Morning Security Brief: Border Security, Terror Alerts, and a Guilty Verdict for Enron Executive

By Teresa Anderson

► The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing yesterday to discuss challenges in securing the southern border of the United States. While witnesses and lawmakers agreed that significant problems remain, some disagreed on the current solutions. For example, Veronica Escobar, an El Paso County judge, argued that scarce resources are being misused. “Where has some of the federal funding gone, if not to my trauma facility or my law enforcement capacity? It’s gone to a wall. While federal law enforcement has gone on the record to praise the border wall, it is to me and others an example of considerable federal dollars being spent on a rusting monument that makes my community look like a junk yard,” Escobar said.

► The Associated Press (AP) reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to phase out the current color-coded terror alert system. According to documents obtained by the AP, there will be only two warning levels: elevated and imminent. The warnings will expire after a certain time and will only be reported to the public if DHS has specific information that could be helpful in thwarting an attack. General threats or information that could threaten intelligence operations will be withheld. DHS also plans to find new ways of delivering the warnings such as via Facebook and Twitter.

► The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld the fraud conviction of Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling. The appeals court heard Skilling’s appeal after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the “honest services” provision of the federal fraud statute. However, the appeals court ruled that even if the convictions related to the honest services provision were thrown out, sufficient evidence remained to prove that Skilling had conspired with others to manipulate Enron’s earnings and conceal it’s losses.


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