On Monday, one of the Obama Administration’s heavies took to the Op-Ed page of the Washington Post to fight for cyber security. John Brennan, the President’s senior advisor on counterterrorism and homeland security, published a pretty impassioned piece reminding the Nation that cyber treats are real. Personally, I thought we were beyond the debate about the existence of the cyber threat and our need for better cyber defenses, cyber hygiene, training, and public-private info sharing. I guess there are still nay-sayers out there.
Management and Administration
April 18th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
Reporting over the past few days regarding an advance detail of U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Military personnel’s activities in Colombia has been riveting. Being a former federal law enforcement officer, I was not shocked by their activities, but I was truly saddened. People responsible for the safety and security of the President and others just cannot engage in this kind of behavior. Part of the problem could be that the Secret Service is incorrectly situated in DHS. My own sense is that they are in the wrong department, with leadership problems, and are starved for funding.
April 16th, 2012 -
By Doug Doan
Former TSA Boss Kip Hawley has written an important, but flawed, new book, telling us that TSA is a broken agency in need of urgent reform. The book offers thoughtful recommendations for reform, which is why I find it all so sad. The one big issue that Hawley does not much discuss is why he never tried to implement any of these urgent reforms while he was in charge of the very agency that he now tells us, correctly, is broken. And every other DHS senior leader, from the former Secretaries at DHS, Commissioners of CBP, and TSA, has either started, or joined, a consulting company advocating urgent reforms to the very organization that they once led. Let’s also admit that every one of them had the opportunity to implement the reforms that they now advocate in exchange for huge consulting fees.
April 2nd, 2012 -
In Security Debrief’s annual April Fools coverage, we’ve collected some stories the rest of the media somehow missed.
On Monday, I hosted the premiere of my new international internet radio show, “The Homeland Security Show with Janice Kephart.” My first guest was Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist William LaJeunesse, who has done the most extensive investigative journalism on the federal government’s arms trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious.
March 21st, 2012 - by L. Vance Taylor
There comes a time when sharing too much information is a dangerous thing, and this is what the Environmental Protection Agency is about to do. In June, the EPA plans to establish Internet access for the public to view the non-Off-site Consequence Analysis (non-OCA) sections of the water sector’s Risk Management Plans (RMPs). The announcement from the Office of Emergency Management cites burdens associated with Freedom of Information Act requests and a need from the FBI and others for greater access to non-OCA data. Here are my two biggest problems with what EPA plans to do.
March 1st, 2012 - by Rich Cooper
President Obama’s recent apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the unintended destruction of Qurans by U.S. military forces has set off a firestorm of action and debate. In Afghanistan, violent protests by those furious at the desecration of the Islamic holy book have killed a number of people and are even suspected as being contributing factors in the recent murders of two U.S. military officers this past week. Many have been critical of the president’s apology, but it brings up the question of whether the President should have apologized in the first place.
Maybe it’s just a Washington thing, but no where can you gather more than a hundred or so people in a significant venue for a major speech on a topic of national importance that says… well… nothing. Such was the scene at the National Press Club where DHS Secretary Napolitano delivered her second annual “State of Homeland Security Address.” Attendees were greeted with a plate of cupcakes decorated with the DHS logo. Either someone at the National Press Club has a wicked sense of humor or the Department has gotten very creative with its logo.
January 31st, 2012 - by David Olive
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered a “State of Homeland Security” address yesterday at the National Press Club and did a wonderful job delivering a very droll message. She is an accomplished public speaker and was comfortable in reading from the Teleprompter, and if her goal was to avoid making headlines, her presentation was a rousing success.
Change is on the horizon for DHS leadership. While Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s health seems to be fine and she appears to be in decent political shape (there aren’t rampant calls for her resignation or her being driven from office), the odds are she will leave her post next January regardless of whether her boss, President Barack Obama, is re-elected or not. Here are some likely candidates for DHS Secretary.
President Obama’s critics (of which I have been one) have tried to infer he is many things. He’s been called a socialist, a far-left liberal and other names. People will use all sorts of facts and inferences to back their words up but one word and invective that will never stick is “wimp.” Through the use of drones, Special Forces, Navy SEALS and all of the other military resources at his disposal, the President has scored a kill sheet that no one could have imagined. The inspirational orator that many thought was weak-kneed has become remarkably effective and efficient at getting rid of some of the world’s most pungent trash.
January 6th, 2012 -
CQ Homeland Security conducted its annual survey of security challenges last year and the road ahead in 2012. The three-part series included comments from security experts throughout government and the private sector, many of whom are contributors to Security Debrief. Below is a rundown of some of their responses. Check out each of the story links to read more about important security efforts in 2012.
December 27th, 2011 - by Guest Contributor
By Nelson Balido
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin last Thursday announced his resignation effective December 30. For folks who monitor border trade and security issues, this wasn’t exactly a surprise. But it was still a disappointment. Nevertheless, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the right choice in naming deputy commissioner David Aguilar as the new acting commissioner.
In just over two weeks, barring an unanticipated miracle, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin’s recess appointment will run out. There are many positive things that can be said for how Bersin handled his tenure at CBP. Nevertheless, it does not appear that Bersin’s nomination is going to be approved by the Senate. Until DHS or the White House make their plans for Bersin’s replacement, even on an acting basis, clear and unequivocal, one wonders whether they even care about who leads this vital organization.
November 22nd, 2011 - by Rich Cooper
More than a year ago, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen spoke about how our growing national debt was becoming a national security threat. It was a stunning statement. With that as a backdrop, along with the federal budget drama of the past year, Congressional leaders pledged to work together, forming a so-called Supercommittee. After much discussion and pandering, we now have our end product – Failure. In fact, it’s bigger than failure… it’s an absolute surrender of leadership.
The last several months in D.C. have witnessed a series of Executive Orders, proposed legislation, bureaucratic action and public bickering over how to “defend” cyberspace. This dividing up of provinces of responsibility in cyberspace is interesting. It is a lovely 20th century way of dealing with a 21st century problem. Setting boundaries in the boundless frontier. Those seeking to harm cyberspace must be laughing up their collective sleeves or Guy Fawkes masks.
When the news broke yesterday with rumors and news reports that former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge could be in the running to be the next President of Penn State, I have to admit to some very mixed feelings. They weren’t negative mixed feelings but rather selfish ones. As one of the people fortunate enough to serve under Ridge in the early days of DHS, I got to observe one of the most dynamic individuals I’ve ever met in my life. If his move to Penn State should come to pass, the institution will gain someone who not only can navigate the most dangerous of seas but bring people together in service in ways never done before.
Richard Clarke is at it again. In a conference this week, he stridently appealed to the audience. He warned that the President aught not consider going to war any time in the near future. This because our cyber capabilities are so weak and America’s enemies are sure to use cyber attacks against us. Dick Clarke is a competent and farsighted man who has served this Nation long and well. Why does he seem to relish wallowing in hyperbole? We are NOT boxed in by our cyber insecurities to the point of having no options.
November 9th, 2011 - by Frank Cilluffo
I welcome you to join us on Thursday, November 10, 2011 from 2:00 – 3:00pm for an HSPI Policy and Research Forum event featuring John S. Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Mr. Pistole will discuss risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism efforts, and will highlight the layered security approach and advances of TSA technology over the last decade.
November 7th, 2011 - by Jeffrey Sural
Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing reviewing TSA screening procedures 10 years after 9/11. The buzz word of the hearing was “risk-based.” This has been characterized in some reporting as TSA’s newest screening strategy. In fact, risk-based screening has been attempted at TSA and DHS for years. The “news” is TSA’s public re-commitment to risk-based screening after several check-point screening miscues went viral.