Morning Security Brief: Knives on Planes Defended, Bioterror Attacks, and U.K. Surveillance Laws
By Ann Longmore-Etheridge
Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, is defending the decision to allow small knives on planes. A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report says that the nation is at increased risk of bioterror attacks. Great Britain may expand its surveillance laws.
► Janet Napolitano, head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is defending the decision to allow small knives on planes. "We’re trying to prevent a bomb getting on the plane,” Napolitano explained to reporters. “If you’re talking about a small knife, there are already things on a plane that somebody can convert into a small sharp object.” She also said that she thought there should have been more public outreach before the announcement to "give it a softer landing." The change, which goes into effect April 25, will permit passengers to carry knives shorter than 2.36 inches and less than half an inch wide. A few other restrictions apply. The change has caused a negative backlash from many groups, including flight attendants and some legislators.
►A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office to be released next week says that the nation is at increased risk "for accidents at laboratories conducting research on potential bioterror germs, such as anthrax, because federal officials have failed to develop national standards for lab design, construction and operation," reports USA Today. Another recent government audit concluded that inspections of labs with potential bioterror material were lax." The undetected issues included the transfer of anthrax and plague to an unauthorized facility, and allowing workers at multiple research facilities to remain on the job with expired security risk assessments," states USA Today.
►Reuters reports on the far-reaching surveillance laws that Great Britain wants to enact. They would make Internet providers responsible for collecting and storing data on "almost every click of British online activity," the article states. Human rights activists are calling the possible law another step toward George Orwell's 1984 dystopia. Also opposing the legislation are providers such as Google and Microsoft. Those who support the laws say that the information can help stop terrorist attacks, such as a planned bombing of multiple sites across Britain that was stopped by the analysis of thousands of telephone contacts.