Morning Security Brief: Covert Aid To Syria Authorized, Suspected Whistleblower Sues the Government, San Diego’s Alert System

By Carlton Purvis

►U.S. officials told the media that President Barack Obama has signed an order authorizing covert support for Syrian rebels. The source didn’t say when the order was signed but that it was within the past several months. “Exactly what type of support the finding authorizes is also unclear. The Obama administration has ruled out arming the rebels for now, providing only nonlethal assistance, such as communications equipment,” CNN reports. The source said the U.S. is working with countries who are arming the rebels to find out which groups are worthy of aid. During the war in Libya, Obama signed a similar directive.

►A former congressional staffer who is suspected of being the source that exposed the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program is suing the government, saying her rights have been violated because her computer was seized five years ago and never been returned. Diane Roark, a former House Intelligence Committee aide, says she never leaked information to the press. The feds think she did and seized the computer as part of their investigation.

►San Diego has expanded its emergency alert system to send alerts to users through mobile phones, tablets, computers, and wireless Braille readers. In an effort to reach a wider audience, the notification is send by text, voice, and video format. “The videos are recorded in American Sign Language and explain to the recipient what to do in the emergency. The text of the message is also translated into English and displayed below the video. As the video shows the message in Sign Language, a voice recording simultaneously plays the message slowly in English for individuals for whom English isn’t their first language so they may better understand,” Government Technology reports. Prior to now, the alerts were sent over landline phones. The system, AlertSanDiego, is free and opt-in only.

►In other news, veterinarians and first responders in Utah teamed up for an exercise in foreign animal disease (FAD) containment. The three-day exercise mimicked a discovery of foot-and-mouth disease at a dairy farm and included classroom training on topics of biosecurity on the farm, agro-security planning, pathogen control, and livestock inspection. ♦ A federal court on Wednesday ordered TSA to explain why it is still using so-called nude body scanners at airport checkpoints. ♦ And Texas sees its second livestock anthrax case of the summer.




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