Homeland Security, Intelligence & Terrorism
2010  |  2011  |  2012  |  2013
The Audacity of Despair  |  June 13
The question is more fundamental: Is government accessing the data for the legitimate public safety needs of the society, or are they accessing it in ways that abuse individual liberties and violate personal privacy, and in a manner that is unsupervised. And to that, The Guardian and those who are wailing jeremiads about this pretend-discovery of U.S. big data collection are noticeably silent. We dont know of any actual abuse.
Technology & Democracy in the Internet Age  |  June 11
The Guardian, the British news organisation that first reported existence of the U.S. snooping program on Thursday, noted in an editorial that its report appeared on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day in 1944 the beginning of the end of Hitlers police state. The young Americans who fought their way up the Normandy beaches rightly believed they were helping free the world from a tyranny, the Guardian wrote. They did not think that they were making it safe for their own rulers to take such sweeping powers as these over their descendants.
The Survival of the European Project  |  June 12
According to the latest US Pew Research Global Attitudes project, the European Union is the new sick man of Europe. The effort over the past half century to create a more united Europe is now the principal casualty of the euro crisis. The European project now stands in disrepute across much of Europe. It's survival is often nowadays summarised by a sequence of unions. Monetary union is judged to be unsustainable without fiscal union. Fiscal union requires banking union and economic union. And to top it all off, the icing on the cake has to be political union. But what exactly is political union? And can it work.
Money Laundering Digital Style  |  May 31
The operators of a global currency exchange ran a $6 billion money-laundering operation online, a central hub for criminals trafficking in everything from stolen identities to child pornography, federal prosecutors in New York said on Tuesday. The currency exchange, Liberty Reserve, operated beyond the traditional confines of United States and international banking regulations in what prosecutors called a shadowy netherworld of cyberfinance. It traded in virtual currency and provided the kind of anonymous and easily accessible banking infrastructure increasingly sought by criminal networks, law enforcement officials said.
The Presidents lomg road to peace and learning from US immigration policies  |  May 29
President Barack Obamas speech last Thursday at the National Defense University (NDU) may turn out to be the most significant of his tenure. This was only the second speech the president has devoted to national security since he took office. After four years of failing to make much progress toward closing Guantánamo, while increasingly relying on a drone war whose legality has often been questioned, Obama might have chosen to speak more cautiously in his NDU speech. Instead, he went much further, outlining a way out of this perpetual war, saying that our democracy demands it. Whether he can make good on this promise will very likely define his legacy.
EU Borders and he EU Approach to Registered travellers  |  May 27
This newsletter address a number of issues related to EU Border Control. Many EU nationals are "enjoying" the new EU Passports with electronic Chips and the related EU Automated Border Control (ABC) kiosks. However, all may may not be well in the implementations to date. In the UK, the elapsed time for each check, and the very small numbers of electronic kiosks resuts in each entry in to the UK requiring an on the spot decision - should I go into the "manual" line or the ABC kiosk line?.
Global Risks and EU Terrorism reports 2013  |  May 20
" . . . . .By their nature, global risks do not respect national borders, as highlighted in this report. And we now know that extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change will not limit their effects to countries that are major greenhouse gas emitters; false information posted on social networks can spread like wildfire to the other side of the globe in a matter of milliseconds; and genes that make bacteria resistant to our strongest antibiotics can hitch a ride with patients on an intercontinental flight. . . . ." From the introduction to the 2013 World Economic Forum ( WEF) Global Risk Report 2013.
"State of Terror" Testimony May 2013  |  May 14
Surprisingly, the terror threat posed by al Qaeda and other terror groups did not top this year's version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment prepared by the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI). "Senior personnel losses in 2012, amplifying losses and setbacks since 2008, have degraded core al Qaeda to a point that the group is probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West," said Clapper. Those losses have come from the CIA's controversial drone strike program in Pakistan's tribal areas where al Qaeda leaders are believed to continue to operate.
EU Military Spending - Two Views  |  April 22
"Five years into the financial and economic crisis in Europe, and there is still an elephant in Brussels that few are talking about". The elephant is the role of military spending in causing and perpetuating the economic crisis. As social infrastructure is being slashed, spending on weapon systems is hardly being reduced. While pensions and wages have been cut, the arms industry continues to profit from new orders as well as outstanding debts.
The Global Defence Industry's new Complexities  |  April 29
Following on from our previous newsletter, we present a McKinsey & Co article exploring the new economic and managerial challenges that confront defines ministries and industry contractors on a shifting global-security landscape The United States is winding down two wars, NATO is slashing budgets, and violent conflicts continue to erupt in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.
Privacy and Scientific Publishing in the Digital Age and the Austerity Delusion  |  May 03
Can private life exist in the digital age? is an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, sponsored by Beazley Insurance. It examines consumer attitudes to the sharing and storage of personal data online as well as the implications for companies. The report draws on two main sources for its research and findings A global survey of 758 adult Internet users conducted in January and February 2013. Almost all of the respondents (97%) use the Internet daily.
Boeing, NASA, & NATO - B 787, Drones & New Rules for Cyberwar  |  April 04
Boeings grounded 787s moved closer to resuming flight just before the Easter break when the US FAA Approved Boeing's plan to redesign and certify the planes lithium-ion batteries to reduce fire risks. Two 787 aircraft will do the flight tests.
Racial Mapping  |  March 25
Since 2002, the NYPD embarked on a covert domestic surveillance program that monitored American Muslims throughout the Northeast, from spying on neighborhood cafes and places of worship to infiltrating student whitewater-rafting trips a program that continued despite the NYPDs own acknowledgment that, over the course of six years, these efforts had not generated a single lead
The US Commission on Wartime Contracting  |  March 20
'By the time US combat troops left Iraq at the end of 2011, 4,487 US military personnel had died. In comparison, Iraq Body Count conservatively estimates that between 110,110 and 120,293 Iraqi civilians died violent deaths between the invasion and November 2012....By September 2012, US $212 billion of US and Iraqi government money had been allocated for postwar reconstruction of the Iraqi state.'
US Suspicious Activity Reporting and the Boston Marathon Tragedy  |  April 19
Regretfully topical in the wake of the recent Boston Marathon tragedy the US Government Accountability Office has published a report entitled "Information Sharing - Additional Actions Could Help Ensure That Efforts to Share Terrorism-Related Suspicious Activity Reports Are Effective" A related article and still to be judged article comments that "Mr Obamas re-election and his support for immigration reform and gun-control legislation, however ill-fated, have enraged the US extremist fringe.
Rethinking the Iraq War  |  March 15
The lesson most Americans seem to have drawn from Iraq is never fight a land war in Asia. This advice was first given by Douglas MacArthur to President Kennedy in 1961. It was reiterated two years ago by then Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. Another version of this lesson is contained in the Obama administration's official defense guidance, which directs that the United States no longer size its military for large-scale stability operations
Right to Poison - Lessons from the Global war on Drugs  |  March 12
Pure cocaine costs 1,300 ($1,700) a kilo in Putumayo, more than 4,000 at the Colombian border and, in nearby Jamaica, the price already approaches 6,000. The drug gets really expensive when it reaches Europe or the United States, where dealers make about 30,000 a kilo, depending on market conditions. The going rate in Germany is about 100 for a gram of impure cocaine, while a kilo of pure cocaine can cost up to 400,000. After 40 years of a failed war on drugs, many politicians and experts are started to embrace this same conclusion - and calling for regulated legalisation.
Airport and Port Security Challenges  |  February 24
Belgian police are searching for eight masked gunmen who took less than five minutes to pull off one of the most spectacular diamond heists in recent years, stealing precious stones worth about 30m (US$50m) from the hold of a Swiss-bound plane on a Brussels runway. The men, who were armed with machine guns and dressed in police uniforms, broke through a hole they had made in the airport security fence in two vehicles a Mercedes van and a car, and they made straight for a Swiss passenger plane operated by Helvetic Airways.
More on Ethics, Drones and Torture  |  February 22
The US Constitution has long recognized that unilateral executive action may be necessary in exigent circumstances, as long as it is followed by ex post judicial review. A US citizen and radical Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki was reportedly on a US Government Kill List for more than a year before he was killed With that kind of time frame, there is no logistical reason why independent judicial review could not have taken place.
Drones, Torture and the Media  |  February 11
Americans are great and heedless adopters of new technologies, and few technologies are as seductive, promise so much at so little political and financial and human cost, as drones. They give us tremendous new powers, and they seem to ask very little of us in return. President Obama captured the singular quality of drone warfare precisely in a remark that appears in Mark Bowden's recent book The Finish. "There's a remoteness to it," he said
Small Arms Sales & Corruption in Defence Industries  |  February 03
A new Stockholm International Piece Research Institute (SIPRI) report entitled Transfers of small arms and light weapons to fragile States: strengthening oversight and control finds that the challenge for the international community is to ensure that fragile states receive the arms that they require, while limiting the negative impacts on conflict dynamics, stabilisation efforts and governance