Morning Security Brief: Gaddafi's Fate, Ordnance Disposal, Secure Communities, and More
Libyan President Moammar Gaddafi may be dead; U.S. working to confirm. Ukrainian researchers develop a nonexplosive ordnance-disposal method. Doubts about yesterday's Texas "terror plot." Was it just a bad prank? And more.
►Libyan rebels have secured the city of Sirte and Moammar Gaddafi has been killed according to several major media organizations . NATO has confirmed that its aircraft struck vehicles belonging to pro-Gaddafi forces, but a senior Obama administration official said the U.S. was working to confirm reports that Gaddafi had been killed or captured. A still shot taken from video has emerged of what rebels say is Gaddafi, badly injured, being arrested. A National Transitional Council commander, Abdel-Basit Haroun, says Gaddafi was killed when an airstrike hit a convoy trying to flee, according to the Associated Press. NTC officials say his body is being moved to Misrata. The media organization Al Arabiya has been granted permission to photograph the body.
►The movie The Hurt Locker looked at the challenges faced by those working with improvised explosives devices to eliminate the risk to soldiers. Scientists in Ukraine have developed a new explosive disposal technology that may reduce the risk to the disposal teams as well, but it's not ready for the battlefield just yet. Researcher Gennady Baranov of the Biochemical Laboratory at the Sevastopol Institute of Nuclear Power tells Army-TechnologyNews.com that they’ve found a bacterium that when poured on an artillery shell can eat through the explosive filler . It eliminates the need to explode the ordnance. The byproduct: fertilizer. “It is an organic mixture that 'consumes' explosives and chemicals, producing an absolutely pure fertilizer,” one of the researchers was quoted as saying. One drawback: Time. The whole process takes between 15 and 115 days.
►Yesterday, the media reported this: Five Moroccan men were arrested after breaking into a San Antonio courthouse. They had taken something in and returned without it. They were driving around in an RV full of maps of courthouses and photos of water infrastructure. Even worse, two of the men were on the FBI watch list. Media organizations did everything but say it was a terror plot. But now, most of the stories online have been reworked or removed. And here’s why: Police have determined the men were just five drunken French tourists on a cross-country trip of America who decided to break into the courthouse and run around it wearing sombreros. After the security tapes were reviewed and the men questioned, it became pretty clear that the break-in was simply a prank, Agence France Presse reported. U.S. officials would not say if two of the men were on the FBI watch list. Of course, that doesn't explain why they had maps of courthouses and photos of infrastructure--not the usual tourist attractions.
►The only thing the Secure Communities program seems to be doing is securing a wedge between Latinos and law enforcement, according to a report by two law schools that examined in-depth data on deportation cases. The program has led disproportionately to the removal of Latino immigrants and to arrests by immigration authorities of hundreds of United States citizens, the New York Times reports . The Secure Communities program has drawn criticism from both immigrants and state and local law enforcement who say it has eroded trust between immigrant communities and the police. The report found that 93 percent of immigrants arrested were Latino, although Latino immigrants are only 75 percent of the illegal immigrants in the United States. Officials say there was an 89 percent increase in deportations under the Obama administration.
►Stuxnet, the malicious computer virus believed to have infected Iran's nuclear plants, has a little brother. Symantec recently discovered a program named Duqu almost identical to Stuxnet created to penetrate and cause problems at industrial plants, the Daily Mail reported. Researchers suspect it was created by whoever created Stuxnet because parts of the program are almost identical. The difference between the two is that Duqu was created to cause damage as a precursor to a Stuxnet attack and it doesn’t replicate itself inside computer systems. ⇒ TSA agents are taking to the highways of Tennessee. Tuesday, the state was the first to implement the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program to check trucks at weigh stations with drug and bomb sniffing dogs and random searches. The program was not implemented in response to any specific threats officials said. ⇒ And as people become more aware of credit card skimmers at outdoor terminals, criminals get more creative. In Europe, criminals are using "cash trapping,” or altering machines so that the cards get stuck in them and retrieving the cards later.