• There Is Nothing Conservative About What Trump Is Doing in Portland

    Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump threaten to send more federal troops to cities with Democratic mayors, ignoring the adamant objections of mayors, governors, and local sheriffs. “How greatly have traditional conservative values of federalism and limited government been transformed,” Paul Rosenzweig and Arthur Rizerwent, two conservative commentators, write. Video evidence shows that these CBP “agents are not merely protecting federal property; they have detained citizens who aren’t violating any law and used the power of their presence to chill civil protests and disobedience.” The writers add: “This is a complete corruption of conservative ideals…. The consequences of this radical expansion of federal law-enforcement authority are enormous—and none of them are likely to be good.”

  • Preparing for an Explosive Attack

    Explosives are a popular choice among terrorists for causing disruption, casualties and destruction. Although chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons may cause much more damage, explosives can still be the first choice because they are relatively easy to make, transport and use. DHS S&T says it wants to make sure that state and local leaders have choices, too, by arming them with technology to plan for worst-case scenarios and mitigate the fallout of terrorist attacks.

  • Homeland Security Was Destined to Become a Secret Police Force

    Since early July, men in military-style uniforms have waged battle against protesters in Portland, Oregon, using tear gas and nonlethal munitions; video and photographs have shown scenes of urban warfare, with what looks like a regular army moving on unarmed protesters night after night. Masha Gessen writes that the use of CBP agents against unarmed protesters is the inevitable culmination of the creation, nearly twenty years ago, of DHS: The use of the word “Homeland” in the department’s name tracks the rise of the national sense of vulnerability, as “homeland” means “the country insofar as it is endangered.” The U.S. used to protect itself against other nations and their hostile military forces, Gessen writes, “but now it had to fear individuals. This is the premise on which secret police forces are built. Their stated purpose is to find danger where normal human activity appears to be taking place….. The logic of the secret police, however, dictates that it perpetually has to look in new places for threats.”

  • Inside Trump’s Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus

    The roots of the nation’s current inability to control the pandemic can be traced to mid-April, when the White House embraced overly rosy projections to proclaim victory and move on. What is more, Michael D. Shear, Noah Weiland, Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, and David E. Sanger write in the New York Times, members of the corona crisis group, meeting in the office of Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff every morning at 8:00am, saw their immediate role as practical problem solvers, but their ultimate goal was to shift responsibility for leading the fight against the pandemic – which was becoming a public health, economic, and political disaster — from the White House to the states.

  • Who Is Watching the Border Patrol?

    Since 2016 the Border Patrol (BP) has become highly politicized, even as the organization continues to be plagued by institutional violence and corruption at all levels. A closer examination of these federal agents and officers in green now highlights their extraordinary legal powers and reach. This is worrisome: In these challenging times, the BP is especially ill-prepared for more mission creep, nor are we ready for it. The Border Patrol is a loose cannon requiring immediate accountability and oversight by our elected representatives.

  • DHS Authorizes Domestic Surveillance to Protect Statues and Monuments

    You might not imagine that the U.S. intelligence community would have much stake in local protests over monuments and statues, Steve Vladeck and Benjamin Wittes write, but you’d be wrong. An unclassified DHS memo, provided to Lawfare, makes clear that the authorized intelligence activity by DHS personnel covers significantly more than protecting federal personnel or facilities. It appears to also include planned vandalism of Confederate (and other historical) monuments and statues, whether federally owned or not. “[W]e do not accept that graffiti and vandalism are remotely comparable threats to the homeland [as attacks on federal buildings] — or that they justify this kind of federal response even if, in the right circumstances, such activity would technically constitute a federal crime,” Vladeck and Wittes conclude.

  • Boogaloo Followers Charged with Seeking to Exploit Protests in Las Vegas to Incite Violence

    The District of Nevada’s U.S. Attorney’s Office announced charges against three followers of the far-right, anti-government Boogaloo movement for trying to use the Floyd protests in Las Vegas as cover for inciting violence and causing destruction with improvised incendiary devices. The prosecutors said that the goal of the three was similar to other instances of Boogaloo followers’ provocations in other cities: “hijacked peaceful protests and demonstrations across the country, including Nevada, exploiting the real and legitimate outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death for their own radical agendas.”

  • Crisis Government

    Henry Kissinger once quipped: “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” That was back in the 1960s, when it appeared that responding to crises required the government to take a break from its ongoing work. Philip Wallach writes in National Affairs that when we step back and regard 21st-century American politics, we ought to see that the crisis responses are not “anomalous,” but rather that they vastly exceed the “normal” actions of the government in terms of importance. “This change of perspective compels us to reject the idea that polarization is the defining feature of our era, and we must reassess our understanding of the American political system’s capacities and infirmities accordingly. The overall picture is still a negative one, of course, but for reasons that differ from those we are used to hearing about.”

  • U Nevada-Reno’s programs Designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD)

    The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) co-sponsor Centers for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). The aim of the program is to ensure cyber defense professionals graduate from institutions of higher education with theoretical and hands-on experience in cybersecurity. After a rigorous review process, the University of Nevada-Reno’s B.S. in computer science with a minor in cybersecurity was recently designated a CAE-CD.

  • Ensuring Safety of Migrants at the U.S. Borders

    Every day, undocumented migrants attempt to enter the U.S. between the ports of entry, specifically at our southwest border. Oftentimes, they face life-threatening circumstances. They are miles away from shelter, food, and water; exposed to harsh terrain and drastic changes in temperature; and lack the means to receive help if they need it. To better monitor migrant activity and provide life-saving aid when needed, ICE and DHS S&T collaborated to implement the Missing Migrants Program.

  • Congress Should Investigate the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Response

    Charlie Martel, who in 2008-2009 led the staff of a bipartisan Senate investigation of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, writes that “Today, as with Katrina, the nation is faced with a deeply flawed federal response to an ongoing crisis with catastrophic consequences on a historic scale.” He adds: “Having apparently discarded the careful pandemic planning it inherited, the Trump administration has no evident strategy guiding its response to the complex crises created by the coronavirus. Administration statements and decisions have been impulsive, contradictory and in some instances dangerous. Congressional oversight is necessary to review the federal response and correct it where necessary.”

  • Department of Homeland Security Law Enforcement Agencies Require Expanded Oversight

    Hundreds of Department of Homeland Security officers have been called up to serve along with other federal law enforcement officers and the National Guard to provide security within the District of Columbia. The question is whether the deployed officers are adequately trained and prepared for the current tense environment. “Repurposing law enforcement officers to work in a tense civic moment is not as easy as it might sound,” Carrie Cordero writes. If they are not well prepared, “the consequences can range from the embarrassing to the dangerous.”

  • COVID Slows Central America-U.S. Migration

    From March to April, when the U.S. began to lock down, total apprehensions along its southern border dropped by 50 percent, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Apprehensions and expulsions have plummeted, going from 109,415 in April 2019 to just 16,789 in April 2020.

  • Iran Warns U.S. of “Firm Response” over Interference against Venezuela-Bound Fuel Tankers

    Iran has warned the United States against conducting “piracy” in the Caribbean as five Iranian tankers laden with fuel sail toward Venezuela. The tankers’ voyage comes as a senior U.S. official told Reuters on May 14 that the United States was considering what action it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.

  • Crisis Exposes How America Has Hollowed Out Its Government

    The government’s halting response to the coronavirus pandemic represents the culmination of chronic structural weaknesses, years of underinvestment and political rhetoric that has undermined the public trust — conditions compounded by President Trump’s open hostility to a federal bureaucracy that has been called upon to manage the crisis. Dam Balz writes that “The nation is reaping the effects of decades of denigration of government and also from a steady squeeze on the resources needed to shore up the domestic parts of the executive branch.”