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Tag: Homeland Security

Trump Has Yet to Fill Vacancy for Head of Homeland Security

homeland-security-sportsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security has been without a head of Homeland Security for more than two months after President Trump made John Kelly his chief of staff.

The delay of replacing Kelly with a new head of Homeland Security could leave the agency without a leader of the agency for longer than any period in history, the Washington Post reports

Asked about a timeline for Kelly’s replacement, Trump said on Sept. 29 that “we’ll be making that decision probably within a month.”

The Post wrote:

With 240,000 employees, a $40 billion budget and a mile-wide organizational chart, the DHS is managing multiple threats, crises and disasters, both natural and man-made. While leading the recovery efforts after three major hurricanes, the department is also busy policing America’s borders, airports and seas; implementing Trump’s controversial immigration policies; and guarding the country’s electoral system and infrastructure from unprecedented hacking attempts, among other tasks.

Acting secretary Elaine Duke has been in the role since July 31, but she does not have a background in emergency management, counterterrorism or law enforcement. Though she has earned mostly praise for her stewardship of the agency during a difficult stretch, she is not considered a candidate for the secretary job, according to several administration officials with knowledge of the search.

FBI Warned about Lone Shooters at Concerts 9 Months Before Las Vegas Massacre

police-lineBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than nine months before the mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival earlier this week, the FBI and Homeland Security warned of the threat of lone gunmen carrying out massacres during large gatherings like music venues.

The federal agencies issued a “Joint Special Event Event Threat Assessment” to warn of lone offenders launching an attack on large crowds, Foreign Police reports

A main concern cited by the December 2016 document was someone targeting the New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Las Vegas Strip.

“Unaffiliated lone offenders and [homegrown violent extremists] are of particular concern,” the document states, “due to their ability to remain undetected until operational; their willingness to attack civilians and soft targets; their ability to inflict significant casualties with weapons that do not require specialized knowledge, access, or training; and their unpredictability, as witnessed in the Orlando, Florida and San Bernardino, California terrorist attacks.”

The agencies addressed concerns “about the sustained interest by terrorists and criminals in targeting mass gatherings,” including at concerts.

Russia Targeted at Least 21 States in Hacking Scheme During 2016 Election

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security alerted 21 states that Russian tried to hack their election systems in 2016.

Some of the states were critical battlegrounds in the presidential election, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Arizona, according to the Washington Post

Homeland Security didn’t release details or say whether the hacking attempts were successful.

“We need Congress and the president to help states with their security systems for elections and ensure funding for more secure equipment where needed, and we need it to happen now,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) said. “Rather than investigating this attack on our democracy from a hostile foreign power, the Trump administration has formed a commission to prove that he won the popular vote, an idea that has been entirely discredited by numerous studies.

At least one state’s election system was breached, according to Bloomberg

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections. The hackers had gained access to the state’s voter database, which contained information such as names, dates of birth, genders, driver’s licenses and partial Social Security numbers on 15 million people, half of whom were active voters. As many as 90,000 records were ultimately compromised.

Homeland Security Leader Accidentally Gave Out Sex Hotline Number

cell-phone-app-fbiBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Homeland Security leader who was warming the public about dangers of sexual predators passed out business cards for his desk, but there was only one problem: The phone number directed people to a 24-hour sex talk line.

The Desert News reports that Steve Cagen, the new head of the investigative arm of Homeland Security’s Utah division, disseminated his business cards, which contained the wrong phone number.

When reporters called the number, they were greeted with a woman’s voice who said, “Hi, sexy” with sultry music in the background. The woman told callers that they had reached the “hottest fantasy line in North America” while offering “private erotic conversations.”

An ICE spokeswoman later acknowledged that the numbers on Cagen’s business card were wrong.

Other Stories of Interest

Report: Border Security Is Tougher Than Ever Because of Ramped-Up Enforcement

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

Read more »

Rep. McCaul Among Top Contenders for Homeland Security Director Job

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, who was considered by the Trump administration as a contender for Homeland Security director, is now “high on the list” to replace John Kelly, MyStatesman.com reports

McCaul, 55, who is a seven-term Republican from Texas and a former prosecutor, declined to comment when asked about the position.

But U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told the Statesman, “I think he’s talking to the White House. … He’s a good man. We go way back. I have a lot of confidence in him.”

But McCaul has some critics. Some conservatives, including Breitbart, don’t believe McCaul is tough enough on immigration.

Homeland Security to Phase Out Parts of DACA

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security has rolled out a plan to deal with the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The agency won’t accept new DACA applications for deferments or two-year work permits unless they are already in the pipeline, the New York Post reports. For those that have been submitted already, Homeland Security will consider them on a case-by-case basis.

DACA recipients may apply for renewal if they submit the application by Oct. 5.

By March 6, 2020, the federal government will phase out the program.

The Post wrote:

Once a permit expires, a person will not be “considered lawfully present in the US” and will be subject to deportation, the DHS said.

Their “removal will no longer be deferred and they will no longer be eligible for lawful employment,” the agency said.

The law as it stands now does not grant DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” any legal status — unless Congress amends the existing immigration laws.

But the DHS said persons whose permits have expired will not be targeted, and federal immigration enforcement agencies will continue to focus on people who are known criminals or national security threats.

“Our enforcement posture has not changed. We still are prioritizing criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants — in other words persons who have been previously removed — and those persons with standing orders for removal,” a senior DHS official told reporters. “There is no plan at this time to target persons outside those parameters. Persons who are currently in (DACA), their DACA remains in effect if encountered during law enforcement operations.”

Trump Administration Picks Companies to Build Border Wall Prototypes

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

The agency announced Thursday that it had selected four companies to build concrete prototypes of the 2,000-mile wall, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Today we mark a significant milestone,” said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “This is the first tangible result of the action planning that has gone on. This is the use of the resources we had available for this year.”
But Trump is a long way to making his wall a reality. Congress has only appropriated $20 million, which will pay for the prototypes.

The Post wrote:

Construction on the concrete prototypes is expected to begin in two weeks, and should be completed this fall within 30 days after breaking ground. The prototypes will be 30 feet long and up to 30 feet high and will be located near one another, he said. They will act as a secondary barrier in a border enforcement zone that already has a fence.

Department of Homeland Security officials will spend 30 to 60 days using small hand tools to test the prototypes’ resistance to tampering and penetration, Vitiello said.

Officials will consider aesthetics as well as anti-climb features and how to complement the physical barrier with technology.