Energy Security: Upgrading The U.S. Electrical Grid

   Author(s): HSNW Staff   Source: homelandsecuritynewswire.com

GridAs society moves toward an increasingly connected world, keeping the U.S. electrical grid reliable and safe from hackers and other potential security threats has perhaps never been more crucial.

To address this challenge, in November 2014 the Department of Energy (DOE) established the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI), a DOE-wide collaboration that gets funding support from the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis (EPSA).

The initiative aims to deliver fundamental knowledge, new concepts, tools and data to support the nation’s journey to modernizing the electric power system infrastructure. Enhanced grid security, grid flexibility via energy storage and improved economic competitiveness are key outcomes of this initiative.

We are working on building a platform of tools and technologies to help industry and grid operators to develop the smart grid of the future … “

How Trump Can Keep America's Grid Safe From Hackers

   Author(s): Selena Larson   Source: CNN

GridThe U.S. electrical grid could be hacked — and security experts want the Trump administration to make it a lot harder for attackers to turn off America's lights.

MIT released a report Tuesday calling for an overhaul of infrastructure cybersecurity. The authors — led by Joel Brenner, senior research fellow at MIT and former head of U.S. counterintelligence — want the administration to take more effective action on securing critical systems we use every day.

Crucially, Brenner said, it's important to move controls for transportation, the electricity grid and gas pipelines off public networks. “A generation ago, these were all locked up in a room, and only the operating engineers could get into that room,” Brenner told CNNTech. “Today, because we wanted to manage geographically dispersed equipment more cheaply and efficiently, we've hooked up all the controls to the internet.”

These networks are accessible to the general public — what most people connect with to watch movies, check email and tweet. Private networks are physically separate from the public internet, meaning that while they can also connect to common operating systems and websites, only select individuals can use them. It's much easier for hackers to take down the electric grid if it's connected to a public network. While moving to private networks won't make the grid completely unhackable, experts say it would drastically improve security.

U.S. presidents have called for improving infrastructure security for more than two decades. In 1990 President George H.W. Bush issued National Security Directive 42, in which he warned: “Telecommunications and information processing systems are highly susceptible to interception, unauthorized electronic access, and related forms of technical exploitation.”

Fast forward to a 2013 executive order from President Obama: “The cyber threat to critical infrastructure continues to grow and represents  … “

 

Rasmieh Odeh's Guilty Plea Accepted

   Author(s): IPTNews   Source: IPT Staff

Rasmieh Odeh's Guilty Plea Accepted

Editor's Note: For greater detail on the Rasmieh Odeh case, her elevation to hero by Palestinian advocates and the impact on her victims, please watch the Investigative Project on Terrorism's five-part video series, “Spinning a Terrorist Into a Victim.”

She couldn't say the words. Three times U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain asked, “Are you pleading guilty or not guilty?” Each time, Rasmieh Odeh paused.

“I think to sign this [plea agreement], it makes me guilty,” she finally said. And with that, she begrudgingly ended a nearly four-year prosecution based upon her failure to disclose her arrest, conviction and imprisonment stemming from two 1969 terrorist bombings in Jerusalem when she applied to become an American citizen.

Odeh, 69, will be sentenced in August for naturalization fraud. A loss of her citizenship and deportation is guaranteed to be part of that sentence. A jury convicted Odeh in 2014, but she won a new trial in December after an appeals court ruled that testimony supporting her defense was improperly barred.

That defense was built around an unproven claim that Odeh suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought on by alleged torture while in Israeli custody. Her confession to the bombings came only after 25 days of torture, she claims. When immigration papers asked whether she ever had been arrested or convicted, the PTSD caused her to filter out that past, Odeh claims, and believe the question only applied to her time in the United States.

There were several problems with that theory. Records from her Israeli prosecution indicate she confessed within a day of her arrest. And the immigration official who interviewed Odeh as part of the naturalization process previously testified that she always

Sen. Lindsey Graham: There are 'No Good Choices Left' with North Korea

   Author(s): Ellen Mitcheel   Source: TheHill.com

North KoreaNorth Korea could have the capability to fire a missile at the United States by 2020, top Asia-Pacific experts told lawmakers Tuesday.

“It’s a matter of time if nothing changes,” Victor Cha, a Korean expert at the Center For Strategic and International Studies, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I can’t think of a more proximate threat to our security at this point.” Cha was responding to a question from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who asked whether it is a matter of time before North Korea has an intercontinental ballistic missile that that can strike American soil.

The panel of experts were skeptical, however, that China will exert economic pressure against North Korea to change its behavior. “I do not believe China will exert the pressure required to force the North Korean regime to make those fundamental changes,” said Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, who spoke on the panel.

“We essentially have to prepare for a North Korean capability that will ultimately be able to reach the United States. And if it comes to that point, we have only one of two choices: We continue to hope in the reliability of deterrents, which is dangerous because of the unpredictability of this regime, or we will be forced into military actions, which will be extremely costly and painful.”

Cha, however, said China might be persuaded to work with the United States as they “are desperate for some kind of diplomacy to take place. They really don’t understand what President Trump might do. They feel they have no control over North Korea so they might be more receptive than they were in the past.”

The hearing, which covered a range of possible outcomes

Trump Administration Discovers Former President Obama Was Spending $300 Million on Fake Afghan Soldiers, Gives Pentagon New Orders

   Author(s): Ben Marquis   Source: conservativetribune.com

TrumpMillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars were being foolishly wasted paying for the salaries of non-existent “ghost” soldiers and policemen in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, but no more.

According to the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John Sopko, who recently sat down for an interview with Sharyl Attkinson of Full Measure, the ongoing problem may have been worse than anyone realized, but was being addressed by President Donald Trump’s Pentagon.

“We’ve been raising this concern about ghosts going back a number of years,” Sopko said. “Actually I want to say we heard about it from (Afghan President) Ashraf Ghani years ago, before he became president, he warned me about ‘ghosts,’ so we started looking three years ago.”

“What we’re talking about are policemen, Afghan policemen, Afghan military, Afghan civil servants who don’t exist or they have multiple identity cards and we’re paying their salaries,” he explained. “By ‘we’ I mean the United States and the international community. And we started finding out that we had no capacity to measure the number of soldiers, teachers, doctors, military people who we are paying their salaries.”

Fox News reported in October that the fraud could have amounted to more than $300 million annually. Asked if this indicated fraud had been taking place, Sopko replied: “Major fraud. And what’s happening is the commanders or generals or other higher officials are actually pocketing the salaries of the ghosts.”

“And I remember President Ghani again, at that time he wasn’t president, saying, ‘John, you the United States government are paying the salary of an Afghan who

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Unveils Trusted Traveler Comparison Tool

   Author(s): Office_of_the_Press_Secretary   Source: dhs.gov

U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityDHS Unveils Trusted Traveler Comparison Tool
Release Date: April 21, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

The tool helps prospective applicants find the best DHS Trusted Traveler Program for them according to their travel preferences and citizenship

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security unveiled today a new Trusted Traveler comparison tool. The tool helps prospective applicants find the DHS Trusted Traveler Program that best matches their citizenship and travel preferences.

More than 10 million low-risk travelers currently receive expedited clearance as members of one of the five Trusted Traveler Programs: TSA Pre✓™, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration manage these programs, which are customized to fit a variety of travel needs. The tool can be accessed on DHS.gov.

“CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs have successfully improved the international arrivals process—reducing wait times at airports across the country while maintaining our primary mission of security,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “Using this new tool, prospective Trusted Travelers will be better able to decide which program best suits their travel needs, so they can apply and, if approved, begin enjoying the benefits of expedited clearance that millions people currently do.”

Membership in DHS Trusted Traveler Programs has grown by 169 percent since FY14 from more than 4 million members to more than 10.8 million members. During that same time period, Global Entry membership, the largest DHS Trusted Traveler Program, grew approximately 141 percent—from more than 1.6 million members to more than 4 million members.

“We’re pleased with the launch

Judge Who Blocked Trump Sanctuary City Order Bundled $200K for Obama

   Author(s): Foxnews Staff   Source: FoxNews

Federal Judge William Orrick III, who on Tuesday blocked President Trump's order to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, reportedly bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars for President Barack Obama.

Orrick, of the Northern District of California, issued an injunction against the Trump administration after the city of San Francisco and county of Santa Clara sued over the president's plan to withhold federal funds from municipalities that harbor illegal immigrants.

As FoxNews.com reported: The ruling from U.S. District Judge William Orrick III in San Francisco said that Trump's order targeted broad categories of federal funding for sanctuary governments, and that plaintiffs challenging the order were likely to succeed in proving it unconstitutional.

The decision will block the measure for now, while the federal lawsuit works its way through the courts. The news comes on the heels of the Department of Justice threatening on Friday to cut off funding to eight so-called “sanctuary cities,” unless they were able to provide proof to the federal government that they weren’t looking the other way when it came to undocumented immigrants. The same judge issued a restraining order in 2015 against the advocacy group responsible for undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees plotting to sell baby organs.

At the time, The Federalist found that Orrick raised at least $200,000 for Obama and donated more than $30,000 to groups supporting him.

Iran Plotting Terror on Jewish and Israeli Targets: Is America Next?

   Author(s): Steven Emerson   Source: terror-alert.com

US FlagsIran is responsible for a significant amount of espionage activity in Germany over the past decade, and is responsible for planning terrorist attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets, the Jerusalem Post reports.

In a letter sent to a Left Party deputy from German's interior ministry, the federal government launched 22 criminal investigations concerning Iran's illegal espionage activity – more than China and Turkey who were suspected in 15 spy cases each. Only Russia, with 27 cases, is involved in more suspected espionage activity than Iran.

In one case, German prosecutors allege that Haidar Syed-Naqfi was ordered to identify Jewish and Israeli institutions in Germany and other Western European countries as potential targets for terrorist attacks. For example, he was accused of monitoring the headquarters of a Jewish newspaper in Berlin. Syed-Naqfi also identified several Israel supporters, including the former chief of the German-Israel Friendship Society and a French-Israeli business professor. German authorities believe his preparations were “a clear indication of an assassination attempt.”

Between July 2015 and July 2016, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) al-Quds Force paid Syed-Naqi more than $2,200. Half of Germany's state governments reported Iranian attempts to acquire material related to nuclear activities in 2015, the Post reports. An examination of intelligence sources in 2016 also produced new revelations surrounding Iran's chemical and biological weapons programs.

Iran pursued German businesses in the Rhineland-Palatinate state seeking dual-use goods that could be “used for atomic, biological and chemical weapons in a war,” according to that state's intelligence report. An estimated 250 active Iranian-backed Hizballah operatives, out of about 950 Hizballah members throughout Germany, according to a 2014 Berlin intelligence report summarized by the Post.

Last month, Bahrain security authorities arrested members of an Iranian-sponsored terrorist cell, accusing them of planning to assassinate senior government officials. The IRGC reportedly provided military training to

A Mortal Enemy Called Radical Islam

   Author(s): Lloyd Billingsley   Source: Frontpagemag.com

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly“For a brief moment after the attacks of 9/11,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Tuesday, “our nation shook off its complacency, and realized our American values had a mortal enemy called radical Islam.”

This threat, Kelly said, “has metastasized and decentralized, and the risk is as threatening today as it was that September morning almost 16 years ago.”

Part of the problem, Gen. Kelly said, is that many “holy warriors” will depart their home countries, and because of the Visa Waiver Program, “they can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence.”

To address this problem, President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily restricting travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations with terrorist issues, only to have the order blocked by federal judge James Robart. Last month, President Trump issued “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Federal judge Derrick Watson blocked the order, ruling that a reasonable person would conclude that the measure was “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion,” not to prevent terrorists from entering the United States.

Neither judge made any reference to the way terrorists had gained entry to the United States in the past, particularly before September 11, 2001. As it happens, the United States government has already addressed that subject at considerable length. “It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot

 

What North Korea Should Teach Us about Iran

   Author(s): Alan M. Dershowitz   Source: Gatestoneinstitute.Org

We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. As a result, our options to stop them from developing a delivery system capable of reaching our shores are severely limited.

The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before they became a nuclear power is that we MUST stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interests than a nuclear North Korea. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores.

Its fundamentalist religious leaders would be willing to sacrifice millions of Iranians to destroy the “Big Satan” (United States) or the “Little Satan” (Israel). The late “moderate” leader Hashemi Rafsanjani once told an American journalist that if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, they “would kill as many as five million Jews,” and that if Israel retaliated, they would kill fifteen million Iranians, which would be “a small sacrifice from among the billion Muslims in the world.” He concluded that “it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.” Recall that the Iranian mullahs were willing to sacrifice thousands of “child-soldiers” in their futile war with Iraq. There is nothing more dangerous than a “suicide regime” armed with nuclear weapons.

The deal signed by Iran in 2015 postpones Iran's quest for a nuclear arsenal, but it doesn't prevent it, despite Iran's unequivocal statement in the preamble to the agreement that “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.” (Emphasis added).

Recall that North Korea provided similar assurances to the Clinton Administration back in 1994, only to break them several years later — with no real consequences. The Iranian mullahs apparently regard their reaffirmation as merely hortatory and not legally binding. The body of the agreement itself — the portion Iran believes is legally binding — does not preclude Iran from developing nuclear weapons after a certain time, variously estimated as between 10 to 15 years from the signing of the agreement. Nor does it prevent Iran from perfecting its delivery systems, including nuclear tipped inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

If we are not to make the same mistake with Iran that we made with North Korea, we must do something now – before Iran secures a weapon – to deter the mullahs from becoming a nuclear power, over which we would have little or no leverage.

Congress should now enact legislation declaring that Iran's reaffirmation that it will never “develop or acquire nuclear weapons” is an integral part of the agreement and represents the policy of the United States. It is too late to change the words of the deal, but it is not too late for Congress to insist that Iran comply fully with all of its provisions, even those in the preamble.

In order to ensure that the entirety of the agreement is carried out, including that reaffirmation, Congress should adopt the proposal made by

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