Tagged: including

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]

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]

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]

Top Trending Videos

[embedded content]

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

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

Senators lobby to bring new armored brigade team to Texas …

U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sent a letter Monday to Secretary of the Army Mark Esper requesting the Army relocate a newly-designated armored brigade combat team to either Fort Hood or Fort Bliss.

The Army’s 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, currently located at Fort Carson, Colorado, is in the process of conversion from an infantry brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team. The two Texas Army installations already have the training ranges necessary to prepare an armored brigade combat team for deployment.

“We write regarding the conversion of the Army’s 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from an infantry brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team,” the senators wrote. “As this conversion occurs, we also write to express our strong support for the relocation of the 2nd Brigade from Fort Carson, Colorado to one of Texas’s premier armor installations. The conversion of an infantry brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team is a daunting task. Nevertheless, as you look across the Army, Fort Hood and Fort Bliss stand out as hosts for a unit of this size and composition.”

Both installations are equipped with the infrastructure necessary to support the rapid deployment and redeployment of armored brigades, the letter stated. Fort Hood and Fort Bliss both have rail access, airfields capable of handling any size aircraft needed for rapid air transportation of personnel and equipment and the capacity to host an additional brigade.

The letter also touted the “superb quality of life including affordable housing, military friendly communities, recreational activities, and easy access to services” for family members. “Over the years, our installations and the surrounding communities have worked together to identify and provide the best available resources for soldiers and their families assigned to the region.”

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)
0

Civil Rights Groups Are Fighting to Read Homeland Security's Mysterious 'Race Paper'

Image: Ted S. Warren (AP)

Two civil rights groups, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Color of Change (COR), have filed a motion[1] asking a judge to force the Department of Homeland Security to un-redact a mysterious document known as the “Race Paper.” Following FOIA requests, the DHS turned over hundreds of pages to CCR and COR, but has fought releasing the so-called “Race Paper,” as its referred to in internal DHS emails. Little is known about the document, including its actual title, though COR and CCR believe it is potentially related to data-driven surveillance of protestors.

In 2016, CCR and COR, assisted by the Kramer Law Center, filed FOIA requests for documents relating to FBI and DHS surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. The DHS responded with hundreds of documents, including emails from the early months of the Trump administration in which DHS agents talked about composing and editing the “Race Paper.”

However, when the DHS handed the mysterious “race paper” over to the civil rights groups, it was redacted into oblivion, with nine full pages of completely obscured text.
[2]

Advertisement

Little is known about this document, but lawyers believe it may be related to surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. All references to its actual name have been redacted.

“There’s not too much wiggle room when something is called ‘The Race Papers,’” Stephanie Llanes, one of the CCR lawyers filing the motion, told Gizmodo.

Here’s what we know for sure: the paper is a nine-page document put out by members of the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The DHS worked on its creation for months, producing multiple draft versions, all of which have been redacted. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis specializes in “information sharing and delivering predictive intelligence and analysis.” The office operates a network of Fusion Centers[3], which specialize in intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing between “state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners.” It follows, then, the paper may relate to predictive technology or surveillance.

Advertisement

“One of the emails says that the person included a section on ‘drivers and indications,’” Llanes said. “Given what [the Office of Intelligence and Analysis] does, which is predictive intelligence, it just raises serious concerns of the relationship between racial identity and drivers of future behavior.”

It’s speculative, but police have used data analysis to surveil[4] minority protestors in the past. From Massachusetts to Missouri, officers have used complex data-mining software[5] that could provide the locations of social media users to monitor protestors using the #BlackLivesMatter or #MuslimLivesMatter hashtags.

Being asked to produce the “Race Paper” and then handing over nine all-black pages might seem like a cheeky response, but, incredibly, the DHS argued that the documents, redactions intact, satisfy the FOIA request. The DHS insisted it is exempt from releasing all preliminary versions of the document because, as they were draft versions, they “wouldn’t be an accurate assessment of what the agency thinks,” Llanes explains.

Advertisement

However, the DHS redacted all versions of the document, including the final version, which seemingly would accurately represent the agency’s stance. DHS argued that even partially redacting the final version would threaten national security by revealing sensitive information about how the agency operates.

“They haven’t explained at all how that would be the case. A government agency cant just make this broad, sweeping argument… without explaining how so,” Llanes said. “They still have to un-redact parts of the document that are purely factual, based on publicly available information, [or] would not reveal the pre-deliberative [assessment].”

CCR lawyers are arguing that, under FOIA law, the DHS has a duty to un-redact passages that are based on unclassified facts or public knowledge. By completely redacting every single word, including even the title of the document, the DHS is essentially claiming that every single detail of the “race paper” is, to some degree, sensitive, classified, or private.

Advertisement

The next step in the case is for the DHS to reply to the motion. If they deny the lawyers’ claims, the case would move onto oral arguments.

[The Intercept[6]]

References

  1. ^ have filed a motion (ccrjustice.org)
  2. ^ race paper (ccrjustice.org)
  3. ^ Fusion Centers (www.dhs.gov)
  4. ^ used data analysis to surveil (gizmodo.com)
  5. ^ complex data-mining software (www.usatoday.com)
  6. ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)
0

Civil Rights Groups Are Fighting to Read Homeland Security's Mysterious 'Race Paper'

Image: Ted S. Warren (AP)

Two civil rights groups, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Color of Change (COR), have filed a motion[1] asking a judge to force the Department of Homeland Security to un-redact a mysterious document known as the “Race Paper.” Following FOIA requests, the DHS turned over hundreds of pages to CCR and COR, but has fought releasing the so-called “Race Paper,” as its referred to in internal DHS emails. Little is known about the document, including its actual title, though COR and CCR believe it is potentially related to data-driven surveillance of protestors.

In 2016, CCR and COR, assisted by the Kramer Law Center, filed FOIA requests for documents relating to FBI and DHS surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. The DHS responded with hundreds of documents, including emails from the early months of the Trump administration in which DHS agents talked about composing and editing the “Race Paper.”

However, when the DHS handed the mysterious “race paper” over to the civil rights groups, it was redacted into oblivion, with nine full pages of completely obscured text.
[2]

Advertisement

Little is known about this document, but lawyers believe it may be related to surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. All references to its actual name have been redacted.

“There’s not too much wiggle room when something is called ‘The Race Papers,’” Stephanie Llanes, one of the CCR lawyers filing the motion, told Gizmodo.

Here’s what we know for sure: the paper is a nine-page document put out by members of the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The DHS worked on its creation for months, producing multiple draft versions, all of which have been redacted. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis specializes in “information sharing and delivering predictive intelligence and analysis.” The office operates a network of Fusion Centers[3], which specialize in intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing between “state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners.” It follows, then, the paper may relate to predictive technology or surveillance.

Advertisement

“One of the emails says that the person included a section on ‘drivers and indications,’” Llanes said. “Given what [the Office of Intelligence and Analysis] does, which is predictive intelligence, it just raises serious concerns of the relationship between racial identity and drivers of future behavior.”

It’s speculative, but police have used data analysis to surveil[4] minority protestors in the past. From Massachusetts to Missouri, officers have used complex data-mining software[5] that could provide the locations of social media users to monitor protestors using the #BlackLivesMatter or #MuslimLivesMatter hashtags.

Being asked to produce the “Race Paper” and then handing over nine all-black pages might seem like a cheeky response, but, incredibly, the DHS argued that the documents, redactions intact, satisfy the FOIA request. The DHS insisted it is exempt from releasing all preliminary versions of the document because, as they were draft versions, they “wouldn’t be an accurate assessment of what the agency thinks,” Llanes explains.

Advertisement

However, the DHS redacted all versions of the document, including the final version, which seemingly would accurately represent the agency’s stance. DHS argued that even partially redacting the final version would threaten national security by revealing sensitive information about how the agency operates.

“They haven’t explained at all how that would be the case. A government agency cant just make this broad, sweeping argument… without explaining how so,” Llanes said. “They still have to un-redact parts of the document that are purely factual, based on publicly available information, [or] would not reveal the pre-deliberative [assessment].”

CCR lawyers are arguing that, under FOIA law, the DHS has a duty to un-redact passages that are based on unclassified facts or public knowledge. By completely redacting every single word, including even the title of the document, the DHS is essentially claiming that every single detail of the “race paper” is, to some degree, sensitive, classified, or private.

Advertisement

The next step in the case is for the DHS to reply to the motion. If they deny the lawyers’ claims, the case would move onto oral arguments.

[The Intercept[6]]

References

  1. ^ have filed a motion (ccrjustice.org)
  2. ^ race paper (ccrjustice.org)
  3. ^ Fusion Centers (www.dhs.gov)
  4. ^ used data analysis to surveil (gizmodo.com)
  5. ^ complex data-mining software (www.usatoday.com)
  6. ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)