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Tag: Homeland Security

Homeland Security Reaches Agreement with Washington Times After Improper Record Seizure

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security reached a rare settlement with a newspaper after seizing a reporter’s notes and records from her home while executing a warrant for information on guns allegedly possessed by her husband, the Washington Times reports.

The agency agreed to reimburse some of the legal bills accred by the newspaper and the reporter, Audrey Hudson, whose home was raided in August 2013 and her notes and records on the problems inside the Federal Air Marshal Service seized.

“While the settlement payments cover just a fraction of the legal bills we accrued, the fight was, in the end, about protecting a journalist’s right to keep her sources confidential and to engage in the First Amendment protected activity of reporting without unwarranted government intrusion,” said Larry Beasley, the president and chief executive officer of The Times.

Hudson said she hopes the settlement puts an end to similar seizures.

“The importance of this case was that we just were not going to let it stand, the idea that federal officers at will could confiscate a reporter’s notes without any sort of subpoena or search warrant seeking the notes or even directed at the reporter,” Ms. Hudson said.

Homeland Security also returned documents and other notes to Hudson.

Homeland Security did not return calls from the Washington Times for comment.

Employees: Byzantine Oversight of Homeland Security is Crushing Morale, Hindering Work

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Homeland Security has so much congressional oversight that it’s damaging morale and making the work more difficult, the Washington Post reports.

Consider the number of committees and subcommittees that oversee DHS – more than 90, which exceeds the number that has jurisdiction over the Defense Department by nearly three fold.

“It makes no sense at all,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a homeland security committee member, who attributed the structure to a “petty fight for power” between committees reluctant to give up their piece of DHS.

When the department was created in 2002, 22 autonomous federal agencies were combined.

“It makes it very difficult for the department,’’ said King, who sees “no movement” in Congress to change the situation. “The amount of time that goes into preparing for a congressional hearing is immense. It’s like this hydra-headed monster they have to deal with.’’

FBI, Homeland Security Warn of ISIS-Inspired Attacks in U.S. Following Airstrikes in Syria

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Homeland Security are warning that ISIS-inspired Americans or visitors may try to launch a domestic attack in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against extremists in Syria, CBS News reports.

The agencies issued bulletins that urged law enforcement to “be vigilant.” ISIS and other terrorist groups have been recruiting Americans. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. needs a new approach.

“It will be focused on people who have terrorist connections and come up with new ways in which information is shared between INTERPOL members that, frankly, don’t exist now,” he said. “We have red notices that we use for people who are charged with crimes. But we’re gonna come up with a new kind of notice that deals with people who are suspected of engaging in terrorist activities.”

Border Patrol Official Says More than 4,300 New Officers Are Needed to Protect U.S.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 

CBP needs more than 4,300 new officers to adequately protect the borders, acting Customs and Border Patrol Assistant Commissioner John P. Wagner, from the Office of Field Operations, told PJ Media.

With the increased dangers of ISIS and the influx of immigrants,

Wagner said a lot more manpower is needed.

“We’ve done an analysis and we have a need for 4,373 new CBP officers to staff all of the ports of entry across the United States,” he said. “Congress was generous enough to provide us with funding for 2,000 of those officers for this fiscal year and the [Obama] administration’s budget proposal for 2015 contains a request for another 2,373, so the answer is yes.

“A lot of those would be dedicated to the ports of entry at the southwest border as well as the gateway airports all across the United States.”

Wagner emphasized the importance of the manpower and said CBP is taking extra efforts to prevent terrorists from entering the country.

“CBP officers scan the traveler’s entry documents to perform queries of various CBP databases for exact or possible matches to existing lookouts, including those of other law enforcement agencies. For most foreign nationals arriving at U.S. airports, CBP officers collect biometrics – fingerprints and photographs – and compare them to any previously collected information,” Wagner said.

FBI Director Comey: ISIS May Try to Take More Hostages to Gain Concessions

American war reporter James Wright Foley was beheaded by ISIS.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey said he’s worried that more Americans are at risk of being kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, CBS News reports.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety and security of American citizens worldwide,” Comey said in his written testimony ahead of a hearing in front of the House Homeland Security Committee. “ISIL and other foreign terrorist organizations may continue to try to capture American hostages in an attempt to force the U.S. government and people into making concessions that would only strengthen ISIL and further its terrorist operations.”

ISIS has already beheaded two American journalists.

Unlike some European countries, the U.S. does not pay ransoms.

“The U.S. policy of not paying ransom to kidnappers is longstanding and it is sound. It would be a mistake of strategic proportions to change that policy,” Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA and a CBS News national security analyst, said last month. “If we were to do so, many more Americans would be kidnapped…and we would be become an ATM for militant groups around the world.”

FBI Director Says Memo about Turf Battles Among Agencies ‘Made My Head Explode’

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey expressed no patience with reported turf battles between the FBI and other federal agencies, Politico reports.

Comey said he was rattled after reading a memo about the turf battles.

“That report made my head explode,” Comey said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday. “I shared that head explosion with every leader in the FBI, to let them know how I think about it, which is that the FBI does nothing alone….The American taxpayer should have no patience for turf battles. I got none.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, said he’s concerned.

“I appreciate y’all’s communication. I’m concerned about the communication where the rubber meets the road. And that’s where the communication needs to happen. And if you’ve got turf wars going on, I’m afraid that information may not be shared appropriately,” Duncan said.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he met with Comey on Wednesday to discuss cybersecurity.

“One of our challenges is to make sure that what you refer to doesn’t happen, because that doesn’t do any good for the American people, for our government, for the taxpayers, to see us engaged in turf wars. So we have committed to setting the example at the top and instilling that example in the rank and file in our leadership,” the secretary said.

Other Stories of Interest


We May Never Feel As Safe As We Did on Sept. 10, 2001

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thirteen years  ago today, I was walking down Connecticut Avenue NW  in Washington, D.C.,  on my way to work, about to get on the subway, when I ran into a friend who asked if I had heard about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

I hadn’t. By the time I got off the subway at the Farragut North stop downtown, the city was in a panic. I ran into my editor at the Washington Post, who said she had heard that planes had crashed into the Pentagon and the State Department. Rumors were running rampant.

We got to the newsroom and everyone was standing around TVs watching the incredulous events unfold. 

A second plane had already crashed into the World Trade Center and a third had crashed into the Pentagon, not all that far away. We were under attack.

We all got our assignments. I was sent to D.C. Police headquarters on Indiana Avenue NW to hang out all day. I walked there, about 1.5 miles.  On the way over there, you could hear everyone on the street calling loved ones, checking in.

At police headquarters, a  group of reporters stood out front, hanging out. The police chief, Charles Ramsey, (who is now the Philadelphia Police chief) would occasionally drive by and give us updates. A plane in Pennsylvania was still unaccounted for. We kept looking up at the sky wondering if it just might come our way.

The world changed that day. We had been shaken before as Americans. We had the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but this was of a magnitude we had never seen before.

We’ve learned a lot since that time. At first, the FBI, jittery from not unearthing the 9/11 plot, and getting plenty blame for that, followed up on every tip it got, regardless of how silly it might have seemed. In time, it learned to separate the wheat from the chaff. Also, for a while, authorities were overly paranoid about anyone in D.C. taking photos or video of buildings. That eventually changed.

Plus, the government, the White House, the FBI and other agencies,  had a lot to learn about Islam.  The FBI shifted its top priority to terrorism, and we created the Department of Homeland Security, which frankly, the verdict is still out on how effective that has been.

Since that day, Sept. 11, 2001, we’ve become far more aware of  the potential terrorism threat.

Frankly, in the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, I thought life would never be normal again.  Fortunately, things have returned to some semblance of normalcy.

But we’ll likely never feel as safe as we did on Sept. 10, 2001.

Internal Report: Homeland Security Fails Adequately Prepare for Potential Pandemics

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Although Homeland Security has received $47 million to prepare for potential pandemics, federal authorities are far from ready and properly trained, according to a federal audit, the Washington Post reports.

The Homeland Security inspector general found numerous problems, including the imminent expiration of antiviral drugs and a failure to find personal protective gear.

“A severe influenza pandemic presents a tremendous challenge, which may affect millions of Americans, cause significant illnesses and fatalities, and substantially disrupt our economic and social stability,” the report said. “It is DHS’s responsibility to ensure it is adequately prepared to continue critical operations in the event of a pandemic.”

The audit found that 81% of the department’s antiviral drugs are set to expire next year.

Other Stories of Interest