Critics worry as Trump voter probe goes to Homeland Security

0 View Gallery  View Comments TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Voting rights advocates and some state election officials cheered President Donald Trump's announcement that he was disbanding his election fraud commission, but their celebration could be short-lived. Trump spiked the commission late Wednesday amid infighting and refusals by numerous states to cooperate, but at the same time transferred its mission to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That concerns some election officials and experts who had been critical of the commission. DHS could have broad legal authority to conduct an investigation into Trump's unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. That's because of a declaration at the end of President Barack Obama's administration that election infrastructure is vital to national security. "I am deeply concerned that the work is being shifted over to DHS where it can be done behind closed doors and without the sunshine offered from open public scrutiny," Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press. He said the move "only fuels fears of a federal takeover" of elections, which are overseen by the states and carried out by thousands of local jurisdictions. The decentralized nature of the country's elections has been seen as a buffer against attempts at widespread manipulation. The commission's vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said the work done by DHS is likely to be less public. Trump convened the commission in May to investigate the 2016 presidential election after repeatedly making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million illegally cast ballots had cost him the popular vote. Trump won the Electoral College. Trump said in tweets early Thursday that the states, mostly Democratic leaning, "fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally." An AP tally showed 15 states and the Continue Reading

Murphy retains Christie appointee as homeland security chief

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy said he will keep the current director of the state's homeland security office, making Jared Maples the first Cabinet officer to be retained as the executive office switches from Republican to Democratic control.Maples, a 36-year-old former counterintelligence officer, was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie as acting director of the department in June. Murphy said Maples, who will lead New Jersey's counterterrorism, cybersecurity and emergency preparedness efforts, is the right person to keep New Jersey safe.Maples joined the state government in January 2016, overseeing the administrative functions of the homeland security office, such as finances, grant applications and human resources. He was promoted to acting director in June after the previous director, Chris Rodriguez, left for a private-sector job. PHIL MURPHY: NJ governor transition: Phil Murphy chooses four women NJ TRANSIT: Gov.-elect Phil Murphy calls NJ Transit 'national disgrace' POLITICS: Murphy miffed at Christie over pension change that could cost state, local governments "We need a seasoned homeland security official who puts the safety and security of our state and residents first and foremost, and who has the experience to ensure prompt action and coordination in the face of threats, wherever they come from," Murphy said in a press release announcing Maples' appointment, which is subject to Senate confirmation.Maples, who holds an MBA from Georgetown University, served for a decade in leadership roles at the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Department of Defense before working for the state. In the Murphy press release announcing his appointment, Maples echoed the governor-elect's campaign pledge to address income inequality."His goal of a stronger and fairer state must be underpinned by safety and vigilance in the face of myriad threats," Maples said. Continue Reading

White House Homeland Security Advisor Thomas P. Bossert & Palo Alto Networks Chairman and CEO Mark McLaughlin to Speak at the Cambridge Cyber Summit

CNBC and The Aspen Institute to host top business, government and cybersecurity leaders at unique one-day conference on October 4 in Boston Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and Washington, DC, August 23, 2017 – CNBC and The Aspen Institute today unveiled the first set of speakers for the second-annual The Cambridge Cyber Summit on October 4th at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston, MA. This unique one-day summit brings together top technology leaders, CEOs and government officials to explore the latest in cybersecurity, with a particular focus on how the public and private sectors can work together to safeguard our economic, financial and government assets, while also maintaining convenience and protecting privacy. This year's slate of speakers represents many of the most influential leaders in the cybersecurity industry, including a keynote address by White House Homeland Security Advisor Thomas P. Bossert. Other speakers include Catherine P. Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Bank of America; Mike Gregoire, CEO CA Technologies; Jason Matheny, Director, IARPA; Mark McLaughlin, Chairman and CEO, Palo Alto Networks; Joe Sullivan, CSO, Uber; as well as voices from the NSA, FBI, DHS, and foreign intelligence agencies. Additional speakers include: Dave Aitel, Founder & CTO, Immunity Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management, Facebook John Carlin, Chair, Cybersecurity and Technology Program, The Aspen Institute; Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security Oleg Derevianko, Information Security Systems Partners (ISSP) Michael Fey, President and Chief Operating Officer, Symantec Dan Geer, CISO, In-Q-Tel Glenn Gerstell, General Counsel, NSA Andy Continue Reading

Georgia official accuses Department of Homeland Security of hacking attempt on state election systems

The state of Georgia on Thursday accused the U.S. Homeland Security Department of apparently trying to hack its election systems. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said a computer traced back to the federal agency in Washington tried unsuccessfully to penetrate the state office’s firewall one week after the presidential election. The letter speculated that what it described as “a large unblocked scan event” might have been a security test. It sought details, including whether the agency did in fact conduct the unauthorized scan, who authorized it and whether other states might have been similarly probed. Kemp cited the federal law against knowingly accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, which is a felony. “At no time has my office agreed to or permitted DHS to conduct penetration testing or security scans of our network,” Kemp wrote. “Moreover, your department has not contacted my office since this unsuccessful incident to alert us of any security event that would require testing or scanning of our network.” Kemp said this was “especially odd and concerning” given that he is a member of the U.S. Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group run by the federal agency. Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell said the department got Kemp’s letter and is “looking into the matter.” “DHS takes the trust of our public and private sector partners seriously, and we will respond to Secretary Kemp directly,” McConnell said. Forty-eight states accepted offers by the Homeland Security Department to scan their networks ahead of the presidential elections. The scans looked for vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. The U.S. also described how states could patch their networks to make it more difficult to penetrate them. Georgia was among two Continue Reading

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson wants to eliminate the Department of Homeland Security

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who is seemingly unaware of terrorism in America and abroad, wants to shut down the Department of Homeland Security to save money. The low-polling Libertarian sees the department devoted to national security as “just another layer of bureaucracy,” he told the Fox Business Network on Monday. “Homeland Security, what do they really do?” he pondered. “Why are there armed Homeland Security agents walking the streets now? Why are those black, unmarked vehicles Homeland Security? What do they do? I just think the morale is low within the Department of Homeland Security and nobody knows really what they do.” In Johnson’s fantasy world, the FBI would take over all DHS responsibilities — but he offered no plan for how, exactly, he would phase out the department. His comments came the same day as a manhunt culminated for Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is accused of detonating explosives in New York City and New Jersey. The DHS, formed 14 months after the 9/11 attacks, focuses on antiterrorism, disaster prevention, cybersecurity and border protection. Its budget in fiscal year 2016 was $41.2 billion. The would-be fighter of bureaucratic bloat hasn’t exactly emerged as an expert on national security. Earlier month, he infamously failed to recognize Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, in a live TV interview about terrorism. This weekend, Johnson said “nobody got hurt” in the New York City bombing and Minnesota mall stabbing that left dozens of civilians injured. After both flubs, the former Republican governor of New Mexico said he misspoke — and released statements insisting he knows what is going on. Johnson and his middling third-party counterpart, Green Party contender Jill Stein, both learned last week they have not polled high enough to qualify for spots in the upcoming presidential debates. Continue Reading

Secy. Johnson: Homeland Security ‘Better Than We Were 15 Years Ago’

Jon Scott: 15 Years After 9/11, the World Trade Center Site is Thriving Report: Hillary Leaves 9/11 Mem'l Early Due To ‘Medical Episode’ WATCH: Video Appears To Show Hillary Clinton Collapsing Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson joined Fox News Sunday to discuss the state of America’s defenses against terrorism 15 years after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.“We are stronger against… a terror attack from overseas,” Johnson told Chris Wallace.The United States is “better than we were 15 years ago,” he said.Discussing areas in the fight against terror that need to be further advanced, Johnson said that so-called “lone-wolf attacks”, like the incidents in Orlando, San Bernardino and Fort Hood, are still a major “challenge.”He credited the installment of Peter Neffenger as head of the TSA as a reason that organization has become stronger after what he called “horrible test results” from a comprehensive inspection one year ago.Find out what Johnson thinks about the ability to keep out terrorists and other criminals at the border and how his department has been dealing with cybersecurity threats from Russia and elsewhere in the clip above, and let us know what you think in the comments. 15 Years After 9/11, Cheneys Warn of Foreign Perils From Obama’s ‘Retreat’ Giuliani: New York, and America, Is Back; Terrorists ‘Didn’t Succeed In Breaking Our Spirit’ Judge Jeanine to Hillary: ‘I Can’t Trust A President Who Doesn’t Think I’m Worthy Of Being An American’ Continue Reading

Hackers hit up to 25,000 Homeland Security workers, officials says

WASHINGTON — The internal records of as many as 25,000 Homeland Security Department employees were exposed during a recent computer break-in at a federal contractor that handles security clearances, an agency official said Friday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of an incident that is under active federal criminal investigation, said the number of victims could be greater. The department was informing employees whose files were exposed in the hacking against contractor USIS and warning them to monitor their financial accounts. Earlier this month, USIS acknowledged the break-in, saying its internal cybersecurity team had detected what appeared to be an intrusion with "all the markings of a state-sponsored attack." Neither USIS nor government officials have speculated on the identity of the foreign government. A USIS spokeswoman reached Friday declined to comment on the DHS notifications. USIS, once known as U.S. Investigations Services, has been under fire in Congress in recent months for its performance in conducting background checks on National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden and on Aaron Alexis, a military contractor employee who killed 12 people during shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington in September 2013. Private contractors perform background checks on more than two-thirds of the 4.9 million government workers with security clearances, and USIS handles nearly half of that number. Many of those investigations are performed under contracts with the Office of Personnel Management, and the Homeland Security and Defense departments. The Justice Department filed a civil complaint in January against USIS alleging that the firm defrauded the government by submitting at least 665,000 security clearance investigations that had not been properly completed and then tried to cover up its actions. USIS replied in a statement at the time that the allegations dealt with a small group of employees and that the Continue Reading

U.S. Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano to resign, Sen. Schumer pushes for NYPD Chief Ray Kelly as her replacement

WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resigning after four years to become president of the University of California system, the Obama Administration said Friday. Napolitano was the third person to lead the Department of Homeland Security, which was created a decade ago in response to the 9/11 attacks. No replacement has been named, but Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he called the White House urging that long-time New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly be considered for the position. "The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most important agencies in the federal government," Schumer said in a statement Friday. "It's leader needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three." Napolitano, 55, a New York City native, was governor of Arizona before President Obama nominated her to the homeland security post - a position that put her in the middle of national debates about immigration policy, national security and domestic police agencies sharing information. The failure of such information-sharing became an issue in the aftermath of the failed Christmas 2009 "underwear" bombing attempt that targeted a Detroit-bound airliner. Napolitano's greatest gaffe came after the plot, when she claimed that "the system worked" in the case, although investigations revealed gaps in the vetting of airline passengers and security screening overseas. The case led to the expansive deployment of controversial full-body scanners at U.S. airports to spot concealed bombs, a move that contributed to conservative journalist Matt Drudge labeling Napolitano "Big Sis," a term she's jokingly said that she likes. Napolitano's departure from the agency responsible for border security comes with immigration reform - a top priority of the Obama Administration - now before Congress. She oversaw a dramatic Continue Reading

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says she doesn’t use email

WASHINGTON — The woman in charge of U.S efforts to make email secure doesn’t use it herself. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday copped to keeping her own communications off the grid. “I don’t have any of my own accounts,” she told a cybersecurity conference hosted by National Journal. “I’m very secure.” Asked if her reasons for sticking to other forms of communication had to do with concerns about email security, she hedged and said she avoids email for “a whole host of reasons.” Napolitano’s department acts as the nation’s top cybercop. The agency urges Americans to stay safe online and to “Stop. Think. Connect.” Napolitano’s predecessor Michael Chertoff logged off for the length of his tenure at Homeland Security, said Anne Weismann, chief counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “You can’t get in trouble for something you wrote in an email if you never use email,” Weismann said. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Trump Homeland Security pick: Wall alone ‘will not do the job’

John Kelly, the retired Marine general whom President-elect Donald Trump has tapped to become his Homeland Security secretary, acknowledged Tuesday that a physical barrier, such as Trump's often-proposed wall, by itself won't sufficiently secure the U.S.-Mexico border.Under questioning from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who strongly supports his nomination, Kelly said a wall would be just one component of a wider-ranging strategy."Certainly as a military person that understands defense and defenses, a physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job," Kelly told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during a generally friendly confirmation hearing."It has to be really a layered defense," Kelly said. "If you were to build a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, you'd still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, by sensors, by observation devices."Kelly also said that he thought targeting "dreamers" for deportation would not be a priority for the Trump administration.The Senate this week is holding confirmation hearings on several of Trump's Cabinet nominees. Besides Kelly's appearance before the Homeland Security panel, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held a first day of hearings on Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Trump's pick to be U.S. attorney general. Immigration-related issues came up in the questioning of Sessions, too.Trump's hard-line positions against illegal immigration were central to his campaign in last year's Republican presidential primaries and his general-election race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for the White House.Trump at various times suggested his administration would pursue a policy of mass deportation and possibly ban Muslims from entering the country. But none of his ideas gained as much attention as his signature campaign vow to construction a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that he would force Mexico to Continue Reading