The Smart Grid is the way of the future in electricity management, but it also presents cybersecurity challenges. A recent report on Smart Grid Cyber Security from the Government Accountability Office cautioned against using regulation to bolster security. There is a “default setting” on businesses and government entities that seems to drive them toward regulatory solutions. It is a harmful tendency in our modern world, and it is not the right approach for improving U.S. cybersecurity.
Congress and Politics
August 17th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
Last week, Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, Director Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), testified in a closed session before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security on the threat posed by IEDs in the United States. Lt. Gen. Barbero knows better than anyone how the knowledge and experience of bomb makers in Afghanistan and Iraq can be easily transferred here to conduct attacks in the United States. The trend is clear – we need to take this threat as seriously as we are taking the cyber threat.
July 12th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
On Monday, Federal authorities released the names of four fugitives tied to the death of Agent Brian Terry and the failed operation “Fast and Furious.” Charged with the murder of Agent Terry and the assault of several other officers at the scene, these men have evaded U.S. and Mexican authorities for 18 months. The timing of this decision strikes me as odd; politics are masquerading as policy.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) performs a critical role protecting the country. The mission is challenging, but just as difficult is working within the department itself. There are several reasons for this, some of which include how elected officials place political appointees within the department. Here is the second installment in my series about why DHS is a crappy place to work.
June 18th, 2012 - by Guest Contributor
By Rob Strayer
Two hundred years ago today, the United States declared war against Great Britain, beginning the War of 1812. At that time, the British Navy was the aggressor, boarding U.S. commercial vessels. Today, the United States faces a digital threat to its national security and commercial interests. Like their nineteenth century counterparts conducting flagrant piracy on the high seas, cyber attackers openly and notoriously exploit U.S. commercial networks. How does the United States develop a national cyber security policy that is tailored to the problems that private sector companies face (avoiding the mistakes of 1812)?
I’ve been writing about the use Predator UAVs and their exorbitant cost for some time. It would seem there are many far better (and far cheaper) ways to patrol U.S. borders and other areas from above. The Center for Investigative Reporting has taken note and recently cited one of my posts in their article, “At U.S. border, expensive drones generate lots of buzz, few results.”
The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security held a hearing today: “TSA’s Efforts to Fix Its Poor Customer Service Reputation and Become a Leaner, Smarter Agency.” The sole witness was TSA Administrator John Pistole. Subcommittee Chairman Rogers lectured Administrator Pistole – yes, lectured him – about TSA’s terrible public image. Since when does Congress have the temerity to lecture anyone, much less an agency that Congress itself created on how to improve its poor reputation?
May 9th, 2012 - by Edward Alden
After two decades of pouring resources and technology into patrolling the U.S. border with Mexico, there are encouraging signs that Congress is about to start asking the right question: what exactly have we bought for all that money? But the administration is continuing to drag its heels. A May 8 hearing of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on border and maritime security was intended to provide some answers to the critical question of how to assess progress along the border.
May 9th, 2012 -
For several years, Security Debrief contributors have joined Francis Rose on Federal News Radio to discuss security issues and the role of the Federal government. For the homeland and national security crowd, In Depth with Francis Rose offers insightful and informative discussions, and there is a growing audience of listeners outside the Beltway. Recently, the news and talk radio magazine TALKERS added Francis Rose to its annual list of the top 250 talk show hosts in America.
May 3rd, 2012 - by Rich Cooper
Since the Obama campaign’s commercial heralding the President’s decision to launch the Bin Laden mission, people from all political corners have either cheered or jeered it. His detractors accuse the President of “spiking the football” and over-politicizing a decision that he said he himself said should not be politicized. For as honorable as the President’s spoken intentions may have been after Bin Laden’s termination a year ago, they have been abandoned for the very real, pragmatic electoral politics – when you have an advantage in anything, you take it and use it to its utmost.
May 3rd, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
Should President Obama be taking credit for the removal of Usama bin Laden from this mortal realm? The short answer is “yes,” based on the logic that if the mission that got UBL had failed, Obama would have had to take the blame. That said, it is a distorted view to think that nothing was done until before the present Administration arrived, and no one should be credited except President Obama.
April 18th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
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.
March 28th, 2012 - by David Olive
If Congress paid even one-tenth the amount of time trying to “fix” its own problems as it does in its petty meddling in the operations of TSA, the general public would have greater confidence in both organizations. Both entities could benefit from meaningful oversight and process improvement. But the joint hearing this week by the House Oversight and House Transportation committees was a one-sided effort, seemingly designed to point out problems without offering any serious solutions to those concerns – and it confirmed (yet again) for me why the Congressional labyrinth of DHS oversight needs to be addressed.
March 27th, 2012 - by Jeff Gaynor
Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speaking before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, made a “dire prediction.” She warned the Senate that if Congress does not give DHS “the authority to designate critical infrastructure and set risk-based cyber security standards for it” [in] “a year or 18 months…we would have suffered a major infiltration or attack, and we will find that some part of our critical infrastructure was a gap.” The Secretary’s prediction and roundabout effort to foist responsibility on the Congress for her Department’s obvious lack of progress in assuring, beyond their protection, the operational resilience of America’s interdependent cyber and physical infrastructure challenges is — at best —ill-conceived.
Last week, I testified before the House Homeland Security Committee about Hezbollah capability to attack within the United States, should the group decide to do so. I explained that it is by no means a foregone conclusion that Hezbollah would attack America in the event of an attack on Iran, but also laid out four different scenarios of how they could carry out such an operation.
March 22nd, 2012 - by David Olive
A brief exchange between Chairman Peter King and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson on Wednesday was strange. Rep. Thompson questioned the committee’s jurisdiction to hold a hearing on whether Iran and Hezbollah pose a terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland. Thompson’s “word of caution” should be taken again to his party’s leadership so they can understand the consequences of their failure to implement the only remaining recommendation of the 9-11 Commission – consolidating congressional oversight of homeland security.
As the U.S. fleet of icebreakers continues to age and fall behind the world’s arctic maritime community, the vision and fortitude of U.S. decision makers continues to wane. The recent announcement by Shell Oil to launch their $200 million arctic icebreaker in April 2012 should send a shiver up the spine of every Coastguardsman and mariner who has considered how the United States will deal with the future of operations in the high latitudes.
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.