The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, MD.

Credit: Patrick Semansky / AP via NPR

Security ABCs: Juliette Kayyem Talks JTTF, NSA, & H2N5

June 3, 2015

Homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem sat down with Jim and Margery on BPR to contextualize the BPD-FBI joint task force; she questioned Edward Snowden's virtual appearance Tuesday in London; and she addressed fears about a US bird-flu outbreak.

  • Kayyem called the case of terror suspect Usaama Rahim "all-around unique." Prior to his death on Tuesday, Rahim was subject to 'round-the-clock surveillance by a Joint Terrorism Task Force. Kayyem said that requires six to eight people working eight-hour shifts, and it means "they have something specific, something they're worried about, and something they can't quite figure out." She noted the threat must have been serious for law enforcement to need to intercept Rahim in a parking lot. "It's rare for police and federal agents to approach a person together."
  • Kayyem rebuffed a comparison made by Congressman Michael Capuano. Capuano likened NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to Martin Luther King Jr. "Edward Snowden is hanging out in Russia, and not sitting in a Birmingham jail." Kayyem noted Dr. King broke the law to benefit the greater good — and was willing to go to jail for it. When it comes to the government's oversight of itself — the reason for Snowden's original action — Kayyem noted that no government is a perfect institution. "Governments tend not to self-regulate," she said.
  • In the US, 20 million egg-laying hens have been slaughtered as poultry farms battle a bird flu outbreak. It's "wiping out egg production, and debilitating the entire egg industry," Kayyem said. The cost to Americans is likely to be financial, not physical, Kayyem said. Egg prices could skyrocket as businesses — from brunch spots to Ben & Jerry's — scramble for supplies. While the damage has already been done, Kayyem noted that there is an H2N5 vaccine currently under FDA review that could prevent future outbreaks.

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