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Category Archives: Homeland Security

Border Security Today

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Friday, October 10, 2014 at 1:55 PM

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson gave a very useful speech earlier this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Entitled “Border Security in the 21st Century,” it provides a detailed overview of how our effort to secure the border (most notably, of course, the southwestern border) has matured in this century.  The entire text . . .
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The Law and Policy of Ebola Interdiction

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Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 7:00 AM

A few days ago President Obama announced his intention to do greater screening of passengers arriving in the United States, as a way of interdicting the spread of the Ebola virus. According to the Washington Post, the new procedures will include “entry” screening – that is screening upon arrival in the United States – layered . . .
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The FBI’s Facial Recognition Program

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Earlier this week, the FBI announced the completion of its “next generation” facial recognition program.  The system, now “fully operational” will house more than 52 million faces, which (assuming no duplication) is roughly 1 in 6 Americans.  The system is said to be only moderately effective — it will typically return 50 possible matches for . . .
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Reorganizing Congress — A 9/11 Perspective

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 1:26 PM

On this day of remembrance, the three prior Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security have issued a joint letter calling on Congress to reorganize itself and streamline oversight of DHS.  I can think of no better way for Congress to honor those who have died than by taking steps to get its own house . . .
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Countries Without Conflicts: Notes from Iceland

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 7:40 PM

It’s hard to imagine a place in the world where one would feel less threatened by geopolitics than Iceland. It’s an island. It’s pretty far from anywhere else. And it has very few people (the entire country has a population of only 330,000). It has not had any kind of real international conflict since the . . .
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DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Speaking at the ABA Convention

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Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 5:00 PM

At this hour, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson is speaking at the ABA Convention. Here’s the text of his speech: REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY JEH JOHNSON AT THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONVENTION – AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY Release Date: Aug. 9, 2014 Boston Hynes Convention Center (As prepared for delivery) Introduction Thank you, Elizabeth, . . .
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The Intercept on NCTC Guidance for Putting People on Terrorism Watchlists

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Over at the Intercept, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux have this piece on the NCTC’s guidelines for adding citizens and foreigners to terrorism watchlists. Their article opens: The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an . . .
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U.K. Independent Reviewer on British Terrorism Legislation

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 3:18 PM

David Anderson, the U.K.’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, has released his annual report on British terrorism laws. The report covers several broad topics: ethnic or community bias in the use of police powers; the worldwide reach of U.K. counter-terrorism law; the difficulties posed by counter-terrorism law to the operation of aid agencies in conflict zones; and . . .
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Bringing More Due Process to CFIUS: An Overview of the D.C. Circuit’s Opinion in Ralls

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Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Tuesday’s opinion in Ralls v. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States came as quite a surprise. For the first time, a federal court considered the relationship between due process, on the one hand; and, on the other, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency mechanism with which the . . .
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Court Demands New Procedures for Challenging No-Fly List Determinations

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Friday, June 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM

As Wells noted a few days ago, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon issued an opinion this week in Latif v. Holder, which held unconstitutional certain redress procedures for individuals on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s No-Fly List.  This post overviews the opinion. Judge Anna Brown begins with a recitation of the . . .
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Guest Post from Jeff Kahn on Latif v. Holder (Striking Down the No-Fly List)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Professor Jeff Kahn (SMU Law, also visiting at W&L Law) writes in with the following guest post on yesterday’s no-fly list decision.  Be sure to check out Jeff’s terrific book on the right to travel and terror watchlists (here). Judge Anna Brown in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon issued an important . . .
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Two Quite Important Rulings Today

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Coincidentally, they come to us from two different federal judges in the District of Oregon. The first decision concludes that remedial mechanisms associated with the so-called “No Fly” list violate due process;  the second rejects a defendant’s post-conviction effort to have an indictment thrown out—and, among other things, in doing so also rejects a constitutional attack on Section . . .
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Weekend Reading — the 2014 QHSR

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Friday, June 20, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Back in 2006 or so, we had a great idea — the Department of Homeland Security should do a quadrennial review, just as DOD does.  Thus was born the QHSR — the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.  The first such one was completed in 2010 and now, like clockwork, the second ever QHSR is out — . . .
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Tsarnaev and the Inspectors General: a Reply to Michael German

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 6:00 AM

In his response to my earlier Lawfare post on the FBI’s investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a later review of that investigation by various Inspectors General, Michael German misconceives my argument.  Put as concisely and clearly as possible, my argument has four points: 1. A formal tip from a nation that wants our cooperation should be taken . . .
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On Tsarnaev and the Inspectors General Review: a Response to Philip Heymann

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Friday, May 9, 2014 at 2:47 PM

I was troubled by Philip Heymann’s Lawfare critique of the joint Inspectors General review of the government’s pre-Boston Marathon bombing investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. There is much to commend in Heymann’s thinking, as I note below. But, like the review itself, Heymann’s analysis nevertheless is flawed by his unexplained omission of crucial facts—not least Tsarnaev’s . . .
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DHS Unity of Effort

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Big news over at the Department of Homeland Security.  Now in its 11th year, the Department continues to be operationally disaggregated into its component parts, with little of the cross-cutting economies of scale and efficiencies of effort that were a promised result of its creation.  Prior Secretaries have tried to tame the process with limited . . .
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Heartbleed as Metaphor

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Monday, April 21, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I begin with a paragraph from Wikipedia: Self-organized criticality is one of a number of important discoveries made in statistical physics and related fields over the latter half of the 20th century, discoveries which relate particularly to the study of complexity in nature.  For example, the study of cellular automata, from the early discoveries of . . .
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Foreign Purchases of U.S. Businesses, Presidential Power, and National Security: Ralls Corp. v. CFIUS

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Friday, April 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM

When then-Representative Barney Frank contemplated the ability of foreign interests to acquire American companies at the expense of national security, he made the following statement: There is no right to buy.  You do not have to file [with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), but by not filing, you do not immunize . . .
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Turning Off Transponders — Aviation Security and MH370

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM

In an earlier post regarding MH370, I wondered why it was that transponders on airplanes were still capable of being turned off.  I feel rather justified to realize that I’m not the only one asking the question.  Gregg Easterbrook has an op-ed in The New York Times in which he makes the same point and . . .
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Thinking about MH370

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Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Fools, they say, rush in where angels fear to tread.  Proving that I am less angelic than foolish (and confident that the blogosphere will quickly forget these musings), I thought I’d offer a few Homeland Security-related thoughts on lessons learned from MH370.   Of course this speculation can be utterly overtaken by events, but even at . . .
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