Sunday, May 15, 2011

Behind the Lines

I get this email every day and I love reading it. It gives an update on security stuff, which happens under the radar of the general public.From CQ Homeland Security

Behind the Lines for Friday, May 13, 2011 — 3 P.M.
By David C. Morrison, Special to Congressional Quarterly

Decapitation accomplished: After losing bin Laden, al Qaeda "may be in its death throes" some analysts wish to believe . . . Decapitation redux: National Capitol Area leaders "question whether the region is prepared to respond well enough to any future terrorist attack" . . . Trifecta: Multi-agency exercise in New Jersey simulates "a hurricane, influenza and a bioterrorist event." These and other stories lead today's homeland security coverage.

“U.S. security and intelligence officials say al Qaeda is severely weakened after losing Osama bin Laden, and some analysts go further, noting cautiously that the terrorist group may be in its death throes,” The Washington Times’ Bill Gertz leads. While U.S.-born imam Anwar al-Awlaki garners attention in the West, there is little evidence he wields significant influence within Yemen’s al Qaeda franchise, “much less its central command in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” The Christian Science Monitor’s Eric Stier handicaps — and see The Yemen Post: “Anwar al-Awlaki is just a big mouth, says his father.”

Feds: As they rummage through the trove of data seized from the al Qaeda chief’s Abbottabad compound, CIA analysts “are uncovering a new critical piece of information every hour,” Austin’s KEYE 42 News notes. A personal journal shows bin Laden “contemplating attacks on L.A., Chicago and Washington,” the Los Angeles Times’ Ken Dilanian and Brian Bennett add. “A pattern of long-term and ongoing problems inside the regional headquarters of the FBI in Salt Lake City could have catastrophic consequences to national security,” KSL 5 News’ Lori Prichard and Kelly Just reveal. At a briefing by DHS, National Capitol Area government leaders “questioned whether the region is prepared to respond well enough to any future terrorist attack,” NBC Washington’s Tom Sherwood recounts.

Homies: The Canada-U.S. border will again come under intense scrutiny, as Senate hearings next week “push for tighter security measures along the much-maligned boundary,” The Canadian Press’ Lee-Anne Goodman relates — and check, new from the Fraser Institute: “What Congress Thinks of Canada.” The family of Jaime Zapata wants answers from Janet Napolitano on the Feb. 15 attack that killed the young ICE agent along a highway in Mexico, The McAllen (Texas) Monitor’s Emma Perez-Trevino mentions. “We control aviation, in a sense, much more than rail and transit. That’s much more local in nature,” the DHS chief tells CBS News’ Katie Couric. House Appropriations big Norm Dicks, D-Wash., says the new DHS spending bill will hurt the ability to fight terrorism, The Hill’s Erik Wasson reports.

New York state of mind: Two North Africans allegedly busted by the NYPD this week were plotting a terror attack on a synagogue, The New York Times tells. (Gotham and environs “remain terrorist target number one,” Mid-Hudson News hears New York Senate Homeland Security panel chair Greg Ball proclaiming.) Eighty-nine percent of New Yorkers approve the NYPD’s handling of the terror threat, reaffirming commish Ray Kelly as the city’s most popular official, Reuters reports — while the Times, again, notes House homelander Peter T. King’s endorsement of Kelly for next FBI chief. Too little, too late, perhaps: President Obama yesterday sought a two-year extension for long-serving bureau boss, Robert S. Mueller, The Washington Post reports.

Bugs ‘n bombs: Highly motivated Morris County, N.J., responders will mount a multi-agency drill tomorrow simulating “a hurricane, influenza and a bioterrorist event,” The Long Valley Patch reports — as Duke Today sees emergency personnel from across the Durham, N.C., area practicing response to a “chemical exposure” next Tuesday. “Lone wolf” terrorists are most likely to seek to avenge bin Laden’s death, CNN sees a joint DHS/FBI bulletin (quite predictably) advising state and local law enforcers — and check another CNN dispatch: “From Morocco to the foothills of the Himalayas, the call for revenge echoes across the Internet.” Although intended for law enforcers, the “Criminal Investigation Handbook for Agroterrorism” can be useful to food animal vets “whose surveillance of unusual animal activity may indicate intentional threats to our food supply,” Bovine Veterinarian Magazine mentions.

Chasing the dime: Southwest Florida “life coach” Mary Lynn Ziemer is offering “small group workshops” to help enrollees overcome morbid fear of terror attack, touts. A Maryland security solutions company has tested “commercial-grade, blast-resistant trash receptacles to help thwart terrorist attacks in public places,” United Press International informs. “Even as the government’s cyberwarfare effort expands, some industry executives are beginning to wonder just how lucrative this new opportunity is likely to be,” a Forbes columnist describes. DHS seeks a contractor to provide armed security guards for federal buildings on Pacific islands including Hawaii, Saipan and American Samoa, Guam Buildup News notes. The director of a private security firm contracted to Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport “is being arraigned for defrauding an American investor to huge sums of money,” Ghana Web relates.

Close air support: Two US Airways flights at Charlotte/Douglas International were searched yesterday, due respectively to discovery of a “suspicious note” and a knife, the Observer observes. “Aviation experts cannot explain what has prompted three airline passengers to try to open cabin or cockpit doors while in flight the past few days, but they say other passengers shouldn’t worry,” USA Today leads. “If TSA workers steal from the people they are supposed to be protecting, how can they be trusted to keep the nation safe from terrorism?” The New York Press poses. More than 60 percent of those polled by Travel Leaders say they’re satisfied with airport security, which is lower than one year ago, Travel Agent Central relates. “If you think airport security, imperfect as it is, is unnecessary consider that Australia has already had more than 60 ‘home grown’ terrorists, a columnist counsels. Islay Airport was evacuated after a flyer’s laptop tested positive during a explosive trace detection check, The Scotsman says.

Off track: “So far, the scariest information found in Osama bin Laden’s compound is this: Al Qaeda has had trains on the brain,” a Houston Chronicle editorial opens. Even before this most recent alarum, “security experts warned that the nation’s 140,000 miles of track presented an attractive — and difficult to protect — terror target,” The Wall Street Journal leads — as The Hawthorne Gazette sees police patrolling that New Jersey town’s rail station. “If you thought Amtrak trains had a bad on-time performance before,” try implementing the proposed counterterror “no-ride list,” a BNET travel columnist ridicules. Amtrak asks for IDs at major hubs, “but given the number of stops on any given route, doing it everywhere (much less checking against a list) is a little impractical,” Esquire agrees.

Courts and rights: A Michigan man was arraigned on charges of phoning in a bomb threat to the Macomb County Circuit Court, prompting an evacuation Monday, The Detroit News notes — as ABC 7 News curtain-raises: “The government is gearing up for the most significant terrorism trial ever in Chicago.” An attorney says that four Muslim imams denied boarding in two incidents last weekend while traveling to a North Carolina conference on “Islamophobia” will sue the airlines responsible, FOX Charlotte relates — while an Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle editorial frets that “Americans trying to keep the country safe shouldn’t have to fear civil retaliation as much as they fear the terrorists.” A District Court judge, meanwhile, has dismissed a lawsuit by two Harvard Law students claiming their rights were violated by TSA body scanners and pat-downs, Bloomberg relates.

Over there: Lebanon-based terror-listed Hezbollah “has established another home base across the border in Mexico,” an unnamed “former U.S. intelligence agent,” would have San Diego’s KGTV 10 News believe. British commandos and anti-terror cops fired off live ammo at the London Olympics Village in a three-day “dry run at combating a Munich-style attack on athletes,” The Sun says. Deadly Muslim-Christian riots that left 12 dead and a Cairo church a burned-out husk have magnified worries in Egypt over the future role of Islamic ultraconservatives, AP updates. Many Indians relished the fact that bin Laden was found in Pakistan, reinforcing India’s official position that Islamabad protects terrorists, the Times tells.

Book Nook: Public Health Service reserve officer Paul D. Ellner “has created a frightening first novel, ‘And Evil Shall Come’ (, which chronicles an underbelly of al Qaeda intrigue and terrorism,” Digital Journal touts — as The San Francisco Chronicle relays word of “The Fund” (Forge Books), international banker H.T. Narea’s debut terror thriller about a fed tracking “a suspicious money trail of plotters seeking to implode the world’s financial markets.” Very recent events “take the steam out” of “The Devil’s Light” (Scribner), Richard North Patterson’s new novel about a threat by bin Laden to seize a nuclear weapon to detonate in the United States on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, a Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch critic comments. Bin Laden, apparently, was “unnerved” by the blood-thirstiness of Inspire, the Yemen franchise’s English language e-mag, Columbia Journalism Review relates.

The Silver Scream: “No one could have predicted that the late Osama bin Laden . . . would have such a massive effect on Bollywood,” The Express Tribune exclaims — even as Total Filmy sees “Bollywood’s renowned director Ram Gopal Varma” mulling a film on the terror icon’s alleged afterlife. One consequence of the bin Laden take-down is a run at Bangalore video shops on the 1990 Charlie Sheen vehicle, “Navy Seals” (Orion), The Times of India informs. A 24-year-old finance student, Brandon Assanti, spent five years creating “Their Eyes Were Dry” (Peripheral Vision), a doc about Palestinian terrorists’ bloody 1974 seizure of an Israeli school at Ma’alot, The Stockton (Calif.) Record previews. Kiefer Sutherland, finally, tells CNN he hopes a feature film adaptation of the hit counterterror series “24” will see light in 2012, Digital Spy reports.

SEAL of disapproval: “The frequency and detail of uninformed conversations about the required strength, agility, and killing abilities of the Navy SEALs has increased exponentially since the SEAL-led operation to kill Osama bin Laden,” The Onion hears Pentagon officials telling reporters Thursday. “‘Since last week, the number of people who have incorrectly stated that all SEAL members must do 300 pull-ups in a minute, earn advanced calculus degrees from MIT, and be able to hold their breath underwater for an hour, has been extraordinarily high,’ said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, adding that current enlistment numbers couldn’t possibly account for the number of Americans claiming they have an uncle in the Navy SEALs.” See also, In The Galactic Empire Times: “Obi-Wan Kenobi Is Dead, Vader Says.”
Source: CQ Homeland Security

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Rob Margetta, CQ Homeland Security Editor
Arwen Bicknell, Behind the Lines Editor
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Source: CQ Homeland Security

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