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September: National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month (NPM) starts are on September 1st! This year’s theme is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.” Take action by participating in America’s PrepareAthon! on or around September 30. Each week also has a preparedness them. Check them out.
• Week 1 – How to… Reconnect with Family After a Disaster.
• Week 2 – Know How To plan for specific needs before a Disaster.
• Week 3 – How to… Build an Emergency Kit.
• Week 4 & 5 – How to… Practice for an emergency.
For more details about National Preparedness Month visit: www.ready.gov/september #NatlPrep

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Air Force secretary: Airstrikes are working

The Secretary of the Air Forces speaks about the aid to Iraq and also gives mention to Rome Labs. She came to visit yesterday.

http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/air-force-secretary--airstrikes-are-working-318035523693

Air Force secretary: Airstrikes are working

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James joins Morning Joe to discuss the impact airstrikes in Northern…

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Do NSA’s Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?

Do NSA’s Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?
Source: New American Foundation

On June 5, 2013, the Guardian broke the first story in what would become a flood of revelations regarding the extent and nature of the NSA’s surveillance programs. Facing an uproar over the threat such programs posed to privacy, the Obama administration scrambled to defend them as legal and essential to U.S. national security and counterterrorism. Two weeks after the first leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published, President Obama defended the NSA surveillance programs during a visit to Berlin, saying: “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved.” Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, testified before Congress that: “the information gathered from these programs provided the U.S. government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world.” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on the House floor in July that “54 times [the NSA programs] stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe – saving real lives.”

However, our review of the government’s claims about the role that NSA “bulk” surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading. An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal. Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases. NSA programs involving the surveillance of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act played a role in 4.4 percent of the terrorism cases we examined, and NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority played a role in 1.3 percent of the cases we examined.

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Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (PDF)
Source: Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (U.S. Congress)

The body of this Report consists of seven sections, five of which address the Section 215 telephone records program. After this introduction and the executive summary, Part 3 describes in detail how the telephone records program works. To put the present-day operation of the program in context, Part 4 reviews its history, including its evolution from predecessor intelligence activities. An analysis of whether the telephone records program meets applicable statutory requirements follows in Part 5. Part 6 addresses the constitutional issues raised by the telephone records program under both the First and Fourth Amendments. The final section discussing the Section 215 program, Part 7, examines the potential benefits of the program, its efficacy in achieving its purposes, the impact of the program on privacy and civil liberties, and the Board’s conclusions that reforms are needed.

After considering the 215 program, the Report addresses the operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That section, Part 8, concludes by proposing an approach that, in appropriate cases, would allow the FISC judges to hear from a Special Advocate. Part 9, the final section of the Report, addresses the issue of transparency, which has been a priority of this Board since it began operations.

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DoD: Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY 2013-2038

Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY 2013-2038 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Unmanned systems continue to deliver new and enhanced battlefield capabilities to the warfighter. While the demand for unmanned systems continues unabated today, a number of factors will influence unmanned program development in the future. Three primary forces are driving the Department of Defense’s (DoD) approach in planning for and developing unmanned systems.

1. Combat operations in Southwest Asia have demonstrated the military utility of unmanned systems on today’s battlefields and have resulted in the expeditious integration of unmanned technologies into the joint force structure. However, the systems and technologies currently fielded to fulfill today’s urgent operational needs must be further expanded (as described in this Roadmap) and appropriately integrated into Military Department programs of record (POR) to achieve the levels of effectiveness, efficiency, affordability, commonality, interoperability, integration, and other key parameters needed to meet future operational requirements.

2. Downward economic forces will continue to constrain Military Department budgets for the foreseeable future. Achieving affordable and cost-effective technical solutions is imperative in this fiscally constrained environment.

3. The changing national security environment poses unique challenges. A strategic shift in national security to the Asia-Pacific Theater presents different operational considerations based on environment and potential adversary capabilities that may require unmanned systems to operate in anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) areas where freedom to operate is contested. Similarly, any reallocation of unmanned assets to support other combatant commanders (CCDRs) entails its own set of unique challenges, which will likely require unmanned systems to operate in more complex environments involving weather, terrain, distance, and airspace while necessitating extensive coordination with allies and host nations.

The combination of these primary forces requires further innovative technical solutions that are effective yet affordable for program development.

The purpose of this Roadmap is to articulate a vision and strategy for the continued development, production, test, training, operation, and sustainment of unmanned systems technology across DoD. This “Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap” establishes a technological vision for the next 25 years and outlines actions and technologies for DoD and industry to pursue to intelligently and affordably align with this vision.

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