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Tag: Homeland Security

TSA Director Carraway Removed from Helm After Serious Security Flaws

Melvin Carraway

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In an effort to improve security at U.S. airports, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson has reassigned the acting TSA head.

Al Jazeera English reports that the move comes after the embarrassing discovery that checkpoint scanners miserably failed to detect mock explosives and weapons in 95% of the cases.

Johnson said Melvin Carraway will be reassigned to the Office of Local Law Enforcement at Homeland Security headquarters, while TSA acting Director Mark Hatfield takes the helm.

“The numbers in these reports never look good out of context but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security,” Johnson said. “We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve.”

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Homeland Security Chairman Suggests Terrorism ‘Has Gone Viral’

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The House Homeland Security chairman suggested terrorism “has gone viral” because of the accessibility of the Internet, where terrorist groups are recruiting new members.

“I think there’s been an uptick in the stream of threats out there,” Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said.

“It’s very concerning.”

McCaul only needed to point to the shooting in Garland, Texas, over a “Draw Muhammad” event for one example of the growing threats.

McCaul said he’s fearful the internet will help terrorists connect with other extremists.

“I think the threat environment today is one of the highest that I’ve ever seen,” McCaul said, comparing the atmosphere to the period around the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s going to get worse, not better,” he said. “This is very difficult to stop.”

TSA to Begin More Stringent Screening of Airport, Airline Workers After Incidents

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The TSA will begin more stringent screening of airport and airline workers following allegations that a Delta Air Lines baggage handler was smuggling guns, In Homeland Security reports. 

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also said the security changes are a reaction to another alleged incident in which a Federal Aviation Administration employee flew to New York with a gun in his carry-on luggage.

“Immediately following the incident” with the Delta baggage handler, “TSA increased the random and unpredictable screening of aviation workers at various airport access points to mitigate potential security vulnerabilities,” Johnson said in his announcement.

In Homeland Security wrote:

Johnson said he had asked the TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory Committee to review the incidents and recommend remedies. Acting on five of the recommendations that can be implemented quickly, Johnson said that airport and airline employees who are traveling as passengers would no longer be permitted to bypass the scrutiny faced by other passengers. Anyone who boards an airplane other than on-duty pilots and crew will be screened, he said.

Airports will also be required to reduce the number of access points to secure areas and to subject airport workers to random screening throughout each workday, he said, adding that the TSA may send teams in unannounced to do random worker screens. Johnson also said the TSA is working with the FBI to continuously track the criminal histories of all aviation workers.

Man Flies Gyrocopter to Lawn of U.S. Capitol Without Being Detected

istock photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Authorities are trying to determine how a small gyrocopter managed to fly unnoticed to the lawn of the Capitol in Washington.

A Florida postal carrier was charged Thursday with crimes related to flying the plane through protected airspace, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said the gyrocopter “literally flew under the radar.”

The suspect is 61-year-old Doug Hughes, who now faces up to four years in prison. He said he pulled the stunt to bring attention to the need for campaign finance reform.

Lawmakers, however, are more interested in learning how his gyrocopter went unnoticed.

No one was injured.

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Senate Republicans Probe Claims That Agents Disciplined over Obama Immigration Policies

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Senate Republicans want to know whether Border Patrol agents or Homeland Security officials were disciplined for refusing to follow President Obama’s immigration policies.

Fox News reports that Republicans are investigating claims that federal managers are retaliating against employees who don’t follow the president’s order.

“We are aware of multiple allegations of targeting and retaliation against DHS personnel who refuse to comply with this administration’s willful disregard of our immigration laws,” members of a Senate judiciary subcommittee on immigration told Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in a letter on Tuesday.

The letter comes after Chris Cabrera, a National Border Patrol Council (Local 3307) executive, told a Senate committee that Border Patrol agents are facing discipline for repeatedly reporting a gathering of more than 20 illegal immigrants.

“Needless to say, agents got the message and now stay below this 20 person threshold no matter the actual size of the group,” Cabrera testified.

FBI Wants to Ban Cell Phone Encryption; Congress Shows Cluelessness

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If the FBI had its way, security encryption would be outlawed on cell phones.

FBI Director James Comey is lobbying Congress to create a law that would require tech companies to “create a backdoor into any communications device that uses encryption,” Gizmodo reports.

Only trouble is, many Congressional members don’t know the first thing about encryption, Gizmodo wrote.

I don’t know anything about this stuff,” Rep. John Carter, chairman of the subcommittee on Homeland Security, said.

“There you have it—a man in charge of doling out billions of dollars of cybersecurity money openly admits that he knows nothing about cybersecurity. The scene would be hilarious if its implications weren’t so disturbing,” Gizmodo wrote.

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No. 2 Official at Homeland Security Accused of Helping Political Insiders

Alejandrom Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The second in command at Homeland Security is accused of intervening in cases that involve connections to political insiders “in unprecedented ways,” acceding to a report by the department’s watchdog.

The Office of Inspector General report said Alejandro Mayorkas created an “appearance of favoritism” while head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by giving special treatment in a program for wealthy foreigners to get visas, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Among those who benefited from Mayorkas’ interventions were Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and a brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The report tallied more than 15 people who blew the whistle on Mayorkas for allegedly giving special treatment to people with connections.

In a response to the report, Mayorkas defended his actions.

“I did so not because I wanted to but because I needed to,” Mayorkas wrote. “It was not easy or pleasant to hear complaints of how poorly our agency was performing … and how incompetent we were in the performance of some of our work.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he maintains “full confidence” in Mayorkas.

Washington Times: Why Homeland Security Is Sad Place to Work

By The Washington Times
Editorial Board

No department of the government has a mission more important than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created after Sept. 11, 2001 to defend and protect the towns and cities, the farms and factories of the American homeland. It ought to be one of the most attractive places in Washington to work, inspired by pride and sacrifice to deliver a job well done. But it isn’t. It’s one of the worst.

By one measure it has succeeded beyond bureaucratic dreams. The department has grown to encompass 22 agencies, with 168,000 full-time permanent employees. Armies become lean and mean when they fight on home soil, but this bureaucracy has become fat and forlorn. A survey by the Partnership for Public Service to determine the best place to work among large federal agencies ranks the Department of Homeland Security dead last. Both Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate are trying to find out why.

The bureaucrats have resorted to the usual “studies” and “task forces” to find out why everyone in the place is so sad. If that doesn’t answer the questions, they will commission another study to find out why the first study failed. Millions have been spent on these studies already.

Techdirt, an independent blog about the bureaucracies, reports that employees complain that “senior leaders are ineffective; that the department discourages innovation, and that promotions and raises are not based on merit. Others have described in interviews how a stifling bureaucracy and relentless congressional criticism makes DHS an exhausting, even infuriating, place to work.”

Now even Congress has noticed. The Washington Post reports that Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a Democrat, last week wrote to ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to account for how the study money was spent. “The volume of reports that DHS has commissioned to address these issues is concerning,” she wrote, “and morale continues to remain low in the department. It is unclear who is commissioning these reports and who, if anyone, is reading them.” She is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. She wants answers by March 27, and asked Mr. Johnson “to provide costs and details of all studies DHS has done on employee morale in the past five years; the names and titles of each official who approved the studies; the recommendations they made and whether any were implemented, and whether any of the more recent studies were approved by [Mr.] Johnson or his appointees.”

To read more click here.

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