• Paris attacks expose weaknesses in Europe’s security structure

    The 13 November attacks in Paris offered a painful demonstration of Europe’s security loopholes which the terrorists exploited to their advantage. The attacks should serve as a wake-up call to Europeans that the continental security structure, built in another era, is no longer sufficient and needs to be adapted to new circumstances. Whether or not such adaptations can be made, and made in time before the terrorists decide to launch another attack, is an open question.

  • Improving police responses to mass shootings

    Before Columbine, law enforcement acted on the assumption that mass casualty incidents would involve a barricaded lone shooter who could be isolated, or a hostage situation in which the attackers would engage in negotiation before they killed more people. Thus, protocols established after the 1966 sniper attack at the University of Texas, called for first responders in the United States to set up a perimeter around the site of the shooting, gather as much information as possible, and then wait for specially trained assault teams, hostage negotiators, medics, and other specialists to arrive. “The assumption,” one expert said, “was that time was on their side.” Police forces arriving on the scene of a shooting no longer entertain this assumption.

  • It’s time to repeal the gun industry’s exceptional legal immunity

    Coming up with effective and realistic solutions to curb gun violence is not easy. Guns pose a tricky dilemma, because they can be used to do good or bad things. They can be used to commit heinous crimes, but they can be used to protect lives as well. The challenge for lawmakers is to come up with ways to reduce the risk of criminal misuse of guns while preserving and even promoting the likelihood of guns being used in beneficial ways. Ensuring that every firearm manufacturer and dealer operates as safely and responsibly as possible should be one piece of the puzzle. A key way to ensure that gun companies have the right incentives would be to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Enacted in 2005, this federal law gave gun sellers a special immunity from legal responsibilities, which is not enjoyed by any other industry. Gun manufacturers and dealers should not be subject to any extraordinary forms of liability that do not apply to other products. They should not be liable, for example, merely because a firearm is a weapon that is capable of being used to do harm. But if a gun manufacturer or dealer fails to take basic, reasonable precautions in distributing products, it should be held accountable under the law just as an irresponsible company in any other business would be. With the risks of firearms in the wrong hands becoming ever more apparent, Congress should reconsider its regrettable decision to give the gun industry special immunity from legal responsibility.

  • Refugee system “vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups”: U.S. intelligence

    On Monday, in his inaugural State of Homeland Security Address, House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) highlighted new concerns regarding refugees with ties to terrorist groups in Syria who might try to enter the United States. He revealed that a letter sent to him earlier this year by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that “The refugee system, like all immigration programs, is vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West.”

  • French regional elections: No one can dismiss Le Pen as an also-ran now

    Marine Le Pen probably won’t be the next president of France, but the regional elections are proving that her Front National has truly become a major player. Le Pen’s party has taken 28 percent of the vote in the first of two rounds to elect regional assemblies. The right-wing Republicans, led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, came a close second, with a shade under 27 percent. The ruling Socialist Party trailed, with just 23 percent of the vote. There is one week to go until the decisive second round, but even if the left and right somehow manage to block their path, the FN has already struck a major blow ahead of the presidential election in 2017.

  • Untraceable communication -- guaranteed

    Anonymity networks, which sit on top of the public Internet, are designed to conceal people’s Web-browsing habits from prying eyes. The most popular of these, Tor, has been around for more than a decade and is used by millions of people every day. Recent research, however, has shown that adversaries can infer a great deal about the sources of supposedly anonymous communications by monitoring data traffic though just a few well-chosen nodes in an anonymity network. Researchers have developed a new, untraceable text-messaging system designed to thwart even the most powerful of adversaries.

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  • Trump Calls for preventing all Muslims, including immigrants and tourists, from entering U.S.

    In what must be seen as an extraordinary rhetorical escalation even for a presidential candidate not known for nuance and subtlety, Donald J. Trump on Monday called for the United States to prevent all Muslims, without exception, from entering the United States until the country’s leaders and security agencies can “figure out what is going on.” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told the Associated Press that the ban would apply to “everybody,” including both immigrants and tourists.

  • Obama: Current strategy to defeat ISIS more likely to succeed than alternatives

    President Barack Obama, in a rare prime-time address from the White House – the third such appearance in his seven years as president — described the current U.S. strategy against ISIS as more likely to succeed, and more acceptable to the American people, than alternatives such as large increase in U.S. ground forces in Syria and Iraq. Describing those who perpetrated the Sam Bernardino attack as individuals who had “gone down the dark path of radicalization,” he reassured the American people that the United States has faced, and has overcome, more daunting challenges than terrorism. He said that the best strategy to defeat ISIS without further radicalizing Muslims who live in the West is the current mix of airstrikes, support for local allies, diplomacy to end the Syrian war, and a measured increase in the number of U.S. Special Forces.

  • Obama’s address on countering ISIS: The missing context

    Yesterday, President Barack Obama delivered a prime time address on his administration’s policy to defeat ISIS. Obama offered no new initiatives or ideas, but the address still mentioned all the right things: No one wants to send tens of thousands of American troops to the Middle Eat; no one wants the United States to invade and occupy another country; we should not equate Islam with terrorism; we should guard against anti-Muslim backlash; the United States has faced daunting challenges in the past, and came out victorious. What was missing from the address was the same thing which has been missing from the Obama’ administration’s Middle East policies and its approach to fighting ISIS: Context.

  • Western intelligence agencies a step behind ISIS operations in the West

    A former U.S. intelligence officer says the intelligence community had not fully grasped the menace ISIS posed, and fully appreciate the organization’s mode of operation. As a result, intelligence agencies in the United States and Europe have been playing catch up in a desperate effort to try and check the terrorist organisation.

  • 72 DHS employees were found to be on the terrorist watch-list

    Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) was among the forty-seven Democrats who supported a GOP bill to tighten screening requirements for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. He explains: “I have very low confidence [in DHS’s ability to vet refugees] based on empirical data that we’ve got on the Department of Homeland Security. I think we desperately need another set of eyeballs looking at the vetting process.” He also revealed that a DHS IG investigation found that seventy-two DHS employees were on the terrorist watch list.

  • GOP lawmakers draft bill to bolster Visa Waiver security

    About twenty million people use the Visa Waiver program to come to the United States every year. A bill being considered in the House would block anyone who has traveled to Syria, Iraq or a few other nations in the past five years from participating in the Visa Waiver program. It would also require the United States to collect more information about those who avail themselves of the program, codifying a policy already in place.

  • A woman’s involvement makes San Bernardino shooting rare among mass shootings

    The shooting in San Bernardino, California marked the 355th mass shooting in the United States in fewer than as many days in 2015. As details emerge regarding the events, it is clear that these types of crimes are morphing and not abating. “Shootings involving mission-oriented females may be a new threshold which should be concerning to all of us, and the incident in San Bernardino might just be a hybrid, and a harbinger, of shootings to come,” says an expert.

  • Governments should turn to academics for advice on radicalization, religion and security

    Western governments are deploying a range of strategies and tactics to deal with the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State. David Cameron is recruiting more spies, and parliament is discussing profound changes to the way in which digital intelligence is collected. But we must not ignore the invaluable supply of knowledge and insight available from our men and women in academia. Research can provide evidence-based context to contemporary challenges, including an enlightened understanding of the place of religion and faith in a security context. We can stop mistakes being made in terms of misguided policies and knee-jerk reactions. And researchers can help the design and deployment of interventions that make a real difference, focusing limited resources effectively.

  • Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS

    Tashfeen Malik, one of the two attackers who killed fourteen people in a San Bernardino social service center, used her smartphone to post a pledged allegiance on her Facebook page to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS leader – and officials say that timeline of the attack shows that she posted her message while driving with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, in the black SUV in the moments after the attack. The two were killed in a shootout with the police about two hours later.