April 11, 2013 in Featured
The Department of Defense has issued an instruction clarifying the rules for the involvement of military forces in civilian law enforcement. The instruction establishes “DoD policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for DoD support to Federal, State, tribal, and local civilian law enforcement agencies, including responses to civil disturbances within the United States.” The new instruction titled “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” was released at the end of February, replacing several older directives on military assistance to civilian law enforcement and civil disturbances. The instruction requires that senior DoD officials develop “procedures and issue appropriate direction as necessary for defense support of civilian law enforcement agencies in coordination with the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, and in consultation with the Attorney General of the United States”, including “tasking the DoD Components to plan for and to commit DoD resources in response to requests from civil authorities for [civil disturbance operations].” Military officials are to coordinate with “civilian law enforcement agencies on policies to further DoD cooperation with civilian law enforcement agencies” and the heads of the combatant commands are instructed to issue procedures for “establishing local contact points in subordinate commands for purposes of coordination with Federal, State, tribal, and local civilian law enforcement officials.”
March 26, 2013 in Featured
The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) is warning military personnel to avoid becoming victims of online sextortion scams using “sexual images (obtained either through enticement or malicious code)” to extort money from unsuspecting victims. “Cyber sextortion” is described as a growing problem among the military services with incidents being reported by “all Military Criminal Investigative Organizations” involving service members located at bases all over the world. The AFOSI report, released in February on a restricted basis, was recently posted online on the document-sharing website Scribd.
March 19, 2013 in Featured
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is warning law enforcement and first responders that urban exploration, an activity that involves trying to gain access to restricted or abandoned man-made structures, can provide useful information for terrorists conducting surveillance of a potential target. Also known as “building hacking”, urban exploration has been around in its modern form for decades, tracing some its more recent history to post-war exploration of the Parisian catacombs and members of MIT’s Tech Model Railroad Club Signals and Power Subcommittee, who organized explorations of steam tunnels and rooftops around campus in the late 1950s.
March 1, 2013 in Featured
A document issued last month by the Department of Homeland Security identifies priorities for the collection of suspicious activity reports from local communities around the U.S. The document describes”topics of interest” identified by DHS Intelligence and Analysis (DHS/I&A) analysts as priorities for the Winter 2013 period that should be utilized by “law enforcement, first responders, and other homeland security professionals” to improve their reporting of suspicious activity.
January 22, 2013 in Featured
Despite the U.S. military’s massive spending each year on advanced communications technology, the use of simple text chat or tactical chat has outpaced other systems to become one of the most popular paths for communicating practical information on the battlefield. Though the use of text chat by the U.S. military first began in the early 1990s, in recent years tactical chat has evolved into a “primary ‘comms’ path, having supplanted voice communications as the primary means of common operational picture (COP) updating in support of situational awareness.” An article from January 2012 in the Air Land Sea Bulletin describes the value of tactical chat as an effective and immediate communications method that is highly effective in distributed, intermittent, low bandwidth environments which is particularly important with “large numbers of distributed warfighters” who must “frequently jump onto and off of a network” and coordinate with other coalition partners. Text chat also provides “persistency in situational understanding between those leaving and those assuming command watch duties” enabling a persistent record of tactical decision making.
January 10, 2013 in Featured
An FBI analysis of active shooter incidents since 2002 found that 96% of the attacks were perpetrated by males, most of which acted alone. The statistic is found in a joint intelligence bulletin released at the end of December by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. The bulletin provides brief advice on crisis response and long-term protective measures as well as statistics related to past active shooter incidents, which are defined as situations where one or more individuals participates in a “random or systematic killing spree demonstrating their intent to harm others with a firearm.” Active shooters are distinguished from other “traditional criminal acts, such as robbery or hostage-taking” by their intention to commit “mass murder”. The FBI analyzed 154 active shooter events in the United States between 2002 and 2012 that included three or more individuals being shot.
January 7, 2013 in Featured
Four days after the mass shooting last July in Aurora, Colorado, a project of the Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security called Ready Houston released a training video to help educate members the public about how to survive a mass shooting. The six-minute video, which was produced with $200,000 from the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative, includes a dramatic recreation of a man dressed entirely in black walking into an office building and beginning to shoot people at random with a shotgun that he pulls from a small satchel. Variously described as “outlandish”, “surreal” and “over-the-top”, the video has met with mixed responses since it was re-released by several fusion centers and local agencies, including most recently the Alabama Department of Homeland Security.
December 11, 2012 in Featured
What kind of “suspicious” behaviors might put you in the sights of your local fusion center? A collection of Fusion Liaison Officer (FLO) reports from the Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) obtained by police accountability activist Andrew Charles Hendricks via a Washington Public Records Act request provide insight into the mechanics of suspicious activity reporting at the local level. More than a dozen reports, which are minimally redacted, detail monthly reporting by the WSFC to its “statewide network of agency-selected law enforcement, fire-fighting and critical infrastructure agency representatives” that ensure “vital disciplines are incorporated into the fusion process by serving as the conduit through which homeland security and crime related information flows to the WSFC for assessment and analysis through the state homeland security Regional Intelligence Groups.” According to the State of Washington, the “end state” of the FLO program “is to have FLOs throughout the state in all aspects of law enforcement, fire service and critical infrastructure” to facilitate the flow of information both to and from the state fusion center.
November 28, 2012 in Featured
A collection of documents recently obtained and published by Public Intelligence provides a complete guide to NATO’s training process for “strategic communications” activities, including public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations and psychological operations. The documents, compiled for participants in a NATO training summit, describe the doctrine behind strategic communications and provide practical examples of their use in a number of recent conflicts from Libya to Afghanistan. These activities are designed to contribute “positively and directly in achieving the successful implementation of NATO operations, missions, and activities” as well as “influence the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of target audiences . . . with the goal of achieving political or military objectives”.
November 26, 2012 in Featured
Last Friday, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hosted a teleconference with the directors of fusion centers around the country as well as the Major City Intelligence Commanders across to discuss the “heightened tensions in the Middle East due to the on-going military actions between Israel and Hamas.” A bulletin from the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) described the conference call, stating that the DHS and FBI representatives emphasized that there is “currently no credible or specific information suggesting any violent actions in the United States as a result of these tensions” but requested increased vigilance from “law enforcement in regions where Jewish consulates or large Jewish populations exist was encouraged, and law enforcement officials on the teleconference from those areas discussed measures being taken to ensure the safety and security of their local communities, which included increased law enforcement presence, community outreach and encouraging reporting of suspicious activities.”
October 22, 2012 in Featured
If you’re trying to set up an untraceable shell corporation, your best bet may no no longer be a tax haven or some far away island nation. According to a surprising new study, developed countries like the U.S. and Canada are among the easiest places in the world to set up the kind of anonymous shell corporation that could be used for money laundering, terrorist financing and other nefarious activities. In contrast, known tax havens like the Seychelles, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands all present far more obstacles to the establishment of untraceable corporate structures due to their more stringent compliance with international regulations. In fact, the study found that U.S.-based incorporation services provide one of the easiest routes to establishing an anonymous shell corporation, with only Kenya surpassing the U.S. in terms of noncompliance.
October 16, 2012 in Featured
Casualties resulting from the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have risen significantly in 2012 according to statistics from the Department of Defense’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Over a 25-month period from August 2010 through August 2012, JIEDDO found that global IED casualties reached their peak in May 2012 with approximately 1800 people wounded and nearly 600 killed in that month alone.
October 9, 2012 in Featured
The Department of Homeland Security’s production of domestic intelligence has increased substantially over the last few years according to a brochure of “intelligence products” published last month by Cryptome. The 2012 DHS Intelligence Enterprise Product Line Brochure is “a standardized catalogue of intelligence reports and products that represent the full breadth” of the agency’s analytical capabilities. It provides descriptions of each type of product created by the DHS Intelligence Enterprise as well as the classification level and instructions on how DHS “customers” can obtain the products.
September 14, 2012 in Featured
An assessment from the U.S. Bomb Data Center describes how criminal bombers have “exploited their victims’ sense of greed or general curiosity by hiding improvised explosive devices (IEDs) inside common everyday items and leaving them as discarded merchandise to be found by the victim.” Written in late May following a string of flashlight bombings in Arizona, the assessment highlights a historical trend used by criminal bombers to lure unsuspecting victims by placing bombs in everything from electric razors to abandoned tackle boxes.
September 11, 2012 in Featured
The problem of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has presented substantial tactical difficulties for coalition forces according to a recent U.S. Army handbook. Produced by the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) and released to soldiers on a restricted basis in June, the handbook presents best practices for reducing civilian casualties (CIVCAS) and offers strategies for mitigating negative effects from casualties among local populations.
September 9, 2012 in Featured
Last month, Cryptome quietly posted a 2007 draft of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s vision statement for the Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC). The document, which has received no media attention, offers the most in depth view yet of the DCAC and its functions. In May, CNET correspondent Declan McCullagh disclosed the existence of the DCAC, which he described as having a mandate “covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order.” The vision statement obtained by Cryptome describes the general functions and organization of the DCAC as well as the FBI’s national electronic surveillance (ELSUR) strategy.
August 29, 2012 in Featured
Law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are obtaining record amounts of surplus military equipment through the Department of Defense’s Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO). Nearly half-a-billion dollars of equipment has already been provided to law enforcement agencies in the first three quarters of 2012, making this year’s transfer of property set to be the largest in the history of the LESO program.
August 20, 2012 in Featured
A recently discovered directive from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) details the policies behind Special Response Teams (SRT) which have been drawing attention in recent years for their large, militaristic armored vehicles and increasing involvement in law enforcement actions around the country. The directive was posted online in 2009 by a local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), one of the the largest labor unions for federal employees.
August 11, 2012 in Featured
A number of hacked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor have shed light on a global suspicious activity surveillance system called TrapWire, that is reportedly in use in locations around the world from the London Stock Exchange to the White House. The emails, which were released yesterday by WikiLeaks, provide information on the extent and operations of a system designed to correlate suspicious activity reports and other evidence that may indicate surveillance connected with a potential terrorist attack.
August 9, 2012 in Featured
A research report compiled earlier this year by a group of social scientists working for the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System found that members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) are largely seen by coalition forces as unmotivated, highly dependent and making little to no progress. The report, titled “ANA and CF Partnership in Khost and Paktiya”, is based on interviews and observations made during the Human Terrain Team’s time embedded with a U.S. cavalry squadron from November to December 2011. A survey distributed to three other companies also informs much of the report’s findings, which are intended to analyze “the dynamics that influence partnering between the ANA and [coalition forces] and how they contributed to the ANA’s effectiveness in gaining the Afghan population’s support.” The soldier’s candid responses to the survey provide a great deal of insight into the perceptions of the Afghan National Army among coalition forces.
August 3, 2012 in Featured
What distinguishes civil support from homeland defense operations? How do operational variables differ from mission variables? What factors define the operational environment? The vocabulary of conflict in U.S. military operations can be unusually complex and esoteric. There can often be huge doctrinal differences indicated by the addition of a single word to a name or description. The amount of epithets and acronyms can sometimes overwhelm even military personnel, causing military communications to appear as a language unto itself. To eliminate the barriers and confusion created by this technical vocabulary, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) worked with a number of government agencies to produce a lexicon detailing the precise definitions of terms and concepts employed by military personnel in countering enemy networks.
July 30, 2012 in Featured
The Director of National Intelligence’s Open Source Center produced a report in June 2012 to help representatives of the U.S. government analyze and communicate with the Syrian people more effectively. The report, part of the Master Narratives series produced in conjunction with a private consulting firm called Monitor 360 and other “partners across the U.S. government”, is focused on “surfacing and articulating master narratives across a range of important geographies. These insights can be used to better understand critical audience segments and key influencers, build analytic capabilities, and develop actionable messaging and counter-messaging strategies.”
July 19, 2012 in Featured
For the last two fiscal years, the President’s Budget Submissions for the Department of Defense have included purchases of a significant amount of combat equipment, including armored vehicles, helicopters and even artillery, under an obscure section of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the purposes of “homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities.” Items purchased under the section include combat vehicles, tanks, helicopters, artillery, mortar systems, missiles, small arms and communications equipment. Justifications for the budget items indicate that many of the purchases are part of routine resupply and maintenance, yet in each case the procurement is cited as being “necessary for use by the active and reserve components of the Armed Forces for homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities” under section 1815 of the FY2008 NDAA.
June 27, 2012 in Featured
A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has provided statements to publications in New Hampshire and Oregon indicating that information regarding domestic drone activities provided by Public Intelligence is inaccurate, despite confirmations from the offices of two U.S. Senators. Following our publication last week of a map of current and proposed Department of Defense drone activities within the U.S., several journalists with local publications around the country wrote articles regarding drone activities that were listed in their area. David Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph wrote about the listing of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington as the site of a USSOCOM drone activity involving small unmanned aerial vehicles including the Raven and Wasp. Corey Pein of the Willamette Week wrote about a planned USSOCOM drone activity in Portland that was listed as utilizing the same types of drones.