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SFO comes into some money

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Just a little money news. The Department of Homeland Security awarded the San Francisco International Airport $15 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the construction of a new inline baggage handling system, according to this release from DHS.

“Putting Recovery Act dollars to work in the Bay Area will heighten security for air travelers, speed the baggage process and create jobs that reinvigorate the economy,” said Secretary Napolitano. “This new technology will better equip San Francisco International Airport to detect explosives and other threats while streamlining the check-in process for passengers.”

According to the press release, the inline baggage handling system will eliminate the need for passengers to walk their checked baggage to a screening location and wait before proceeding to the security checkpoint.

I was surprised to learn they make passengers carry their own checked luggage to the screening section at an airport as big as San Francisco. I thought that kind of inconvenience was restricted to tiny airports like the Portland Jetport. I wonder when Napolitano will send some of that money and technology to us here in Maine?

In honor

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I got this e-mail this morning and wanted to pass it on:

"I would like to encourage everyone in the security business who wears a badge today to wear a “mourning band” or black tape over their badge in honor of Officer Stephen T. Johns who gave his life yesterday in the line of duty. Don’t do it just for him, but for all the other officers who died in the line of duty this year whose stories did not make news in the national media." —John Hyatt

Security officer dies in line of fire

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stephen Tyrone Johns, the security officer who was shot at the Holocaust Museum, died yesterday. Johns was a six-year veteran of the museum's security staff and an employee of Wackenhut, who provides security for the museum, according to CNN.

I watched about two hours of CCN last night at the gym trying to glean the details from the incident and it appears that security did everything in its power to stop the gunman. CNN is reporting that the gunman, allegedly an 88-year-old man named James von Brunn, entered the building and shot Johns. Two other security officers immediately returned fire, critically wounding von Brunn and stopping him from entering the crowded museum.

UPDATE: The FBI yesterday released this statement concerning the shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

“Members of the FBI’s National Capital Response Squad, SWAT Team, and Evidence Response Team deployed to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., to provide on-scene support following a shooting incident at the museum,” said Joseph Persichini, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI had no prior knowledge of any act or threat directed at the Holocaust Museum. Preliminary indication is that this incident involved a lone suspect. At this time, we have no additional intelligence information to indicate threats to area landmarks but will monitor the situation closely. The FBI has an outstanding relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police, and we will work together to jointly investigate the facts related to this case.”

NY/NJ starts screening transit passengers

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just read this press release from the Port Authority of NY/NJ about a passenger screening pilot program that begins today (so timely of me, I know). I have a few calls out to the Authority, but according to the press release, passengers of PATH (which is the heavy rail transit system connecting Manhattan with New Jersey communities) will be screened using passive millimeter wave technology. Here's the TSA's take on the program and technology.

According to the PATH Web site, the rail system carries 252,707 passengers each weekday. That's a lot of people. Apparently passengers won't need to stop as they're screened and will simply pass through turnstile type machines. It'll be interesting to see how this technology is received by the public since there's been so much hubbub about the use of this whole-body imaging technology in airports recently.

Bad news for port/transit security

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

As I reported in our June issue, fears that port security would be underfunded just became official. I just got a press release from the Security Industry Association (why do I always get this stuff mere hours after newswire goes out?) that the House Appropriations Committee's Homeland Security Subcommittee yesterday approved legislation that would fund the Port Security Grant Program and the Transit Security Grant Program at $250 million each in fiscal year 2010.

"We are very disappointed by the subcommittee's action," SIA Director of Government Relations Don Erickson said. "Many ports and transit systems remain far too vulnerable to criminal activity and terrorist attack, which is why we're baffled by the cuts in funding. Federal grants are a crucial source of revenue for facilities looking to enhance their physical security, and if the appropriations bill passes as written, a lot of projects intended to protect the lives and property of millions of Americans will be left unfunded."

SIA isn't the only association unhappy about what it considers a lack in funding. When I spoke with Aaron Ellis from the American Association of Port Authorities for the June issue he said that the Port Security Grant was authorized for $400 million by Congress in 2006 as part of the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act in 2006 and should be funded at that level. However, Ellis did acknowledged the Obama administration's current budgetary woes. "We realize the administration is looking for ways to make sound investments and responsible investments to keep the annual budget down, however it is our belief that port security needs to be funded at the level it's authorized for. I've seen no justification why the funding was below authorized limits."

And now from the 'I can't believe it' files

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I've been holding on to this for a few days. I had to let it all sink in.

Here's the headline from The New York Times:
U.S. Accidentally Releases List of Nuclear Sites

First off, how does this happen? How does something get posted 'accidentally'? I can't even get the correct SDN logo posted and I've been trying for two years now.

This reminds me of that hard drive that went missing.

The report details the locations of hundreds of nuclear sites and activities. Each page is marked across the top "Highly Confidential Safeguards Sensitive" in capital letters ... The report lists many particulars about nuclear programs and facilities at the nation's three nuclear weapons laboratories — Los Alamos, Livermore and Sandia — as well as dozens of other federal and private nuclear sites.

One of the most serious disclosures appears to center on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which houses the Y-12 National Security Complex, a sprawling site ringed by barbed wire and armed guards. It calls itself the nation’s Fort Knox for highly enriched uranium, a main fuel of nuclear arms.

The report lists “Tube Vault 16, East Storage Array,” as a prospective site for nuclear inspection. It said the site, in Building 9720-5, contains highly enriched uranium for “long-term storage.”

An attached map shows the exact location of Tube Vault 16 along a hallway and its orientation in relation to geographic north, although not its location in the Y-12 complex.

This is my favorite quote from the article:

"These screw-ups happen," said John M. Deuth, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at MIT.

That seems to be the general consensus from security experts, but Washington is in a flurry of activity as officials try to find out why this was posted in a public forum.

It's true, 'these screw-ups happen' but should they should be limited. If this information leads to criminal or terrorist acts, what will people be saying then?

Toy gun causes campus scare

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I know I've said it a million times, but it's because I hear it all the time: Security is everyone's responsibility.

I just read this article from CNN about four students who have been taken into custody for allegedly touting a toy gun around Princeton's campus. In this day and age, when school shootings are frighteningly common, no one should be waving around fake guns on a college campus. It's stupid and frankly, it's a good way to get shot. I attended an active shooting seminar several months ago and know that security personnel are trained to stop a shooter and might not have time to decipher between a paintball rifle or a toy gun and a real weapon. Because of the incident campus security briefly asked Princeton students to remain indoors.

Another interesting side note from this article was this sentence (thanks to my colleague for pointing this out):

However, four juveniles with a toy gun were taken into custody, New Jersey State Police said on the Web site Twitter.

Are there a lot of police departments out there using Twitter? Talk about a good use of social media. During a crisis a department might not have time to issue a formal statement or hold a press conference, but they probably have time for someone to post 140 characters on Twitter. It keeps the media and public abreast of the situation, but isn't mistaken as a formal statement. Interesting, wouldn't you say?

I heart Paddy

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When Leischen visited Paramount Pictures last month she found that the most sensitive security process was protecting the studio's intellectual property, the movies. If a movie is leaked before the final cut is completed — like Wolverine, for example — it can equate into huge losses for the production company.

Well, the same can be said for the DVD versions of movies, right? How many people really go to the movies anyway? (I don't. I was dying to see Star Trek and still haven't) With that in mind, here is a sweet story about a lovely dog named Paddy who helped officials and the Motion Picture Association sniff out 35,000 counterfeit DVDs.

EBay counterfeiter faces the music

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here's an article about a guy who has plead guilty for selling counterfeit items on eBay. Good news, right? He was busted for "criminal use of counterfeit trademarks by the North Carolina secretary of State Trademark Enforcement Division" following an investigation that turned up a major counterfeiting operation. Two brothers and a guy from Taiwan are in custody.

What I find interesting is this:

Acushnet Company, which is comprised of the Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra golf equipment brands, played an integral part in the arrests by alerting and working with the North Carolina authorities.

In this case, Acushnet observed counterfeit golf products being sold on eBay conducted an internal investigation prior to presenting the matter to the N.C. Secretary of State's Office. A two-month investigation resulted in allegations that the Fondrie's operated an Internet-based site that sold fake brand-name golfing gear imported from Asia. The product was then sold both domestically and internationally on a "store site" on eBay, the large on-line auction company. Postal authorities monitored shipping traffic connected to the case, while law enforcement used eBay records to track sales. Thousands of fake golf products were seized, including counterfeit Titleist, Cobra and Scotty Cameron products, among other brand.

What role did eBay play in this investigation? From this article, it seems like it had limited involvement. If so (I'll try to find out), that is a major problem. There was a store on the site that was selling a flippin' lot of fake items. Did anyone from their fraud team notice? Is all that money they say they are spending on policing fake/hot goods going to waste? Can anyone answer these questions?

To be continued ....

Colby incident update

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've been following the case regarding an accusation that campus security guards used excessive force on students during an altercation that was caught on video (see my past blog with the video footage here). According to this article, a district attorney has filed charges against the three Colby College students with counts of assault, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

An independent investigation found that "virtually everyone involved could have conducted themselves better." And while the students involved have accused the officers of misconduct, no formal charges have been brought against the officers involved.