US flag signifying that this is a United States Federal Government website   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Homeland Security

U.S. Flag and Keyboard

Blog

November 4, 2009
3:50 pm
cross posted from The Coast Gaurd Compass



For well over two centuries, the Coast Guard has worked to safeguard our Nation and its citizens, to secure our maritime borders, and to serve as a responsible steward of our oceans, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. – Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard has a centuries-old tradition as America’s primary federal maritime law enforcement agency. Over the years, the missions have changed, but the Coast Guard’s roles have remained the same: maritime safety, security and stewardship. Tomorrow, Admiral Allen will discuss the merits of a National Ocean Policy and improved governance framework as he testifies before Congress as a member of the Obama Administration’s Ocean Policy Task Force. This initiative represents a significant opportunity to employ a “whole government” approach to manage the use and protection of our marine resources and maritime waterways with an emphasis on sustainability and predictability.

Guardians are no strangers to big picture approaches to the governance of our nation’s waterways. For nearly two decades, Guardians have participated in scenario-based strategy development exercises aimed at forecasting the threats and opportunities to the Coast Guard’s missions through the Evergreen Process and as recently as 2007 issued a Coast Guard Strategy for Maritime Safety, Security and Stewardship which called for a national policy to “address concerns ranging from increased use of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to new uses in the Arctic.” More recently, Coast Guard cutters have assisted researchers at NOAA by deploying global drifter buoys to help us better understand our oceans while the polar icebreaker Healy has been involved in multiple initiatives to map and better understand the changing Arctic landscape.

Log on to Coast Guard Compass tomorrow morning for more on Admiral Allen’s appearance on Capitol Hill and check out the Commandant’s Twitter page to follow his testimony live.

For more information on the Coast Guard’s role in the Ocean Policy Task Force, please visit Admiral Allen’s blog posts on the establishment of the Task Force, the Task Force’s Arctic Awareness trip, marine spatial planning, and the Ocean Policy Task Force’s Interim Report.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 4, 2009
12:45 pm
cross-posted from the White House Blog

With National Cybersecurity Awareness Month now finished, I would like to remind everyone that cybersecurity is not an issue that requires our attention only one month a year. Instead, we need to be thinking about cybersecurity every time we turn on a computer. Further, as the threat of cyber attacks continues to increase, the U.S. Government and the nation as a whole need to continue to develop and identify the young cybersecurity experts who will keep our computers and digital networks secure and resilient.

One of the ways the U.S. Government cultivates future cyber defenders is through competitions such as the U.S. Cyber Challenge. This program, which is comprised of three separate cybersecurity challenges, has the goal of identifying 10,000 young Americans with the skills to fill the ranks of cybersecurity practitioners, researchers, and leaders. The program nurtures and develops their skills, gives them access to advanced education and exercises, and where appropriate, enables them to be recognized by colleges, companies, and government departments and agencies where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.

One of the amazing stories from this year’s U.S. Cyber Challenge is Michael Coppola. Michael is a high school senior and is the leading point scorer through two rounds of the Netwars challenge. Despite not having much formal cybersecurity training, Michael is beating teams of adults and cybersecurity professionals, and, as you can see in the interview excerpt below, remains humble and grounded. Keep up the good work, Michael!

Q. So, Michael, what we'd really like to hear about is what it was like to participate in the NetWars competition. But for starters, how did you even find out about it?
A. In May, a news collective, Digg, pointed me to an article on Forbes.com that described the NetWars contest but didn't provide any information on how to actually participate. About a month later, a link to the contest surfaced on the 2600 news feed, and the rest is history
Q. And just out of curiosity, you're in your senior year in high school - had you already taken computer science courses at school?
A. Yes, I've taken a few, but they don't offer computer security classes. I've taken Graphic Design, Web Design and Animation, and Computer Networking and Repair. I enrolled to take Introduction to Programming this year, but they cancelled it, because they couldn't find a suitable teacher.
Q. Did you ever wonder about what you might "win" or get out of it?
A. The original flyer said something about "cyber camps," but I didn't really know what that meant. I played just to play, and if I won anything from it, then all the better.
Q. Were you surprised when you won? Did you know that the second highest score came from a TEAM of five (?) players working together?
A. I was actually very surprised to be honest. I didn't expect to win, because I assumed that the people I was competing against would be in college with formal educations. Also, I had no idea the second place contestant was in fact a team of five until you asked me!

John Brennan is Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 4, 2009
10:45 am
Today, the Secretary joined her Spanish counterpart, Minister of Interior Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, in giving keynote addresses to the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Madrid, Spain. This is the 31st annual data protection commissioner conference, but one of the few times when policy makers shared their views on data collection AND protections.

The conference hall was packed this morning, as privacy professionals from around the world crammed together to hear from royalty - the Prince of Asturias, the Spanish heir to the throne - and politicians alike.

The Secretary and the Minister both made clear that their vision of information sharing had to be consistent with privacy and civil liberties protection. Minister Rubalcaba began his speech with an emphatic statement - security and privacy are common principles, and can co-exist! He also warmly welcomed Secretary Napolitano, recognizing that her presence at this conference demonstrated the shared will of Europe and the US to work together.

Secretary Napolitano specifically acknowledged the completion of the work of the High Level Contact Group in crafting data protection principles, and encouraged movement towards a binding data protection agreement, stressing "what unites us far outweighs what divides us - including a long-standing respect for human rights and individual liberties."

As a privacy professional, this interaction between privacy leaders and policy leaders heralded a new era in transparency, one of the hallmarks of the Obama Administration; personally, it was heartening to witness this important dialogue. As both the Minister and Secretary Napolitano made clear, security and privacy can reinforce each other. At the Department of Homeland Security's Privacy Office, we try to implement this principle every day.

Mary Ellen Callahan is the Chief Privacy Officer for the Department of Homeland Security
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 4, 2009
10:12 am
From the AFP, on the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy in Madrid:

Hundreds of privacy experts from around the world met in Madrid on Wednesday for a three-day conference which aims to arrive at a global standard for the protection of personal data.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as well representatives from data protection agencies from 50 nations and top managers from key Internet firms like Google and Facebook are taking part in the event, billed as the world's largest forum dedicated to privacy.

Artemi Rallo Lombarte, the director of the Spanish Data Protection Agency, an independent control authority which is organising the 31st International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy, said laws regulating privacy vary greatly around the world.

"These differences are far from being an obstacle, they should instead enrich our initiatives to promote the effective guarantee of rights through a global convention for the protection of privacy and personal data," he said in a opening address to the conference.

"This is one of the main goals of this international conference," he added.

Participants hope the international standards reached at the gathering will serve as the basis for a universal, binding legal instrument on data protection.

From the Associated Press, on the increase of gun and cash seizures at the Mexican Border:

U.S. authorities on Tuesday reported a spike in seizures of guns and cash along the Mexican border since they began assigning more agents to stem the flow of southbound contraband.

Nearly 600 illegal weapons were seized along the border by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials from March through September, an increase of more than 50 percent from the same period of 2008.

The agencies seized more than $40 million in cash along the border from mid-March through September, nearly double the amount in the year-ago period.

The seizures represent a tiny fraction of business done by Mexican and Colombian drug lords. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, those drug lords generate $18 billion to $39 billion in wholesale drug proceeds in the United States each year. Cash proceeds are smuggled across the border to Mexico.

But U.S. officials said the figures demonstrate that heightened enforcement is paying off.

From the Homeland Security Today, on the standardized tribal ID cards:

Tohono O'odham Nation is latest to move on enhanced ID card The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has struck a fourth agreement for enhanced tribal identification cards compliant with US travel laws with a Native American tribe, the department announced Tuesday.

DHS and the Tohono O'odham Nation, which has lands in Arizona and Mexico, agreed to standards for an enhanced tribal card to be carried by the roughly 28,000 registered members of the tribe. The identification card complies with the specifications of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which mandated strict requirements for travel documents for citizens of the United States, Canada and Bermuda--who may previously have not required a passport--on June 1.

"This agreement will strengthen safety along our borders while providing Tohono O'odham members a secure and standardized ID card," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. "In the months ahead, we will continue to build upon these efforts-from secure identification to preparing for emergencies-with our tribal partners across the country."

Public Events

9 AM EST
CBP Acting Commissioner Jay Ahern will deliver remarks at the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee quarterly meeting
Ronald Reagan Building
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Atrium Hall
Washington, D.C.

10 AM EST
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will testify about the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force process and coastal and marine spatial planning before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard
253 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 4, 2009
12:50 am
...from the Danes, but not the weather. It's been a bit dreary here in Copenhagen since our arrival late last night, but we've enjoyed a very productive visit to Denmark. The Secretary met this morning with Minister of Justice Brian Mikkelson to talk about cooperation on counter-terrorism. With the Headley case in the news the visit was quite timely. The Minister and the Secretary also talked about crime in cities and security in transportation, including ways to improve coordination between the two sides.
She then spoke at an event at the Danish Institute of International Studies on human trafficking, where the terrific questions from individuals and NGOs showed the Danish commitment to this important issue. There was discussion of how best to tackle the problem and which tactics were effective (Prosecute "Johns" to fight demand? Seize the assets of traffickers? Consider legal immigration status for victims? All of the above?)
US Ambassador Laurie Fulton then hosted a lunch to discuss the many ways she and her staff work together with Danish officials on issues of crime and immigration laws. (I recommend the Redfish! Is that Danish for Red Snapper?)
Before leaving Copenhagen, the Secretary met with Minister of Transportation Lars Barfod on ways to secure trans-Atlantic air traffic. With no security mechanism offering 100 percent effectiveness, the Secretary explained the benefits of distinct layers to provide the security and ease of travel passengers expect.
So today, the Secretary participated in discussions on counterterrorism, prosecution of terrorists, human trafficking, international cooperation on crime, immigration laws, and aviation security. Not bad for government work. Now, it’s on to Madrid, where we hear the weather is sunnier.
Mark Koumans is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 3, 2009
2:31 pm
From the Danes, but not the weather. It's been a bit dreary since our


Despite the cold and windy weather, the Secretary has been met here in Copenhagen with a very warm reception. After arriving late last night, at 11 this morning, the Secretary met with Minister of Justice Brian Mikkelson to talk about the Chicago indictments from last week, and the counter-terrorism connection to Denmark. She then attended a very well attended press event at the Danish Institute of International Studies on human trafficking, where the terrific questions from individuals and NGOs showed the Danish commitment to this important issue.
US Ambassador Laurie Fulton then hosted a lunch to discuss the many ways she and her staff work together with Danish officials on issues of crime and immigration laws. Before leaving Copenhagen, the Secretary met with Minister of Transportation Lars Barfod on ways to secure trans-Atlantic air traffic.
The amount of different topics the Secretary discussed really shows the breadth of her responsibilities! In just one day, the Secretary talked about counterterrorism, prosecution of terrorists, human trafficking, international cooperation on crime, immigration laws, and aviation security. Whew! Now, it’s on to Madrid.
November 3, 2009
12:50 pm
Human Trafficking is a crime that isn't limited by the borders of a country or the culture of a society or community. It has ballooned into an organized, international practice that robs men, women, and children of the opportunity to pursue their own potential.

Now, chances are that you don't think you know a family member, friend, or neighbor affected by this criminal behavior. This is not a crime that always happens out in the open; it's not as common a news story in this country as theft or fraud. However, every day individuals are quietly moved or "trafficked" from their homes in other countries - often through deception or coercion - and moved across land borders and bodies of water, where they are forced or even sold into prostitution and servitude. It's not just an international problem, though - trafficking regularly takes place within countries and states. No community is immune to this crime of exploitation, even here in the United States.

The Secretary addressed the issue of Human Trafficking this morning during a discussion with students, faculty, journalists and representatives from government, law enforcement and the NGO community at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen. She sees it as an urgent problem that affects the United States, our international partners, and particularly less developed nations - where much of the trafficking originates.
“Human trafficking is a global problem that requires a global solution.” said Secretary Napolitano. “The United States, Denmark and all our international partners must continue to work together to better identify and dismantle criminal trafficking organizations.”

The Secretary talked about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) role in combating the practice, and particularly ICE's work with the Danish National Police and other international partners to dismantle the infrastructure that helps to facilitate the movement of individuals across borders. ICE also employs more than 300 Victim Assistance Coordinators worldwide who work with non-governmental organizations to help provide long-term assistance efforts.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also manages an international Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the issue.

The Secretary also discussed the public's responsibility. We often talk about our shared responsibility to prepare for disasters, to be alert and vigilant in recognizing potential criminal or terrorist activity, and to protect ourselves and each other from the spread of communicable diseases like the seasonal and H1N1 flu strains. Add this one to that list.

You'd think that human trafficking isn't always visible or noticeable. However, victims of this crime are commonly domestic servants or employees at a "sweat shop." ICE launched a campaign last year called "Hidden in Plain Sight," an initiative designed to raise awareness about this issue in the United States. Individuals who suspect someone is being held against their will should call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Secretary's trip.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 3, 2009
11:59 am
From the Washington Post, on the increasing involvement of young people in Mexican cartel operations:

The number of minors swept up in Mexico's drug wars -- as killers and victims -- is soaring, with U.S. and Mexican officials warning that a toxic culture of fast money, drug abuse and murder is creating a "lost generation."

Although the exploitation of children by criminals is timeless, authorities say the cartels are responding to new realities here. They have stepped up recruiting to replace tens of thousands of members who have been killed or arrested during President Felipe Calderon's U.S.-backed war against the traffickers.

The crackdown has led the cartels to diversify their operations, moving from the transshipment of narcotics to extortion, immigrant smuggling and kidnapping. It also has sparked intense rivalries, with youngsters serving as expendable foot soldiers in battles over trafficking routes to the United States and local markets that serve a growing number of Mexican drug users.

"The cartels recruit by first involving them in some drug trafficking, then in selling drugs and finally, in some cases for as little as $160 a week, they are given the job of tracking down people the cartel wants to assassinate," said Victor Valencia, public security secretary in Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez -- Mexico's most violent city -- is located.

From KVOA-TV Tucson, AZ, on the seizure of a million dollars worth of marijuana:

U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Arizona Department of Public Safety executed a search warrant on a residence Thursday evening, resulting in the seizure of more than 1,100 pounds of marijuana.

Border Patrol Agents from the Tucson Station observed a pickup truck traveling northbound from the U.S.-Mexico Border in a remote desert area notorious for drug smuggling. Agents were able to track the vehicle to a local residence. Additional agents responded to the location and, with the assistance of a canine unit, discovered several bundles suspected to be marijuana stacked up inside the house.

Upon entry, agents and officers discovered 52 bricks of marijuana with a combined weight of more than 1,100 pounds and an estimated street value close to a million dollars. The marijuana is being held by ICE for further processing.


From Chattanooga Times Free Press, on E-Verify:

Nearly two months after most federal contractors and subcontractors were required to use the government's employment verification program, local employers report things are running smoothly.

"We've been using E-Verify since the new rules went into effect Sept. 8, (and) so far we've not experienced any adverse financial or administrative issues using the system," said BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee spokeswoman Mary Thompson. "It's simply been another step in the hiring and employment verification process."

E-Verify is a free Web-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that compares information from the employment eligibility verification form, the I-9, against federal government databases to verify workers' employment eligibility.

Leadership Events:
11:45 AM LOCAL
Secretary Napolitano delivered remarks about expanding international coordination to combat human trafficking.Danish Institute for International Studies
Copenhagen, Denmark

Public Events:
10:30 AM MST
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Assistant Secretary Greg Schaffer will deliver remarks highlighting the Department’s commitment to addressing cyber risk to control systems environments at the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team Coordination Center dedication ceremony.
1690 International Way
Idaho Falls, Idaho

10 AM PST
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations Thomas Winkowski will participate in a media availability with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Kenneth Melson about new initiatives to target cross border crime.
Omni Hotel, Salon E675 L Stree
tSan Diego, Calif.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 3, 2009
9:59 am
From the Washington Post, on Mexico's 'lost generation:'



The number of minors swept up in Mexico's drug wars -- as killers and victims -- is soaring, with U.S. and Mexican officials warning that a toxic culture of fast money, drug abuse and murder is creating a "lost generation."


Although the exploitation of children by criminals is timeless, authorities say the cartels are responding to new realities here. They have stepped up recruiting to replace tens of thousands of members who have been killed or arrested during President Felipe Calder?n's U.S.-backed war against the traffickers.


The crackdown has led the cartels to diversify their operations, moving from the transshipment of narcotics to extortion, immigrant smuggling and kidnapping. It also has sparked intense rivalries, with youngsters serving as expendable foot soldiers in battles over trafficking routes to the United States and local markets that serve a growing number of Mexican drug users.


"The cartels recruit by first involving them in some drug trafficking, then in selling drugs and finally, in some cases for as little as $160 a week, they are given the job of tracking down people the cartel wants to assassinate," said Victor Valencia, public security secretary in Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez -- Mexico's most violent city -- is located.




From KVOA-TV Tucson, AZ, on the seizure of a million dollars worth of marijuana:


U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Arizona Department of Public Safety executed a search warrant on a residence Thursday evening, resulting in the seizure of more than 1,100 pounds of marijuana.


Border Patrol Agents from the Tucson Station observed a pickup truck traveling northbound from the U.S.-Mexico Border in a remote desert area notorious for drug smuggling. Agents were able to track the vehicle to a local residence. Additional agents responded to the location and, with the assistance of a canine unit, discovered several bundles suspected to be marijuana stacked up inside the house.


Upon entry, agents and officers discovered 52 bricks of marijuana with a combined weight of more than 1,100 pounds and an estimated street value close to a million dollars. The marijuana is being held by ICE for further processing.




From Chattanooga Times Free Press, on E-Verify:


Nearly two months after most federal contractors and subcontractors were required to use the government's employment verification program, local employers report things are running smoothly.


"We've been using E-Verify since the new rules went into effect Sept. 8, (and) so far we've not experienced any adverse financial or administrative issues using the system," said BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee spokeswoman Mary Thompson. "It's simply been another step in the hiring and employment verification process."


E-Verify is a free Web-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that compares information from the employment eligibility verification form, the I-9, against federal government databases to verify workers' employment eligibility.




Leadership Events:

11:45 AM LOCAL

Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks about expanding international coordination to combat human trafficking.
Danish Institute for International Studies

Copenhagen, Denmark


Public Events:

10:30 AM MST

National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Assistant Secretary Greg Schaffer will deliver remarks highlighting the Department’s commitment to addressing cyber risk to control systems environments at the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team Coordination Center dedication ceremony.
1690 International Way

Idaho Falls, Idaho


10 AM PST

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations Thomas Winkowski will participate in a media availability with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Kenneth Melson about new initiatives to target cross border crime.
Omni Hotel, Salon E
675 L Street
San Diego, Calif.
November 3, 2009
9:11 am

US and EU Flags


This week the United States and European Union achieved a major milestone in data protection and data sharing. The U.S. – EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial completed a set of common principles that unite our approaches to protecting personal data when exchanging information for law enforcement and security purposes.

The Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State have worked with experts from the EU Presidency and Commission for the past three years to develop these principles. Leadership on both sides of the Atlantic share a deeply rooted commitment to the protection of personal data and privacy when it comes to information sharing. This practical approach will enable Europe and the United States to remain global leaders in privacy protection as we work to protect our citizens from common threats to our security.

The next step is negotiating a binding international EU-U.S. agreement based on these common principles to facilitate further cooperation while ensuring the availability of full protection for our citizens. The Department of Homeland Security looks forward to being a part of those efforts in the months ahead.

Mary Ellen Callahan
Chief Privacy Officer
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

EU-US Joint Statement on "Enhancing transatlantic cooperation in the area of Justice, Freedom and Security" (PDF, 7 pages - 116KB)
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

Pages

Back to Top