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November 6, 2009
9:17 am
From Politico, on the tragedy at Fort Hood:

President Barack Obama promised "answers to every single question" about Thursday's shooting at Fort Hood after an attack by at least one U.S. service member that left 12 soldiers dead and 31 wounded.

Speaking at the Interior Department, Obama said he had already conferred with Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the attack and would continue to receive updates.

"We don't yet know all the details," Obama said. "What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence."

"These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to the rest of us on a daily basis," the president continued. "It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil."

From the McAllen (TX) Monitor, on the seizure of 900 pounds of marijuana:

U.S. Border Patrol agents netted nearly 900 pounds of marijuana during two unrelated seizures Wednesday.

The first seizure occurred just before noon when agents spotted a black 1992 Honda Accord speeding north from the Rio Grande, according to a U.S. Border Patrol statement. The agents stopped the car and found two bundles of marijuana in the passenger area. A search of the car revealed four additional bundles in the trunk. Agents arrested the driver and seized 274 pounds of marijuana.

The larger seizure took place in the late afternoon when agents saw a black 1997 Lincoln Town Car also speeding away from the Rio Grande. Agents attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver accelerated north onto Farm-to-Market Road 493 from Military Highway 281. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it came to rest in a dirt culvert. The driver ran away and evaded arrest, but a passenger was taken into custody. Authorities found eight bundles of marijuana with a total weight of 604 pounds.

The drugs from the seizures have an estimated street value of $702,400.

From the Associated Press, on possible DNA testing for immigrants:

The Obama administration is considering using DNA tests for some foreign refugee applicants following a Bush-era pilot program that found massive fraud among those claiming family links to join relatives already in the United States.

The State Department said Thursday that it and the Homeland Security Department are nearing a decision on ways to reinstate a refugee resettlement program that was suspended last year when the fraud was uncovered.

"These new procedures will likely include DNA testing," the State Department said in a statement given to the Associated Press.The U.S. experiment using genetic testing ended in 2008 and was aimed only at proving family relationships.

From the Orange County Register, on a change in ICE's policy towards illegal immigrants:

Immigration agents in charge of chasing down illegal immigrants who are avoiding deportation orders are increasingly focusing their efforts on arresting those with criminal records.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics reflect a shift in the new administration's focus compared to the last three years. For instance, three years ago only 22 percent of those arrested by fugitive operations agents in the Southern California area had criminal records. During this fiscal year, more than 50 percent of the 3,039 arrests in the same area had a criminal history

Leadership Events:
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a meeting with the European Parliament to discuss coordination to combat international crime and terrorism.
Altiiero Spinelli Building
Rue, Wiertz, 60
Brussels, Belgium

Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability with members of the European Parliament.
Ana Politovskaia Press Roo
PHS Building
Brussels, Belgium

Secretary Napolitano will join World Customs Organization Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya announce the results of Operation ATLAS.
World Customs Organization
Rue du Marche, 30
Brussels, Belgium
November 5, 2009
2:00 pm
Let's start with a simple fact: DHS is a great big agency – the third largest, in fact. We have upwards of 20 components, directorates, and offices; a staff of over 225,000; our budget for fiscal year 2009 was over $40 billion. Now, if you are an average American, chances are that among all of those components and directorates, you interact with one of them more than the rest combined: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Whether you are boarding a flight to Des Moines, on an AMTRAK train that shares a track with freight transports, or on the road behind a truck carrying hazardous materials - TSA has a hand in making sure that you are safe along the way. (Planes, trains, and automobiles, indeed.) I suppose it goes without saying that with this level of public interaction comes with a lot of opinions. The rules for what you can and can't bring onto an airplane are complicated, and sometimes frustrating. Why in the world would a government agency tell you that you have to take your flip-flops off before going through a metal detector? Well, flip-flops can be modified to conceal a small compartment – just about any shoe can, even the slimmest stiletto. Who knew? Behind each of these rules is a lot of research, intelligence, and consideration - and that's not easy to explain at an airport checkpoint.

So, almost two years ago, TSA began an experiment, launching a blog to directly engage with the public. Today the idea might seem pedestrian, but in January of 2008 it was among the first ten government blogs in existence, and "risky" would have been an understatement in describing what TSA was proposing: an online public forum where one of the government's newest and most controversial agencies would discuss its most controversial rules and decisions and let travelers do the same. Good times.

Almost two years later, the results speak for themselves. Over one million hits to date; dozens if not hundreds of public comments and discussions on each post; and a reputation as a space where government responds quickly to public concern, and proactively addresses issues that may generate questions and confusion. Now, it goes without saying that the DHS blog would laud the efforts of one of its component blogs, right? Except today, you don't have to take our word for it.

Yesterday, Adobe and MeriTalk honored the TSA Blog with a Merit Award during a ceremony at the Ronald Reagan building here in Washington, D.C. Merit Awards "recognize excellence in innovative implementations that aim to deliver a more efficient and transparent government." The TSA Blog earned the award for "demystifying airport security processes and debunking myths by providing simple, non-bureaucratic explanations of why TSA does what it does to keep the traveling public safe."

So, big ups to our friend to Curtis "Blogger Bob" Burns and the entire team who work every day on the TSA Blog to combat misconceptions, respond to public questions and criticisms, and explain in human terms the reasons behind our security measures. From the President on down, this administration has worked since day one to make government a more transparent, open, engaging institution, a place from which the public can expect more information and answers from their elected officials and government employees. Congratulations to TSA for staying ahead of the curve on this one.

"Blogger Bob" Burns just after receiving the Merit Award.

Head over to the TSA Blog to check out some of their latest responses.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
November 5, 2009
10:03 am
From Congress Daily, on the newly confirmed Under Secretary for the department's Science and Technology Directorate:

The Senate late Wednesday confirmed by voice vote Tara O'Toole as undersecretary of the Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate.

Her nomination had been held up by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., over concerns about past lobbying work. But an aide to McCain said he would allow the nomination to go forward after she responded to questions.

"Dr. O'Toole is assuming her role at a critical time, as the H1N1 flu pandemic is spreading across the nation at an alarming rate," Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman said in a statement. "Dr. O'Toole brings a remarkable breadth of experience to this job that is so crucial to our nation's security. She is an inspired choice and I congratulate her on her confirmation."

From Information Week, on IdeaFactory:

The Department of Homeland Security is latching onto one of the Transportation Security Administration's most innovative IT initiatives, a Web 2.0 crowd-sourcing portal called IdeaFactory. Like TSA, Homeland Security will use the platform to encourage its employees to come forward with new ideas on how to do things.

IdeaFactory is a custom-built, .NET Web application that lets employees submit ideas for new programs and rule changes. Other users can rate the ideas, comment on them, pick favorites, and forward them to others. When a proposal gets enough attention, it's sent to an "idea committee" that reviews it and decides what steps to take. It's essentially a digital, and transparent, ideas box.

From Homeland Security Today, on the first public meeting of the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group:

The departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) hosted the first public meeting of their Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group Wednesday in New Orleans, La., to begin the development of a national disaster recovery framework.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, along with representatives from about 20 federal offices, joined the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Louisiana Recovery Authority, and the City of New Orleans at the University of New Orleans to discuss 16 specific topic areas.

Questions debated by the government officials at the form ranged from the roles of federal, state and local governments in disaster recovery to unmet needs in recovery to best practices for incorporating public input into recovery efforts.

Napolitano called the public forum a useful means of strengthening the ongoing recovery of the Gulf Coast region, which is still rebuilding more than four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Public Events
1:40 PM Local
NPPD Cyber Protection and Awareness Director of Critical Infrastructure Jenny Menna will deliver remarks about the Cyberstorm exercise at the Swedish EU- Presidency International Conference on Resilience-Resilient Electronic Communications
Folkets Hus at the Stockholm City Conference Centre
Barnhusgartan 12-14
Stockholm, Sweden

3 PM Local
NPPD United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team Acting Director Randy Vickers will deliver remarks about the Government Forum of Incidence Response and Security Teams at the Swedish EU- Presidency International Conference on Resilience-Resilient Electronic Communications
Folkets Hus at the Stockholm City Conference Centre
Barnhusgartan 12-14
Stockholm, Sweden

ICE Office of Investigations Deputy Assistant Director Janice Ayala will testify about organized retail crime before the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

2:15 PM EST
NPPD Counselor Bruce McConnell will deliver remarks about DHS’ cybersecurity initiatives at the INPUT Fed Focus Conference
Tyson’s Corner Ritz Carlton
1700 Tyson’s Blvd
McLean, Va.

2:30 PM EST
NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Philip Reitinger will deliver closing remarks about the importance of integrity, security, and reliability in software and the DHS’ perspective on software security progress at the 11th Annual Software Assurance Forum
Crystal Gateway Marriott 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, Va.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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 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

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.

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

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.


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