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CRS — Implementation of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS): Issues for Congress

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Implementation of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS): Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implements the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulations, which regulate security at high-risk facilities possessing more than certain amounts of one or more chemicals of interest. Facilities possessing more than the specified amount must register with DHS through this program (a process known as the Top- Screen) and perform security-related activities. The DHS identifies a subset of high-risk chemical facilities from among those that register. These high-risk chemical facilities must submit a security vulnerability assessment, which DHS uses to confirm their high-risk designation, and a site security plan, which DHS then authorizes. The DHS also inspects high-risk chemical facilities for adherence to their submitted site security plans and later for compliance with these plans following DHS approval. The DHS regulates approximately 4,300 facilities under this program and is in the process of implementing requirements for security vulnerability assessment, site security planning, and inspection.

The DHS has had challenges meeting its own projections and congressional expectations regarding program performance, raising questions about its ability to achieve steady-state regulatory implementation.

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CRS — Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206″ Background and Issues for Congress

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206″ Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2006, as amended and regularly extended, provides the Secretary of Defense with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes—counterterrorism and stability operations—and foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations. Section 1206 authority now extends through FY2017.

Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Doctors, lawyers and criminal justice agencies need methods to assess vulnerability to violent radicalization. In synergy, public health interventions aim to prevent the emergence of risk behaviours as well as prevent and treat new illness events. This paper describes a new method of assessing vulnerability to violent radicalization, and then investigates the role of previously reported causes, including poor self-reported health, anxiety and depression, adverse life events, poverty, and migration and socio-political factors. The aim is to identify foci for preventive intervention.

Methods
A cross-sectional survey of a representative population sample of men and women aged 18–45, of Muslim heritage and recruited by quota sampling by age, gender, working status, in two English cities. The main outcomes include self-reported health, symptoms of anxiety and depression (common mental disorders), and vulnerability to violent radicalization assessed by sympathies for violent protest and terrorist acts.

Results
2.4% of people showed some sympathy for violent protest and terrorist acts. Sympathy was more likely to be articulated by the under 20s, those in full time education rather than employment, those born in the UK, those speaking English at home, and high earners (>£75,000 a year). People with poor self-reported health were less likely to show sympathies for violent protest and terrorism. Anxiety and depressive symptoms, adverse life events and socio-political attitudes showed no associations.

Conclusions
Sympathies for violent protest and terrorism were uncommon among men and women, aged 18–45, of Muslim heritage living in two English cities. Youth, wealth, and being in education rather than employment were risk factors.

AON 2014 Political Risk Map

April 11, 2014 Comments off

AON 2014 Political Risk Map
Source: AON

Political strains and focus on geopolitical issues have exacerbated an already weak operating environment for business and exchange transfer risks have increased following the risk of new capital controls. Russia’s economy continues to be dominated by the government, so economic policy deadlock has brought growth to a standstill and with it an increase in the risk of political violence.”

New From the GAO

April 1, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Puerto Rico: Information on How Statehood Would Potentially Affect Selected Federal Programs and Revenue Sources. GAO-14-31, March 4.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-31
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661335.pdf

2. Puerto Rico: Informacion Sobre Como la Estatidad Afectaria Determinados Programas y Fuentes de Ingresos Federales. GAO-14-301, March 4.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-301
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661704.pdf

3. National Preparedness: HHS Has Funded Flexible Manufacturing Activities for Medical Countermeasures, but It Is Too Soon to Assess Their Effect. GAO-14-329, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-329
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662121.pdf

4. Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. GAO-14-340SP, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-340SP
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662183.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662072

5. Programa Para Mitigar Activos Problemáticos: Es necesario un mayor esfuerzo en el control de préstamos equitativos y en el acceso a los programas de vivienda por parte de personas sin dominio del ingles. GAO-14-457, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-457
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662186.pdf

6. American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Economic Indicators Since Minimum Wage Increases Began. GAO-14-381, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-381
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662128.pdf

7. Missile Defense: Mixed Progress in Achieving Acquisition Goals and Improving Accountability. GAO-14-351, April 1.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-35
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662199.pdf

8. Afghanistan: Changes to Updated U.S. Civil-Military Strategic Framework Reflect Evolving U.S. Role. GAO-14-438R, April 1.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-438R

CRS — Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The renewal of military commission proceedings against Khalid Sheik Mohammad and four others for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks has focused renewed attention on the differences between trials in federal court and those conducted by military commission. The decision to try the defendants in military court required a reversal in policy by the Obama Administration, which had publicly announced in November 2009 its plans to transfer the five detainees from the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the United States to stand trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for criminal offenses related to the 9/11 attacks. The Administration’s plans to try these and possibly other Guantanamo detainees in federal court proved controversial, and Congress responded by enacting funding restrictions which effectively barred any non-citizen held at Guantanamo from being transferred into the United States. These restrictions, which have been extended for the duration of FY2014, effectively make military commissions the only viable option for trying detainees held at Guantanamo for the foreseeable future, and have resulted in the Administration choosing to reintroduce charges against Mohammed and his co-defendants before a military commission.

While military commission proceedings have been instituted against some suspected enemy belligerents held at Guantanamo, the Obama Administration has opted to bring charges in federal criminal court against terrorist suspects arrested in the United States, as well as some terrorist suspects who were taken into U.S. custody abroad but who were not transferred to Guantanamo. Some who oppose the use of federal criminal courts argue that bringing detainees to the United States for trial poses a security threat and risks disclosing classified information, or could result in the acquittal of persons who are guilty. Others have praised the efficacy and fairness of the federal court system and have argued that it is suitable for trying terrorist suspects and wartime detainees, and have also voiced confidence in the courts’ ability to protect national security while achieving justice that will be perceived as such among U.S. allies abroad.

FDA – Proposed Rule: Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration

March 28, 2014 Comments off

Proposed Rule: Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (via Regulations.gov)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is proposing to require domestic and foreign food facilities that are required to register under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) to address hazards that may be intentionally introduced by acts of terrorism. These food facilities would be required to identify and implement focused mitigation strategies to significantly minimize or prevent significant vulnerabilities identified at actionable process steps in a food operation. FDA is proposing these requirements as part of our implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Further, as part of the proposal, FDA discusses an approach to addressing economically motivated intentional adulteration. We expect the proposed rule, if finalized as proposed, would help to protect food from intentional adulteration caused by acts of terrorism.

The Road to Boston: Counterterrorism Challenges and Lessons from the Marathon Bombings

March 27, 2014 Comments off

The Road to Boston: Counterterrorism Challenges and Lessons from the Marathon Bombings (PDF)
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Homeland Security Committee (via Cryptome.org)

This report examines much of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s personal history and his interaction with Federal agencies, including his radicalization, the 2011 threat assessment carried out by the FBI, and his travel to Russia in early 2012. Additionally, the Committee explored missed opportunities that potentially could have prevented this attack.

CRS — The Military Commissions Act of 2009 (MCA 2009): Overview and Legal Issues

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The Military Commissions Act of 2009 (MCA 2009): Overview and Legal Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On November 13, 2001, President Bush issued a Military Order (M.O.) pertaining to the detention, treatment, and trial of certain non-citizens in the war against terrorism. Military commissions pursuant to the M.O. began in November 2004 against four persons declared eligible for trial, but the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld invalidated the military commissions as improper under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). To permit military commissions to go forward, Congress approved the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), conferring authority to promulgate rules that depart from the strictures of the UCMJ and possibly U.S. international obligations. Military commissions proceedings were reinstated and resulted in three convictions under the Bush Administration.

Cost-benefit analysis of airport security: Are airports too safe?

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Cost-benefit analysis of airport security: Are airports too safe? (PDF)
Source: Journal of Air Transport Management

This paper assesses the risks and cost-effectiveness of measures designed to further protect airport terminals and associated facilities such as car parks from terrorist attack in the U.S., Europe, and the Asia-Pacific area. The analysis considers threat likelihood, the cost of security measures, hazard likelihood, risk reduction and expected losses to compare the costs and bene fi ts of security measures to decide the optimal security measures to airports. Monte-Carlo simulation methods were used to propagate hazard likelihood, risk reduction and loss uncertainties in the calculation of net benefits that also allows probability of cost-effectiveness to be calculated. It is found that attack probabilities had to be much higher than currently observed to justify additional protective measures. Overall, then, it is questionable whether special efforts to further protect airports are sensible expenditures. Indeed, some relaxation of the measures already in place may well be justified.

Audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Management of Terrorist Watchlist Nominations (Redacted Version)

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Management of Terrorist Watchlist Nominations (Redacted Version) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General

Despite using three separate systems to track non-investigative subject watchlist nominations, we found that the FBI had not maintained the necessry records to readily provide an accurate accounting of the actions that were taken regarding to the watchlisting status of non-investigative subjects. We found that the processes used by the FBI were redundant and resulted in incomplete, inconsistent, and erroneous data.

Use of Social Media Networks and Mobile Phone Applications for Reporting Suspicious and Criminal Activities on Mass Transit

March 24, 2014 Comments off

Use of Social Media Networks and Mobile Phone Applications for Reporting Suspicious and Criminal Activities on Mass Transit
Source: Naval Postgraduate School

From the thesis abstract: “The threat of terrorism remains in the forefront daily, and public transportation systems remain a preferred target for terrorist attacks. Mass transit customers have long served as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the public transportation environment. In support of the Department of Homeland Security’s See It Say It campaign, mass transit customers contribute to this effort by reporting suspicious and criminal activities on subways and buses. The use of social media networks and mobile phone applications by mass transit law enforcement is slowly evolving as a tool for reporting suspicious and criminal activities on subways and buses. By reviewing the data and current use of social media networks and smartphone applications such as by mass transit law enforcement agencies, this thesis demonstrates that citizens want to play a role in assisting law enforcement in solving crimes. Mass transit law enforcement agencies can leverage community involvement and reduce crime by providing customers with an anonymous means for reporting suspicious and criminal activities. However, whether the use of social media networks and smartphone applications have resulted in an increase in reporting suspicious and criminal activities and a reduction in crime is unresolved, warranting future study in this area.”

CRS — The Military Commissions Act of 2009 (MCA 2009): Overview and Legal Issues

March 19, 2014 Comments off

The Military Commissions Act of 2009 (MCA 2009): Overview and Legal Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On November 13, 2001, President Bush issued a Military Order (M.O.) pertaining to the detention, treatment, and trial of certain non-citizens in the war against terrorism. Military commissions pursuant to the M.O. began in November 2004 against four persons declared eligible for trial, but the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld invalidated the military commissions as improper under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). To permit military commissions to go forward, Congress approved the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), conferring authority to promulgate rules that depart from the strictures of the UCMJ and possibly U.S. international obligations. Military commissions proceedings were reinstated and resulted in three convictions under the Bush Administration.

Upon taking office in 2009, President Obama temporarily halted military commissions to review their procedures as well as the detention program at Guantánamo Bay in general, pledging to close the prison facilities there by January 2010, a deadline that passed unmet. One case was moved to a federal district court.

This report provides a background and analysis comparing military commissions as envisioned under the revised MCA to those established by the MCA 2006. After reviewing the history of the implementation of military commissions in the armed conflict against Al Qaeda and associated forces, the report provides an overview of the procedural safeguards provided in the MCA. Finally, the report provides two charts comparing the MCA as amended by the MCA 2009 to the original MCA enacted in 2006 and to general courts-martial. The first chart describes the composition and powers of the military tribunals, as well as their jurisdiction. The second chart, which compares procedural safeguards in courts-martial to the MCA as enacted and as amended, follows the same order and format used in CRS Report RL31262, Selected Procedural Safeguards in Federal, Military, and International Courts, as well as CRS Report R40932, Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court, both by Jennifer K. Elsea, to facilitate comparison with safeguards provided in federal court and international criminal tribunals.

Suicide Terrorism: A Brief Bibliography of Scholarly Resources, Updated 2014

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Suicide Terrorism: A Brief Bibliography of Scholarly Resources, Updated 2014
Source: Naval Postgraduate School (Dudley Knox Library)

This bibliography, compiled by Greta E. Marlatt at the Naval Postgraduate School, contains a list of resources related to suicide terrorism. Resources include both books and periodicals. The list is organized alphabetically and links to resources are provided when available electronically.

Democracy in Afghanistan The 2014 Election and Beyond

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Democracy in Afghanistan The 2014 Election and Beyond
Source: RAND Corporation

Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election is the most important political event in that country’s decade-long transition to democracy. A successful election would be a major blow to the Taliban and al Qaida, and would renew Afghan efforts to bring the war to a favorable conclusion. The defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan would be a major setback for similar groups worldwide, many of which look to Afghanistan as a sort of template for how to accomplish a jihadist takeover. By contrast, a failed election and a renewed push by the Taliban could become a rallying cry and a morale boost to the same groups. Because the stakes are high, the international community should recognize that, despite a dozen years of frustration and halting progress, Afghanistan’s political and economic reconstruction needs one more push before the milestone election. Helping Afghanistan across the electoral finish line will increase the odds that the country will find some sort of solution to its internal stability and, thus, be able to deny safe haven to al Qaida and its affiliates.

Bipartisan Policy Center’s Experts Publish Recommendations to Improve Preparedness for a Cyber Attack on the North American Electricity Grid

March 12, 2014 Comments off

Bipartisan Policy Center’s Experts Publish Recommendations to Improve Preparedness for a Cyber Attack on the North American Electricity Grid
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today published a new report through its Electric Grid Cybersecurity Initiative with recommendations on how to better prepare for cyber attacks against the electric grid. The report is authored by the initiative’s co-chairs General (Ret.) Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency; Curt Hébert, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and former executive vice president of Entergy Corporation; and Susan Tierney, former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Energy.

Cyber attacks on key energy infrastructure, including the electricity system, are increasing in terms of frequency and sophistication. Electric grid failures are costly and have the potential to profoundly disrupt delivery of essential services, including communications, food, water, health care and emergency response. In light of these developments, BPC convened the Electric Grid Cybersecurity Initiative – a hybrid project of BPC’s Energy and Homeland Security Projects – to tackle these challenges.

The Journal of Physical Security 7(1), 2014

March 12, 2014 Comments off

The Journal of Physical Security 7(1), 2014
Source: Argonne National Laboratory

Welcome to volume 7, issue 1 of the Journal of Physical Security. This issue has 7 papers on the following topics: testing locks, seals and nuclear safeguards, a security thought experiment, vulnerability assessment issues, the levels of critical infrastructure risk, and community partnerships for counteracting radicalization. Volume 7, issue 2 should also be out shortly.

Paper 1 – SK McNeill, “Analysis of Explosive Magazine Padlock Breaching Techniques”, pages 1‐21
Paper 2 – HA Undem, “Nuclear Containment and Surveillance Terminology”, pages 22‐24
Paper 3 – P Kurrasch, “Money in a Glass Box”, pages 25‐30
Paper 4 – RG Johnston and JS Warner, “Vulnerability Assessment Myths (Or What Makes Red Teamers See Red)”, pages 31‐38
Paper 5 – RG Johnston and JS Warner, “What Vulnerability Assessors Know That You Should, Too”, pages 39‐42
Paper 6 – B Nussbaum, “The ‘Levels of Analysis’ Problem with Critical Infrastructure Risk”, pages 43‐50
Paper 7 – HS Mack, “Countering Violent Extremism in the United States: Law Enforcement’s Approach to Preventing Terrorism through Community Partnerships”, pages 51‐56

As usual, the views expressed by the editor and authors are their own and should not necessarily be ascribed to their home institutions, Argonne National Laboratory, or the United States Department of Energy.

CRS — Terrorism Risk Insurance: Issue Analysis and Overview of Current Program

March 10, 2014 Comments off

Terrorism Risk Insurance: Issue Analysis and Overview of Current Program (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, insurance coverage for losses from such attacks was normally included in general insurance policies without specific cost to the policyholders. Following the attacks, such coverage became very expensive if insurers offered it at all. Because insurance is required for a variety of economic transactions, it was feared that the absence of insurance against terrorism loss would have a wider economic impact. Terrorism insurance was largely unavailable for most of 2002, and some have argued that this adversely affected parts of the economy.

Congress responded to the disruption in the terrorism insurance market by passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA; P.L. 107-297, 116 Stat. 2322). TRIA created a temporary three-year Terrorism Insurance Program in which the government would share some of the losses with private insurers should a foreign terrorist attack occur. This program was extended in 2005 (P.L. 109-144, 119 Stat. 2660) and 2007 (P.L. 110-160, 121 Stat. 1839). The amount of government loss sharing depends on the size of the insured loss. In general terms, for a relatively small loss, private industry covers the entire loss. For a medium-sized loss, the federal role is to spread the loss over time and over the entire insurance industry; the government assists insurers initially but then recoups the payments through a broad levy on insurance policies afterwards. For a large loss, the federal government would cover most of the losses, although recoupment is possible in these circumstances as well. Insurers are required to make terrorism coverage available to commercial policyholders, but TRIA does not require policyholders to purchase the coverage. The prospective government share of losses has been reduced over time compared with the initial act, but the 2007 reauthorization expanded the program to cover losses from acts of domestic terrorism. The TRIA program is currently slated to expire at the end of 2014.

CRS — Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy and Implementation (updated)

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy and Implementation (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The nation’s health, wealth, and security rely on the production and distribution of certain goods and services. The array of physical assets, functions, and systems across which these goods and services move are called critical infrastructures (e.g., electricity, the power plants that generate it, and the electric grid upon which it is distributed).

The national security community has been concerned for some time about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to both physical and cyberattack. In May 1998, President Clinton released Presidential Decision Directive No. 63. The Directive set up groups within the federal government to develop and implement plans that would protect government-operated infrastructures and called for a dialogue between government and the private sector to develop a National Infrastructure Assurance Plan that would protect all of the nation’s critical infrastructures by the year 2003. While the Directive called for both physical and cyber protection from both man-made and natural events, implementation focused on cyber protection against man-made cyber events (i.e., computer hackers). Following the destruction and disruptions caused by the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the nation directed increased attention toward physical protection of critical infrastructures. Over the intervening years, policy, programs, and legislation related to physical security of critical infrastructure have stabilized to a large extent. However, current legislative activity has refocused on cybersecurity of critical infrastructure.

This report discusses in more detail the evolution of a national critical infrastructure policy and the institutional structures established to implement it. The report highlights two primary issues confronting Congress going forward, both in the context of cybersecurity: information sharing and regulation.

Hybrid Targeted Violence: Challenging Conventional “Active Shooter” Response Strategies

March 5, 2014 Comments off

Hybrid Targeted Violence: Challenging Conventional “Active Shooter” Response Strategies
Source: Homeland Security Affairs

Hybrid Targeted Violence (HTV) is defined as an intentional use of force to cause physical injury or death to a specifically identified population using multifaceted conventional weapons and tactics. This article introduces the HTV concept to challenge first responders to prepare for violent “hybrid” multi-threat incidents. These incidents may involve conventional weapons, the use of fire as a weapon, chemical weapons, and/or improvised explosives. Attacks of this nature defy conventional thinking about the role of police, fire, and emergency medical professionals. HTV events demand cooperative strategies to efficiently neutralize complex threats that are beyond the capacity of a single first responder discipline. Recent and historical HTV incidents are identified to reinforce the compelling need for a paradigm shift in thinking that goes beyond conventional “active shooter” scenarios that do not advance “Whole Community” interdependent response strategies.

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