Kan. suspect in bomb plot faces detention hearing
by ROXANA HEGEMAN
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a Kansas airport worker intended to inflict "maximum carnage" with a suicide bomb plot in a commercial aircraft terminal that would have killed or injured hundreds of people and those factors alone should compel a judge to keep him behind bars before trial.
Terry Lee Loewen, 58, is expected to return to court Friday for a detention hearing, where he'll have to convince U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys that he does not pose a public danger or flight risk if he expects to be released. Loewen is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of an explosive device to damage property and attempted material support to al-Qaida.
"The defendant is charged with an egregious crime of violence," prosecutors wrote Thursday in invoking a presumption of detention given the nature of the charges. That means the legal burden shifts to the defense to produce evidence warranting his release.
Loewen, of Wichita, has been held under a temporary order since his Dec. 13 arrest. Prosecutors say he tried to get what he believed was a car bomb onto the tarmac at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, where he worked as an avionics technician. The final plan — hatched in an undercover scheme with two FBI agents — was to detonate the device between terminals for maximum casualties during an explosion in which Loewen would die as a martyr.
Court documents said he timed the operation to cause "maximum carnage."
Acknowledging that Loewen has little criminal history and is a lifelong Wichita resident, prosecutors said he spoke during the investigation about leaving the country after the attack in order to escape responsibility for his actions. They also said the plot made it "clear his ties to the community mean little" to Loewen.
Verizon to Publish Transparency Report Amid NSA Furor
An AT&T spokesman tells TIME the company is "exploring" ways to be more transparent about U.S. data requests
by Sam Gustin
Civil liberties groups and public interest advocates have been urging Verizon and AT&T, the nation's largest telecommunications companies, to be more forthcoming about user data requests made by the U.S. government for months. Recently, the companies' shareholders joined the chorus demanding that Verizon and AT&T follow the example of the nation's largest Internet giants, including Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, which all publish transparency reports.
It appears that Verizon has been listening. On Thursday, the $140 billion telecom titan announced that it will begin publishing an online report providing data on the number of law enforcement requests for customer information that the company receives in the U.S. and other countries. Verizon's announcement comes one day after President Barack Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies recommended significant reforms at the National Security Agency, and constitutes the latest impact from the blockbuster disclosures delivered by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
“All companies are required to provide information to government agencies in certain circumstances,” Randal S. Milch, Verizon's executive vice president for public policy and general counsel, said in a statement, “and this new report is intended to provide more transparency about law enforcement requests. Although we have a legal obligation to provide customer information to law enforcement in response to lawful demands, we take seriously our duty to provide such information only when authorized by law.”
Verizon said that its transparency report will identify the total number of law enforcement agency requests received from governments in criminal cases, to the extent permitted by law. The report will break out this data under categories such as subpoenas, court orders and warrants. The company said it is working with the U.S. government regarding the detail the company can report on the number of National Security Letters (NSLs) it receives. Verizon will become the first telecom company to issue such a report.
However, Verizon's report will not separately disclose information about other national security requests received by the company, including orders made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the controversial law that facilitates many NSA programs. (NSLs are requests for communications records made directly by the FBI when the government is conducting national security investigations. Thus far, no company has been granted permission to separately disclose requests made under FISA.)
The largest Internet companies are waging a legal battle with the U.S. government to be more transparent about national security data requests, including those made under FISA. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) — a secret panel made up of 11 federal judges appointed by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts — asking for permission to disclose statistics about the nature and scope of government requests made under FISA. The Justice Department has opposed the companies' petition.
In a statement, Verizon's Milch alluded obliquely to the Snowden revelations. “In the past year, there has been greater focus than ever on the use of legal demands by governments around the world to obtain customer data,” he said. “Like others in the industry, the aim of our transparency report is to keep our customers informed about government requests for their data and how we respond to those requests. Verizon calls on governments around the world to provide more information on the types and amounts of data they collect and the legal processes that apply when they do so.”
Sarah Morris, Senior Policy Counsel at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, a public interest organization that has been leading the campaign for greater transparency with respect to U.S. surveillance programs, praised Verizon's decision. “We've had our differences in the past with Verizon on issues such as net neutrality, but it looks like we are united in our belief that surveillance transparency reporting by telephone and Internet companies should be the norm going forward,” she said. “We hope that Verizon's upcoming transparency report sets a strong standard for the telecom industry and that other telephone companies will soon follow suit and issue their own reports.”
Last month, shareholders filed a proposal asking AT&T and Verizon to be more transparent about government requests for user information, including demands made by the NSA under FISA. The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages $160.7 billion on behalf of more than one million state employees and retirees, is leading the effort, along with Trillium Asset Management, a Boston-based investment firm with more than $1.3 billion under management.
AT&T's response was, in a word, “No.” In a letter sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, AT&T said it wants to exclude the shareholder proposal from its next annual meeting because it pertains to “ordinary business operations” that are the purview of the company's management and board, not rank and file shareholders. AT&T apparently wants to avoid what could be a heated debate at the company's next annual meeting about its role in the government's controversial national security surveillance programs.
In contrast, Verizon is moving proactively to plan the telecom industry's first major transparency report. Jonas Kron, Senior Vice President and Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Trillium Asset Management, said his firm is “gratified that Verizon appears to have embraced the position that shareholders set out in a proposal filed in November.” In the coming weeks, AT&T will face intensifying pressure to follow Verizon's lead. Already, there are signs that AT&T might soften its stance. Reached by TIME, AT&T spokesperson Mark A. Siegel offered the following comment: “While we have disclosed a lot of information in this area, we are always exploring ways to do more,” Siegel said.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Continued Progress on the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Initiative
by Amy Pope and Ricardo Zuniga
Editors Note: This blog was originally posted on the White House blog on December 19, 2013.
Today the United States and Canada released the 2013 Implementation Report on the Beyond the Border Initiative. The report highlights the significant progress we have made over the last year to enhance economic cooperation and to address threats before they reach our common border. Our two countries are doing all we can to make trade and travel easier and less expensive, supporting economic competiveness and prosperity, while partnering to keep our communities safe.
Since President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border Declaration in 2011, we have worked together to benefit residents, travelers, and industry in both countries while enhancing security, trade and travel facilitation, critical infrastructure protection, and emergency management. We are jointly collaborating before goods or travelers even arrive at the border, embracing a perimeter security approach where possible.
For example, this year, under the “cleared once, accepted twice” principle, both countries have started to rely on the other's offshore inspections of marine shipments to reduce the need for re-inspection at the land border. Also, the U.S. truck cargo pre-inspection pilot in Surrey, British Columbia, tested new approaches for conducting screening at the land border. We are building on these accomplishments to complete preclearance negotiations for all transportation modes. Each of these initiatives helps goods move securely and more quickly across our shared border.
We are also successfully using the NEXUS trusted traveler program to benefit industry, travelers and our two governments. In the last year, membership in the NEXUS trusted traveler program grew by approximately 50 percent. Program participants save time and receive an expanded set of benefits when traveling. At the land border, Canada opened additional NEXUS lanes to complement the existing U.S. investments and to expedite the border clearance process. At airports and in marine reporting locations, access to expedited passenger screening lines at designated locations in both countries and access to NEXUS and Global Entry trusted traveler kiosks facilitates the border clearance process and allows our border agencies to redirect their resources to unknown travelers.
Going forward, both countries are committed to building on these shared accomplishments to achieve the vision of our President and the Canadian Prime Minister. We intend to upgrade infrastructure at priority border crossings, implement a single window for border transactions, and harmonize trusted trader programs between our two countries. We will continue to pursue creative and effective solutions to truly go “Beyond the Border.”
For more information on Beyond the Border, visit www.dhs.gov/beyond-the-border.
Amy Pope is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Transborder Security at the National Security Council. Ricardo Zuniga is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council.
Engaging the Next Generation of Cyber Leaders
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the next phase of an exciting program for our nation's future cyber professionals. The Secretary's Honors Program (SHP) Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, a student volunteer program designed specifically for college students, began accepting applications for its 2014 class. With more than 100 unpaid student volunteer assignments available in over 60 locations across the country, the program offers students an opportunity to learn and support the cybersecurity work performed by DHS' cybersecurity workforce.
DHS actively collaborates and shares information with public and private sector partners every day to respond to and coordinate mitigation in the face of attempted disruptions to the Nation's critical cyber and communications networks and to reduce adverse impacts on critical network systems.
The SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, created in April 2013 by former Secretary Janet Napolitano, has been expanded to new DHS offices and locations, giving students with a variety of backgrounds and skills the chance to learn about the wide range of DHS cybersecurity responsibilities, and gain invaluable hands-on experience.
Participating DHS offices and components in the program include the U. S. Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) computer forensics labs, and state and major urban area fusion centers through DHS' Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
Student volunteers will work alongside DHS cybersecurity professionals on a range of projects to support our cybersecurity mission. Among other exciting duties, participants will analyze cyber threats at state and major urban area fusion centers; research virtual currency with Secret Service agents; and assist with decoding files of interest for forensic analysis at ICE labs. They will support Information Assurance awareness training at the Coast Guard; help with network diagnostics and incident response at TSA; and support DHS' network security efforts through OCIO. With assignments beginning in the spring of 2014 and lasting throughout the summer, student volunteers will learn critical skills they can use to succeed in their future careers.
The 2014 SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative is the latest in our efforts to develop a workforce equipped to respond to the constantly evolving cyber threats facing our nation. DHS is proud to offer these opportunities to students around the country, and is committed to creating programs to cultivate the next generation of cyber talent. We encourage students to apply by January 3, and look forward to welcoming the 2014 class next spring.
Learn more about and apply for the SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative here.