Morning Security Brief: Baghdad Security, Deepwater Investigation, Cybersecurity Funding, Kenya Attack

By Mark Tarallo

► The United States is beefing up security at its embassy in Baghdad and will move some workers out of the Iraqi capital, the State Department said on Sunday. In addition, U.S. citizens in Iraq were advised to exercise caution and limit travel in five provinces, including Anbar in the west and Kirkuk in the north, Reuters reported. "Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated, both to our Consulate Generals in Basra and Arbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman," the State Department said in a statement. The moves came as the al-Qaida-inspired extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured another city in Iraq, Tal Afar, after seizing Mosul (the country’s second-largest city) and Tikrit (Saddam Hussein’s hometown) earlier this month. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the attacks represent an existential threat to the future of Iraq.

► The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has released an investigative report on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that took place in the Macondo Prospect oil field, often described as one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history. The report, Explosion and Fire at the Macondo Well, asserts that the spill was caused by an “unrecognized pipe buckling phenomenon” that stopped the blowout preventer from sealing the well, which resulted in the especape of high-pressure oil and gas. Two more volumes of the CSB’s Macondo investigation are forthcoming, and they will address additional regulatory matters as well as organizational and human safety issues raised by the accident.

► Cybersecurity-related funding is ample in the Senate’s fiscal 2015 appropriations bill for the Commerce Department, Justice Department, and science agencies, including allocations for projects designed to beef up security for government systems, conduct research, and encourage the growth of cybersecurity professions and businesses. For example, the bill would provide $15 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology's planned National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, according to The center, located in Rockville, Maryland, is intended to encourage colocation of a cluster of private-sector firms. In addition, the National Science Foundation would receive $159 million in cybersecurity research grants to distribute and a $45 million scholarship program to train cybersecurity professionals who agree to work in the federal government. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill in upcoming weeks.

► Dozens of extremists attacked a Kenyan coastal town for hours overnight on Sunday, killing at least 48 people and setting two hotels on fire, the Associated Press reported. Authorities blamed al-Shabab, Somalia's al Qaeda-linked terror group. The assault in Mpeketoni began Sunday night as residents watched World Cup matches on TV and lasted until early Monday, with little resistance put up by Kenya's security forces. Cars and buildings still smoldered at daybreak. Like the gunmen who attacked Nairobi's Westgate Mall last year, the Mpeketoni attackers gave life-or-death religious tests, a witness said, killing those who were not Muslim. "They came to our house at around 8 p.m. and asked us in Swahili whether we were Muslims. My husband told them we were Christians and they shot him in the head and chest," Anne Gathigi told the AP.


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