Morning Security Brief: TSA in Tennessee...Debunked, Soldiers and Rabies, Google's Latest Transparency Report, and More

By Carlton Purvis


►Hundreds of media outlets reported that TSA was setting up checkpoints across Tennessee highways as a part of the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response program. The reports said TSA screeners would be present at truck checkpoints and weigh stations across the state checking vehicles much like they would luggage – for explosives, drugs, or other illegal items. TSA says: Not true. “As part of an ongoing terrorism prevention and response program, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security hosted a statewide exercise on October 18-20, 2011,” TSA’s myth buster Blogger Bob wrote. Bob says TSA was present at several stations during the four-day operation and provided information to truck drivers about the First Observer program. “TSA officers did not physically screen drivers during this exercise as erroneously reported. The actual vehicle inspections were conducted by the Tennessee State Highway Patrol just the same as they are done every day,” Bob wrote.

►The Department of Defense is stepping up efforts to warn soldiers in theater about a biological threat that killed a soldier well after he had returned home. The DoD and Veteran Affairs is urging soldiers who may have been bitten by an animal in Iraq or Afghanistan to visit a doctor to be evaluated for rabies. Because the incubation period for the virus can be weeks or months, it can go unnoticed. The DoD issued alerts after Spc. Kevin Shumaker died seven months after contracting rabies. He was bitten as he tried to break up a dog fight in Afghanistan in January, the Navy Times reported. 

►The number of government requests for Google user data rose 29 percent in the last six months, Wired’s Threat Level blog reports. “U.S. government agencies sent Google 5,950 criminal investigation requests for data on Google users and services from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2011, an average of 31 a day,” editor Ryan Singel writes. Singel's numbers come from Google’s transparency report, a report released every six months with data on requests for user information from government agencies.

►In other news, the U.S. economy is taking its toll on police departments. The Justice Department estimates that by the end of the year, 12,000 police officers will have lost their jobs, USA Today reports. ♦ After a having technical difficulties since Friday, the FBI has finally posted its Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report. ♦ Ten years ago today, President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act giving the FBI more powers to collect information for “matters of national security.” For 10 years civil liberties groups have raised concerns that the law allows the government to violate people’s privacy. NPR’s Carrie Johnson writes about the continued controversy.


Google transparency news

Twice a year, Google releases a report outlining government inquiries for private individual data. Google states this report serves two functions. First, to be as transparent as possible about the requests those are and aren't fulfilled for and by the government. Second, it is a way to prove that the laws that govern digital privacy need to be reformed.

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