Morning Security Brief: Embassy Closures, Criminal Investigations, Train Derailment, and More
Embassies in the Middle East remain closed as the White House cites serious threats against the United States; the Drug Enforcement Agency is using national security intelligence to pursue routine criminal investigations, raising concerns; a derailed train carrying hazardous substances in Louisiana leads to evacuation of about 100 homes, and more.
► U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa will remain closed through Saturday due to intelligence that terrorists might be planning an attack on Western interests abroad, according to The Washington Post. The “chatter” intercepted by the United States is similar to that heard before 9-11, said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), as quoted in The Guardian. Chambliss also noted that the intelligence was likely gathered under the controversial NSA surveillance program.
► According to Reuters, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is using intelligence information from “intercepts, wiretaps, informants, and a massive database of telephone records” to help them pursue criminal investigations of American citizens. Reuters reports that it has obtained documents that detail how federal agents are trained to fabricate the backstory of the investigations to cover up where the information (such as a tip about a time and place to intercept a truck carrying illegal cargo) came from. Some legal experts say this tactic violates defendants’ Constitutional rights to review the evidentiary sources. Others quoted in the story say that the process, called parallel construction, is a decades old practice used to protect sources.
► WAFB news in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is reporting that about 100 homes have been evacuated after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed yesterday afternoon. The homes are in a one-mile radius of the accident, in which 23 rail cars went off the tracks. One of the rail cars is leaking caustic soda and another is leaking Dodecanol. The train was also carrying vinyl chloride but emergency responders have yet to confirm whether the substance is leaking. The substances are classified as hazardous. State police say that the highway leading to the accident will be closed for at least two days.
► Also in the news: A new interactive ATM allows users to communicate with a live teller, in an attempt to improve customer service and curb crime .