Tagged: official

0

Georgia police release 911 calls from deadly military plane crash

Police released 911 calls on Monday made by frightened onlookers as a WC-130 military plane crashed in Georgia last week and took the lives of nine airmen with the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The calls, some taken just seconds after the crash, offered details of the chaotic scene in Savannah, Georgia, last Wednesday when the WC-130 nose-dived onto a highway, covering the roadway with debris, and filling the surrounding area with thick clouds of black smoke.

There were no survivors.

“Yes, a plane just crashed. I’m looking at it right now and it’s up in flames,” one nearby witness said, giving authorities early details about the intense situation unfolding on the ground.

“I’ve got flames and smoke everywhere and stuff coming out of the sky,” another eyewitness said.

“It just literally nose-dived into the road,” another said.

The first call came in at 11:27 a.m. and it wasn’t long before dozens more followed, according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL[1], which obtained copies of the calls on Monday.

The Savannah Police Department released nearly four hours worth of 911 recordings from the morning of May 2, when the military cargo plane suffered an apparent malfunction just after takeoff.

“Yes, baby, it’s black smoke,” one frantic caller told a 911 operator. “The plane like incinerated whenever it hit the concrete.”

The plane, which took off from the Savannah airport, was en route to a so-called “boneyard” in Arizona, authorities said. All of the victims were members of the 156th Air Wing of Puerto Rico’s Air National Guard.

“I saw it take off from the airport and I noticed that one of the propellers wasn’t turning,” one female caller said. “And he banked like he was going toward [Interstate] 95, and then all of a sudden he lost altitude and just took a nose dive into the ground.”

“He did a barrel roll and went straight into the ground,” another caller added.

An Air Force official told ABC News that five of the victims were traveling as crew members on the flight and the other four were traveling as passengers. Some of victims had been with the Puerto Rico National Guard for decades.

The U.S. military, which is investigating the crash, has not released any details on what may have caused the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL (www.wjcl.com)
0

Georgia police release 911 calls from deadly military plane crash

Police released 911 calls on Monday made by frightened onlookers as a WC-130 military plane crashed in Georgia last week and took the lives of nine airmen with the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The calls, some taken just seconds after the crash, offered details of the chaotic scene in Savannah, Georgia, last Wednesday when the WC-130 nose-dived onto a highway, covering the roadway with debris, and filling the surrounding area with thick clouds of black smoke.

There were no survivors.

“Yes, a plane just crashed. I’m looking at it right now and it’s up in flames,” one nearby witness said, giving authorities early details about the intense situation unfolding on the ground.

“I’ve got flames and smoke everywhere and stuff coming out of the sky,” another eyewitness said.

“It just literally nose-dived into the road,” another said.

The first call came in at 11:27 a.m. and it wasn’t long before dozens more followed, according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL[1], which obtained copies of the calls on Monday.

The Savannah Police Department released nearly four hours worth of 911 recordings from the morning of May 2, when the military cargo plane suffered an apparent malfunction just after takeoff.

“Yes, baby, it’s black smoke,” one frantic caller told a 911 operator. “The plane like incinerated whenever it hit the concrete.”

The plane, which took off from the Savannah airport, was en route to a so-called “boneyard” in Arizona, authorities said. All of the victims were members of the 156th Air Wing of Puerto Rico’s Air National Guard.

“I saw it take off from the airport and I noticed that one of the propellers wasn’t turning,” one female caller said. “And he banked like he was going toward [Interstate] 95, and then all of a sudden he lost altitude and just took a nose dive into the ground.”

“He did a barrel roll and went straight into the ground,” another caller added.

An Air Force official told ABC News that five of the victims were traveling as crew members on the flight and the other four were traveling as passengers. Some of victims had been with the Puerto Rico National Guard for decades.

The U.S. military, which is investigating the crash, has not released any details on what may have caused the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL (www.wjcl.com)
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

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

House approves legislation to authorize Homeland Security cyber teams

House lawmakers on Monday passed legislation that would codify into law the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber incident response teams that help protect federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. 

Lawmakers passed the bill, sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulWhite House blames ‘Schumer Democrats’ for defeat of Trump immigration plan Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Dem countermemo | Hacking threats loom over 2018 Olympics | Booz Allen scores major DHS cyber contract McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash MORE[2][3][4][5][6][1] (R-Texas), in a voice vote Monday afternoon.

ADVERTISEMENT

The legislation would authorize[7] the “cyber hunt and incident response teams” at Homeland Security to help owners and operators of critical infrastructure respond to cyberattacks as well as provide strategies for mitigating cybersecurity risks.

The bill would also allow Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Top state election official questions why Trump is downplaying threat of Russian election interference: report Homeland Security chief touts effort on election cybersecurity MORE[9][10][11][12][13][8] to add cybersecurity specialists from the private sector to the response teams.

It would require that Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center — the office in which the response teams are housed — continually evaluate the response teams and report to Congress on their efforts at the end of each fiscal year for four years after the bill becomes law.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved the bill earlier this month.

“My legislation before us today, codifies and enhances the cyber incident response teams at DHS,” McCaul said in remarks on Monday.

“By fostering new collaboration between the government and private sector, we can harness our talent and maximize our efforts to stay one step ahead of our enemies,” McCaul said. “This innovative approach serves as a force multiplier to enhance our cybersecurity workforce. Being able to utilize a greater number of experts will strengthen efforts to protect our cyber networks.”

As part of its broad mission, Homeland Security is responsible for protecting civilian federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyber threats.

References

  1. ^ Michael McCaul (thehill.com)
  2. ^ Michael Thomas McCaul (thehill.com)
  3. ^ White House blames ‘Schumer Democrats’ for defeat of Trump immigration plan (thehill.com)
  4. ^ Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Dem countermemo | Hacking threats loom over 2018 Olympics | Booz Allen scores major DHS cyber contract (thehill.com)
  5. ^ McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash (thehill.com)
  6. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  7. ^ legislation would authorize (docs.house.gov)
  8. ^ Kirstjen Nielsen (thehill.com)
  9. ^ Kirstjen Michele Nielsen (thehill.com)
  10. ^ Under pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion (thehill.com)
  11. ^ Top state election official questions why Trump is downplaying threat of Russian election interference: report (thehill.com)
  12. ^ Homeland Security chief touts effort on election cybersecurity (thehill.com)
  13. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
0

House approves legislation to authorize Homeland Security cyber teams

House lawmakers on Monday passed legislation that would codify into law the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber incident response teams that help protect federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. 

Lawmakers passed the bill, sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulWhite House blames ‘Schumer Democrats’ for defeat of Trump immigration plan Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Dem countermemo | Hacking threats loom over 2018 Olympics | Booz Allen scores major DHS cyber contract McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash MORE[2][3][4][5][6][1] (R-Texas), in a voice vote Monday afternoon.

The legislation would authorize[7] the “cyber hunt and incident response teams” at Homeland Security to help owners and operators of critical infrastructure respond to cyberattacks as well as provide strategies for mitigating cybersecurity risks.

The bill would also allow Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Top state election official questions why Trump is downplaying threat of Russian election interference: report Homeland Security chief touts effort on election cybersecurity MORE[9][10][11][12][13][8] to add cybersecurity specialists from the private sector to the response teams.

It would require that Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center — the office in which the response teams are housed — continually evaluate the response teams and report to Congress on their efforts at the end of each fiscal year for four years after the bill becomes law.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved the bill earlier this month.

“My legislation before us today, codifies and enhances the cyber incident response teams at DHS,” McCaul said in remarks on Monday.

“By fostering new collaboration between the government and private sector, we can harness our talent and maximize our efforts to stay one step ahead of our enemies,” McCaul said. “This innovative approach serves as a force multiplier to enhance our cybersecurity workforce. Being able to utilize a greater number of experts will strengthen efforts to protect our cyber networks.”

As part of its broad mission, Homeland Security is responsible for protecting civilian federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyber threats.

References

  1. ^ Michael McCaul (thehill.com)
  2. ^ Michael Thomas McCaul (thehill.com)
  3. ^ White House blames ‘Schumer Democrats’ for defeat of Trump immigration plan (thehill.com)
  4. ^ Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Dem countermemo | Hacking threats loom over 2018 Olympics | Booz Allen scores major DHS cyber contract (thehill.com)
  5. ^ McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash (thehill.com)
  6. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  7. ^ legislation would authorize (docs.house.gov)
  8. ^ Kirstjen Nielsen (thehill.com)
  9. ^ Kirstjen Michele Nielsen (thehill.com)
  10. ^ Under pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion (thehill.com)
  11. ^ Top state election official questions why Trump is downplaying threat of Russian election interference: report (thehill.com)
  12. ^ Homeland Security chief touts effort on election cybersecurity (thehill.com)
  13. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
0

House approves legislation to authorize Homeland Security cyber teams

House lawmakers on Monday passed legislation that would codify into law the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber incident response teams that help protect federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. 

Lawmakers passed the bill, sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulWhite House blames ‘Schumer Democrats’ for defeat of Trump immigration plan Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Dem countermemo | Hacking threats loom over 2018 Olympics | Booz Allen scores major DHS cyber contract McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash MORE[2][3][4][5][6][1] (R-Texas), in a voice vote Monday afternoon.

ADVERTISEMENT

The legislation would authorize[7] the “cyber hunt and incident response teams” at Homeland Security to help owners and operators of critical infrastructure respond to cyberattacks as well as provide strategies for mitigating cybersecurity risks.

The bill would also allow Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Top state election official questions why Trump is downplaying threat of Russian election interference: report Homeland Security chief touts effort on election cybersecurity MORE[9][10][11][12][13][8] to add cybersecurity specialists from the private sector to the response teams.

It would require that Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center — the office in which the response teams are housed — continually evaluate the response teams and report to Congress on their efforts at the end of each fiscal year for four years after the bill becomes law.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved the bill earlier this month.

“My legislation before us today, codifies and enhances the cyber incident response teams at DHS,” McCaul said in remarks on Monday.

“By fostering new collaboration between the government and private sector, we can harness our talent and maximize our efforts to stay one step ahead of our enemies,” McCaul said. “This innovative approach serves as a force multiplier to enhance our cybersecurity workforce. Being able to utilize a greater number of experts will strengthen efforts to protect our cyber networks.”

As part of its broad mission, Homeland Security is responsible for protecting civilian federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyber threats.

References

  1. ^ Michael McCaul (thehill.com)
  2. ^ Michael Thomas McCaul (thehill.com)
  3. ^ White House blames ‘Schumer Democrats’ for defeat of Trump immigration plan (thehill.com)
  4. ^ Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Dem countermemo | Hacking threats loom over 2018 Olympics | Booz Allen scores major DHS cyber contract (thehill.com)
  5. ^ McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash (thehill.com)
  6. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  7. ^ legislation would authorize (docs.house.gov)
  8. ^ Kirstjen Nielsen (thehill.com)
  9. ^ Kirstjen Michele Nielsen (thehill.com)
  10. ^ Under pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion (thehill.com)
  11. ^ Top state election official questions why Trump is downplaying threat of Russian election interference: report (thehill.com)
  12. ^ Homeland Security chief touts effort on election cybersecurity (thehill.com)
  13. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
0

Poisoning of Russian ex-spy puts spotlight on Moscow's secret military labs

During his last run for the presidency, in 2012, Russian leader Vladimir Putin startled U.S. military experts with a mysterious pledge to develop novel kinds of weapons to counter the West’s technological edge. Armies of the future, he said, would need weapons “based on new physical principles” including “genetic” and “psychophysical” science.

“Such high-tech weapons systems will be comparable in effect to nuclear weapons,” Putin said in an essay published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government’s newspaper of record, “but will be more ‘acceptable’ in terms of ­political and military ideology.”

Exactly what Putin meant — and how any “genetic” weapon could square with international treaties outlawing chemical and biological warfare — remains uncertain. But what is now clear is that Putin’s words unleashed a wave of activity across a complex of heavily guarded military and civilian laboratories in Russia.

Since the start of Putin’s second term, a construction boom has been underway at more than two dozen institutes that were once part of the Soviet Union’s biological and chemical weapons establishment, according to Russian documents and photos compiled by independent researchers. That expansion, which includes multiple new or refurbished testing facilities, is particularly apparent at secret Defense Ministry laboratories that have long drawn the suspicions of U.S. officials over possible arms-treaty violations.

[Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses[1]]

Russian officials insist that the research in government-run labs is purely defensive and perfectly legal. But the effort has come under increased scrutiny in the wake of allegations of Moscow’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Both were sickened by exposure to Novichok[2], a kind of highly lethal nerve agent uniquely developed by Russian military scientists years ago.

“The big question is, why are they doing this?” said Raymond Zilinskas, a chemical and biological weapons expert with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. In a newly released book[3], “Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia[4],” ­Zilinskas and co-author Philippe Mauger analyze hundreds of contract documents and other records that show a surge in Russian research interest in subjects ranging from genetically modified pathogens to nonlethal chemical weapons used for crowd control.

The analysis also tracks a simultaneous rise in sensationalist Russian claims that the United States is itself pursuing offensive biological weapons. Reports posted on state-sponsored news sites and amplified over social media have accused U.S. scientists of being behind recent outbreaks of the Zika virus as well as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that began in 2014. In each instance, U.S. federal agencies marshaled a sizable response to counter or contain the outbreaks.

Such baseless claims could be viewed as part of a deliberate effort to “explain to their own people why they need to do this research,” Zilinskas said in an interview.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to answer written questions but forwarded a March 13 statement by Vassily A. Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations. Nebenzia denied any involvement by the Kremlin in the March 4 nerve-agent attack and suggested that it was the United States and Britain, not Russia, that were continuing to conduct illegal research to create “new toxic substances.”

[Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack[5]]

The research by Zilinskas and Mauger appears to bear out long-held concerns by the State Department, which has sharply criticized Russia in recent years over a lack of transparency in its military-related biological and chemical research. Since 2012, State Department officials have issued a series of reports faulting Moscow for refusing to open its military research laboratories to outside inspectors, and for failing to provide proof that it destroyed the highly lethal arsenals created by Red Army scientists in the years before the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Thomas Countryman, an assistant secretary of state for international security and arms control during the Obama administration, said that even before Putin, U.S. officials questioned whether the Kremlin had owned up to its past “fully and transparently.” But over the past six years, official distrust has grown as Moscow has embraced a more aggressive foreign policy that includes intimidation of Russia’s neighbors and an unabashed support for a Syrian dictator who uses nerve agents to kill his own people.

“Moscow’s full-throated defense of Syrian use of chemical weapons[6] — and, especially, its apparent use of chemical agents in targeted assassinations — only add to the concerns,” Countryman said.

Cold War pathogens

When the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991, the Russian Federation became the heir to history’s most dangerous arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.

During the Cold War, Soviet leaders spent vast sums to create weaponized versions of 11 different pathogens — including the microbes that cause anthrax, smallpox and the plague — while also experimenting with genetically altered strains. They created new classes of chemical toxins, such as Novichok, reportedly used in the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England.

[What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots[7]]

A fourth-generation nerve agent more deadly than VX, Novichok is the stuff of legend. Russia denies that it ever researched or manufactured such nerve agents, but it arrested a former Soviet weapons scientist[8] on charges of divulging state secrets after he published details about Soviet Novichok production in newspaper articles and a memoir.

The Soviet program was motivated in part by competition with the United States. Washington maintained its own stockpile of nerve agents during the Cold War and manufactured biological weapons until 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon dismantled the program. But the Kremlin pressed ahead, convinced that the Pentagon was continuing bioweapons research in secret. Finally, in 1992, newly installed Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged the existence of the secret program to U.S. officials and reported that all Soviet bioweapons had been destroyed.

In the years immediately following the Cold War, securing and dismantling Soviet weapons of mass destruction united Americans and Russians in a common cause[9]. The United States helped Russia build incinerators for destroying its chemical weapons, and it sponsored programs that paired former Soviet bioweapons scientists with Western companies to keep them employed during the country’s economic transition.

[Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack[10]]

Such U.S.-Russian technical cooperation began to wane after Putin’s election as president, and it collapsed after the Russian strongman won a second term in 2012. Yet, even during the Yeltsin years, Russia refused to grant ­access to key weapons sites, including four biodefense laboratories run by the Russian military and perpetually sealed off from outside visitors, former U.S. officials said.

“We were always curious: Were they embarrassed to let us in because of the shape of their labs? Or were they hiding something?” said Laura Holgate, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on preventing biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism.

Holgate allowed that Russia’s reluctance also may have reflected a “paranoia about what the U.S. might be learning” about the country’s military capabilities. In any case, she said, it became clear over time that Putin intended to preserve some Soviet-era capabilities for use in very specific situations. One of these was assassination — the killing of the Kremlin’s opponents using methods that were dramatic, yet allowed Moscow to plausibly deny culpability. Another was crowd control: the use of controversial “knockout” chemicals to incapacitate individuals involved in hostage standoffs and other mass disturbances.

Officials familiar with Russia’s program said the expanded activity at military labs may be partly aimed at honing those capabilities, giving Putin a variety of tools for dealing with adversaries while seeking to avoid the most flagrant violations of Russia’s treaty obligations.

“That would be in line with behavior that we’ve been seeing for years,” Holgate said.

Satellite evidence

Whatever the explanation, the buildup is striking. Data collected by Zilinskas and Mauger includes contract documents, ­Russian-language reports and aerial imagery that shed light on a dramatic expansion at the four secret Defense Ministry laboratories and numerous government-run civilian research centers across the country.

At one military complex at Yekaterinburg — the scene of an accidental release[11] of anthrax spores in 1979 that is said to have killed 100 workers and townspeople — satellite images show clusters of newly built, warehouse-size industrial buildings dotting a walled campus. Renovations can be observed in older buildings that in Soviet times were factories for mass-producing bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax.

At the 33rd Central Research Test Institute at Shikhany — formerly a “closed” Russian military city on the Volga River in southwest Russia — records point to a recent spending spree for specialized equipment such as freeze-drying machines used in microbial production. Lab officials are shown soliciting bids for repairs to a wind tunnel, the type used in testing aerosolized bacteria and viruses, as well as upgrades to an area of bermed storage pens that the researchers say are probably intended for open-air testing involving explosives.

Wind tunnels and outdoor testing facilities can be used legitimately to develop defenses against biological and chemical attacks. Indeed, the Pentagon employs similar equipment at its biodefense research facilities in Maryland and Utah. But Zilinskas and Mauger say the Russian expansion invites a higher level of scrutiny in light of the explicit calls by Russian leaders for work on novel kinds of weapons, including “genetic” ones.

After Putin’s essay in 2012, several senior military officials, including the defense minister at the time, Anatoly Serdyukov, publicly endorsed Putin’s appeal for new kinds of weapons and promised to start building them, the researchers note. Serdyukov specifically pledged to incorporate “genetic” research in creating Russia’s next-generation arsenals.

“We noted the numerous high-level calls for the development of biotechnology-based weapons in Russia, without further specification,” Zilinskas and Mauger write. At minimum, the vagueness of such statements potentially opens the door for any military official or “ambitious scientist” to lobby for a chance to develop a new kind of weapon — with the implicit blessing of top Russian officials, they write.

“When taken in conjunction with the [military’s] apparent support for the development of ‘genetic’ weapons, these statements erode normative barriers toward biological weapons in Russia,” the authors say.

Anton Troianovski in Moscow contributed to this report.

Read more:

With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West[12]

The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad[13]

Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case[14]

References

  1. ^ Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ exposure to Novichok (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ book (www.rienner.com)
  4. ^ Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia (www.amazon.com)
  5. ^ Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ Syrian use of chemical weapons (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots (www.washingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ former Soviet weapons scientist (www.voanews.com)
  9. ^ a common cause (armscontrolcenter.org)
  10. ^ Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  11. ^ accidental release (nsarchive2.gwu.edu)
  12. ^ With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West (www.washingtonpost.com)
  13. ^ The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Poisoning of Russian ex-spy puts spotlight on Moscow's secret military labs

During his last run for the presidency, in 2012, Russian leader Vladimir Putin startled U.S. military experts with a mysterious pledge to develop novel kinds of weapons to counter the West’s technological edge. Armies of the future, he said, would need weapons “based on new physical principles” including “genetic” and “psychophysical” science.

“Such high-tech weapons systems will be comparable in effect to nuclear weapons,” Putin said in an essay published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government’s newspaper of record, “but will be more ‘acceptable’ in terms of ­political and military ideology.”

Exactly what Putin meant — and how any “genetic” weapon could square with international treaties outlawing chemical and biological warfare — remains uncertain. But what is now clear is that Putin’s words unleashed a wave of activity across a complex of heavily guarded military and civilian laboratories in Russia.

Since the start of Putin’s second term, a construction boom has been underway at more than two dozen institutes that were once part of the Soviet Union’s biological and chemical weapons establishment, according to Russian documents and photos compiled by independent researchers. That expansion, which includes multiple new or refurbished testing facilities, is particularly apparent at secret Defense Ministry laboratories that have long drawn the suspicions of U.S. officials over possible arms-treaty violations.

[Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses[1]]

Russian officials insist that the research in government-run labs is purely defensive and perfectly legal. But the effort has come under increased scrutiny in the wake of allegations of Moscow’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Both were sickened by exposure to Novichok[2], a kind of highly lethal nerve agent uniquely developed by Russian military scientists years ago.

“The big question is, why are they doing this?” said Raymond Zilinskas, a chemical and biological weapons expert with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. In a newly released book[3], “Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia[4],” ­Zilinskas and co-author Philippe Mauger analyze hundreds of contract documents and other records that show a surge in Russian research interest in subjects ranging from genetically modified pathogens to nonlethal chemical weapons used for crowd control.

The analysis also tracks a simultaneous rise in sensationalist Russian claims that the United States is itself pursuing offensive biological weapons. Reports posted on state-sponsored news sites and amplified over social media have accused U.S. scientists of being behind recent outbreaks of the Zika virus as well as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that began in 2014. In each instance, U.S. federal agencies marshaled a sizable response to counter or contain the outbreaks.

Such baseless claims could be viewed as part of a deliberate effort to “explain to their own people why they need to do this research,” Zilinskas said in an interview.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to answer written questions but forwarded a March 13 statement by Vassily A. Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations. Nebenzia denied any involvement by the Kremlin in the March 4 nerve-agent attack and suggested that it was the United States and Britain, not Russia, that were continuing to conduct illegal research to create “new toxic substances.”

[Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack[5]]

The research by Zilinskas and Mauger appears to bear out long-held concerns by the State Department, which has sharply criticized Russia in recent years over a lack of transparency in its military-related biological and chemical research. Since 2012, State Department officials have issued a series of reports faulting Moscow for refusing to open its military research laboratories to outside inspectors, and for failing to provide proof that it destroyed the highly lethal arsenals created by Red Army scientists in the years before the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Thomas Countryman, an assistant secretary of state for international security and arms control during the Obama administration, said that even before Putin, U.S. officials questioned whether the Kremlin had owned up to its past “fully and transparently.” But over the past six years, official distrust has grown as Moscow has embraced a more aggressive foreign policy that includes intimidation of Russia’s neighbors and an unabashed support for a Syrian dictator who uses nerve agents to kill his own people.

“Moscow’s full-throated defense of Syrian use of chemical weapons[6] — and, especially, its apparent use of chemical agents in targeted assassinations — only add to the concerns,” Countryman said.

Cold War pathogens

When the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991, the Russian Federation became the heir to history’s most dangerous arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.

During the Cold War, Soviet leaders spent vast sums to create weaponized versions of 11 different pathogens — including the microbes that cause anthrax, smallpox and the plague — while also experimenting with genetically altered strains. They created new classes of chemical toxins, such as Novichok, reportedly used in the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England.

[What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots[7]]

A fourth-generation nerve agent more deadly than VX, Novichok is the stuff of legend. Russia denies that it ever researched or manufactured such nerve agents, but it arrested a former Soviet weapons scientist[8] on charges of divulging state secrets after he published details about Soviet Novichok production in newspaper articles and a memoir.

The Soviet program was motivated in part by competition with the United States. Washington maintained its own stockpile of nerve agents during the Cold War and manufactured biological weapons until 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon dismantled the program. But the Kremlin pressed ahead, convinced that the Pentagon was continuing bioweapons research in secret. Finally, in 1992, newly installed Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged the existence of the secret program to U.S. officials and reported that all Soviet bioweapons had been destroyed.

In the years immediately following the Cold War, securing and dismantling Soviet weapons of mass destruction united Americans and Russians in a common cause[9]. The United States helped Russia build incinerators for destroying its chemical weapons, and it sponsored programs that paired former Soviet bioweapons scientists with Western companies to keep them employed during the country’s economic transition.

[Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack[10]]

Such U.S.-Russian technical cooperation began to wane after Putin’s election as president, and it collapsed after the Russian strongman won a second term in 2012. Yet, even during the Yeltsin years, Russia refused to grant ­access to key weapons sites, including four biodefense laboratories run by the Russian military and perpetually sealed off from outside visitors, former U.S. officials said.

“We were always curious: Were they embarrassed to let us in because of the shape of their labs? Or were they hiding something?” said Laura Holgate, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on preventing biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism.

Holgate allowed that Russia’s reluctance also may have reflected a “paranoia about what the U.S. might be learning” about the country’s military capabilities. In any case, she said, it became clear over time that Putin intended to preserve some Soviet-era capabilities for use in very specific situations. One of these was assassination — the killing of the Kremlin’s opponents using methods that were dramatic, yet allowed Moscow to plausibly deny culpability. Another was crowd control: the use of controversial “knockout” chemicals to incapacitate individuals involved in hostage standoffs and other mass disturbances.

Officials familiar with Russia’s program said the expanded activity at military labs may be partly aimed at honing those capabilities, giving Putin a variety of tools for dealing with adversaries while seeking to avoid the most flagrant violations of Russia’s treaty obligations.

“That would be in line with behavior that we’ve been seeing for years,” Holgate said.

Satellite evidence

Whatever the explanation, the buildup is striking. Data collected by Zilinskas and Mauger includes contract documents, ­Russian-language reports and aerial imagery that shed light on a dramatic expansion at the four secret Defense Ministry laboratories and numerous government-run civilian research centers across the country.

At one military complex at Yekaterinburg — the scene of an accidental release[11] of anthrax spores in 1979 that is said to have killed 100 workers and townspeople — satellite images show clusters of newly built, warehouse-size industrial buildings dotting a walled campus. Renovations can be observed in older buildings that in Soviet times were factories for mass-producing bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax.

At the 33rd Central Research Test Institute at Shikhany — formerly a “closed” Russian military city on the Volga River in southwest Russia — records point to a recent spending spree for specialized equipment such as freeze-drying machines used in microbial production. Lab officials are shown soliciting bids for repairs to a wind tunnel, the type used in testing aerosolized bacteria and viruses, as well as upgrades to an area of bermed storage pens that the researchers say are probably intended for open-air testing involving explosives.

Wind tunnels and outdoor testing facilities can be used legitimately to develop defenses against biological and chemical attacks. Indeed, the Pentagon employs similar equipment at its biodefense research facilities in Maryland and Utah. But Zilinskas and Mauger say the Russian expansion invites a higher level of scrutiny in light of the explicit calls by Russian leaders for work on novel kinds of weapons, including “genetic” ones.

After Putin’s essay in 2012, several senior military officials, including the defense minister at the time, Anatoly Serdyukov, publicly endorsed Putin’s appeal for new kinds of weapons and promised to start building them, the researchers note. Serdyukov specifically pledged to incorporate “genetic” research in creating Russia’s next-generation arsenals.

“We noted the numerous high-level calls for the development of biotechnology-based weapons in Russia, without further specification,” Zilinskas and Mauger write. At minimum, the vagueness of such statements potentially opens the door for any military official or “ambitious scientist” to lobby for a chance to develop a new kind of weapon — with the implicit blessing of top Russian officials, they write.

“When taken in conjunction with the [military’s] apparent support for the development of ‘genetic’ weapons, these statements erode normative barriers toward biological weapons in Russia,” the authors say.

Anton Troianovski in Moscow contributed to this report.

Read more:

With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West[12]

The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad[13]

Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case[14]

References

  1. ^ Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ exposure to Novichok (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ book (www.rienner.com)
  4. ^ Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia (www.amazon.com)
  5. ^ Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ Syrian use of chemical weapons (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots (www.washingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ former Soviet weapons scientist (www.voanews.com)
  9. ^ a common cause (armscontrolcenter.org)
  10. ^ Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  11. ^ accidental release (nsarchive2.gwu.edu)
  12. ^ With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West (www.washingtonpost.com)
  13. ^ The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case (www.washingtonpost.com)