Jul 20, 2017

DHS tested laptop bomb before announcing ban

Eduardo Verdugo / AP

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Dave Lapan confirmed to Axios that DHS tested a laptop bomb in an "aircraft frame while on the ground but pressurized" prior to the March announcement of the laptop ban for airlines and airports in the Middle East and North Africa. Lapan said the test happened in the Washington, D.C., region and that DHS had been in conversations with aviation stakeholders about the threat about a month before the test.

This comes after DHS Secretary John Kelly said at a Wednesday event with The Aspen Institute the test "destroyed the plane." Lapan said they also tested equipment and protocols.

Why it matters: The testing suggests, just as DHS said at the time of the laptop ban announcement, DHS had legitimate security reasons to implement enhanced security measures to prevent this kind of bomb from exploding in or over our country.

Note: The laptop ban is over now that every single airport and airline that was on the ban has had it lifted by implementing new security protocols compliant with DHS standards. That doesn't mean the threat is gone — it just means security measures are better equipped to deal with the threat. "180 airlines in 105 countries have successfully implemented the initial enhanced security measures," Lapan said.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Brazil on Monday recorded for the first time more deaths from the novel coronavirus in a single day than the United States, Reuters notes. Brazil reported 807 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, compared to 620 in the U.S. for the same period.

Palantir CEO reflects on work with ICE

Palantir CEO Alex Karp told "Axios on HBO" that there have "absolutely" been moments he wished the company hadn't taken a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • "Did I suffer? ... I've had some of my favorite employees leave," Karp told "Axios on HBO."

Michigan governor won't apologize for coronavirus lockdown

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended the strictness of her state's coronavirus lockdown in an interview with "Axios on HBO," saying it was necessary — despite the protests that have drawn national attention — because of how quickly the state's cases were rising.

The big picture: Whitmer, who has been a frequent target of President Trump, insisted that she had to act in the face of a lack of federal leadership — and that thousands more people in her state would have died without the lockdown.