Homeland Security

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  Gates Favors Faster Expansion Of The ArmySeptember 27, 2007 19:05 Hoping to ease the strain of two wars, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that he was likely to approve a $3 billion plan by the Army to accelerate by a full year the expansion of its active-duty force that President Bush approved in January.

Under the proposal, the Army would expand to 547,000 troops by 2011, one year sooner than under Mr. Bush’s plan. Army Secretary Pete Geren told reporters on Thursday that he favored the faster expansion to relieve the strains of providing troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m inclined to approve it,” Mr. Gates said of the Army proposal at a Pentagon news conference on Thursday. “My questions have focused principally on whether they can do it in terms of recruitment and whether they can do so without lowering standards.” Mr. Gates said that he would not allow the Army to reduce recruiting standards to get the higher force numbers. The Army has had intermittent problems this year reaching the higher recruiting targets needed to expand the overall force.

Mr. Bush approved a plan to increase the size of the Army in January when he decided to send more troops to Iraq as part of the “surge” to improve security in and around Baghdad. The plan called for increasing the active duty Army to 547,000 troops by 2012, from its authorized strength of 512,000, and for an additional 9,000 troops for the National Guard and Army Reserve.

Mr. Geren said that expediting the growth of the force would be achieved by increasing recruiting and re-enlistment. The Army has had to resort to large cash bonuses, up to $20,000 for recruits who agree to report quickly for basic training, and far higher amounts to keep soldiers in the service who do specialized jobs.
  MIT Coed With Fake Bomb 'Art' ArrestedSeptember 21, 2007 15:54 This is stupid. It is not longer a free society. How does a young woman wearing art indicate that terrorism is still an aviation threat in the US?

Troopers arrested an MIT student at gunpoint Friday after she walked into Logan International Airport wearing a computer circuit board and wiring on her sweatshirt. Authorities call it a fake bomb; she called it art.

Star Simpson's attorney said the charges against her were an overreaction, but authorities expressed amazement that someone would wear such a device eight months after a similar scare in Boston, and six years after two of the jets hijacked in the Sept. 11 attacks took off from Logan.

"I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport," said State Police Maj. Scott Pare, the airport's commanding officer.

The terminal was not evacuated and flights were not affected, airport officials said.

Simpson, 19, of Hawaii, has expertise in electronics and even received a Congressional citation for her work in robotics, according to her lawyer.

She wore the white circuit board on her chest over a black hooded sweatshirt, Pare said at a news conference. The battery-powered rectangular device had nine flashing lights, and Simpson had Play-Doh in her hands, he said.

Two phrases that looked hand-drawn — "Socket to me" and "Course VI" — were written on the back of Simpson's sweatshirt, which authorities displayed to the media. Course VI appears to refer to MIT's major of electrical engineering and computer science.
  Kerry Stunned Over Taser IncidentSeptember 18, 2007 19:36 Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said he still doesn’t know why police Tasered a University of Florida student during the senator’s speech Monday, saying, "I could have handled the situation without interruption."

Kerry, however, was quick not to undermine the police decision to use force.

“I don’t know what transpired,” Kerry said. “The police must have had a reason to make their decision.”

The senator would not comment as to whether the police used an appropriate level of force, saying, “That is a law enforcement issue.”

Kerry was speaking at the University of Florida, when Andrew Meyer, a student, burst into the room and ran towards a microphone, attempting to ask Kerry a question. According to university officials, Meyer was allowed to ask several questions before his microphone was cut off and university police stepped in.

Meyer screamed: "Don't Tase me, bro!" as officers attempted to drag him outside the auditorium, according to the Florida Alligator newspaper.
  Shakeup After Nuclear Missiles Flown Across Us By MistakeSeptember 05, 2007 22:02 As many as six nuclear warheads, each with a destructive potential almost 10 times that of the Hiroshima bomb, were mistakenly flown across the US, Pentagon officials conceded yesterday.

The incident last week saw nuclear-armed cruise missiles last week mounted on the wings of a B-52 bomber and flown from an airbase 40 miles below the Canadian border to the southern state of Louisiana. The 1,500 mile journey from the Minot airbase in North Dakota to Barksdale in Louisiana lasted three and a half hours, during which time the crew were unaware of their nuclear load.

Pentagon officials said a munitions squadron commander had been relieved of his duties and crews involved with the mistaken load - including ground crew workers - have been temporarily "decertified" from handling munitions.
The director of air and space operations at US air combat command is to lead an investigation into how the plane was able to mistakenly fly nuclear weapons without anybody realising.

The cruise missiles were being transferred to Louisiana for decommissioning, as part of a programme to retire 400 of them. Three air force officers who spoke to the Military Times newspaper said the nuclear warheads should have been removed before the missiles were loaded under the bomber's wings. It is unclear why they were not. The W80-1 warheads have an explosive yield of 150 kilotons. The Hiroshima bomb is calculated to have had an explosive yield of 16 kilotons.