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FBI: Americans buying guns in record numbers


WASHINGTON—New figures by the FBI show that during December and January, Americans have bought a record number of guns. 

Obama agrees more "boots on the ground" needed to secure border

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's fairly safe to conclude that the government botched its attempt to secure the border. The article I wrote last week, "Border security: Based on 'dreams, hopes and fantasy'" (great headline, right?) basically found that the government never knew what it wanted, gave very little instruction to its contractor Boeing (who didn't know what it was doing either) and therefore wasted billions of dollars and basically has nothing in place.

There is plenty of fault to go around, that's for sure.

I spoke to the report's author, Tom Barry, about his discussions with the Customs & Border Patrol and law enforcement in the area. Here's what he told me:

During his research, which included reaching out to law enforcement agencies along the border, Barry found that many agencies expressed a desire to have more “boots on the ground” rather than relying so heavily on technology. Although law enforcement agencies expressed eagerness to have improved methods of communication and technology such as GPS systems to improve their efficiencies, they did not view technology as being the primary solution to border issues.

Well, apparently President Obama agrees with this "boots on the ground" approach. It was just announced that the administration wants to send 1,200 National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition, they will also request $500 million for border protection and law enforcement activities, reported CBS News.

The National Guard troops will work on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, analysis and training, and support efforts blocking drug trafficking. The troops will temporarily supplement border patrol agents until Customs and Border Patrol can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border.

Nothing has been officially announced yet and I think the appropriations part will need to be approved through Congress. This change in strategy I think represents a recognition of the utter failure of border security thus far, as well as the growing violence along the border.

Some say this move is good, but not good enough (but will it ever be?):

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the situation on the border has "greatly deteriorated." He called for 6,000 National Guard troops to be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border. "I appreciate the additional 1,200 being sent ... as well as an additional $500 million, but it's simply not enough," McCain said.

I thought the last graph of this article was interesting:
Homeland Security and Pentagon officials have been jousting over the possible National Guard deployment for the better part of a year. Pentagon officials worried about perceptions that the U.S. was militarizing the border and did not want Guard troops to perform law enforcement duties.

Frankly, I think the least of our concerns should be over the perception that we're militarizing the border ('cause I think we need to) and who cares who does it? Border Patrol obviously doesn't have the resources or manpower so send in the troops, but let's just have a clear strategy folks - that's really the challenge here.

Security review comes to a conclusion

Friday, January 8, 2010

Probably like you, I'm starting to get a little disenchanted with aviation security. While the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day was certainly a reminder that there needs to be serious improvements in the system, speculation on how to fix the various problems has just gotten ridiculous (yet entertaining?).

However, there are some legitimate aviation experts weighing in on the issue. The Association of Aviation Security Professionals, for example, has issued a paper on the improvements they think airports should make. Here's an excerpt:

While all travelers must be screened, they do not need to be screened to the same level. For watch-list and some normal passengers, one out of 3 or 4 checkpoint lanes should be converted to a High Security Lane, which uses intelligence and passenger data coupled with effectively selected, integrated technologies for primary- and especially, secondary search. Everyone else would be screened by baseline methods.

And, of course, there are the official changes made by Secretary Napolitano yesterday:

* Re-evaluate and modify the criteria and process used to create terrorist watch lists—including adjusting the process by which names are added to the “No-Fly” and “Selectee” lists.
* Establish a partnership on aviation security between DHS and the Department of Energy and its National Laboratories in order to develop new and more effective technologies to deter and disrupt known threats and proactively anticipate and protect against new ways by which terrorists could seek to board an aircraft.
* Accelerate deployment of advanced imaging technology to provide greater explosives detection capabilities—and encourage foreign aviation security authorities to do the same—in order to identify materials such as those used in the attempted Dec. 25 attack. The Transportation Security Administration currently has 40 machines deployed throughout the United States, and plans to deploy at least 300 additional units in 2010.
* Strengthen the presence and capacity of aviation law enforcement—by deploying law enforcement officers from across DHS to serve as Federal Air Marshals to increase security aboard U.S.-bound flights.
* Work with international partners to strengthen international security measures and standards for aviation security.

Bumpy road ahead

Monday, May 4, 2009

There is a new security leader in place at Chicago Public Schools, and he has some ties to the President Obama.

Michael Shields, who is also first lady Michelle Obama's cousin, was named director of security for Chicago Public Schools. Shields is a 21-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Defender reported.

What interests me far more than Shields' ties to the first family is the very tough task he has in front of him. According to the Defender, 38 students in the public school system have been killed so far this year. Is it just me or is this a really high number?

Andres Durbak, previously the CPS director of security, resigned last week.

Just 'some guy's' opinion

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Former VP Dick Cheney is stirring up some controversy today. In an interview with Politico, he warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.

Some choice quotes:
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry."

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business. These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

Hey, I'm Switzerland here but according to a recent Security Director NewsPoll, 44 percent of of readers said they thought Obama's national security team choices were poor. On the flip side, 25 percent ranked them as OK and 30 percent opined that the choices were great.

I may be simple minded but all I want is for our country to be safe. Is it as dirty of a job as Cheney expresses? Do you think his views are valid? Or is he just spewing negativity?
—Rhianna Daniels

In the land of the bizarre

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm sure you've all heard this by now ... but CNN is reporting that a noose was found Wednesday on the desk of an African-American supervisor at the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The agency's director Mark Cooper, said "this type of behavior is 100 percent unacceptable." Well, I sure hope it isn't. In Louisiana it is actually a felony to display a noose in public and the act is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
The news is a bit disheartening especially in light of President Obama's inauguration this week. It's amazing that we as a society can come so far but also fall so short at the same time.

A historic day

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I was visiting with my friends last night and talked turned to yesterday's presidential inauguration. My friend, who I can honestly say probably has never  worried about security in her life, turned to me and said she was very concerned about Obama's safety yesterday. I think many U.S. citizens felt the same. Even though the event was a celebration of the future of this nation, there was also a dark undertone of what might, could or would happen. Thankfully, we can collectively breathe a sigh of relief. But challenges remain.

Here is an interesting article about the day's security plans from CNN.

Obama gets down to business

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wow. What a rush. The election fury definitely caught up with me and I'm exhausted from election overstimulation. And even though the results are in, I can't keep myself from reading news report after news report about everything from what type of puppy the Obama's should get to speculation about his administrative appointments. But, luckily, I haven't completely squandered precious work hours for nothing. I came across this article that referenced Obama's plan for the future of TSA workers. Here's an excerpt:
In another letter, Obama said getting TSA screeners collective-bargaining rights “will be a priority for my administration” and a means to better workplace conditions and cut down on TSA’s high attrition. “It is unacceptable for [transportation security officers] to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections,” he wrote.

Obama also wrote that he may dismantle TSA’s pay-for-performance system, the Performance Accountability and Standards System, if he finds it is unfair and not transparent, and put TSA employees back on the General Schedule.

Unionizing TSA workers and paying them better wages seems like it would draw more qualified people and thus boost their credibility as security officials (and not just hope their spiffy new uniforms demand authority). It seems like more qualified and committed employees would lead to an overall improvement of security in the aviation industry, but from a business standpoint, unions equal less money to the bottom line and it's not like airlines are exactly rolling in it. However, despite the controversy, I think it's a good sign that Obama's addressing these kind of security issues before he's even sworn in as Commander-in-Chief.

President Obama

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

For those of you who didn't stay up past midnight eastern to watch Obama's acceptance speech, here is a photo from last night. The stage he presented his speech on was lined with presidential-caliber bulletproof glass.