Tag Archives: terrorism

Security Magazine: Las Vegas Lawsuit Raises Security Liability Questions

In his July 19, 2018 piece for Security Magazine, Ariel Benjamin Mannes analyzes the lawsuit filed by MGM Resorts in their effort to use a 9/11-based federal terrorism law as a liability shield from the tragic October, 2017 shooting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  The article questions security liability and calls for more professional security assessment, training and intervention strategies to prevent further incidents from occurring.

Click here to read the complete piece and feel free to share and discuss it with your thoughts.

After London and Manchester, we need better Public Venue Security

My June 4, 2017 piece in The Hill should serve as a private sector “wake-up call” for public venue security in light of recent, fatal criminal and terrorist incidents; many of which could have been prevented or mitigated with better security planning.

To read the entire piece, please click here.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are not synonymous

My latest column in The Hill breaks down a common misconception regarding the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and conveys the urgency for citizens to be more responsible for their own safety and security.

Please click here to read the article and feel free to contact me with your feedback.

The Hill: America needs a ‘Duck and Cover’ for domestic terrorism

Despite a persistent threat and great courses like the CAT Eyes Program & “Run, Hide, Fight“, there still is no standardized effort to train citizens on terrorism and what they should do if an attack were to occur. If your local law enforcement agency, school or workplace hasn’t trained you in what to do; ask them to immediately!

In the meantime, this piece examines what can be done to try and make Americans more vigilant and mentally prepared for what may occur.

Click here to read the full story in The Hill.

America needs security, not the appearance thereof (The Hill)

In this week’s column in The Hill, I question America’s resolve and preparedness to address the continual rise of violence facing society. Does America learn from past attacks here and abroad, or is it collectively just trying to ‘get back to normal’? Security is an ever-evolving discipline, and leaders need to continuously evolve to protect our nation’s citizens and infrastructure.

Please click here to read the full piece in The Hill.

The Hill: Words matter: How politicians politicize terror attacks

Please read and share the piece I wrote in The Hill on September 18, 2016 regarding the terror attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota over the weekend, and questions about the honesty of the language used by local political leaders to brief the public on them.

To read the full article, please click here.

John Cardillo Show: Ben Mannes on Police Ambushes, Terrorism and Immigration

Mannes was a guest on the John Cardillo Show on Monday, 9/19/16 to discuss two ambushes on Philadelphia Police, his recent article in The Hill entitled Background Checks: the Achilles Heel of Immigration Reform, and the recent Terrorist Attacks on New York, New Jersey and Minnesota.

The Hill: Are we safer 15 years after 9/11?

My latest piece in The Hill examines the state of the American posture 15 years after the attacks on September 11, 2001.  This one is dedicated to those brave men and women we lost 15 years ago, Sunday. May their lives not be lost in vein.

Please click here to read the full story.

Arizona Republic: 5 ways to address mass shootings (without the politics)

AZ Republic Masthead 7-13-16

Published on July 13, 2016 in the [Phoenix] Arizona Republic following the mass shootings in Orlando and Dallas.

My Turn: Too often, lawmakers turn their attention to solutions that won’t work. Here are a few that will.

 

In December 2012, my op-ed was published in the Philadelphia Daily News offering effective responses that can be taken by lawmakers and leaders to address the Sandy Hook massacre, in conjunction with writing my elected officials to plead for common-sense solutions to violent crime.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, I find myself writing again in response to the incidents at San Bernardino, Orlando and Dallas in addition to the thousands who are victimized senselessly on the streets of America’s cities every year.

As an expert in law enforcement and security, I am wrought with disappointment and disbelief at how quickly a massacre like the Orlando attack can be politicized by the media and lawmakers.

Why simply ‘banning’ firearms won’t work

The argument predictably shifted from the search for answers in the attack to the tools used in the attack. Why? It’s politically a lot easier to blame the weapons used in the attack than to delve into the murky waters of the current psyche of our nation, why these incidents are on the rise, and what we can do to prevent future incidents.

An astute observation to make is: Despite all the talking heads, why has the majority of our nation’s law enforcement stayed off the issue of the weapon used, and on the issue of the assailants in question?

One reason is because law-enforcement professionals know that an operable, maintained firearm could work for over 100 years, and there are approximately more than 300 million firearms owned in the United States. Regardless, our legislators hurried to draft a bill to regulate a few specific types of weapons, which would have little effect on the underlying issue of the few dangerous people seeking to use these weapons unlawfully.

Therefore, one should ask political leaders if there are more effective ways to address this vital issue to our security.

5 solutions that’ll actually work

I want to offer some ways our legislators can address  mass violence and invest in effective strategies for security, law enforcement and mental-health treatment, including:

  • Refine legislation that actually improves the myriad existing, effective laws, which include a requirement for background checks for personal transfers (which could be as easy as the parties of a personal sale going to a gun store or police station to show identification when privately selling a firearm) and immediate legislation for public-safety modifications to health-privacy laws (HIPAA). The HIPAA revision should fund the creation of a state mental-health treatment database, to tie mandatory notifications from mental-health professionals to law enforcement when someone is undergoing treatment for potentially dangerous conditions (to include outpatient treatment when pharmacological intervention is required), who can cross-check files with firearms registration (and requests to buy new weapons).
  • Immediately increase funding for the enforcement of existing laws, which includes recruitment and support for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and its task forces, to better target interstate smuggling and straw-purchasing of illegal firearms; and providing timely enforcement when a prohibited person is seeking a firearm. This can also accompany federal support for state firearms enforcement and heightened sentences for other crimes where a firearm was used or recovered, similar to “Face 5” in Georgia or “Project Exile” in Virginia.
  • Legislate professional standards for security and law-enforcement officers specializing in critical infrastructure protection, as America needs to accept the need for professionally trained and equipped staff on-site to intervene if an incident occurs.
  • Require training in the safe handling, retention and use of a firearm for any civilian owner, similar to qualifications that security officers must complete, as well as laws addressing the securing of firearms at home, to prevent theft or access by prohibited persons.
  • Fund training for workplaces and schools in recognizing and reporting abnormal behavior, and fund an early-intervention tip line coordinated with local law enforcement.

Although these solutions are less “popular” in addressing the threat of mass-violence, I hope that my elected officials can begin a meaningful, non-partisan discussion with an impact on violent crime. Offering popular legislation that does not pass is the equivalent of “kicking of the can down the road,” but if we are to work together to address the causes versus the tools used, we may be able to save lives.

A. Benjamin Mannes serves as governor on the executive board of InfraGard, the FBI-coordinated public-private partnership for critical infrastructure protection, and is a member of the Peirce College criminal justice studies advisory board. Email him at bmannes@philadelphiainfragard.org; Twitter, @PublicSafetySME.

Buffalo News: What the terrorism watch list is … and isn’t

Buffalo NEws 7-6-16 Masthead
Published July 6, 2016 following the Congressional “sit-in” that followed the terrorist attack on an Orlando Nightclub, demanding that all persons on the “Terrorism Watch List” be restricted from obtaining a firearm.

 By A. Benjamin MannesAs a former municipal and federal law enforcement officer and intelligence analyst, I’ve actually accessed the “terrorism watch list” that is currently garnering so much media attention of late. Like many Americans, I witnessed a contingent of the House Democratic caucus stage a sit-in to push through legislation restricting members of the watch list from getting a firearm. As someone who not only knows how terrorism watch lists work, as well as with firsthand experience relating to how changing gun laws can make law-abiding citizens into criminals, I felt the need to briefly explain the process.

First, the “terrorism watch list” is officially called the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), which the FBI consolidates from multiple agencies, and includes the TSA’s “no-fly list.”

The “no-fly list” is actually one specifying heightened “selectee” screening by the TSA, and normally nobody is actually restricted from flying after passing heightened screening. The TSDB list is estimated to contain over 2,484,442 records, consisting of 1,877,133 individual identities, with approximately 1,600 names submitted to it. About 600 names are removed and 4,800 records are modified by the intelligence community each day. Approximately one out of 20 of the people on the list are citizens or legal U.S. residents.

The Justice Department inspector general officially noted frequent errors on the list and slow response to complaints, finding 38 percent of a 105-record sample contained gross inaccuracies. Ten years ago, a review of the no-fly list reduced its size by half, from 71,872 records to 34,230 records.

One of the most obvious reasons for the inaccuracies is that names are submitted to the list in the process of investigations or intelligence gathering, often for subjects who have been unseen. Therefore, given common naming conventions in many cultures outside the United States, it’s possible that there are thousands of innocent people in the nation with the same name as a subject on the TSDB.

While there are multiple reasons for these inaccuracies, it is important to understand that the TSDB is a watch list, not a criminal record, and is used in security screenings and investigations that could lead to a trial. The vast majority of records in the TSDB use Muslim naming conventions, meaning that potentially thousands of innocent American Muslims will have their right to purchase a firearm to defend themselves stripped with little to no adjudication process, simply because someone on the TSDB had the same name and gender.

Therefore, I plead for our elected representatives to seek out more effective, common-sense legislation to address the issue of mass violence.

A. Benjamin Mannes is a governor on InfraGard, the FBI-coordinated public-private partnership for critical infrastructure protection