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START Releases Reports on Boko Haram

March 2, 2015 Comments off

START Releases Reports on Boko Haram
Source: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism

Two reports related to research on Boko Haram are now available online. These include a qualitative report, by START research director Amy Pate and a statistical analysis of the impact of interventions on Boko Haram activity, by START researcher John Stevenson. The research was supported by a Centers of Excellence Supplemental award from the Office of University Programs at the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Strategic Multilayer Assessment office of the Department of Defense.

Boko Haram has been the subject of much international scrutiny in recent months, beginning after the April 2014 kidnapping of over 250 schoolgirls, an event that led to a worldwide cry over social media to “bring back our girls.” In recent weeks, a coalition of Nigerian, Chadian, Nigerien, and Cameroonian troops have made gains against Boko Haram, but it still holds multiple towns in northeast Nigeria.

The reports explore the following research questions:

  • What are Boko Haram’s strengths and potential vulnerabilities?
  • What policies can be employed to counter Boko Haram’s strengths and exploit its weaknesses?
  • What are USAFRICOM options for engaging U.S. government and foreign partners to deploy policies to counter Boko Haram?

Immigration Enforcement Along U.S. Borders and at Ports of Entry

February 27, 2015 Comments off

Immigration Enforcement Along U.S. Borders and at Ports of Entry
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

The federal government processed 362 million citizen and noncitizen travelers through U.S. ports of entry in fiscal year 2013—more than 242 million people by land, 102 million by air, and 18 million by sea. That year, authorities apprehended some 421,000 people trying to enter the country illegally outside those official ports.

Border security is primarily a federal responsibility and involves managing the legal flow, and preventing the illegal entry, of people and goods into the United States. In recent years, though, state and local authorities increasingly have collaborated with federal agencies on immigration-related efforts at the nation’s borders. This brief explores the federal, state, and local work in enforcing immigration laws at those borders and ports of entry. The Pew Charitable Trusts addressed similar issues in the country’s interior in a July 2014 brief, “Immigration Enforcement Within the Nation’s Borders.”

In discussions of immigration and border security, attention often focuses on the 1,954-mile land border between the United States and Mexico. Yet the federal agencies involved in immigration enforcement have personnel and operations at other U.S. borders and at ports of entry in all 50 states. Over the past two decades, increased federal funding for border security has meant more facilities, equipment, and personnel devoted to this mission. Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that manages the nation’s borders, has risen from $6.6 billion to $12.4 billion in fiscal 20145—in real terms, a 91 percent increase.

There also have been expanded attempts to coordinate activities with state and local law enforcement. Although no nationwide program of border cooperation exists, pockets of activity and examples of collaboration are evident along land borders. Over the past decade, partnerships, programs, offices, and task forces have been started to share information and coordinate law enforcement efforts among various levels of government.

Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Releases Recommendation Assessment Report

February 26, 2015 Comments off

Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Releases Recommendation Assessment Report
Source: Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

To mark the one-year anniversary of its report on the Section 215 telephone records program and the six-month anniversary of its report on the Section 702 surveillance program, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has released an assessment of the implementation of its recommendations. In its two reports, the Board made a total of 22 recommendations directed at the Executive Branch, Congress, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In its assessment, the Board discusses the status of each recommendation’s implementation.

Key findings include:

  • Overall, the Administration has accepted virtually all recommendations in the Board’s Section 702 report and has made substantial progress toward implementing many of them, while also accepting most of the recommendations in the Board’s Section 215 report.
  • The Administration has not implemented the Board’s recommendation to halt the NSA’s telephone records program, which it could do at any time without congressional involvement. Instead, the Administration has continued the program, with modifications, while seeking legislation to create a new system for government access to telephone records under Section 215.
  • The Administration has made substantial progress in implementing some of the Board’s recommendations regarding transparency.
  • The Administration has not yet developed, as the Board recommended, a methodology for gauging the value of its counterterrorism programs.

Global Flashpoints 2015

February 24, 2015 Comments off

Global Flashpoints 2015
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

Maintaining international security and pursuing American interests is more difficult now than perhaps at any time in history. The security environment that the United States faces is more complex, dynamic, and difficult to predict. At the same time, no domestic consensus exists on the purposes of American power and how best to pursue them. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) looks ahead in this annual volume at the “flashpoints” that will likely arise in 2015, how best to deal with them, and what lasting effects they might leave for the next American administration and its allies around the world.

Post-9/11 Evolution of the United States’ Defining of the Terrorist Threat from Al Qaeda, CRS Insights (January 20, 2015)

February 24, 2015 Comments off

Post-9/11 Evolution of the United States’ Defining of the Terrorist Threat from Al Qaeda, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda-related entities have increased in number and become more diffuse; with these changes there has been an evolution in how the United States defines the terrorist threat. How the threat has evolved could influence consideration of new authorities and policies in the 114th Congress.

Strengthening Collaborations With the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Effectiveness Research on Mind and Body Interventions

February 23, 2015 Comments off

Strengthening Collaborations With the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Effectiveness Research on Mind and Body Interventions
Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
From press release:

The feasibility of conducting larger-scale research studies on nondrug approaches for pain management in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should be assessed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This recommendation was delivered in a report by a working group of the Center’s Advisory Council.

“Chronic pain is a major public health problem that affects more than 100 million Americans, and research shows that it may disproportionately affect military personnel and Veterans,” said Lloyd Michener, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; chair of the working group. “The high rates of chronic pain in the military and Veteran populations are alarming. New strategies for managing this widespread condition are urgently needed.”

The working group recommended that the proposed research should:

  • Assess the impact of pain on patient function and quality of life as primary outcome measures, with changes in the use of opioids and other drugs as a secondary outcome;
  • Evaluate an integrated package of nondrug treatments, an integrative model of care, or a holistic approach to care rather than focusing on individual complementary health approaches;
  • Focus on patients in the early stages of chronic pain;
  • Leverage natural experiments and existing resources whenever possible; and
  • Be pragmatic and embedded in the delivery of care.

In-state tuition policies under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act

February 23, 2015 Comments off

In-state tuition policies under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

Ensuring access and affordability to a postsecondary education for veterans and their dependents has long been a focus of federal and state education policy. Developing policy to support educational attainment among these individuals has required state policymakers to address residency requirements for veterans to determine eligibility for in-state tuition benefits. Yet recent revisions to federal statute — changes that go into full effect in July 2015 — have shifted the policy landscape in a significant and meaningful way.

Beginning July 1, 2015, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (Choice Act) requires that all public postsecondary institutions offer in-state tuition rates to qualified veterans and their dependents, regardless of state residency status. This ECS Policy Analysis provides state and postsecondary leaders with a review of the Choice Act requirements, key information on deadlines, considerations for evaluating state policy for compliance and examples of policy actions.

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