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Morning Security Brief: Japan's Nuclear Crisis Could Be Worse Than Revealed, Crime & Terrorism, U.S. Drones in Mexico, & More

By Matthew Harwood

 

♦ Disagreements about how bad Japan's nuclear crisis is seems to have arisen between Washington and Tokyo, causing a split between the two allies. "The Congressional testimony by Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission], was the first time the Obama administration had given its own assessment of the condition of the plant, apparently mixing information it had received from Japan with data it had collected independently," reports The New York Times. "Mr. Jaczko’s most startling assertion was that there was now little or no water in the pool storing spent nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed and bleeding radiation into the atmosphere. As a result, he said, 'We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.'"

♦ A top U.N. official says the proceeds from organized crime, like drug trafficking, are funding terrorism. “Today, the criminal market spans the planet, and in many instances criminal profits support terrorist groups. Globalization has turned out to be a double-edged sword. Open borders, open markets, and increased ease of travel and communication have benefited both terrorists and criminals,” Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime told a two-day symposium on terrorism. “Thanks to advances in technology, communication, finance and transport, loose networks of terrorists and organized criminal groups that operate internationally can easily link with each other. By pooling their resources and expertise, they can significantly increase their capacity to do harm.”

♦ U.S. drones are now enmeshed in Mexico's drug war. "Stepping up its involvement in Mexico’s drug war, the Obama administration has begun sending drones deep into Mexican territory to gather intelligence that helps locate major traffickers and follow their networks, according to American and Mexican officials," according to The New York Times. "The Pentagon began flying high-altitude, unarmed drones over Mexican skies last month, American military officials said, in hopes of collecting information to turn over to Mexican law enforcement agencies. Other administration officials said a Homeland Security drone helped Mexican authorities find several suspects linked to the Feb. 15 killing of Jaime Zapata, a United States Immigration and Customs EnforcementImmigration agent."

♦ When it comes to protecting private-sector networks, companies have to watch out for government-led cybersecurity theater, argues a free-market thinktanker. "In truly national defense, no one that I know of argues there’s no government role. But the wrong cyber-laws can mean government locking in inferior security technologies and procedures," Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes at Forbes.  "For example, disclosure and reporting techniques can be appropriate—or they might do more harm than good. Besides, the really bad guys, apart from commercial interests that need to perform, won’t obey the law anyway, and are probably overseas."

♦ The U.S. Travel Association yesterday released a report recommending reforms to the passenger screening system at airports. "The group, along with a panel of experts, suggested creating a trusted traveler program that would allow fliers who volunteer certain information about themselves to go through less rigorous security before their flight," reports CNN.com. "It also proposed allowing each traveler to check one bag without a fee to reduce the amount of luggage going through security checkpoints."

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