President Obama delivered a major counterterrorism speech this afternoon laying out America’s modified approach to this ever-dangerous issue. In it, Obama has once again made a run at closing most of Gitmo. He also is beginning to move the use of drones away from CIA and back to the Defense Department.
Counter Terrorism and Defense
May 23rd, 2013 - by Ronald Marks
May 17th, 2013 -
There are 166 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, and more than half are on a hunger strike to protest their imprisonment. The Joint Detention Group at Guantanamo is in an impossible situation. On the one hand, they are obligated to look after the detainees and keep them alive. On the other hand, their efforts to do so are criticized, with some seeming to suggest forced feeding rivals the water-boarding controversy of years past.
May 13th, 2013 - by Justin Hienz
As editor of Security Debrief, I get a lot of interesting e-mails. Yet, a lot of what hits my inbox is just noise. Yesterday, however, I received an e-mail that was unlike any other. The first line of the e-mail read: “I have information which can help to prevent a terrorist attack from happening.”
May 9th, 2013 -
The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing today to discuss the Boston Marathon bombings. Among the witnesses was Security Debrief contributor Erroll Southers. His testimony presents critical insight into homegrown violent extremism and the steps counterterrorism and law enforcement can and should take to better address the ever-present threat of terrorism.
The civil war in Syria may have begun in March 2011 with peaceful protests against regime policies, but it is now unquestionably a brutal sectarian conflict characterized by massacres and ethnic cleansing. It is now clear that the Syrian humpty dumpty, with its mix of Sunnis, Alawis, Christians, Druze, Kurds, Ismailis, and other communities, cannot be put back together again. One action that could potentially bring stability and advancement to Syria is partition.
The fallout from the Boston bombings three weeks ago continues to impact national security. The country has a renewed enthusiasm for homeland security, and while the Boston bombings slipped up the security radar, if history is any teacher, it would seem the United States should be on high alert in April. Indeed, there appears to be a security phenomenon at work that defies efforts to protect the homeland, particularly during the third week.
May 3rd, 2013 - by Ronald Marks
We now have information on 800,000 people in our terrorist databases. We have “big data,” as the people would say who pretend to know something about it. Big Data, they often claim, will solve the problem. To my mind, we have a big search, analysis and distribution problem, and despite “big data” claims of prowess, connecting the dots before a terrorist strikes is never going to be an easy thing.
You have heard the saying, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. News sources and government officials tell us we live in a world of constant cyber attack, so we must be at war, right? In cyber world, this kind of talk is harmful and obscures the new world in which we really exist. We are not at war – we are in conflict, and some of the tools we are using cross interesting and controversial 20th-century political lines.
March 14th, 2013 - by David Olive
National security scholar Dr. Joshua Sinai has just published a new analysis on the evolving threat to US interests by Al Qaeda and their associated adherents. The underlying premise is that the serious threat to U.S. interests from Al Qaeda has not diminished, but it has changed. Testimony provided Tuesday by ODNI director General James Clapper suggests the threat of the core al Qaeda is severely weakened, though associated groups remain an issue. Which viewpoint will prevail?
March 7th, 2013 - by David Olive
This past Monday, Politico hosted a Playbook breakfast conversation with the three individuals who have served as DHS Secretary since its inception – Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano. Former Governor Ridge who addressed why America needs a cabinet-level agency to address homeland security issues. While I am a firm believer that America needs a Department of Homeland Security, I am also a believer in continuous improvement, and in that respect, congressional oversight should rightfully be focused on asking questions about DHS as it starts its second decade.
By Alex Sorin
The news of the violent gang rape of a young Indian woman on a public bus and her subsequent death has shocked the world and led to protests and unrest. While increased security is by no means the sole solution, certain security measures can help alert law enforcement of similar incidents and assist in catching the perpetrators. While surveillance technology can help, just as critical is an Incident Management System.
December 12th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
Biological weapons present a potentially catastrophic threat to the United States, and one way the nation’s security professionals have sought to mitigate this threat is through BioWatch, a detection warning system. The program’s flaws and high costs have prompted some to call for the end of BioWatch, but as I wrote in a recent piece for the LA Times, this is not a good idea.
December 10th, 2012 - by Ronald Marks
There are few spots left around the world without Internet access, and few people who cannot reach out to access it. It has been relatively free of state interference and American dominated. However, the Net has had mounting problems, and 2012 has marked the end of the old Internet as we knew it. The days of an American-controlled freewheeling Internet with unlimited access and relatively cost-free access are over.
Since Israel’s last incursion into Gaza in December 2008, Hamas and its fellow “resistance organizations” in Gaza have been taking advantage of weak Egyptian control over the Sinai Peninsula to hasten the smuggling of medium and short-range rockets. Hamas’s strategy is to attempt to deter Israel from launching attacks against the organization by amassing a rocket arsenal that will allow it to strike deep into Israel. It is highly unlikely that this latest round of fighting will fundamentally change a reality in which Hamas continues to rule in Gaza and Israel lacks any realistic alternatives to changing the equation.
Honoring our country’s military is important. For those who lay down their life to uphold the freedoms we cherish, we rightly celebrate their service, not just on Veterans Day, but year round. Celebrations took place across the country on Sunday, but while thousands of veterans received their just tribute, there was at least one soldier who did not. After 37 years of honorable service, four-star General David Petraeus’ reputation is being dragged through the streets and dissected in media reports. This is not how we honor our veterans.
November 1st, 2012 -
By Doug Doan
So far, none of the presidential candidates have mentioned much about Homeland Security. With so many other problems, issues surrounding how best to organize, manage and lead the vast DHS bureaucracy are just not that important. Too bad. I would have liked to see the candidates talk about what they might do. Here is an agenda that I happily provide.
October 22nd, 2012 - by Stephen Heifetz
U.S. government agencies often seek more power. They generally do that by asking Congress for a new law conferring additional authority or by simply asserting the power based on old law. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, has made a recent bold play that follows the second path. CFIUS now has asserted that it is a full-scale regulator, with the power to issue orders on its own.
October 10th, 2012 - by Rich Cooper
Since news of the shooting of a fourteen year old Pakistani girl by a Taliban gunman, a ninth grader named Malal Yousafzai broke, I’ve wrestled with feelings of heartbreak and sheer anger. This young woman could be my own daughter, another happy ninth grader, and what happened to her is nothing short of despicable. Much of the world finds the Taliban abhorrent, but what I find just as disturbing is the deafening silence coming from the streets of Pakistan, Afghanistan and other places in this region. People seem to be willing to riot over a stupid YouTube video, but when the blood of child is spilled, where is the outrage?
An interesting thing happened this weekend – two diverse voices came in violent agreement on the threats America faces today. First, CBS reporter Laura Logan, a renowned Middle East war correspondent; then, Governor Mitt Romney, in a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute this past weekend. They separately emphasized that only by showing strength to foreign radical groups will we ever hope to have a degree of safety.
The White House’s 2009 Cyber Review estimated the loss of intellectual property from companies as a result of cyber-based hacking in 2008 alone exceeded $1 trillion in value. FBI Director Mueller said in 2009 that his Bureau was aware of 3200 Chinese front companies operating in the United States. Kudos to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers for telling the American public about the significant efforts of countries like China to utilize every means available to spy on American companies – something the National Economic Security Grid has designated as the “Advanced Persistent Asymmetrical Threat.”