• I Helped Classify Calls for Two Presidents. The White House Abuse of the System Is Alarming

    The whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine controversy said White House officials ordered information about President Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky to be removed from the classified server typically used to store such information and placed on a hyper-secure “code word” server. Such special protections are typically reserved for material of the gravest sensitivity: detailed information about covert operations, for example, where exposure can get people killed. Kelly Magsamen, who staffed presidential meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders while she was an NSC staffer during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, writes that “It is difficult to overstate just how abnormal and suspicious treating the call in that manner would be. It strongly suggests White House staff knew of serious wrongdoing by the president and attempted to bury it — a profound abuse of classified systems for political, and possibly criminal, purposes.”

  • Venezuelan Regime Preparing to Confiscate Exiles’ homes, property

    During the past two decades, the government of Venezuelan has systematically expropriated billions of dollars in land and other assets of private companies. Reports from Venezuela say that the government is now turning its attention to the homes of the millions of Venezuelans living abroad.

  • Leveraging Big Data for Enhanced Data-Driven Decisions

    Defense Strategies Institute (DSI) announced the 7th annual Big Data for Intelligence Symposium, focusing on the theme “Harnessing the Power of Advanced Analytics to Support Enhanced Decision Making.”The symposium will focus on the challenges and opportunities of turning large amounts of raw data into actionable intelligence and the steps that should be taken in the future to improve this process in order to maintain U.S. operational advantage.

  • DHS Seeks Standards for “Smart City” Sensors, Starting in St. Louis

    The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate is kicking off a pilot program that will test the integration of smart city technologies in St. Louis, Missouri. Working in collaboration with the city and the Open Geospatial Consortium, agency insiders will use the pilot to research, design and assess Homeland Security’s Smart City Interoperability Reference Architecture, or SCIRA.

  • Helping Structures Better Withstand Earthquakes, Wind, and Fire

    NIST is awarding more than $6.6 million to fund research into improving disaster resilience. Eleven organizations will receive 12 grants to conduct research into how earthquakes, wind and fire affect the built environment to inform building designs, codes and standards to help those structures better withstand such hazards.

  • Upholding Scientific Integrity at Federal Agencies

    Republicans and Democrats on a House subcommittee on Thursday agreed that science-related policy decisions should be based on facts, but differed on how to protect the federal scientists who gather and analyze those facts from undue influence. 

  • Trump Administration Has Gutted Programs Aimed at Detecting Weapons of Mass Destruction

    The Trump administration has quietly dismantled or cut back multiple programs that were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help detect and prevent terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, a Times investigation has found. The retreat has taken place over the last two years at the Department of Homeland Security, which has primary domestic responsibility for helping authorities identify and block potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that the changes, not previously reported, were made without rigorous review of potential security vulnerabilities, the Times found, undermining government-wide efforts aimed at countering terrorist attacks involving unconventional weapons, known as weapons of mass destruction.

  • Assessing Handheld Explosives Trace Detectors

    Individuals who carry explosives or have been involved in bomb making are likely to be contaminated with trace explosives, microscopic particles invisible to the naked eye. Without the right equipment, detecting trace explosives can be challenging for responders and security personnel. Handheld explosives trace detectors (ETDs) can be used to complement bomb-sniffing canines, which are still the gold standard in trace explosives detection. These detectors can be used to find trace explosives on individuals, hopefully preventing a dangerous incident.

  • Child Separation Policy: Allegations of Mistreatment Substantiated

    Between April 2018 and June 2018, the Trump administration separated at least 2,800 children from their parents under the “zero tolerance” policy. Among other disturbing things, a new staff report by the Committee on Oversight and Reform found that at least 18 infants and toddlers under two years old were taken away from their parents at the border and kept apart for 20 days to half a year; at least 241separated children were kept in Border Patrol facilities longer than the 72 hours permitted by law; and that the administration separated children unnecessarily—even under its own rationale.

  • In El Paso Court, Migrants No Longer Get Legal Advocates or Pre-hearing Briefings on Their Rights

    El Paso’s backlogged immigration court recently halted programs designed to aid asylum seekers as they navigate a complicated legal system. “The confusion in the courtroom is palpable,” says one advocate.

  • DHS Chief Orders Probe of Agents' Offensive Facebook Posts

    DHS secretary on Wednesday ordered an immediate investigation into a report that current and former U.S. Border Patrol agents are part of a Facebook group that posts racist, sexist and violent comments about migrants and Latin American lawmakers.

  • European elections suggest US shouldn’t be complacent in 202

    In many ways, the European Parliament elections in late May were calmer than expected. Cyber aggression and disinformation operations seem to not have been as dramatic as in 2016, when Russian hackers and disinformation campaigns targeted elections in the U.S., France and elsewhere around the world. However, there is no reason to be content. The dangers remain real. For one thing, the target societies might have internalized the cleavages and chaos from information operations or self-sabotaged with divisive political rhetoric. As a reaction, Russia may have scaled back its efforts, seeing an opportunity to benefit from lying low.

  • DHS’ assertion of broad authority to search travelers’ phones, laptops challenged

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU the other day asked a federal court to rule without trial that the Department of Homeland Security violates the First and Fourth Amendments by searching travelers’ smartphones and laptops at airports and other U.S. ports of entry without a warrant.

  • What helps, or prevents, U.S. military interventions from achieving their goals?

    Using an original data set of 145 ground, air, and naval interventions from 1898 through 2016, a new report identifies those factors that have made U.S. military interventions more or less successful at achieving their political objectives. The United States has successfully achieved its political objectives in about 63 percent of the interventions, but the levels of success have been declining over time as the United States has pursued increasingly ambitious objectives.

  • ICE looking at housing migrant children at Guantánamo Bay: Report

    DHS is considering housing migrant children at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay to help deal with a sharp increase in the number of immigrants crossing the U.S. southern border. The idea was first proposed earlier this year as DHS looked for military facilities in which to hold undocumented immigrants as they wait for their cases to be processed. There are no immediate plans to bring children to Guantanamo Bay, and officials admit that the optics of housing children next to terrorists would be problematic.