Government

  • Washington State to offer 2-tier driver’s license system to comply with Real ID Act

    State officials in Washington are looking to redesign the state’s driver’s licenses and ID cards to comply with the federal 2005 REAL IDact which requires proof of legal U.S. residency for access to federal government buildings and soon domestic air travel. At least twenty-four states and territories have yet fully to comply with the REAL ID act, but Washington is one of only nine states that have not received a compliance extension from the federal government.

  • Businesses welcome TRIA extension, but small insurers worry about reimbursements

    Last week, the property insurance, real estate, and financial services industries applauded Congress for passing the recent version of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law. TRIA has already been extended twice and the most recent version of the bill will, beginning in 2016, raise the federal coverage backstop from $100 million to $200 million by 2020 with an increase of $20 million per year. S&P welcomed the passing of TRIA through both houses of Congress, but cautioned that the bill could hurt small insurers. The company is concerned that small insurers may not see any TRIA reimbursements with the doubling of the federal coverage backstop to $200 million.

  • Controversial French comedian Dieudonné investigated over “Charlie Coulibaly” post

    The anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala is in hot water again. The Paris prosecutor’s office has said it has opened an investigation into the comedian’s Facebook post, in which he mocked Sunday’s mass rallies against Jihadist terrorism in France. “Know that tonight, for me, I feel CharlieCoulibaly,” Dieudonné wrote in his post, merging the names of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newspaper where two gunmen massacred twelve people, with that of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four Jewish hostages at a kosher supermarket.

  • When the camera lies: our surveillance society needs a dose of integrity to be reliable

    Being watched is part of life today. Our governments and industry leaders hide their cameras inside domes of wine-dark opacity so we can’t see which way the camera is looking, or even if there is a camera in the dome at all. They’re shrouded in secrecy. But who is watching them and ensuring the data they collect as evidence against us is reliable? Surveillance evidence is increasingly being used in legal proceedings, but the surveillants – law enforcement, shop-keepers with a camera in their shops, people with smartphones, etc. — have control over their recordings, and if these are the only ones, the one-sided curation of the evidence undermines their integrity. There is thus a need to resolve the lack of integrity in our surveillance society. There are many paths to doing this, all of which lead to other options and issues that need to be considered. But unless we start establishing principles on these matters, we will be perpetuating a lack of integrity regarding surveillance technologies and their uses.

  • Paris attacks complicate efforts to freeze DHS funding over Obama’s immigration executive orders

    Last week’s terror attacks in Paris have increased concerns of DHS officials that terrorists may be looking to attack U.S. targets. For many members of Congress, the Paris events are proof that DHS operations should continue to be funded, but opponents of the president’s immigration executive order appear ready to freeze funding for DHS altogether unless such funding does not include funds for the implementation of the president’s executive orders. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) warned fellow Republicans to be cautious: “Defunding that part of the bill that deals with enforcing the executive order makes sense but we can’t go too far here because look what happened in Paris. The Department of Homeland Security needs to be up and running,” he said.

  • Not enough senators would vote to override presidential veto of DHS defunding

    A late 2014 Republican strategy to fund DHS only through February in hopes of using further funding as a lever to change immigration policies once Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, may meet a dead end as Republican amendments to President Barack Obama’s DHS funding request will need sixty votes to clear the Senate. Senate Republicans will need at least six democrats or Democratic-leaning independents to vote yes to the Republican-led DHS funding bill.

  • Tomsheck’s “July Amnesty”: CBP IA loses hundreds of cases alleging criminal activity by CBP Employees -- Pt.3

    An unprecedented scandal continues to unfold within Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Fueling this scandal are allegations by James F. Tomsheck about the U.S. largest federal law enforcement agency. Further investigation suggests that the “July Amnesty,” initiated in Tomsheck’s CBP IA’s Integrity Programs Division (IPD) headed by Director Janine Corrado and Assistant Director Jeffrey Matta, casts doubt on Tomsheck’s allegations against his CBP superiors. Along with the July Amnesty in 2011 and the alleged discrimination and firing of Navy Lieutenant Commander (Ret.) J. Gregory Richardson in March 2014, there appear to be a number of other events calling Tomsheck’s leadership at CBP IA into question.

  • Sisi calls for “revolutionizing” Islam

    In an important speech delivered to Islamic scholars at Al Azhar University, Egyptian president Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calls for revolutionizing Islam. “It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing, and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!” he said. “That thinking — I am not saying “religion” but “thinking” — that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!” adding: “I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution.”

  • Boko Haram's deadliest massacre yet: 2,000 dead

    Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist insurgency, has been gaining ground in the face of what Western security analysts consider an ineffective, even counterproductive, campaign by an incompetent Nigerian military weakened by corruption and lack of professionalism. The number of victims of Bomo Haram’s brutal campaign is mounting exponentially, with the latest tally reaching 2,000 dead in and around the northeastern town of Baga, on the border of the Nigerian border with Chad. Amnesty International described the attack on Baga as the “deadliest massacre” in the history of Boko Haram. The Baga campaign also saw the first use by Boko Haram of a child suicide bomber: A 10-years old girl detonated powerful explosives concealed under her veil at a crowded Monday Market in Maiduguri, the shopping hub in a city which is at the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency.

  • Gunmen, holding hostages, surrounded by police in small town outside of Paris

    As we put today’s HSNW issue to bed (06:00 EST), the French security forces are surrounding a printing facility in Dammartin-en-Goële , Seine- et-Marne, where the two brothers who shot and killed twelve people in and around the offices of Charlie Hebdo Wednesday are holed up, holding one or more hostages. We will continue to update the story as events unfold.

  • NOAA employee charged with giving information on vulnerabilities of U.S. dams to China

    A National Weather Service (NOAA) employee is being charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) with stealing sensitive infrastructure data from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers database and handing it off to a Chinese government official in Beijing.The dam database is considered sensitive data and has also been compromised by Chinese hackers in 2013, as part of a covert Chinese government operation.The database information includes details on the location, type, storage, capacity, year of construction, and other crucial details helpful in the event of any coordinated strike.

  • The ICC may be asked to classify IS's actions against the Yazidis as genocide

    Genocide is defined as the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial, or religious group. Proving such a case against IS might seem easy enough, but doing so would require complex investigative, analytical, and legal work that Iraq may not have the resources for. Last August, Islamic State (IS) militants seized control of villages in Sinjar, northern Iraq, home to thousands of Yazidis, a minority group who IS has attempted to wipe out due to the group’s religious beliefs. Women and children were raped and sold as slaves, and thousands of Yasidi men were shot or imprisoned. Many were given an ultimatum to convert to Islam or be executed. A new campaign is underway to get the International Criminal Court(ICC) to classify IS’s actions as genocide.

  • Terrorists develop tactics to evade U.S. drones

    The CIA’s use of Predator drones against Islamic militants in the Middle East began shortly after the 9/11 attacks and has increased dramatically during the Obama administration. As the number of drone strikes in Yemen increased, AQAP militants began to develop tactics to hide themselves from a drone’s sensors.

  • Islam, blasphemy and free speech: a surprisingly modern conflict

    From the fatwa on author Salman Rushdie to the attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, the phenomenon of anti-blasphemy actions continues to be prominent in the Muslim world. The reality is, however, that the persecution of blasphemers as it is done currently is a very recent phenomenon. Generally, one could say that the Rushdie fatwa was the beginning of this trend, and the founders of Political Islam are the innovators of this trend. A long distance has passed to see Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in place of the thirteenth-century Muslim scholar Jalal ad-Din al-Rumi, who stood for openness and pluralism in Muslim thought and practice, but this underscores the argument that mainstream Muslims remain against the barbaric actions of fundamentalists. It must not be forgotten that many Muslims are suppressed in their countries for the same reasons that Charlie Hebdo was attacked.

  • What we know about the attack on Charlie Hebdo

    The two gunmen who attacked the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo — Cherif Kouachi, 32, and his brother Said, 34 — are French citizens of Algerian origin. Cherif Kouachi has been involved in radical Islamic activities in France for over a decade, and served time in jail for his 2005 attempt to go to Iraq to join the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda. In the last three years he was active in facilitating the travel of French Muslims to Syria to fight the Assad regime. The third man believed to have been involved in the attack, 18-year old high school student Hamyd Mourad, was allegedly the driver of the car in which the attacker arrived at the magazine’s office and then escaped. He turned himself in to the police, and is now being interrogated. Thousands of police officers and security services personnel have been conducting a massive manhunt for the two brothers, focusing on the city of Reims – a city of about 200,000 located eighty miles northeast of Paris, in the Champagne-Ardenne region.