Saturday, April 5, 2008

Homeland Security, Drills, Bioterror +

Homeland Security Wants to Install Permanent Checkpoint (VT)

Homeland Security wants to build a permanent immigration checkpoint in central Vermont.
An exact location has not been revealed, but officials say it would be similar to this one that used to be on Interstate 91 in Hartford. Agents use the check points to search for illegal immigrants, drugs smugglers and terrorists.
Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, is blasting the idea, saying the checkpoints are useless and an inconvenience to Vermonters.

Charter school will focus on homeland security

The first high school dedicated to preparing students for the front lines in the Nation's homeland security
has gone from theory to planning in Wilmington.The Project Manager for the Delaware Academy for Public Safety and Security, New Castle Attorney Thomas Little, signed a contract with Innovative Schools, a professional firm which will coordinate the mechanics of preparing the school for its eventual opening.The process to find and fund a site for as many as six-hundred young men and women in Wilmington's inner city is underway.Curriculum choices for students, who are to be called Cadets, range from SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) through prison guard, water rescue, paramedic, fireman, professional demolition and emergency response operator, according to a Board statement.

In a recent interview in Foreign Policy, former US cybersecurity czar Richard Clark discussed the US military's forthcoming Air Force Cyber Command (more below) and the nation's overall security picture in the global, networked knowledge economy. Clark's concern is not that we'll have an earth-shaking, stupor-dispelling Internet version of 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, but that we won't. Instead, Clark fears that a steady, silent bleed of public- and private-sector secrets will weaken the US military and economy.
"What is happening every day is quite devastating, even though it doesn’t have a kinetic impact and there are no body bags," Clark told Foreign Policy. "What's happening every day is that all of our information is being stolen. So, we pay billions of dollars for research and development, both in the government and the private sector, for engineering, for pharmaceuticals, for bioengineering, genetic stuff—all sorts of proprietary, valuable information that is the result of spending a lot of money on R&D—and all that information gets stolen for one one-thousandth of the cost that it took to develop it."
Clark blames most of the damage on attacks by the Chinese government, but he's also concerned about the potential of non-governmental actors—mainly terrorists and organized crime—to wage cyber-warfare on a level that matches or exceeds that of governments like the US and China.
In response to these threats, the US Air Force will soon launch its Air Force Cyber Command (AFCYBER), yet another explicit recognition that the US now sees our national and international communications infrastructure as a theater of war, and that the country is serious about developing the capacity to mount a credible offense in it. An Air Force general told ZDNET UK that this offense will include denial of service attacks, data loss and manipulation, and disruption of system integrity, among other capabilities.
Integrating detection and identification of biothreat agents
Providing rapid results to ensure effective protection response is a primary goal of next-generation biodefense testing systems.

The public perception of the risks and dangers of potentially imminent biothreats has changed considerably since certain events occurred in the 1990s and earlier this decade. The 1995 sarin attack in the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured more than 5000, and the 2001 anthrax scare at U.S. postal offices that killed five and infected 15 made major headlines and served as a wake-up call. However, the 2004 ricin attacks in a U.S. Senate office building received far less attention. While the reasons for this discrepancy are varied, the fact remains that since public facilities and infrastructure, including the food and water supplies, are under constant threat from natural, accidental, and, more disturbingly, deliberate contamination, they require continuous monitoring.
The government, military, and private sectors in the United States have invested significantly into developing and implementing biowarfare-monitoring systems (e.g., the Laboratory Response Network and BioWatch). But such systems have come at the expense of lax food and environmental safety monitoring. The public has certainly been affected by the frequency and severity of the daily impact of food- and waterborne pathogens

Coast Guard drill tests emergency response (AK)
JUNEAU, Alaska -- The Coast Guard staged an emergency drill Thursday to see how its crews and other public safety agencies, including the Juneau Police Department, would handle a joint response.
The drill called for an explosion at the cruise ship docks.

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