Tagged: 2016

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Homeland Security Promises to Prosecute 100 Percent of Illegal Immigration Cases

In a major policy shift, the Homeland Security and Justice departments are promising to prosecute everyone suspected of illegally entering the United States. The new approach will separate thousands of children from their parents when they are arrested, which critics called inhumane.

“We need legality and integrity in our immigration system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference in San Diego on Monday.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said as a protester with a bullhorn interrupted his remarks.

Politico reported Monday[1] that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo on Friday directing the department to refer all suspected border crossers to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry. Illegally entering the country has typically been treated as a civil matter in which the immigrant is subject to deportation. The new policy means all cases will be treated as a criminal matter in which immigrants face prison.

Border Patrol agents were told of the new policy over the weekend, said a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because he or she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

“At muster they just said, ‘We are now prosecuting everyone, 100 percent.’ Then there were a few cheers and someone shouted, ‘Thank you, Trump.’ They followed up with family unit situations and said that if a unit was apprehended that the parent with the most criminal history would be prosecuted,” the official said.

One of the biggest changes in the 100 percent prosecution policy will be the separation of families accused of illegally crossing the border together. Children, who cannot be held in criminal detention, will be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents are in custody. Previously, families caught entering the country illegally were most often quickly released together to await civil deportation hearings.

The 100 percent prosecution policy “is yet another solution in search of a problem,” said Jeremy McKinney, national secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association[2]. ”Illegal entries are at forty-year lows and net migration with Mexico remains at or below zero. There exists an annual, spring/summer uptick in unlawful entries. But the numbers are not unusual and the (federal immigration enforcement) infrastructure is there to enforce our country’s immigration laws. Devoting our finite resources to achieve misdemeanor convictions, especially when it results in the separation of mothers from their children, is, at best, bad public policy, and, at worst, unlawful selective prosecution.”

The Department of Homeland Security said it used a tough prosecution approach against parents in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector between July and November 2017, after the West Texas and New Mexico border region saw a surge in families and unaccompanied children. Homeland Security said illegal crossings by family units dropped by 64 percent after the aggressive prosecution began, then began to rise again after the program was “paused.”

Andre Segura, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said that is a simplistic analysis. “Crossings can vary depending on a number of factors, what’s going on in home countries—there are a lot of different factors,” he said.

The Washington Post, which first reported[3] the plans to arrest parents who bring their children into the country illegally, said jailing parents would deter others from attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.

Sessions reinforced that message at his San Diego news conference. “I have to say our goal is to have the whole world know that this border is not open. Don’t come unlawfully. Don’t put yourself or your family through such a stressful thing,” Sessions said.

The ACLU’s Segura said immigration policy requires multiple approaches. “Immigration policies should not be set based on deterrence alone. If this is, in fact, deterring people from fleeing violence and coming here for refuge, that is an enormous problem.”

Thomas Homan, the outgoing head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, also spoke at the San Diego news conference and said police separate families all the time when making arrests.

“Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents with children when they’re arrested for a crime. We are a law enforcement agency. We are enforcing the criminal laws,” Homan said. “So I want to make this perfectly clear. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Entering the United States without permission and proper documents has long been a misdemeanor, but previous policies allowed many of those apprehended to go through the administrative deportation process rather than face criminal charges.

The new policy applies to people who enter the country without permission, such as coming in at an area other than a port of entry. It would not apply to people who surrender at ports of entry to seek asylum.

Criminal prosecutions for violating immigration laws spiked during President Obama’s first term, reaching nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2013, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University[4]. Such prosecutions declined in Obama’s second term and in President Trump’s first year in office, with fewer than 60,000 prosecutions in fiscal year 2016.

Sessions last week announced that the Justice Department was assigning 35 additional U.S. attorneys to the Southwest to handle additional immigration cases. That includes eight new prosecutors for the Southern District of Texas, which has the highest number of immigrant apprehensions along the border, and six in the Western District of Texas.

During his news conference, Sessions once again pointed to an increase in undocumented immigrant apprehensions in recent months. He said the number of apprehensions on the Southwest border tripled in April compared to the same month a year ago. However, Customs and Border Protection statistics show that the number of apprehensions over the past twelve months is 23 percent below the prior twelve-month period. Apprehension levels are less than half the levels of a decade ago.

0

Homeland Security Promises to Prosecute 100 Percent of Illegal Immigration Cases

In a major policy shift, the Homeland Security and Justice departments are promising to prosecute everyone suspected of illegally entering the United States. The new approach will separate thousands of children from their parents when they are arrested, which critics called inhumane.

“We need legality and integrity in our immigration system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference in San Diego on Monday.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said as a protester with a bullhorn interrupted his remarks.

Politico reported Monday[1] that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo on Friday directing the department to refer all suspected border crossers to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry. Illegally entering the country has typically been treated as a civil matter in which the immigrant is subject to deportation. The new policy means all cases will be treated as a criminal matter in which immigrants face prison.

Border Patrol agents were told of the new policy over the weekend, said a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because he or she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

“At muster they just said, ‘We are now prosecuting everyone, 100 percent.’ Then there were a few cheers and someone shouted, ‘Thank you, Trump.’ They followed up with family unit situations and said that if a unit was apprehended that the parent with the most criminal history would be prosecuted,” the official said.

One of the biggest changes in the 100 percent prosecution policy will be the separation of families accused of illegally crossing the border together. Children, who cannot be held in criminal detention, will be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents are in custody. Previously, families caught entering the country illegally were most often quickly released together to await civil deportation hearings.

The 100 percent prosecution policy “is yet another solution in search of a problem,” said Jeremy McKinney, national secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association[2]. ”Illegal entries are at forty-year lows and net migration with Mexico remains at or below zero. There exists an annual, spring/summer uptick in unlawful entries. But the numbers are not unusual and the (federal immigration enforcement) infrastructure is there to enforce our country’s immigration laws. Devoting our finite resources to achieve misdemeanor convictions, especially when it results in the separation of mothers from their children, is, at best, bad public policy, and, at worst, unlawful selective prosecution.”

The Department of Homeland Security said it used a tough prosecution approach against parents in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector between July and November 2017, after the West Texas and New Mexico border region saw a surge in families and unaccompanied children. Homeland Security said illegal crossings by family units dropped by 64 percent after the aggressive prosecution began, then began to rise again after the program was “paused.”

Andre Segura, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said that is a simplistic analysis. “Crossings can vary depending on a number of factors, what’s going on in home countries—there are a lot of different factors,” he said.

The Washington Post, which first reported[3] the plans to arrest parents who bring their children into the country illegally, said jailing parents would deter others from attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.

Sessions reinforced that message at his San Diego news conference. “I have to say our goal is to have the whole world know that this border is not open. Don’t come unlawfully. Don’t put yourself or your family through such a stressful thing,” Sessions said.

The ACLU’s Segura said immigration policy requires multiple approaches. “Immigration policies should not be set based on deterrence alone. If this is, in fact, deterring people from fleeing violence and coming here for refuge, that is an enormous problem.”

Thomas Homan, the outgoing head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, also spoke at the San Diego news conference and said police separate families all the time when making arrests.

“Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents with children when they’re arrested for a crime. We are a law enforcement agency. We are enforcing the criminal laws,” Homan said. “So I want to make this perfectly clear. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Entering the United States without permission and proper documents has long been a misdemeanor, but previous policies allowed many of those apprehended to go through the administrative deportation process rather than face criminal charges.

The new policy applies to people who enter the country without permission, such as coming in at an area other than a port of entry. It would not apply to people who surrender at ports of entry to seek asylum.

Criminal prosecutions for violating immigration laws spiked during President Obama’s first term, reaching nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2013, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University[4]. Such prosecutions declined in Obama’s second term and in President Trump’s first year in office, with fewer than 60,000 prosecutions in fiscal year 2016.

Sessions last week announced that the Justice Department was assigning 35 additional U.S. attorneys to the Southwest to handle additional immigration cases. That includes eight new prosecutors for the Southern District of Texas, which has the highest number of immigrant apprehensions along the border, and six in the Western District of Texas.

During his news conference, Sessions once again pointed to an increase in undocumented immigrant apprehensions in recent months. He said the number of apprehensions on the Southwest border tripled in April compared to the same month a year ago. However, Customs and Border Protection statistics show that the number of apprehensions over the past twelve months is 23 percent below the prior twelve-month period. Apprehension levels are less than half the levels of a decade ago.

0

Homeland Security Promises to Prosecute 100 Percent of Illegal Immigration Cases

In a major policy shift, the Homeland Security and Justice departments are promising to prosecute everyone suspected of illegally entering the United States. The new approach will separate thousands of children from their parents when they are arrested, which critics called inhumane.

“We need legality and integrity in our immigration system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference in San Diego on Monday.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said as a protester with a bullhorn interrupted his remarks.

Politico reported Monday[1] that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo on Friday directing the department to refer all suspected border crossers to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry. Illegally entering the country has typically been treated as a civil matter in which the immigrant is subject to deportation. The new policy means all cases will be treated as a criminal matter in which immigrants face prison.

Border Patrol agents were told of the new policy over the weekend, said a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because he or she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

“At muster they just said, ‘We are now prosecuting everyone, 100 percent.’ Then there were a few cheers and someone shouted, ‘Thank you, Trump.’ They followed up with family unit situations and said that if a unit was apprehended that the parent with the most criminal history would be prosecuted,” the official said.

One of the biggest changes in the 100 percent prosecution policy will be the separation of families accused of illegally crossing the border together. Children, who cannot be held in criminal detention, will be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents are in custody. Previously, families caught entering the country illegally were most often quickly released together to await civil deportation hearings.

The 100 percent prosecution policy “is yet another solution in search of a problem,” said Jeremy McKinney, national secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association[2]. ”Illegal entries are at forty-year lows and net migration with Mexico remains at or below zero. There exists an annual, spring/summer uptick in unlawful entries. But the numbers are not unusual and the (federal immigration enforcement) infrastructure is there to enforce our country’s immigration laws. Devoting our finite resources to achieve misdemeanor convictions, especially when it results in the separation of mothers from their children, is, at best, bad public policy, and, at worst, unlawful selective prosecution.”

The Department of Homeland Security said it used a tough prosecution approach against parents in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector between July and November 2017, after the West Texas and New Mexico border region saw a surge in families and unaccompanied children. Homeland Security said illegal crossings by family units dropped by 64 percent after the aggressive prosecution began, then began to rise again after the program was “paused.”

Andre Segura, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said that is a simplistic analysis. “Crossings can vary depending on a number of factors, what’s going on in home countries—there are a lot of different factors,” he said.

The Washington Post, which first reported[3] the plans to arrest parents who bring their children into the country illegally, said jailing parents would deter others from attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.

Sessions reinforced that message at his San Diego news conference. “I have to say our goal is to have the whole world know that this border is not open. Don’t come unlawfully. Don’t put yourself or your family through such a stressful thing,” Sessions said.

The ACLU’s Segura said immigration policy requires multiple approaches. “Immigration policies should not be set based on deterrence alone. If this is, in fact, deterring people from fleeing violence and coming here for refuge, that is an enormous problem.”

Thomas Homan, the outgoing head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, also spoke at the San Diego news conference and said police separate families all the time when making arrests.

“Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents with children when they’re arrested for a crime. We are a law enforcement agency. We are enforcing the criminal laws,” Homan said. “So I want to make this perfectly clear. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Entering the United States without permission and proper documents has long been a misdemeanor, but previous policies allowed many of those apprehended to go through the administrative deportation process rather than face criminal charges.

The new policy applies to people who enter the country without permission, such as coming in at an area other than a port of entry. It would not apply to people who surrender at ports of entry to seek asylum.

Criminal prosecutions for violating immigration laws spiked during President Obama’s first term, reaching nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2013, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University[4]. Such prosecutions declined in Obama’s second term and in President Trump’s first year in office, with fewer than 60,000 prosecutions in fiscal year 2016.

Sessions last week announced that the Justice Department was assigning 35 additional U.S. attorneys to the Southwest to handle additional immigration cases. That includes eight new prosecutors for the Southern District of Texas, which has the highest number of immigrant apprehensions along the border, and six in the Western District of Texas.

During his news conference, Sessions once again pointed to an increase in undocumented immigrant apprehensions in recent months. He said the number of apprehensions on the Southwest border tripled in April compared to the same month a year ago. However, Customs and Border Protection statistics show that the number of apprehensions over the past twelve months is 23 percent below the prior twelve-month period. Apprehension levels are less than half the levels of a decade ago.

0

Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Top Trending Videos

[embedded content]

0

Indiana awaits Homeland Security election risk assessment review as primaries heat up

INDIANAPOLIS — With the midterm congressional primaries about to go into full swing, the Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far.

The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia plans to continue meddling in the country’s elections.

Among those still waiting for Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment is Indiana, one of four states with primaries on Tuesday. Its ballot includes several hotly contested races, including a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said she is confident state officials have done what they can to safeguard Tuesday’s voting, but acknowledged: “I’ll probably be chewing my fingernails during the entire day on Election Day.”

Like other states, Indiana used a private vendor to conduct a risk assessment and is one of 33 states and 32 local election offices that are receiving remote cyber scanning services from Homeland Security to identify vulnerabilities in their networks.

The concerns aren’t just theoretical.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting U.S. elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. That included attempts to hack into the election systems of 21 states.

Election officials in nine of those states said they were still waiting for a DHS risk assessment, according to a nationwide AP survey.

There is no indication Russian hackers succeeded in manipulating any votes, but U.S. security agencies say they did manage to breach the voter rolls in Illinois. That state and Texas are the only two to hold statewide primaries so far this year, and neither reported any intrusions into their election systems.

But a local election in Tennessee last week highlights the concern: Knox County has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate why a website that reports election results crashed after the polls closed.

The county’s technology director said some of the unusually heavy traffic came from overseas servers. DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said there is no indication so far that the outage was caused by a “malicious actor.”

Homeland Security designated elections systems critical infrastructure just months after the 2016 presidential election, adding them to a list that includes chemical plants, dams and nuclear reactors.

The department said it has completed risk assessments of election systems in just nine of the 17 states that have formally requested them so far. It has pledged to finish them by November for every state that asks, but the reviews are not likely to be done in time for some state primaries, many of which are in May and June.

The number of states is likely to grow. At least 28 said they want Homeland Security to conduct the risk assessments, according to a 50-state survey of state election officials by The Associated Press.

The security reviews are designed to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers; such examinations are routinely conducted in the private sector. They are just one tool, although an important one, in ensuring a computer network has a robust defense.

Homeland Security officials attribute the backlog to increased demand for such reviews since the 2016 election and say they are devoting more money and shifting resources to reduce wait times. The reviews typically take two weeks each.

“Elections remain a top priority,” said Matt Masterson, the department’s senior adviser for cybersecurity.

Some states prefer to do the security checks on their own, with some, such as New Hampshire, expressing concern about federal overreach in a country where elections are run by state and local governments.

Cybersecurity experts say that as long as the process is robust, it should not matter who conducts the risk assessments.

“You could do this right in a number of different ways,” said Mike Garcia, lead author of a handbook for state and local election officials released recently by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security. “What matters is that you are doing it right.”

The delays have caught the attention of Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recommended in March that Homeland Security expand capacity to reduce wait times.

“DHS and the FBI have made great strides, but they must do more,” committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at the time.

Of the other states holding primaries on Tuesday, the traditional battlegrounds of North Carolina and Ohio said they had received on-site reviews by Homeland Security. Election officials in the fourth state, West Virginia, told the AP they have yet to request a federal risk assessment but plan to do so before the November election. They asked the National Guard to help monitor the state’s election networks on Tuesday.

Other states that told the AP they had received the DHS reviews are Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon.

Two of the states targeted in 2016 — Alabama and Oklahoma — have yet to request a DHS security review.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said the state could still decide to make the request before the election.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can possibly be with our existing partners,” Merrill said. “We want to keep every option open that we have.”

MORE TOP STORIES | More than 35,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger stores in Indiana recalled for contamination | Dozens of Indianapolis area concerts discounted to just $20 for National Concert Week | Body found on Indy’s southeast side identified as missing 35-year-old man | Mother wants answers after daycare claims another child beat up her 1-year-old son | State closes Indianapolis day care after 1-year-old seriously hurt[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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[embedded content]

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For US and China, Lasers and Missiles Heighten Military Tensions

“Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this,” she added.

While China has long claimed the islands, reefs and other outcroppings within the South China Sea, other nations also have claims there, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

China’s vast reclamation project[1], which began in earnest in 2013, shortly after Mr. Xi became the country’s paramount leader, has steadily turned once-uninhabited places into fortified islands with airfields and increasingly military outposts. In doing so it has brushed aside warnings from the United States and other nations and even a ruling against its territorial claims[2] by an international arbitration panel in 2016.

China’s base in Djibouti, its first overseas, has long been a source of concern[3] for the United States and other militaries operating around the Horn of Africa. It opened last year and has been portrayed by the Chinese as a logistics base to support antipiracy, counterterrorism and humanitarian operations in Africa and the Middle East.

It also happens to be just a few miles from the only permanent American base in Africa, which was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The base, operated by the Navy adjacent to Djibouti’s international airport, is home to some 4,000 personnel, including those involved in highly secretive missions in the region, including at least two Navy SEAL raids[4] into Yemen.

The use of lasers was first made public in April in a warning to pilots[5] issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. It noted that there had been multiple instances of “a high-power laser” being used near where the Chinese base is. Using lasers to disorient or disable pilots is an old military tactic, but an international protocol[6] adopted in 1995 and joined by China prohibits the practice.

Ms. White said that there was no doubt about the origin of the lasers, and that the Pentagon had asked the Chinese to investigate. “It’s a serious matter,” she said, “and so we’re taking it very seriously.”

In a statement on Friday afternoon, China’s Ministry of National Defense strongly disputed the Pentagon’s accusations, saying they were “completely inconsistent with fact.”

References

  1. ^ vast reclamation project (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ a ruling against its territorial claims (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ a source of concern (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Navy SEAL raids (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ a warning to pilots (pilotweb.nas.faa.gov)
  6. ^ international protocol (www.icrc.org)
0

Lasers and Missiles Heighten US-China Military Tensions

“Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this,” she added.

While China has long claimed the islands, reefs and other outcroppings within the South China Sea, other nations also have claims there, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

China’s vast reclamation project[1], which began in earnest in 2013, shortly after Mr. Xi became the country’s paramount leader, has steadily turned once-uninhabited places into fortified islands with airfields and increasingly military outposts. In doing so it has brushed aside warnings from the United States and other nations and even a ruling against its territorial claims[2] by an international arbitration panel in 2016.

China’s base in Djibouti, its first overseas, has long been a source of concern[3] for the United States and other militaries operating around the Horn of Africa. It opened last year and has been portrayed by the Chinese as a logistics base to support antipiracy, counterterrorism and humanitarian operations in Africa and the Middle East.

It also happens to be just a few miles from the only permanent American base in Africa, which was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The base, operated by the Navy adjacent to Djibouti’s international airport, is home to some 4,000 personnel, including those involved in highly secretive missions in the region, including at least two Navy SEAL raids[4] into Yemen.

The use of lasers was first made public in April in a warning to pilots[5] issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. It noted that there had been multiple instances of “a high-power laser” being used near where the Chinese base is. Using lasers to disorient or disable pilots is an old military tactic, but an international protocol[6] adopted in 1995 and joined by China prohibits the practice.

Ms. White said that there was no doubt about the origin of the lasers, and that the Pentagon had asked the Chinese to investigate. “It’s a serious matter,” she said, “and so we’re taking it very seriously.”

In a statement on Friday afternoon, China’s Ministry of National Defense strongly disputed the Pentagon’s accusations, saying they were “completely inconsistent with fact.”

References

  1. ^ vast reclamation project (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ a ruling against its territorial claims (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ a source of concern (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Navy SEAL raids (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ a warning to pilots (pilotweb.nas.faa.gov)
  6. ^ international protocol (www.icrc.org)
0

For US and China, Lasers and Missiles Heighten Military Tensions

“Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this,” she added.

While China has long claimed the islands, reefs and other outcroppings within the South China Sea, other nations also have claims there, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

China’s vast reclamation project[1], which began in earnest in 2013, shortly after Mr. Xi became the country’s paramount leader, has steadily turned once-uninhabited places into fortified islands with airfields and increasingly military outposts. In doing so it has brushed aside warnings from the United States and other nations and even a ruling against its territorial claims[2] by an international arbitration panel in 2016.

China’s base in Djibouti, its first overseas, has long been a source of concern[3] for the United States and other militaries operating around the Horn of Africa. It opened last year and has been portrayed by the Chinese as a logistics base to support antipiracy, counterterrorism and humanitarian operations in Africa and the Middle East.

It also happens to be just a few miles from the only permanent American base in Africa, which was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The base, operated by the Navy adjacent to Djibouti’s international airport, is home to some 4,000 personnel, including those involved in highly secretive missions in the region, including at least two Navy SEAL raids[4] into Yemen.

The use of lasers was first made public in April in a warning to pilots[5] issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. It noted that there had been multiple instances of “a high-power laser” being used near where the Chinese base is. Using lasers to disorient or disable pilots is an old military tactic, but an international protocol[6] adopted in 1995 and joined by China prohibits the practice.

Ms. White said that there was no doubt about the origin of the lasers, and that the Pentagon had asked the Chinese to investigate. “It’s a serious matter,” she said, “and so we’re taking it very seriously.”

In a statement on Friday afternoon, China’s Ministry of National Defense strongly disputed the Pentagon’s accusations, saying they were “completely inconsistent with fact.”

References

  1. ^ vast reclamation project (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ a ruling against its territorial claims (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ a source of concern (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Navy SEAL raids (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ a warning to pilots (pilotweb.nas.faa.gov)
  6. ^ international protocol (www.icrc.org)
0

Trump's transgender military ban 'worse than don't ask, don't tell,' advocates say

The Trump administration released two documents on Friday outlining the president’s ban on transgender people serving in the military[1]. While LGBTQ-rights advocates say this new measure is even more discriminatory than the now-defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, they also note that recent court rulings prevent the ban from actually taking effect.

The administration’s first document, a memo[2] signed by the president, stated that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”

 President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on March 23, 2018 in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

The second document[3], titled “Department of Defense Report and Recommendations on Military Service by Transgender Persons,” lays out the specific policy recommendations regarding trans individuals serving U.S. military. The 46-page report stated that the department had concluded “accommodating gender transition could impair unit readiness,” “undermine unit cohesion” and “lead to disproportionate costs.”

“This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards — including those regarding the use of medical drugs — equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen,” the White House said in a statement[4] released on Friday.

“CATEGORICAL BAN”

The new report states “nothing in this policy precludes service by transgender persons who do not have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and are willing and able to meet all standards that apply to their biological sex.”

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), disagreed, claiming such a policy constitutes a “categorical ban” of transgender people from the military by requiring service members to live as their sex assigned at birth.

“It means you can’t be transgender,” Minter said. “This is worse than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in its justification … It would be as though the government had tried to justify the DADT policy by saying that you can serve in the military if you say you will stop being gay.”

With DADT, which was ended in 2011, “the government never went so far as to say that being lesbian or gay is not a legitimate identity and [lesbians and gays] should undertake therapy to become straight, but that is what this report is saying about transgender people,” according to Minter.

He argued the ideas in the plan “have zero medical credibility” and are “lifted whole from anti-transgender propaganda put out by right-wing groups.”

“PANEL OF EXPERTS”

A federal judge issued a court order[5] on Tuesday requiring that the Department of Justice disclose the names of the military experts the Trump administration consulted regarding its transgender military ban. On Thursday, the Justice Department filed a response[6] to the judge’s order, stating the administration chooses “not to identify” those consulted.

The Justice Department “is coming close to defying court orders,” Minter said. “They do not want to disclose what lay behind this process.”

An article published by Slate[7] on Saturday, which cited multiple unnamed sources, claimed that Trump’s “panel of experts” included several people with histories of opposing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, including Vice President Mike Pence[8]; anti-transgender activist Ryan T. Anderson[9]; and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins[10]. NBC News has not independently verified Slate’s findings.

Friday’s report addressed the findings and recommendations of a 2016 study commissioned by the Department of Defense and conducted by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank. That report found no reason to prevent the enlistment and service of openly transgender individuals. The new report stated the Pentagon had “reached a different judgment on these issues” than RAND and the previous administration, adding that the issue is “more complicated.”

Natalie Nardecchia, senior attorney at LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal, slammed Friday’s report and said the previous administration “did a real report and did a real analysis … and then they enacted a policy.”

“That is the way it’s supposed to work, and this is the very opposite,” she said of the Trump administration’s findings.

“NO IMMEDIATE IMPACT”

Minter said the new policy is “as bad as it could be.” However, he said it has “no immediate impact,” because “federal courts have already issued orders saying the ban cannot be enforced.”

On Friday, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. David Eastburn echoed Minter’s assessment, saying the announcement of a new policy would have no immediate practical effect on the military, because the Pentagon is obliged to continue to recruit and retain transgender people in accordance with current law.

Minter said he does not expect any impact on currently enlisted soldiers or those attempting to enlist in the near future. However, because of what he called the plan’s “complete repudiation of transgender identity,” Minter said transgender troops may face additional stigma.

 Nicolas Talbott Courtesy of Nicolas Talbott

Nicolas Talbott, a 24-year-old transgender recruit from Lisbon, Ohio, said for now his enlistment process continues to advance.

“It’s going great,” he told NBC News. “I’m working with a wonderful recruiter, and at this moment we are waiting to … schedule a date for my physical exam and written test.”

Talbott said Friday’s documents were discouraging and felt like “another bump in the road,” but he said this just “reaffirms the fight is not over.”

“I am very optimistic that I’m going to get into the U.S. Air Force,” Talbott said. “There is nothing about being transgender in any way, shape or form that impacts an individual’s ability to serve.”

Nardecchia, agreed, saying “there is no medical or scientific support for presuming that transgender people are unfit.” Gender dysphoria, she added, “is a fully treatable condition that only some transgender people experience.”

“LEGALLY IRRELEVANT”

Civil rights groups, including the ACLU, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), NCLR and Equality California brought four different lawsuits before federal courts last year in attempts to block the transgender military ban. The courts issued preliminary injunctions, which prevent even this newly released implementation plan from taking effect.

Late last year, two different federal courts rebuffed the administration’s efforts to delay the enlistment of transgender troops, and the Justice Department declined to appeal those decisions[11]. Openly transgender troops began to enlist on January 1.

“Anything that the government comes forward with now is legally irrelevant,” Nardecchia said, adding that the burden is on the government to demonstrate a persuasive justification to stop allowing transgender troops to serve openly.

Nardecchia called Friday’s report “reverse engineering” in an attempt by the government to provide the courts with a valid justification for the ban.

“WE WILL KEEP FIGHTING”

On Tuesday, Nardecchia and other attorneys from Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, which together represent nine transgender service members, will seek a permanent injunction against the ban.

“We are asking for the court to grant a summary judgment — without going to trial — and to permanently prevent the ban from going into law,” she explained.

Nardecchia said she doesn’t know when the court might hand down a decision, but she’s “optimistic.”

“We will keep fighting until we get a final judgment,” she added.

The release of the new transgender military policy, according to Minter, is good for LGBTQ advocates fighting the ban. “We now know exactly what we have to rebut in the court,” he said.

Minter is working on a separate case from Nardecchia, Doe v. Trump. The lawsuit, which was filed by NCLR and GLAD, was the first to challenge the ban.

“We are proceeding with discovery, which is all the more important now,” he said. “Where did they come up with these discredited views? What was this process? Who was involved?”

Minter expects the government — as it did in its refusal to disclose its “panel of experts” — to appeal any decision not in its favor.

“Eventually it is likely that it will reach the Supreme Court,” he said of the transgender military ban.

FOLLOW NBC OUT[12] ON TWITTER[13], FACEBOOK[14] AND INSTAGRAM[15]

References

  1. ^ ban on transgender people serving in the military (www.nbcnews.com)
  2. ^ memo (www.lambdalegal.org)
  3. ^ document (www.lambdalegal.org)
  4. ^ statement (www.whitehouse.gov)
  5. ^ court order (www.washingtonblade.com)
  6. ^ filed a response (www.washingtonblade.com)
  7. ^ published by Slate (slate.com)
  8. ^ Mike Pence (www.nbcnews.com)
  9. ^ Ryan T. Anderson (thinkprogress.org)
  10. ^ Tony Perkins (www.glaad.org)
  11. ^ declined to appeal those decisions (www.nbcnews.com)
  12. ^ NBC OUT (www.nbcnews.com)
  13. ^ TWITTER (twitter.com)
  14. ^ FACEBOOK (www.facebook.com)
  15. ^ INSTAGRAM (www.instagram.com)