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Morning Security Brief: Fort Hood Shooting, Secret Service Episode, Homeland Security Market, & More

By Mark Tarallo

► An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness opened fire Wednesday on fellow service members at the Fort Hood military base, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide at the same post where more than a dozen people were slain in a 2009 attack, the Washington Post reported. The shooter apparently walked into a building and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building. He was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot. As he came within 20 feet of an officer, the gunman put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time, according to Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, senior officer on the base. The gunman, who served in Iraq for four months in 2011, had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems. Before the attack, he had been undergoing an assessment to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder, Milley said. “There is no indication this incident is related to terrorism, though we are not ruling anything out,” Milley said. President Barack Obama said the White House was monitoring reports of the shooting.

► The latest episode involving a drunken Secret Service agent overseas for a presidential trip was an isolated incident, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson said Tuesday. Pierson and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with senators from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to talk about the incident, which involved an agent found drunk in a hotel in the Netherlands last month. Johnson spent about 15 minutes with the lawmakers, while Pierson answered questions in the closed-door meeting for about an hour, ABC News reported. Homeland Security said Johnson went to the meeting to show his support for Pierson. In a written statement, Pierson told lawmakers she has "made clear to the entire workforce that I will not tolerate unprofessional behavior or misconduct at any level — both on and off duty." Pierson was appointed director last year after then-Director Mark Sullivan retired, almost a year after a South American prostitution scandal involving Secret Service agents made world-wide headlines.

► The U.S. Homeland Security market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.31 percent over the period 2014-2018, according to a new report from the technology research company TechNavio. Key factors behind the perceived rise is increasing investment due to a relatively strong U.S. economy, and increasing number of international defense deals. However, a decrease in the U.S. defense budget could pose a challenge to the growth of this market, analysts said.

► U.S. government officials a few years ago hatched a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government, according to an investigative report by the Associated Press. The program was paid for and run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid. According to interviews and documents obtained by AP, the plan was to develop a bare-bones “Cuban Twitter,” using cellphone text messaging to evade Cuba’s strict control of information. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. At its peak in 2011, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. USAID says the program ended in 2012 when funding ran out.

 

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