Monday, March 31, 2008

Homeland securing

By Carol Gee

National Security news -- Every day my Congressional Quarterly "Homeland Security" newsletter arrives in my g-mail box. It comes packed full of everything you could want to know, and lots of things I would almost rather not know about homeland securing. Borrowing from the generosity of their links, you will surely want to know this about:

  • The Homeland Security Council -- "The HSC’s purpose is to ensure coordination of all homeland security-related activities among executive departments and agencies, and to promote the effective development and implementation of all homeland security policies," according to its website. The secret Council has a staff of 35 and is overseen by the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Steven Aftergood has more at Secrecy News.

    Recently named to replace Francis Townsend as the President's Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, is Kenneth Wainstein. He has served previously as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Assistant Attorney General for National Security (see Reyes Intel hearing posts, here, here, and here; and FISA posts here and here), as well as General Counsel and Chief of Staff at the FBI. If you remember, Wainstein recently declared that the government was not "dark" in its ability to gather intelligence, as had been claimed by the DNI during all the controversy surrounding amending the House FISA bill.

    In a related matter, it was recently reported, on C-SPAN by the Homeland Security's offices of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (Daniel Sutherland)/Privacy (Hugo Teufel III), that one or both of them have "observer" status and can attend the Homeland Security Council meetings.

  • The Onion Truth -- To quote the final paragraph from CQ's newsletter:

    Back from Irack: “Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain wrapped up his fact-hiding mission to Iraq, declaring the trip an unqualified success,” The Borowitz Report reports. “My friends, I came to Iraq to hide the facts about the way the war is going, and in that I have succeeded,’ McCain told reporters. ‘Omission accomplished.’ McCain praised his campaign staff for steering clear of visual evidence of recent violence in Baghdad: ‘Thanks to the hard work of my advance team, the surge has the appearance of working.’ The Arizona senator said that his trip to Iraq was successful in part because he was able to obscure the actual facts with new facts of his own creation,” Andy Borowitz writes. “‘It’s a well known fact that Iran is training al Qaeda,” he said. “And if it wasn’t a well-known fact before, it is now.’”

Travel and security -- On the other hand you would probably just as soon have remained ignorant about:

  • Outsourcing passports -- Bill Gertz at the Washington Times on 3/36 headlined, "Outsourced passports netting govt. profits, risking national security." First, the Government Printing Office makes a huge "profit" by charging the State Department more than the secure passports cost from the foreign supplier. Second, the Thailand supplier is vulnerable to lack of quality control, plus lack of security control, the company having been victimized by Chinese espionage.

  • Skip London, go straight to Paris -- A U.K. company has unveiled a screening camera capable of peering through clothing to detect weapons or explosives from 80 feet away, CBS News spotlights.

As citizens concerned about remaining both free and secure, takes a great deal of work to stay informed on what our government is doing in secret to preserve both. My newsletter helps tremendously. To sign up for CQ's free newsletters, click here.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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