News

Johnson memo pushes for more cohesive DHS

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for steps toward a more cohesive Homeland Security Department in an April 22 memo. One change will be twice monthly meetings with Johnson and the department's senior leaders – mainly component heads and undersecretaries – where they can "openly place on the table issues, arguments, and disagreements concerning our most challenging issues," Johnson says.

Federal prosecutors charge three in chemical weapon lab sales to Syria

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Wednesday against three men accused of illegally exporting laboratory equipment to Syria since 2003.

Judge orders Guantanamo prosecutors to detail detainee treatment

A military judge in Guantanamo Bay ordered prosecutors to reveal information about how they detained, transported and interrogated Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who is accused of planning the 2000 USS Cole suicide bombing. Regarding his interrogations, prosecutors must turn over all related summaries, reports, logs and notes. Additionally, they must provide unredacted copies of any requests to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" on al Nashiri, the order says.

Wave of asylum seekers prompts changes at USCIS

A recent sharp rise in asylum seekers claiming fear of persecution or torture has prompted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to train its employees to be more stringent when evaluating claims. Lawmakers and officials have wondered whether the spike stemmed more from rising violence in places like Central America or from foreigners trying to exploit the system in order to get into the United States.

After Boston bombing, first responders rethink need for secure perimeter before treating victims

The Boston Marathon bombing led to a rethinking of the notion that law enforcement must secure a perimeter after a violent incident before emergency medical services can enter and treat victims.

Coast Guard concludes small UAV test

The Coast Guard concluded earlier this year its final phase of small unmanned aerial vehicle testing with a two week shore-side test on Virginia's eastern shore.

Arctic maximum fifth lowest recorded

This winter's annual maximum of Arctic sea ice was the fifth lowest since satellite records began to be compiled in 1978, the National Snow and Ice Data Center says. A late season surge in early March helped spread out ice pack in the Barents Sea, where ice cover had otherwise been low all winter, the center says.

White House adviser: Boston became a 'crucible' for counterterrorism

Boston is set to become the second city to receive a Homeland Security Department envoy who coordinates anti-violent-extremism programs, the White House's Lisa Monaco said April 15.

Wildfire strategy sees varied challenges across nation

Accumulated vegetation, the proximity of communities to wildfire-prone areas, human-caused ignitions and the high cost of response emerge as the four national challenges identified in wildfire strategy the Obama administration released earlier this month.

Lawmakers: DoD, HHS bioterror programs redundant

Last October, the DoD began construction of a 30 acre complex for medical countermeasure manufacturing in Alachua, Fla., near Gainesville. It expects to complete the facility by the end of fiscal 2015. But HHS already runs three manufacturing facilities for medical countermeasures, which are vaccines and medicines for possible pandemics or bioterror attacks.

Arpaio not conceding that his office racially profiled Latinos

The sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz. won't appeal a federal court's ruling that his office violated the constitutional rights of Latinos. That's not, Sheriff Joe Arpaio would have the world know, because he acknowledges that his office racially profiled Latinos – as some media outlets have recently reported.

Federal judge: ICE request led to Fourth Amendment violation

Police in Oregon violated an immigrant's Fourth Amendment rights when they honored an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request without probable cause, a federal judge ruled April 11. Judge Janice Stewart of the U.S. district court in Oregon ruled (pdf) that Clackamas County misinterpreted the regulation that governs ICE detainers.

Teen tweet on terrorist threat results in arrest

Dutch police today arrested a teenager after she tweeted on Sunday a terrorist threat to American Airlines in what she quickly said was a joke.

Jones: Look beyond al Qaeda, drone strikes

Counterterrorism expert Seth Jones cautioned lawmakers not to dwell too much on the core of al Qaeda and lose sight of other groups during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing April 8. "Using the core al Qaeda and its strength or weakness as a gauge of the movement in my view is increasingly anachronistic," Jones said.

 

TRIA saves taxpayer dollars, says Rand

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act saves taxpayer dollars, say two Rand scientists. The act makes the government a source of last-resort financial support in case terrorist attack-related insurance claims rise above a high threshold. The law's seven year authorization comes to an end this year.

OIGs: No need for major changes after Boston Marathon bombing

A review of the federal government's intelligence on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, says there is no need for significant changes to how counterterrorism agencies handle and share information.

Study seeks to understand rumor-mongering during emergencies

Tweets that propagated rumors during crises often contained ambiguous sources and mentioned direct experience with the event, says a study published in the journal Management Information Systems Quarterly.

Senate confirms two high-level DHS nominees

The Senate Monday confirmed two Homeland Security Department undersecretaries, further dropping the agency's rate of high-level vacancies.

Extreme drought portends active wildfire season

Drought expanded last month to cover 38.4 percent of the continental United States as of April 1, having increased by about 2.5 percentage points over four weeks. California has faced especially dire conditions this year, and drought worsened there during March as well. NOAA expects drought to continue – or intensify – this spring in California, west Texas, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and portions of other western states.

Rockefeller: Zukunft will whiz through confirmation to be next Coast Guard commandant

Vice Adm. Paul Zukunft kept his expression even and his tone modulated, humble – but Tuesday's confirmation hearing for the position of the next Coast Guard commandant still ended with the 37-year service veteran aglow from approbation. "I think you'll be a whiz right through here, you'll be out of here before you know it," promised Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)