There are a host of questions Congress ought to be asking about DHS’ use of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles to provide border surveillance. Congressional staff should know how the Predator’s cost stacks up against other alternative means of surveillance. Perhaps the problem is that decisions on what platform to use for border surveillance are not being made on the basis of risk-reward or cost-benefit.
One of the challenges when a tragic event occurs is communicating to the public about it. What do seasoned professionals cite as most important in responding to devastating incidents? I reached out to two friends and former colleagues to get their take on how people should look to respond to “bad days.”
Paul Anthony Ciancia, the 23-year-old who shot TSA agents at LAX, made his first court appearance this month. Since the shooting, news outlets have reported on the attack itself, on Ciancia’s mental state and on methods for improving security. Yet, in the extensive coverage of the shooter’s actions, there is one word that is conspicuously and erroneously absent: terrorist.
The recent attack at the Washington Navy Yard, where Aaron Alexis killed twelve people and injured three others, was the latest example of mass shootings that continue to plague the country. Attacks in public areas have precipitated discussions on emergency response, facility security and even gun control. One element in this tragic phenomenon that deserves more attention, however, is the role of mental illness.
There is no conclusion yet on who President Obama will nominate to take over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when Janet Napolitano leaves next month. While Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff (both former governors) and Napolitano (a Federal judge) did an admirable job leading the Department, perhaps the next Secretary should bring a stronger law enforcement background. A top cop – like a police chief or commissioner – could be just what the Department needs.
Last week, a Las Vegas couple was arrested for plotting to kidnap and kill police officers. This conspiracy to kill police officers is a case of homegrown terrorism, a growing threat to U.S. national security. When we look at the diversity of violent extremist ideologies and thousands of followers who present a threat to the United States, we are looking into a mirror.
Once the drama in Boston is over, attention will inevitably turn to how to prevent another terrorist attack on an event with limited security. These so-called soft targets–places like malls and movie theaters, as well as sporting events–have always been vulnerable to terrorist attack, especially given how much harder it is to attack aircraft since 9/11.
One week ago, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked through a crowd at the Boston Marathon and dropped homemade bombs near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 180 others. While investigators wait to question Dzhokhar, homeland and national security experts are looking to U.S. processes and policies for identifying violent extremists. Security expert Dave McWhorter spoke to Canada news broadcast CTV about the hunt for the Boston bombers.
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.
While Sunday’s Forward On Climate rally in Washington, DC may not have attracted the hundreds of thousands of people that organizers had hoped for, it was still the largest environmental protest in U.S. history. Environmental causes in general, and the Tar Sands issue in particular, are gathering support across the country with an increasing number of groups becoming involved in direct action and civil disobedience protests.