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Announcing the First Chris Battle Homeland Security Colloquium

On Thursday, February 27, 2014, Security Debrief and Catalyst Partners will host the First Annual Chris Battle Homeland Security Colloquium. Security Debrief’s expert contributors will come together to discuss and debate the current state of U.S. homeland security, DHS, and the threats and priorities the country will face in the year ahead.

Big Retail – The Next Critical Infrastructure?

By Gary Warner
This week, President Obama unveiled a set of guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and a new public-private partnership program. While I join with others in applauding Mr. Obama’s creativity in making progress in protecting our nation’s cyber infrastructure, it is important to note what is and what is not being addressed by these guidelines. Where, for example, does the Target Breach fall?

At Sports Events, Some Security Tactics Drive Cynicism, Risk

Security is high for the Sochi Olympics, but the TSA’s ban on toothpaste and other gels on flights to Russia is not so much a deterrent as it is an insurance policy against blame should something happen. Meanwhile, metal detectors will be in use at Major League Baseball stadiums come 2015. For both Sochi and U.S. baseball, I am worried we are creating bigger problems down the road in terms of public cynicism and policies that actually increase risk.

Border Surveillance is Necessary But at What Price?

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.

Executing Tsarnaev is a Wasted Opportunity

The Justice Department announced this week that it will seek the death penalty in the trial against Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It seems clear the verdict will be guilty and the punishment will be death. For some, this may seem appropriate, but in executing Tsarnaev, we will lose a big opportunity to better understand radicalization and terrorism.

Obama’s Soft Touch on Immigration at SOTU

Immigration reform continues to occupy the top of the “must do” and “can do” lists of this Administration and many in Congress. At the State of the Union, circumstances were ripe for the President to mount the bully pulpit to build pressure on House Republicans. Yet, immigration reform received only a passing mention. Why?

CBP Ditches Predator in the Pacific Ocean

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.

Lessons in How to Communicate on a ‘Bad Day’

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.”

Double Rainbow for CBP – Border Security in 2014

There are not many agencies with as diverse a set of responsibilities as U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The two pieces of good news for CBP early in 2014 are that the agency appears to be receiving both an infusion of funds and a confirmed Commissioner to help tackle that very diverse mission set.

Water in West Virginia – An Ounce of Prevention…

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.