Homeland chief says Syria a U.S. domestic security concern
February 7th, 2014
04:59 PM ET

Homeland chief says Syria a U.S. domestic security concern

By Mike M. Ahlers

The Syrian civil war "has become a matter of homeland security" as authorities seek to identify any foreign fighters who might be a threat to the United States, the new homeland security secretary said Friday.

 
Jeh Johnson, making his first major address after seven weeks on the job, said Syria "was the Number One topic of conversation" in talks this week with his counterparts in six European nations.

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Filed under: Homeland Security • Syria
October 23rd, 2012
06:40 AM ET

Review to look at unmanned aircraft safety

By Mike M. Ahlers

From the "Flying Fish" seaplane to something with a wingspan of a Boeing jetliner, an expected surge in unmanned aircraft could pose a challenge for those responsible for keeping U.S. skies safe.

That's why members of Congress influential on aviation matters have asked an independent government watchdog to review whether the Federal Aviation Administration is making progress on meeting a new law to develop a plan for managing that growth.

The agency estimates that unmanned aircraft could number 10,000 in five years.

"While the capabilities of unmanned aircraft have significantly improved, they have a limited ability to detect, sense, and avoid other air traffic," Jeffrey Guzzetti, who handles aviation audits for the Transportation Department's inspector general's office, said in a memo announcing that agency's examination of FAA preparedness.

More than 50 companies, universities and government organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned aircraft designs in the United States alone, according to the FAA.

Broadly defined, the category includes everything from the "Flying Fish," an 18-pound seaplane the FAA authorized a university to fly over a Michigan lake, to planes with wingspans of more than 100 feet, or similar to a Boeing 737.

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Military "bad option" against Iran
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is welcomed by officials at Tehran's Mehrabad on January 14, 2012 upon his return from a five-day visit to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE
January 17th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Military "bad option" against Iran

By Mike M. Ahlers

Former CIA acting director John McLaughlin said the U.S. can engage Iran through diplomacy, sanctions or military action, but said military action "would be a very bad option."
Speaking during a panel discussion in Washington, McLaughlin, who served as acting director of the CIA in 2004, said direct military action with Iran could grow to involve Hezbollah, the militant group based in Lebanon.
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Filed under: CIA • Hezbollah • Iran • Nuclear
Bioterror security at risk
December 20th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Bioterror security at risk

By Mike M. Ahlers

Recent and proposed budget cuts at all levels of government are threatening to reverse the significant post-9/11 improvements in the nation's ability to respond to natural diseases and bioterror attacks, according to a report released Tuesday.

"We're seeing a decade's worth of progress eroding in front of our eyes," said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, which published the report with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Budget cuts already have forced state and local health departments to cut thousands of health officials, the report says.  Cuts are jeopardizing the jobs of federal investigators who help states hunt down diseases, threatening the capabilities at all 10 "Level 1" state labs that conduct tests for nerve agents or chemical agents such as mustard gas, and may hurt the ability of many cities to rapidly distribute vaccines during emergencies, it says.

The "upward trajectory" of preparedness, fueled by more than $7 billion in federal grants to cities and states in the past 10 years, is leveling off, and the gains of the last decade are "at risk," the report says. FULL POST

May 11th, 2011
11:56 AM ET

GAO: Investigators drove 'explosive' into secure port

Washington (CNN) - Undercover government investigators were able to get into major U.S. seaports - at one point driving a vehicle containing a simulated explosive - by flashing counterfeit or fraudulently obtained port "credentials" to security officials - raising serious questions about a program that has issued the cards to more than 1.6 million people, Congress disclosed Tuesday.

At issue are Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, or TWIC cards, now needed by truckers, stevedores, longshoreman and others for unescorted access to the nation's ports.

The Department of Homeland Security has long touted the cards as one of the most important layers in its multilayered system to protect ports from terrorists. FULL POST