Morning Security Brief: DHS Progress Report, Private Scanners, Employee Search Ruling, Anthrax Emerging, and More

By Carlton Purvis


►The Department of Homeland Security issues its own assessment of how it has done at Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations. Among the achievements, it notes that prior to 9/11, there were terrorism watchlists but they were neither coordinated nor consolidated. Today, four centers coordinate the search for potential terrorists trying to enter the country. "In addition, watchlist data that previously had been retained at entry points in the United States has now been pushed overseas," the report notes. Additionally, prior to 9/11, there was no advanced screening of persons seeking to enter the U.S. from visa-waiver countries. Now those travelers are screened against several databases.

►The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new technology to increase privacy after public outrage over full body scanners that show nearly nude images. Now, as a person passes through the machine, only the outline of a body will be visible to screeners. “The agency says the change is intended to protect travelers' privacy rights while securing commercial air travel. It will be used in 40 airports, including in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Miami and Newark,” the Associated Press reports.

►The Fourth Circuit court of appeals ruled that Maryland corrections officials were entitled to qualified immunity from a lawsuit brought by several employees who said their Fourth Amendment rights were violated when they were subjected to vehicle and strip searches in 2008. Several employees participating in an interdiction drug operation tested positive for controlled substances while being screened by an ion scanning machine that can detect trace amounts of drugs. They employees were then strip searched; no drugs were found. In an opinion issued July 21, Judge Fred Motz dismissed the case, saying the strip searches were not out of bounds and that “The Fourth Amendment’s broad standards are often difficult to apply in the prison and technology contexts, let alone both, and nothing from the Supreme Court or this court clearly prohibited the officials from addressing their pressing needs in this way.”

►Anthrax is back in the mountain areas of Vietnam. The disease has been confirmed in 40 people and one person has died in Vietnam in the last two months, Viet Nam News reports. But it isn’t the result of any terrorist attack. Anthrax is common in nature in the area and can be spread by animals. The Than Uyen area is said to have an emerging epidemic. Health officials are concerned about the heartiness of the bacterium that causes anthrax. "It is hard to destroy the bacterium. Because it must be buried under ground, it takes tens of years to destroy," an official was quoted as saying. Without proper treatment, anthrax can kill in three days. In other anthrax news, an experimental vaccine met its stability goal in the long road to being approved for widespread use. The company said it would be able to make 150 million doses of SparVax in a year if needed. Senator Joe Lieberman and others have called for increased production of vaccines as part of strengthening the United States’ biosecurity preparedness.

►In other news, Maine revamps it’s solitary confinement policy. ♦ Anonymous steals a gigabyte worth of data from NATO.♦ And the U.S. denies losing a drone in Iran.


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