Northcom Backs Out of National Level Exercise 2010

Northcom has unexpectedly withdrawn from participation in National Level Exercise (NLE) with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Defense announced on April 26 it was decoupling its Ardent Sentry exercise from the National Level Exercise.

Ardent Sentry is a Joint Chiefs of Staff directed and Northcom sponsored “homeland defense” exercise. It is one of a number of DoD and Homeland Security exercises that blur the boundaries between the Pentagon, the federal government, and state and local governments under the guise of combating terrorism and responding to natural disasters.

The Pentagon said it decided against the exercise after Las Vegas, the planned site for a post-nuclear-attack response exercise, pulled out in November, fearing a negative impact on its struggling business environment, according to the Washington Times. Officials said a new site could not be found.

“The official also said the Northern Command’s exercise plans for ‘cooping’ — continuity of operations, during which commanders go to off-site locations — also had been scratched,” writes Rowan Scarborough for the newspaper.

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Three More Domestic Spying Programs Revealed

The Department of Homeland Security is acknowledging the existence of three more government programs charged with spying on American citizens in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The programs — Pantheon, Pathfinder and Organizational Shared Space — used a variety of software tools to gather and analyze information about Americans, according to documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The DHS turned over the papers in response to a December 2008 Freedom of Information Act request. The documents shed new light on the proliferation of domestic intelligence and surveillance efforts after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the CIR:

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Deportation’s Harmful Effect on Children

This brief from the International Human Rights Law Clinic University of California, Berkeley School of Law , In the Child’s Best Interest? The Consequences of Losing a Lawful Immigrant Parent to Deportation states “Congress is considering a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws more than a decade after the enactment of strict immigration measures. Lawmakers should take this opportunity to reaffirm the nation’s historic commitment to family unity by addressing the discrete provisions that currently undermine it. Current U.S. immigration laws mandate deportation of lawful permanent resident (LPR) parents of thousands of U.S. citizen children, without providing these parents an opportunity to challenge their forced separations. Through a multi-disciplinary analysis, this policy brief examines the experiences of U.S. citizen children impacted by the forced deportation of their LPR parents and proposes ways to reform U.S. law consistent with domestic and international standards aimed to improve the lives of children.”

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DHS Controls Over Firearms

Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General Report, DHS Controls Over Firearms

This report addresses the efficacy of the Department of Homeland Security‘s management and oversight of its components to ensure that personnel are sufficiently safeguarding and controlling firearms. It is based on interviews with employees and officials of relevant agencies and institutions, direct observations, and a review of applicable documents.

Recommendations by the Office of Inspector General to the DHS Undersecretary for Management are:

• Develop department-wide policies and procedures for safeguarding and controlling firearms; and
• Assess firearm security equipment needs for each officer assigned a firearm, issue security equipment as needed, and reaffirm to each officer the requirement to always properly secure firearms.

Former New York Police Commissioner Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

New York, February 20 (RHC)– Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Bailey “Bernie” Kerik has been sentenced to four years in prison. Kerik pleaded guilty in November to lying to the White House when he was nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security.

The former Commish admitted to tax evasion and receiving renovations from a construction firm linked to organized crime. Bernard Kerik will remain under house arrest until he begins his sentence in May.

Mexicans Say U.S. Drug Crackdown Feeds Violence

Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – A Mexican law enforcement agency is blaming recent violence along the border in large part to a U.S. crackdown on drug traffickers, prompting skepticism from American government agencies.

Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública) reported that in the past six months the value of cocaine in Mexico has escalated from $431 million to $811 million because fewer of the illegal shipments are making their way into the United States since Barack Obama assumed the presidency.

Obama administration anti-drug efforts have included sending an additional 400 Department of Homeland Security agents to the border, which included specialists from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Government posting wealth of data to Internet

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday is posting to the Internet a wealth of government data from all Cabinet-level departments, on topics ranging from child car seats to Medicare services.

The mountain of newly available information comes a year and a day after President Barack Obama promised on his first full day on the job an open, transparent government.

Under a Dec. 8 White House directive, each department must post online at least three collections of “high-value” government data that never have been previously disclosed.

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EPIC Posts TSA Documents on Body Scanners

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted more than 250 pages of documents it obtained in  a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit concerning body scanners. The documents, released by the Department of Homeland Security, reveal that Whole Body Imaging machines can record, store, and transmit digital strip search images of Americans. This contradicts assurances made by the Transportation Security Administration. The documents include TSA Procurement Specifications, TSA Operational Requirements, TSA contract with L3, TSA contract with Rapiscan (1), and TSA contract with Rapiscan (2). The DHS has withheld other documents that EPIC is seeking. For more information, see EPIC: Whole Body Imaging Technology and EPIC: Open Government.

Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail

Silence has long shrouded the men and women who die in the nation’s immigration jails. For years, they went uncounted and unnamed in the public record. Even in 2008, when The New York Times obtained and published a federal government list of such deaths, few facts were available about who these people were and how they died.

But behind the scenes, it is now clear, the deaths had already generated thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry.

The documents, obtained over recent months by The Times and the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act, concern most of the 107 deaths in detention counted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October 2003, after the agency was created within the Department of Homeland Security.

The Obama administration has vowed to overhaul immigration detention, a haphazard network of privately run jails, federal centers and county cells where the government holds noncitizens while it tries to deport them.

But as the administration moves to increase oversight within the agency, the documents show how officials — some still in key positions — used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.

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Group slams Chertoff on scanner promotion

Since the attempted bombing of a US airliner on Christmas Day, former Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports.

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. Chertoff disclosed the relationship on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

An airport passengers’ rights group on Thursday criticized Chertoff’s use of his former government credentials to advocate for a product that benefits his clients.

“Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive,’’ said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners.

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America’s Secret ICE Castles

“If you don’t have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he’s illegal, we can make him disappear.” Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement‘s (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. Also present was Amnesty International‘s Sarnata Reynolds, who wrote about the incident in the 2009 report “Jailed Without Justice” and said in an interview, “It was almost surreal being there, particularly being someone from an organization that has worked on disappearances for decades in other countries. I couldn’t believe he would say it so boldly, as though it weren’t anything wrong.”

ICE agents regularly impersonate civilians–Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors, insurance agents, religious workers–in order to arrest longtime US residents who have no criminal history. Jacqueline Stevens has reported a web-exclusive companion piece on ICE agents’ ruse operations.

Pendergraph knew that ICE could disappear people, because he knew that in addition to the publicly listed field offices and detention sites, ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants–nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag. (Presumably there is a flag at the Department of Veterans Affairs Complex in Castle Point, New York, but no one would associate it with the Criminal Alien Program ICE is running out of Building 7.) Designed for confining individuals in transit, with no beds or showers, subfield offices are not subject to ICE Detention Standards. The subfield office network was mentioned in an October report by Dora Schriro, then special adviser to Janet Ann Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, but no locations were provided.

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Claremont man who aided migrants convicted for littering

When Walt Emrys Staton stumbled upon a migrant mother, Concepcion, carrying her daughter Jessica, 9, along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, they’d been lost for days and had no food or water.

“The daughter was crying, `I’m sorry, mom, this is my fault,”‘ Staton said. “It’s heartbreaking to see that.”

Passion to help those in need, regardless of their immigration status, has enticed the Claremont School of Theology student to drop off jugs of water along the trails used by border crossers to enter the United States illegally.

But when he got arrested for littering last year, that same passion has also prompted him to refuse to pay a $175 fine and fight his case in a federal court.

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Lil Wayne detained in Texas for marijuana

Rapper Lil Wayne was detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas on Friday after authorities found marijuana on two of his tour buses.

The marijuana on the buses was detected by a drug dog, said Agent Joe Trevino. The rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was among a dozen being detained from his group. They were later released.

Trevino said the buses were en route to Laredo, Texas, from a concert stop in Hidalgo.

The case has been referred to the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office.

Calls to Carter’s representatives were not immediately returned Friday.

The Louisiana native was the 2008 best-selling artist, with 2.8 million records sold, and is signed to Cash Money Records.

The rapper is scheduled to begin a prison sentence in February stemming from gun charges in New York.

TSA Stonewalls Congress About Screening Manual Security Breach

On Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration‘s (TSA) acting director insisted to Congress that the mistaken posting of secret airport screening procedures online posed no threat to holiday travelers because the procedures had changed, but refused to provide members of Congress with the newest version of the TSA’s screening manual to prove it.  And current and former TSA employees, who are familiar with the screening process have told ABC News that the procedures have changed little since the most sensitive data in the manual, including the weaknesses of airport X-ray machines, and sample CIA credentials – was improperly redacted and published on the Web.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE SCREENING MANUAL and HERE TO SEE THE SAMPLE CIA CREDENTIAL

Intelligence Improperly Collected on U.S. Citizens

WASHINGTON — In February, a Department of Homeland Security intelligence official wrote a “threat assessment” for the police in Wisconsin about a demonstration involving local pro- and anti-abortion rights groups.

That report soon drew internal criticism because the groups “posed no threat to homeland security,” according to a department memorandum released on Wednesday in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The agency destroyed all its copies of the report and gave the author remedial training.

That was just one of several cases in the last several years in which the department’s intelligence office improperly collected information about American citizens or lawful United States residents, the documents show.

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Report and Recommendations of the Presidental Task Force on Controlled Unclassified Information

Report and Recommendations of the Presidental Task Force on Controlled Unclassified Information

The Presidential Task Force on Controlled Information headed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder recently released a report. This report provided findings and recommendations on current sensitive information sharing practices between federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.

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Napolitano Unveils “Virtual USA” Information-Sharing Initiative

Secretary Napolitano Unveils “Virtual USA” Information-Sharing Initiative

Today Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano officially launched Virtual USA, an information sharing initiative that will help federal, state, local, and tribal responders communicate more effectively during emergencies.

According to Secretary Napolitano: “Virtual USA makes it possible for new and existing technologies to work together seamlessly during disaster response and recovery and gives the public an opportunity to contribute information in real-time to support the efforts of police officers, firefighters and other emergency management officials.”

Arizona Dictator Sheriff Joe Arpaio Approaching Retirement

The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. “Joe” Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected illegal immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.

He launched one of his notorious “sweeps,” in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.

“I wanted to show everybody it didn’t make a difference,” Arpaio said of the Obama administration’s order.

Arpaio calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and remains widely popular across the state. For two decades, he has basked in publicity over his colorful tactics, such as dressing jail inmates in pink underwear and housing them in outdoor tents during the brutal Phoenix summers.

But he has escalated his tactics in recent months, not only defying the federal government but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him. He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.
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Fugitive worked for Homeland Security

NEWARK, New Jersey – Prosecutors don’t understand how a fugitive wanted in New Jersey worked for the Department of Homeland Security in Georgia despite a nationwide alert for her arrest.

Tahaya Buchanan was sought on a 2007 indictment on charges of staging the theft of her Range Rover.

Paul Loriquet of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office says the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Atlanta was unaware of the 39-year-old’s status even after Buchanan was arrested in July during a traffic stop in which police noticed the warrant.

Immigration spokeswoman Ana Santiago tells The Star-Ledger of Newark she did not have information whether the office regularly checks its employee list against national criminal warrants.

A Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman in Washington said Wednesday she couldn’t immediately comment.

Buchanan pleaded guilty to one charge of insurance fraud on Monday and faces three months probation.

Lawsuit demands info on government’s use of social media sites

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing five different government agencies for refusing to disclose their policies on investigations using social networking websites.

The lawsuit was filed Monday after the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of the Treasury, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests that sought all records and guidelines outlining the collection of personal information from social media.

The initial FOIA requests were made after recent news reports indicate that government investigations have been increasingly relying on social networking sites — in October, for example, the Federal Bureau of Ivestigation used Twitter to catch a man accused of bank fraud.

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DHS Announces “Global Entry” Biometric Identification System for U.S. Airports

Today, the Department of Homeland Security proposed to make permanent Global Entry, a program the agency says will “streamline the international arrivals and admission process at airports for trusted travelers through biometric identification.” Under the proposed system, pre-registered international travelers can bypass conventional security lines by scanning their passports and fingerprints at a kiosk, answering customs declaration questions, and then presenting a receipt to Customs officials. The DHS announcement follows the recent news that Clear, a Registered Traveler program, had entered bankruptcy, raising questions about the possible sale of the biometric database that was created. In 2005, the Electronic Privacy Information Center testified before Congress that the absence of Privacy Act safeguards for Registered Traveler programs would jeopardize air traveler privacy and security. The agency is taking comments on the proposal. For more information, see EPIC Air Travel Privacy, EPIC Biometric Identifiers, EPIC Automated Targeting System, and EPIC Whole Body Imaging.

State police want nearly $7 million to fulfill FOIA request

The Michigan Department of State Police is charging the Mackinac Center for Public Policy nearly $7 million to fulfill its Freedom of Information Act request for information on how the state has used homeland security grant money since 2002, the nonpartisan research group reported.

A communications specialist at the center requested information after the Department of Homeland Security‘s inspector general released a report that detailed multiple implementation problems in how $129 million in security grants was spent in seven Michigan counties between 2002 and 2004.

The center filed a follow-up FOIA request for all documents relating to homeland security grants in the state since 2002, but the state police department, which administers homeland security grants in Michigan, said there would be more than 2 million pages and that it would cost $6.9 million to process the request.

County Immigration Enforcement Plan Prompts Profiling Concern

Over the objections of eleven county residents, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this week renewed a commitment to have the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department cooperate with federal authorities in identifying illegal immigrants and targeting them for deportation.

While a representative of the county sheriff’s department indicated that the identification and deportation effort will be angled only at those individuals who have already been arrested for engaging in illegal activity, critics voiced their misgivings that the program will entail an undeniable element of ethnic profiling that will be aimed primarily at Hispanics, including citizens, legal aliens and illegal aliens alike, such that it will discourage illegal aliens who have witnessed crimes or been victimized by them from cooperating with law enforcement officers.

The board approved a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the Sheriff’s Department to perform certain immigration enforcement functions for a period of three years and authorized the sheriff to sign the memorandum of agreement on behalf of the county.

According to sheriff’s deputy chief John McMahon, “Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Public Law 107-296, authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), acting through the Assistant Secretary of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to enter into written agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to enable qualified personnel to perform certain functions of an immigration officer. On September 20, 2005, the board of supervisors approved such an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This board action included the addition of nine sheriff’s custody specialist positions to perform this function. To ensure the individuals assigned to these positions are qualified to properly identify criminal illegal aliens in the county’s corrections system, they are required to pass a federal background investigation, attend training conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and pass an examination at the conclusion of the training. Under this program, upon disposition of the criminal case involving a person identified as an illegal alien, the sheriff’s department will turn the individual over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible prosecution on federal immigration violations.”

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt took the lead among his colleagues in pressing forward with renewing the sheriff’s department’s cooperative agreement with the federal government for the program.

According to available figures, last year the sheriff’s department screened 3,720 inmates jailers thought might be illegal immigrants and placed detainer holds on 2,359 of them. So far this year, jail personnel have interrogated 3,574 inmates with regard to their nationality and placed holds on 2,742 inmates.

McMahon emphasized that “We do not interview or screen anyone until they are lawfully booked into one of our facilities.”

According to a number of people who petitioned the board of supervisors not to enter into the agreement with the federal government, they do not believe that the sheriff’s department will restrict itself to enforcing Section 287(g) after legitimate arrests are made but will instead use it as a pretext to insert itself into the lives of otherwise law abiding Latinos.

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National Defense University Press Releases New Security Studies Journal

Prism: A Journal of the Center for Complex Operations

The National Defense University Press has released the first issue of Prism, a quarterly journal “tailored to serve policy-makers, scholars and practitioners working to enhance U.S. Government competency in complex operations by exploring whole-of-community approaches among U.S. Government agencies, academic institutions, international governments and militaries, non-governmental organizations and other participants in the complex operations space.”

Prism is chartered by the Center for Complex Operations , which links U.S. government education and training institutions to promote unity of effort in complex operations.

NDU Press also publishes Joint Force Quarterly, which often has interesting articles pertaining to homeland security. Explore this month’s article, The Department of Homeland Security: An Organization in Transition.

Implementing Checkpoint Screening Technology

Aviation Security: DHS and TSA Have Researched, Developed, and Begun Deploying Passenger Checkpoint Screening Technologies, but Continue to Face Challenges

A recent report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates that the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration are having difficulties implementing a plan to deploy checkpoint baggage screening technologies. These findings have raised serious concerns in many officials such as Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), who stated that “a comprehensive and sensible strategic plan is critical to ensure that the government minimizes waste while securing the flying public.”

 

FBI Demands Tattoo Shops Rat On Customers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in league with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (part of the Department of Justice), has launched a program that harks back to East Germany’s Stasi.

In Philadelphia, the FBI has instructed tattoo shops to rat out their customers if they demand privacy, insist on paying with cash, engage in “suspicious behavior,” make “anti-US” comments, or request tattoos that are “extremist symbols.”

According to the Missouri Information Analysis Center report, the Gadsden flag is a “militia symbol.” The Department of Homeland Security’s Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment report characterizes militias as “white supremacists,” domestic terrorists and a threat to the president. MIAC is part of the federal “fusion” effort now underway around the country.

It is not merely “extremist symbols.” In addition, the FBI literature instructs tattoo shops to be on the look-out for people who change hair color, style of dress, or shave beards between visits. Suspicious people also include those with missing fingers or hands, chemical burns, strange orders or bright colored stains on clothing.

Read the handout below for more absurd “extremist” indicators according to the FBI.

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Congress dismisses building additional Mexico fence

The US Congress has rejected to erect another 300 miles of tall fencing on the Mexico border, as Washington struggles to stop smugglers and illegal immigrants from entering the US soil.

Congress scrapped an appropriation bill by the Department of Homeland Security that envisaged equipping another 300 miles of US-Mexico border with fencing.

Lawmakers said the requested funds should be used in alternative ways to boost security, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

By dropping the plan, lawmakers echoed the sentiments expressed by officials and residents along the southwest border who maintained that the additional fencing would be unproductive and inefficient.
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Private company plans illegal-immigrant prison in Adelanto

ADELANTO • A private prison operator has plans to build a 2,200-bed detention center that holds illegal immigrants on 51 acres near two other local prisons.

The Adelanto City Council will decide on Wednesday whether to approve the GEO Group Inc.’s development plan and conditional use permit to construct a new correctional facility on the northeast corner of Raccoon Avenue and Rancho Road.

But the proposed facility also hinges on GEO Group winning a federal contract from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Adelanto City Manager Jim Hart.

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ICE performs undercover operations with help from satellite tracking devices

[ Note: The firm mentioned, Eastcor Engineering, is listed with the phone number (410) 820-5521.  This number is also listed to David Jackson, Jen McMaster and George Vojtech, all at the same address. ]

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit of the Department of Homeland Security is planning to award a $39,800 sole source contract to a small Maryland engineering company to provide 10 “satellite data recorder trackers,” for its undercover operations, but the tight-lipped agency says, “Public disclosure of the nature and purpose of this requirement could jeopardize ICE officers in the execution of their investigative duties.”

In a “Justification and Approval” document it released on September 15, ICE explains why it decided to award a sole source contract to Eastcor Engineering LLC, of Easton, MD, a young company with only a handful of employees, but specifically did not explain how the 10 satellite data recorder trackers would be used or what types of data they would be monitoring.

Eastcor Engineering also does business as Advanced Technology Solutions, or ATS, which is also based in Easton, MD, says the ICE notice.

“ATS is a leading supplier of tracking systems for Government and military use in gathering vital intelligence to support their operations in combating terrorism, organized crime and undercover operations,” says ICE.

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DHS Directives on Border Searches of Electronic Media

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano recently announced two new directives aimed at improving oversight for searches of computers and electronic decides at U.S. entry ports. This is viewed as an important move to support DHS efforts to “combat transnational crime and terrorism while protecting privacy and civil liberties.”

“The new directives address the circumstances under which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can conduct border searches of electronic media—consistent with the Department’s Constitutional authority to search other sensitive non-electronic materials, such as briefcases, backpacks and notebooks, at U.S. borders.” The CBP directive can be found here, while the ICE directive can be found here. DHS today also released this Privacy Impact Assessment for the new guidelines on border searches of electronic devices in order to enhance public understanding of these new procedures and controls used by DHS.

DHS Admits It Failed to Disclose 11 More Deaths at Immigration Facilities

In response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed yesterday that the government had failed to disclose 11 more deaths in immigration detention facilities.

In April, DHS officials released what they called a comprehensive list of all deaths in detention. That list included a total of 90 individuals. With yesterday’s announcement, the government has now admitted to a total of 104 in-custody deaths since fiscal year 2003.

But the ACLU is continuing to express doubt that they now have a complete tally of those who have died while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, told us, “Even after the government’s announcement yesterday we still can have no real confidence that each and every death has been accounted for.”

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Racist Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security

After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article.

Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

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US to drop satellite spying on Americans

The Obama Administration intends to put an end to a Bush-era program that authorizes the use of US spy satellites for domestic security purposes.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to abandon the controversial project, which was developed when the former President George Bush was in office to give law enforcement an extra tool to fight “terrorism”, said a government official on Monday.

“It’s being shut down,” said a homeland security official.

Initiated in 2007, the program, which is called the National Applications Office, was lambasted by advocates of civil liberty and privacy as they said it would lead to domestic spying.

While the Democrats have welcomed the closing of the program, some Republicans remain skeptical, urging the project to be maintained.

“If it is true, it’s a very big mistake,” said Peter T. King, who is the top Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security. “This is definitely a step back in the war on terror.”

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks US statesmen began putting together laws to further surveillance programs aimed at the American people. The move drew great criticism on the part of civil liberty and privacy supporters.

According to Privacy International, in 2007 the United States had a privacy index score of 1.5 (out of five possible points), which makes the US tied for forty-first with Taiwan and Thailand out of forty seven countries.

Congressional probe of Riverside Border Patrol office sought

The union representing U.S. Border Patrol agents is calling for a congressional investigation into the agency’s Riverside office.

Lombardo Amaya, president of Local 2554 of the National Border Patrol Council, said he’s frustrated that a Department of Homeland Security investigation of the office has not yielded results and might not be fair.

Homeland Security is investigating allegations that Ramon Chavez, patrol agent in charge of the Riverside office, enacted arrest quotas and punished agents who did not meet the quotas by repeatedly changing their schedules, a violation of agency rules. Border Patrol is part of Homeland Security.

The investigation is being conducted by the inspector general’s office of Homeland Security, which was created as an independent investigatory arm. But Amaya said he wants someone outside Homeland Security to look into the charges.

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Threat Level Privacy, Crime and Security Online Hacker ‘Dark Tangent’ Joins DHS Advisory Council

Forget the new cyber security czar position that President Barack Obama announced last week.

The real sign that the White House might be finally taking cyber security seriously came in an announcement on Friday that Jeff Moss, aka “Dark Tangent” and the former hacker behind the annual DefCon hacker confab in Las Vegas, has been appointed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council (HSAC).

He was among 16 people (.pdf) sworn in to the council by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Former CIA Director WIlliam Webster and former FBI Director Louis Freeh are also on the council, which provides advice and recommendations to the secretary. Webster is the council chair.

Moss, who lives in Seattle, says he was really surprised when he got a call about three weeks ago inviting him to join.

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Homeland Security Intel: Operations and Oversight

The Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate intelligence to reduce the threat of domestic terrorism.  The somewhat complex structure of DHS intelligence, at DHS headquarters and in six operational components, is illuminated in a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

The new report usefully examines how DHS intelligence is organized to address threat warnings, border security, critical infrastructure protection, and information sharing.  It also considers congressional oversight of DHS intelligence. See “The Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Enterprise: Operational Overview and Oversight Challenges for Congress,” May 27, 2009.

Though it is far from the most urgent or important question facing homeland security intelligence, Congress is pulling out all the stops to investigate the origin of a controversial, inartfully worded DHS intelligence memo on “Rightwing Extremism” (pdf). Last week, the House Committee on Homeland Security approved a formal resolution of inquiry to demand documents related to the preparation of that memo.

US Homeland Security National Interoperability Field Operations Guide, May 2009

US Department of Homeland Security National Interoperability Field Operations Guide, May 2009. Notable for its extensive list of radio frequences and call procedures.

Download here.

Michael V. Hayden today

Less than three months after stepping down as CIA director, retired general Michael V. Hayden has taken several jobs in the private sector. He has just joined the board of the National Interest Security Company (NISC), a holding company that manages all the assets of the DC Capital Partners equity fund in the intelligence field. Another CIA veteran, Henry Crumpton, also sits on NISC’s board (see our graph in IOL 580). Hayden is also associated with the Chertoff Group that was founded by former Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.

Panel votes to investigate ‘Extremism’ report

Democrats on a key House panel joined Republicans in a unanimous vote calling for a formal inquiry into the Department of Homeland Security to determine how a contentious report that described military veterans as possible recruits for radical extremists was developed and distributed.

In a rare bipartisan manner, the House Committee on Homeland Security agreed to a resolution of inquiry that calls for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to turn over all documents used to draft the report “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

“When this DHS-produced assessment first surfaced in April, like many Americans, I had issues with its content,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the committee.

“Certainly its definition of ‘rightwing extremism,’ which did not clarify that extremist violence was the department’s true focus, raised considerable concern,” Mr. Thompson said. “So did the suggestion that returning war veterans posed a potential threat to the homeland.”

SEE FULL ARTICLE

Canadians Take Notice, the U.S. Is Militarizing the Border

More troops, more searches, more surveillance drones. The U.S. is taking Canadians’ pictures as they cross the border, and their biometrics.

A camera snaps your license plate.

An electronic card reader mounted on a yellow post scans your car for the presence of any radio-frequency ID cards inside. If there is an enhanced driver’s license embedded with biometric information, its unique PIN number is read without you offering it.

The Customs and Border Protection computer connects with your province’s database and in less than a second – .56 to be exact – your personal information is uploaded to a screen in the booth. A second camera snaps the driver’s face.

Welcome to the United States of America.

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Arrests of U.S. border agents on the rise

WASHINGTON — A rising number of U.S. border enforcement officers are being arrested on corruption charges as Mexican drug cartels look to bribes as a way to get around tougher enforcement, border officials say.

Investigators arrested 21 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on corruption charges in the fiscal year that ended last September, up from eight in the previous 12 months, according to CBP. This year, 14 have been arrested.

Since 2004, 84 officers have been arrested and 62 were convicted, says James Tomsheck, assistant commissioner for internal affairs at CBP, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. That number represents a small fraction of the more than 52,000 people employed by the agency, which enforces U.S. law along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

Still, the trend is alarming, Tomsheck says. “We’re deeply concerned. The numbers are disturbing.”

Another troubling trend: Mexican syndicates are trying to plant their own people in the agency. Investigators have arrested at least four agents since 2007 who they believe were sent by drug cartels to infiltrate the CBP, Tomsheck says.

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GAO Report on DEA’s Post-9/11 Drug Control Responsibilities

Drug Control: Better Coordination With the Department of Homeland Security and an Updated Accountability Framework Can Further Enhance DEA’s Efforts to Meet Post-9/11 Responsibilities

“Given the global context of the war on drugs-coupled with growing recognition since September 11, 2001 (9/11), of the nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism-the mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and efforts to forge effective interagency partnerships and coordination are increasingly important. the Government Accountability Office was asked to examine, in the context of the post-9/11 environment, DEA’s priorities, interagency partnerships and coordination mechanisms, and strategic plan and performance measures. GAO reviewed DEA policy, planning, and budget documents and visited 7 of DEA’s 21 domestic field offices and 3 of its 7 regional offices abroad-sites selected to reflect diverse drug-trafficking threats, among other factors. GAO also contacted other relevant federal agencies-including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-and various state and local partner agencies.

GAO recommends that the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security take actions to enhance the effectiveness of interagency partnerships involving DEA, ICE, and CBP and the multiagency Special Operations Division and the OCDETF Fusion Center. DOJ agreed. DHS responded that discussions with DOJ are ongoing. DHS neither explicitly agreed nor disagreed with GAO’s recommendations but suggested revisions to the wording, which GAO did not make.”

New GAO Report on USCG Vessel Tracking Systems

Maritime Security: Vessel Tracking Systems Provide Key Information, but the Need for Duplicate Data Should Be Reviewed

“This report addresses: the extent to which the Coast Guard has vessel tracking systems in place, can use these systems to track vessels that may be threats, and has coordinated the development and implementation of these systems. To answer these questions, GAO analyzed relevant statutes, regulations, and plans for vessel tracking systems, compared the roles of the planned systems, and interviewed appropriate officials. To ensure efficient use of resources, GAO recommends that the Commandant of the Coast Guard determine the extent to which duplicate vessel tracking information from LRIT and commercially provided long-range AIS is needed to accomplish Coast Guard missions, particularly in light of information already available through national technical means. DHS agreed with this recommendation.”

FEMA Releases Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101

Yesterday, April 14, 2009, the “Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced … the release of the final Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101: ‘Developing and Maintaining State, Territorial, Tribal, and Local Government Emergency Plans.’” The “CPG 101 is the first in a series of publications developed through the FEMA National Preparedness Directorate’s CPG Initiative. Future CPGs will discuss planning considerations for a variety of emergency functions, hazards and special preparedness programs including; special needs planning, household pets and service animals, fusion center / emergency operations center interface, and hazard-specific guidance.” This document “serves as the emergency plan foundation for both public and private sector planning in the United States. Planners in all disciplines and organizations may find portions of the guide useful in the development of their emergency response plans.”

The CPG 101 can be found here.

Your DHS On Drugs

This is beyond ludicrous. That they want use a kind looking middle aged woman to soft sell their paranoid, Stasi era, snitch nation hell on earth is illuminating. How many times have you used binoculars, asked directions or sat on a park bench, you filthy terrorist?

The real ones are the fascists who put this piece of crap together.

Source

Glenn Beck and Penn Jillette on MIAC report

See also: The Radical Polarization of Law Enforcement

The Radical Polarization of Law Enforcement

The Radical Polarization
of Law Enforcement

Patriots, Christians and concerned citizens are increasingly in the cross hairs of the U.S. intelligence community, and battle lines are being quietly drawn that could soon pit our own law enforcement and military forces against us.

A February 20 report entitled “The Modern Militia Movement” was issued by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) that paints mainstream patriotic Americans as dangerous threats to law enforcement and to the country. Operating under the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the MIAC is listed as a Fusion Center that was established in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Because authenticity of the report was questioned by some, this writer contacted Missouri state Representative Jim Guest (R-King City) who had personally verified that the report had indeed been issued. Rep. Guest is chairman of the Personal Privacy Committee and is a prominent leader in the national Blowback against the Real ID Act of 2005 that requires states to issue uniform driver’s licenses containing personal biometric data. (See Guest warns against Big Brother, Real ID)

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NSA Dominance of Cybersecurity Would Lead to ‘Grave Peril’, Ex-Cyber Chief Tells Congress

The government’s national cybersecurity efforts would be in “grave peril” if they were dominated by the intelligence community, said Amit Yoran, former head of the Department of Homeland Security‘s National Cyber Security Division.

Yoran told a House subcommittee on Tuesday that although the Department of Homeland Security, which currently oversees the government’s cybersecurity efforts, has demonstrated “inefficiency and leadership failure” in those efforts, moving the cyber mission to the National Security Agency “would be ill-advised” due to the agency’s lack of transparency.

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Ex-agent: Probe of head of Riverside office widens

Already under investigation for allegedly punishing agents who did not meet arrest quotas, the head of Riverside’s U.S. Border Patrol office is now being probed for other alleged offenses, according to a former agent and the union representing Riverside agents.

Ramon Chavez, patrol agent in charge of the Riverside office, declined to comment.

The office of inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security is conducting the quota investigation. Homeland Security spokesman Michael Keegan declined to say whether the probe goes beyond the quota allegations.

Agents in the Riverside office say Chavez repeatedly changed their schedules as punishment for not meeting quotas, a violation of agency rules.

See also: Former Border Patrol agent describes ‘quota pressure’

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