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Morning Security Brief: Records of Biodefense Mishaps Released, CBP Makes $800 Million Bust, DOJ Condemns Voter ID Law, and More

By Carlton Purvis

 

►The Army’s flagship biodefense lab recorded more than 200 accidents from 2010 to 2011, more than double the amount for the prior two years, according to documents obtained by the Frederick News-Post under the Freedom of Information Act. But the data may not be what it seems. Lt. Gen. Neal Woollen, safety, security, and biosurety head for USAMRIID, says a change in how it keeps records led to the higher number of documented errors. The safety reports include everything from a person falling off a bike out front of the building to an anthrax spill. “There were about 16 possible exposures in 2010 and 20 possible exposures in 2011, including those counted as either a ‘near miss’ or ‘negligible,’” the News-Post reported.

►Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, in a 24-hour period, busted two cigarette boats carrying more than 10,000 pounds of cocaine, according to a CBP release published on Monday. Using a P-3, an aircraft known for its surveillance and detection capabilities, CBP detected the first vessel north of Colombia. It was carrying two large bales that turned out to be 4,400 pounds of cocaine when it was intercepted by the Coast Guard. The next day, two P-3’s patrolling the Caribbean spotted another speedboat carrying suspicious cargo. Local authorities were notified and pursued the boat until it ran aground on the coast of Nicaragua. The crewmembers fled inland, leaving behind 6,000 pounds of cocaine. The combined value of the busts is more than $779 million. For more on efforts to thwart drugs at sea, see past Security Management coverage on drug subs here

►The federal government has declined to preclear a voter ID law signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry because it would have a greater impact on Hispanic voters, the Justice Department said in a statement on Monday. “Hispanic registered voters in Texas were either 46.5 percent or 120 percent more likely than average voter to lack a form of photo ID, according to data the state submitted to DOJ,” Talking Points Memo reports. “The state has failed to demonstrate why it could not meet its stated goals of ensuring electoral integrity and deterring ineligible voters from voting in a manner that would have avoided this retrogressive effect,” Attorney General Thomas Perez wrote in a letter to the Texas Elections Division and Secretary of State.

►In other news, a neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed an unarmed teenager says he did so in self-defense despite being warned by a 911 dispatcher not to approach the teen when he called to report a suspicious person. “By the time police arrived, the teenager lay dead with a gunshot wound in the chest. He was carrying a small amount of cash, some candy and an iced tea,” CNN reports. Police have not charged watch captain George Zimmerman for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was walking home from a convenience store, saying there is no evidence to suggest “Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.” ♦ Court documents detail a high-level of cooperation between “Sabu,” the reported leader of the Lulzsec hacker collective, and the FBI and show that the FBI allowed several attacks to happen in order to gather evidence. ♦ And the UN security council remains divided on action in Syria.

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