It only reached 60 degrees yesterday in Maine, the coldest high temperature ever recorded for that date, and while we could definitely use some heat around here, there's been some serious heat on security in the news as of late (wow, that was quite a stretch, even for me).
Anyway, an article in USA Today reports that the Government Accountability Office will testify to members of the Senate today that undercover agents were able to sneak bombs and detonators into federal buildings undetected. While the GAO did not disclose what federal buildings were breached, the article does say that those buildings were occupied by Homeland Security, Justice and State departments.
Investigators for Congress' Government Accountability Office said they succeeded on each of 10 attempts in April and May to enter federal office buildings with a hidden liquid explosive and detonator. Inside the buildings, investigators assembled the bombs, carried them in a briefcase and "walked freely around several floors," according to a statement the GAO will make at a Senate hearing Wednesday morning.
In a similar vein, the New York Police Department published a report advising managers and developers of high-profile buildings to take more steps to guard against attacks. The 130-page report provides security recommendations for owners, including guidelines on how to improve perimeter security and access control.
I had a very interesting conversation a few days ago with Amotz Brandes, managing partner with Chameleon Associates, an Israeli-based company that specializes in profiling tactics and training. Brandes said that while technology plays an important role in security, it will never be able to replace the human element of security, which is the ability to evaluate a situation. Profiling, generally, includes questioning and engaging individuals, recognizing suspicion and, once suspicion is aroused, attempting to refute it. While terrorists can be taught how to get around technology (like sneaking liquid explosives into federal buildings), it is very difficult to train someone not to look or act suspicious.
However, one good thing from the GAO's report is that security is finally being tested. Brandes said that when he worked for the Israeli security department they were 'red teamed' or tested constantly. Whereas, he said in the U.S., if a TSA officer comes across a security breach, it will likely be the first time he or she has ever encountered such a thing. Testing people, and holding them accountable for successes and failures, is critical to bringing more awareness into security.