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Topic: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom (Read 379299 times)
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #350 on:
February 17, 2009, 09:38:35 PM »
ITOTA: Beslan and the cry of the bear cubs
Editor's Note: PoliceOne has partnered with the International Tactical Officers Training Association (ITOTA) to bring you feature articles from their outstanding quarterly publication. The following article first appeared in the pages of SWAT Digest magazine and is reprinted by permission of the publisher. Check back on (or around) the third Tuesday of every month for features and opinions presented in partnership with our friends at ITOTA in our ongoing effort to provide SWAT operators around the country with the best information available on issues important to SWAT operators.
By Greg Ferency, SWAT Digest
“He (God) kept the best… the most beautiful ones… the best children”
12 year old girl… Beslan hostage survivor
The Day of Knowledge is an important day in Russia. This is the first day of school and they take it much more seriously than their American counterparts. It is a day of celebration and festivities. The first day of school in Russia always is on September 1st and young Beslan students dressed in their best on that faithful morning. They came with gifts and flowers for the teachers. They also came with joy and excitement.
The city of Beslan (population 40,000) was celebrating the first day of school like the rest of Russia. Beslan School #1 had drawn approximately 3000 people due to the fact that it handled grades 1-11.
At Beslan School #1 a party of sorts was held outside the school. Teachers, students, parents and relatives met, hugged, sang and welcomed each other on school grounds. The students then lined up according to grade, a perfect formation and an advantage for those who were about to come. At approximately 9:20am, the rage of terror struck, approximately three dozen Chechen and Islamic extremists pulled up in two large trucks and jumped out. This was the catalyst for several others hidden among the crowd to jump into action. In total approximately forty nine heavily armed terrorists charged and took the lives of a massive amount of innocent people over a period of sixty two hours.
They executed a plan of action, which involved wrangling the adults and students into the school building. They fired their weapons in the air and on the ground in an effort to maximize panic and submission to their demands. It was incredibly effective. Speed was vital to them and they had planned and done their job well. At first some of the victims thought the original shots being fired was a military drill or police “chasing bandits”. One teenage student thought this exact scenario until she saw a “bearded man” yell at her… “Why are you standing here? You are all being taken hostage!” A police officer and security guard engaged the attackers with minimal effect. They didn’t have much of chance and were quickly cut down. However, it is just possible their actions allowed an amount of potential victims to get away. No matter how small or large that unknown number was it was significant.
What can now be considered hostages were herded into the school with threats of death to themselves and more importantly to their children. Families were split up in the chaos and many children were left on their own to deal with this frightening event. The hostages were effectively driven into, what could be loosely called by American standards, a gym in school. The siege had begun.
In a matter of minutes the terrorists had taken approximately 1,132 innocent souls. Almost immediately the citizens of Beslan gathered around the school forming a human fence around the hostages and terrorists. The hostage takers consisted of Chechen and Islamic extremists, this included two “Fiancés of Allah”. The “Fiancés of Allah” are women who are under the age of twenty-five and had a male member of their family killed in the Chechen War. The women strapped explosives to their bodies to be used as mobile human bombs.
The group eventually divided themselves in three command and control elements:
“Control group” – supervised and controlled the hostages.
“Security group” – protected the group from barricaded positions within the school. “Leader group” – gave orders and controlled limited negotiations.
After the hostages were forced into the gym mothers attempted to calm their children by telling them that they were in a movie, a military exercise or it was just “a game”. Even with the terrorists attempts to control everyone it was obviously chaotic inside the gym. The terrorists were constantly threatening the children that they would be shot if they continued crying. A forty six year old man who attempted to calm the other hostages down was executed in front of everyone in the gym. His body was then drug out of the gym leaving an ominous blood trail. This was an obvious submissive tactic to let the hostages know that they had no problem killing their prey.
The group then began wiring explosive devices amongst the hostages. The bombs were placed around and above the sitting hostages, including a basketball goal that would later play a catastrophic role in the events of this incident. Most of the bombs were primitive but deadly. They were embedded with nails and other objects to act as shrapnel to increase their effectiveness. The terrorists claimed to have wired one of the bombs to a foot controlled “dead mans switch”. It appeared in the form of a pedal. This was one of two dead man switches that they claimed to have and the foot pedal can be seen in video footage the terrorists sent out to the Russian authorities to let them know that it existed. A terrorist would keep his foot on the pedal. If he was shot or lifted his foot off the pedal for any reason the bomb(s) would detonate. Russian authorities now believe that the dead mans switch was a fake. But, whether it was or not was irrelevant to the hostages at the time. Hence, it was effective.
Early on the first day the hostages were told to give up their cell phones along with any cameras, including video cameras. They were told that if anyone hid a cell phone and were caught they and others around them would be shot. In the end a pile of these devices were on the floor. The terrorists found a video camera that a father had brought to video his child going to school. They used it for their own and videotaped the hostages along with themselves. The videotape was later found by a group of boys going through the carnage of the school after the event was over. The videotape can be seen in several documentaries about the Beslan event and can viewed on some video web sites. It offers some limited insight into conditions of the hostages on the first two days of the siege as well as the mindset of the terrorist holding them. In this video a bomb can be seen hung so low that anyone walking under it would have hit their head on it. It was obviously slung this way for maximum killing effect.
Fear and death were not over yet for day one of the siege. Up to sixteen men and boys were taken to the second floor (room 206) of the school and lined up against the wall of one of the classrooms. They were then executed outright. Their bodies were then tossed out a window onto the ground below. It is probable that the terrorists viewed these men as a possible threat and wanted to get rid of them quickly. These men were probably large in stature, appeared to be healthy and most likely posed a liability. It made no difference if the threat perception was real or not. Several other men were forced to assist them in the fortification of the school. They were forced to assist in barricading the windows and door from the outside. After their efforts were complete they were shot dead and left where they lay. This brutal group had something else in store for the young attractive female hostages. They were singled out and one by one taken to another room of the school where they were sexually assaulted over the entire course of this event. This included the barrels of assault weapons and other forbidding objects.
As day one progressed and the hostages suffering continued Russia began its response to the school. The 58th Infantry Division arrived at Beslan. This division is a standard military entity made up of mostly young conscripts. They were in no way prepared to handle this situation. What they found was a melee of armed angry civilians that had surrounded the school by the thousands. Many of the men were armed with their own weapons and were threatening to storm the school. The Russian authorities did not help matters any by announcing that there were only 354 hostages in the school. The crowd knew the number was much higher and this number incensed them, as well as the terrorists in the school when the number reached them. This down playing of the numbers did not help the authorities in any way. All it did was escalate suspicion of them by the Beslan civilians and caused the anger of the terrorists to pour over onto the hostages in the school.
Russia sent numerous other military and government Special Forces to Beslan. These groups are known as “Spetsnaz” units. The word Spetsnaz comes by combining the words “Special Purpose Forces”. Although several responded, the two primary units assigned to the school were Alpha and Vympel. These units responded from Chechnya and Moscow. Alpha can be best compared to America’s Delta Force or CAG, as they are now known. Vympel is Russia’s formal “terrorist type” unit. They conduct the missions that are very specialized and unpleasant. They are also trained to go behind enemy lines and cause havoc. Both are top notch units and trained well in what they do. Again, upon their arrival they found a scene that was chaotic at best… both behind the walls of the school and streets outside of it. During this time snipers began taking up positions around the school.
In regards to negotiations with the terrorists… they were limited at best. The terrorists had a bloody end planned for this incident and talking to them was not going to divert them.
Civilians continued to gather around the school. Over the course of the siege and up to its catastrophic end the civilians stayed at the school. Many refused food or to sleep in solidarity with the hostages inside the school. For logistical reasons this helps nothing and might be construed as a bad idea… no matter how noble. If an event like this ever occurs in the United States we can assume that the end will also be bloody to say the least. First responders, especially law enforcement, may very well be decimated with officers wounded and killed. Other first responder agencies will also be pulled to their furthest brink. The one element that has potential to remain strong is the community. People may need places to stay. Children victims may need blankets and someone to hold on to until the proper entity can assist them. Food may need distributed. In other words the community may be called in some low level, but important factor when the final bullet is fired. Hence, they will need to be strong, rested, fed and ready to assist if that is asked of them.
It is amazing how the civilians were able to intermingle with the security forces around the school. Males with rifles with some fueled with vodka continued to place themselves in positions to fire at the school. They exchanged verbal insults and gestures with the terrorists inside the school. The Russian authorities may have feared that if they attempted to disarm the civilians of their weapons they would be involved in a firefight with the very same people whose children were being held hostage inside the school.
As the morning of September 2nd came to Beslan little had changed for the hostages. Parents continued to try to comfort their children as well as keep the calm. Those with medical conditions started to feel the effects of the lack of their medication, food and water.
One politician was allowed inside the school for negotiations on the second day of the siege. He was Ruslan Aushev. Aushev was a former Russian general who later became the President of Ingushetia. Ingushetia lies between Chechnya and North Ossetia (where Beslan is located). Chechnya and Ingushetia are predominately Muslim while North Ossetia is mostly Christian. The Inguish, including Aushev, are very sympathetic to Chechnya and its bid for independence. A number of the terrorists that took over the school had Inguish origins.
Aushev was allowed inside the school. The video footage that the terrorists took with their new camera shows him attempting to get the terrorists to release some of the hostages. The school principal can also be seen pleading for the children. The terrorist to whom they were speaking with agrees to release some of the nursing babies. When they were released mothers were forced to make decisions no parent should never have to do. They were forced to leave with their babies but leave older children behind. As they left the school Aushev left with them carrying a baby that a mother gave up to stay behind with her older child. Aushev followed the released mothers out of the school with the child and he was never able to return to the school.
This was not a kind act by the terrorist. It was at best a standard stalling tactic. As in, “see we are releasing hostages”. Babies do not know terrorism or any other act of violence. They only know they are hot, hungry, thirsty and not having a good time. As we all know this usually translates into crying. These particular babies were driving the terrorists crazy. However, they probably knew enough to know that if they started executing babies outright this would be the one thing to cause a riot of sorts among the mothers inside. Hence, this was probably a strategic move on their part as much as anything else.
Interviews with the former hostages stated that many started losing hope of a peaceful resolution as day two went on. The terrorists also became more hostile and unpredictable towards them. Many of the hostages had gone without food or water since the siege began the day before. They started drinking their own urine and eating pedals off the flowers that they had brought for the teachers to celebrate the Day of Knowledge. Everything bad from day one transferred over to day two. Hostages continued to be sorted out for various forms of harassment and abuse. This continued as day two grew into day three of the siege of Beslan School #1.
The hostages continued to obviously deteriorate as the morning September 3rd arrived. Many hostages and civilians outside the school later reported that there was something in air on September 3rd. They knew something was going to happen on this day. Parents stated that the children inside the school no longer responded to the terrorists threats and the gunfire that usually followed. They were exhausted, dehydrated and numb to all stimuli around them. One mother even said that some of the mothers pondered doing something to spark an end to this horror. The mental stability of the hostages and even the terrorist (even they began arguing with each other) appeared be to breaking down.
At approx 1:05pm that something did happen. One of the bombs hanging from a basketball goal fell and detonated. It was followed by another explosion several seconds later. This set off a trigger of events that proved catastrophic for all. The explosions obviously killed many people immediately. They obviously injured many parents, teachers and children alike. Some survivors described a deafening silence and zero visibility from the debris of the explosions. As time progressed hostages began jumping out the gyms windows in an effort to make a dash for escape and life. The terrorist realized what was happening and started firing into the fleeing victims. One teenage female hostage stated that she was finally able to fall asleep. She was awakened by the explosions and was surrounded by “dead bodies”. She escaped out of a hole blown into the gym wall with a friend. Several minutes after the second explosion the roof of the gym caught fire and collapsed. This took even more innocent lives. One child survivor stated that he saw other children melting alive.
Confusion was apparent on both sides. The Russian military thought the terrorists set the bombs off on purpose. The terrorist thought the Russians had started their assault on the school. Just prior to the explosions going off the terrorists had agreed to allow the Russian authorities to remove the bodies of the men killed on day one of the attack and thrown out the window. As the men were doing this the explosions occurred. This may very well have seeded the terrorists belief that the assault was planned on the Russian side and the body removal was an attempt to place soldiers in a strategic position. These brave rescuers assigned to remove the bodies were fired upon… one was killed.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #351 on:
February 17, 2009, 09:39:17 PM »
Alpha and Vympel units waited for the “go” command to enter the school. The problem was that none of the “higher ups” could or would give the order. Finally the units began the entry after not being able to stand by any longer as their Russian children were being slaughtered. Patch made elements of both units began their rescue attempt. A large portion of Alpha was 18 miles to the south in the city of Vladikavkaz practicing a prepared assault on a school that was similar to Beslan School #1. Vympel would bear much of the brunt of the initial rescue attempt.
Obviously, the Spetsnaz units were placed in a position that forced them to engage. Some with in rescue teams used their own bodies as shields as they attempted to protect the fleeing hostages that were pouring out of the gym. The Alpha and Vympel teams made entry through windows and “mouse holes” they blew into the walls of the school with explosive breaches. One Vympel element attempted to enter the school through the main entrance, but it was heavily barricaded and wired with explosives. A tank round finally gave them a way inside.
The armed civilians also started firing their weapons at the school. Others surged forward toward the school with the Spetsnaz teams. Some helped hostages through the windows and rushed them to safety. Others can be seen in photos helping with fire hoses showering water into the gym. The civilians were playing a role in the incident from start to finish…. for good, bad or worse. At this point crowd control was literally non-existent.
Six year old Aida Sidokova was blown out the window of the gym after the initial bombs went off. There is a series a photos taken by a photographer that documents part of her story. The photographer was imbedded with a Russian sniper team positioned outside the school. The photos start off by showing Aida and another woman lying on the ground outside the gym in the courtyard. The woman and Aida then start to raise up. The woman flees the area. Aida, dressed in only her underwear with her skinny legs covered in blood, is then photographed climbing back into the gym through the same windows she was blown out of... her attempt to re-enter the gym was successful. The very last photo shows the roof collapsing and the gym engulfed in flames.
Many of the surviving hostages in the gym were forced into the kitchen and cafeteria area of the school. Once there they were forced to stand in front of the windows acting as human shields to protect the terrorists from incoming bullets. The terrorists told them to scream to the military (and in all probability civilians) to stop the assault on the school.
As Vympel and Alpha teams made their way into the school engaging their targets the hostages continued to stream out of the school. In the end it took ten hours for the Russians to retake the school with the last remaining terrorists were killed on the north side of the southern wing of the school. Alpha and Vympel blasted the barricaded hostiles with RPG and RPO’s, basically blowing that section of the school apart. Beslan School #1 was finally back in Russian control. Hostages continued to stream out of the school during all this in an attempt to escape the carnage. As you view and study the photos of the event several things become evident.
You will notice that most of the children are either naked or in their underwear. This was due to the fact that the gym acted as a greenhouse of sorts with the windows and all the people stuffed inside. The heat inside the gym became unbearable. You will also notice that most of the hostage make up were women and younger children. This may be due to the fact that many of the older, hence stronger / faster kids, were able to flee the school grounds when the assault was initiated. The younger children had no recourse other than to follow the terrorists directions. Note: the lower number of older students was also determined because the older students found such festivities “not cool,” as the event was designed for the younger children. There were also a fairly significant number of men to women hostage ratio. This may be due to the fact that fathers tend to avoid this type of activity and many may have been working at the local businesses and factories.
You will also notice that many of the victims (especially the children) were being carried by other civilians. This was due to them being injured, exhausted, malnourished / dehydrated and panicked. Despite their actions throughout the incident it could be safe to say that some of the civilian males saved the lives of hostages by assisting them to safety.
Make shift aid stations were set up in secure areas around the school. Most of the escaping hostages begged for water from their rescuers and first responders. The Russian authorities planned poorly for the medical treatment side and there were limited numbers of medical assets around the school. For some victims the “Golden Hour” was ticking away. Many of the victims wandered the aid areas looking for family members… children looking for parents… parents looking for children… brother looking for sister and so on. The anguish of Beslan was to continue as families received the news of dead loved ones… some of this came immediately as they identified bodies other news came later as DNA results became apparent in later months.
By 11:00pm the Russian military had taken the battered school back from the Chechens and their extremist allies. Imagine a ten-hour battle in and around an American school. The North Hollywood bank shootout in 1997 between two bank robbers and LAPD lasted less than an hour. And even though the North Hollywood bank actors were heavily body armored they were shooting from minimal use of cover and concealment with a vehicle being their only real option. Imagine dozens of motivated individuals with brick and mortar as cover.
Eleven Vympel and Alpha soldiers were killed re-taking the school. Other Spetsnaz units lost ten other brave men… another sixty-three were wounded. Compare these casualties to any American police department. Stories of heroism on the part of these Russian units should be acknowledged… this may be our American police officers if a similar event happens here. One of the individual incidents that I am aware of involved a Vympel officer grabbing a terrorist in the gym. The officer saw that the man was about to throw a grenade into a crowd of hostages who had survived the initial explosions. The officer tackled the terrorist and held him in a bear type hug until the grenade exploded and killed them both. Another Vympel officer was shot in the neck while trying to cover the fleeing hostages from sniper fire coming from the second floor of the school. He literally bled to death while never giving up or retreating from his position that was completely exposed in the school courtyard. These are just two brief examples and I bet there are hundreds of stories just like these. These acts not only included heroism (true heroism) on the part of the Spetsnaz units, but these are also stories of unbelievable brave acts on the parts of the teachers, parents and even the older students who sacrificed their lives to save others.
One of the Chechens made it out of the school. He was found hiding under a truck by the Russians. His name was Norpasha Kulayev and he was sentenced to “life” in prison in the summer of 2005.
During this 53 hour incident the most recent numbers I have seen are as follows:
186 children dead
Old Soviet habits die hard in the Russian military and political machine. Nobody would take charge of the school scene. Command and control was poor. Lower level officers and officials had no chain of command to turn to. Shooters for the Spetsnaz teams around the school couldn’t get anyone in a position of authority to give the order to move in on the school after the bombs went off. After waiting so long they decided to go in on their own.
Wounded children and adults were spread out all over southern and western Russia (including Moscow) for medical treatment. It took weeks, even months, for some families to find out that their relatives had survived. It should be noted that Moscow is 1000 miles from Beslan. One female survivor who was a teenager reported that it took her awhile to realize that she was now safe while in the hospital. In her mind she perceived the doctors and nurses as being terrorist who continued to want to harm her.
Entire generations were destroyed in the Beslan incident… especially younger generations where all the younger siblings were killed. Some children survived but one or both of their parents did not. Pictures were put up on the walls of Beslan streets of unclaimed child survivors.
During the Cold War America depended on the Russians / Soviets loving their children as much as we did. The heroism of the shooters who re-took the school compiled with the grief of the people of Beslan and Russia itself…. proved that they do. Russian citizens left bottles of water and other beverages at the school as a symbolic attempt to quench the thirst of the dead, dying and injured. They also left stuffed dolls and animals in acknowledgment of the child victims… the youngest of the dead being two years old. This continues to be what can now be considered a tradition at the cemetery where the dead are buried. Toys and drinks are left at the gravesites of the victims slaughtered at the school.
Victims of the siege reported that the hostage takers were injecting something into themselves during the incident. Heroin is a major drug in that area of the world. However, the descriptions of the terrorists behavior after the injections are much more consistent with some type of amphetamine based stimulant. The victims reported that they became much more hyper and aggressive and physical / sexual abuse increased towards the hostages after the drug ingestion. We should take note of this as what would be normally be conceived as a recreational drug is now being used as a strategic option against us. If this behavior is observed in future incidents we should not assume that we are dealing with drug addicted thugs… but a crack team of assailants who have an agenda and strategy already set in motion. The drugs are simply an effective part of the original plan.
Some have attempted to state that the Russian military units started the assault on September 3rd thus causing the bombs to detonate. This doesn’t make sense for several reasons. The main Spetsnaz units had only 133 operators around the school that were “on duty” at the time that bombs went off. Another 133 operators were “off duty” on a two minute stand-by. By American police standards this seems like a lot, but their planned assault called for at least twice that many to be at the school. In an exchange of E mails I learned of an important fact from the photographer embedded with a sniper team. He stated that he did not notice anything in Spetsnaz behavior to indicate a planned assault at the time the bombs went off in the school.
The Russians correctly estimated that there were around fifty terrorists in the school. They also knew that it would take 10 to 1 superiority ratio for each entrenched terrorist to be taken out… plus another 50% of ready reserve to back up the initial assault team. Obviously, if you do the math the numbers needed did not match what an experienced military, like the Russians had at Beslan, would need for a planned assault / rescue. Also, don’t forget that most of the primary unit (Alpha) assigned for this type of mission was miles away practicing for the planned assault if it came to that. There were other military units at Beslan with Alpha and Vympel. But they rarely train with or draw assets from them. Also, as we already discussed it actually took an extended period of time for the Vympel and the remaining Alpha troops to go into the school because the government officials balked at giving the order.
The Russians were caught flat-footed. They had no formal assault plan yet and after the bombs went off any type of plan that they might have been trying to formulate converted into “just save as many kids as you can”. .. period. The results are what we have in the history of what occurred at Beslan School #1.
It has been noted that the floorboards of the library had been torn up. Some have assessed that because of this weapons were hidden under the library floor months prior to assault in September. In all practicality a more obvious answer would be that the terrorists were looking for tunnels being dug underneath the school by Russian forces for a planned assault and entry point into the school. The Russians had done this at the Dubrovka Theatre (the play that was being put on was called Nord Ost, which this incident is commonly known as) play in October 2002. The terrorists at Beslan probably learned from this an were looking for the tunnels, which did not exist, at the school.
The only thing that has come out of the Beslan School siege is death, depression, despair and lessons. As police officers in the United States and around the world we were powerless to do anything for the victims while this incident was in motion. However, we can learn from the lessons that can be taken away from this tragedy. If we don’t we may suffer the consequences in a manner that is much more than anything we have dealt with in the past on our soil. These lessons were not free… they came with a price… the cry of the bear cubs… in September 2004.
Note: Aida Sidakova survived her ordeal at Beslan School #1. She was later asked why she climbed back into the gym. She stated she wanted to be with her mother who was still inside.
References and resources:
Terror at Beslan – John Giduck (
Children of Beslan – HBO documentary
Three Days in September – Showtime documentary
Greg Ferency of SWAT Digest can be reached at
The ITOTA is an international association designed to offer quality professional training and information sharing. The ITOTA recognizes the need to expand and share tactical knowledge by focusing on the wealth of experience that exists in the global tactical community.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #352 on:
February 19, 2009, 11:29:02 AM »
Terror Training Camps On American Soil
by Robert Spencer
Posted 02/19/2009 ET
“We are fighting to destroy the enemy. We are dealing with evil at its roots and its roots are America.”
So said the Pakistani Sheikh Muburak Gilani, leader of the jihad terrorist group Jamaat ul-Fuqra. And the way that he and his organization are “dealing with evil at its roots” is to set up jihad terror training camps all over the United States -- often under the noses of government and law enforcement officials who are either indifferent or too hamstrung by political correctness to do anything about it.
Sheikh Gilani is no shrinking violet, and Jamaat ul-Fuqra is a force to be reckoned with both in the United States and elsewhere. Journalist Daniel Pearl was on his way to interview Gilani when he was kidnapped and beheaded in 2002. The following year, a member of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, Iyman Faris, pled guilty to plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security included the group among “predicted possible sponsors of attacks” on American soil. And in 2006, the Department of Justice reported that Jamaat ul-Fuqra “has more than 35 suspected communes and more than 3,000 members spread across the United States, all in support of one goal: the purification of Islam through violence.” That means, of course, violence against unbelievers.
Yet despite the fact that Justice and the DHS are obviously aware of what is going on, Jamaat ul-Fuqra continues to operate, relatively unhindered, in the United States. A new documentary from the Christian Action Network, Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around the U.S., tells the whole shocking story. CAN spent two years visiting many of these Jamaat ul-Fuqra terror compounds, at great risk to network personnel. The documentary filmmakers dared to go inside these camps, cameras rolling, to ask compound leaders pointed questions about who they were and what they were doing.
The documentary reveals that these compounds are dedicated to the training of Muslims in terrorist activities. Most of these camps are tucked away in remote rural areas -- Hancock, N.y., Red House, Va. -- as far away from the watchful eye of law enforcement as possible. And what goes on in them is truly hair-raising: a training video that the network obtained shows American Muslims receiving training in how to fire AK-47 rifles and machine guns, and how to use rocket launchers, mortars, and explosives, as well as training in kidnapping, the murder of hostages, sabotage, and subversive operations.
Yet the State Department doesn’t include Jamaat ul-Fuqra on its Foreign Terrorist Organization Watch List. And so far the mainstream media’s reaction to the documentary has run from indifferent to hostile. CBS News ran a hit piece on the film last Wednesday, saying that “officials describe the film to CBS News as ‘sensationalistic’ and without any real foundation. According to one official, it is strictly designed to upset and inflame people and does not present a true picture of any so-called ‘homegrown Jihad’ danger. No current intelligence exists to suggest any threat connected with this group, which officials describe as ‘wannabes’ and not terrorists.”
No current intelligence? Someone should notify the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which currently has posted on its website a page about Jamaat ul-Fuqra. “In addition to being suspected of committing numerous acts of domestic terrorism,” it says, “FUQRA members in the United States have been suspected of committing fraud against various governmental entitlement programs in an effort to financially support their activities.” And “FUQRA or its members have been investigated for alleged terrorist acts including murder and arson in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto, Denver, Los Angeles and Tucson. UL FUQRA is suspected of more than thirteen firebombings and, at least, as many murders within the United States.”
The Homegrown Jihad documentary, which premiered last week in Washington, does a great service in shedding light on this group’s activities. We can only hope that American law enforcement officials wake up out of their politically correct fever dream in time to close these camps and end once and for all the possibility that these jihadists could mount an attack on American citizens.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #353 on:
February 19, 2009, 11:56:49 AM »
COLORADO'S INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF
MEMBERS OF JAMAAT UL FUQRA
Beginning in the late 1980s, the Colorado Attorney General's Office successfully prosecuted members of a fundamentalist Sufi-militant Islamic sect known as "JAMAAT UL FUQRA". Five FUQRA members were ultimately prosecuted between 1993 and 1994.
"FUQRA" is an Arabic word, which translates most accurately as "the impoverished". The sect advocates the purification of the Islamic religion by means of force and violence. Sheikh Mubarik Ali Jilani Hasmi, who is known by many other aliases, and who also calls himself the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr, originated this group in Pakistan.
In addition to being suspected of committing numerous acts of domestic terrorism, FUQRA members in the United States have been suspected of committing fraud against various governmental entitlement programs in an effort to financially support their activities.
Colorado's investigation indicated that the United States FUQRA movement was composed of approximately 30 different 'Jamaats' or communities, somewhat mobile in nature. Most of these 'Jamaats' are believed to currently exist today, along with what investigators deemed to be several 'covert paramilitary training compounds' -- one of which had been located in a remote mountainous area near Buena Vista, Colorado prior to Colorado's prosecutions in the mid-1990s. The corresponding FUQRA 'Jamaat' to the Buena Vista compound was located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Colorado's investigation of FUQRA was initiated in 1989 when Colorado Springs Police Department detectives, initially investigating a series of burglaries, were contacted by the owner of a storage locker site and were told about a locker of, what appeared to be, abandoned property.
In September 1989, detectives executed a search warrant of the storage locker upon suspicion of illegal explosives. The search of the locker disclosed numerous items believed to belong to the FUQRA sect then residing in that area. Several explosive components-- thirty to forty pounds of explosives, three large pipe bombs, a number of smaller improvised explosive devices, shape charges, ten handguns-- some with obliterated serial numbers-- silencers in various stages of manufacture, military training manuals, reloading equipment, bomb-making instructions, and numerous FUQRA-related publications were located in this storage area. Titles of some of the publications included "Guerilla Warfare", "Counter Guerilla Operations", "Understanding Amateur Radio", and "Fair Weather Flying," and "Basic Blueprint Reading and Sketching." Several silhouettes for firearms target practice were also discovered, including one with the words "FBI Anti-terrorist team" written on the target's torso bullseye.
Of great interest to law enforcement officials were documents concerning potential 'targets' for destruction and murder in the Los Angeles, Tucson, and Denver areas, including surveillance-type photographs, maps with hand-drawn overlays, notes, etc., concerning these targets. In addition, references to Buckley Air National Guard Base, Rocky Mountain Arsenal, the Air Force Academy, and electrical facilities in Colorado, and Warren Air Force Base, and two Wyoming National Guard armories in Wyoming were found. A somewhat detailed description of a firebombing attack on what is believed to have been the Hare Krishna Temple in Denver was also discovered. An attack, as described in these writings, did, in fact, take place in Denver in August 1984, causing an estimated $200,000 in damage. Investigation by Denver authorities at that time revealed that a Hare Krishna Temple in Philadelphia, where FUQRA activity also had been noted, was firebombed in a similar fashion.
Among the many documents found in the Colorado Springs' storage locker were numerous blank birth certificates; blank social security cards; several sets of Colorado drivers' licenses, each containing a picture of the same individual, but each with a different identity; and many underground press publications concerning the assembly of phony identification -- to be reproduced in a manner to "withstand even close government scrutiny".
Finally, the search disclosed a number of workers' compensation claims, which ultimately led to a full-scale fraud investigation being conducted by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in coordination with the Colorado Attorney General's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorist Task Force.
This investigation revealed that Colorado Springs FUQRA members had defrauded the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment of approximately $350,000 dollars between September 1984 and January 1992. The mobility and multiple addresses and identities of the various FUQRA members posed a significant challenge to early detection and normal prevention of the fraud. As a result of the two-year investigation, five FUQRA members were indicted by the statewide grand jury in September 1992 on racketeering charges involving theft, mail fraud, and forgery. Six months after the indictments, further racketeering charges, including theft of rental property, conspiracy to commit murder and arson (the Denver Hare Krishna Temple), were also filed against the five individuals and a sixth person -- all FUQRA members. Some of the fraudulently obtained workers' compensation funds were traced directly to payments for a parcel of land near Buena Vista used by the group as a residence compound and training site.
One of the FUQRA defendants convicted is James D. Williams. After his conviction in 1993 for conspiracy to commit first degree murder, racketeering, and forgery, Williams fled and remained a fugitive until being apprehended in Virginia in August 2000. He was returned to Colorado and sentenced this past March to 69 years in prison. From at least the middle 1980's through 1990, Williams was a leader of a Colorado FUQRA.
The conviction for conspiracy to commit first degree murder referred to a comprehensive written plan for the murder of a Tucson, Arizona Muslim cleric, Rashad Khalifa. Khalifa was murdered in January 1990 in a manner that was remarkably similar to the written plan.
It is believed the activities of UL FUQRA across the nation continue. Just recently the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (BATF) arrested one of the former Colorado defendants and FUQRA member, Vincente Rafael Pierre, in Virginia on alleged ammunition violations. In California, a FUQRA member was arrested on the suspected murder of a Fresno County Deputy Sheriff this last August. In addition, FUQRA operates something called the Quranic Open University in Los Angeles, which has received over $1.5 million dollars over the course of the last two years in charter school funding. This entity is also located in New York City and Philadelphia. There are believed to be active UL FUQRA training compounds still existing in New York, Michigan, South Carolina, California, and perhaps other states.
FUQRA or its members have been investigated for alleged terrorist acts including murder and arson in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto, Denver, Los Angeles and Tucson. UL FUQRA is suspected of more than thirteen firebombings and, at least, as many murders within the United States
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #354 on:
February 22, 2009, 04:50:35 PM »
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Coming to America, Redux
Last month, during the transition between the Bush and Obama Administrations, there was a major homeland security "war game." For two-and-a half hours on a day in mid-January, senior federal officials reacted to a series of simulated, terrorist bombings across the country, responding to medical needs, managing the investigative process and ensuring that protective forces were deployed.
The exercise was unique for a couple of reasons. First, the Bush team allowed their Obama counterparts to "sit in" on the exercise and ask questions, giving them a foundation for their own drills and policies in the future. Secondly, the war game scenario was based on a familiar threat, one that remains at the forefront of homeland security concerns. According to Jake Tapper of ABC News (one of the few journalists to write about the event), the half-day exercise condensed two days of IED attacks, targeting economic and transportation centers across America.
Obviously, there's no potential shortage of threats for a homeland security exercise, from a nuclear blast in a U.S. city, to a sudden anthrax epidemic unleashed by terrorists. That's why the IED focus is particularly illustrative. Almost almost eight years of combat in Afghanistan--and nearly six years into the Iraq mission--security officials are acutely familiar with the threat from improvised explosive devices, and they remain concerned about similar attacks here in the homeland.
We're written about the IED threat in the past, most recently in 2007 after a "mass graduation" of Al Qaida suicide bombers at a training camp in Afghanistan. More than 300 terrorists participated in the ceremony, which was recorded by a Pakistani journalist. The tape included warnings in English that some of the bombers were destined for targets in the west.
Fortunately, those attacks failed to pan out. Many of the suicide bombers were probably diverted to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they were killed by allied forces. Others were rolled up by domestic security operations between Pakistan's tribal regions and their intended targets.
But those measures aren't 100% effective. Sooner or later, a suicide bomber or IED cell will slip through and launch a bloody campaign on American soil. And, in many respects, the domestic end represents the weakest link in the security chain. Our nation is filled with thousands of potential targets, including shopping malls; "big box" retailers, transit stations, schools, community centers, hotels, churches, hospitals and other locations were Americans gather, work or shop in large numbers.
Protecting all of these facilities is virtually impossible. But it's more disconcerting that security many of these stores (and other public facilities) ranges from lax to virtually non-existent. Admittedly, members of the general populace aren't privy to all protection measures--nor should they be. But anyone familiar with basics of physical security can get a general grasp of the plan at their local mall, "box" retailer or other public place.
Many of these institutions have invested heavily in security cameras that cover the interior and exterior of the building. There's also (typically) a uniformed security staff and a few undercover store detectives as well. But these precautions are aimed more at shoplifting than the terrorist threat.
Clearly, no one expects the security staff of a store or public building to stop a terrorist attack by themselves. That's where local, state and even federal authorities come in. But getting them to respond quickly can be problematic; potential terror targets are sometimes located on the edge of town, or in high-traffic areas.
A determined psychopath or a team of terrorists can inflict a lot of damage before the local SWAT team arrives. That was painfully evident when a lone gunman, with a history of mental problems, opened fire in an Omaha mall two years ago. Police officers responded in less than 10 minutes but by that time, the gunman had killed eight people, including himself. A few months earlier, an 18-year-old man shot and killed five individuals at a Salt Lake City Mall. Only the quick actions an armed, off-duty police kept the carnage from being much worse.
According to a RAND Corporation study (released before the Omaha massacre), shopping malls and big box outlets could reduce their vulnerability to such attacks by implementing a series of security measures. The cost? Between $500,000 and $2 million per location.
That may seem like a relatively small price to pay, but no one's rushing to add new layers of security. The commercial real estate and retail sectors are hurting in the economic slowdown; mall owners and their tenants would balk at the cost of new security measures, which would further impact their bottom line.
But defeating domestic terror requires more than effective physical security at the site of a potential attack. It requires planning and coordination with local law enforcement, and periodic response drills. Unfortunately, such exercises occur infrequently; there's the matter of cost, and no one wants to really highlight the fact that a local store, mall, school or hospital could be a terror target.
And, as The Wall Street Journal observed in 2005, there's the matter of national priorities and leadership. During the first half of the decade, Israel suffered though the latest--and bloodiest-- Palestinian intifada; more than 1,000 civilians died at the hands of terrorists, mostly through suicide bombings.
When diplomatic overtures failed to produce any results, the Israeli government took more tangible steps. Palestinians suspected of supporting the terror campaign were locked up; the leaders of bomb cells were targeted for assassinations. Physical barriers between Israeli and Palestinian population centers made it much for difficult for terrorists to reach their targets.
Those measures reduced the number of bombings--and civilian casualties--by more than 90%. As you might expect, the Israel anti-terror campaign was widely criticized by law and human rights advocates. But the crack-down achieved its desired results.
Here in the U.S., we haven't faced the threat endured by Israelis. But suicide bombings are IED attacks in the homeland are not a matter of "if," but "when." It's no surprise that such threats formed the scenario for last month's homeland security drill. Experts believe that type is almost inevitable in the coming years.
At some point, the Obama Administration must tell the public how it will deal with such threats, and prevent them in the future. Hopefully, the Obama team will realize that the bomber threat requires more than a "law enforcement" response--before that first explosive device goes off.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #355 on:
February 24, 2009, 08:01:28 AM »
FBI Director Warns of Terror Attacks on U.S. Cities
By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 23, 2009; 3:19 PM
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III today warned that extremists "with large agendas and little money can use rudimentary weapons" to sow terror, raising the specter that recent attacks in Mumbai that killed 170 people last year could embolden terrorists seeking to attack U.S. cities.
At a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Mueller said that the bureau is expanding its focus beyond al-Qaeda and into splinter groups, radicals who try to enter the country through the visa waiver program and "home-grown terrorists."
"The universe of crime and terrorism stretches out infinitely before us, and we too are working to find what we believe to be out there but cannot always see," Mueller said.
One particular concern, the FBI director said, springs from the country's background as a "nation of immigrants." Federal officials worry about pockets of possible radicals among melting-pot communities in the United States such as Seattle, San Diego, Miami or New York.
A Joint Terrorism Task Force led by the FBI, for instance, continues to investigate a group in Minneapolis after one young man last fall flew to Somalia and became what authorities believe to be the first U.S. citizen to carry out a suicide bombing. As many as a half-dozen other youths from that community in Minnesota have vanished, alarming their parents and raising concerns among law enforcement officials that a dangerous recruiting network has operated under the radar.
"The prospect of young men, indoctrinated and radicalized in their own communities . . . is a perversion of the immigrant story," Mueller said.
For the first time, Mueller also disclosed details about FBI efforts to assist Indian authorities probing a November siege by conspirators with ties to a terrorist group in Pakistan. FBI Special Agent Steve Merrill, a legal attache posted to the bureau's office in New Delhi, had been preparing to play cricket for the American team competing at the Maharajah's annual tournament, the FBI director recalled.
Instead Merrill detoured to Mumbai, where he helped to rescue Americans trapped in the burning Taj Hotel and coordinated the arrival of the bureau's rapid deployment team.
Analysts and agents from the FBI ultimately conducted 60 interviews including one of the lone surviving attacker, Ajmal Amir Kasab. Forensics experts pulled fingerprints from improvised explosive devices and recovered data from damaged cellphones, once "literally wiring a smashed phone back together," Mueller said.
NYT: The Coming Swarm
Reply #356 on:
February 24, 2009, 01:25:35 PM »
With three Afghan government ministries in Kabul hit by simultaneous suicide attacks this week, by a total of just eight terrorists, it seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging.
The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai, India, last November, where five two-man teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives held the city hostage for two days, killing 179 people. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time.
While it’s true that the assaults in Kabul seem to be echoes of Mumbai, the fact is that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been using these sorts of swarm tactics for several years. Jemaah Islamiyah — the group responsible for the Bali nightclub attack that killed 202 people in 2002 — mounted simultaneous attacks on 16 Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve in 2000, befuddling security forces.
Even 9/11 itself had swarm-like characteristics, as four small teams of Qaeda operatives simultaneously seized commercial aircraft and turned them into missiles, flummoxing all our defensive responses. In the years since, Al Qaeda has coordinated swarm attacks in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and elsewhere. And at the height of the insurgency in Iraq, terrorists repeatedly used swarms on targets as small as truck convoys and as large as whole cities.
This pattern suggests that Americans should brace for a coming swarm. Right now, most of our cities would be as hard-pressed as Mumbai was to deal with several simultaneous attacks. Our elite federal and military counterterrorist units would most likely find their responses slowed, to varying degrees, by distance and the need to clarify jurisdiction.
While the specifics of the federal counterterrorism strategy are classified, what is in the public record indicates that the plan contemplates having to deal with as many as three sites being simultaneously hit and using “overwhelming force” against the terrorists, which probably means mustering as many as 3,000 ground troops to the site. If that’s an accurate picture, it doesn’t bode well. We would most likely have far too few such elite units for dealing with a large number of small terrorist teams carrying out simultaneous attacks across a region or even a single city.
Nightmare possibilities include synchronized assaults on several shopping malls, high-rise office buildings or other places that have lots of people and relatively few exits. Another option would be to set loose half a dozen two-man sniper teams in some metropolitan area — you only have to recall the havoc caused by the Washington sniper in 2002 to imagine how huge a panic a slightly larger version of that form of terrorism would cause.
So how are swarms to be countered? The simplest way is to create many more units able to respond to simultaneous, small-scale attacks and spread them around the country. This means jettisoning the idea of overwhelming force in favor of small units that are not “elite” but rather “good enough” to tangle with terrorist teams. In dealing with swarms, economizing on force is essential.
We’ve actually had a good test case in Iraq over the past two years. Instead of responding to insurgent attacks by sending out large numbers of troops from distant operating bases, the military strategy is now based on hundreds of smaller outposts in which 40 or 50 American troops are permanently stationed and prepared to act swiftly against attackers. Indeed, their very presence in Iraqi communities is a big deterrent. It’s small surprise that overall violence across Iraq has dropped by about 80 percent in that period.
For the defense of American cities against terrorist swarms, the key would be to use local police officers as the first line of defense instead of relying on the military. The first step would be to create lots of small counterterrorism posts throughout urban areas instead of keeping police officers in large, centralized precinct houses. This is consistent with existing notions of community-based policing, and could even include an element of outreach to residents similar to that undertaken in the Sunni areas of Iraq — even if it were to mean taking the paradoxical turn of negotiating with gangs about security.
At the federal level, we should stop thinking in terms of moving thousands of troops across the country and instead distribute small response units far more widely. Cities, states and Washington should work out clear rules in advance for using military forces in a counterterrorist role, to avoid any bickering or delay during a crisis. Reserve and National Guard units should train and field many more units able to take on small teams of terrorist gunmen and bombers. Think of them as latter-day Minutemen.
Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen all responded to Qaeda attacks with similar “packetizing” initiatives involving the police and armed forces; and while that hasn’t eliminated swarm attacks, the terrorists have been far less effective and many lives have been saved.
As for Afghanistan, where the swarm has just arrived, there is still time to realize the merits of forming lots of small units and sprinkling them about in a countrywide network of outposts. As President Obama looks to send more troops to that war, let’s make sure the Pentagon does it the right way.
Yes, the swarm will be heading our way, too. We need to get smaller, closer and quicker. The sooner the better.
John Arquilla teaches in the special operations program at the Naval Postgraduate School and is the author of “Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #357 on:
February 24, 2009, 10:49:01 PM »
Monday, February 23, 2009
Who Do You Believe?
Way back when, the intelligence community operated under a simple rule. Disagreements over analysis were worked out in private and when the community spoke, it was with one voice.
Ah, for the good old days. Unfortunately, in today's "leak culture," analysts--and the agencies that employ them--are anxious to air their assessments, even if they highlight divisions within the community.
Consider yesterday's revelations from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. In the matter of a few hours, both organizations offered highly conflicting views on domestic terror threats. After reading their respective opinions on these matters, members of Congress (and the public) have every right to be confused.
The dust-up began when FBI Director Robert Mueller, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, warned that terrorists "with large agendas and little money" can use rudimentary weapons to launch Mumbai-style attacks in the United States. As the Washington Post reports:
Mueller said that the bureau is expanding its focus beyond al-Qaeda and into splinter groups, radicals who try to enter the country through the visa waiver program and "home-grown terrorists."
"The universe of crime and terrorism stretches out infinitely before us, and we too are working to find what we believe to be out there but cannot always see," Mueller said.
One particular concern, the FBI director said, springs from the country's background as a "nation of immigrants." Federal officials worry about pockets of possible radicals among melting-pot communities in the United States such as Seattle, San Diego, Miami or New York.
A Joint Terrorism Task Force led by the FBI, for instance, continues to investigate a group in Minneapolis after one young man last fall flew to Somalia and became what authorities believe to be the first U.S. citizen to carry out a suicide bombing. As many as a half-dozen other youths from that community in Minnesota have vanished, alarming their parents and raising concerns among law enforcement officials that a dangerous recruiting network has operated under the radar.
But later in the day, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security downplayed the domestic terror threat:
"We are not immune to an attack from a home-grown terrorist, but the probabilities and sustainability of such an act are very low," said DHS spokesman Michael Keegan.
Keegan said the American immigrant story is one reason the United States is less vulnerable to home-grown terrorism than other countries.
"People come to the United States to be part of something special, to practice their beliefs without worries of persecutions based on their religious faith, political views or personal life styles," he said. "When you give citizens the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes personal growth and happiness, you're essentially promoting the wellness and safety of an entire nation rather than a community of homegrown terrorist cells."
Mr. Keegan will get brownie points for political correctness, but there is a certain fallacy in both his logic and his assumptions. True, the overwhelming majority of immigrants in this country are law-abiding and hard-working, but there are radicalized elements within that broad community, particularly among Muslims.
We assume that Keegan is familiar with the Fort Dix 6. That terror plot, aimed at killing soldiers at the New Jersey army post, involved recent emigres from various Islamic countries. And the Fort Dix conspiracy isn't the only foiled terror attack that originated among Muslim immigrants or their offspring.
So, does that automatically disqualify the comments of Mr. Keegan and the assessments of his department? Not necessarily. DHS has its own analytic resources, though they pale in comparison to those of the FBI. While that doesn't give the bureau a monopoly on the truth, the comments of the FBI Director should carry more weight than a p.r. flack from DHS.
Normally, we're not fans of Congressional hearings, but this public disagreement practically begs one. The chairman of the House and Senate intelligence committees should summon Mr. Mueller, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and their top analysts for a closed door review of the intelligence.
Disagreements within the intelligence community are hardly new and they can actually prove beneficial, forcing agencies to develop a consensus on critical topics. But issuing such divergent opinions--only hours apart--does little to inspire confidence. On matters as important as domestic terror threat assessments, we need more convergence and less conflict.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #358 on:
March 06, 2009, 10:17:50 AM »
Obama funds $20M tax payer dollars to immigrate Hamas Refugees to the USA
This is the news that didn't make the headlines...
By executive order, President Barack Obama has ordered the expenditure of $20.3 million in migration assistance to the Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza. The "presidential determination" which allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with ties to Hamas to resettle in the United States was signed on January 27 and appeared in the Federal Register on February 4th.
Few on Capitol Hill took note that the order provides a free ticket replete with housing and food allowances to individuals who have displayed their overwhelming support of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the parliamentary election of January 2006.
Now we learn that he is allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refuges to move to and live in the US at American taxpayer expense.
To verify for yourself:
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #359 on:
March 06, 2009, 10:35:29 AM »
He's giving the money to HAMAS (not officially, but that's where it will go) but there is nothing in the EO to allow the hajis to immigrate here. Not yet, anyway.
And Rachel is strangely silent about this....
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #360 on:
March 06, 2009, 10:39:27 AM »
I will make a mental note about the reliability of that source, thank you for the catch.
Rachel has sidebarred me. She may be taking a break from things here. I am working on persuading her to change her mind.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #361 on:
March 06, 2009, 10:55:24 AM »
FBI Watching Somali Muslims In Minneapolis
CBS Evening News: 20 From Same Mosque Have Repatriated, One Became A Suicide Bomber; Mosque Officials Deny Radical Agenda
MINNEAPOLIS, March 3, 2009 | by Dean Reynolds
Breeding Terror In Minneapolis
U.S. officials have become concerned over some 20 U.S. citizens who have joined Somalia's Civil War. As Dean Reynolds reports, these Minneapolis residents could bring their skills stateside. | Share/Embed
(CBS) On election night last November, the outcome was wildly celebrated by Somalis living in Minneapolis, 70,000-strong, mostly refugees from their war-torn country. It is the largest Somali community in the United States, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.
But the evening was noteworthy for something else, too. That night, the latest in a line of young Somalis who grew up here, departed unannounced for Somalia itself, joining a civil war in a country few had ever seen and causing concern in the United States.
Hussein Samatar's 17-year old nephew left without a word to his family.
"He was an A student," says Samatar. "He has everything to hope for to attend any Ivy League school that he wanted to. Why he would do it is a mystery to us."
Some 20 vanished last year - all American citizens - an exodus the FBI has noticed for a troubling reason.
"A man from Minneapolis became what we believe to be the first U.S. citizen to carry out a terrorist suicide bombing," said agency director Robert Mueller.
The October attack by 27-year-old Shirwa Ahmed killed 30 near Mogadishu, and there is alarm that the skills acquired abroad could be brought back to America.
"He could have done it here," says Omar Jamal, a Somali advocate in Minnesota. "We don't see anything that would have prevented him from doing this right here in the heart of Minneapolis."
This much seems clear:
"It appears that this individual was radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota," Mueller said.
The missing men all came from one local mosque, according to the FBI. But officials at the mosque deny that they play any role in turning young people into radicals, Reynolds reports.
This week they held an open house to answer critics and confront recent harassment.
"We absolutely deny that such things happen in this mosque," says Omar Hurre, executive director at the Abubakar Islamic Center.
But Somalis here are deeply troubled. Who is behind this exodus? Who is paying for it? And who may be the next to go?
Now THIS IS a threat
Reply #362 on:
March 10, 2009, 07:48:45 PM »
March 9, 2009
Clinton Announces Million-Dollar Scholarship Program for Palestinian Students
Ramallah, West Bank — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced a new million-dollar scholarship program to help Palestinian students enroll at Palestinian and American universities.
Mrs. Clinton announced the Middle East Partnership Initiative during a visit to this Palestinian town last week. The four-year program will support about 10 scholarships each year for disadvantaged students to attend four-year courses at Palestinian universities. The program will also offer 25 “opportunity grants” to enable promising but disadvantaged young Palestinians to apply to American-accredited institutions in the United States or the Middle East, a State Department official told The Chronicle.
Once funds are approved by Congress, Mrs. Clinton hopes to begin the program in the 2010-11 academic year. The money is in addition to $900-million in aid to the Palestinian Authority announced by the secretary last week at the donors’ conference, in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
During her visit to an American-sponsored English-language teaching program in Ramallah, Mrs. Clinton said the opportunity grants would create “a larger pool of capable young men and women from places like the West Bank and Gaza” who can “compete along with students in other countries for the opportunity to further their academic training in America.” The secretary spoke on a youth program aired by Palestinian Authority TV.
Last year several Palestinian students from Gaza who were awarded Fulbright scholarships ran into difficulty entering Israel to complete the application process, and two of them were subsequently denied entry visas to the United States on security grounds.
Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, said efforts were being made to enable Gazans to participate in American-sponsored projects despite the security challenges.
“We’ve had several dozen Gazans participate in our programs over the last few months, both educational and professional,” said Ms. Schweitzer-Bluhm.
“It is difficult,” she said. “It’s a challenge to bring Gazans to participate in these programs, but we go through great lengths to try and facilitate their participation, and we have advance coordination with the Israelis to get them the necessary permits.” —Matthew Kalman
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #363 on:
March 11, 2009, 12:18:15 AM »
Well, she may not have bent over for Bill, but she'll have the US doing it for Hamas.
35 Islamo-fascist camps in US
Reply #364 on:
March 16, 2009, 01:35:43 AM »
For those who have not seen this yet
Reply #365 on:
March 17, 2009, 10:25:40 AM »
Moonies give me the willies so I hate quoting the Washington Times, but this is the only place I'm seeing this story. Combined with recent DoD directives to destroy military bullet casing rather than allow them to be sold and reloaded for the civilian market, I think we can see the shape BHO's anti-second amendment machinations will take.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
EDITORIAL: Guns on a plane
After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.
Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.
The Obama administration this past week diverted some $2 million from the pilot training program to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots.
This looks like completely unnecessary harassment of the pilots. The 12,000 Federal Flight Deck Officers, the pilots who have been approved to carry guns, are reported to have the best behavior of any federal law enforcement agency. There are no cases where any of them has improperly brandished or used a gun. There are just a few cases where officers have improperly used their IDs.
Fewer than one percent of the officers have any administrative actions brought against them and, we are told, virtually all of those cases “are trumped up.”
Take a case against one flight officer who had visited the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles within the last few weeks. While there, the pilot noticed that federal law enforcement officers can, with the approval of a superior, obtain a license plate that cannot be traced, a key safety feature for law enforcement personnel. So the pilot asked if, as a member of the federal program, he was eligible. The DMV staffer checked and said “no.” The next day administrative actions were brought against the pilot for “misrepresenting himself.” These are the kinds of cases that President Obama wants to investigate.
Since Mr. Obama's election, pilots have told us that the approval process for letting pilots carry guns on planes slowed significantly. Last week the problem went from bad to worse. Federal Flight Deck Officers - the pilots who have been approved to carry guns - indicate that the approval process has stalled out.
Pilots cannot openly speak about the changing policies for fear of retaliation from the Transportation Security Administration. Pilots who act in any way that causes a “loss of confidence” in the armed pilot program risk criminal prosecution as well as their removal from the program. Despite these threats, pilots in the Federal Flight Deck Officers program have raised real concerns in multiple interviews.
Arming pilots after Sept. 11 was nothing new. Until the early 1960s, American commercial passenger pilots on any flight carrying U.S. mail were required to carry handguns. Indeed, U.S. pilots were still allowed to carry guns until as recently as 1987. There are no records that any of these pilots (either military or commercial) ever causing any significant problems.
Screening of airplane passengers is hardly perfect. While armed marshals are helpful, the program covers less than 3 percent of the flights out of Washington D.C.'s three airports and even fewer across the country. Sky marshals are costly and quit more often than other law-enforcement officers.
Armed pilots are a cost-effective backup layer of security. Terrorists can only enter the cockpit through one narrow entrance, and armed pilots have some time to prepare themselves as hijackers penetrate the strengthened cockpit doors. With pilots, we have people who are willing to take on the burden of protecting the planes for free. About 70 percent of the pilots at major American carriers have military backgrounds.
Frankly, as a matter of pure politics, we cannot understand what the administration is thinking. Nearly 40 House Democrats are in districts were the NRA is more popular than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We can't find any independent poll in which the public is demanding that pilots disarm. Why does this move make sense?
Only anti-gun extremists and terrorist recruits are worried about armed pilots. So why is the Obama administration catering to this tiny lobby at the expense of public safety?
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #366 on:
March 17, 2009, 11:10:29 AM »
As Mark Levin would answer (I think). It isn't about polls. It is about ideology.
It is more about moving the USA (and hence the world) towards a more socialistic society.
It isn't about making/keeping America great it is about transforming us into a different country that fits BO's idealized concept of the world.
Home, ranging here at home, where the Islamo fascists will play, , ,
Reply #367 on:
March 19, 2009, 01:56:48 PM »
Guantanamo Detainees May Be Released in U.S.
By EVAN PEREZ
WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder said some detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may end up being released in the U.S. as the Obama administration works with foreign allies to resettle some of the prisoners.
Mr. Holder, in a briefing with reporters, said administration officials are still reviewing individual cases of the approximately 250 detainees to determine which will be put on trial and which may be released to comply with plans to close the detention facility by next year.
Six weeks into his tenure, Mr. Holder is still trying to assemble much of the Justice senior leadership, with several nominees awaiting Senate confirmation. He said he has reviewed the department's handling of white-collar criminal cases in response to the financial crisis and is considering ways to increase coordination on financial fraud among federal prosecutors and state officials. He said he is trying to increase the budget dedicated to white-collar crime, while maintaining funding for national security.
European justice ministers met with Mr. Holder earlier this week and pressed for details on how many Guantanamo prisoners the U.S. planned to release domestically, as part of any agreement for allies to accept detainees. Mr. Holder said U.S. officials would work to respond to the questions European officials have over U.S. Guantanamo plans.
For "people who can be released there are a variety of options that we have and among them is the possibility is that we would release them into this country," Mr. Holder said. "That process is ongoing and we've not made any determinations or made any requests of anybody at this point."
Among the detainees whose fate remains undetermined are 17 ethnic Uighurs, from the Central Asian region of China, who have been ordered released by a judge. The U.S. has refused to turn the men over to China, which considers them part of an separatist group.
Mr. Holder is planning to visit Mexico next month to meet with his counterparts and discuss efforts to fight the trafficking of guns from the U.S. into Mexico and the drug trade from Mexico into the U.S.
"The Mexican government has been courageous in the way it has confronted the problems that now challenge it," Mr. Holder said, noting the violence that has resulted from battles against the drug cartels in Mexico.
Source The Wall St. Journal
Hezbollah in Mexico?
Reply #368 on:
March 28, 2009, 11:17:34 AM »
Not a perfect fit in this thread, but worth consideration
Reply #369 on:
April 02, 2009, 03:58:24 PM »
House Armed Services Committee
April 2, 2009
Threats to US Security in the early 21st Century
I am here before the subcommittee today to provide testimony on 21st Century security threats. I hope this testimony is of value despite its brevity. My analytical method is to provide frameworks for decision makers to help them make sense of rapidly changing environments. These frameworks are intended to provoke high quality thinking -- agreement or disagreement with their specifics works equally well to achieve this.
The threat the US faces today is as dire as the darkest days of the Cold War. In fact, this threat may be even more dangerous because it is so insidious. The threat we face is a combination of global systemic threats (economic, financial, energy, etc.) that will damage us from above and the rapid emergence of violent non-state groups (a multitude of gangs, religious sects, tribes, clans etc.) that thrust at us from below.
Let’s begin with an acknowledgement that globalization has fundamentally changed the strategic security landscape. Most critically, it has enabled the emergence of a global super-network that is a tightly interconnected mixture of economic, financial and communication networks. The growth of this super-network has weakened nation-states across every measure of power, from control of its borders, finances, economy, media, etc. Worse, due to a combination of design decisions (hyper-efficiency, from just-in-time global supply chains to trillion dollar daily financial flows) and a complete lack of oversight during its growth phase, this super-network has now become a dynamically unstable system that is too large, fast, and complex for any nation-state or collection of nation-states to control.
This super-network has now entered a period of extreme turbulence due to several very
dangerous feedback loops. These feedback loops include:
• Extreme debt. The US economy is saddled with a level of debt unseen since the start of the 20th Century’s Great Depression. Total indebtedness -- the combination of consumer, corporate, GSE, financial, and government debt -- is now over 350% of GDP. That is $30 trillion in debt over traditionally sustainable levels of 150% of GDP (in contrast, in 1929, the debt level was 290% of GDP). Unfortunately, this excess debt must be eliminated
before we can return to economic growth. We are already seeing this as individual citizens and corporations cut back spending to repair dangerously damaged balance sheets.
• Excessive complexity. Due to relaxed oversight a vast unregulated financial system of extreme complexity, beyond the ability of anybody to understand, has emerged. This
“shadow banking system” is a collection of derivative financial products that are based
on unsupportable assumptions for what constitutes “normal behavior” (as in the use of
normal curves that don’t account for the occurrence of extreme movements in financial
markets over medium to long time horizons). Worse, this “shadow banking system” is
nearly an order of magnitude larger than the global economy upon which it was built.
The failure of AIG and the near miss financial meltdown last fall are examples of how
this system can catastrophically fail.
The likely outcome from this situation, barring a government sponsored unwinding of debt and
derivative financial products (this is not being done), is a deep and protracted global depression that financially and economically guts nation-states across the globe. What this means for US security includes:
• Widespread state failure. Weak nation-states will quickly fall victim to financial collapse and internal chaos. Developing nations, like China, that are both dependent on exports to the US and weakly legitimate -- China’s legitimacy rest solely on its ability to deliver economic growth -- may become very disorderly. It’s important to note that the real
threat from China is not as a peer competitor; it is that it may suffer a disorderly fragmentation.
• Rapid growth in the number of violent non-state groups. With the failure or
weakening of nation-states across the board and the lack of ideological alternatives,
people will shift their primary loyalties to any group that can provide them security and
the basics of survival. These groups will span the gamut of gangs, tribes, criminal
syndicates, militias, religious sects, etc. Many, if not most of these groups, will maintain
and expand the interests both vigorously and violently. The worst version of this trend
line would be the expansion of the criminal insurgency in Mexico into the US (through
expansion of the criminal ecosystem more than anything due to ethnic identity).
• Radical cuts in US defense spending. US budget deficits, already running in the
trillions of dollars, will continue as the US tax base shrinks and bailouts continue. The
rapid onset of severe budgetary restrictions will force a disorderly shrinkage in the DoD,
DHS, and intelligence agencies, and due to gross misallocation of funding, severely
damage the ability of the US to respond to the rise in non-state threats.
The rapid growth in violent non-state groups is likely to become the most worrisome security
trend and it will likely define the vast majority of the conflicts we will face in the next twenty years. How these small groups organize, fight, coordinate, and ultimately defeat nation-states was the subject of my book, “Brave New War” (amazingly, it’s in its third printing, which is very unusual for a book on military theory). Here’s a quick summary of some of its findings.
The rampant growth in interconnectivity (from economics to travel to communications) and
torrential improvements in technology have already super-empowered small groups by radically
increasing their ability to conduct warfare. This will only increase over time. Due to the
combination of a doubling of computer power every two years (Moore’s Law and Carlson
curves) and the expansion of electronic networks from cell phones to the Internet (Metcalfe’s Law), small groups are getting more powerful by the day. This will lead to:
• Do-it-yourself weapons (DIY). Cheaper and more powerful technology makes it
possible to build more accurate, plentiful, and destructive weaponry. For example, DIY
rockets being used in Gaza against Israel can now benefit from commercially available
tools that include $150 rocket design software to a $25 autopilot system. We also saw
numerous examples of this at work in Iraq with IED design. Over the longer term, DIY
bioweapons will become commonplace as “labs on a chip” and the expertise that used to
take a room full of PhDs a week to build five years earlier is doable by a hastily trained
technician in a couple of minutes.
• Systems disruption. Societal reliance on vast networked infrastructures (from electricity to oil to communications) makes it possible for small disruptions to do outsized harm. Recent examples, like the disruption of a gas pipeline in Mexico that shut down 1,800 factories/companies for a week, show returns on investment of 100,000,000 percent
(calculated by the damage done divided by the cost of the attack). Systems disruption is
growing in usage due to the successful example seen in Iraq, where the country’s
economy was held in limbo due to shortages of electricity, fuel, and water. Al Qaeda’s
unsuccessful attack on Abqaiq (a central hub of the global oil system) and it successful
attack on the Golden Mosque (in Iraq) which set off the civil war in 2006 are other
examples of system disruption.
• Global criminal financing. Easy access to vast multi-trillion dollar global criminal supply chains (made possible by the emergence of a global super-network), that connect customers with illegal goods/services, have made it possible for small violent groups to become not only financial viable, but financially successful. For example, the Taliban now has access to a portion of billions in opium sales to expand their operations,
Mexico’s Narco-cartels and thousands of associated criminal subgroups are successfully
waging a war with the government to protect and extend a market worth tens of billions,
Nigeria’s gangs bunker billions in oil and fuel that in part funds disruption of oil
production in the country.
In addition to the above, small violent groups are now developing new methods of organizing
warfare. Rather than hierarchical and ideologically cohesive insurgencies (i.e. Communist
insurgencies), we now face insurgencies that are made up of many small groups (organized
around a plethora of motivations, as in many flavors of jihadi, nationalist, ideological, and criminal) that can loosely coordinate their activities. We saw this recently in Iraq and we are now facing this in Mexico and Pakistan. In this type of “open” insurgency, we see very rapid rates of innovation in both tactics and weapons (as in the rate of improvement we saw in Iraq with IEDs). Worse, since these groups are so small and can rapidly emerge, any success against one group means little to the larger insurgency.
Against this dark picture, a combination of assault by a global economic system running amok
and organic insurgency by superempowered small groups, there are few hard and fast
recommendations I can provide. It’s complex. However, it is clear:
• We will need to become more efficient. Force structure will shrink. Most of the major
weapons systems we currently maintain will become too expensive to maintain, particularly given their limited utility against the emerging threat. Current efforts from the F-22 and the Future Combat System appear to be particularly out of step with the evolving environment. Smaller and more efficient systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and coordination systems built on open platforms (as in a Intranet) that allow organic growth in complexity make much more sense.
• We should focus on the local. In almost all of these future conflicts, our ability to
manage local conditions is paramount. Soldiers should be trained to operate in uncertain
environments (the work of Don Vandergriff is important here) so they can deal with local
chaos. Packages of technologies and methodologies should be developed to enable communities in distressed areas to become resilient – as in, they are able to produce the food, energy, defense, water, etc. they need to prosper without reference to a dysfunction regional or national situation. Finally, we need to get build systematic methods for managing large numbers of militias that are nominally allied with us (like Anbar Awakening, Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, etc.). Even a simple conversion of a commercial “customer relationship management” system would provide better institutional memory and oversight than we currently have.
• We need to get better at thinking about military theory. Military theory is rapidly
evolving due to globalization. It’s amazing to me that the structures and organizations
tasked with this role don’t provide this. We are likely in the same situation as we were
prior to WW2, where innovative thinking by JFC Fuller and Liddell Hart on armored
warfare didn’t find a home in allied militaries, but was read feverishly by innovators in
the German army like Guderian and Manstein. Unfortunately, in the current environment, most of the best thinking on military theory is now only tangentially associated with the DoD (worse, it’s done, as in my situation, on a part time basis).
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. It was a wonderful opportunity. I hope this brief introduction will serve as the basis of valuable thinking on future US security needs.
WSJ: Electricity grid penetrated
Reply #370 on:
April 09, 2009, 09:22:00 AM »
WASHINGTON -- Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.
The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.
"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," said a senior intelligence official. "So have the Russians."
The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to electrical systems. "There were a lot last year."
Question of the Day
Vote: How worried are you that a cyberattack could damage U.S. infrastructure?Very | Somewhat | Not at all worried
Join the discussion.More
Environment: Will a Smart Grid Repel Attacks?Many of the intrusions were detected not by the companies in charge of the infrastructure but by U.S. intelligence agencies, officials said. Intelligence officials worry about cyber attackers taking control of electrical facilities, a nuclear power plant or financial networks via the Internet.
Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said. He added, "If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on."
Officials said water, sewage and other infrastructure systems also were at risk.
"Over the past several years, we have seen cyberattacks against critical infrastructures abroad, and many of our own infrastructures are as vulnerable as their foreign counterparts," Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recently told lawmakers. "A number of nations, including Russia and China, can disrupt elements of the U.S. information infrastructure."
Officials cautioned that the motivation of the cyberspies wasn't well understood, and they don't see an immediate danger. China, for example, has little incentive to disrupt the U.S. economy because it relies on American consumers and holds U.S. government debt.
But protecting the electrical grid and other infrastructure is a key part of the Obama administration's cybersecurity review, which is to be completed next week. Under the Bush administration, Congress approved $17 billion in secret funds to protect government networks, according to people familiar with the budget. The Obama administration is weighing whether to expand the program to address vulnerabilities in private computer networks, which would cost billions of dollars more. A senior Pentagon official said Tuesday the Pentagon has spent $100 million in the past six months repairing cyber damage.
U.S. Intelligence Detects Cyber Spies
WSJ's Intelligence Reporter Siobhan Gorman says that Intelligence officials have found cyber spies lurking in the U.S. electrical infrastructure.
Overseas examples show the potential havoc. In 2000, a disgruntled employee rigged a computerized control system at a water-treatment plant in Australia, releasing more than 200,000 gallons of sewage into parks, rivers and the grounds of a Hyatt hotel.
Last year, a senior Central Intelligence Agency official, Tom Donahue, told a meeting of utility company representatives in New Orleans that a cyberattack had taken out power equipment in multiple regions outside the U.S. The outage was followed with extortion demands, he said.
The U.S. electrical grid comprises three separate electric networks, covering the East, the West and Texas. Each includes many thousands of miles of transmission lines, power plants and substations. The flow of power is controlled by local utilities or regional transmission organizations. The growing reliance of utilities on Internet-based communication has increased the vulnerability of control systems to spies and hackers, according to government reports.
The sophistication of the U.S. intrusions -- which extend beyond electric to other key infrastructure systems -- suggests that China and Russia are mainly responsible, according to intelligence officials and cybersecurity specialists. While terrorist groups could develop the ability to penetrate U.S. infrastructure, they don't appear to have yet mounted attacks, these officials say.
It is nearly impossible to know whether or not an attack is government-sponsored because of the difficulty in tracking true identities in cyberspace. U.S. officials said investigators have followed electronic trails of stolen data to China and Russia.
Russian and Chinese officials have denied any wrongdoing. "These are pure speculations," said Yevgeniy Khorishko, a spokesman at the Russian Embassy. "Russia has nothing to do with the cyberattacks on the U.S. infrastructure, or on any infrastructure in any other country in the world."
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Wang Baodong, said the Chinese government "resolutely oppose
any crime, including hacking, that destroys the Internet or computer network" and has laws barring the practice. China was ready to cooperate with other countries to counter such attacks, he said, and added that "some people overseas with Cold War mentality are indulged in fabricating the sheer lies of the so-called cyberspies in China."
Utilities are reluctant to speak about the dangers. "Much of what we've done, we can't talk about," said Ray Dotter, a spokesman at PJM Interconnection LLC, which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in 13 states and the District of Columbia. He said the organization has beefed up its security, in conformance with federal standards.
In January 2008, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved new protection measures that required improvements in the security of computer servers and better plans for handling attacks.
Last week, Senate Democrats introduced a proposal that would require all critical infrastructure companies to meet new cybersecurity standards and grant the president emergency powers over control of the grid systems and other infrastructure.
Specialists at the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, a nonprofit research institute, said attack programs search for openings in a network, much as a thief tests locks on doors. Once inside, these programs and their human controllers can acquire the same access and powers as a systems administrator.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation on Tuesday warned its members that not all of them appear to be adhering to cybersecuirty requirements. Read the letter.
The White House review of cybersecurity programs is studying ways to shield the electrical grid from such attacks, said James Lewis, who directed a study for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and has met with White House reviewers.
The reliability of the grid is ultimately the responsibility of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., an independent standards-setting organization overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The NERC set standards last year requiring companies to designate "critical cyber assets." Companies, for example, must check the backgrounds of employees and install firewalls to separate administrative networks from those that control electricity flow. The group will begin auditing compliance in July.
—Rebecca Smith contributed to this article.
Write to Siobhan Gorman at
Plot to use Stingers, C-4 etc busted
Reply #371 on:
May 20, 2009, 10:45:46 PM »
4 Arrested in New York Terror Plot
By Sewell Chan
Updated, 11:34 p.m. | Federal authorities arrested four men on Wednesday night on charges of plotting to bomb a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and to use antiaircraft missiles to shoot down military planes at a military base in Newburgh, N.Y., 60 miles north of New York City.
The charges, which include conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, represent some of the most significant allegations of domestic terrorism in some time. They come months into a new presidential administration, and as President Obama grapples with the question of how to handle detainees at the Guantánamo naval base in Cuba.
The four defendants — whom federal authorities identified as James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, in Orange County — are expected to appear in Federal District Court in White Plains, in Westchester County, on Thursday morning.
Though Mr. Cromitie, who is described as the lead defendant, is said to have told an F.B.I. informer that he had ties with Jaish-e-Muhammad, a jihadist group based in Pakistan, none of the defendants actually obtained weapons of mass destruction, according to the authorities. The men were, however, given an antiaircraft missile system that was incapable of being fired, as well as homemade bombs containing inert plastic explosives, as part of the undercover investigation, the authorities said.
• Text: Criminal Complaint (pdf)
• Text: U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release (pdf)
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Cromitie met the informer last June, and told the informer that his parents had lived in Afghanistan and that he was upset about the deaths of Muslims at the hands of United States military forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Cromitie expressed interest in returning to Afghanistan and said that if he were to die a martyr he would go to paradise, according to the complaint, which states that Mr. Cromitie threatened to do “something to America.”
In July, according to the complaint, Mr. Cromitie and the informer discussed Jaish-e-Muhammad, and Mr. Cromitie claimed to be involved with the militant organization.
Starting in October, the informer began meeting Mr. Cromitie in a house in Newburgh that the F.B.I. had equipped with concealed video and audio equipment, the according to the complaint. In several meetings at that house, Mr. Cromitie and the other defendants discussed their desire to attack a synagogue in Riverdale — a heavily Jewish neighborhood in the northwestern Bronx — and to shoot down military aircraft at the Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.
Mr. Cromitie “asked the informant to supply surface-to-air guided missiles and explosives for the planned operations,” and the informer told Mr. Cromitie that he could provide him with C-4 plastic explosives, the complaint states.
Starting in April 2009, the complaint says, the four men selected the synagogue they intended to target — the Riverdale Jewish Center, at 3700 Independence Avenue — and conducted surveillance, including photographs, of military planes at the base.
Late that month, Mr. Cromitie and David Williams bought a 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol to use in the planned attack, and then traveled to “a location from which they could shoot at the military planes using surface-to-air guided missiles,” the authorities said.
In early May, Mr. Cromitie, David Williams and Mr. Payen drove with the informer toward Stamford, Conn., to obtain what the three men were told would be a surface-to-air guided missile system and three improvised explosive devices containing C-4 plastic explosive material.
The informer gave the men “a Stinger surface-to-air guided missile provided by the F.B.I. that was not
capable of being fired,” as well as three improvised explosive devices, each containing more than 30 pounds of inert C-4 plastic explosives, telling the men that he had obtained them from Jaish-e-Muhammad, the authorities said.
The three men took the weapon materials back to Newburgh, and two days later, joined by Onta Williams, they met to inspect the materials and “further discuss the logistics of the operation,” the authorities said.
Lev L. Dassin, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement on Wednesday night that “the defendants wanted to engage in terrorist attacks.”
He added: “They selected targets and sought the weapons necessary to carry out their plans. Fortunately, the defendants sought the assistance of a witness cooperating with the government. While the weapons provided to the defendants by the cooperating witness were fake, the defendants thought they were absolutely real.”
Political leaders responded to the news of the arrests with statements expressing relief.
“While the bombs these terrorists attempted to plant tonight were – unbeknownst to them – fake, this latest attempt to attack our freedoms shows that the homeland security threats against New York City are sadly all too real and underscores why we must remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent terrorism,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a statement: “If there can be any good news from this terror scare it’s that this group was relatively unsophisticated, infiltrated early, and not connected to another terrorist group.”
Mr. Schumer added that he had spoken with the New York office of the F.B.I. and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and said: “They have told me they have been monitoring this group for some time and that they did not have any connection to other terrorists.”
Cheney's Response to BHO's Security Speech, I
Reply #372 on:
May 21, 2009, 12:17:44 PM »
Full Text of Cheney’s Anti-Obama Speech
May 21, 2009 at 10:45 am (politics)
Tags: attack, cheney, obama
Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction. It’s good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I’m looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was, they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.
I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently. Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don’t think I missed much.
Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I’m an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen – a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.
The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I’m not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do. We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes for America have not changed.
Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people. Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush Administration -who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.
When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President’s understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.
Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11th, 2001 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.
That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, hoping to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.
Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s, America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis. The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact – crime scene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed.
That’s how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least – but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat – what the Congress called “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.
We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We’d just been hit by a foreign enemy – leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.
Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass – a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.
For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11 itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.
There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day – word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In the years since, I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.
To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.
We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network … and the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear program. It’s required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.
So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.
The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn’t invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the American people.
Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.
In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations.
In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.
Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.
By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to know. We’re informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.
Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.
Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “Truth Commission.” Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.
Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.
One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all to see – including the enemy – let me draw your attention to some points that are routinely overlooked.
It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed – the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.
We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’t know about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.
Maybe you’ve heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.
In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America’s cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.
Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.
Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.
I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about “values.” Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.
Cheney's Response to BHO's Security Speech, II
Reply #373 on:
May 21, 2009, 12:18:02 PM »
Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.
The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.
Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our country. You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” – never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.
And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are – or what they would do if we let them loose.
On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the President says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland, and it has even been suggested US taxpayer dollars will be used to support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the President’s own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states, these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental.
The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.
In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.” Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.
It’s one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we’re no longer engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it’s the policies that matter most. You don’t want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want – just don’t bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.
Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”
It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other.
Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.
As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel … our cultural and political influence in the world – these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the 19 recruits who boarded those planes on September 11th, 2001.
The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world – for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences – and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.
What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.
This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.
Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.
As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.
I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations – and I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration – the missing 26 words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” End of quote.
If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs – on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.
For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history – not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward – the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of “hubris” – my mind always goes back to that moment.
To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11, President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office – which was to be another 2,689 days – there would never be another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris – it would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this, and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville were only the beginning of the violence.
Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all elements of our nation’s power to fight this war and to win it. We said we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would “include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.” We followed through on all of this, and we stayed true to our word.
To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.
Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As in all warfare, there have been costs – none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country’s service. And even the most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so many of our own – all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic souls who died trying to save them.
For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.
Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.
Thank you very much.
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #374 on:
May 24, 2009, 09:23:33 PM »
- Chesler Chronicles -
Homegrown Islamic Jihad in the Bronx: Now We Are All Israelis
Posted By Phyllis Chesler On May 21, 2009 @ 11:06 am In Uncategorized | 108 Comments
Riverdale, in the Bronx, is a gloriously leafy, hilly, and peaceful suburb. I have visited its extraordinary gardens and gracious homes which overlook the Hudson river. More often, I’ve visited a close friend and her family who live there. I have studied, dined, and prayed with them. I have attended lectures at Riverdale synagogues. Riverdale is as close to me, both personally, psychologically, and geographically, as was the World Trade Center.
In response to a gruesome series of Islamic-Palestinian synagogue bombings in Europe, police officers guarded Europe’s synagogues and Jewish Centers. Now, synagogues all over New York City, tend to have barricades or some kind of police presence outside. We are now all Israelis: Not just the Jews, but the world’s civilians.
And thus, four African-American converts to Islam, all of whom converted to Islam in prison, have been arrested by the FBI just as they attempted to bomb two Riverdale synagogues, (the Riverdale Jewish Center and the Riverdale Temple), in the Bronx and a New York National Guard air base in Newburgh, New York where they lived and attended a mosque.
Why do I begin by clearly stating the race and religion of the terrorists? Because the liberal mainstream media refuses to do so, or buries such facts on its back pages. For example, see the New York Times coverage  HERE. What starts as a bland, front page story continues on page 33 where, laughably, the Times writes “some of the men were of Arabic descent, and one is of Haitian descent.” Only the New York Post  HERE mentions these important facts up front and clearly. (And, by the way: One of the arrested men is quoted as saying that his parents once lived in Afghanistan; if this is true, let’s note that Afghanistan is not an Arab country. It is totally unclear whether his parents are Afghans or not).
A friend has just told me that NPR’s coverage earlier today of this attempted terrorist bombing failed to mention that the perpetrators are African-Americans or Muslims. I am sure that in a matter of days, perhaps hours, these men will have civil rights and left-oriented lawyers prepared to argue that the FBI “played” them, enticed them, preyed on their…jihadic bitterness.
No, I am not in favor of “profiling,” i.e. discriminating against or persecuting people because of their skin-color or religious beliefs. However, what is one to do when these facts are crucial to the matter at hand?
According to my esteemed colleague,  Frank Gaffney, the Saudis have been funding Wahabi-style political-religious conversions among marginalized men in prison in the West for a long time. The Islamic Society of North America has allegedly placed many imams and mullahs in the American prison system where they prey mainly upon men of color, (they are over-represented in the American prison system), whose lives have already been shattered by poverty, racism, drugs, mental illness, gang life, and a long history of criminality. (And, as a reader, David Thomson, has just pointed out, their lives have also been “severely harmed by widespread illegitimacy, vile rap music that denigrates women and traditional values, feelings of victimization, self-pity, and the politically correct nonsense that asserts that all their problems are the result of white imperialism.”)
Islam may be presented to these inmates as a religion of many colors, as especially friendly to men of African descent. Jihad may also be presented as a way to overcome “oppression.”
Islam is probably not presented as an imperialist, colonialist force or as a religion whose leaders practice genocidal jihad, slavery, and both gender and religious apartheid; whose leaders were instrumentally involved in the African slave trade to America; and who, today, keep slaves, and persecute black Africans in Darfur. A formal, radical doctrine which preaches hatred of “white racist America,” the very country that has jailed them, might be balm to their shamed spirits. Perhaps jailed men of color are also attracted by the possibility of polygamy, or by female co-religionists who are, voila!, subservient to men on American soil.
Perhaps James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen, (the Bronx Four), were inspired by the late, great Malcolm X, a.k.a. Malik Shabazz, a criminal turned Muslim leader—who was, arguably, assassinated by The Nation of Islam who found his preaching ultimately too…peaceful, too color-blind, too charismatic.
Or, perhaps these latest homegrown terrorist-wannabees were inspired by the ability of the Nation of Islam, (which emerged in 1930 America), to offer African-American prisoners protection and an identity in jail, and more than that: to help them remain sober, and to give dignity, meaning, and purpose to their lives. To the extent to which this “hate Whitey, hate the Jews” version of political Islam could and still does, indeed, uplift and console the spirits of the disenfranchised…..we are all in grave trouble.
Perhaps men also convert simply because they want to receive the perks that Muslims receive in prison: a better quality halal food, incense, prayer rugs.
But really, why am I not surprised by this latest thwarted terrorist attack in the Bronx? Jihad went global a long time ago. The Bronx synagogue car bomb and military airplane explosion scenario immediately reminds us of other, exploding, Muslim-detonated car and truck bombs outside American embassies and Marine Barracks in Africa and the Middle East; and exploding Muslim human as well as car bombs which blow up civilians, (most are Muslim civilians), in Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
If we did not and now cannot stop it “over there,” it is only a matter of minutes before we inherit it “over here.” True, some say that if we bury our heads in the sand and build a high, isolationist wall, that the troubles abroad need not affect us in America, that we have endangered ourselves precisely by invading Afghanistan and Iraq and by supporting Israel.
Obviously, I disagree. But I do not know how America and Israel can effecitvely win a non-traditional Islamic, jihadic war which uses Muslim civilians, including children as hostages and as human bombs–and which has the support of the world’s media.
The Bronx Four should immediately remind us of some other examples that are closer to home and which we continue to forget at our peril.
For example, in 2005, in Los Angeles, another group of African-American prison converts to Islam planned to blow up American military facilities, Israeli facilities, and synagogues. The group’s leader was Kevin Lamar James; his most ardent follower was Levar Haney Washington who, once released from Folsom State Prison, recruited other potential terrorists to the cause. According to Frank Gaffney,
“Despite all the warnings, (about Saudi Wahabi infiltration of America’s prisons), the alleged New Folsom State plot was not foiled by intensive surveillance of prison incitement and recruitment by Wahhabi clerics – let alone by keeping such Islamofascists out of the U.S. penal system. Rather, according to the Associated Press, it came on 5 July when Levar Washington, a convicted thief and street gang member, was arrested after his release from the New Folsom Prison, along with an accomplice suspected of perpetrating a string of gas station robberies.”
America at the Crossroads aired a film about this: “ Homegrown: Islam in Prison,” which explores Washington’s troubled background and conversion to Islam. The film asks, (but does not answer), important questions such as:
Can prison officials restrict an “inmate’s access to religious teachings and services without violating the inmate’s Constitutional right to freedom of religion? Do the allegations in this (terrorist) case outweigh the many instances of positive Islamic conversion in prison? And should prison reform — so long neglected at all levels of government — become integral to overall U.S. national security policy?”
These are questions that cry out for answers and for action. According to Gaffney, writing in August of 2005, (four years ago!):
“The cumulative effects of Islamist recruitment in the U.S. penal system are as stunning as they are ominous. Currently, there are said to be roughly 350,000 inmates in federal, state and local prisons who identify themselves as Muslims. Some 30,000-40,000 more are being added to that population each year. Official estimates suggest that roughly 80% of prisoners who “find faith” while in prison convert to Islam and that the percentage of the prison population that is “Muslim” today is somewhere between 15-20%. In fact, prison conversion alone is a major contributor to the rapid growth of Islam in the United States. “
I wonder what those estimates are today? According the the website of the  Federal Bureau of Prisons, these statistics seem to come out every five years. Thus, there are no more current national estimates. A  New York City estimate tells us that the majority of inmates at Rykers Island, the largest jail complex in the county, are Muslim.
There are other, perhaps forgotten examples of homegrown and foreign-born Muslims and/or prison converts to Islam who have attempted acts of terrorism in America. Jose Padilla, a.k.a. Abdullah al Muhajir, also converted to Islam in prison and, in 2002 was arrested for attempting to explode a “dirty bomb” and for wanting to join the forces of jihad in Afghanistan.
Onta Williams of the Bronx Four is quoted as saying: “They (the United States military) are killing Muslim brothers and sisters in Muslim countries, so if we kill them here (in the United States) with IEDs (improved explosive devices) and Stingers, it is equal.” James Cromitie, a.k.a. Abdul Rahman, stated that he was part of a Pakistani-based terror group and wanted to kill Jews and Americans. According to the  New York Post, “Cromitie pointed to people walking on the street in the vicinity of a Jewish community center and said that if he had a gun, he would shoot each one in the head.”
It is crucial that we see the larger patterns and even more crucial that we act: To stop Saudi Wahabi funding of Islamic conversions in America, beginning recruitment in our prison system. But we must also reform our prison system, including a reform of our drug laws, so that we jail fewer inmates and do not provide such a fertile breeding ground for anti-American and anti-Jewish Islamic terrorism.
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Self-Destructive Self-Delusion, I
Reply #375 on:
May 26, 2009, 09:39:01 AM »
This piece could be filed in more that one place, and contains a pretty scary message.
Wishful Thinking and Indecisive Wars
The most troubling aspect of international security for the United States is not the killing power of our immediate enemies, which remains modest in historical terms, but our increasingly effete view of warfare. The greatest advantage our opponents enjoy is an uncompromising strength of will, their readiness to “pay any price and bear any burden” to hurt and humble us. As our enemies’ view of what is permissible in war expands apocalyptically, our self-limiting definitions of allowable targets and acceptable casualties—hostile, civilian and our own—continue to narrow fatefully. Our enemies cannot defeat us in direct confrontations, but we appear determined to defeat ourselves.
Much has been made over the past two decades of the emergence of “asymmetric warfare,” in which the ill-equipped confront the superbly armed by changing the rules of the battlefield. Yet, such irregular warfare is not new—it is warfare’s oldest form, the stone against the bronze-tipped spear—and the crucial asymmetry does not lie in weaponry, but in moral courage. While our most resolute current enemies—Islamist extremists—may violate our conceptions of morality and ethics, they also are willing to sacrifice more, suffer more and kill more (even among their own kind) than we are. We become mired in the details of minor missteps, while fanatical holy warriors consecrate their lives to their ultimate vision. They live their cause, but we do not live ours. We have forgotten what warfare means and what it takes to win.
There are multiple reasons for this American amnesia about the cost of victory. First, we, the people, have lived in unprecedented safety for so long (despite the now-faded shock of September 11, 2001) that we simply do not feel endangered; rather, we sense that what nastiness there may be in the world will always occur elsewhere and need not disturb our lifestyles. We like the frisson of feeling a little guilt, but resent all calls to action that require sacrifice.
Second, collective memory has effectively erased the European-sponsored horrors of the last century; yesteryear’s “unthinkable” events have become, well, unthinkable. As someone born only seven years after the ovens of Auschwitz stopped smoking, I am stunned by the common notion, which prevails despite ample evidence to the contrary, that such horrors are impossible today.
Third, ending the draft resulted in a superb military, but an unknowing, detached population. The higher you go in our social caste system, the less grasp you find of the military’s complexity and the greater the expectation that, when employed, our armed forces should be able to fix things promptly and politely.
Fourth, an unholy alliance between the defense industry and academic theorists seduced decisionmakers with a false-messiah catechism of bloodless war. In pursuit of billions in profits, defense contractors made promises impossible to fulfill, while think tank scholars sought acclaim by designing warfare models that excited political leaders anxious to get off cheaply, but which left out factors such as the enemy, human psychology, and 5,000 years of precedents.
Fifth, we have become largely a white-collar, suburban society in which a child’s bloody nose is no longer a routine part of growing up, but grounds for a lawsuit; the privileged among us have lost the sense of grit in daily life. We grow up believing that safety from harm is a right that others are bound to respect as we do. Our rising generation of political leaders assumes that, if anyone wishes to do us harm, it must be the result of a misunderstanding that can be resolved by that lethal narcotic of the chattering classes, dialogue.
Last, but not least, history is no longer taught as a serious subject in America’s schools. As a result, politicians lack perspective; journalists lack meaningful touchstones; and the average person’s sense of warfare has been redefined by media entertainments in which misery, if introduced, is brief.
By 1965, we had already forgotten what it took to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and the degeneration of our historical sense has continued to accelerate since then. More Americans died in one afternoon at Cold Harbor during our Civil War than died in six years in Iraq. Three times as many American troops fell during the morning of June 6, 1944, as have been lost in combat in over seven years in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, prize-hunting reporters insist that our losses in Iraq have been catastrophic, while those in Afghanistan are unreasonably high.
We have cheapened the idea of war. We have had wars on poverty, wars on drugs, wars on crime, economic warfare, ratings wars, campaign war chests, bride wars, and price wars in the retail sector. The problem, of course, is that none of these “wars” has anything to do with warfare as soldiers know it. Careless of language and anxious to dramatize our lives and careers, we have elevated policy initiatives, commercial spats and social rivalries to the level of humanity’s most complex, decisive and vital endeavor.
One of the many disheartening results of our willful ignorance has been well-intentioned, inane claims to the effect that “war doesn’t change anything” and that “war isn’t the answer,” that we all need to “give peace a chance.” Who among us would not love to live in such a splendid world? Unfortunately, the world in which we do live remains one in which war is the primary means of resolving humanity’s grandest disagreements, as well as supplying the answer to plenty of questions. As for giving peace a chance, the sentiment is nice, but it does not work when your self-appointed enemy wants to kill you. Gandhi’s campaign of non-violence (often quite violent in its reality) only worked because his opponent was willing to play along. Gandhi would not have survived very long in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s (or today’s) China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Effective non-violence is contractual. Where the contract does not exist, Gandhi dies.
Furthermore, our expectations of war’s results have become absurd. Even the best wars do not yield perfect aftermaths. World War II changed the planet for the better, yet left the eastern half of Europe under Stalin’s yoke and opened the door for the Maoist takeover in China. Should we then declare it a failure and not worth fighting? Our Civil War preserved the Union and abolished slavery—worthy results, surely. Still, it took over a century for equality of opportunity for minorities to gain a firm footing. Should Lincoln have let the Confederacy go with slavery untouched, rather than choosing to fight? Expecting Iraq, Afghanistan or the conflict of tomorrow to end quickly, cleanly and neatly belongs to the realm of childhood fantasy, not human reality. Even the most successful war yields imperfect results. An insistence on prompt, ideal outcomes as the measure of victory guarantees the perception of defeat.
Consider the current bemoaning of a perceived “lack of progress” and “setbacks” in Afghanistan. A largely pre-medieval, ferociously xenophobic country that never enjoyed good government or a central power able to control all of its territory had become the hostage of a monstrous regime and a haven for terrorists. Today, Afghanistan has an elected government, feeble though it may be; for the first time in the region’s history, some of the local people welcome, and most tolerate, the presence of foreign troops; women are no longer stoned to death in sports stadiums for the edification of the masses; and the most inventive terrorists of our time have been driven into remote compounds and caves. We agonize (at least in the media) over the persistence of the Taliban, unwilling to recognize that the Taliban or a similar organization will always find a constituency in remote tribal valleys and among fanatics. If we set ourselves the goal of wiping out the Taliban, we will fail. Given a realistic mission of thrusting the Islamists to the extreme margins of society over decades, however, we can effect meaningful change (much as the Ku Klux Klan, whose following once numbered in the millions across our nation, has been reduced to a tiny club of grumps). Even now, we have already won in terms of the crucial question: Is Afghanistan a better place today for most Afghans, for the world and for us than it was on September 10, 2001? Why must we talk ourselves into defeat?
We have the power to win any war. Victory remains possible in every conflict we face today or that looms on the horizon. But, for now, we are unwilling to accept that war not only is, but must be, hell. Sadly, our enemies do not share our scruples.
The present foe
The willful ignorance within the American intelligentsia and in Washington, D.C., does not stop with the mechanics and costs of warfare, but extends to a denial of the essential qualities of our most-determined enemies. While narco-guerrillas, tribal rebels or pirates may vex us, Islamist terrorists are opponents of a far more frightening quality. These fanatics do not yet pose an existential threat to the United States, but we must recognize the profound difference between secular groups fighting for power or wealth and men whose galvanizing dream is to destroy the West. When forced to assess the latter, we take the easy way out and focus on their current capabilities, although the key to understanding them is to study their ultimate goals—no matter how absurd and unrealistic their ambitions may seem to us.
The problem is religion. Our Islamist enemies are inspired by it, while we are terrified even to talk about it. We are in the unique position of denying that our enemies know what they themselves are up to. They insist, publicly, that their goal is our destruction (or, in their mildest moods, our conversion) in their god’s name. We contort ourselves to insist that their religious rhetoric is all a sham, that they are merely cynics exploiting the superstitions of the masses. Setting aside the point that a devout believer can behave cynically in his mundane actions, our phony, one-dimensional analysis of al-Qaeda and its ilk has precious little to do with the nature of our enemies—which we are desperate to deny—and everything to do with us.
We have so oversold ourselves on the notion of respect for all religions (except, of course, Christianity and Judaism) that we insist that faith cannot be a cause of atrocious violence. The notion of killing to please a deity and further his perceived agenda is so unpleasant to us that we simply pretend it away. U.S. intelligence agencies and government departments go to absurd lengths, even in classified analyses, to avoid such basic terms as “Islamist terrorist.” Well, if your enemy is a terrorist and he professes to be an Islamist, it may be wise to take him at his word.
A paralyzing problem “inside the Beltway” is that our ruling class has been educated out of religious fervor. Even officials and bureaucrats who attend a church or synagogue each week no longer comprehend the life-shaking power of revelation, the transformative ecstasy of glimpsing the divine, or the exonerating communalism of living faith. Emotional displays of belief make the functional agnostic or social atheist nervous; he or she reacts with elitist disdain. Thus we insist, for our own comfort, that our enemies do not really mean what they profess, that they are as devoid of a transcendental sense of the universe as we are.
History parades no end of killers-for-god in front of us. The procession has lasted at least five thousand years. At various times, each major faith—especially our inherently violent monotheist faiths—has engaged in religious warfare and religious terrorism. When a struggling faith finds itself under the assault of a more powerful foreign belief system, it fights: Jews against Romans, Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Christians and Jews. When faiths feel threatened, externally or internally, they fight as long as they retain critical mass. Today the Judeo-Christian/post-belief world occupies the dominant strategic position, as it has, increasingly, for the last five centuries, its rise coinciding with Islam’s long descent into cultural darkness and civilizational impotence. Behind all its entertaining bravado, Islam is fighting for its life, for validation.
Islam, in other words, is on the ropes, despite no end of nonsense heralding “Eurabia” or other Muslim demographic conquests. If demography were all there was to it, China and India long since would have divided the world between them. Islam today is composed of over a billion essentially powerless human beings, many of them humiliated and furiously jealous. So Islam fights and will fight, within its meager-but-pesky capabilities. Operationally, it matters little that the failures of the Middle Eastern Islamic world are self-wrought, the disastrous results of the deterioration of a once-triumphant faith into a web of static cultures obsessed with behavior at the expense of achievement. The core world of Islam, stretching from Casablanca to the Hindu Kush, is not competitive in a single significant sphere of human endeavor (not even terrorism since, at present, we are terrorizing the terrorists). We are confronted with a historical anomaly, the public collapse of a once-great, still-proud civilization that, in the age of super-computers, cannot build a reliable automobile: enormous wealth has been squandered; human capital goes wasted; economies are dysfunctional; and the quality of life is barbaric. Those who once cowered at Islam’s greatness now rule the world. The roughly one-fifth of humanity that makes up the Muslim world lacks a single world-class university of its own. The resultant rage is immeasurable; jealousy may be the greatest unacknowledged strategic factor in the world today.
Self-Destructive Self-Delusion, II
Reply #376 on:
May 26, 2009, 09:39:19 AM »
Embattled cultures dependably experience religious revivals: What does not work in this life will work in the next. All the deity in question asks is submission, sacrifice—and action to validate faith. Unlike the terrorists of yesteryear, who sought to change the world and hoped to live to see it changed, today’s terrorists focus on god’s kingdom and regard death as a promotion. We struggle to explain suicide bombers in sociological terms, deciding that they are malleable and unhappy young people, psychologically vulnerable. But plenty of individuals in our own society are malleable, unhappy and unstable. Where are the Western atheist suicide bombers?
To make enduring progress against Islamist terrorists, we must begin by accepting that the terrorists are Islamists. And the use of the term “Islamist,” rather than “Islamic,” is vital—not for reasons of political correctness, but because it connotes a severe deviation from what remains, for now, mainstream Islam. We face enemies who celebrate death and who revel in bloodshed. Islamist terrorists have a closer kinship with the blood cults of the pre-Islamic Middle East—or even with the Aztecs—than they do with the ghazis who exploded out of the Arabian desert, ablaze with a new faith. At a time when we should be asking painful questions about why the belief persists that gods want human blood, we insist on downplaying religion’s power and insisting that our new enemies are much the same as the old ones. It is as if we sought to analyze Hitler’s Germany without mentioning Nazis.
We will not even accept that the struggle between Islam and the West never ceased. Even after Islam’s superpower status collapsed, the European imperial era was bloodied by countless Muslim insurrections, and even the Cold War was punctuated with Islamist revivals and calls for jihad. The difference down the centuries was that, until recently, the West understood that this was a survival struggle and did what had to be done (the myth that insurgents of any kind usually win has no historical basis). Unfortunately for our delicate sensibilities, the age-old lesson of religion-fueled rebellions is that they must be put down with unsparing bloodshed—the fanatic’s god is not interested in compromise solutions. The leading rebels or terrorists must be killed. We, on the contrary, want to make them our friends.
The paradox is that our humane approach to warfare results in unnecessary bloodshed. Had we been ruthless in the use of our overwhelming power in the early days of conflict in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the ultimate human toll—on all sides—would have been far lower. In warfare of every kind, there is an immutable law: If you are unwilling to pay the butcher’s bill up front, you will pay it with compound interest in the end. Iraq was not hard; we made it so. Likewise, had we not tried to do Afghanistan on the cheap, Osama bin Laden would be dead and al-Qaeda even weaker than it is today.
When the United States is forced to go to war—or decides to go to war—it must intend to win. That means that rather than setting civilian apparatchiks to calculate minimum force levels, we need to bring every possible resource to bear from the outset—an approach that saves blood and treasure in the long run. And we must stop obsessing about our minor sins. Warfare will never be clean, soldiers will always make mistakes, and rounds will always go astray, despite our conscientious safeguards and best intentions. Instead of agonizing over a fatal mistake made by a young Marine at a roadblock, we must return to the fundamental recognition that the greatest “war crime” the United States can commit is to lose.
Other threats, new dimensions
Within the defense community, another danger looms: the risk of preparing to re-fight the last war, or, in other words, assuming that our present struggles are the prototypes of our future ones. As someone who spent much of the 1990s arguing that the U.S. armed forces needed to prepare for irregular warfare and urban combat, I now find myself required to remind my former peers in the military that we must remain reasonably prepared for traditional threats from states.
Yet another counter-historical assumption is that states have matured beyond fighting wars with each other, that everyone would have too much to lose, that the inter-connected nature of trade makes full-scale conventional wars impossible. That is precisely the view that educated Europeans held in the first decade of the twentieth century. Even the youngish Winston Churchill, a veteran of multiple colonial conflicts, believed that general war between civilized states had become unthinkable. It had not.
Bearing in mind that, while neither party desires war, we could find ourselves tumbling, à la 1914, into a conflict with China, we need to remember that the apparent threat of the moment is not necessarily the deadly menace of tomorrow. It may not be China that challenges us, after all, but the unexpected rise of a dormant power. The precedent is there: in 1929, Germany had a playground military limited to 100,000 men. Ten years later, a re-armed Germany had embarked on the most destructive campaign of aggression in history, its killing power and savagery exceeding that of the Mongols. Without militarizing our economy (or indulging our unscrupulous defense industry), we must carry out rational modernization efforts within our conventional forces—even as we march through a series of special-operations-intensive fights for which there is no end in sight. We do not need to bankrupt ourselves to do so, but must accept an era of hard choices, asking ourselves not which weapons we would like to have, but which are truly necessary.
Still, even should we make perfect acquisition decisions (an unlikely prospect, given the power of lobbyists and public relations firms serving the defense industry), that would not guarantee us victory or even a solid initial performance in a future conventional war. As with the struggle to drive terrorists into remote corners, we are limited less by our military capabilities than by our determination to pretend that war can be made innocently.
Whether faced with conventional or unconventional threats, the same deadly impulse is at work in our government and among the think tank astrologers who serve as its courtiers: An insistence on constantly narrowing the parameters of what is permissible in warfare. We are attempting to impose ever sterner restrictions on the conduct of war even as our enemies, immediate and potential, are exploring every possible means of expanding their conduct of conflicts into new realms of total war.
What is stunning about the United States is the fragility of our system. To strategically immobilize our military, you have only to successfully attack one link in the chain, our satellites. Our homeland’s complex infrastructure offers ever-increasing opportunities for disruption to enemies well aware that they cannot defeat our military head-on, but who hope to wage total war asymmetrically, leapfrogging over our ships and armored divisions to make daily life so miserable for Americans that we would quit the fight. No matter that even the gravest attacks upon our homeland might, instead, re-arouse the killer spirit among Americans—our enemies view the home front as our weak flank.
From what we know of emerging Chinese and Russian warfighting doctrine, both from their writings and their actions against third parties, their concept of the future battlefield is all-inclusive, even as we, for our part, long to isolate combatants in a post-modern version of a medieval joust. As just a few minor examples, consider Russia’s and China’s use of cyber-attacks to punish and even paralyze other states. We are afraid to post dummy websites for information-warfare purposes, since we have talked ourselves into warfare-by-lawyers. Meanwhile, the Chinese routinely seek to infiltrate or attack Pentagon computer networks, while Russia paralyzed Estonia through a massive cyber-blitzkrieg just a couple of years ago. Our potential enemies believe that anything that might lead to victory is permissible. We are afraid that we might get sued.
Yet, even the Chinese and Russians do not have an apocalyptic vision of warfare. They want to survive and they would be willing to let us survive, if only on their terms. But religion-driven terrorists care not for this world and its glories. If the right Islamist terrorists acquired a usable nuclear weapon, they would not hesitate to employ it (the most bewildering security analysts are those who minimize the danger should Iran acquire nuclear weapons). The most impassioned extremists among our enemies not only have no qualms about the mass extermination of unbelievers, but would be delighted to offer their god rivers of the blood of less-devout Muslims. Our fiercest enemies are in love with death.
For our part, we truly think that our enemies are kidding, that we can negotiate with them, after all, if only we could figure out which toys they really want. They pray to their god for help in cutting our throats, and we want to chat.
The killers without guns
While the essence of warfare never changes—it will always be about killing the enemy until he acquiesces in our desires or is exterminated—its topical manifestations evolve and its dimensions expand. Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight, but one which we not only refrain from attacking but are hesitant to annoy: the media.
While this brief essay cannot undertake to analyze the psychological dysfunctions that lead many among the most privileged Westerners to attack their own civilization and those who defend it, we can acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that, to most media practitioners, our troops are always guilty (even if proven innocent), while our barbaric enemies are innocent (even if proven guilty). The phenomenon of Western and world journalists championing the “rights” and causes of blood-drenched butchers who, given the opportunity, would torture and slaughter them, disproves the notion—were any additional proof required—that human beings are rational creatures. Indeed, the passionate belief of so much of the intelligentsia that our civilization is evil and only the savage is noble looks rather like an anemic version of the self-delusions of the terrorists themselves. And, of course, there is a penalty for the intellectual’s dismissal of religion: humans need to believe in something greater than themselves, even if they have a degree from Harvard. Rejecting the god of their fathers, the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar.
Of course, the media have shaped the outcome of conflicts for centuries, from the European wars of religion through Vietnam. More recently, though, the media have determined the outcomes of conflicts. While journalists and editors ultimately failed to defeat the U.S. government in Iraq, video cameras and biased reporting guaranteed that Hezbollah would survive the 2006 war with Israel and, as of this writing, they appear to have saved Hamas from destruction in Gaza.
Pretending to be impartial, the self-segregating personalities drawn to media careers overwhelmingly take a side, and that side is rarely ours. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.
The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity’s interests, while our failures nourish monsters.
In closing, we must dispose of one last mantra that has been too broadly and uncritically accepted: the nonsense that, if we win by fighting as fiercely as our enemies, we will “become just like them.” To convince Imperial Japan of its defeat, we not only had to fire-bomb Japanese cities, but drop two atomic bombs. Did we then become like the Japanese of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere? Did we subsequently invade other lands with the goal of permanent conquest, enslaving their populations? Did our destruction of German cities—also necessary for victory—turn us into Nazis? Of course, you can find a few campus leftists who think so, but they have yet to reveal the location of our death camps.
We may wish reality to be otherwise, but we must deal with it as we find it. And the reality of warfare is that it is the organized endeavor at which human beings excel. Only our ability to develop and maintain cities approaches warfare in its complexity. There is simply nothing that human collectives do better (or with more enthusiasm) than fight each other. Whether we seek explanations for human bloodlust in Darwin, in our religious texts (do start with the Book of Joshua), or among the sociologists who have done irreparable damage to the poor, we finally must accept empirical reality: at least a small minority of humanity longs to harm others. The violent, like the poor, will always be with us, and we must be willing to kill those who would kill others. At present, the American view of warfare has degenerated from science to a superstition in which we try to propitiate the gods with chants and dances. We need to regain a sense of the world’s reality.
Of all the enemies we face today and may face tomorrow, the most dangerous is our own wishful thinking.
Ralph Peters is a retired U.S. Army officer, a strategist, an author, a journalist who has reported from various war zones, and a lifelong traveler. He is the author of 24 books, including Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World and the forthcoming The War after Armageddon, a novel set in the Levant after the nuclear destruction of Israel.
Stratfor: Lone Wolf operations
Reply #377 on:
June 04, 2009, 07:09:19 AM »
June 3, 2009
By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton
At approximately 10:30 a.m. on June 1, as two young U.S. soldiers stood in front of the Army Navy Career Center in west Little Rock, Ark., a black pickup pulled in front of the office and the driver opened fire on the two, killing one and critically wounding the other.
Eyewitnesses to the shooting immediately reported it to police, and authorities quickly located and arrested the suspect as he fled the scene. According to police, the suspect told the arresting officers that he had a bomb in his vehicle, but after an inspection by the police bomb squad, the only weapons police recovered from the vehicle were an SKS rifle and two pistols.
At a press conference, Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas identified the suspect as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, a 21-year-old African-American man who had changed his name from Carlos Leon Bledsoe after converting to Islam. In Arabic, the word mujahid is the singular form of mujahideen, and it literally means one who engages in jihad. Although Mujahid is not an uncommon Muslim name, it is quite telling that a convert to Islam would choose such a name — one who engages in jihad — to define his new identity. Muhammad was originally from Memphis, Tenn., but according to news reports was living and working in Little Rock.
Chief Thomas said Muhammad admitted to the shootings and told police that he specifically targeted soldiers. During an interrogation with a Little Rock homicide detective, Muhammad reportedly said that he was angry at the U.S. Army because of their attacks against Muslims overseas, that he opened fire intending to kill the two soldiers and that he would have killed more if they had been in the parking lot. These statements are likely what Chief Thomas was referring to when he noted in his press conference that Muhammad appears to have had political and religious motives for the attack and that it was conducted in response to U.S. military operations.
Chief Thomas also stated that the initial police investigation has determined that Muhammad acted alone and was not part of a wider conspiracy, but given that the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism directed against U.S military personnel, a thorough investigation has been launched by the FBI to ensure that Muhammad was not part of a larger group planning other attacks.
ABC News has reported that Muhammad had traveled to Yemen after his conversion, though the date of that travel and its duration were not provided in those reports. ABC also reported that while in Yemen, Muhammad was apparently arrested for carrying a fraudulent Somali passport and that upon his return from Yemen, the FBI opened a preliminary investigation targeting him.
The fact that the FBI was investigating Muhammad but was unable to stop this attack illustrates the difficulties that lone wolf militants present to law enforcement and security personnel, and also highlights some of the vulnerabilities associated with using law enforcement as the primary counterterrorism tool.
Challenges of the Lone Wolf
STRATFOR has long discussed the threat posed by lone wolf militants and the unique challenges they pose to law enforcement and security personnel. Of course, the primary challenge is that, by definition, lone wolves are solitary actors and it can be very difficult to determine their intentions before they act because they do not work with others. When militants are operating in a cell consisting of more than one person, there is a larger chance that one of them will get cold feet and reveal the plot to authorities, that law enforcement and intelligence personnel will intercept a communication between conspirators, or that law enforcement authorities will be able to introduce an informant into the group, as was the case in the recently foiled plot to bomb two Jewish targets in the Bronx and shoot down a military aircraft at a Newburgh, N.Y., Air National Guard base.
Obviously, lone wolves do not need to communicate with others or include them in the planning or execution of their plots. This ability to fly solo and under the radar of law enforcement has meant that some lone wolf militants such as Joseph Paul Franklin, Theodore Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph were able to operate for years before being identified and captured.
Lone wolves also pose problems because they can come from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of motivations. While some lone wolves are politically motivated, others are religiously motivated and some are mentally unstable. Even among the religiously motivated there is variety. In addition to Muslim lone wolves like Muhammad, Mir Amal Kansi, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet and John Allen Muhammad, we have also seen anti-Semitic/Christian-identity adherents like Buford Furrow and Eric Rudolph, radical Roman Catholics like James Kopp and radical Protestants like Paul Hill. Indeed, the day before the Little Rock attack, Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion lone wolf gunman, killed prominent abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kan.
In addition to the wide spectrum of ideologies and motivations among lone wolves, there is also the issue of geographic dispersal. As we’ve seen from the lone wolf cases listed above, they have occurred in many different locations and are not just confined to attacks in Manhattan or Washington, D.C. They can occur anywhere.
Moreover, it is extremely difficult to differentiate between those extremists who intend to commit attacks from those who simply preach hate or hold radical beliefs (things that are not in themselves illegal due to First Amendment protections in the United States). Therefore, to single out likely lone wolves before they strike, authorities must spend a great deal of time and resources looking at individuals who might be moving from radical beliefs to radical actions. With such a large universe of potential suspects, this is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Limitations on Both Sides
Due to the challenges lone wolf militants present, the concept of leaderless resistance has been publicly and widely embraced in both the domestic terrorism and jihadist realms. However, despite this advocacy and the ease with which terrorist attacks can be conducted against soft targets, surprisingly few terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by lone wolf operatives. In fact, historically, we have seen more mentally disturbed lone gunmen than politically motivated lone wolf terrorists. A main reason for this is that it can be somewhat difficult to translate theory into action, and as STRATFOR has frequently noted, there is often a disconnect between intent and capability.
Because of the difficulty in obtaining the skills required to conduct a terrorist attack, many lone wolves do not totally operate in a vacuum, and many of them (like Muhammad) will usually come to somebody’s attention before they conduct an attack. Many times this occurs as they seek the skills or materials required to conduct a terrorist attack, which Muhammad appears to have been doing in Yemen.
However, in this case, it is important to remember that even though Muhammad had been brought to the FBI’s attention (probably through information obtained from the Yemeni authorities by the CIA in Yemen), he was only one of the thousands of such people the FBI opens a preliminary inquiry on each year. A preliminary inquiry is the basic level of investigation the FBI conducts, and it is usually opened for a limited period of time (though it can be extended with a supervisor’s approval). Unless the agents assigned to the inquiry turn up sufficient indication that a law has been violated, the inquiry will be closed.
If the inquiry indicates that there is the likelihood that a U.S. law has been violated, the FBI will open a full-field investigation into the matter. This will allow the bureau to exert significantly more investigative effort on the case and devote more investigative resources toward solving it. Out of the many preliminary inquiries opened on suspected militants, the FBI opens full-field investigations only on a handful of them. So, if the information reported by ABC News is correct, the FBI was not conducting surveillance on Muhammad because to do so it would have had to have opened a full-field investigation.
Of course, now that Muhammad has attacked, it is easy to say that the FBI should have paid more attention to him. Prior to an attack, however, intelligence is seldom, if ever, so black and white. Sorting out the individuals who intend to conduct attacks from the larger universe of people who hold radical thoughts and beliefs and assigning law enforcement and intelligence resources to monitor the activities of the really dangerous people has long been one of the very difficult tasks faced by counterterrorism authorities.
This difficulty is magnified when the FBI is looking at a lone wolf target because there is no organization, chain of command or specific communications channel on which to focus intelligence resources and gather information. Lacking information that would have tied Muhammad to other militant individuals or cells, or that would have indicated he was inclined to commit a crime, the FBI had little basis for opening a full-field investigation into his activities. These limitations, and the FBI’s notorious bureaucracy (as seen in its investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui and the 9/11 hijackers), are the longstanding shortfalls of the law-enforcement element of counterterrorism policy (the other elements are diplomacy, financial sanctions, intelligence and military).
However, politics have proved obstructive to all facets of counterterrorism policy. And politics may have been at play in the Muhammad case as well as in other cases involving Black Muslim converts. Several weeks ago, STRATFOR heard from sources that the FBI and other law enforcement organizations had been ordered to “back off” of counterterrorism investigations into the activities of Black Muslim converts. At this point, it is unclear to us if that guidance was given by the White House or the Department of Justice, or if it was promulgated by the agencies themselves, anticipating the wishes of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.
As STRATFOR has previously noted, the FBI has a culture that is very conservative and risk-averse. Many FBI supervisors are reluctant to authorize investigations that they believe may have negative blow-back on their career advancement. In light of this institutional culture, and the order to be careful in investigations relating to Black Muslim converts, it would not be at all surprising to us if a supervisor refused to authorize a full-field investigation of Muhammad that would have included surveillance of his activities. Though in practical terms, even if a full-field investigation had been authorized, due to the caution being exercised in cases related to Black Muslim converts, the case would most likely have been micromanaged to the point of inaction by the special agent in charge of the office involved or by FBI headquarters.
Even though lone wolves operate alone, they are still constrained by the terrorist attack cycle, and because they are working alone, they have to conduct each step of the cycle by themselves. This means that they are vulnerable to detection at several different junctures as they plan their attacks, the most critical of which is the surveillance stage of the operation. Muhammad did not just select that recruiting center at random and attack on the spot. He had cased it prior to the attack just as he had been taught in the militant training camps he attended in Yemen. Law enforcement officials have reported that Muhammad may also have researched potential government and Jewish targets in Little Rock, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Louisville and Memphis.
Had the FBI opened a full-field investigation on Muhammad, and had it conducted surveillance on him, it would have been able to watch him participate in preoperational activities such as conducting surveillance of potential targets and obtaining weapons.
There is certainly going to be an internal inquiry at the FBI and Department of Justice — and perhaps even in Congress — to determine where the points of failure were in this case. We will be watching with interest to see what really transpired. The details will be extremely interesting, especially coming at a time when the Obama administration appears to be following the Clinton-era policy of stressing the primacy of the FBI and the law enforcement aspect of counterterrorism policy at the expense of intelligence and other elements.
Reply #378 on:
June 05, 2009, 06:54:26 AM »
The Practical Implications of the WHTI
May 28, 2009
By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Web site
(STRATFOR is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.)
On June 1, 2009, the land and sea portion of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will go into effect. The WHTI is a program launched as a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and intended to standardize the documents required to enter the United States. The stated goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors while reducing the possibility of people entering the country using fraudulent documents.
Prior to the WHTI, American travelers to Mexico, Canada and several countries in the Caribbean needed only a driver’s license and birth certificate to re-enter the United States, while American travelers to other regions of the world required U.S. passports to return. This meant that immigration officials had to examine driver’s licenses and birth certificates from every state, and since the driver’s licenses and birth certificates of all the states change over time, there were literally hundreds of different types of documents that could be used by travelers at points of entry. In practical terms, this meant there was no way immigration officers could be familiar with the security features of each identification document, thereby making it easier for foreigners to use counterfeit or fraudulently altered documents to enter the country by claiming to be returning U.S. citizens.
The air portion of the WHTI went into effect in January 2007 and required that all international air travelers use passports to enter the United States. However, the land and sea implementation of WHTI will be a little different from the air portion. In addition to passports, travelers can also use U.S. passport cards (a driver’s license-sized identification document), an enhanced driver’s license (which are currently being issued by Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington) or “special trusted” traveler identification cards such as Nexus and Sentri to enter the country by land or sea.
The WHTI will greatly simplify the number of travel documents that immigration officials have to scrutinize. It will also mean that the documents needed to enter the United States will be far harder to counterfeit, alter or obtain by fraud than the documents previously required for entry. This will make it more difficult for criminals, illegal aliens and militants to enter the United States, but it will by no means make it impossible.
An Evolutionary Process
Identity document fraud has existed for as long as identity documents have. Like much sophisticated crime, document fraud has been an evolutionary process. Advancements in document security have been followed by advancements in fraud techniques, which in turn have forced governments to continue to advance their security efforts. In recent years, the advent of color copiers, powerful desktop computers with sophisticated graphics programs and laser printers has propelled this document-fraud arms race into overdrive.
In addition to sophisticated physical security features such as ultraviolet markings and holograms, perhaps the most significant security features of newer identification documents such as passports and visas are that they are machine-readable and linked to a database that can be cross-checked when the document is swiped through a reader at a point of entry. Since 2007, U.S. passports have also incorporated small contactless integrated circuits embedded in the back cover to securely store the information contained on the passport’s photo page. These added security measures have limited the utility of completely counterfeit U.S. passports, which (for the most part) cannot be used to pass through a point of entry equipped with a reader connected to the central database. Such documents are used mostly for traveling abroad rather than for entering the United States.
Likewise, advancements in security features have also made it far more difficult to alter genuine documents by doing things like changing the photo affixed to it (referred to as a photo substitution or “photo sub”). Certainly, there are some very high-end document forgers who can still accomplish this — such as those employed by intelligence agencies — but such operations are very difficult and the documents produced are very expensive.
One of the benefits of the WHTI is that it will now force those wishing to obtain genuine documents by fraud to travel to a higher level — it has, in effect, upped the ante. As STRATFOR has long noted, driver’s licenses pose serious national security vulnerability. Driver’s licenses are, in fact, the closet thing to a U.S. national identity card. However, driver’s licenses are issued by each state, and the process of getting one differs greatly from state to state. Criminals clearly have figured out how to work the system to get fraudulent driver’s licenses. Some states make it easier to get licenses than others and people looking for fraudulent identification flock to those states. Within the states, there are also some department of motor vehicles (DMV) offices — and specific workers — known to be more lenient, and those seeking fraudulent licenses will intentionally visit those offices. In addition to corrupt DMV employees and states that issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, an illegal industry has arisen devoted entirely to producing counterfeit identification documents, compounding the problem.
Birth certificates are also relatively easy to obtain illegally. The relative ease of fraudulently obtaining birth certificates as well as driver’s licenses is seen in federal document-fraud cases (both documents are required to apply for a U.S. passport). In a large majority of the passport-fraud cases worked by Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agents, the suspects have successfully obtained fraudulent driver’s licenses and birth certificates, which are submitted in support of a passport application. It is not uncommon for DSS special agents to arrest suspects who possess multiple driver’s licenses in different identities from the same state or even from different states. Such documents could have been used to travel across the U.S. border via land prior to the implementation of the WHTI.
For those able to afford the fees of high-end alien smugglers, who can charge up to $30,000 for a package of identification documents that contains a genuine U.S. passport with genuine supporting documents (birth certificate, social security card and driver’s license), or $10,000 to $15,000 for a genuine U.S. visa (tied to a database, the newer machine-readable visas are very difficult to counterfeit), the WHTI will not make much difference. These high-end document vendors obtain legitimate identification documents by paying corrupt officials who have been carefully cultivated.
That said, the WHTI should succeed in causing the vast majority of criminal aliens, illegal economic immigrants and even militants — people who have not traditionally patronized high-end document vendors — to change the way they enter the United States. Of course, perhaps the simplest way is to take the low road. That is, get to Canada or Mexico and then simply sneak across the border as an undocumented alien — something that hundreds of thousands of people do every year. Once inside the country, such aliens can link up with lower-level document vendors to obtain the driver’s licenses, social security cards and other identity documents they need in order to live, work and travel around the country.
But there are other ways that the WHTI measures can be circumvented. For example, the crush of passport applications the WHTI is now causing will create a distinct vulnerability in the short term. Although the U.S. Department of State has hired a large number of new examiners to process the flood of passport applications it is receiving (and also a number of new DSS special agents to investigate fraud cases), the system is currently overwhelmed by the volume of passport applications.
Historically, passport examiners have had their performance evaluations based on the number of passport applications they process rather than on the number of fraudulent applications they catch (which has long been a source of friction between the DSS and the Bureau of Consular Affairs). This emphasis on numerical quotas has been documented in U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that have noted that the quotas essentially force examiners to take shortcuts in their fraud-detection efforts. As a result, many genuine passports have been issued to people who did not have a legitimate right to them. The current overwhelming flood of passport applications as a result of WHTI, when combined with a batch of new examiners who are rated on numerical quotas, will further enhance this vulnerability. Unless a passport application has an obvious fraud indicator, it will likely slip through the cracks and a fraudulent applicant will receive a genuine U.S. passport.
Stolen passports are another area to consider. In addition to being photo-subbed, which has become more difficult, stolen passports can also be used as travel documents by people who resemble the owner of the document. All the holograms, microprinting and other security features that have been placed on the laminates of passport photo pages tend to make it difficult to clearly see the photo of the passport holder. Also, people change over time, so a person who was issued a passport eight years ago can look substantially different from their passport photo today. The passport process and the laminate can also make it especially difficult to see the facial features of dark-skinned people. This means it is not at all uncommon for a person to be able to impersonate someone and use his or her passport without altering it. This problem persists, even with digital photos being included with the information embedded electronically in the memory chips of newer electronic passports.
Because of these possibilities, stolen passports are worth a tidy sum on the black market. Indeed, shortly after U.S. passports with green covers were issued, they were found to be extremely easy to photo-sub and were soon fetching $7,000 apiece on the black market in places like Jamaica and Haiti. In fact, criminal gangs quickly began offering tourists cash or drugs in exchange for the documents, and the criminal gangs would then turn around and sell them for a profit to document vendors. The problem of U.S. citizens selling their passports also persists today.
On the flip side, many Americans are unaware of the monetary value of their passport — which is several times the $100 they paid to have it issued. They do not realize that when they carry their passport it is like toting around a wad of $100 bills. Tour guides who collect the passports of all the people in their tour group and then keep them in a bag or backpack can end up carrying around tens of thousands of dollars in identification documents — which would make a really nice haul for a petty criminal in the Third World.
But U.S. passports are not the only ones at risk of being stolen. The changes in travel documents required to enter the United States will also place a premium on passports from countries that are included in the U.S. “visa waiver” program — that is, those countries whose citizens can travel to and remain in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. There are currently 35 countries in the visa waiver program, including EU member states, Australia, Japan and a few others. The risk of theft is especially acute for those countries on the visa waiver list that issue passports that are easier to photo-sub than a U.S. passport. In some visa waiver countries, it is also cheaper and easier to obtain a genuine passport from a corrupt government official than it is in the United States.
While there are efforts currently under way to create an international database to rapidly share data about lost and stolen blank and issued passports, there is generally a time lag before lost and stolen foreign passports are entered into U.S. lookout systems. This lag provides ample time for someone to enter the United States on a photo-subbed passport, and it is not clear if retroactive searches are made once the United States is notified of a stolen passport in order to determine if that passport was used to enter the United States during the lag period. Of course, once a person is inside the United States, it is fairly easy to obtain identification documents in another identity and simply disappear.
There have also been cases of jihadist groups using the passports of militants from visa waiver countries who have died in order to move other operatives into the United States. On Sept. 1, 1992, Ahmed Ajaj and Abdul Basit (also known as Ramzi Yousef) arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport. The two men had boarded a flight in Karachi, Pakistan, using photo-subbed passports that had been acquired from deceased jihadists. Ajaj used a Swedish passport in the name Khurram Khan and Basit used a British passport in the name Mohamed Azan.
Ultimately, the WHTI will help close some significant loopholes — especially regarding the use of fraud-prone driver’s licenses and birth certificates for international travel — but the program will not end all document fraud. Document vendors will continue to shift and adjust their efforts to adapt to the WHTI and exploit other vulnerabilities in the system.
London: The Latest in a String of Al Qaeda Plots Against Airlines
Reply #379 on:
June 06, 2009, 08:40:51 AM »
**When I look at the missing Air France flight, I'm reminded of the incidents below.**
London: The Latest in a String of Al Qaeda Plots Against Airlines
By Zachary Abuza
The London plot is simply the latest in a concerted effort to target airliners, something that Al Qaeda and its affiliates know would have a crippling global impact. In statement by Osama bin Laden issued in early October 2002, he warned: “We will target the nodes of your economy.” The global aviation industry is clearly front and center in Al Qaeda’s targeting.
• In 1994-1995 Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed plotted to down 11-12 US jetliners over the Pacific in what is now known as the Bojinka Plot. Although a test run worked when a bomb aboard a jetliner detonated forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in Okinawa, the plot went awry when Ramzi Yousef and an accomplice Hakim Murad set the nitro-glycerine on fire.
• In 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed began planning a second phase of 9/11 that would target the West Coast of the United States with Jetliners from Asia. This plot was put on hold by the Al Qaeda leadership.
• 22 December 2001 Richard Reid’s plot to blow up a jetliner with a shoe bomb – a mixture of high explosives and TATP, failed.
• On 27 November 2003, English authorities recovered a similar shoe bomb from Sajid Badat, a co-conspirator of Richard Reid.
• In 2004, Philippine Police raided an Abu Sayyaf safehouse in Manila where they found a number of small bombs comprised of C4 melted down with I think kerosene and injected into toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles. Philippine intelligence officials believed these bombs were intended for use on airplanes.
• In September 2004, US officials intercepted another shoe bomb at California postal facility, sent from Southeast Asia.
By Zachary Abuza on August 10, 2006 10:36 PM
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #380 on:
June 06, 2009, 08:51:47 AM »
August 11, 2006
Echoes of Early Design to Use Chemicals to Blow Up Airliners
By RAYMOND BONNER and BENJAMIN WEISER
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Aug. 10 — The plot to blow up several airliners over the Atlantic, uncovered by British authorities, bears a striking, if not eerie, resemblance to a plot hatched 12 years ago to simultaneously blow up a dozen airliners over the Pacific.
That scheme was developed in Manila by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was starting his climb to become a top lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was a mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Philippine investigators came to believe that the Manila operation was financed by Mr. bin Laden.
Mr. Mohammed code-named the operation Bojinka, which was widely reported to have been adopted from Serbo-Croatian, meaning big bang. But Mr. Mohammed has told his C.I.A. interrogators that it was just a “nonsense word” he adopted after hearing it when he was fighting in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet Union, according to “The 9/11 Commission Report.” Mr. Mohammed was seized in Pakistan in 2003, and is now being held by the C.I.A. at an undisclosed location.
The Bojinka plot in 1995 was anything but nonsense. At an apartment in Manila, Mr. Yousef began mixing chemicals, which he planned to put into containers that would be carried on board airliners, much like the plotters in Britain are alleged to have been planning.
In those days, it would have been relatively easy to get liquid explosives past a checkpoint. Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Yousef, according to the 9/11 Commission, studied airline schedules and planned to sneak the liquid on a dozen planes headed to Seoul, South Korea, and Hong Kong and then on to the United States. The idea was that the bombs, complete with timing devices, would be left on the airliners, but that the plotters would disembark at a stop before detonating the devices.
To rehearse the operations, a practice bomb was detonated in a Manila theater late in 1994. Another bomb was concealed aboard Philippine Airlines Flight 434 from Manila to Tokyo 10 days later. The bomb exploded on the way to Tokyo, killing a passenger, but the pilot managed to land the damaged 747. American prosecutors later concluded that Mr. Yousef had taken a liquid explosive onto the plane before disembarking.
The plot, however, was foiled in early 1995 when a fire broke out in the apartment where some of the conspirators were working. Among the things found when the police investigated was Mr. Yousef’s laptop, with a file named “Bojinka.” They also found dolls with clothes containing nitrocellulose, according to the 9/11 Commission.
“When the police hit the place, they were weeks away from starting,” said Michael J. Garcia, a prosecutor in the 1996 Bojinka trial and now the United States attorney in Manhattan. “In Ramzi’s laptop there were very detailed plans,” he said, including equipment, airports, flight numbers and the timer settings.
Mr. Yousef was captured in Pakistan, turned over to the United States, convicted in New York and sentenced to life without parole.
According to investigators, Mr. Yousef’s specialty was making bombs from innocuous-looking objects that could be smuggled through airport security — a digital wristwatch modified to serve as a timer, or a plastic bottle for contact lens solution filled with liquid components for nitroglycerine.
When questioned after his arrest, Mr. Yousef refused to explain precisely how he had planned to carry out the bombings, according to testimony at his trial for the Bojinka plot.
Brian G. Parr, a Secret Service agent, testified at the trial that under questioning Mr. Yousef made clear that other terrorists were aware of the explosive technique, and he did not want to compromise their ability to carry out similar acts.
“He said that he didn’t want us to have knowledge of the techniques that they were going to use,” Mr. Parr testified, “because it may help us prevent other people from using those techniques.”
And Mr. Yousef, in his statement to Mr. Parr, made clear that he had carefully analyzed how to carry explosives through airline security.
For example, when questioned about one chemical mixture that could be used in explosives, Mr. Yousef said he would not have used it because it could have “been easily detected by airport security screening,” Mr. Parr testified.
Mr. Parr said that Mr. Yousef “specifically said that he would have used a different type of device that even the most sophisticated bomb-screening machines would not have been able to detect.”
Mary Jo White, the former United States attorney whose office successfully investigated and prosecuted Mr. Yousef in the Bojinka plot, recalled: “It was frightening. There were people wandering the globe able to do this. And that was 10 years ago.”
Mr. Mohammed has told his interrogators that after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which involved explosives loaded onto a truck that failed to bring down the building, he “needed to graduate to a more novel form of attack,” as the 9/11 report puts it. That led to Bojinka, and the first thoughts about using planes to bomb the World Trade Center.
Raymond Bonner reported from Jakarta, Indonesia, for this article, and Benjamin Weiser from New York. William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting from New York.
Our new Asst Sec. of DHS
Reply #381 on:
June 07, 2009, 11:43:09 PM »
OBAMA APPOINTMENT: Arif Alikhan, Asst Secretary DHS
Arif Alikhan, currently deputy mayor for the city of Los Angeles, was appointed as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security.
Muslim Democrats welcome Alikhan’s appointment
At a banquet/fundraiser for the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California last weekend, the first speaker was Arif Alikhan (Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles - in charge of public safety for the city). He bid farewell, as he is going to take a post as Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Arif Alikhan is a devout Sunni and the son of Pakistani immigrants (here).
....speakers included Arif Ali Khan, the former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles. He bid the attendees farewell as he prepared to leave the Los Angeles area for Washington, D. C. There he will serve as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Professor Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Task Force (AMT) spoke of the aftermath of 9/11 and the struggle of the Muslim Community against the pervasive atmosphere of Islamophobia and hatred. It was a struggle against the tide - a very strong tide - to prevent Muslims in America from being marginalized and silenced.
Professor Saeed ....issued five demands from Muslims to the Department of Justice. These demands included a cessation to the infiltration by spies of mosques and an end to the introduction of agents provocateur. In addition there was to be a cessation of attempts to undermine Muslim groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
This is where Alikhan spoke? He was comfortable with this terror talk?
Why Alikhan? DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano noted Alikhan’s “broad and impressive array of experience in national security, emergency preparedness and counterterrorism.” I am not sure what she is talking about (neither is she, I am sure.)
Arif Alikhan was appointed Deputy Mayor of LA - picked from relative obscurity.
He began his career seven years ago, when he took a job with the Department of Justice hunting down computer hackers, crooks who were selling merchandise on Ebay at rock-bottom prices. In his former position as an assistant US attorney, Alikhan consistently did his work accurately and silently, never producing any headlines. But then he suddenly became one of the most important men in Los Angeles, America's second-largest city after New York.
He took the position of Deputy Mayor in November 2006. The year that the Congress went Democrat and history and America took a disastrous turn. How does an obscure bureaucrat a and devout Muslim come to the position of Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles - in charge of public safety for the city? And now Assistant Secretary to DHS?
Un-indicted co-conspirator CAIR was thrilled at the appointment:
CAIR-LA Congratulates Calif. Muslim Appointed to DHS Post , Arif Alikhan will serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development
(LOS ANGELES, CA., 5/6/09) - The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today congratulated Arif Alikhan on his recent appointment as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
"Congratulations to Mr. Ali Khan on this well-deserved appointment," said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. "Mr. Alikhan's new position reflects his and the community's dedication to helping preserve the security of our country. The American Muslim community can be proud of him."
In the past few weeks, American Muslim leaders have been urging the Obama administration to be inclusive and to reflect the diversity of our nation as he selects the most qualified public servants to fill important positions.
Back in 2007, Alikhan was instrumental in removing the Muslim terror tracking plan in LA.
The controversial Muslim 'Mapping' Plan of the Los Angeles Police Department is now "dead on arrival" according to Chief William Bratton.
"It is over and not just put on the side," said Chief Bratton in a meeting with the Muslim leadership of Southern California on Thursday, November 15th. The meeting was moderated by Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, Arif Alikhan and attended by Deputy Chief Mike Downing.
Chief Bratton acknowledged the hurt and offense caused to Muslims and agreed to send a letter to the Muslim community announcing the official termination of the 'mapping' plan.
A major reason for the termination of the 'mapping' plan was the Muslim community's vociferous opposition and active civic engagement in making themselves heard beyond Los Angeles. Muslim organizations demonstrated a strong unity of purpose and message on the issue of 'mapping' that led to a position of strength for Muslims in the meeting. Those involved in the initial phases of this controversy were the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Muslim Advocates.
Today, the people of Los Angeles spoke and the City of Los Angeles listened to the collective voice for justice and civil rights.
asst sec of DHS 2
Reply #382 on:
June 07, 2009, 11:49:43 PM »
Obama Appoints Devout Muslim to Homeland Security Post
Our Islamic loving President Obama has appointed Arif Alikhan a devout Sunni Muslim to assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Alikhan was instrumental in taking down the LA Police Department's plan to monitor it's Muslim community.
Hat tip to Atlas Shrugs.
Arif Alikhan Moves from LA Mayor’s Office to DHS
By SUNITA SOHRABJI
Arif Alikhan, currently deputy mayor for the city of Los Angeles, was appointed Apr. 24 as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security.
Alikhan’s appointment was announced alongside David Heyman’s nomination to the post of assistant secretary for policy at the department. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano noted Heyman and Alikhan’s “broad and impressive array of experience in national security, emergency preparedness and counterterrorism.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also hailed Alikhan’s appointment at DHS. “Arif Alikhan has been instrumental in advancing my administration’s central priorities of preparing Los Angeles to respond to natural disasters and against the threat of terrorism, increasing public safety and putting 1,000 new LAPD officers on our streets,” said the mayor in a press statement.
In a telephone interview, Alikhan told India-West that he has no start date yet for his new role, as he is still looking for a home in Washington, D.C., and wrapping up at the L.A. mayor’s office. His appointment does not require Senate confirmation.
The Canadian-born Alikhan, who grew up in Southern California, said he spoke to Napolitano briefly before the appointment was made. “She said she was very happy I was coming on board,” said the 1993 Loyola law school graduate, adding that he was “very impressed” by Napolitano and her accomplishments.
First on the agenda at DHS will be learning the priorities of the department, said Alikhan, adding that he wanted the directives for his new post to come from within the administration.
Alikhan has served as L.A.’s deputy mayor of homeland security and public safety since November 2006. Of his tenure there, Alikhan said he was most proud of his gang reduction strategies, and working with the city’s fire department on issues of discrimination.
Alikhan also secured over $400 million in homeland security and public safety grants for the Los Angeles area, and helped to revamp the city’s emergency procedures. He served as a key aide to Villaraigosa during times of brush and wild fires, and during a Metrolink train crash last September, which killed more than 15 people.
Before joining Villaraigosa’s administration, Alikhan served for nine years as a senior official at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he oversaw a national computer hacking and intellectual property program. He also served as a key advisor on intellectual property and cybercrime at the U.S. Attorney’s office in both Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
In 2004, Alikhan received an award from the DOJ for “Superior Performance in a Management and Supervisory Role.” He has also received several awards from law enforcement agencies.
“We are very proud of Arif Alikhan for his appointment,” said Pankit Doshi, co-president of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California. “His uncompromising dedication to the Los Angeles community is second to none. This honor is a testament to his abilities and dedication.” “Arif has been a very good friend to SABA-SC and a role model to South Asian American lawyers throughout the country,” echoed SABA-SC co-president Paul Saghera, noting that Alikhan is a current SABA-SC member and the 2007 recipient of the SABA-SC Foundation Trailblazer Award for his contributions to the South Asian legal community.
Alikhan began his legal career as a judicial law clerk to U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew in Los Angeles. He then joined the firm of Irell and Manella, where he handled civil and white-collar criminal defense cases. He graduated cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in 1990, with a degree in social ecology and an emphasis in criminal justice, criminology and legal studies.
Parents Mir Farooq and Rafat Alikhan, originally from Hyderabad, now live in Diamond Bar, Calif., while brother Zafar Alikhan, an urban planner, lives in Denver, Colorado.
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #383 on:
June 08, 2009, 02:50:38 AM »
NYPD Intelligence issues update on Jihad at army recruiting station
June 6, 9:19 AM
A suspected "Jihadist" killed one US Army recruiter and wounded another during a morning attack in Little Rock, on Monday .
Private William Long, 23, was killed as he worked at a military recruitment center in Arkansas.
Long and another man, Private Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, were shot as they stood outside the Army-Navy recruitment center in Little Rock. Ezeagwula was wounded but survived the attack.
According to the New York City Police Department's Intelligence Division, the suspect, a black male, drove his SUV by the Army/Navy Recruitment Center located at the Ashley Area Square Shopping and opened fire on two recruiters standing outside of the military recruitment offices.
Emergency Medical Responders pronounced one of the recruiters DOA (dead on arrival), while the other recruiter was rushed to the hospital where he is in critical, but stable, condition.
Following the drive-by shooting, bloodshed and the subsequent pursuit, local police officers captured the suspect near the Interstate (I-30/I -630) highway interchange.
After taking the suspect into custody, police discovered a SKS rifle, a .22 caliber handgun, ammunition, and a "suspicious" package, according to the NYPD Intelligence Division's William O'Regan, a research specialist.
Police said that the suspect surrendered without incident and that he used language "indicating his association with "Jihad." He also indicated the possible existence of explosives.
The Little Rock police officers at the scene brought in their department's Hazmat/Bomb Squad, who retrieved the suspicious parcel for analysis.
Little Rock police reported there were no other suspects involved in the deadly attack.
According to NYPD Intelligence, military installations continue to be the target of anti-military groups and individuals. Recruiting stations, National Guard armories, and Reserve Centers have no armed guards which makes them vulnerable targets.
New York City military facilities have been targeted in the past — i.e. the March 6, 2008 bombing of the Times Square Recruiting Station.
Police identified the alleged attacker as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, an Islamic convert. He is being charged with first-degree murder as well as 15 counts of perpetrating terrorism.
Update by NYPD Intelligence Division/NYPD Shields
According to officials with the New York City Police Department, Abdulhakim Majahid Muhammad, a/k/a
Carl Leon Bledsoe, converted to Islam as a teenager.
Prior to the attack and homicide, the FBI had initiated an investigation of Muhammad following his return to the US from Yemen. According to the intelligence report -- based on the FBI report and a post-incident interview of Muhammad -- he was arrested in Yemen for carrying a false passport. Subsequently he studied "Jihad" with a Yemeni Islamic scholar.
Muhammad told interrogators that he attacked the recruiting station and Army recruiters because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
The search warrants issued for the young terrorist's apartment and SUV reportedly resulted in the following in addition to items already found in SUV:
-Compact disks with Arabic writing
Muhammad allegedly conducted Google Map searches on Jewish institutions, a Baptist church, a child care facility, a U.S. post office, and military recruiting centers in the following areas:
-Little Rock, Arkansas
-New York, New York
The NYPD issued a list of previous plots and attacks:
-May 2009, 4 converts arrested in New York for targeting Bronx Synagogues and a military aircraft
-February 2009, convert arrested for killing Philadelphia police officer
-June 2008, converts sentenced for targeting military and Jewish facilities in California
-November 2007, convert pleads guilty to conspiracy to use WMD’s against Illinois shopping mall
-February 2007, convert convicted for role in “Virginia Jihad Network”
-August 2007 convert pleads guilty in New York to conspiracy to support terrorists
The NYPD Shields report stated that there exists a "troubling trend for US security and law enforcement officials."
The report also stated that terrorists -- foreign and domestic -- continue the targeting of high-value civilian and government targets, while military installations continue to be the target of anti-military groups and individuals
Recruiting stations, National Guard armories, and Reserve Centers have no armed guards which makes them vulnerable targets. New York City military and religious facilities have been targeted in the past—i.e. the March 6, 2008 bombing of the Times Square Recruiting Station
U.S. Army National Guard Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Report,
“Update: Gunman Shoots Two at Arkansas Military Recruitment Center,”FBI and DHS Threat Alert and Advisory Message,"
National Association of Chiefs of Police Terrorism Committee
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #384 on:
June 08, 2009, 02:16:08 PM »
Professor Saeed ....issued five demands from Muslims to the Department of Justice. These demands included a cessation to the infiltration by spies of mosques and an end to the introduction of agents provocateur. In addition there was to be a cessation of attempts to undermine Muslim groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
I find this deeply distrubing, even more distrubing though is that America gave into these demands. If this is not the right place please feel free to move it but its important that we take a closer look at CAIR and see the kind of evil people we are giving in to.
CAIR was started by Hamas members and is supported by terrorist supporting individuals, groups and countries. -
CAIR has proven links to, and was founded by, Islamic Terrorists. CAIR actively supports terrorists and terrorist-supporting groups and nations.
CAIR is an organization founded by Hamas supporters which seeks to overthrow Constitutional government in the United States and replace it with an Islamist theocracy using the American Constitution as protection. -
Let there be no doubt that the Council on American-Islamic Relations is a terrorist supporting front organization that is partially funded by terrorists, and that CAIR wishes nothing more than the implementation of Sharia Law in America.
*“I swear by Allah that war is deception,”...“We are fighting our enemy with a kind heart ... Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving
while you’re walking that way. Deceive your enemy ...”
*"Politics Is A Completion Of War"
Co-Founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
President and CEO of Silicon Expert Technologies.
Former Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) Officer.
Omar Ahmad was captured on FBI surveillance tapes at Hamas meetings in the U.S.A. during 1993 explaining that the IAP could not, for political reasons, admit its support for Hamas, and then
discussing how the Hamas agenda could be cloaked and advanced. Omar Ahmad's airfare
and hotel bills for this meeting were paid for by the Holy Land Foundation
"Those who stay in America should be open to society without melting, keeping Mosques open so anyone can come and learn about Islam. If you choose to live here, you have a responsibility to deliver the message of Islam ... Islam isn't in America to be equal to
any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book
of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the
only accepted religion on Earth."
"Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide," ...
"They kill themselves for Islam."
(Ahmad Praising Suicide Bombers)
"Registering an organization is easy. I can register 100 organizations
in 100 cities in one day ..."I mean, we don't really have available
people whom we could dedicate for the work we want to hide ..."
" Politics is a completion of War "
Co-Founder and CAIR Executive Director
Former Public Relations Director for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP)
A Palestinian born in Jordan and now a U.S. citizen.
Identified participating at a 1993 Hamas meeting in the United States
"I am in support of the Hamas movement."
"We Should Not Blame The United States Alone For The 11 September 2001 Attacks"
"Our administration has the burden of proving otherwise.”
(Awad's response to muslim accusations that federal raids
were a War against Islam and Muslims)
"Address people according to their minds. When I speak with the American,
I speak with someone who doesn't know anything."
"If you love Israel, you're OK ... If that is the litmus test, no American Muslim
and no freedom-loving person is going to pass that test."
Former Employee Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP)
"CAIR does not support these groups publicly."
(Hooper comments on CAIR's record of supporting Hamas,
Hezbullah and other official terrorist groups)
"I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of
the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future...But I'm not going to
do anything violent to promote that. I'm going to do it through education."
Mousa Abu Marzook
Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) Founder
Parent organization of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Officially Designated Terrorist and Fugitive from Justice.
(IAP was found Liable for aiding and abetting Hamas in the murder of a 17-year-old American)
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it,
just as it obliterated others before it" - Hamas Charter
Senior Hamas member Marzook conspired with Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad, and others to establish what the United States government has termed “front organizations” to support and advance the interests of Hamas and radical Islam in the United States. IAP provided the
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) with employees, funding, operational
expertise, and ideological guidance.
" ... probable cause exists that Abu Marzook knew of Hamas's plan to carry out violent, murderous attacks, that he selected the leadership and supplied the money to enable the attacks to take place, and that such attacks were, therefore, a foreseeable consequence
of the conspiracy." (Judge Kevin Duffy on Marzook)
Strategic Communications Director
"CAIR is not a front for Hamas, Hezbollah, or any other foreign group,
nor has it ever been. CAIR is an independent American institution,
established by Americans ..."
"Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad have never been members of
or associated with or tied to Hamas"
CAIR Director Of Government Affairs
"Some people try to hold us responsible for the actions of people that
are associated with our organization. That’s absolutely ludicrous …
you don’t hold all of Enron responsible for what Ken Lay did."
(Former) CAIR-Florida Communications Director
"We are to the American Muslim community what the NAACP is to blacks
in America. If you attack us, you are attacking the Muslim community
and the religion of Islam in this country." (Mpls Star-Trib -10/24/06)
"Catholic priests pose more of a terrorism threat by having sex with young
altar boys than those who flew planes into the World Trade Center."
"Americans in general might be more supportive of targeted attacks on civilians,
as part of the war on terror, than U.S. Muslims"
"What has happened in Somalia, for the majority of Somalis inside
and those who are abroad, is a positive change."
Randall "Ismail" Royer
CAIR-National Civil Rights Coordinator
& Communications Specialist
Committed Terrorist Crimes while working for CAIR
Pled guilty to using and discharging a firearm during, and in relation to,
a crime of violence; and with carrying an explosive during commission
of a felony ... admitted helping four people gain entry to a terrorist
training camp in Pakistan operated by Lashkar-e-Taiba.
[United States Of America V. Randall Todd Royer (pdf)]
Founder Of CAIR-Texas
Chairman of Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
Sentenced To 65 Years In Federal Prison
Committed Terrorist Crimes while working for CAIR
Tried on 21 counts of conspiracy, money laundering and dealing
in property of a terrorist. Found guilty on all 21 counts.
[United States of America V. HLF (pdf)]
WSJ: Mudd under the bus with regret
Reply #385 on:
June 08, 2009, 04:48:43 PM »
President Obama and CIA Director Leon Panetta have been at pains to say they don't want to punish intelligence officials and agents who had a role in "enhanced interrogation" after 9/11. But tell that to Philip Mudd, who withdrew his nomination late Friday to be the intelligence chief at the Homeland Security Department under pressure from Democrats in Congress.
Mr. Mudd is a well-regarded career intelligence officer who has worked in senior positions at the FBI and CIA, including deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Mr. Obama nominated him on May 4 amid fulsome praise from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. But in a statement issued by the White House on the eve of a late spring weekend, Mr. Mudd said he was withdrawing so as not to become "a distraction to the president and his vital agenda."
The truth is that he risked being a distraction to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrats, who suddenly don't want to talk about what they knew about the interrogation techniques they once endorsed and long funded but now denounce. So Ms. Pelosi doesn't have to answer any questions about her changing claims about her CIA briefings, but a foot soldier like Mr. Mudd who did what his country asked him to do to keep the country safe is blackballed.
The White House said Mr. Obama accepted Mr. Mudd's withdrawal "with sadness and regret," but it's clear the President wasn't willing to fight for him. The message that will be heard loud and clear across the intelligence services is that you better not take any risks to keep America safe, because if you get into political trouble Mr. Obama will throw you over the side, albeit with "regret."
Hack-Jet: Losing a commercial airliner in a networked world
Reply #386 on:
June 09, 2009, 11:29:32 PM »
Hack-Jet: Losing a commercial airliner in a networked world
By Roderick Jones
When there is a catastrophic loss of an aircraft in any circumstances, there are inevitably a host of questions raised about the safety and security of the aviation operation. The loss of Air France flight 447 off the coast of Brazil with little evidence upon which to work inevitably raises the level of speculation surrounding the fate of the flight. Large-scale incidents such as this create an enormous cloud of data, which has to be investigated in order to discover the pattern of events, which led to the loss (not helped when some of it may be two miles under the ocean surface). So far French authorities have been quick to rule out terrorism it has however, emerged that a bomb hoax against an Air France flight had been made the previous week flying a different route from Argentina. This currently does not seem to be linked and no terrorist group has claimed responsibility. Much of the speculation regarding the fate of the aircraft has focused on the effects of bad weather or a glitch in the fly-by-wire system that could have caused the plane to dive uncontrollably. There is however another theory, which while currently unlikely, if true would change the global aviation security situation overnight. A Hacked-Jet.
Given the plethora of software modern jets rely on it seems reasonable to assume that these systems could be compromised by code designed to trigger catastrophic systemic events within the aircraft's navigation or other critical electronic systems. Just as aircraft have a physical presence they increasingly have a virtual footprint and this changes their vulnerability. A systemic software corruption may account for the mysterious absence of a Mayday call - the communications system may have been offline. Designing airport and aviation security to keep lethal code off civilian aircraft would in the short-term, be beyond any government civil security regime. A malicious code attack of this kind against any civilian airliner would, therefore be catastrophic not only for the airline industry but also for the wider global economy until security caught up with this new threat. The technical ability to conduct an attack of this kind remains highly specialized (for now) but the knowledge to conduct attacks in this mold would be as deadly as WMD and easier to spread through our networked world. Electronic systems on aircraft are designed for safety not security, they therefore do not account for malicious internal actions.
While this may seem the stuff of fiction in January 2008 this broad topic was discussed due to the planned arrival of the Boeing 787, which is designed to be more 'wired' --offering greater passenger connectivity. Air Safety regulations have not been designed to accommodate the idea of an attack against on-board electronic systems and the FAA proposed special conditions , which were subsequently commented upon by the Air Line Pilots Association and Airbus. There is some interesting back and forth in the proposed special conditions, which are after all only to apply to the Boeing 787. In one section, Airbus rightly pointed out that making it a safety condition that the internal design of civilian aircraft should 'prevent all inadvertent or malicious changes to [the electronic system]' would be impossible during the life cycle of the aircraft because 'security threats evolve very rapidly'.
Boeing responded to these reports in an AP article stating that there were sufficient safeguards to shut out the Internet from internal aircraft systems a conclusion the FAA broadly agreed with - Wired Magazine covered much of the ground. During the press surrounding this the security writer Bruce Schneier commented that, "The odds of this being perfect are zero. It's possible Boeing can make their connection to the Internet secure. If they do, it will be the first time in the history of mankind anyone's done that." Of course securing the airborne aircraft isn't the only concern when maintenance and diagnostic systems constantly refresh while the aircraft is on the ground. Malicious action could infect any part of this process.
While a combination of factors probably led to the tragic loss of flight AF447 the current uncertainty serves to highlight a potential game-changing aviation security scenario that no airline or government is equipped to face.
Comments on Hack-Jet:
(Note - these are thoughts on the idea of using software hacks to down commercial airliners and are not specifically directed at events surrounding the loss of AF447).
If you would like to comment on Hack-Jet go to discussion blog linked here.
From the author of Daemon Daniel Suarez:
It would seem like the height of folly not to have physical overrides in place for the pilot -- although, I realize that modern aircraft (especially designs like the B-2 bomber) require so many minute flight surface corrections every second to stay aloft, that no human could manage it. Perhaps that's what's going on with upcoming models like the 787. And I don't know about the Airbus A330.
I did think it was highly suspicious that the plane seems to have been lost above St. Peter & Paul's Rocks. By the strangest of coincidences, I had been examining that rock closely in Google Earth a few weeks ago for a scene in the sequel (which was later cut). It's basically a few huge rocks with a series of antennas and a control hut -- with nothing around it for nearly 400 miles.
Assuming the theoretical attacker didn't make the exploit time-based or GPS-coordinate-based, they might want to issue a radio 'kill' command in a locale where there would be little opportunity to retrieve the black box (concealing all trace of the attack). I wonder: do the radios on an A330 have any software signal processing capability? As for the attackers: they wouldn't need to physically go to the rocks--just compromise the scientific station's network via email or other intrusion, etc. and issue the 'kill' command from a hacked communication system. If I were an investigator, I'd be physically securing and scouring everything that had radio capabilities on those rocks. And looking closely at any record of radio signals in the area (testing suspicious patterns against a virtual A330's operating system). Buffer overrun (causing the whole system to crash?). Injecting an invalid (negative) speed value? Who knows... Perhaps the NSA's big ear has a record of any radio traffic issued around that time.
The big concern, of course, is that this is a proof-of-concept attack -- thus, the reason for concealing all traces of the compromise.
From John Robb - Global Guerrillas:
The really dangerous hacking, in most situations, is done by disgruntled/postal/financially motivated employees. With all glass cockpits, fly by wire, etc. (the Airbus is top of its class in this) it would be easy for anybody on the ground crew to crash it. No tricky mechanical sabotage.
External hacks? That is of course, trickier. One way would be to get into the diagnostic/mx computers the ground crew uses. Probably by adding a hack to a standard patch/update. Not sure if any of the updates to these computers are delivered "online."
Flight planning is likely the most "connected" system. Easier to access externally. Pilots get their plans for each flight and load them into the plane. If the route has them flying into the ground mid flight, it's possible they won't notice.
In flight hacks? Not sure that anything beyond outbound comms from the system is wireless. If so, that would be one method.
Another would be a multi-directional microwave/herf burst that fries controls. Might be possible, in a closed environment/fly by wire system to do this with relatively little power.
There has been continuous discussion of the dangers involved with fly-by-wire systems in Peter Neumann's Risk Digest since the systems were introduced in the late 1980s. The latest posting on the subject is here.
Investigator: Computer likely caused Qantas plunge
Links to Note
PodCast Analysis of flight AF447 error messages from Innovation Analysis Group [Analysis suggest all computer systems failed simultaneously]
Pilot Network online discussion
Aviation Safety Network
Photograph of Jet from spotter site
Twitter Feed for Flight AF447
By Roderick Jones on June 9, 2009 3:34 PM
Maybe not , , ,
Reply #387 on:
June 10, 2009, 08:24:44 AM »
I was intrigued enough by your previous post to share it with someone with a background in aviation far deeper than his humble reply here indicates. Here is what he said:
"Hack into an aircraft fly by wire system? Seems damn near impossible, and it would become immediately obvious to the computer system provoking an alarm and disabling of functions to maintain safety. It seems highly unlikely and very difficult for one to plant a software bomb and not have it detected. Even with my little airplane with FAA approved electronic flight controls, the self check routine takes two minutes after start up, and the number of errors the system can detect is in the hundreds.
Unlike our home computers running an operating system upon which are operated the various programs we use, control systems are their own operating systems constantly doing only the tasks they are assigned, continuously and without interruption. In that respect they are very stripped down. They also have many levels of internal checking, and if something wrong is detected, various levels of isolation and shutdown are automatically invoked.
My money is on an in flight break-up due to the strong turbulence and up and down drafts that were apparently present. The impact of turbulence may have been worsened if the pitot tube (velocity sensing instrument) problem that has been mentioned by Airbus was in play. It would make it more likely for the crew to fly at a higher than planned airspeed which worsens the impact of turbulence. These folks may have been recipients of some really bad weather luck. Occasionally, like rogue waves in the ocean, the atmosphere generates something truly ugly, of only for a moment.
Big thunderstorms break up big and little airplanes and have done for decades. The survival rate for a plane penetrating a big thunderstorm is better than 99%, but the chances of a bad outcome are still lousy compared to the risks we take elsewhere. Thunderstorms are to be avoided.
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #388 on:
June 10, 2009, 09:51:06 AM »
What of a High Energy Radio Frequency burst directed to the "fly by wire" system?
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #389 on:
June 10, 2009, 11:15:20 AM »
Terror Names Linked To Doomed Flight AF 447
3:58pm UK, Wednesday June 10, 2009
Peter Allen, in Paris
Two passengers with names linked to Islamic terrorism were on the Air France flight which crashed with the loss of 228 lives, it has emerged.
Debris from Air France flight AF 447 has been recovered from the Atlantic
French secret servicemen established the connection while working through the list of those who boarded the doomed Airbus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 31.
Flight AF 447 crashed in the mid-Atlantic en route to Paris during a violent storm.
While it is certain there were computer malfunctions, terrorism has not been ruled out.
Soon after news of the fatal crash broke, agents working for the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), the French equivalent of MI6, were dispatched to Brazil.
It was there that they established that two names on the passenger list are also on highly-classified documents listing the names of radical Muslims considered a threat to the French Republic.
A source working for the French security services told Paris weekly L'Express that the link was "highly significant".
Agents are now trying to establish dates of birth for the two dead passengers, and family connections.
There is a possibility the name similarities are simply a "macabre coincidence", the source added, but the revelation is still being "taken very seriously".
France has received numerous threats from Islamic terrorist groups in recent months, especially since French troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan.
Security chiefs have been particularly worried about airborne suicide attacks similar to the ones on the US on September 11, 2001.
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #390 on:
June 11, 2009, 12:08:19 AM »
My informed friend responds to your question:
"What of a High Energy Radio Frequency burst directed to the "fly by wire" system?"
"Electrical and Avionics systems must all test a series of “HIRF” tests: High Intensity Radio Frequency. Components are put in a sealed room and blasted with a wide range of frequencies and the whole aircraft is subjected to a system test which I believe is conducted in an empty hangar with lots of antennas pumping electromagnetic energy around. And there are also lightning tests, direct hits to boxes, and direct hits to larger subassemblies including cable assemblies. At least that was the protocol years ago. I am sure it is more thorough now. It is one reason why these things cost so much."
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #391 on:
June 11, 2009, 07:25:11 AM »
Ditto that. Had a friend designing electronics for the Aegis class destroyers. They had to "shake and bake" everything: mount it on a rack and then expose it to environmental extremes while hitting it with all sorts of odd RF. Though not as strict as military protocols, he tells me avionics deal with similar regimens.
Re: Homeland Security / hacked jet
Reply #392 on:
June 11, 2009, 12:47:23 PM »
My brother who is trained in avionics used to tell me that if I thought my cell phone would interfere with the planes navigation and control systems I shouldn't be flying. Now I check email and download dbma forums to read on my handheld right up to the last minute.
I thought airliners had replaced electrical wires with fiber optics that are far lighter, more secure and zero EMI - susceptibility to electrical interference. As I google the topic now I find that transition is not as far along as I thought:
BHO's Defense Budget Cuts
Reply #393 on:
June 15, 2009, 03:40:48 PM »
June 15, 2009
Obama's 2010 Defense Budget: Top Five Worst Choices for National Security
by Jim Talent and Mackenzie Eaglen
President Obama has submitted a defense budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2010 that, if implemented, will dramatically reshape America’s military.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates often says this budget shifts about 10 percent of funds to irregular warfare. That is a deceptive description: While the budget does shift funding, the far more important truth is that it cuts programs.
In the short term, the 2010 defense budget—if enacted—signals the beginning of yet another procurement holiday for the military. Over the longer term, the Obama budget blueprint actually cuts topline defense spending in real terms.
If Congress ultimately gives the Administration what it wants, America’s armed forces will lose capabilities that its leaders and citizens have come to take for granted. Those capabilities include, but are hardly limited to:
Control of the seas;
Projecting power to distant regions; and
Information dominance throughout cyberspace.
And this decreased capability will happen in the absence of any careful reevaluation of America’s global mission. The Obama Administration, by its own admission, is recommending fundamental changes for the U.S. military without having conducted a strategic review of defense or foreign policy.
1. Scaling Back Missile Defense
President Obama’s 2010 defense budget proposes cutting $1.4 billion from the Missile Defense Agency’s budget. These cuts include scaling back the Airborne Laser boost-phase program, terminating the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor, canceling the expansion of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, and delaying funding for interceptor and radar sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.
It is one thing to carefully oversee the operational capability and technical feasibility of specific ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs; it is an entirely different endeavor to substantially cut the overall missile defense budget when the risk of a ballistic missile launch is palpably growing. North Korea is aggressively testing missiles and weapons, Iran is moving closer to acquiring nuclear capability, and insurgents and terrorists are fighting for control of Pakistan and its substantial nuclear arsenal. A multi-layered missile defense system is the only protection the world has against these growing threats.
The ideological opposition by many to missile defense dates back to the Cold War, when the left believed missile defense would destabilize America’s relationship with the Soviet Union. That position was at least understandable, albeit misguided. But the Cold War has been over for nearly 20 years, and missile defense today is a clear tool for peace. In fact, it may be the only stabilizing tool available to prevent a global nuclear arms race. As the ballistic missile programs of North Korea and Iran continue to mature, America must invest in a comprehensive, multi-layered missile defense system to stay ahead of the technology curve—instead of deemphasizing and restructuring the program for a more a constrained vision of what the future may hold.
2. Ending F-22 Production at 186 Fighters
Over a decade ago, the U.S. Air Force made a decision to build two complementary fifth-generation fighter aircraft to work together and harmonize one another’s capabilities. The F-22A Raptor, with its advanced super-cruise and thrust-vectoring technologies, would provide air dominance, while the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) would be optimized for ground attacks.
The F-35, a single-engine attack aircraft, was not designed to fulfill certain core missions of the more advanced F-22. Just like shoes need shoelaces, to be an effective conventional deterrent in a 21st-century environment—at least until approximately 2040—the Air Force must have the proper mix of both platforms. Senior Air Force leadership argued through numerous budget cycles over many years that a fleet of 381 F-22s is the minimum requirement for such a mix.
Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz recently said that 243 F-22s would place the U.S. Air Force at moderate risk during future conflicts, while 183 F-22s would result in “moderate to high” risk. Despite the advice of Air Force leadership, however, Obama is prepared to end production of the F-22 at just 186 aircraft (which is only about 127 combat-ready planes as some fighters will be used for training and testing) while continuing with the planned build of 2,443 F-35s.
This reduced fleet size—in addition to ensuring that the service life of operational F-22s will expire much more quickly than was originally anticipated—is wholly insufficient to ensure that America’s Air Force can maintain an effective conventional deterrent force in the decades ahead. Indeed, the Chinese and Russians are continuing to acquire large numbers of new generation fighter aircraft. Without adequate numbers of F-22s, the U.S. will lose the ability to achieve air dominance in places like the Middle East and the straits of Taiwan. Considering the implications for the next three decades of American security, no less than a moderate-risk fleet of 243 F-22s should be acceptable to the U.S. Congress and the American public.
3. Ending C-17 Cargo Aircraft Production
Even though the C-17 was singled out by President Obama during his campaign as a priority for ensuring America can “preserve global reach in the air,” his Administration is now prepared to end production of this aircraft at 205 frames. The C-17, which can carry 169,000 pounds of equipment, including the Abrams tank and Apache helicopter, is also ideal for operating from austere airfields, including dirt runways.
Secretary Gates has repeatedly emphasized that he wants a force capable of fighting counterinsurgency operations. If that is indeed the case, then ending the C-17 line makes no sense. Given the danger of rockets, improvised explosive devices, and guerrilla attacks on truck convoys overseas, the C-17 has become the preferred means for moving men and materiel in theaters like Afghanistan.
Also, with Army and Marine endstrength still growing, there is little chance for a decline in operational tempo in the years ahead. Given the cost to restart the C-17 line after shutting it down (estimated at $5.7 billion), now is the wrong time to end the production of this core capability platform.
Yet even more disturbing is the repeated trend of the Administration making this sweeping recommendation to Congress in the absence of any analytical justification or security rationale.
4. Delaying Army Modernization
The Obama Administration wants to cancel the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, despite the fact that it is the only program through which the Army was going to replace most of its tracked vehicles—many of which date back to the 1970s. Further, the label “future” is misleading, because the Army has already put technologies and capabilities from the program into the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
This decision is also troubling because the Army must update its medium-weight forces now. As a result of the procurement holiday of the 1990s, the Army has essentially missed an entire generation of modernization. Over the past two decades, Army leaders phased out the Sheridan—the service’s only light tank capable of rapid deployment—and canceled its replacement, the Armored Gun System. Budget constraints halted research and development of other advanced armor vehicles, including the Future Scout and Cavalry System, the replacement for the Humvee and the Bradley. The consequences of the 1990s defense drawdown first became apparent in Kosovo when the Army struggled to deploy quickly from Germany and later when Turkey denied use of its territory for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Meanwhile, major combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are wearing down the Army’s fleet of heavy vehicles. The Army estimates that the operational tempo of Abrams and Bradleys in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased fivefold and sixfold, respectively. Coupled with harsh environmental conditions, each year of deployment equals about five years of normal wear and tear.
Canceling the FCS means that the Army will have no modern, medium-weight forces that are useful in a variety of conflicts ranging from peacekeeping and counterinsurgency operations to full-scale conventional combat. FCS is designed to give the Army a capability that it has today only in a high-demand interim replacement vehicle known as the Stryker. Delaying what has already been delayed for 20 years is a disservice to those in uniform.
5. Delaying the Navy’s CG(X) Cruiser Program
President Obama has proposed postponing the Navy’s next-generation cruiser, known as the CG(X), in order to revisit both the requirements and acquisition strategy. The CG(X) should be the Navy’s highest acquisition priority. China and Russia have acquired large numbers of carrier-killer and other missiles against which the U.S. Navy currently has no effective defense.
Delaying the procurement of CG(X) beyond the middle of the next decade will leave the fleet and U.S. forward bases unnecessarily vulnerable while compromising America’s conventional deterrence. Even with the service-life extensions for the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, the retirement age for the remaining 15 cruisers will fall between 2026 and 2034. With just 15 cruisers at sea in 2025 that were originally built in the 1980s, Navy leaders will be forced to operate under unacceptable risk levels.
Choosing not to build an advanced radar and instead improving the CG(X) radar system incrementally may offer the best course for Navy leadership to move ahead with the program now by reducing near-term technical risks associated with the program.
Defense Is Not a Zero Sum Game
The Obama Administration may be cutting defense because the President believes in negotiation and conciliation, and he may think that those tactics are inconsistent with military power. If so, he is making a strategic mistake that will eventually overwhelm his foreign policy.
The tools of diplomacy and soft power require an atmosphere of security within which they can operate—an environment only American strength can provide. If Members of Congress really want the President to succeed, they will step back, reexamine Vietnam-era assumptions about the American military, and ask themselves whether they really want American power to continue to decline. Walking softly in foreign policy is not a new idea nor a bad idea; however, it works only if you also carry a big stick.
The Honorable Jim Talent is Distinguished Fellow in Military Affairs at The Heritage Foundation and served as a U.S. Senator from 2002 to 2007. Mackenzie M. Eaglen is Senior Policy Analyst for National Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.
Border incident in Region V
Reply #394 on:
June 15, 2009, 03:46:04 PM »
Border Incident Yesterday in Region V
From One Of My Sources. IMHO, running away solves nothing
Subject: Border Incident Yesterday in Region V
This is a short recap about the incident yesterday in Region V during which two of our employees (Mark F******* and Matt W******) along with a Pima County employee (Joe ********) came under gun fire from what appeared to be drug traffickers from south of the border.
About mid afternoon our people were on three quads in the Tumacacori Mountains doing recon for an access project with Pima County south of Bear Grass Tank about four miles due east of Arivaca Lake. In a small canyon area through which the road they were on traversed they came upon at close quarters and surprised a group of hispanic males (at least 4) dressed in camo who were in the immediate vicinity and probably using water jugs left by the “No More Deaths” organization (this organization has recently been successfully prosecuted for their water jug distribution activities under the littering laws on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge; and now their activities have directly put our people at risk as well).
Upon the initial sighting of the first two camo clad persons who immediately fled a short distance up a hill from the area dropping down into the grass our people backed out of the immediate vicinity and regrouped. After a few minutes Mark F******* crept up to small rise about 30 yards from the road to look over the scene with his binoculars; he observed another 2 hispanic males also in camo in the area but over in a different direction from the first two. At that point Mark started back down to the quads and a shot was heard coming from the direction where the first two suspects had fled.
The bullet impacted the ground within ten feet or so behind Mark. At that point, with two of the quads with drivers and already pointed in the necessary exit direction, Mark ran and jumped on the back of the quad with Joe as the driver; Matt was on the other quad. Both quads with our three people quickly and immediately departed the area heading back to high ground closer to Arivaca to make contact with radio.
Once in contact with dispatch, we called in Border Patrol, Pima County SO and DPS Ranger to the area to join up with our people and take care of the situation. Within 30 to 45 minutes approximately 15 – 20 BP, 15 – 20 SO, and three helicopters were in the area to handle and investigate the situation. Subsequently, and unfortunately, the suspects were able to evade the search party, however SO as the lead for the investigation, did recover several fresh shot 9mm casings from the area where the initial shot likely came from, indicating that subsequent shots may have been fired at our people as they were getting out of the area. The third quad was recovered and had not been touched by the suspects.
I am glad to say that Mark, Matt and Joe made all of the right decisions and moves when things went bad, and most importantly, they ended the day safe and sound. We will study and learn from this matter with the objective of continuing to keep our people safe along the treacherous border area. Please distribute this information as you see fit so as to quell any misinformation, and should you have any questions please give me a call. Thank you.
Leonard L. Ordway
Region V Supervisor
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Region V Office
555 N. Greasewood Road
Tucson, AZ 85745
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #395 on:
June 23, 2009, 11:53:36 AM »
By SIOBHAN GORMAN
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration plans to kill a controversial Bush administration spy satellite program at the Department of Homeland Security, according to officials familiar with the decision.
The program came under fire from its inception two years ago. Democratic lawmakers said it would lead to domestic spying.
Police Chiefs' Letter to Napolitano The program would have provided federal, state and local officials with extensive access to spy-satellite imagery — but no eavesdropping capabilities— to assist with emergency response and other domestic-security needs, such as identifying where ports or border areas are vulnerable to terrorism.
It would have expanded an Interior Department satellite program, which will continue to be used to assist in natural disasters and for other limited security purposes such as photographing sporting events. The Wall Street Journal first revealed the plans to establish the program, known as the National Applications Office, in 2007.
"It's being shut down," said a homeland security official.
The Bush administration had taken preliminary steps to launch the office, such as acquiring office space and beginning to hire staff.
The plans to shutter the office signal Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's decision to refocus the department's intelligence on ensuring that state and local officials get the threat information they need, the official said. She also wants to make the department the central point in the government for receiving and analyzing terrorism tips from around the country, the official added.
Lawmakers alerted Ms. Napolitano of their concerns about the program-that the program would violate the Fourth amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches-before her confirmation hearing.
Once she assumed her post, Ms. Napolitano ordered a review of the program and concluded the program wasn't worth pursuing, the homeland official said. Department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa declined to speak about the results of the review but said they would be announced shortly.
The lawmakers were most concerned about plans to provide satellite imagery to state and local law enforcement, so department officials asked state and local officials how useful that information would be to them. The answer: not very useful.
"In our view, the NAO is not an issue of urgency," Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, wrote to Ms. Napolitano on June 21.
Writing on behalf of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Chief Bratton said that were the program to go forward, the police chiefs would be concerned about privacy protections and whether using military satellites for domestic purposes would violate the Posse Comitatus law, which bars the use of the military for law enforcement in the U.S.
Rep. Jane Harman (D., Calif.), who oversees the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence, said she was alarmed when she recently saw that the Obama administration requested money for the program in a classified 2010 budget proposal. She introduced two bills that would terminate the program.
"It's a good decision," Ms. Harman said in an interview. "This will remove a distraction and let the intelligence function at [the department] truly serve the community that needs it, which is local law enforcement."
Supporters of the program lamented what they said was the loss of an important new terrorism-fighting tool for natural disasters and terrorist attacks, as well as border security.
"After numerous congressional briefings on the importance of the NAO and its solid legal footing, politics beat out good government," said Andrew Levy, who was deputy general counsel at the department in the Bush administration.
The "No Rights" List
Reply #396 on:
June 23, 2009, 04:33:48 PM »
The No-Rights List
Posted by David Rittgers
A media drumbeat is steadily building to keep those on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying firearms. A month ago, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced a bill to bar them from purchasing a gun even if they had no legally disqualifying criminal conviction. Now Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced his own legislation to achieve the same goal.
This is arbitrary government at its best. The “no-fly” list used to prevent suspected terrorists from boarding aircraft has tagged Nelson Mandela, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a retired general, a Marine reservist returning from Iraq, the President of Bolivia and dead 9/11 hijackers, a former federal prosecutor, and over twenty men named John Thompson as threats to our national security. The list now contains over 1 million names. This prompted calls for probes into the watch list, and the ACLU filed suit to challenge the list.
The push to prevent firearms purchases by persons on this list is nothing new. Here is White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel saying in 2007 that, “if you’re on that no-fly list, your access to the right to bear arms is cancelled, because you’re not part of the American family; you don’t deserve that right. There is no right for you if you’re on that terrorist list.”
If the government can take an enumerated liberty away from selected citizens by placing them on a “no-rights” list without due process, the rule of law is dead.
Rogue Militia killings
Reply #397 on:
June 27, 2009, 02:46:38 PM »
Its the NYT, so caveat lector. That said, troubling questions are raised:
ARIVACA, Ariz. — “Somebody just came in and shot my daughter and my husband!” the woman shouted to the 911 dispatcher. “They’re coming back in! They’re coming back in!”
Arivaca finds itself a town both terrified and angered.
Multiple gunshots are then heard on a tape of the call.
The woman, Gina Gonzalez, survived the attack after arming herself with her husband’s handgun, but both he and their 10-year-old daughter died.
The killings, last month, have terrified this small town near the Mexican border, in part because the authorities have now tied them to what they describe as a rogue group engaged in citizen border patrols.
The three people arrested in the crime include the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a Washington State-based offshoot of the Minutemen movement, in which citizens roam the border looking for people crossing into the country illegally. Former members describe the group’s leader, Shawna Forde, 41, as having anti-immigrant sentiments that are extreme, at times frightening, even to people accustomed to hard-line views on border policing.
The authorities say that the three suspects were after money and drugs that they intended to use to finance vigilantism, and that members of the group may have been involved in at least one other home invasion, in California.
“There was an anticipation that there would be a considerable amount of cash at this location,” said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, since, he said, Ms. Gonzalez’s husband, Raul J. Flores, had previously been involved in narcotics trafficking, an assertion the family denies.
A Pima County public defender representing Ms. Forde had no comment on the case. Nor did lawyers for the other suspects, Jason E. Bush, 34, and Albert R. Gaxiola, 42. All three remain in custody, charged with first-degree murder, assault and burglary.
Merrill Metzger, who worked for the group for six months just as it was getting started in 2007, said Ms. Forde had often traveled from Washington to Arizona with weapons. In March, while stopping over at his home in Redding, Calif., she presented a plan for the group to undertake, Mr. Metzger, her half-brother, said in a telephone interview.
“She was sitting here talking about how she was going to start an underground militia and rob drug dealers,” he said.
Mr. Metzger quit the group, alarmed, he said, by a number of things, including Ms. Forde’s demand for extreme loyalty, right down to the choice of cuisine.
“I had to take an oath, and part of the oath was that I couldn’t eat Mexican food,” he said. “That’s when red flags went up all over for me. That seemed like prejudice.”
Another former member, Chuck Stonex, a retired independent contractor, said Ms. Forde had talked about buying a ranch near Arivaca and building a compound. He said that in October, he took an excursion with her into the desert north of here, where, wearing camouflage and carrying handguns and rifles, they searched for illegal immigrants.
“It’s just like hunting,” Mr. Stonex said, describing the tracking skills the group used. “If you’re going out hunting deer, you want to scout around and get an idea what their pattern is, what trails they use.”
Mr. Stonex said he treated one of the suspects, Mr. Bush, for a flesh wound the day of the attack on Ms. Gonzalez’s family. Ms. Gonzalez had presumably shot Mr. Bush in warding off the attackers, but, Mr. Stonex said, the wound did not raise his suspicions, because, he said, Ms. Forde offered what seemed a plausible explanation: “They’d been jumped by border bandits.”
“They were very relaxed, having casual, normal chitchat,” he recalled.
Small numbers of Americans have always viewed border patrolling as a patriotic duty, but the most recent incarnation — the Minutemen movement, which takes its name from citizen militias formed during the Revolutionary War — gained steam in 2005, when hundreds of volunteers flocked to border locations.
Page 2 of 2)
Their patrols initially drew praise from some political leaders, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, but also raised concerns that the activities were thin veils for racism and xenophobia. Over time, the movement has also suffered from infighting, with some groups, like Ms. Forde’s, advocating increasingly confrontational tactics while others have simply monitored the border and reported illegal crossings to the authorities.
Shawna Forde, 41, a suspect, in an undated photograph.
Gilbert Mungaray, 80, says he “can’t imagine why” his grandson and great-granddaughter were killed.
Since the killings here, members of some better-known groups involved with the movement have scrambled to disassociate themselves from Minutemen American Defense. Others had begun doing so well beforehand. The 750-member San Diego Minutemen, for instance, started warning people on its Web site in January to avoid Ms. Forde.
According to Ms. Gonzalez’s 911 call, the killers arrived shortly after midnight on May 30, dressed in uniforms resembling those of law enforcement personnel. They told the family that they were looking for a fugitive. Actually, the authorities say, the three suspects believed that Ms. Gonzalez’s husband, Mr. Flores, 29, was holding both drugs and money at their remote home.
Sheriff Dupnik has said there is ample drug activity between here and the border. The suggestion has angered the residents of Arivaca, a town of retirees, artists and working people about 50 miles south of Tucson. “This is a good town,” said Fern Loveall, 76. “It’s a good place to live, and it’s a good place to raise kids. What they’re saying about it isn’t true.”
Members of Mr. Flores’s family also denied that he had had any connection to the drug trade.
“He was a good guy,” said Gilbert Mungaray, his 80-year-old grandfather. “I know what happened, but I can’t imagine why.”
The family’s house was silent this week. An American flag hung on the porch, and three pink roses adorned the front door. Down a dirt road, at the local community center, a picture of Brisenia, the slain daughter of Mr. Flores and Ms. Gonzalez, had been placed in a frame with a small black ribbon affixed to it.
For the regulars at La Gitana Cantina, a friendly establishment with a mixed clientele of Anglos and Mexican-Americans, emotions have ranged from abject sorrow to rage.
“I’ve had people come into the bar and just put their heads in their hands, and all the sudden they’ve got tears pouring down their face,” said Karen Lippert, a bartender. She added that while Mr. Gaxiola was a local, the two other suspects were not.
“This is not us guys,” she said. “It’s the not the way us guys operate.”
Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
Reply #398 on:
July 07, 2009, 01:19:25 PM »
U.S. warns of multiple al-Qaida plots
July 7, 2009 - 7:15am
Intelligence suggests al Qaida operatives are planning to plant multiple explosive devices in several locations. (AP File Photo) J.J. Green, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Last week, German authorities discovered that groups of terrorists may have been dispatched from training bases in Pakistan to launch crippling attacks.
In April, U.S. intelligence officials warned Germany about possible terror attacks. Since that time German security officials have reportedly been preparing for massive, multi-layered attacks for which al-Qaida has become known.
Shortly after the April warning, German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth said in an unrelated interview, "You will understand that I can't go into the details of the terrorist threat, but I can only tell you that we all know that we have to be vigilant and that we have to continue to work very hard on that, but I do not want to go into details."
Intelligence suggests al-Qaida operatives are planning to plant multiple explosive devices in several locations and detonate them either in a simultaneous or sequential fashion.
U.S. and German intelligence sources say that strategy is designed to emulate the ones employed Bali in 2002 and Madrid in 2004. The idea is to draw in first responders to the scene after the first explosion, and then the subsequent explosions are set off in the same location to inflict maximum casualties.
A U.S. intelligence source with knowledge about the situation says "it is a credible threat, which also includes Germans in North Africa."
They say as a minimum of 12 al-Qaida operatives who were trained in the tribal region of Pakistan have left the training camps and are headed back to their home countries. Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Egypt are just some of those countries.
According to the source, the threat levels also were raised for many other Western European countries to include concerns for "Turkish Airlines flying passengers from Istanbul to the U.S., the UK and Israel."
The source says "passengers traveling out-bound from Istanbul to those locations on July Fourth were segregated, screened multiple times, including their bags and told there were concerns for Turkish Airlines flights to these locations."
Another source headed to Chicago from Istanbul said they were told that there was a specific threat against Turkish Airlines flights headed to those places.
In the U.S., Turkish Airlines flies to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Tampa and Chicago.
U.S. Intelligence and German media sources indicate the warning came from the U.S. government, but the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had arrived at the same conclusion after picking up chatter that al-Qaida is planning an attack during the run-up to the Bundestag election to try to force Germany to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Scharioth is well aware of why Germany is a target.
"We are the third biggest troop contributor in Afghanistan, and we are also the fourth biggest contributor of civilian efforts, training and reconstruction and also trying to help the country to redo the education system, give more girls a chance to get an education and all those things - that's one thing," Scharioth says.
The operatives are thought to be skilled in obtaining, assembling and the detonation of explosives that could damage large buildings, disable transit systems and create mass casualties.
This alleged plot is only a part of what concerns Scharioth. A number of rogue nations may be on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons and opening the door to al-Qaida to get ahold of them.
"We have to address the problem of nuclear proliferation because we would be very concerned, if say in 15-20 years, you have 20 nuclear weapon countries and of course the more nuclear weapon countries you have, the greater the risk and you also have to protect those nuclear weapons [so they don't fall into the wrong hands]," Scharioth says.
Scharioth says he's grateful that the U.S. and Germany are allies. He praises the cooperative effort given the alternative.
"We believe that the Cold War was dangerous enough. We were very close to a very, very bad situation and everybody who was bearing responsibility can tell you just how close we came," Scharioth says.
The German government is reportedly concerned enough about this new threat that it is contemplating changes to its emergency response measures
Foreign troops to be in US DHS terrorism prevention exercise
Reply #399 on:
July 08, 2009, 02:48:28 AM »
National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09)
National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09) is scheduled for July 27 through July 31, 2009. NLE 09 will be the first major exercise conducted by the United States government that will focus exclusively on terrorism prevention and protection, as opposed to incident response and recovery.
NLE 09 is designated as a Tier I National Level Exercise. Tier I exercises (formerly known as the Top Officials exercise series or TOPOFF) are conducted annually in accordance with the National Exercise Program (NEP), which serves as the nation's overarching exercise program for planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating national level exercises. The NEP was established to provide the U.S. government, at all levels, exercise opportunities to prepare for catastrophic crises ranging from terrorism to natural disasters.
NLE 09 is a White House directed, Congressionally- mandated exercise that includes the participation of all appropriate federal department and agency senior officials, their deputies, staff and key operational elements. In addition, broad regional participation of state, tribal, local, and private sector is anticipated. This year the United States welcomes the participation of Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom in NLE 09.
NLE 09 will focus on intelligence and information sharing among intelligence and law enforcement communities, and between international, federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector participants.
The NLE 09 scenario will begin in the aftermath of a notional terrorist event outside of the United States, and exercise play will center on preventing subsequent efforts by the terrorists to enter the United States and carry out additional attacks. This scenario enables participating senior officials to focus on issues related to preventing terrorist events domestically and protecting U.S. critical infrastructure.
NLE 09 will allow terrorism prevention efforts to proceed to a logical end (successful or not), with no requirement for response or recovery activities.
NLE 09 will be an operations-based exercise to include: activities taking place at command posts, emergency operation centers, intelligence centers and potential field locations to include federal headquarters facilities in the Washington D.C. area, and in federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector facilities in FEMA Region VI, which includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Through a comprehensive evaluation process, the exercise will assess prevention and protection capabilities both nationally and regionally. Although NLE 09 is still in the planning stages, the exercise is currently designed to validate the following capabilities:
Intelligence/Information Sharing and Dissemination
Counter-Terrorism Investigation and Law Enforcement
Air, Border and Maritime Security
Critical Infrastructure Protection
Public and Private Sector Alert/Notification and Security Advisories
VALIDATING THE HOMELAND SECURITY SYSTEM
Exercises such as NLE 09 are an important component of national preparedness, helping to build an integrated federal, state, tribal, local and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks, and rapidly and effectively respond to, and recover from, any terrorist attack or major disaster that occurs.
The full-scale exercise offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to test their plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and to gain the in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide. Participants will exercise prevention and information sharing functions that are critical to preventing terrorist attacks. Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide future planning for securing the nation against terrorist attacks, disasters, and other emergencies.
For more information about NLE 09, contact the FEMA News Desk: 202-646-4600.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters.
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