Host:Janice Kephart - firstname.lastname@example.org Former 9/11 Commission Counsel and Border Expert
Read more about Janice by visiting The Center for Immigration Studies- www.cis.org/kephart
Every Monday night at 7 pm eastern time, for an hour, I try my best to bring you homeland security news and analysis you will not hear from mainstream media or the White House. Stripping away the politics and hyperbole, this show deals directly with the reality of homeland security today. How well is government protecting you? How is government not protecting you? What doesn't the government want you to know? How can we do security better? These are some of the questions we address every week.
The show begins with a " Homeland Security Roundup " of some important events in homeland security news from the prior week, including my analysis, and then moves to the issue(s) of the week. Guests are only those who understand and work homeland security issues intimately.
Why the TSA Can't Get Its Job Description Right / Kephart's Testimony Before Senate Judiciary on the Gang of Eight's Immigration Bill
The show opened with Kephart having just returned from a 7.5 hearing on Capitol Hill where she was a witness on the Gang of Eight's immigration bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and what it means to border security. She provided a behind the scenes look at the hearing, the amount of time to prepare and how some of the Gang of Eight who sit on Judiciary barely showed for the hearing. You can view her testimony on CSPAN here (begins at 12 minutes and includes numerous questions in the 1.5 hr. panel).
The core of the show was spent with guest, Curt Cooper is the former Minnesota (and regional) Chief of Staff/ Operations for TSA for all transportation including 8 airports and over 1,000 employees where he was responsible for training security officers, determining performance metrics, evaluations, leadership development and more. He won an award in 2011 for his TSA leadership out of 2,000 nominees. We discussed:
• Why can't TSA get its job description right? • What should the TSA airport security officers' job entail? • Is it possible to make both the TSA and passenger's lives easier and safer when going through checkpoints? • What should the mission of the TSA security officers be, exactly? • How does allowing knives on planes help fulfill the mission of the TSA security officer? • Is letting knives on carry on making the security officers' job easier, when now they have to look through carry on and distinguish between knives?
More recently Curt owns a biometrics firm that works alongside Israeli biometrics technology company, Heimdallr Solutions used for aviation security. He's also a recent graduate of the Post Naval Graduate School in Homeland Security, where his thesis concentration was on improving the TSA security lines.
Tonight's show opened with heartfelt condolences to those involved in the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon this afternoon. For the families of the three people killed, dozens critically injured, those who bore witness today to the awful events, bless you and yours in trying times. For those of us committed to public service-- from first responders, to medical personnel, to forensic investigators and those who make the decisions on how to make our nation more secure-- we thank you for your service and pray that you bring perpetrators to justice, help give victims peace of mind, and those working to secure the scene of today’s bombing, clarity of mind.
Events like Homeland security issues matter to the very base of our well-being, and that is why I’m committed to bringing you this show each week.
This week we spoke to Dr. Thomas Cellucci, PhD, MBA about how homeland technology companies can survive the sequester and budget cuts. Dr. Cellucci does know something about the issue first hand. He was the first DHS Commercialization Officer serving both Presidents Bush and Obama where he leveraged $350 million in independent research and development. During his time at the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Cellucci was also asked to be Director of the Research & Development Partnerships Group integrating and leveraging more than $8B in DHS assets. He has served on 18 boards of all sizes of high tech companies, and is Author of "A Guide to Innovative Public-Private Partnerships: Utilizing the Resources of the Private Sector for the Public Good" published last year by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Dr. Cellucci also won the 2010 Security Magazine Award for Most Influential Person in Homeland Security and is in the process of launching the digital Global Security Technology News Channel.
Why Immigration Reform Can’t Do What the Gang of Eight Says It Will
This show dissected the commentary coming from the President and Gang of Eight in the Senate about immigration reform with Jon Feere, legal analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies. We’ve been told by the end of this coming week a written immigration reform proposal will be put out for public scrutiny. What do core provisions we are told an immigration reform bill will contain really mean? President Obama and his allies are repeating a number of talking points designed to elicit support for “earned legalization”, where illegal aliens must meet certain criteria, including paying fines, passing background checks, pay back taxes, learn English, and the most famous one "go to the back of the line." These principles, however, when meting through immigration law and bureaucratic complexities, , alonside what history tells us, don’t actually make sense or in some cases, are simply self-contradictory.
American Technology Innovations: Amit Kapoor of First Line Technologies
Amit Kapoor started First Line Technologies with his college engineering roommate with the goal of providing first responders with equipment they really needed in a cost-effective manner. In an era of shrinking federal budgets and increased risk from natural disasters, traditional terror and chem or nuclear incidents, saving lives and property of both responders and civilians without breaking budgets required out of the box thinking. First Line's polymer products were used in Japan to clean up massive amounts of radioactive material, their amibus conversion kits are deployed to areas requiring temporary hospital beds or quick, mass evacuation from nursing homes or even transportation accidents, their cooling suits are used in all types of high heat environments, and their chem wipes have saved lives by eliminating deadly toxins quickly and effectively from the skin. We also chatted about the USA Today report that concludes that only 5 states are currently up to grade on emergency response requirements, mostly due to massive cuts in recent years in both federal and state budgets. We chatted about how First Line's 100s of products can help save states money and get them prepared, sometimes at one-tenth the cost of other, less effective products in the market. Most of the time, however, First Line's are the only products available that provide proven functionality and support.
In my news I mentioned the squid in China that was taken to market for slaughter, only to be found with a fully live bomb inside. And it wasn't an April Fool's joke, eihter...
What is Happening to Homeland Security? Knives on Planes, Guns in Schools, and Security Furloughs?
As President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association [https://www.fleoa.org/] and Ground Zero first responder, Jon Adler joined the program to discuss what being a major stakeholder in the law enforcement community means-- and what it does not mean-- in an era where homeland security seems to be spinning in unexpected and unhelpful directions.
• How does allowing knives bigger than the boxcutters the 9/11 terrorists used to slit throats of passengers make us safer?
• How does releasing illegal aliens being held for violent crime make us safer?
• How does languishing legislation on guns make us safer when the penalties for violating gun laws themselves are light?
• Can we afford to furlough federal law enforcement officers in the midst of continually evolving threats?
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA®). FLEOA® is the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit professional association, exclusively representing federal law enforcement officers. FLEOA® represents more than 25,000 federal law enforcement officers from over 65 different agencies.
As the Secretary of State of Minnesota, Mark Ritchie is responsible for assuring the integrity and security of large databases of private information, including voter registration and corporate business filings. We discussed the following key issues:
• According to a paper published by the National Association of Secretaries of State, "highly organized criminals" are stealing corporate identities for the purpose of opening up false lines of credit and other accounts. One case involved more than 3,900 individual and business entities conducting more than $5 million in fraudulent transactions. In a growing environment of cyber threats, how are states protecting their residents and corporations from identity theft?
• With increased scrutiny on the integrity of elections, how can states assure that voters are qualified to vote, while protecting the databases that hold voter registrations?
Founded in 1904, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) is the nation's oldest, nonpartisan professional organization for public officials. Members include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NASS serves as a medium for the exchange of information between states and fosters cooperation in the development of public policy. The association has key initiatives in the areas of elections and voting, state business services and digital archiving, as well as several well-established awards programs. Click Play to listen >>
Can We Have Security and Good Trade Relations with Mexico?
Tonight's show featured the president of the Border Trade Alliance, Nelson Balido, who is working first hand with Mexican and American authorities to assure stronger trade with Canada and secure and stronger trade with Mexico. The Border Trade Alliance represents state municipalities alongside transportation providers and manufacturers to better facilitate trade between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico while assuring security is at its best. Mr. Balido joined us from Mexico City, where he is working with the Mexican Senate and U.S. embassy to increase the already $1.4 billion in annual trade along the southern border. 22 U.S. states call Mexico their largest trading partner today, so getting the relationship right is essential for our own economy, and encouraging Mexicans to find jobs in Mexico and stay in Mexico. Our trade with Canada is $1.6 billion annually, the largest trading partnership in the world. Key issues we discussed included, with a new Mexican administration and continued drug cartel violence and insecurity, what can we really hope for in regard to economic relations with Mexico? and, How is the renewed effort on Comprehensive Immigration Reform affecting potential investment opportunities with Mexico?
Mr. Balido has a diverse background, having worked in the record industry he is a member of both the Latin Grammy's and U.S. Grammy's alongside key appointments at the Department of Homeland Security where he won two awards for his excellent service. He is also a U.S. Navy Reservist. Click Play to listen >>
Issues of Season 2! Inside the Courtroom with Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and How Secure is our Border?
As a national, homeland and border security reporter for both theexaminer.com and San Diego Channel 6 TV, Kimberly Dvorak launched Season 2 with an inside-Gitmo discussion of escapades at the military tribunal pre-trial at Guantanamo Bay of admitted 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (Ms. Dvorak was one of only 40 reporters permitted to attend). In the second half of the show, we talked about the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano's assertion in San Diego this past week that the border remains secure -- an assertion we have not heard in that context to date -- from Ms. Dvorak's perspective as someone who has reported on the border nearly daily for the past 18 years. The core detail here is whether the assertion of a secure border will be enough to assure passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation, a presidential priority in 2013. Click Play to listen >>
On this show we discussed Secure Border Intel, a self-funded volunteer corps tirelessly working to document the truth about how secure the Arizona border really is in the aftermath of the tragic death of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie. I trusted my guest-- who told anecdotes you will never hear publicized about the dangers 80 miles north of the border-- to take me filming one of the most dangerous smuggling corridors in Arizona two years ago. There we filmed, and it is his hidden camera footage and his descriptions you hear in my documentary, Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 3 . Along with some sole practitioners like BorderInvasionPics.com and others, SecureBorderIntel is providing key insights about current border conditions. They track evidence both anecdotally and comprehensively, using cameras and mapping, and trusted sources. In the end, their work shows how insecure the Arizona border is and how the constant lurking violence is creating unsafe conditions for the border agents themselves. Click Play to listen >>
American Technology Innovations: Paul Schuepp of Animetrics
New 3D facial recognition software is re-opening cold cases for law enforcement and identifying potential terrorists or other bad guys for military and intelligence in the field. Animetrics CEO Paul Schuepp joined me to discuss his company's products that are just now being deployed overseas to our security forces and here at home to law enforcement. A turned head, a partial face in a surveillance camera, bad light, or a blurred image all make identifying suspects difficult. Animetrics is being used by the government in a cloud-based architecture that can not only conduct "one-to-many" identity searches, but also takes a flat 2D image and converts it to a 3D geometric image. It does not matter if the image is incomplete; the software will compensate. The most incredible thing about the software is that a turned head in a 2D photo can be turned into a forward-facing 3D image for identification purposes, taking much of the guesswork out of law enforcement and intelligence activities. These "3D facial 'signatures' are then made available to credentialed users via any mobile or fixed digital device with Internet connectivity", making Animetrics perhaps the most advanced company in today's biometric solutions. We discussed Animetrics' products, success stories, privacy concerns and how Animetrics' solution is the complete dynamic opposite of the 2D, static facial image most of us are familiar with when we go get our driver's license.
In the 2008 election cycle, a group of 40 retired generals and admirals lobbied every Presidential candidate to stop torture of enemy combatants, close Gitmo, and try those with sufficient evidence in U.S. federal courts. In January 2009, President Obama signed four Executive Order to do exactly that. But it never happened. Among the key lobbyists in that campaign was a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, retired Lieutenant General Harry Ed Soyster. Soyster was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during major historical periods, including Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s. Under Soyster's direction, military intelligence for our forces during Desert Storm received fully integrated, 24/7 intelligence. Lt. Gen. Soyster, with over ten years deep in intelligence, knows what works and what does not work in gathering information. He told me his stories, explained the Defense Intelligence Agency's mission, but mostly we discussed the serious issue of why he-- and his 39 military colleagues, volunteered to join forces to end torture and close Gitmo and why President Obama failed to close Gitmo after all the campaign promises to do so.
American Technology Innovations: Alex Backer of QLess, Inc.
This was my first show to focus on American technology innovations with applications in homeland security. Alex Backer of QLess joined me. Alex has been personally awarded the "40 under 40" award for his QLess innovation and entrepreneurship in 2010, and his company has won both "Best Technology Company with less than 100 employees" in 2010 and "Fastest Growing Company with less than 100 employees" in 2012, all from the American Business Awards. Nearly 3,000 companies compete annually for these awards. So what is QLess? With offices in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, QLess offers mobile wait management solutions for retail, government, colleges, health-care, theme parks, casinos, services, restaurants, hotels and anywhere where people stand in line or wait for service. QLess, the world’s first and only provider of mobile queuing solutions, eliminates standing in line by letting users get in a virtual line from their cell phones, roam freely while they wait, then receive an automated call or text message when their turn approaches. QLess even lets users push themselves back in line or notify the establishment they are leaving the line.
So what does this have to do with homeland security? Alex talked about all the benefits of applying QLess in the security realm. We chatted about a queue in a public location such as an embassy, government building, or the Olympics, for example, as a standing (literally) soft target for a terrorist attack. In an airport setting, eliminating a TSA queue de-stresses the entire atmosphere, allowing passengers to control better their access to jetway and allow TSA personnel to better focus on their job of preventing potential safety concerns on the jetway, as well as provide analytics as to how many staff they need where and when. In a pandemic disease situation, you may need to provide vaccinations quickly, but do not want a queue where disease can multiply. And at DMVs, improved and more secure issuance processes can take place more seamlessly when both client and counter clerk are not worried about the length of the queue and time waste of waiting. Lastly, there is the voting issue... what if you could enfranchise more people to show up to vote if the queue were eliminated? I can't imagine the polling that would take place to see if the Democrats or Republicans would benefit more from that change!
Oct. 1: the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, retired United States Army Lieutenant General Harry Edward Soyster.
Oct. 8: the CEO of Animetrics, Paul Scheupp. Click Play to listen >>
In the Air on the Morning of 9/11: The Audio Tapes and Radar Evidence that Tell the Story
Today's show is second in a series dedicated and in memory of the victims of 9/11 and their families.
Colonel Miles Kara, former Congressional Joint Inquiry on 9/11 and 9/11 Commission professional staff responsible for reviewing 100s of hours of audio tape from the air traffic control towers, headquarters, hijacked planes and air defense squadrons, joined us to dis-spell some of the myths that remain about the events on the morning of 9/11. We discussed the evidence itself, how it was obtained and reviewed, as well as what actually happened when and where and with what entities in the sky on the morning of 9/11. We talked about the President's 'shoot down' order for a civilian aircraft refusing to land-- did it exist or not-- and played the three short audio clips of 9/11 hijacker operational lead Mohamed Atta, telling the passengers to stay calm and not try anything while minutes away from suiciding the first plane into the World Trade Center. We discussed how disorganized the morning was, and how Miles' work has been reproduced by Rutgers Law Review , and documentaries on the Discovery and National Geographic channels. Kara has continued his work on two sites: www.oredigger61.org ; www.9-11revisited.org.
Prior to his work on the Commission, Kara was a career U. S. Army intelligence officer, retired in 1990 and later joined the staff of the Office of Intelligence Review, Office of the Inspector General, Department of Defense. He worked on multiple joint agency projects, including the Brothers to the Rescue Review concerning the Cuban shoot down of unarmed civilian aircraft in international waters, the POW/MIA Review, a detailed analysis of the allegation that not all American prisoners were repatriated from Southeast Asia, and the Commander Speicher Case, involving a U.S Navy pilot lost during Desert Storm. He was only one of three staff from the Congressional Joint Inquiry of 9/11 to be asked to come on board to the 9/11 Commission staff. Click Play to listen >>
President Obama's Relentless Release of Classified Information, and What it Means to National Security
Today's show is dedicated and in memory of the victims of 9/11 and their families, and all those that have served to maintain our freedom and defeat terrorism since 9/11. I honor all of you in my heart, for the sacrifices that so many others have made because of 9/11. May America's flag wave free and strong, like her people.
One of the key lessons learned from the 9/11 tragedy, an issue made front and center by the 9/11 Commission on which I served, is t he failure of the US intelligence community to even get a whistle on the wind of an idea of the breadth, intent, or timing of the 9/11 conspiracy. After 9/11, and upon recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, recruiting human intelligence and US special operations increased manifold. Yet since the killing of bin Ladin, this President has not only revealed the most sensitive methods and operations, but invited Hollywood in so they could create an icon of the President's success-- all while human assets in the field were put at risk.
Joining us to discuss this issue was Mac McLaughlin, president of Siroal International who for 17 years was exactly one of those people Obama could have put at risk, running undercover operations in Afghanistan for seven years. Mac has a 26 year association within the intelligence community including both public and private sector responsibilities. Mac specialized in operational intelligence and troubleshooting including undercover operations serving three bosses: Senior Advisor and Operations Lead for Special Project to US Ambassador, Commanding General US Forces, and NATO Commander in Afghanistan. Today Mac maintains a network and assets in nearly 60 countries around the globe. He is the founder and President of SIROAL International, LLC - a full scope corporate and financial intelligence “solution implementation”firm.
We discussed at length the intricacies of some of Mac's operations where lives were on the line, and sometimes lost, when there was a compromise of sensitive information; the implementation of 9/11 Commission recommendations pertaining to the intelligence community and special operations in the military; and the film Dishonorable Disclosures created by a joint effort of special operations/intelligence community where the film tells the country why President Obama's tactics of revealing classified information for political gain must stop. Click Play to listen >>
Exclusive, full hour interview with former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Julie Myers Wood
Julie Myers Wood, well known for her successful implementation of many immigration enforcement programs at ICE during her near three year tenure in the Bush administration, joined me for an exclusive interview about her tenure as the agency's chief law enforcement officer. We discussed the ICE mission now. What happened to initiatives pertaining to ending 'catch and release', 'fugitive alien operations teams', worksite enforcement and her brainchild, Secure Communities? What existing resources and legal authorities can ICE use to go aggressively go after the Mexican drug cartels?
Today Ms. Myers Wood is President of ICS (Immigration and Customs Solutions) Consulting where her two immigration and customs compliance software programs and consulting services have branded her as the go-to in this market segment. Click Play to listen >>
$700 Million Sunk into First-in-Class "Fast" Ship by Navy, but with 640 Flaws, it could Sink at Sea
An incredible story of government incompetence and cover-up Aviation Week's Pulitzer-nominated investigative journalist Mike Fabey discusses the serious flaws (640 of them), including huge cracks, that have caused Senators Levin (D-MI) and McCain (R-AZ) to seriously question the $700 million (the boat was budgeted for $150 million) already spent on the USS Freedom (coastline combat ships). The ship was designed to be cutting edge for shallow water counterterrorism and humanitarian missions. Yet when Mr. Fabey was able to get onto the boat for his own inspection, what he found makes clear that the ship, still commissioned, has serious problems that he read about in internal Navy documentation. Listen to hear about the ship, the Congressional inquiry, and the moves the Navy is making to attempt to keep Mr. Fabey quiet. There are six stories so far in the series, with the key report here.
YANKEES STADIUM IS CERTIFIED FOR ITS SECURITY PLAN, THE ONLY SPORTING VENUE IN THE UNITED STATES SO FAR
Sporting venues and other critical infrastructures have long been considered prime terrorist targets. Technologies to prevent and mitigate against a terrorist attack deployed in public settings such as airports and stadiums have been a priority for the Department of Homeland Security since its creation in 2002. Tonight's show featured one of the leading lobbyists and PR specialists in Washington, David Olive, the founder and principal of Catalyst Partners. Mr. Olive specializes in connecting counterterrorism technology providers to the federal government. We spent the hour discussing a little understood law that was passed alongside the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the SAFTEY Act, The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002.
The hook for our chat? Yankee Stadium was just granted a certification under the law for its layered anti-terrorism security plan, which means, in the event of a terrorist act, the federal government will make the Yankees, and all the technology and physical security vendors associated with the plan, immune from liability. Mr. Olive's firm represented Yankees Baseball in that application. That's great for corporate America, but does it make Americans safer when attending or visiting certified facilities? According to Mr. Olive, the answer is yes.
In the Homeland Security Roundup, I provided my opinion on the new TSA boarding "drink" check; the Tucson Border Patrol's loud complaints about being told to "hide" or "run away" from an active shooter (like Fort Hood), instead of defending innocent lives; the arrest of a key figure in the 2009 Mumbai attacks and why it is significant for international relations; and a ticker tape of the 14 anti-terror arrests in Britain leading up to the Olympic Games.
Tonight's show featured Daveed Garenstein-Ross on his book, Bin Laden's Legacy. We discussed Daveed’s thesis, which argues that America’s overarching failure to understand the jihadi group since 9/11 has led to grave strategic missteps on the U.S.’s part. Included in the conversation was an in-depth review of container security, and how al Qaeda's current strengths are derived not from its core, but from strategic alliances from affiliates, the strongest of which resides in Yemen. Al Shabaab, according to Daveed, has begun to marginalized. Daveed explained why.
Key highlights from the Homeland Security Roundup include:
• In border news, an ex-U.S. agent who helped cartels gets 30 months in prison for accessing police databases and passing on sensitive information to family members with ties to Mexican drug cartels. Jovana Deas was accused of illegally obtaining and disseminating classified government documents while working as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent in Nogales, Ariz., a city on the border with Mexico. Prosecutors said Deas, who resigned from ICE last year, passed information pulled from restricted crime and immigration databases to her former brother-in-law, Miguel Angel Mendoza Estrada, a Mexican cartel associate with ties to drug traffickers in Brazil.
• In Congressional "Fast & Furious" news, the assertion of Executive Privilege by President Obama, and the refusal of the Justice Department to bring federal charges against their own Attorney General Eric Holder, despite a criminal and civil contempt order being passed in the House of Representatives, represents a gross usurpation of necessary Congressional oversight in a matter that involved national security, crime, hundreds of deaths in Mexico and at least one federal agent's death in the United States. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said "We will not prosecute an executive branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege." What Deputy AG Cole did not acknowledge was (1) his conflict of interest in making the decision; and (2) that the contempt holding against Holder was dramatically different in that it involved violent crimes and national security. Prior contempt holdings against major political appointees, including prior Attorney Generals in trouble for things like campaign financing or the appointment of judges.
Stuxnet and Cyberwarfare Aimed at the United States
Tonight's show featured Curtis Levinson, NATO's U.S.-designated cyber security advisor and former head of cybersecurity for one of the biggest communications companies in the world. Levinson provided an in-depth definition of cyberwarfare and described how the Stuxnet attack that destroyed Iranian subterfuges and severely set back Iran's capability to develop a nuclear weapon "broke into" Iranian computers undetected. We also had an extensive discussion about nation-state cyberwarfare campaigns against the United States, including revelations about what China, Iran, and Russia's attacks look like, as well as al Qaeda, al Shabaab and even the Mexican drug cartels. As the end goals of each differs, so do the weapons they deploy.
In the Homeland Security Roundup, there was extensive news about al Qaeda, and details pertaining to a Congressional hearing on how Puerto Rico and the Caribbean are becoming an achilles' heel of vulnerability, with drug imports increased nearly 40 percent for the region in the past four years and very little infrastructure to keep the islands from being used as a base for a terrorist attack against the United States. Click Play to listen >>
Extensive U.S./Canada Border Coordination Holds Lessons Learned for U.S. Southern Border
Barely anyone in the United States bothers to talk about the northern border with Canada. Why? It is basically tranquil. While I blogged about 330 illegal aliens over a 12 mile stretch of Arizona in one night a few weeks ago, Canada's twice as long border with the U.S. gets about 1,700 apprehensions a year. So we needn't pay attention to the northern border, right? Wrong.
The extensive cooperation between the U.S. and Canada should be providing us extensive lessons learned and best practices to take to the southern border. Not all is transferable considering the polar opposite state of affairs in the two countries-- Mexico remains out of control with horrific violence, while Canada pursues what may seem relatively minor offenses to us with vigor-- firearm sales by a single supplier or tobacco contraband. However, the level of border intelligence shared and joint management of investigations and prosecutions of border-related crime, and potentially national security cases revolving on terrorism, make Canada's Integrated Border Enforcement Teams worthy of a closer look by Americans. We do not approach our southern border as an integrated whole for intelligence or investigative purposes, nor for apprehensions, and that the coordination on the northern border-- even if only amongst U.S. personnel-- is worthy of consideration for the U.S. southern border.
Recently, improvements have been made in the cooperation between the U.S. and Canada, and in one of my most articulate and interesting interviews to date, Superintendent Warren Coons of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Director of 24 Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs) that span the entire US/Canadian border, describes his bird's eye view of the U.S./Canada border and the current and future cooperation between the two nations. If nothing else, while it may never be possible to 100 percent secure any border, listening to how interdictions of criminal movement across our physical borders and between our ports of entry work can work successfully is essential to anyone who really wants to understand what 'border security' can mean.
A couple of highlights from the Homeland Security Roundup:
• On Capitol Hill, the House finally makes a statement on immigration policy for the first time all session after failing to get the E-Verify worker authorization bill through last year. A number of House representatives successfully added amendments to the DHS appropriations bill by over a 50 vote margin that refuse to fund Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Custom Enforcement John Morton’s “prosecutorial discretion” memos.
• An update on al Shabaab in Somalia. Due to the continued threats against western targets in nearby Kenya (high buildings specifically threatened), including one attack in a retail mall in Nairobi a couple weeks ago injuring a few dozen, the US last week issued a $7 million reward for information to locate the founder of al-Shabaab, who announced his alliance with al Qaeda earlier this year. Rewards go as high as $25 million for information on al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Behind the Scenes of Congress and Why Visa Security is Important
This week Janice Kephart spent the first half of the show doing an extended "Homeland Security RoundUp" of pertinent issues with extensive analysis on stories that included:
• In border news, five bodies burned beyond recognition in the Arizona desert after Pinal County lost the pursued vehicle where the bodies were found in the desert. The horrific event has been ruled a homicide.
• Three flashlight bombs detonating in Phoenix, Arizona, the most recent at a Salvation Army drop-off station. Injuries so far have been minor.
• Al Qaeda's new call for cyberterror against the U.S., claiming that our computer networks are just as vulnerable as U.S. aviation security was prior to 9/11.
• Somali Al Shabaab threats to take down western skyscrapers in Nairobi, Kenya in the next couple weeks after a successful detonation in a retail shopping mall killing one and injuring 37. Kenya has been fighting Al Shabaab diligently in an attempt to keep the violence from overflowing into its homeland, but has struggled since 1998 when al Qaeda committed a major terrorist attack against the U.S. embasssy in Nairobi.
• Azerbaijan's large take down of Syrian jihad/Pakistani Jihad/Iranian trained and Iranian supported conspiracies to hit U.S. and Israeli targets and assassinate the country's president. Azerbaijan is a small oil-rich country that borders Iran and Russia and has increased its ties to the U.S. in recent years. The conspiracy that made news targeted the location for the country's singing competition, Eurovision, during its airing.
(I do a Homeland Security Roundup at the front of every show, but usually in about five to seven minutes. It is news you will not hear on mainstream TV or radio.)
In the second half of the show, I shared some behind-the-scenes of Congressional hearings based on my most recent appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on visa security and a pending bill before Congress that would have significantly jeopardized implemented 9/11 Commission recommendations on visa security. Click Play to listen >>
International Aviation Security: What America and Every Other Country is Getting Wrong about Securing the Skies
After another al Qaeda underwear bomb conspiracy bound for the United States stopped in its final stages, this week's show focused on international aviation security with an expert in the field and the editor of Aviation Security International, Philip Baum, a magazine devoted to the subject and based in the United Kingdom. Mr. Baum's Green Light Ltd. enterprise conducts Hijack Management and Profiling seminars, delivering Train-the–Trainer courses on Disruptive Passenger Management and Restraint, In-flight Security for individual airlines, as well as full-scale Hijack Exercises. During the course of our discussion Mr. Baum talked about why he believes the threat to aviation security will only grow, the value (and poor use) of body scanners, and why American airport security misses the mark. Mr. Baum was more than willing to say what is politically incorrect in the United States, and discuss a common sense aviation security mission unlikely in the U.S. political environment about what really needs to be done to keep our skies safe. Listen in!
Also, I testified on the Hill last week on a bill that would strip away many of the visa interviews for persons coming from China, India and Brazil who collectively represent 700,000 of 11.5 million illegal aliens. I testified that a new law adding to the illegal visa overstay population was not a good idea. I also reminded the Congress that the President has already rolled back visa processing by executive order and thus the bill is unnecessary, and that the 9/11 Commission recommendations emphasized visa interviews as only 2 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were interviewed. You can find the webcast of the hearing and my testimony here. Click Play to listen >>
Al Qaeda's Evolution After Bin Laden and a Primer on Terror Finance
Tonight we took a look overseas at President Obama’s unexpected decision last week to keep US troops in Afghanistan for another 10 years after campaign promises to the contrary, the demise of al Qaeda and rise of more powerful terror organizations in Pakistan, the instability caused by the Arab Spring, and a primer on how terrorists finance their operations.
My guest, Amit Kumar, is currently the counterterrorism fellow at the Center for National Policy in Washington D.C.
Dr. Kumar has worked at the United Nations advising on terrorist groups and developing indicators of terrorist financing. Dr. Kumar is currently writing a comprehensive text book on terrorist financing. He’s founded graduate courses on terrorist financing as well and has teaching positions at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and George Mason’s Homeland Security Department in Virginia. Amit’s doctorate is from American University, and his Masters from Nehru University in New Delhi.
Also of note is a blog indicating how insecure our border remains, with empirical evidence from one night in March that includes Border Patrol mapping of a 12 mile swatch of border land in Arizona. Click Play to listen >>
TSA May Not Really Know Who You Are / The "Death" Houses of Alien Smuggling in Arizona
This week we spent on everyone’s favorite homeland security topic, airport security checkpoints run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The goal of those airport check lines? We all know it as keeping our skies safe from terrorists. But does the TSA really know who is boarding our planes? Tonight we have on the only man in the country that has actually asked that question and gotten an answer, Josh Bernstein, a nine time Emmy Award winning investigative reporter now with thedaily.com who specializes in government waste, corruption and fraud and heads up the investigative team. The Daily is the new highly interactive newsmagazine for tablet devices and smart phones and currently the no. 1 news App. Josh's License to Terrorize is an excellent interactive news series on how easy it is to breach airline security with a good fake ID purchased from an anonymous Chinese site. In the second half of the show, Josh discussed his five part series on the horrors of Mexican cartel smuggling in American neighborhoods.
For whether TSA really knows who is on the plane with you, visit thedaily.com here
For the first in a five part series on the "Death" Houses most smuggled aliens endure, visit TheDaily.com here. Click Play to listen >>
Drug Legalization and Its Potential Affect on Homeland Security, Crime and Drug Use
Two of the most prominent experts in illicit drugs discussed the President’s 2012 Drug Strategy released last week alongside his trip to Colombia (overshadowed by the U.S. Secret Service debacle). In his meetings, President Obama was pressed by the Colombian President to reconsider drug legalization. Obama balked at the notion, and his strategy has been dubbed the "same old same old" by the legalization advocates.
However, my first guest, Calvina Fay of Drug Free America, spoke at length about the President's new emphasis on the medical science of addiction as a step forward and drug courts (not legalization) as the most effective way to hold abusers accountable and force treatment when health is seriously at risk. Ms. Fay also spoke of the connectivity between drug legalization and homeland security, crime and drug use. Professor Fay is recognized by the United Nations for her work and was received Presidential honorary awards as a pioneer in anti-drug science and education. Find Professor Fay in the New York Times here.
In the second half of the show, Mike Braun, former Chief of Operations and Intelligence for the Drug Enforcement Agency who has worked narco-terrorism around the world, discussed how terror organizations like Hezbollah are increasingly relying on drug monies, not Iran, to fund their operations. Much of these drug monies have been laundered through the U.S. in post-9/11 financial arrangements created by Hezbollah. In addition, drugs from these organizations, working with Mexican and Colombian cartels, continue to enter the U.S. in heavy volume. Read Mr. Braun's March 2012 testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee on the threat of Hezbollah to the U.S., and south of the U.S. border, here. Click Play to listen >>
The Evidence that Proves Iran and Hezbollah Directly Supported 9/11, and Used Al Qaeda as a Proxy.
It is well known that Iran uses terror as an instrument of foreign policy. Less well known is that Iran and Hezbollah forged a relationship with al Qaeda in a meeting in Sudan in 1993, that led to Iran's quiet but direct support for the Saudi Hezbollah attack on Khobar Towers in 1996 (which al Qaeda had knowledge of prior to); U.S. Embassy attacks in Africa in 1998; and the U.S.S. Cole attack in 2000. What is known about Iran's involvement in 9/11 was limited to terrorist travel facilitation, as stated in the 9/11 Commission Final Report. However, attorneys representing 9/11 victim families spent eight years following up on the 9/11 Commission request that Iran's connectivity be looked into further. The federal government did not as far as we know, but the Havlish v. Iran attorneys discovered substantive proof Iran's prior knowledge, and direct support for, the 9/11 operation. The case originally included Iraq and Afghanistan as defendants, and over the course of time, evidence pointed directly to Iran. Internal Iranian memos; a flight simulator; chief Hezbollah operative Imad Mugniyeh escorting hijackers; terrorist travel facilitation; safe harbor for al Qaeda before and after 9/11; coded messages stating that Iran's "plane plot" was about to be implemented; Iranian defectors testifying to direct knowledge of 9/11 and support for al Qaeda operations; and more, answer questions about how al Qaeda, who had never conducted a planes operation before, was able to successfully prepare. Also answered is why Iran supported the operation, and Iran's own concerns about their involvement being found out by the United States after the fact, which never happened.
Guests:Tim Fleming, lead attorney in the case, and Clare Lopez, expert witness and 20 year CIA veteran who vetted the Iranian defectors, were guests tonight. The Iranian affidavits remain under seal, but all the remaining information is publicly available. By way of full disclosure, I was also an expert in the case on the terrorist travel facts, and my affidavit is included in the Havlish v. Iran documentation.
Baker asserts from his knowledge of intrusions that have occurred in US government computers for years, that still fail to have solid cyber protections installed on them due to legislation dating to 1986, that a cyber-induced Katrina could happen anywhere in the US by any ill-meaning individual, criminal organization or state that seeks to do so.
My second guest,Rob Strayer is the National Security Director at the BiPartisan Policy Center, and was a six year Deputy Director to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, who helped draft cybersecurity legislation in Congress. We discussed whether this week's consideration of four House of Representatives bills and two Senate bills on cybersecurity have a chance of passing, and what in those bills will survive votes, conference, and the White House's influence.
In the Homeland Security Roundup, President Obama has put a bounty on the mastermind and leader of terrorist organization that caused over a 100 deaths in 100s wounded in Mumbai in November, 2008. My question: why did he wait so long, and what benefit does India receive by the U.S. doing this now? Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia continues to prosecute dozens of terrorists while the U.S. takes time to protest Greece building a border fence.
Tonight's show, Hunting for al Qaeda, featured Michael Hurley, former senior CIA operative in Operation Anaconda's hunt for Usama bin Laden immediately following 9/11 and former senior counterterrorism policy staff to the 9/11 Commission, and former L.A. Time's national security investigative reporterJosh Meyer on his new book, "The Hunt for KSM".
In the Homeland Security Roundup was a story from Josh Bernstein of thedaily.com on how the ID check at airports is insufficient to stop terrorists.
Tonight's show focused on " Maritime Piracy and Birthright Citizenship "
Guests: Mike Fabey, an investigative journalist nominated for a Pulitzer, will be joining us to discuss the threat from maritime piracy, and what that threat is here in the Western Hemisphere.
Jon Feere, Legal Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, will be on to discuss citizenship automatically afforded anyone born in the US and Canada, including those illegally in our countries. We are the only two advanced economies in the world that permit this practice.
Guests: The core of the show will be "Tonight's Homeland Topic." Tonight's guest is Emmy Award winning investigative journalist, now with FOX News, William LaJeunesse, to discuss his investigation into the arms trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious.
The last quarter of the show will be a segment devoted to the "The Best in Independent Musicians." Tonight's guest is the former Air Force officer and while he could stand it, courted by Sony recording singer-songwriter, Dave Owens.