The most interesting part of watching the current debates over the NSA surveillance leak has been the predictable reaction of the participants. After all the paranoia, insults and investigations, where are we going to be? Pretty much were we started. Welcome to the Great Surveillance Society.
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?
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.
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.
August 25th, 2012 - by Sam Rosenfeld
There has been a great deal of media coverage relating to an FBI/DHS document detailing likely anarchist activity during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The vast majority of that coverage has related to the threat of anarchists using Molotov cocktails, acid filled eggs, or even IEDs and IIDs. It appears an FBI/DHS report over-states and sensationalizes some of the likely threats from anarchists, as most recently expressed in their Joint Intelligence Bulletin released August 21, 2012.
July 2nd, 2012 - by Justin Hienz
Information travels through America’s cyber networks at the speed of light. The legislation that will be used to govern some aspects of network security is traveling at the speed of bureaucracy. The Senate has been debating two cybersecurity bills that will impact U.S. cybersecurity standards, but whatever Congress eventually decides, the onus is on U.S. citizens and businesses to step up their individual security efforts.
June 27th, 2012 - by Nadav Morag
When looking at the developments of the last year and a half in the Middle East, it seems quite clear that the media was too quick to coin the term “Arab Spring” to describe the popular unrest and overthrow of regimes in significant parts of the Arab World. It would be more appropriate to refer to what is happening in the region as the “Islamist Spring” because it is creating unprecedented opportunities for Islamist political movements to finally grasp the reins of power, such as with the elections in Egypt. All of this, of course, has implications for the region and the United States.
People talk. That’s a fact. Whether at the water cooler, the fence post or on Facebook, people talk about almost anything and everything. Eventually though we all reach a point where what we really should do is just shut up. We’ve long crossed that point when it comes to intelligence and national security operations in this country. Lately there have been a truly disturbing number of very public examples that bring these conditions to light.
June 5th, 2012 - by Robert Blitzer
Like many Americans, I am concerned about the major intelligence leaks that have taken place over the past weeks and months. It i disturbing to see this kind of activity, particularly in time of war. The unmasking of Dr. Skakil Afridi, who helped bring Bin Laden down in Pakistan, and the significant reporting of the intricacies of cyber attacks against Iran’s nuclear program, makes me cringe.
This past weekend, I participated in an educational experience that was exceptional in many ways, but was also typical of many programs ongoing in the Washington area. The class I attended was part of the Intelligence Analysis Course run by Johns Hopkins University. The students were a pretty exceptional group. They were interested, engaged, challenging, and open to learn. Watching these fine young men and women give up their precious free time to better prepare themselves for their jobs was a bit awe inspiring.
May 25th, 2012 - by Matthew Levitt
The Arab uprisings created significant opportunities to counter radical Islamist propaganda and leverage financial tools against violently repressive regimes. Yet, they have also strained the intelligence community’s resources, forcing agencies to shift personnel and reprioritize their collection and analysis efforts. The Washington Institute’s new compendium, “Finding the Balance: U.S. Security Interests and the Arab Awakening,” delves into these issues in depth.
May 15th, 2012 - by Matthew Levitt
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. has noted some Iranian officials are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States. Iran’s aggressive posture toward the United States, which suggests a heightened intent to target the homeland, is made all the more acute given Iran’s massive diplomatic presence in the Western Hemisphere.
May 10th, 2012 - by Robert Blitzer
The prevention of a bombing attack on an inbound passenger airliner this week was a great piece of work by the Intelligence Community. Since 9/11, there have been numerous attempts at attacking the homeland from both within the country and from without. All have failed. I have read a lot of the news stories reporting on this – each day, more operational details leak out. Coming from the intelligence world, I am dumbfounded by “anonymous sources” reporting the details of the operation to the press. Does anybody even try to protect sensitive sources and methods anymore?
Last week, five individuals were arrested in a plot to blow up a bridge near Cleveland. Like other similar stings by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, sharing threat information and using key tools provided by the Patriot Act kept the public from harm. Though a great deal of attention is rightly paid to Islamist-inspired terrorism, they comprise a minority of attacks in the past decade, and a new Heritage Foundation report finds that an all-threats approach to security offers the best defense against terrorist threats.