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.
News reports are trickling out about a decision by a Customs and Border Patrol Predator operator to send a multi-million dollar unmanned aerial vehicle into the Pacific Ocean when it became clear it could not make it back to its home base. This incident demands serious questions from Congress about the future of CBP’s Predator drone use.
Last Thursday, a chemical storage tank leaked about 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol into the Elk River, just one mile upstream from the West Virginia American Water plant. Thankfully, the water plant owner was forward thinking enough to invest in preparedness before an immediate need arose. This undoubtedly helped the plant respond to the chemical leak. Something tells me there’s a lesson there.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an increasingly robust regulator of foreign investments in U.S. businesses, policing these investments for possible harm to national security. But which investments? CFIUS reviews “covered transactions” that might adversely affect national security. If that’s unclear to you, you’re not alone – but you might be at risk.
The Honorable Jeh Johnson has been nominated to replace the long departed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano. Strangely, President Obama has portrayed Johnson as a highly qualified candidate. The President seems to be the only one who is impressed. There are a couple of major holes in Johnson’s resume.
Five years ago, I could have written that CBP was the worst agency in the federal government, almost hopeless. It was not responsive to stakeholders, seemed resistant to doing business new ways, and was being starved of resources by Congress. Fortunately, recent leadership at CBP has been much more open to new thinking. Old policies and staffing models remain a frustration, but the attitude has changed for the better.
Last week, the Center for Effective Government (CEG) posted online a comprehensive list of how much chlorine water utilities have onsite and provided the specific coordinates of where they are stored. This information, while already available in the public domain, has never before been put on a single website because it could more easily give bad actors information to use for nefarious purposes. Here are a few questions for the CEG.
The United States might look less welcoming to foreign investment these days. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has ceased operations temporarily. Foreign investors seeking the “safe harbor” that CFIUS approval confers will have to wait until CFIUS resumes operations in order to close acquisitions of U.S. companies.
The ongoing partial government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling debacle are the latest examples of the U.S. federal government’s perpetual dysfunction. The conflict between Congress and the Executive Office, as well as poor leadership all around, does not just impact budgets and deficits. Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also suffered because of a federal government that can’t seem to get much done.