social media overwhelmingly hostile to, suspicious of U.S.

    Researchers found that a great deal of the political and social traffic by Arabs on social media is deeply hostile to and suspicious of the United States. U.S. officials are concerned that Internet users in the Arab world understand history and current events in ways fundamentally different from the American version. “Suspicion and opposition to U.S. foreign policy appear to be so deep and so widely shared, even by those on opposite sides of other contentious issues, that it’s hard to imagine how the U.S. could begin to rebuild trust,” said one expert.

  • Obama’s new strategy still misses Islamic State’s weakest link

    President Barack Obama was right to say in his speech on Wednesday that “ISIL is certainly not a state.” While IS does not have standing as a state among the community of nations, its strategy is focused on establishing an Islamic State. That’s why any response by the United States should be focused on preventing it from doing so. Unlike terrorist groups that seek to disrupt society, IS is focused on the establishment of a new society. Doing so requires IS to build the three pillars critical to a functioning state: Creating legitimacy; providing public security; and catering to the basic needs of the population, such as water, food, health, and shelter. Seeing Islamic State as an overextended rogue state, rather than a terrorist network, and working to weaken the civil pillars of the state it is trying to establish, offers the best chance of stopping IS.

  • Counter-ISIS campaign must include a robust effort to stop Westerners from joining it: Experts

    President Barack Obama last night outlined a 4-step strategy to defeat the Islamic State (IS). Administration officials indicated that the campaign against IS might take up to three years. Counterterrorism experts say that while the United States and its allies engage IS militarily, they must address the growing threat of young radicalized Western Muslims, many of whom have traveled to join the terrorist organization in Syria or Iraq.

  • No consensus over whether killing terrorist leaders weakens their organizations

    U.S. counterterrorism officials anticipate that killing the leader of a terrorist organization may weaken the group and begin the degradation of its capabilities. Targeted airstrikes or raids aimed at leaders of terrorist organizations are a main component of President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism strategy, but analysts are disagree whether decapitation weakens such organizations or lead them to be more radicalized and violent.

  • Obama to outline a comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS

    President Barack Obama this evening will give a televised address from the White House in which he will unveil a “comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State (ISIS) Islamist insurgents. A White House official said the strategy would include military action by the United States and support for local forces to fight ISIS on the ground. These forces will include the moderate opposition in Syria; a new, inclusive Iraqi government; and U.S.-style provincial National Guards-like units in Iraq which will be governed by Iraqi provincial leaders rather than the central government in Baghdad. The thorniest problem the new strategy will have to overcome is whether and how to conduct military operations in Syria – and the ultimate purpose of these operations.

     

  • Florida Keys preparing for rising sea levels

    The Florida Keys rank third among East Coast communities at risk of “population displacement” due to higher seas which will flood nearby land. Scientists say that if sea levels continue to rise at the current rate, high waters which drowned the Keys during 2005’s Hurricane Wilma could become a normal part of living in Monroe County by 2060. Officials in Monroe County, Florida are putting together a GreenKeys Sustainability Action Plan which will help residents of the Florida Keys maintain a sustainable lifestyle while under threat of sea-level rise due to climate change.

  • U.S. air marshal in quarantine after suspected Ebola syringe attack at Lagos airport

    An American federal air marshal was placed in quarantine in Houston, Texas yesterday after being attacked Sunday night at the Lagos, Nigeria airport. The assailant wielded a syringe which contained an unknown substance, and was able to inject an unknown substance into the back of one of the air marshal’s arms. The marshal was able to board the United Airlines flight to Houston, where he was met by FBI agents and health workers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

  • Qatar funds Jihadist groups, but citizens of other U.S. ME allies do so, too

    Before the Islamic State (IS) raided banks in Iraq, the group received most of its funding from donors and supporters in Kuwait and Qatar, often with the knowledge of government officials. The United States is now pressing Arab Gulf governments to crack down on funding to IS and other extremist groups, but many Sunni Gulf leaders are facing domestic pressure to support militant Sunni groups believed to be counterweights to their Shia rival, Iran, and the Iranian-backed Assad regime.

  • Record of dissuading young Somalis in Minnesota from joining terror groups mixed

    For the past decade, the Somali population in Minnesota has been a recruitment hub for al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, al-Shabaab. Law enforcement officials, counterterrorism units, and community leaders have made major strides in deterring young Somali men and women from traveling abroad to join the group in Somalia or Ethiopia. The recent surge of the Islamic State (IS) militant group, however, has renewed recruitment efforts targeting Somali immigrants in America.

  • NYC bridges need better protection against terrorists: Experts

    New York City’s bridges have long been the target of terrorist attacks. In 1993, for example, officials discovered a plot by Omar Abdel-Rahman to target the George Washington Bridge and other sites. Recent security breaches on both the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge have heightened concerns as the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks near. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that his office would soon offer better ways to secure the Brooklyn Bridge.