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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #50 on: November 26, 2004, 12:54:20 PM »

From today's Left Angeles Times:
=========================

Ports Called 'Enormous Target'
 About 12,000 containers arrive daily in L.A. On average, 43 of them are inspected by hand under the 'layered' system of Homeland Security.

By Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer


Two miles out from the nation's busiest seaport, Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Ryan gives the order to board a giant container ship bound for Los Angeles.

The Sealand Intrepid, Singapore-registered and longer than three football fields, is carrying a load of general cargo. But its last stop was Panama, a hot spot for stowaways.

     
 
 
   
     
 
One by one in choppy seas, Ryan's four-man Coast Guard crew climbs a 20-foot rope ladder and a 20-foot gangway to board the vessel. Wearing bulletproof vests and armed with 9-millimeter pistols, two sea marshals comb the ship and two head for the bridge to secure the vessel.

On average, this scene is repeated six times a day, seven days a week at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle 45% of the nation's container cargo. Sea marshals board container vessels, oil tankers, cruise ships, even commuter boats as part of a nationwide Coast Guard program launched after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

For all the concern about safety at the nation's airports, counterterrorism officials and other experts say the nation's ports may now present an even greater threat. Since Sept. 11, they have received far less security funding than airports, yet they continue to process far more cargo ? more than 9.5 million containers a year.

During this fall's presidential campaign, Democrat Sen. John F. Kerry repeatedly warned about the safety of the nation's ports, telling voters that only 5% of all incoming cargo was inspected.

Homeland Security officials denied Kerry's charge. They said they screen 100% of containers as part of a new "layered" system of defense that begins overseas, where foreign shippers must provide full cargo and crew manifests 24 hours before loading any ship bound for the U.S.

But after these manifests are examined, mountains of shipping intelligence are sifted and ships are tracked as they cross oceans, only about 6% of the containers arriving at U.S. ports are classified as high risk and examined using X-ray machines, officials said. Locally, about 6% of the containers scanned by X-ray are further inspected by hand.

With about 12,000 containers a day arriving at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, this means officials scan about 720 containers and inspect roughly 43 by hand daily.

"Even though there were manifests, some of us got the sense we really didn't know what was coming and going," said Dale Watson, former FBI head of counterterrorism and now an executive at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. "It was a huge problem."

Randy Parsons, the FBI's chief counterterrorism official in Los Angeles and six surrounding counties, echoed Watson's concern. "If you look at where we are today, there has been notable improvement in terms of security at the ports," he said. "But it is just such an enormous target in terms of the volume of cargo and the numbers of employees and the crews and the ships moving in from foreign lands."

Another veteran counterterrorism agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity was blunter. "If I was Al Qaeda and I was looking for a hit, that is exactly where I would look," the agent said.

In a 2002 war game that involved top federal policymakers, Booz Allen presented the following scenario:

A huge shipping container passes through security at the Port of Los Angeles before it falls off a truck and inspectors discover a hidden radiological bomb.

Word quickly arrives that the Port of Savannah has arrested three men on an FBI watch list. One of the men, linked to Al Qaeda, tells authorities he is among several teams of terrorists targeting U.S. ports.

Quickly, authorities shut down all the nation's ports and border crossings. Then another dirty bomb is discovered, this one near Minneapolis.

Gas prices skyrocket because fuel ships cannot unload. The Dow drops 500 points. After 12 days, U.S. ports reopen, but the total cost to the U.S. economy is $58 billion.

It may sound alarmist. But at a hearing in Washington early this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called America's ports "the soft underbelly of our nation's security." Her biggest concern? Terrorists attacking a port with a dirty bomb.

Complex Challenges

In his Terminal Island office, Coast Guard Capt. Peter V. Neffenger is staring at an aerial photo of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, gateway for nearly half of the containerized goods that enter the U.S.

He is the man ultimately responsible for safeguarding the world's third-busiest port complex and authorized, under federal law, to shut down the harbor, if needed, to protect it.

No port complex poses more challenges than this one. There are plenty of entry points. There is easy access to the port by sea and land. And its terminals are clustered together.

Alone, the Long Beach or Los Angeles ports would be the largest in the U.S. Together, they handle more than 1 million cruise passengers and $200 billion in trade annually, including half the petroleum products used in the Western U.S.

"It could make you go batty when you talk about security here," said Neffenger, who has a degree from the Naval War College in national security and strategic studies.

"It's not impossible. But it is daunting."

Before Sept. 11, fewer than 2% of the Coast's Guard vessels and crews were assigned to port security in the U.S. When crews boarded ships, it was almost always to inspect their seaworthiness, not for national security. Today, Neffenger said, there is no greater priority.

Long before ships are allowed to unload cargo, Neffenger's crews of sea marshals weigh such factors as a vessel's home port, cargo, last stop and crew to select which ships will be boarded for inspections.

The vast majority of incoming cargo is considered secure because huge corporations and international shippers have instituted their own safety checks and inspections.

The government estimates that about 40% of cargo heading for the U.S. is shipped by about 7,000 businesses worldwide that are cooperating with U.S. authorities to improve defenses against terrorists.

That leaves Homeland Security officials concentrating on the pieces of the supply chain that would be easiest for extremists to exploit.

Out at sea, Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan's crew boards ship after ship. "We don't have high-interest vessels come in every day, but we will board ships every day," said Ryan, 34.

A sturdy ex-Marine who served in Desert Storm, Ryan joined the Coast Guard seven years ago. After the Sept. 11 attacks, everything changed.

"On Sept. 10, we were running search and rescue missions," he said. "On Sept. 11, we started security patrols. It's amazing how fast everyone could change jobs and change directions."

High-Risk Cargo

On land, at just one terminal in the Port of Long Beach, 132 containers are lined up in rows like giant pieces of luggage, waiting to be scanned.

This is the high-risk cargo identified by officials from the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection agency.

Their search begins 24 hours before any U.S.-bound ships are loaded in foreign ports, when Customs and Border Protection agents receive electronic copies of each ship's cargo manifest.

The information is sent to the department's National Targeting Center in northern Virginia, established after the Sept. 11 attacks. There, experts in customs, immigration and agriculture compare the manifests against terrorism intelligence, law enforcement files and data on commercial shipments to the U.S. during the last 20 years.

"The risk assessment begins with every container, the crew, the vessel, the carrier," said Vera Adams, port director for the Customs and Border Protection agency. "The myth is that there is greater value in [inspecting] greater numbers of containers. But why would we waste time and resources looking at things if we have determined they are low risk" for terrorism?

The information collected by the National Targeting Center is transmitted to Homeland Security officers so they can, if warranted, inspect the contents of containers bound for the U.S.

En route, authorities said, ships are monitored by Homeland Security so they can be intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard far from land, if anomalies have been detected in the crew, cargo or itinerary.

When ships arrive, the high-risk containers are sent for screening before they are allowed to leave the ports.

At the Long Beach terminal, inspectors move their truck, containing a giant X-ray machine, alongside each of the 132 containers and bombard it with gamma rays, looking for anything unusual. The dark image of a dense material like steel, for example, would raise concern if the container were supposed to be carrying carpets.

If agents cannot tell what exactly is inside a container, it is driven to a Homeland Security warehouse and opened.

"When in doubt, when we can't figure it out, we send it to the warehouse," Adams said.

At one warehouse in Carson, inspectors scour the contents of each container flagged during scanning. Using dogs that can detect explosives, drugs and other contraband, inspectors comb through vast scatterings of goods, some of which are taken in crates to another X-ray machine.

"The advantage we have here is time," said inspection supervisor Rolando Knight.

From Los Angeles to Washington, many analysts and officials view port security as a race against time. But leaders of the Department of Homeland Security say they are moving as fast as they can to protect the ports without bringing them to a standstill.

"People ask me, 'What keeps you up at night?' " Capt. Neffenger said. "Well, it isn't that something might happen here. After 23 years with the Coast Guard, I know you can't prevent everything. It's worrying that we didn't do enough to catch it. And that we weren't fully able to respond."


If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #51 on: December 01, 2004, 12:51:32 PM »

NEW YORK:  Passenger Arrested for Artfully Concealed
     Prohibited Item.  According to BTS reporting, on 30 November, at JFK
     International Airport, TSA screeners detected a "Leatherman" tool
     artfully concealed in a quart jar of hair gel in a passenger's
     carry-on bag during x-ray screening.  LEOs arrested the named U.S.
     passenger on the state charge of criminal possession of a weapon in
     the 4th degree.  (BTS Daily Operations Report, 1 Dec 04; HSOC 4583-04)
===============

FWIW Stratfor.com on Ridge's resignation.  FWIW I would be less kind.
===


Geopolitical Diary: Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2004

Tom Ridge resigned Tuesday as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. According to reports, Ridge had serious financial problems that he could not manage on a government salary, even a Cabinet-level salary. We tend to believe that reason. Ridge did not do either badly or well at homeland security. He presided over it, which is about all anyone could do with the hill of spare parts and broken pieces that were dragged together at the beginning of the war. It is not a Rube Goldberg machine, since that would imply that it works or at least that it does something. Some of the pieces that worked in the past continue to work. Some of the pieces that never worked very well still don't work. Beyond that, there is not much to say.

Homeland defense was a profoundly flawed concept in the context of al Qaeda from the beginning. The United States cannot be defended against a global, sparse network of trained covert operatives. It is a target-rich
environment -- meaning there are an awful lot of things that can be
attacked -- surrounded by borders so long and porous that they cannot be sealed. That is certainly the case if you intend to ship things in and out
of the country.

Homeland defense was designed to serve as an indication to a country in a state of panic after Sept. 11 that the government was doing something
tangible to protect the United States. That is not a trivial function. If we
remember back to Sept. 12, the country was suffering from shock and
paralysis. The dread was real and palpable. Calming the country was a
critical affair.

Consider airport security, a microcosm of homeland security in general.
Given the number of flights, airports and passengers, it is a physical
impossibility to secure all flights -- leaving aside other inherent
weaknesses of airport security. Airport security increases the chances of
being caught, but a capable and thoughtful covert operator can beat the
system. Except for shutting down the air traffic system -- eliminating the
threat by eliminating passengers -- the system can be penetrated. Anyone who asserts that it can't be penetrated is a liar, and anyone who demands an effective solution is a fool. It can't be done.

That is not to say that airport security is unimportant. It does provide a
degree of security, particularly against incompetent would-be terrorists, of whom there are more than a few. More important, it is a massive, visible effort and that very effort is comforting to those about to risk flying. We cannot afford to shut down civilian air traffic. We cannot afford to allow passengers to be gripped by terror. A modicum of security coupled with a psychological sense that a serious effort is being made has material impact in a war.

That was the primary use of homeland security. It provided a sense that
someone was trying to control the situation, even if we all understood the
fact that the situation could not be controlled that way. Sometimes the
efforts at reassurance became silly, as with the weird movement of the
warning colors -- in apparently random motion. The massive pile of agencies called the Department of Homeland Security might not have added up to much more than the constituent parts, but the very massiveness of the effort provided a degree of comfort.

In the end, however, homeland security is an illusion. Wars are not won
defensively, and certainly this war can't be won that way. What defense
there is consists of two parts. You can either negotiate a peace -- which
depends on finding someone to negotiate with and determining if you are
willing to pay the price. Or you can go out and attack and destroy the
enemy, assuming you can find him and defeat him.

Homeland security and Tom Ridge served a purpose. They were part of the process of calming down a country that was near hysteria after Sept. 11. The country was not being irrational. Anyone who wasn't frightened did not understand the situation. Nevertheless, fear does not win wars. Ridge helped calm things down. He did not do much, but what he did, he did pretty well.

Not a bad record on the whole.

Copyrights 2004 - Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

http://www.stratfor.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #52 on: December 05, 2004, 12:49:34 PM »

Straighten Up and Fly Right
How long before Washington's political correcteness leads to new hijackings?

BY HEATHER MAC DONALD
Saturday, December 4, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

One of the highest priorities for Homeland Security Secretary-designate Bernard Kerik should be to take political correctness and a fear of litigation out of national security decisions. From immigration enforcement to intelligence gathering, government officials continue to compromise safety in order to avoid accusations of "racial profiling"--and in order to avoid publicly acknowledging what the 9/11 Commission finally said: that the enemy is "Islamist terrorism." This blind antidiscrimination reflex is all the more worrying since radical Islam continues to seek adherents and plan attacks in the U.S.

The government antidiscrimination hammer has hit the airline industry most severely. Department of Transportation lawyers have extracted millions in settlements from four major carriers for alleged discrimination after 9/11, and they have undermined one of the most crucial elements of air safety: a pilot's responsibility for his flight. Since the charges against the airlines were specious but successful, every pilot must worry that his good-faith effort to protect his passengers will trigger federal retaliation.

Transportation's action against American Airlines was typical. In the last four months of 2001, American carried 23 million passengers and asked 10 of them not to board because they raised security concerns that could not be resolved in time for departure. For those 10 interventions (and an 11th in 2002), DOT declared American Airlines a civil-rights pariah, whose discriminatory conduct would "result in irreparable harm to the public" if not stopped.

On its face, the government's charge that American engaged in discriminatory conduct was absurd, given how few passenger removals occurred. But the racism allegation looks all the more unreasonable when put in the context of the government's own actions. Three times between 9/11 and the end of 2001, public officials warned of an imminent terror attack. Transportation officials urged the airlines to be especially vigilant. In such an environment, pilots would have been derelict not to resolve security questions in favor of caution.





Somehow, DOT lawyers failed to include in their complaint one further passenger whom American asked not to board in 2001. On Dec. 22, airline personnel in Paris kept Richard Reid off a flight to Miami. The next day, French authorities insisted that he be cleared to board. During the flight, Reid tried to set off a bomb in his shoe, but a stewardess and passengers foiled him. Had he been kept from flying on both days, he too might have ended up on the government's roster of discrimination victims.

Jehad Alshrafi is typical of those who were included in the suit against American. On Nov. 3, 2001, this Jordanian-American was scheduled to fly out of Boston's Logan Airport (from which two of the hijacked planes--including American Flight 11--departed on 9/11). A federal air marshal told the pilot that Alshrafi's name resembled one on a terror-watch list--and that he had been acting suspiciously, had created a disturbance at the gate, and posed unresolved security issues. The pilot denied him boarding. Alshrafi was later cleared and given first-class passage on another flight.

According to DOT, the only reason American initially denied Alshrafi passage was because of his "race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry." Never mind that there were at least five other passengers of Arab descent on his original flight, none of whom had been given additional screening or kept from flying. In fact, on virtually every flight on which the government claims that American acted out of racial animus, other passengers of apparent Middle Eastern ancestry flew undisturbed.

If DOT believes that an air marshal's warnings about a passenger's name and suspicious behavior are insufficient grounds for keeping him off a flight, it is hard to imagine circumstances that would justify a security hold in the department's view--short of someone's declaring his intention to blow up a plane. Given the information presented to the pilot, the only conceivable reason to have allowed Alshrafi to board would have been fear of a lawsuit.

And litigation phobia is precisely the mindset that DOT is hoping to cultivate in flight personnel: 10 days after 9/11, the department started rolling out "guidance" documents on nondiscrimination. While heavy on platitudes about protecting civil rights, they are useless in advising airlines how to avoid the government's wrath. The closest the DOT gets to providing airlines a concrete rule for avoiding litigation is a "but-for" test: "Ask yourself," advise the guidelines, "But for this person's perceived race, ethnic heritage or religious orientation, would I have subjected this individual to additional safety or security scrutiny? If the answer is 'no,' then the action may violate civil rights laws."

But security decisions are never that clear. A safety officer will consider many factors in calculating someone's riskiness; any one of them could be pulled out as a "but-for" element. As American's record makes clear, it is almost never the case that someone gets additional screening based on his apparent ethnic heritage or national origin alone; behavior and no-fly-list matching are key in the assessment. (In fact, about half the complainants in the government's action were not even Middle Eastern. DOT simply assumes, without evidence, that American scrutinized the men because of the mistaken belief that they were Arabs.) A pilot trying to apply the "but-for" test to his own security judgment will inevitably reduce the test to an easier calculus: "Deny passage to someone who is or could claim to look Muslim only under the most extreme circumstances."

In application, the "but-for" test reduces to a "never-ever" rule: Ethnic heritage, religion, or national origin may play no role in evaluating risk. But when the threat at issue is Islamic terrorism, it is reckless to ask officials to disregard the sole ironclad prerequisite for being an Islamic terrorist: Muslim identity or its proxies--national origin or ethnic heritage. (Muslim identity should be at most only one factor in assessing someone's security risk.)

American contested DOT's action, but fighting the government civil-rights complex is futile. In February 2004, the airline, while denying guilt, settled the action for $1.5 million, to be spent on yet more "sensitivity training." American's pilots were outraged. "Pilots felt: 'How dare they second-guess our decision?' " says Denis Breslin, a pilots' union official.





Not satisfied with just one scalp, DOT lawyers brought identical suits against United, Delta and Continental. Those carriers also settled, pledging more millions for "sensitivity training"--money much better spent on security training than on indoctrinating pilots to distrust their own security judgments. And in the government's wake, the private civil-rights bar, led by the ACLU, has brought its own airline discrimination suits. An action against Northwest is seeking government terror-watch lists, Northwest's boarding procedures, and its cabin-training manual. If these materials got loose, they would be gold to terrorists trying to figure out airline-security procedures

The first George W. Bush administration tried mightily not to offend the antidiscrimination lobby. It's time to give up that game. From now on, common sense alone should determine security decisions, the only course which can protect all Americans, Muslims and non-Muslims, alike.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #53 on: December 15, 2004, 01:13:58 PM »

This from today's WSJ is by a former Director of the CIA.  It is both thoughtful and scary.  It proposes solutions that could change the nature of the American government.
===================

Get Smart

By R. JAMES WOOLSEY
December 15, 2004; Page A20

Whatever the overall effects of the recent intelligence reorganization, the new director of national intelligence (DNI) should at least be able to bring about one important improvement -- coordinating foreign and domestic intelligence.

Such coordination was not really even being attempted before 9/11 because domestic intelligence, for all practical purposes, did not exist. The FBI was the only institution that had ever actually been in the business, e.g. with its very effective long-term penetration of the American Communist Party. But discredited in the mid-1970s by the revelation of excesses, including spying on Martin Luther King Jr., the Bureau had essentially been put out of the domestic intelligence business.

The Bureau's own decentralized character made it virtually impossible to collect domestic intelligence effectively. Decentralization prevented insightful agents in Phoenix and Minneapolis from communicating with one another before 9/11, although each had premonitions about what it meant that young Arab men were learning to fly commercial aircraft without learning to land them. Even if an office in the Bureau learned something useful about domestic terrorism, the Justice Department in the '90s had barred different parts of the Bureau from working together on such issues. and for good measure, Congress had gone the extra mile and barred the Bureau from giving most terrorist information that it obtained during its law enforcement work to the CIA -- or indeed to anyone but a prosecutor.

Since 9/11, the government has moved cautiously toward collecting domestic intelligence on the transnational terrorist threat; it chose to do so through the FBI instead of a new agency similar to Britain's MI-5, and to this end has shifted a number of FBI agents away from their law enforcement tasks of investigating individual past crimes.

But that new undertaking now needs to be fitted together with foreign intelligence collection. When terrorists are funded from the Middle East, plot in Kuala Lumpur, live in central Florida and Hamburg, train in Oklahoma and fly out of Logan Airport, any effort to stay ahead of them absolutely requires not only major efforts in both domestic and foreign intelligence but also the close coordination of the two. Congress rightly decided that it was better to create a new official to do this than to give the job to the director of Central Intelligence, since the latter heads the CIA. For sound civil liberties reasons the CIA should not be in the business of overseeing domestic intelligence.

Managing along this foreign-domestic fault line will be the principal, and hardest, job of the new DNI. The bureaucratic and policy clashes that will define the new director's effectiveness will not be those on which the press, the 9/11 Commission and the Congress have been focused for months -- rivalry with the Secretary of Defense. The defense secretary and the director of Central Intelligence have generally worked well together over the years and that will probably continue with the new DNI. Military management of some parts of the intelligence community and military use of intelligence will likely continue in its reasonably well-grooved and effective path. and that's fine. The Defense Department wasn't the pre-9/11 problem anyway.

But what if the new DNI says to the FBI: "We're in a war with radical Islamist fanatics and our foreign intelligence collection increasingly tells us that a number of individuals from the Saudi Wahhabi sect are a major threat here in the U.S. -- for example, Wahhabi clerics have penetrated our prisons as chaplains and recruited a number of potential terrorists. So why are you largely ignoring this sort of infiltration and focusing so much of your domestic counter-intelligence assets on Israel?" Will the FBI tell the DNI to get lost? Stay tuned.

Foreign intelligence collection -- especially human collection -- and intelligence analysis of course need to improve. The key here is not moving organizational boxes around, but getting the right policy decisions made and getting Congressional funding and support for them. This might or might not have happened under the old organization and might or might not under the new one. For instance, we currently rely heavily on intelligence collected by other countries and given to us in exchange for our providing either technical intelligence or some other benefit to them, i.e. from "liaison." CIA Director Porter Goss has rightly called for reducing reliance on such sources and running more of our own spies.

Too-heavy reliance on intelligence provided by liaison services can sap our will to challenge a foreign government that is trying to buy our quiescence with dollops of intelligence. There may be other explanations, but is this one of the reasons, for example, that we have been so tolerant for so long of the Syrians' support for terror and Syria's recent and blatant serving as a base for the Baathist insurgents in Iraq?

Reliance on liaison information can also introduce unhelpful bias into our foreign policy. Could the U.S. failure to train military units consisting of Shia and Kurds before the overthrow of Saddam have had anything to do with stern warnings against this from Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors, from whom we were getting intelligence liaison information?

But even if the DNI becomes an engine for wise foreign intelligence reform (rather than, equally possible, a brake on it), there is a real risk that the extravagant claims made during the recent debate will convince people that the reorganization will be so effective that we will now be protected against attack.

This is dangerous nonsense. Small terrorist cells -- based on family, clan, and sect and communicating by courier -- are devilishly difficult to penetrate with spies or signal intercepts: much harder than the Soviets were. Those who opine that getting spies into al Qaeda should be easy since John Walker Lindh got in make the unsubstantiated assumption that foot soldiers such as Lindh are privy to closely held planning by the few guys in the cave. There is no reason to believe this. Most of the 9/11 terrorists, e.g., had no idea before boarding the flights that morning what Mohammed Atta's plans were, even in general.

So even if by some great good fortune both domestic and foreign intelligence, and their coordination, should be substantially improved by the new DNI, we are going to have to face a most unsettling proposition. Since the odds are strong that we will not have anything like the understanding of enemy capabilities and intentions that we had during the Cold War, we are going to have to turn immediately to making our society more resilient when the next attack comes. The electricity grid, industrial chemical distribution, food production and distribution, the Internet and much of the rest of our infrastructure all need urgent attention. We must integrate homeland security with military and other elements of the nation's security. In doing this we will have to do a much better job of managing risks and of assuring that our infrastructure is as protected as possible and that it can continue to function even if security fails.

If the new law engenders false confidence in what intelligence can provide, and this causes any delay in such improvements in resilience, intelligence reorganization will have done far more harm than good.

Mr. Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence, is a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #54 on: January 26, 2005, 12:57:42 PM »

On January 25, the Domestic Events Net reported that (a flight to Florida) had an unruly passenger that had been detained by other passengers.  The FBI met the flight upon arrival at West Palm Beach and arrested XX for interfering with a flight crew.  The FBI interview revealed XX made reference to taking the plane down and took several steps toward the front of the aircraft before being subdued by other passengers.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #55 on: January 27, 2005, 08:56:24 AM »

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight helped wrestle a fellow passenger to the floor Tuesday night after he tried to force his way into the cockpit, law enforcement officials said.

The incident happened aboard Flight 2161, which was traveling from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to West Palm Beach, Florida.

Christopher Egyed, 37, made "threatening comments about the government" and tried to make his way into the cockpit, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokesman Paul Miller said.

"He had been acting in an obnoxious way throughout the flight," Miller said.

Egyed exchanged punches with a flight attendant before passengers joined the scuffle and subdued him, authorities said.

"They used duct tape to tie him up," FBI spokeswoman Judy Orijuela said.

Egyed was charged with interfering with a flight crew, she said. The pilot did not declare an emergency, and the plane landed without further incident at 9:45 p.m. ET in West Palm Beach. Egyed was taken into custody when the plane landed. Authorities said he is unemployed and lives in Philadelphia. Egyed was scheduled to appear Wednesday in federal court in Fort Pierce, officials said. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years behind bars
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #56 on: April 22, 2005, 12:04:20 AM »

The updated list of US TSA permitted and prohibited items on US flights
may be found at:

http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Prohibited_English_4-1-2005_v2.pdf


Cattle prods and crowbars may not be carried onboard, and neither are martial arts or self-defense items permitted in carry-on luggage... including billy clubs, black jacks, brass knuckles, kubatons, night sticks, nunchakus or othermartial arts weatpons.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #57 on: April 26, 2005, 05:04:55 PM »

Interesting interview from the NewsHour where problems with CIA tradecraft are examined.

MARGARET WARNER: In the early days of the Cold War, the CIA excelled at the cloak-and-dagger side of spycraft, human intelligence collection on the ground. It was the agency's strength, and the stuff of film legend.
ACTOR: My department authorized me to engage you to do some work for us.

ACTRESS: Why should I?

ACTOR: Patriotism.

MARGARET WARNER: But today it's clear that bad human collection was a major culprit in the two big recent U.S. intelligence disasters: 9/11 and Iraq's nonexistent weapons stockpiles. The commission investigating the Iraq WMD blunder was scathing.

JUDGE LAURENCE SILBERMAN: So the bottom line answer is, they had very little collection.

FORMER SEN. CHARLES ROBB: They clearly had an opportunity to do a good job with respect to tradecraft, and didn't

MARGARET WARNER: So fixing human spycraft is one of the toughest challenges facing John Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence.

JOHN NEGROPONTE: Our intelligence effort has to generate better results. That is my mandate, plain and simple.

MARGARET WARNER: But what exactly is the problem? Several former spies have shed their cloaks, though not their daggers, to address that in books about their CIA years. They describe an agency that simply hasn't adapted the art of human spying to today's world.

We met two of them in a Washington neighborhood whose parks were a favorite locale for Cold War espionage, to talk about what Negroponte faces. Lindsay Moran wrote "Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy" after just five years with the agency.

LINDSAY MORAN: The agency has relied on really dated methods of espionage and training for way too long.

MARGARET WARNER: Melissa Boyle Mahle, who penned "Denial and Deception" after a 14-year CIA career, reached much the same conclusion.

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: They do not want to a change to their methods. They don't want to change their power structure, because it's all very well-ingrained for the last 50 years.

MARGARET WARNER: Both women joined the CIA with impressive credentials and dreams of serving their country. Both endured the CIA's clandestine operative training camp in Virginia, known as "The Farm."

The Berkeley-educated, Arabic-speaking Mahle then went under diplomatic cover to the Middle East, ultimately rising to the rank of CIA chief in Jerusalem. She was forced out in 2002 over an unreported contact with a Palestinian militant.

The Harvard-educated Moran took her Serbo-Croatian language skills to the Balkans in the tense years after the Kosovo War. But after a brief stint back at Langley headquarters, she quit the agency in frustration in 2003.

MARGARET WARNER: What's wrong with spycraft at the agency, the human intelligence side?

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: The real problem is that the agency hasn't updated its methods since the end of the Cold War, and we're stuck doing things old-fashioned ways. And we're not thinking outside of a box and trying to say, you know, "We have a new target set; how are we going to go after it in a very aggressive way, in a different kind of way so they don't see us coming?"

MARGARET WARNER: Give me an example of doing something the old way, something from your own experience.

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: Sending our officers out to work the diplomatic circuit and to think that on this diplomatic circuit overseas we're going to meet terrorists, or we're going to meet narco-traffickers, or we're going to meet proliferators. We're just not going to find them there. We don't look like the right people. We're not speaking the right languages, and we're not going to really the ends of the earth where we need to be.

MARGARET WARNER: The failures begin, they said, with the recruiting process for clandestine officers.

LINDSAY MORAN: There was nobody in my training class who spoke any of the languages that the CIA needs to go after terrorist groups, such as Arabic, Pashtu or Urdu. Also, the agency has completely ignored a whole pool of potential employees of second-generation Americans who a lot of times are just as patriotic-- if not more so-- than people whose families came over on the "Mayflower."

And because there's this inherent distrust of foreigners within the agency, they're unwilling to hire these kinds of people, exactly the kinds of people that we need in order to gather effective intelligence in the Middle East.

MARGARET WARNER: Mahle spent a year recruiting other officers, and was appalled at how often the agency preferred hiring white Midwesterners who'd had no contacts with any foreigners ever.

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: I'd be very excited if I had people that I was going to be talking to that were native Arabic speakers, particularly native Arabic speakers, because we were looking for them, or Pashtu speakers, or even Chinese Americans or Korean Americans.

And, you know, I'd run them through all the loops, hoops, and test them to see if they could do the job, if they had, you know, the intuitive capabilities. And I would say, "Okay, this guy or this gal passes muster." And then you'd send them through security or psychological testing, and they would get washed out.

MARGARET WARNER: And why?

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: We were penetrated by a mole, and, therefore, we're so frightened of anybody that might have loyalties elsewhere, we overcompensate. And that's to the loss of the capabilities of the agency.

MARGARET WARNER: She was shocked when she attended the graduation of the first post-9/11 class of recruits.

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: It was a sea of white faces. And you know why? Because they were easily cleared. We wanted to have a big first class after 9/11 to make the point. And I think they made the wrong point.

MARGARET WARNER: Next came training, and a lot of it-- not just the paramilitary exercises, but the recruitment role playing-- seemed dated, too.

LINDSAY MORAN: Well, I think that all of us in my training class were rather unimpressed, because, as I said, we knew that terrorism was the primary threat. This notion that particularly young female case officers, that we would be able to target men in the Middle East and take them out to lunch or dinner, I think is realistic if you're going after one kind of target. But to really go after terrorist groups, I don't think that's a realistic way of infiltrating or even targeting a terrorist group.

MARGARET WARNER: Once overseas, their main job wasn't to spy themselves, but to recruit foreigners to betray secret information. Even after 9/11, Moran found there were red lines she couldn't cross.

LINDSAY MORAN: I started to target someone who, although he wasn't a terrorist himself, had ties to terrorist networks or Islamist extremist groups, and was writing back to headquarters asking for their approval to go ahead and develop this person and potentially recruit him as a foreign agent.

And I received a missive from headquarters saying, "We found out that this person has ties to terrorist groups. Cease and desist all contact with him." And I was astounded, and I think my boss in the field was equally as astounded, but we both felt sort of powerless to do anything about it.

Another problem that I saw there was a culture that I think rewards quantity over quality. For instance, we were all made to believe that our career progression depended solely on the number of recruitments that we could accrue.

MARGARET WARNER: No matter how good or bad the quality of his information is?

LINDSAY MORAN: Yes. I argued for the termination of a case that I was running in the Balkans, where this person was really peddling pretty useless information and receiving a very substantial salary from the CIA. And this was post-Sept. 11, so the information was particularly irrelevant.

And I kept arguing to terminate this case; that this person should not be on the CIA payroll and was told again and again by headquarters, "No, you should be keep running the case." And ultimately the reasoning that headquarters gave me, or that the management at headquarters gave me, was "This looks good for your career."

And that's when I felt just completely disillusioned with the agency. It occurred to me that most American taxpayers probably don't care what's good for my career progression. They want quality intelligence.

MARGARET WARNER: So she wasn't surprised when the WMD Commission found that the CIA had relied on bogus weapons information fed by dishonest Iraqi informants.

LINDSAY MORAN: I think the example of "curve ball," upon whom it seems we based our entire decision to go to war in this, ended up being a really unreliable source. That's a perfect example of how the quality of recruitments and the quality of information is not properly assessed.

MARGARET WARNER: Mahle had equally disheartening run-ins with Langley. She was sent to Qatar in 1995 to determine if al-Qaida figure Khalid Sheik Mohammad was, as reported, hiding there.

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: We didn't know very much about him, but we did know that he had been somehow involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and also in the Philippines airplane plot. Anyway, so I go out. I determined that, yes, indeed, this is the guy.

MARGARET WARNER: She urged Langley to snatch him rather than formally request extradition because she didn't trust the Qatari authorities. But Washington went the official extradition route, and, as she had predicted, Khalid Sheik Mohammad disappeared.
So how did you feel about that?

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: I was upset beyond, because I realized this guy was very dangerous, and I realized we had let a terrorist go free, and it didn't have to turn out that way. You've got to ask yourself, if he had been picked up in 1995, the guy who had the idea of hijacking lots of airplanes and the guy who had the idea of running, of blowing up tall towers in New York City, would 9/11 have happened?

MARGARET WARNER: So, Melissa, what is your analysis of what the problem is at headquarters?

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: We have managers whose job is to manage out risk. We have other managers whose job is to check to make sure those other managers have managed out risk. So by the time you, as a field operative, you set forward your great idea, you're going to have it rejected, because ultimately, from their perspective, there's going to be a flap.

MARGARET WARNER: One reviewer described you, Lindsay, as saying, "she expected to find James Bond, and she found James Bureaucrat."

LINDSAY MORAN: We used to joke in our training class that there was this policy at the agency called reverse Darwinism, whereby the most mediocre people would rise to the top; that it wasn't survival of the fittest; the best would end up leaving. And I found that to be true. From my training class, I think the best case officers and potential case officers left within the same span of time that I did, in five years.

MARGARET WARNER: That's why they don't believe adding more spies into the same old system-- by 50 percent as President Bush has ordered-- will solve the problem. What would be your piece of advice to John Negroponte about human intelligence?

LINDSAY MORAN: Well, I think that the agency could certainly start by developing a cadre of spies that is not under official cover. It's riskier, but a lot of people are drawn to this profession because they're drawn to risk.

MARGARET WARNER: Above all, they both endorsed the same bold recommendation: Set up a new elite unit within the existing CIA

LINDSAY MORAN: There's been, you know, a lot of talk: Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, in terms of the CIA; I tend to think that maybe you do have to start over and start a whole new clandestine service.

MELISSA BOYLE MAHLE: If you stand up to a new office or a new director within the CIA And you can say, "Okay, we're going to now do something completely different, and we're going to start small, but we know that it's the future, and you build that new incentive structure where you get rewarded for risk-taking, where you get rewarded for actually, really getting down deep into a society and learning how it works."

And then sooner or later everybody else in the agency is looking around and saying, "Hey, those are the people that are doing the best ops, those are the people that are getting promoted," and then they're going to say, "I want to be a part of that action." And that's how you're going to change the organization.

MARGARET WARNER: It's a tall order for the new DNI.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/fedagencies/jan-june05/spy_4-25.html
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« Reply #58 on: May 04, 2005, 05:07:25 AM »

TERRORISM BRIEF

The Successful Prosecution of a Far-Reaching U.S. Indictment
April 27, 2005 1747 GMT

A U.S. district court in Alexandria, Va., on April 26 convicted Islamist
ideologue Ali al-Timimi on 10 felony charges stemming from his efforts to
encourage others to bear arms against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Al-Timimi, the primary lecturer at the Dar al-Arqam Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., urged his followers in late 2001 to travel to Afghanistan and defend the Taliban regime against the impending U.S. invasion. His conviction on a September 2004 indictment has proven that inspiring others to take part in militant activities can be prosecuted successfully.

According to the indictment, al-Timimi urged at least four of the 11 members of the Virginia Jihad Network (VJN) to take up arms against the United States and its allies. In doing so, al-Timimi apparently arranged for some VJN members to travel to the Pakistani section of Kashmir to train with the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group. During their training, some of the men fired assault rifles -- hence the firearms charges. No VJN member actually fought anywhere, but the LeT has been connected to other Islamist militant groups, which would explain a charge against al-Timimi for attempting to contribute services to the Taliban.

Rather than organize militant activity, al-Timimi provided the intellectual
impetus to others to take action against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The
conviction is an example of the post-Sept. 11 shift in the United States
toward more aggressive action against those who provide support of any kind to terrorist or militant organizations. In comparison, the United Kingdom still maintains a rather lax legal attitude toward those who support terrorist activities. London recently tightened some laws that deal with aiding terrorist groups, but a major law that would have broadened police powers to detain suspected terrorists was voted down in February.

Another example of the U.S. shift is the case involving Lynne F. Stewart,
the attorney for blind cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman who was convicted in February 2004 for her part in the 1993 World Trade Center attack. She faced five counts of providing material aid to terrorism for facilitating communication between the sheikh and his followers outside of prison and militants in Egypt.

Stewart allegedly used her privilege as Rahman's lawyer to bring one of his followers, Mohamed Yousry, along with her to meetings with the sheikh at his Minnesota prison. Rahman would pass instructions to his followers through Yousry and Ahmed Abdel Sattar. The two co-defendants in Stewart's trial also were convicted on various charges.

Al-Timimi was born and raised in the United States, as were a number of his followers. Among them were Randall Royer and Donald Surratt, who pleaded guilty along with others in March 2004 to terrorism-related charges for training at the LeT camp to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Both were converts to Islam, and Surratt was a former U.S. Marine. In another case, U.S.-born Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 23-year-old from Falls Church, was arrested in Saudi Arabia and accused of being an al Qaeda member. He also was indicted in federal court for plotting to assassinate U.S. President George W. Bush. As U.S. citizens, they all were subject to anti-sedition and treason laws.

According to a 2004 survey conducted by the Institute of Social Policy and
Understanding, 8 percent of the 6 million to 7 million American Muslims
identify with any kind of Wahhabist causes. Of those who do, an even smaller minority support jihadist causes. Of course, as the Royer and Surratt cases have shown, an Islamic upbringing is not a prerequisite for supporting -- or taking part -- in jihadist causes.

Those two cases -- and especially the al-Timimi and Stewart cases -- have
shown however, that the U.S. legal system is now ready and willing to come down hard against those who never commit acts of aggression themselves, but whose speech or actions contribute to terrorism.
======================

TERRORISM BRIEF

European Islamist Extremism and the U.S. Security Threat
April 28, 2005 1720 GMT

The U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing April 27 to assess the rise of Islamist extremism in Europe. The hearing, sponsored jointly by the
Committee on International Relations and the Subcommittee on Europe and Emerging Threats, is indicative of mounting U.S. concern over the threat posed by Islamist extremists to Washington's allies in Europe -- and to the United States itself. As European countries continue to isolate their Muslim communities, Islamist extremism shows few signs of abating.

Norwegian televangelist Runar Sogaard reportedly sought police protection
after he enraged many Muslims in Sweden by calling the Islamic prophet
Mohammed a "confused pedophile" -- referring to the prophet's marriage to a 9-year-old girl -- in a March 20 sermon in Stockholm.

Following the sermon, a letter posted on a jihadist Web site and addressed
to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, implored al-Zarqawi to come to the defense of Muslims in Sweden. The letter was signed "The weakened Muslims in Sweden," implying the writer's belief that the country's 350,000 Muslims are being persecuted. The author also claimed that Sogaard would soon be killed, ". just like in Holland with the Dutchman ." The "Dutchman" is a direct reference to Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was shot and stabbed Nov. 2, 2004, in Amsterdam, allegedly by an Islamist militant who reportedly was upset over a film van Gogh made that took a critical view of Islam.

The chairman of Sweden's council of imams, Hassan Moussa, issued a statement April 22 advising Swedish Muslims against taking the law into their own hands even though, he said, Sogaard's comments "injure millions of Muslims all over the world."

The atmosphere in Western Europe is conducive to the development of
extremist views in young Muslims for several reasons. First, lax immigration policies have allowed those with radical and isolationist tendencies to settle in European Muslim communities. Second, many Muslim communities find themselves isolated from the mainstream society in the European countries where they have taken root, which leaves them vulnerable to the introduction of extremist ideologies. Some Muslims who became radicalized in Europe have ended up committing acts against the United States. For example, Mohammed Atta, leader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, both spent time in European universities, where, according to the 9/11 commission report, they came in contact with Islamist radicals.

Furthermore, Claude Moniquet, director of the European Strategic
Intelligence and Security Center, said during the joint committee hearing in Washington that some EU countries have been slow to reform the
asylum-seeking process and to coordinate among themselves to share
information about possible threats within their respective Muslim
communities.

These lapses can be exploited by Islamist radicals to gain footholds in the
EU countries' otherwise law-abiding Muslim communities. As long as these
conditions persist, Islamist extremism in Europe will continue to be a
security problem for the United States.
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« Reply #59 on: May 14, 2005, 07:24:59 AM »

United States: The Questionable Merits of the 'No-Fly' List
May 13, 2005 1653 GMT

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) diverted Air France
flight 332 to Bangor, Maine, on May 12 after authorities discovered that one of the 169 passengers onboard matched a name on the federal government's "no-fly" list. The passenger and two of his family members -- a woman and a young child -- were taken off the Airbus A-330 flight from Paris to Boston at the Bangor International Airport, and the flight continued on to Boston. TSA officials later determined the "person of interest" was not the one on the list and he and his companions were released.

Although the no-fly list is meant to enhance security of air travel, its
effectiveness as a true protective measure is questionable. The list,
enacted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks and maintained by the TSA,
includes names of people suspected of posing "a risk of air piracy or
terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety." Passenger manifests
of airline flights are checked against the list and, if matching names are
found, the TSA can order the flight diverted and the individual detained.
Although it initially denied the list's existence, the TSA acknowledged in
October 2002 that it was, indeed, keeping -- and constantly updating -- such a list. The U.S. government declines to say how many names are on the list, but the number reportedly is as high as 31,000.

In April 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a nationwide
class-action lawsuit challenging the no-fly list on behalf of several
people. The suit is based on the argument that innocent travelers whose
names appear on the list are singled out as possible terrorists. According
to FBI documents obtained in 2004 by the American Civil Liberties Union,
more than 350 Americans had been delayed or denied boarding since the list's inception -- and apparently all were false alarms. Once added to the list, people usually are unable to find out why they were identified as a security risk and are unable to get their names removed.

Exacerbating the issue is the problem that the names on the list often are
transliterations into English of names in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and other
Middle Eastern, South Asian and African languages. Considering that many
terrorists are militant Islamists, Arab/Muslim names -- in their phonetic
form -- appear frequently. Add to this the fact that many Arab/Muslim names are commonly used -- such as Mohammed, Ahmed and Ali -- and the system raises a red flag if it picks up even one part of the name: first, middle or last. Further complicating the system is the unusual number of birthdates on the first or last day of a given month, which stems from lack of accurate record keeping in some areas of the third world. A person may know the month in which he or she was born, but not the date. Clerks issuing identification cards, then, often assign the birthday as the first or last day of the month. It is no surprise, then, that birthdays often match.

TSA officials said the man detained on the Air France flight had a slightly
different spelling and the exact birthday of someone on the no-fly list.
Without elaborating, the TSA officials said the name in question belonged to a "serious bad actor" with connections to terrorism.

One of the most notable examples of the confusion over names occurred in 2004 when U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy was stopped and questioned at airports five times because the name T. Kennedy appeared on the no-fly list. The phonetically spelled name al Kannadi (The Canadian) apparently was the nom de guerre of an al Qaeda member on the list. It took the senator three weeks and a personal appeal to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge before his name was removed from the list. If a prominent U.S. senator experienced these difficulties, it stands to reason that an ordinary individual with no high-level connections would find it nearly impossible to fix the problem.

Terrorists rarely travel with their real passports and make a point of using
many different aliases. The no-fly list would be effective if terrorists
used passports borrowed from individuals already on the list, such as those identified as having traveled to training camps or other safe havens.
Because the existence of the no-fly list is well known, however, someone
contemplating a terrorist attack likely would create a totally clean
identity, which is not difficult to do. The perpetrator would then "test"
the new document by taking a flight to see if it passed the security check.
The Sept. 11 hijackers took similar reconnaissance flights to observe flight
routes, times and airport/airline security measures.

In the fight against international terrorism, constant vigilance is
necessary -- though repeated false alarms call into question the
effectiveness of the TSA's no-fly list
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« Reply #60 on: May 31, 2005, 03:25:03 PM »

The FBI Sting and Two New Militant Suspects May 31, 2005 1735 GMT

Following a two-year sting operation, the FBI has arrested two men it says
were conspiring to join al Qaeda and provide material support to the
jihadist network. Agents apprehended Tarik Ibn Osman Shah on May 27 inNew York City and Florida doctor Rafiq Sabir a day later near Boca Raton, Fla. Shah and Sabir "allegedly agreed to provide training in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat to al Qaeda members and associates, while Sabir allegedly agreed to provide medial assistance to wounded jihadists in Saudi Arabia," according to a joint statement issued May 29 by the FBI and federal prosecutors.

The FBI claims the men pledged allegiance to al Qaeda during a May 20
meeting in New York City with a person they believed was recruiting them
into al Qaeda, but who actually was an undercover FBI agent.

Information released about Shah allegedly reveals a connection to the
so-called Virginia Jihad Network, an informal network centered around Falls Church, Va., that has been the common denominator in many arrests related to conspiracy to commit or support terrorist acts. According to federal prosecutors, Shah had the names and phone numbers of individuals who had attended terrorist training camps in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Among these names was Seifullah Chapman, a member of the Virginia Jihad Network who was convicted in Virginia in March 2004 for providing material support to a Pakistan-based terrorist group.

Several people associated with the Virginia Jihad Network have been arrested on charges of conspiring to support terrorist groups, of participating in terrorist activities or of encouraging others to take part in militant activities against the United States. Among these are Masoud Khan, who was sentenced to life in prison in June 2004 under the Neutrality Act for conspiring to support terrorists; Ali al-Timimi, an Islamist ideologue convicted in April 2004 for urging his followers to travel to Afghanistan to resist the U.S.-led invasion; and Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was indicted in February for providing support to al Qaeda, including "material support and resources" in a plot to assassinate U.S. President George W. Bush. Like Shah and Sabir, all three are U.S. citizens who were living in the United States.

If the FBI case against Shah and Sabir is upheld in court, it could reveal
that the two lacked the operational skills required to successfully commit a
terrorist act on U.S. soil, but that they could have been useful to al Qaeda
in other ways -- such as providing valuable logistic and financial support
for the planning and staging phases of a terrorist attack. Furthermore, as
U.S. citizens already living in the country, they could have operated in the
open without attracting undue attention.

If the two are proven guilty, the case will demonstrate FBI improvements in surveillance and infiltration of jihadist cells in the United States -- and
the bureau's ability to gain intelligence from the arrests. Although the
meeting between the two and the undercover agent allegedly took place May 20, the men were not arrested until a full week later, after they had
returned to their homes. By apprehending the two at their homes, federal
agents gained access to potentially crucial evidence and intelligence, such
as address books and computer files. This could lead to further action
against alleged U.S.-based jihadists.

These arrests also demonstrate FBI interest in the Virginia Jihad Network.
FBI telephone taps or reviews of phone records allowed under the Foreign
Surveillance Intelligence Act likely tipped off agents as to Shah and
Sabir's alleged commitment to the jihadist cause -- and an undercover agent was assigned to perform the sting.

Another more disturbing revelation coming from Shah's arrest is a possible
connection between jihadists and Black Muslims in the United States. Shah is the son of "Lieutenant X," a former top aid of Malcolm X.

If Shah and Sabir are found guilty of conspiring to support al Qaeda, it
would prove there still are U.S. citizens in the United States who are
willing to support and participate in terrorist groups. In any case, more
arrests are likely to follow.
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« Reply #61 on: June 06, 2005, 03:55:52 PM »

................................................................
TERRORISM BRIEF

United States: The Jamaat al-Fuqra Threat
Jun 03, 2005 1738 GMT

Consider, if you will, a group whose members live "free from the decadence of a godless society" in guarded and insular communities in the rural United States. Additionally, consider that some members of this group have been convicted on a variety of weapons, fraud and terrorism charges. Those who assume we are once again addressing right-wing extremists such as the Aryan Nations would be wrong.

Although we do believe that right-wing extremists pose a threat to the
security of the United States, the group we describe does not give its
compounds names like Elohim City, the infamous compound of white
supremacists in Adair County, Okla. Instead they call them Islamburg (N.Y.), Ahmadabad (Va.) and Holy Islamville (S.C.).

The group is Jamaat al-Fuqra -- Arabic for "community of the impoverished" -- founded in the 1980s by Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, a religious figure from Pakistan who incorporated the group as a tax-exempt organization under the name Muslims of the Americas. Its educational arm, the Quranic Open University, takes American Muslims to Pakistan for training, expecting them to return and instruct others.

Residents of Muslims of the Americas communities keep a low profile, display a benign image and most of all deny the existence of Jamaat al-Fuqra. They claim to be peaceful people who simply are attempting to escape the decadence of American society. Actions by some of the residents, however, belie that claim.

Many of the original al-Fuqra members were converts to Islam, and most were African Americans. However, one of its first members -- and its first
bombmaker -- was Stephen Paul Paster, who converted from Judaism to Islam.  Paster was convicted for his role in the 1983 bombing of a Portland, Ore., hotel owned by the Hindu Bhagwan Rajneesh cult from India. He also was tried and acquitted on charges stemming from two other West Coast bombings. Upon his release from prison, Paster moved to Lahore, Pakistan, to join Gilani and other instructors at the Quranic Open University, where he allegedly helps to teach what Gilani calls "advanced training courses in Islamic Military Warfare."

The U.S. government claims that al-Fuqra members were involved in 13
bombings and arsons during the 1980s and 1990s and were responsible for at least 17 homicides. Many of these attacks targeted Indian groups such as the Hare Krishnas, or heterodox Muslim groups such as the Ahmadiyya sect. In 1991, five al-Fuqra members were arrested at a border crossing in Niagara Falls, N.Y., after authorities found their plans to attack an Indian cinema and a Hindu temple in Toronto, Canada. Three of the five later were convicted on charges stemming from the plot.

According to sources, many al-Fuqra members have fought in Afghanistan,
Kashmir, Lebanon, Bosnia and Chechnya. Several members also have been affiliated with the al-Kifah Refugee Center -- popularly known as the
Brooklyn Jihad Office. Group member Clement Hampton-el, for example,
provided weapons training to several people associated with the Brooklyn
Jihad Office. One of those men, El Sayyid Nosair later would use that
training to assassinate the Rabbi Meir Kahane in Manhattan. Hampton-el was convicted along with several other men, including Nosair's cousin, Ibrahim Elgabrowny and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as The Blind Sheikh, in the 1993 New York Bomb Plot Case, and sentenced to serve 35 years.

More recently, police investigators working on the D.C. sniper case tied
convicted killer John Allen Muhammed to al-Fuqra. Rumors also surfaced that "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid was connected to the group. Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in fact, was investigating the Reid/al-Fuqra
connection and was in the process of attempting to interview Gilani when he was abducted and killed.

In addition to Hampton-el, several other members of al-Fuqra are in federal and state prisons on a variety of weapons charges and convictions stemming from worker's compensation, credit card, welfare and driver's license fraud. The group allegedly uses its imprisoned members to recruit other prisoners. Furthermore, it was revealed during Hampton-el's trial that one of the organization's tasks was to recruit American veterans to fight in Afghanistan.

Al-Fuqra members own several security companies, which provide a source of income and security for the group and its compounds, but also offer a plausible explanation for the presence of firing ranges on the properties -- a cover for the paramilitary training that allegedly is conducted at the compounds.

Perhaps most disconcerting is that al-Fuqra's cadre of battle tested
jihadist warriors -- men who refer to themselves as "Soldiers of Allah" and
"Mohammed's Commandos" -- are mostly Americans who legally can obtain U.S. passports and operate in the United States without raising suspicion.

As the United States advances its war on terrorism abroad and takes measures to tighten immigration procedures in order to protect U.S. citizens from foreign militants, it is important that authorities not overlook America's homegrown jihadists.
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« Reply #62 on: June 07, 2005, 05:04:50 PM »

My sentiments exactly. . . .

fighting words
Terminal Futility
Routine airport security won't thwart jihadists, but it does inconvenience and endanger the rest of us.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, June 6, 2005, at 1:02 PM PT

Is there anyone reading this column who would agree with Mark O. Hatfield Jr., spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, that in the past year "the average peak wait time at [airport] checkpoints has dropped a minute ... to about 12 minutes"? This is what he was cited as having said, in a New York Times report of a confidential document from the Department of Homeland Security. The last time I was at Dulles Airport, the line for security began at the entrance to the terminal and wound itself in several rope-line convolutions, like a clogged intestine, for about 40 minutes. I had allowed the usual two hours and was checking no luggage, but this and other banana-republic conditions almost made me miss my plane. Nor was it a "peak time." In any case, a passenger cannot know what a "peak time" will be. Only the TSA knows how many people are booked on how many flights at a given hour and can make provision of enough machines and personnel. Or not, as the case may be.

So, Hatfield was telling me something that I didn't know. The rest of the report, however, contains things that everyone does know to be true. We learn that there is no real capacity to detect explosives, for example. And we learn that, "If, say, a handgun were discovered, the terrorist would have ample ability to retain control of it. TSA screeners are neither expecting to encounter a real weapon nor are they trained to gain control of it." Who hasn't worked that out?

I think I had also noticed that there are not enough plastic bins or tables to line them up on, and that "X-ray machines that examine carry-on baggage sit idle as much as 30 per cent of the time." The time elapsed between Sept. 11, 2001, and today's writing (1,364 days) is only slightly less than the time between Pearl Harbor and the unconditional surrender of Japan (1,365 days). And airport security is still a silly farce that subjects the law-abiding to collective punishment while presenting almost no deterrent to a determined suicide-killer.

There is one mercy at least: One no longer sees people smiling and saying, "Thank you" as their wheelchairs and their children are put through pointless inspections. But the new form of servile abjection?standing in sullen lines and just putting up with it?is hardly an improvement. One sometimes wants to ask, "What's my name?" or, "To what database is this connected" when someone has just asked for the third time for you to put down a bag and produce a driver's license. But I think the fear of making some inscrutable "no-fly" list may inhibit many people. There has never yet been a hijacker who boarded a plane without taking the trouble to purchase a ticket and carry an ID. Members of the last successful group were on a "watch list," for all the difference that made. The next successful group will not be on a watch list.

Flying from London to Washington the other day, I was told that I was no longer required to take my computer out of its case. Apparently, there are scanners that can see though soft cases as well as through the hardened lid of a laptop (and apparently the United States hasn't managed to invest in any of these scanners for its domestic airports). On the other hand, I was asked if I had packed my own bags and if they had been under my control at all times. This exceptionally stupid pair of questions?to which a terrorist would have to answer "yes" by definition?is now deemed too stupid for U.S. domestic purposes and stupid enough only for international travel. This makes as much sense as diverting a full plane that carries a notorious Islamist crooner, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, from one airport to another.

Routines and "zero tolerance" exercises will never thwart determined jihadists who are inventive and who are willing to sacrifice their lives. That requires inventiveness and initiative. But airport officials are not allowed to use their initiative. People who have had their names confused with wanted or suspect people, and who have spent hours proving that they are who they say they are, are nonetheless compelled to go through the whole process every time, often with officials who have seen them before and cleared them before, because the system that never seems to catch anyone can never seem to let go of anyone, either.

While people are treated as packages, we learn from the same New York Times account of the still-secret Homeland Security document that "air cargo on passenger planes is rarely physically inspected today." Imagine, if you will, the wolfish grin of an al-Qaida fan who reads that sentence. I sometimes don't want to mention all the other loopholes, in case it gives ideas to the wrong people, but just imagine for a second that we imposed our current airport rules on trains, or the subway, or the tunnels and bridges ?

What we are looking at, then, is a hugely costly and oppressive system that is designed to maintain the illusion of safety and the delusion that the state is protecting its citizens. The main beneficiaries seem to be the pilferers employed by this vast bureaucracy?we have had several recent reports about the steep increase in items stolen from luggage. And that is petty theft that takes place off-stage. What amazes me is the willingness of Americans to submit to confiscation at the point of search. Every day, people are relieved of private property in broad daylight, with the sole net result that they wouldn't have even a nail file with which to protect themselves if (or rather when) the next hijacking occurs.

Last month, cigarette lighters were added to the confiscation list. There's probably some half-baked "shoe-bomber" justification for this, but I hear that at Boise airport in Idaho there's now a lighter bin on the way out of the airport, like the penny tray in some shops, that allows you to pick one up. Give one; take one?it all helps to pass the time until the next disaster, which collective punishment of the law-abiding is doing nothing to prevent.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.

Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2120330/
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« Reply #63 on: June 09, 2005, 04:07:52 PM »

AIRPORT SECURITY:  NEW SCREENING SYSTEM

Airports, will be using a new machine for checking people boarding the
aircraft. Because of many complaints from Passengers that they are being
fondled.  This NEW DEVICE WILL BE USED......This should start on/about
JULY 2005. Click on URL below and drag your mouse over picture to see an example of how the device functions.

http://home.chello.no/~siamak.javid/etc/NewAirportSecurity.swf
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« Reply #64 on: June 29, 2005, 05:44:53 PM »

Mexico Nabs 2 Iraqis Near U.S. Border

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

MEXICO CITY ? Mexican agents in Tecate captured two Iraqis who had hoped to sneak into U.S. territory without proper documents.

Federal authorities say Samir and Munir Yousif Shana (search) told investigators they were contacted by a person in their hometown of Baghdad, who said he could smuggle them into San Diego.

The two have relatives in San Diego.

Federal agents yesterday arrested the pair, along with two accused Mexican immigrant smugglers and a youngster, in the Paso de Aguila district of Tecate.

The Iraqis said they met the accused smugglers in Tijuana, then accompanied them by bus to Tecate. The group was walking toward the U.S. border when they were apprehended.
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« Reply #65 on: August 14, 2005, 08:35:24 AM »

Moving a post by Buzzwardo from another thread to here-- Crafty
====================================

Airline Security Changes Planned
Threats Reassessed To Ease Clearance
By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 13, 2005; Page A01

The new head of the Transportation Security Administration has called for a broad review of the nation's air security system to update the agency's approach to threats and reduce checkpoint hassles for passengers.

Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley, an assistant secretary of homeland security, directed his staff to propose changes in how the agency screens 2 million passengers a day. The staff's first set of recommendations, detailed in an Aug. 5 document, includes proposals to lift the ban on various carry-on items such as scissors, razor blades and knives less than five inches long. It also proposes that passengers no longer routinely be required to remove their shoes at security checkpoints.



After Sept. 11, 2001, many personal items were banned from flights. (By Shawn Baldwin -- Associated Press)
Agency officials plan to meet this month to consider the proposals, which would require Hawley's approval to go into effect.

Since his confirmation in June, Hawley has told his staff that he would reevaluate security measures put in place since the terrorist attacks in 2001 and ensure that they make sense, given today's threats. The TSA is struggling with new cuts in the screener workforce imposed by Congress while its new leaders hope to improve the agency's poor reputation among air travelers by introducing more customer-friendly measures. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff signaled the effort when he announced that the agency would eliminate a requirement that forced passengers to remain in their seats during the first and last 30 minutes of flights using Reagan National Airport.

"The process is designed to stimulate creative thinking and challenge conventional beliefs," said TSA spokesman Mark O. Hatfield Jr. "In the end, it will allow us to work smarter and better as we secure America's transportation system."

The TSA memo proposes to minimize the number of passengers who must be patted down at checkpoints. It also recommends that certain categories of passengers be exempt from airport security screening, such as members of Congress, airline pilots, Cabinet members, state governors, federal judges, high-ranking military officers and people with top-secret security clearances.

The proposal also would allow ice picks, throwing stars and bows and arrows on flights. Allowing those items was suggested after a risk evaluation was conducted about which items posed the most danger.

If approved, only passengers who set off walk-through metal detectors or are flagged by a computer screening system will have to remove their shoes at security checkpoints. The proposal also would give security screeners the discretion to ask certain passengers "presenting reasonably suspicious behavior or threat characteristics" to remove their shoes.

The proposal also would give screeners discretion in determining whether to pat down passengers. For example, screeners would not have to pat down "those persons whose outermost garments closely conform to the natural contour of the body."

The memo also calls for a new formula to replace the set of computer-screening rules that select passengers for more scrutiny. Currently, the system commonly flags passengers who book one-way tickets or modify travel plans at the last minute. The new TSA plan would give TSA managers assigned to each major airport the authority to de-select a passenger who has been picked out by a computer system.

Some security analysts praised the agency's proposal, saying that security screeners spend too much time trying to find nail scissors and not enough time focused on today's biggest threat: a suicide bomber boarding an airplane. The TSA has very limited capability to detect explosives under a person's clothing, for example, and is trying to roll out more high-tech machines that can protect against such threats.

K. Jack Riley, a homeland security expert at Rand Corp., said hardened cockpit doors, air marshals and stronger public vigilance will prevent another 9/11-style hijacking. "Frankly, the preeminent security challenge at this point is keeping explosives off the airplane," Riley said. The TSA's ideas, he said, "recognize the reality that we know that air transportation security has changed post-9/11. Most of these rules don't contribute to security."

Douglas R. Laird, former head of security for Northwest Airlines, said the proposal was a step backward. Laird said exempting certain categories of passengers from security screening would be dangerous because trusted groups have occasionally abused the privilege. "In an effort to be customer friendly, they're forgetting that their primary requirement is to keep airplanes safe," Laird said. "Either you screen everybody or why screen anybody?"
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« Reply #66 on: August 17, 2005, 12:18:28 AM »

More Crime stories
No Place Like Home - The burglary of her beloved parrot and a slow-moving, strapped police department have made a local woman upset by CHRIS LIMBERIS (03-25-2004)

Hate Crime - While Tucson has a progressive reputation, the 2002 death of Philip Walsted serves as a reminder that anti-gay hatred remains by SAXON BURNS (11-04-2004)

Long Shot - A sniper strikes more fear into part of America than invading Iraq. by REN?E DOWNING (10-17-2002)

Crime in the archives ?




More International stories
Toxic Tower - Do the physical and environmental disturbances in Cumpas, Sonora, stem from the processing plant? by TIM VANDERPOOL (03-23-2000)

Tuttle - No borders for capital, only for people--but only for some people by CONNIE TUTTLE (10-14-2004)

Don't Get MAD - In this war, Mutually Assured Destruction can only be bad for us. by JIM NINTZEL (10-04-2001)

International in the archives ?




More Law Enforcement stories
Tropicana Twilight - A once-ritzy motel goes from swank to skank by JIM NINTZEL (03-25-2004)

Just a Minute, Men - Weekend border warriors create a rift between Cochise County politicos by TIM VANDERPOOL (03-31-2005)

Seeking Asylum - Marcia Rocha tried to get help for her mentally ill son. Now he's behind bars and facing assault charges. by JIM NINTZEL (07-24-2003)

Law Enforcement in the archives ?





Nightmare Continues for Woman Inseminated by Her Parents
When Shenna Grimm first accused her parents of inseminating her with a syringe, no one believed her. Even now, with her stepfather convicted of rape,...
Scene (08/10/05)

Time to Grow Up
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels says a taller, denser downtown is inevitable, even desirable. But critics say bigger isn't better unless you do it right....
Seattle Weekly (08/10/05)

Kiss and Tell
Critics want the diocese to explain why a Houston Roman Catholic priest accused by many adult nuns of sexual misconduct is still celebrating Mass....
Houston Press (08/11/05)

More News & Features from AltWeeklies.com



   
   
PUBLISHED ON AUGUST 11, 2005:

Images From the Battleground

Ranchers 75 miles from Tucson say bad border policies have resulted in a daily invasion of drugs, death, pollution and violence

By LEO W. BANKS  

 
Leo W. Banks
An illegal alien dump site two miles northeast of Lyle Robinson's ranch house.
 
 
 
Leo W. Banks
Border patrol checks on an overturned smuggling vehicle on Tres Bellotas Road, July 28, 2005.
 
 
 
Leo W. Banks
An Arizona Department of Transportation official checks an abandoned smuggler vehicle on Jarillas Ranch.
 
 
 
Leo W. Banks
Lyle Robinson points out smuggling trails on his property.
 
 
Lyle Robinson's Tres Bellotas Ranch sits in a cradle of hills right on the Mexican border. It's a pretty place. Sprawling Mulberry trees shade the brick house and oak trees--bellotas in Spanish--decorate the surrounding landscape. This time of year, during the monsoon season, the oaks drop acorns that cowboys and others working this land, 13 miles southwest of Arivaca, have prized as summer snacks for centuries.
It hardly seems possible that such a peaceful-looking spot could be the scene of anything momentous. But it is.

Everyone in America has a stake in what's happening on the Tres Bellotas. Everyone in America should know about the events that play out daily on this remote ground, and on neighboring ranches, because they explain our present and foretell our future.

This is a place where all the rhetoric from the president and his government about homeland security crumbles to pieces on the hot ground. The Tres Bellotas is a battleground in the relentless, ugly, nonstop invasion of drugs and illegals across our southern border.

It will happen again tonight. Robinson knows this, because two invaders showed themselves earlier on this beautiful July morning, shortly after breakfast. Walking openly, without fear of harassment, the two men walked from Mexican soil into the United States through the wide-open international border gate 200 yards below Robinson's home.

They were rolling a tire that needed air, and reaching the house, they asked one of Robinson's cowboys for permission to use the ranch compressor.

These men, coyotes making final preparations for a night smuggling run of either drugs or people, displayed no menace. They were polite. So was Robinson's cowboy. He said by all means, muchachos, fill your tire.

But it was a Vito Corleone kind of request, one the cowboy couldn't refuse.

Robinson's ranch has no phone, no electricity and is, in his own words, a no man's land, where surviving means doing what's necessary, including maintaining cordial relations with the bad guys.

If they want air for their tire, you give it to them. If they want water, you're better off handing it over, because if you say no, they may break a water line to get it. If they want you to open the gate across the dirt road that runs between your home and your horse corrals, you open it. Why fight it? If you refuse, they'll just cut the lock.

Six months ago, Robinson looked out his window and saw something incredible--a traffic jam on the Tres Bellotas, with 15 pickup trucks backed up at this second gate, 150 feet from his house. The pickups sagged under the weight of the illegals they carried, probably 20 in each, 300 in all.

When Robinson walked out, the coyote asked him to open the gate to let them pass. Robinson did so, and off the group went, driving north.

So this long convoy of invaders entered the United States by driving through two open gates, encountering no law enforcement to check papers. Or screen them for infectious diseases. Or punch in computer codes to learn if they were criminals. Or search for chemical or biological agents. Or search for suitcase nukes. Or check the names against terror-watch lists.

Or even wave howdy. In other words, they encountered fewer obstacles than commuters in American cities face driving home from work in rush-hour traffic.

But they don't just enter through the wide-open gate below Robinson's house. His land abuts Mexico for six miles, and the invaders routinely cut holes in the four-strand barbed-wire fence separating the two nations.

They break into the country so often along this stretch that Robinson can't keep up with the fence repairs, an ongoing nightmare in which he is far from alone. It happens at many spots along our southern border.

Tom and Dena Kay, Robinson's nearest neighbors on the U.S. side, have five miles of border with Mexico, and smugglers cut holes in their fence about every three days.

A drug smuggler on horseback, pulling a pack mule, can make such a hole in 10 seconds with a wire cutter, usually without dismounting. He leans over, snips the first three strands, then coaxes his horse over the bottom wire. He's in. If he's driving a truck, he can enter even faster than that, simply by ramming down the fence and barreling on through, which Tom Kay says happens just as often.

This goes on almost daily, 75 miles southwest of Tucson--invaders from countries around the world coming across this international boundary in a time of war, a time when nuts would like nothing better than to sneak into this country and murder Americans on a grand scale.

The Border Patrol doesn't release a by-nation breakdown of those it arrests, and the agency is particularly tight-lipped about arrests of special interest aliens, known as SIAs. These are individuals from the list of about 35 countries the U.S. considers terror threats. But the Weekly has obtained SIA arrest figures from a federal law enforcement source who asked to remain anonymous.

From 2000 through 2003, plus the first nine months of fiscal 2004, agents in the Tucson sector, and the Arizona office of the Yuma sector, arrested 132 SIAs. The numbers include 10 from Afghanistan, seven from Iran, 12 from Yemen, 11 from Pakistan and three from Iraq.

Using the common estimate that the Border Patrol only catches one out of every three who cross, or as some believe, one of every five, we can calculate that upward of 660 individuals from terror-threat nations have crossed into our country through Arizona.

Those SIA arrest figures, by the way, include six individuals from Saudi Arabia, the country that produced 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 maniacs.

Homeland security?

Along the border south of Arivaca, you'd best stand back when you utter those words, because the subject tends to make folks spitting mad. Even Robinson, a silver-haired, soft-spoken gentleman, gets a fire in his eyes when he talks about it.

"It's a joke," says the 67-year-old, semi-retired veterinarian. "Homeland security doesn't exist."

The contrabandistas have tainted life and corrupted hearts in Arivaca since before its founding as an American town in the 1870s. The trade is like a dirty fingerprint on the landscape, and a good bit of it runs along the Tres Bellotas Road, a dusty roller coaster that wends through canyons and rock washes from Arivaca down to the border.

It's rough country, all hills and horizon, and perfectly empty, unless you count soaring turkey buzzards, dust billows in your rearview, and the white-and-green Border Patrol trucks perched on intermittent hilltops.

Robinson and his wife, Mollie, knew the road running past their new home was a favorite of smugglers when they bought the place in 1969. But just in case they didn't, they received a dramatic reminder a few days after passing papers.

As they sat with the previous owner on the back porch, a proud young couple enjoying their first days on their new property, a station wagon roared up from Mexico. "Oh, there goes a marijuana load," said the previous owner in the most matter-of-fact voice possible.

Robinson admits to being a "little surprised" at the welcome, but not floored. The couple had seen the prevalence of drugs in their previous home, Gallup, N.M., and figured they couldn't escape it no matter where they went.

Even so, even sitting right on the border, they felt completely safe at the Tres Bellotas. "The first 30 years here, we had so few problems," says Mollie. "But the last six years, things have gotten really out of control with these illegals."

One day in 2003, Robinson and one of his cowboys rode their horses to a hilltop close to the house. To their shock, they saw an estimated 300 illegals congregated in the draw below. The riders watched as the mob divided into groups of 30 apiece, with one man, presumably a coyote, taking charge of each one as they prepared to walk north.

"I rode down and talked to them," says Robinson. "They weren't nervous or acting as if they were doing anything illegal at all. But seeing all those people on my land, and the way they acted, that's when I knew things had changed around here."

From then until now, the smugglers have all but taken charge, hijacking a way of life.

The hilly terrain offers abundant hiding places, says Border Patrol spokesman Gustavo Soto, and the Arivaca area's proximity to Altar and Sasabe, both right across the line in Mexico, make it a frequent crossing ground for drug and people smugglers. "The smugglers have built an infrastructure in those towns, which they use as staging areas to come across," says Soto. "They're trying to get to Highway 286 or I-19 up to Tucson, and the Arivaca road runs between those two highways."

On this hot summer day, as he rumbles across his land in a Jeep, Robinson talks about what it's like to live in the crosshairs of the invasion. The indignities include Mexican soldiers camping just south of the international gate below his house, a supposed show of force in the drug war. They come about every two months.

But these fellows make lousy neighbors. To kill time during the long days, they holler and fire off their weapons just for fun, filling the afternoon air with the rat-tat-tat of gunfire and scaring Robinson's horses.

Once-pristine canyons, narrow, shady oak and rock gorges, have become depressing dumping grounds for tons of feces, trash and personal items. "I don't really have anything against these illegals," says Robinson. "But it really gripes me how dirty they are, and they have no respect for private property."

The trash includes clothing--leather and denim jackets, Wrangler jeans and more--some of which is still usable after a good washing. Cowboys in the Arivaca area often add to their wardrobes by cruising these dump sites, and now, when Tres Bellotas cowboys go out riding, they joke, "See you later; we're going shopping."

In one of these dumps, Robinson found a hat with an Islamic crescent on it, and he rode up on a dead body, a young man, naked, a full water bottle right next to him. When dehydration sets in, people sometimes go mad and tear off their clothes before death. Two bodies have been found on his property this summer alone.

In his corral, Robinson has what he calls his "marijuana horse," an animal that smugglers turned loose. The pregnant mare has hideous open sores on her back from being forced to haul bails of marijuana without a saddle blanket. "There's not much I can do for her now," says Robinson. "Maybe her colt will be healthy."

It never ends.

One night two years ago, Lyle and Mollie were driving home on with a couple from Washington state in the car, the man a friend of Lyle's from his days at Colorado State University Veterinary School.

They encountered a high-speed chase on Black Mesa, 4 1/2 miles north of the ranch. A pickup filled with illegals was heading south, the Border Patrol in pursuit, when the smuggler suddenly wheeled off the Tres Bellotas Road into the desert. Robinson theorizes that coyotes about to be captured often become reckless, hoping to intentionally injure the illegals they're hauling, which they can then blame on the Border Patrol.

The smuggler truck sailed headlong through the darkness into a barbed wire fence. The top wire snapped up over the cab, then down, scalping a woman sitting in back. The wire literally removed her scalp from the middle of her forehead to halfway back on the top of her head. She was with her son, about 8 years old.

As Robinson tells this story, he's sitting at his kitchen table after a lunch of iced tea and enchiladas. Mollie is cleaning up at the sink. The sliding-glass door to the front porch is open, and an easy, warm wind blows in through the screen, bringing with it a faint whiff of the horse corrals and the chirping of birds.

It seems a scene of ultimate tranquility. But hanging over all of it is a sense of horror at what the invasion has brought to this land.

A visitor asks how his Washington guests reacted to stumbling upon the Wild West in modern-day Southern Arizona. "They'd never seen anything so exciting in their lives," Robinson says with a grim chuckle.

But it gets wilder still.

At 11:30 a.m. on April 22 this year, a Mexican helicopter landed in the Robinsons' backyard. Arivaca resident R.D. Ayers had driven to the ranch that morning to visit his injured dog, then under Dr. Robinson's care.

Ayers describes stepping outside the house to see what he describes as "a military Huey-type helicopter" circling, at the same time that a truck from the Tucson Fuel Co. was pulling into the yard. The Tres Bellotas gets its power from diesel generators, and that fuel has to be delivered.

As he approached the chopper, Ayers says six men in black, commando-type uniforms stepped out. Five had ski-type masks over their faces, and they wore body armor and carried automatic rifles. On their sleeves, Ayers saw the word, Mexico.

They stood in a defensive posture around a sixth man, their leader, who identified himself as a member of the Mexican police. He pointed aggressively to the fuel truck and asked what it was doing there. Ayers, in Spanish, told the man he was in the United States, not Mexico, and that he had no business in this country and needed to leave.

But the commander refused to listen and began walking toward the truck, at which point Ayers placed himself between the commander and the truck, again telling him to scram. After a few minutes, the tense confrontation ended when the commander ordered his troops into the chopper, and they split back across the border.

Ayers suspects that the Mexicans--one of Robinson's cowboys identified them as federales, Mexican federal police--were escorting a drug shipment to Tucson, and wanted to haul it in the fuel truck. Or they wanted to steal the fuel. The chopper had followed the truck much of the way down Tres Bellotas Road.

"Men with fully automatic weapons and masks don't just show up to say hello," says a still-outraged Ayers, owner of a backhoe company and a former EMT in Arivaca. He added that if he'd had his gun, he might've fired on the invaders. "I wasn't going to back down. This is my country."

These drug incursions occur with some regularity along the border. The Kays and Robinson say they're personally aware of three such incursions this summer alone, and it's worth noting that the men who recently shot two Border Patrol agents near Nogales also wore black, commando-type gear.

But this episode, like the others, has disappeared into the vapor of national security. Tucson Fuel refuses comment. The Border Patrol won't talk about it, saying its agents got to the Tres Bellotas too late to learn much of anything. The FBI in Tucson took a report the same day and forwarded it to Washington, but they're not talking, either.

As for Robinson, he was gone from the ranch that day, holding a veterinary clinic on the Tohono O'Odham Reservation--ironically enough, under a contract from the Department of Homeland Security. "I really don't know what happened," he says. "But I know my cowboys were so scared, they hid in the barn."

The driver of the fuel truck arrived at Tom and Dena Kay's ranch, eight miles north of the Robinson place, between noon and 1 p.m. that day.

"He was still shaken up, really wild-eyed," says Dena, who put in the first call to the Border Patrol. Ayers had tried to call, but when he got atop Black Mesa, the only place in the immediate area where cell phones work, the call wouldn't go through. He suspects that smugglers had jammed the signal.

At the moment, the Kays' Jarillas Ranch is a bustle of activity. Tom Kay, 63, is working the controls of a forklift with-on-the-ground help from his two cowboys, Roberto Triana and son, Peter. They're preparing a huge stack of railroad ties for eventual transportation to job sites around the 13,000-acre spread.

The solar-powered ranch house, located back from the clearing where Tom and his hands are working, sits on a rise above Tres Bellotas Road, shielded from its wildness by distance, some apple trees and a strong security gate.

After moving here in January 2003, the Kays spent six months re-doing everything about the house, except for two fireplaces that remain untouched. They sandblasted paint off the ceilings, installed a saguaro-rib ceiling in a hallway, and out front, beneath a tall pine tree, they built a rock wall around the manicured front lawn.

But the most telling touch is the sign hanging on the porch. Instead of the traditional Mi Casa Es Su Casa, so common on ranch-country homes, this message perfectly reflects the Kays' stance toward the illegals and smugglers who threaten their Eden. It reads, Mi Tierra Es Mi Tierra--my land is my land.

It's a manifesto, a hope and a bit of a prayer in a place where the invasion never stops, and its perpetrators receive, in the Kays' view, encouragement and welcome from water-in-the-desert "do-gooders."

On Arivaca Road on July 9, the Border Patrol busted two members of the self-described border-help group No More Deaths, alleging that they violated the law by transporting three illegals. Standing beneath the big pine tree outside her house, her bull mastiff, Ruby, bustling at her feet, Dena can't contain her delight that the Border Patrol has finally taken a stand against the group, which she says "entices people into our country to die."

"They put these crossers at the mercy of the coyotes, who rob and abandon all of them, and rape and abuse women," says Dena. "On the Fourth of July weekend, they found several bodies near here, and I hold these do-gooders morally responsible for every one of those deaths. They're so damn self-righteous, and they don't want to hear about all the damage the illegals are doing. They don't know how we're forced to live and don't want to find out.

"I invite all these so-called Samaritans to publish their home addresses so the illegals can go to their homes and defecate on their property and pound on their doors in the middle of the night and see how they like it."

Dena, 61, grew up at the Tucson's Tanque Verde Guest Ranch--when it was still a working ranch--taught English at Rincon High School and worked for 15 years as executive director of a domestic abuse advocacy center in Cortez, Colo.

In the latter job, she dealt with several women whose battering husbands, illegal aliens, had been deported to Mexico. Within a few months, they were back doing it again, and from that, she knew how easy it was to sneak back and forth across the line.

Beyond that, she and Tom had little first-hand knowledge of how overwhelming illegal immigration had become, and how dangerous. But an episode early in their time at the Jarillas Ranch initiated the Kays into the nightmare.

Dena was driving home along the Tres Bellotas when she turned a corner and ran smack-dab into 15 pickup trucks stuffed with about 25 illegals each. They were heading toward Arivaca and Interstate 19. When the lead truck saw Dena's vehicle, the driver jammed the brakes, then all the trucks began making U-turns on the narrow road, blocking her in.

"Here I am trying to get home at night, and there are hundreds of illegals and smugglers blocking my path," says Dena, who was unable to move for five minutes. "I didn't have my gun, and I'm thinking, 'Oops, I hope you guys don't want to steal my car.'"

The episode ended peacefully when the trucks got turned around and headed south.

On other occasions, the Kays have watched in astonishment as smuggler vehicles have rolled past in broad daylight, packed with human cargo. In one case, they saw a parade of pickup trucks with invaders sitting all around the edge of the rear bed, their arms locked so they wouldn't fall off. More stood in the bed, and they were packed in so tightly, it seemed impossible to breathe. Still more were packed into the double cabs like a fraternity stunt.

The site provided a stunning visual lesson in the economics of people smuggling. The Kays figure that each cab-and-a-half truck carried at least 50 people. According to Border Patrol estimates, each illegal pays $1,500 for transportation north. That's a grand total of $75,000 per truck. For, say, 15 trucks, that's a stunning $1.1 million.

"When I see those trucks, I think of slave ships passing in a harbor 300 years ago," says Tom.

The trucks sometimes roar down the rocky, gouged-out Tres Bellotas Road at night, with their lights off, at 50 mph. Dena says the nighttime racket can be especially loud during the Border Patrol's shift change, a time the coyotes know well. She has even seen mothers cradling babies, six months to two years old, at the roadside, after apprehension by the Border Patrol, and the babies are vomiting violently.

"I'm sure they have shaken-baby syndrome from driving this road at such high speeds," she says. "But as soon as they're released into Mexico, those mothers will be back with their babies to try again. They have no clue about the brain damage they've just caused their children."

Dena praises the Border Patrol's efforts to try to control illegal vehicle traffic on the road. "But they're overwhelmed," she says. "The illegals come at them from every direction."

The problems they cause are constant. The Kays have repeatedly had their outside water spigot left on, leaving no water for them to use their bathroom or shower. Neighboring ranchers have found stock tanks fouled by shampoo, soap and toothpaste deposited by invaders who use them as their personal bathroom sinks.

As Dena sits in her spacious living room, the summer light pouring in through the arched windows, she rattles off these episodes with some emotion, but not much. She's a thin woman with a gravelly voice and a fierce determination, a trait she acquired while running the women's center.

There, she testified against spousal abusers in court, in spite of their vows to come after her if she did. "I've had my life threatened a number of times," Dena says, shrugging. "I guess I got used to it. When you've been a victim's advocate, you learn not to give up."

She needs that kind of mettle living outside Arivaca, an unincorporated town of about 2,000 people.

On a Sunday night in early July, the Kays were alerted to something going on outside the house by the frantic barking of their four dogs. When Dena opened the door, she saw three illegals, in aggressive postures, one of them bare-chested. They asked for water. In Spanish, Dena responded, "You don't want water. Get the hell out of here. I'm calling la migra."

Like most ranchers, the Kays have given water to polite illegals in need. But these fellows were bad news. When they didn't respond to Dena's demand to hit the road, she told Tom, in a voice loud enough for the invaders to hear, to get her gun. Those words did the trick. "Unless they hear la pistola, they won't leave," Dena says.

Shortly afterward, to make sure they were gone, Tom went down to the gate and saw two trucks, presumably carrying the same men, coming down the road toward Arivaca, their lights off. As they passed, Tom aimed his flashlight into one of the cabs, and the men waved at him. Tom thinks those trucks might've carried drugs, but he didn't get a good enough look to be sure, and the Kays can only guess what those three men had planned while approaching their home.

Right now, Tom has just come into the living room, taking a break from working the railroad ties. A lifelong team roper in rodeo competitions, he spent 15 years running a sign company and athletic clubs in Tucson, his hometown, before spending most of the '80s and '90s in Colorado. He operated a small ranch there and ran a manufacturing company. But he's never had to run a business under the conditions he confronts every day on the border.

About a year ago, Tom was out riding when he witnessed a running gunfight in which automatic weapons-toting gangsters blasted away at each other on National Forest land on the U.S. side of the border, and the fight continued onto the Mexican side.

And in June this year, Roberto and Peter saw a second gunfight, also with automatic weapons. This one ended with two bodies being dumped into the bed of a pickup truck, which then fled into Mexico.

Surprisingly, Tom doesn't consider the violence of the drug smugglers his biggest problem. It's how ridiculously easy it is for them, and people smugglers--the two often work together, sometimes within the same gang--to invade American territory. They simply cut the fence, or run it down, and they're in.

But that also lets his cows out into Mexico, and that explains the railroad ties.

In two places, Tom is replacing cuts in his border fence with cattle guards--the ties will line the pits below the steel guardrails--hoping the smugglers will drive or walk across the guards, rather than cut his fence.

It's a desperate measure, giving bad guys ready access through America's back door. But Tom and Lyle Robinson, who also plans to install border cattle guards, say it's the only way they can maintain control over their livestock. At up to $1,000 a head, every animal that drifts into Mexico threatens their ability to stay in business.

"I talked to the Border Patrol and the Forest Service about the fence cuts, and they said there's nothing they can do," says Tom. "They said do what you have to do."

Border Patrol spokesman Soto says the agency is aware of the repeated fence cuts, and has no objections to ranchers installing cattle guards.

But if the agency knows about these constant border break-ins--a clear and present threat to national security and American sovereignty--why can't it be stopped? "We have a heavy presence in that area, but it's extremely difficult to control," says Soto. "In cases like this, we rely on ranchers to tell us the crossing patterns on their property. We don't have agents holding hands along the border. They're responding to other calls."

When his cattle do drift into Mexico, Tom sometimes contacts the Mexican brand inspector in Sasabe, Sonora, for help. But that's time-consuming, and Tom knows that if he sees fresh tracks and doesn't follow them right away, his animals might next appear on somebody's dinner plate in Sonora. To get them back, he saddles up and rides into Mexico with Roberto and Peter to find them.

In addition to being a national security nightmare, the fence cuts represent another fundamental outrage--the invaders are severely restricting how American citizens can use their property. Tom has two pastures abutting the border, Lyle Robinson three, and both say they can only use this land if they have cowboys available to ride the border fence at least once a day to keep the fence up.

The cost? Taking into account all the fences on his property, including the border fence, Tom spends at least one-third of his time looking for and fixing breaks.

"Two or three times a week, I have to send my cowboys to the border to make sure my fence is up, and it's an all-day job," he says. "All of this is expensive. If I make $40,000 a year running this ranch, every bit of that profit goes to repairing the damage these people do."

Why stay on land that American law enforcement can't or won't secure? After all, some around Arivaca already have left. In August 2001, Don Honnas and his wife, Carolyn, sold out after almost 41 years, in part due to illegals and drug smugglers.

As they reached their late 60s, the Honnases tired of sleeping with pistols under their pillows, suffering through 25 break-ins at ranch buildings, listening to their dogs bark all night and seeing two of their dogs poisoned. One of their biggest worries, remarkably, was the liability they might incur if one of their dogs bit an illegal, and the illegal sued.

"But the hardest part was when you call law enforcement, and they tell you they have nobody to send," says Honnas, now living in Sahuarita. "It was a difficult decision to get out, but we had to make a move."

For Tom Kay, running a ranch as big as the Jarillas has always been a lifelong dream, and he'll suffer through the dangers to keep it. "I'm very watchful and alert when I'm out working, but I'm not afraid," he says. "How could you be afraid and go to work every day? I'm not going to be afraid."

Whenever he rides his land, Tom carries a .44-caliber Magnum pistol on his saddle for self-defense, and for predatory lions. And when Dena goes for walks, she brings Ruby, the bull mastiff, and her pistol.

As far as she's concerned, the gun isn't optional. This is especially so in light of Border Patrol statistics showing that the common assumption about who is sneaking across the line and why--the harmless illegal only looking for work--has shifted significantly in recent years.

From Oct. 1, 2004, through July 24 of this year, Tucson sector agents arrested 375,000 illegals--37,000 a month. Of that 10-month arrest total, more than 28,324 had criminal records, 283 for sexually related crimes. Given this, and the effort it takes to reach their isolated house from the road, the Kays consider anyone who shows up at their door at night a threat. But they also know that should a confrontation go bad, American law enforcement will probably come after them.

"We've all been warned to not even show a gun to an illegal," she says. "A woman here did that a while ago, just showed it, didn't point it, and the FBI came to her house and warned her not to do it again, because it's a federal crime to threaten an illegal. But if I'm alone, what am I supposed to do? I can't scream, because no one will hear me."

Robinson is also sadly aware of whose side his own government is on when it comes to defending himself.

"Any rights we might have to protect our property or make an arrest have been taken from us," says Robinson, who usually doesn't carry a gun and doesn't particularly like them. "As far as I'm concerned, the smugglers can run anything they want through my ranch, and I'm not going to get up at night and look at them, and I'm sure not going to confront them. It's not my job. Besides, if I tried, and somebody got shot, I'd be the one to get arrested. The ACLU would probably take the case, and we'd lose our life savings."

It's early afternoon at the Tres Bellotas, and the sun is blazing over the desert. Out here, the intense summer heat keeps everyone's eyes focused on the sky for buzzards, because buzzards might mean a dead body, or body parts. Lions and coyotes sometimes descend on the corpses of illegals, leaving the death site a scatter of arms, legs or even a head.

Robinson has something he wants to show a visitor and pilots the Jeep up a steep hill less than a mile from his house.

The view from the peak would qualify for a postcard, if it weren't for the mass of litter and glass shards gleaming in the sunlight, and the smuggling trails that spider-web across the landscape. Some are so pounded down, they look like roads.

On this wind-swept peak, Mexican land visible across the pathetic little fence below, Robinson stands silently, examining what can only be described as a heartbreaking scene. He doesn't react to the debris and the environmental damage, at least openly.

But friends say the daily insults, the trampling of American law and sovereignty, the trashing of his property and especially the unwillingness of his own government to stop it, eats at his gut. Now, there's the latest chapter in the invasion--the helicopter landing. Robinson says he thinks about it often.

"I've never felt personally threatened living here until that Mexican helicopter landed," he says. "I know these Mexican drug people have access to helicopters, and if they get mad at me, what's to stop them from flying over the house and dropping a bomb and getting rid of me in seconds flat? Who'd care? The American government sure doesn't care. It makes me think how vulnerable I am."

As Dena Kay says, "There's nothing Lyle can do. If he fights back, the smugglers might burn his house, or he'll get up in the morning and find all his horses poisoned."

In addition to ratcheting up the stakes, the chopper incident did something else--it cut off Robinson's fuel supply. Tucson Fuel informed him that it would no longer deliver diesel to the ranch. Another company made one delivery and quit, citing the lousy condition of the road. The Border Patrol has helped by delivering fuel, and they've offered to provide an armed escort if Robinson can find a company willing to deliver. But Robinson hasn't decided what he'll do. He's thinking of buying a tanker to deliver his own fuel, and installing solar power. But that still won't give him phone service, except with his cell from atop Black Mesa, a 20-minute drive away.

Two years ago, he and Mollie got an expensive satellite phone and used it for several weeks, until all of their calls began mysteriously routing through a Mexican operator in Hermosillo. Even Verizon's technical people couldn't explain it.

Then a Border Patrol agent told the Robinsons what they already suspected: It's the smugglers again. They'd probably jammed the signals. The Kays say the same thing. At times of heavy night traffic on the Tres Bellotas, their cell phone--they have no land line--sometimes stops working for no apparent reason.

But Robinson doesn't spend a lot of time calling the Border Patrol. Even when he's certain a group is coming through --such as tonight's tire rollers--he usually won't call it in.

"If I were to call the Border Patrol, they'd say thank you and probably do nothing," says Robinson, adding that he'd have to drive up to Black Mesas several times a day to report suspicious sightings. "I'd be on the phone all the time and be frustrated all the time. I can't let it control me and affect my health. It'd ruin me."

And by the time the Border Patrol arrived, the threat would likely have passed. When Dena Kay called to report the helicopter incident, it took the Border Patrol four hours to get to the Tres Bellotas.

As Robinson sees it, the Border Patrol leaves his ranch largely undefended.

Even though the agency has had a horse patrol unit living at the ranch at times this summer, Robinson says that's unusual. More normally, agents come to the ranch in the morning looking for tracks, then either depart altogether or retreat to peaks miles back from the ranch to sit in their trucks and watch.

This allows the invaders unfettered access through Robinson's property, and it burns him up.

"Even though I'm only 200 yards from the border, my position is these illegals should never get here," says Robinson. "If you had real homeland security, they'd never be able to reach my ranch. But they're pouring across the line while the Border Patrol sits back on the hills, waiting to arrest them father back. I'm left here on my own, and it's like a taking of my property."

No phone, no fuel, and usually no Border Patrol. No man's land. So why stay?

It's the easiest question of all: It's home. The Robinsons raised their four children at the ranch. Most of their memories are on this land, and so are their hearts. They even have a ranch graveyard, the final resting place for several family members.

But Mollie admits it hasn't been easy, even from those first days in 1969. She had difficulty adjusting to the isolation, and took comfort in the biblical passage from Luke, in which Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Mollie did that then, and she and Lyle are doing the same thing now, keeping their hands on the plow and asking God, through their prayers, to keep them safe. It's what they have instead of homeland security.

Everyone in America has a stake in those prayers being answered.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #67 on: August 22, 2005, 04:59:32 PM »

Two articles in this post:
=============================

Border Activist's Ranch Turned Over to Migrants; [HOME EDITION]
Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Aug 20, 2005. pg. A.25
Full Text (466 words)
(Copyright (c) 2005 Los Angeles Times)

An Arizona ranch once owned by a member of an armed group accused by civil rights organizations of terrorizing illegal immigrants has been turned over to two of the very people the owner had tried keep out of the country.

The land transfer was done to satisfy a judgment against Casey Nethercott, a member of a self-styled border-watch group who is serving a five-year prison term for firearms possession.

Morris Dees Jr., chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represented the immigrants, said this week he hoped the ruling would be a cautionary tale to anyone considering hostile measures against border crossers.

"When we got into this case, ranchers all along the border were allowing these types to come on their property," Dees said. "Now, they're very leery of it, especially when they see someone losing their ranch because of it."

Nethercott was a member of the group Ranch Rescue, which works to protect private property along the southern U.S. border. He was accused of pistol-whipping Edwin Alfredo Mancia Gonzales, 26, in March 2003 at a Hebbronville, Texas, ranch near the Mexico border.

A jury deadlocked on the assault charge but convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Mancia and another immigrant traveling with him from El Salvador, Fatima del Socorro Leiva Medina, filed a civil lawsuit last year saying they were harmed while being held by Ranch Rescue members.

Named in the suit were Nethercott; Jack Foote, the founder of Ranch Rescue; and the owners of the Hebbronville ranch, Joe and Betty Sutton. The Suttons settled for $100,000. Nethercott and Foote did not defend themselves, and a Texas judge issued default judgments in April of $850,000 against Nethercott and $500,000 against Foote.

Nethercott transferred ownership of his 70-acre Douglas ranch to his sister. But the sister gave up ownership to settle the judgment when challenged by the immigrants' lawyers.

The transfer of the ranch outraged border-watch groups.

"If the federal government was doing its job, ranchers would not be living in fear," said Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group that watches for illegal immigrant crossings and reports them to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Simcox said his group had a policy against touching immigrants and used video to document its patrols.

Messages left for Nethercott's family and his attorney were not returned Friday.

Dees said his clients planned to eventually sell the property, which Nethercott bought for $120,000, but might allow humanitarian border groups offering aid to immigrants to use it for now.

Mancia and Leiva declined through Dees to speak to the media.
 





==============================

Mara Salvatrucha Gangs and U.S. Security
In a sweep known as Operation Community Shield, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies have arrested and deported about 500 foreign gang members in recent months, most of the deportees allegedly affiliated with the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gangs. The operation is a response to a nationwide rise in incidents of organized, often brutal, MS-13 violence in U.S. cities from Boston to Los Angeles -- and concern that MS-13's growing smuggling network for guns, drugs and people could constitute a U.S. security threat. On a broader scale, authorities fear that MS-13 is spreading instability across Central America.

Though its members can be found across the United States -- the U.S. Justice Department estimates there are 8,000 to 10,000 MS-13 members in 31 states -- the gang itself is decentralized, with members of various MS-13 "cliques" operating regionally via fraternal and communal ties.

U.S. law enforcement is concerned, however, that MS-13's evolution from decentralized cliques to a more formal command-and-control structure could hasten the shift from its focus on marginally profitable small-scale crime -- such as neighborhood drug dealing and armed robbery -- to high-profit criminal enterprises such as overseeing major drug-smuggling or arms-trafficking networks. Shifts of this nature traditionally lead to a rise in high-profile violence such as assassinations, kidnappings and large-scale gang warfare as competing gangs battle for control of the businesses.

To date, law enforcement efforts to infiltrate the MS-13 organization have met with little success, mainly because MS-13 members are strongly tied through personal connections and shared experiences -- reflected in the complex, highly symbolic tattoos that cover members' bodies. As with other criminal organizations with a substantial immigrant composition, infiltrating the gangs requires successful operations abroad, a process that is always time-consuming and rarely completely effective. MS-13 prides itself on its particularly brutal punishments meted out to police informants.

The U.S. government, then, is relying on deportations to combat MS-13, because many suspected MS-13 members are in the United States illegally -- having taken advantage of the United States' porous southern border. Deportations, however, can be effective only when applied in conjunction with efforts to improve border security and increase coordination between U.S. and Central American security and intelligence services. Otherwise, nothing prevents the deportee from re-entering the United States. Furthermore, securing the border will not guarantee the decline of MS-13 in the United States because many MS-13 members are U.S.-born.

Although it is true that many of MS-13's current members are from abroad, to say that the problem was born in Central America is inaccurate. In fact, Mara Salvatrucha traces its roots to 1980s Los Angeles, and the gang-dominated Pico Union neighborhood. Hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans -- totaling one-fifth of El Salvador's population -- sought refuge in the United States during their country's civil war of the 1980s. Of the one million Salvadorans estimated to be living in the United States today, some 90 percent arrived after 1979. Those who settled in Los Angeles often found themselves hustled, extorted and abused by the city's myriad ethnic groups and their related gangs.

Some responded to this abuse by forming gangs of their own -- most notably MS-13 and the 18th Street gang (Calle 18). MS-13 then spread from the United States back to El Salvador -- and to other countries in Central America.

The U.S. deportations are damaging Central American stability -- as understaffed, under-funded and ultimately ineffective security and intelligence services attempt to battle the gangs. For example, simultaneous prison riots broke out across Guatemala on Aug. 15, pitting MS-13 members against their rival 18th Street gang. During the fighting, police lost control of several prisons as MS-13 members -- some of whom were armed with assault rifles and grenades -- attacked their 18th Street enemies. Security forces later regained control of the prison, but not until after 35 people had died. The level of coordination and the type of weapons used by the prisoners illustrate MS-13's disturbing capability in Central America. In El Salvador, meanwhile, the government has instituted la mano dura (the strong-hand) policy to deal with the gangs, but has been unable to render MS-13 inert.

Central American governments, facing the influx of deportees, have asked for U.S. support in creating a regional task force to counter the gangs' influence and ability to operate. Although the United States has been reluctant to heed the request, something along those lines will be needed if the United States is to effectively combat an increasingly centralized criminal network.

Combined with these problems are concerns that links could be forming between MS-13 and Islamist militants, particularly al Qaeda. Although these concerns have largely been raised by Central American leaders who need increased U.S. funding for security, a report surfaced in September 2004 that suspected al Qaeda member Adnan G. El Shukrijumah was spotted in Honduras meeting with MS-13 leaders.

In December 2004, alleged MS-13 member Frankie Sanchez-Solorzano was arrested along with Bangladeshi Fakhrul Islam and 11 other people after they were caught trying to enter the United States near Brownsville, Texas. Cases such as this increase calls for tighter border restrictions with Mexico, but provide little support for allegations that al Qaeda, as some have speculated, is attempting to infiltrate the United States using MS-13 smuggling networks. Although too many of these allegations are based on rumor and hearsay, the border merits close vigilance. Trafficking networks, like all black-market activities, are viciously capitalistic -- meaning anyone, al Qaeda member or otherwise, could make use of the service.

It remains to be seen whether U.S. law enforcement can bring MS-13 under control before the gangs become a national security concern. Should history repeat itself, and MS-13 go the way of criminal enterprises such as La Cosa Nostra, the Hell's Angels or the Colombian cartels, then Mara Salvatrucha will become a household name in the not-too-distant future.
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« Reply #68 on: August 25, 2005, 07:54:53 AM »

--------------------------------------------------------------
08/22/2005

Terrorists may pose as homeless for surveillance, government says

By MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON- Asking for increased vigilance in the wake of the London
bombings, the government is warning that terrorists may pose as vagrants to
conduct surveillance of buildings and mass transit stations to plot future
attacks.

"In light of the recent bombings in London, it is crucial that police, fire
and emergency medical personnel take notice of their surroundings, and be
aware of 'vagrants' who seem out of place or unfamiliar," said the message,
distributed via e-mail to some federal employees in Washington by the U.S.
Attorney's office.

It is based on a State Department report that was issued last week. The
State Department had no immediate comment Monday.

The warning is similar to one issued by the FBI before July 4, 2004 that
said terrorists may attempt surveillance disguised as homeless people, shoe
shiners, street vendors or street sweepers.

The e-mail stresses that there is no threat of an attack and that it is
intended to be "informative, not alarming."

Homeless people easily blend into urban landscapes, the message said.

"This is particularly true of our mass transit systems, where homeless
people tend to loiter unnoticed," the e-mail said.

It referred to a recent incident in Somerville, Mass., in which a police
officer became suspicious about someone dressed as a street person. The
officer questioned the man, discovered he had a passport from a "country of
interest" _ typically a Middle Eastern or South Asian nation _ and a
checkbook with a questionable address, the e-mail said. The investigation is
continuing, it said.

Somerville police did not immediate provide comment.

Three British citizens were indicted in the United States earlier this year
on charges they conducted surveillance of the New York Stock Exchange and
other East Coast financial institutions in 2000 and 2001.

Discovery of the alleged terrorist plan last year prompted the Homeland
Security Department to raise the terror alert for the targeted buildings,
located in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J. Security in those cities
also was tightened.

Homeland Security also raised the terror alert for mass transit following
the July 7 bombings in London. The alert was lowered on Aug. 12.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #69 on: August 29, 2005, 11:53:07 AM »

This piece claims plans might be in the works to allow government VIPs to avoid airport security. If this indeed comes to pass I'd say a lot of loud squawking is in order.


Taking an ice pick to airline security
Paul Jacob (archive)

August 28, 2005


Ready for your flight? Got your ticket? Your government-issued photo ID? An ice pick?

Truth is stranger than fiction. The 9/11 hijackers are believed to have used box cutters to take over the airplanes and commit their evil ? a tool, a weapon, which at that time was actually approved for carrying onto airplanes. Today, the Transportation Security Administration is looking at new rules that would again allow passengers to carry on similar items: ice picks, razor blades, martial arts throwing stars, bows and arrows, and knives under five inches long . . . which would appear to include box cutters.

The same Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that seems to delight in taking away our tiny nail clippers ? to save us from doom at 30,000 feet ? now suggests it might be A-OK to bring an ice pick on board.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see the TSA relax some of its ridiculous rules. Folks may soon be able to keep their shoes on while going through security, and the days of harassing travelers for using one-way tickets may finally be over. No complaint there. In fact, I applaud the agency for any attempt, even a feeble one, to pay attention to flyers as people, as citizens, as customers.

But as David Marks writes at Blogcritics.org, "How is it 'customer-friendly' to allow scissors, razor blades, small knives, ice picks, throwing stars and bows and arrows on flights? Is there a great need to cut things, shave, pick ice, practice martial arts or target practice on a moving flight?"

Apparently, the TSA wants passengers to be better armed than pilots. The agency fought the proposal to permit pilots to carry firearms and then consistently dragged its feet in creating a system to evaluate, process and approve pilots. TSA even mandated that pilots go through an invasive psychological exam to carry a gun.

It never made much sense that a pilot already trusted with the lives of hundreds of people on the plane and thousands more on the ground should face such laborious additional scrutiny to carry a gun. Especially considering the gun was there only as a last-ditch defense against a maniacal mass murderer threatening to take over the plane.

Maybe government isn't really supposed to make sense.

It is also par for the course that the egalitarian TSA is proposing that certain big-shot passengers ? such as members of Congress, airline pilots, Cabinet members, state governors, federal judges, high-ranking military officers and people with top-secret security clearances ? not be screened at all. It might be worth considering if everyone on this list could be trusted, but just read the list again from the beginning.

"Either you screen everybody," responded Douglas Laird, former head of security for Northwest Airlines, "or why screen anybody?"

TSA's mission is to make certain that planes aren't hijacked, flown into buildings or blown out of the sky. And give it some credit; no planes have been hijacked or blown up since September 11, 2001.

But even the TSA ? in making the argument for relaxing the list of prohibited carry-on items ? tacitly admits that their screening at airports doesn't have much impact. TSA gives the credit for preventing hijackings and other attacks to new reinforced cockpit doors, increased use of air marshals and the fact that passengers will no longer sit idly by while being hijacked. The change in the expected behavior of passengers is the biggest factor, and may by itself be enough to thwart future hijackings.

On the other hand, many doubts remain about air marshals and TSA's passenger screening at airports. The former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security reported in 2002 that air marshals were found sleeping on the job, tested positive for alcohol or drugs while on duty, and even lost their weapons. Surely this doesn't apply to most air marshals and doesn't mean they aren't a good idea ? just that they aren't foolproof. Pun intended.

And who hasn't suspected that the elaborate and expensive screening at airports is much more about show ? to impress Nervous Nellies into a false sense of security ? than about serious security work. Numerous official and unofficial tests of airport screeners have illuminated holes big enough to drive a truck-bomb through. Undercover government agents were able to sneak explosives and weapons past security screeners at 15 airports during one set of tests in 2003.

In fact, TSA officials now acknowledge they are more concerned about bombs being smuggled aboard airliners than about passengers using a Swiss army knife or an ice pick to hijack a jet. They argue that looking for and confiscating cigarette lighters and nail clippers only hinders the search for more serious weapons, such as bombs.

It's hard to argue with this logic, but an ice pick? Throwing stars? Arrows?

As those of us who fly a great deal know, the TSA is a political bureaucracy that will never function like a dynamic group of 007s. It can never ensure us total safety from terrorists. Even real 007s couldn't guarantee that.

We can have more protective, more common-sense policies. All it may take is for the TSA to regard my fellow passengers with a little more solidarity, as something more than cash cows (or any kind of cattle) and certainly a whole lot more than terrorist suspects. Treat us with a little more respect, and we might even be relied upon. For, in this whole mess, it's my fellow passengers I trust most.


Paul Jacob is Senior Fellow at Americans for Limited Government, a Townhall.com member group. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web, and on radio stations across America
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #70 on: September 12, 2005, 10:24:09 AM »

............................................................................................
Geopolitical Diary: Monday, Sept. 12, 2005

Al Qaeda released a new videotape on Sunday. It was the second time an American -- Adam Yahiye Gadahn -- appears to have served as a spokesman for the group. The critical message in his speech was: "Yesterday, London and Madrid; tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne."

Also interesting was the fact that this tape was delivered to ABC News in Pakistan. Both of the tapes showing Gadahn were delivered by that route, while tapes featuring more senior al Qaeda officials are released via a Muslim media outlet, like Al Jazeera. There are two reasons for this, we would assume. First, Gadahn's value is that he is American and can speak directly and without translation in the United States; filtering his statements through Al Jazeera detracts from that. Second, al Qaeda must assume that an American broadcasting network operates under a security umbrella that is linked into the CIA and FBI. Even though they work through intermediaries, the trail can lead back to important individuals. When senior al Qaeda officials release statements, handing them to an Islamic outlet adds a layer of security; however, Gadahn's statements seem not to warrant that. We can assume from this that he is a link only back to the periphery of al Qaeda and is therefore less authoritative -- tracing his contacts wouldn't lead anyone back to the center.

Gadahn's statement also is interesting in that the new benchmarks being cited are Madrid and London, not the Sept. 11 attacks. For what little of value can be attributed to the statement, it seems to indicate that al Qaeda's ambitions no longer soar to the strategic attacks of Sept. 11, but that the group is satisfied with fairly pedestrian -- albeit murderous -- attacks via explosives aimed at public ground transportation.

The mention of Los Angeles is simply the mention of another American city. The mention of Melbourne is the mention of an Australian city. Al Qaeda certainly would like to hit a city in either country. Australia has been the major American ally in line behind Britain, and al Qaeda would want to punish it. Both major Australian cities have the usual transportation systems, and both have substantial Muslim populations.

Our view is that this communication has little importance in itself. The tape tells us nothing about what al Qaeda wants to do and far less about what it can do. Al Qaeda clearly has needed to attack the United States in the four years since Sept. 11 and has failed to do so. They also would need to attack Australia. We can assume that they will try to do both. We can make nothing out of this statement.

We are still back where we have been for months. From a political standpoint, al Qaeda needs to strike. From a capabilities standpoint, it does not seem to have the ability to mount sustained attacks, certainly not of the Sept. 11 variety. U.S. President George W. Bush, its nemesis, is clearly in trouble, with his positive ratings falling below 40 percent. From a political point of view, al Qaeda would very much like him to be repudiated in the United States. After Hurricane Katrina, a solid strike in the United States might convince people who favor the war in Iraq that Bush is incapable of devising a strategy to win it. So striking the United States makes more sense than striking Australia.

The problem al Qaeda seems to have is that it isn't capable of doing what it wants to do. In other words, whatever the problems in Iraq, the United States has crippled its operational capabilities. Instead of striking strategically, al Qaeda is settling for making fairly meaningless threats -- threats which at this point actually serve to reduce its credibility. If it could attack, it would. We are well past the point at which an attack is essential. Al Qaeda needs to do it and, from its point of view, it should be moving heaven and earth to do it. But it just can't seem to do it on any broad scale any longer.

Things can change, but at the moment, al Qaeda seems broken. Distinguish this from whether al Qaeda has sympathy and support in the Muslim world and hatred against the United States. Emotions do not, by themselves, create a global paramilitary organization. The emotions may be there, along with will. But the expertise seems to be missing.
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« Reply #71 on: September 17, 2005, 12:21:07 AM »

Doctor: Officials gave hospital staffers mops as people died

Friday, September 16, 2005; Posted: 1:19 p.m. EDT (17:19 GMT)

A doctor reported that sick people languished in the New Orleans airport while he mopped floors.
Image:  

(CNN) -- As violence, death and misery gripped New Orleans and the surrounding parishes in the days after Hurricane Katrina, a leadership vacuum, bureaucratic red tape and a defensive culture paralyzed volunteers' attempts to help.

Doctors eager to help sick and injured evacuees were handed mops by federal officials who expressed concern about legal liability. Even as violence and looting slowed rescues, police from other states were turned back while officials squabbled over who should take charge of restoring the peace.

Warehouses in New Orleans burned while firefighters were diverted to Atlanta for Federal Emergency Management Agency training sessions on community relations and sexual harassment. Water trucks languished for days at FEMA's staging area because the drivers lacked the proper paperwork.

Consider the stories of these frustrated volunteers:


Dr. Bong Mui and his staff, evacuated with 300 patients after three hellish days at Chalmette Medical Center, arrived at the New Orleans airport, and were amazed to see hundreds of sick people. They offered to help. But, the doctor told CNN, FEMA officials said they were worried about legal liability. "They told us that, you know, you could help us by mopping the floor." And so they mopped, while people died around them. "I started crying," he recalled. "We felt like we could help, and were not allowed to do anything." (Watch the video of hundreds languishing sick at the airport -- 4:16)


Steve Simpson, sheriff of Loudoun County, Virginia, sent 22 deputies equipped with food and water to last seven days. Their 14-car caravan, including four all-terrain vehicles, was on the road just three hours when they were told to turn back. The reason, Simpson told CNN: A Louisiana state police official told them not to come. " I said, "What if we just show up?' He says, 'You probably won't get in.' " Simpson said he later learned a dispute over whether state or federal authorities would command the law enforcement effort was being ironed out that night. But no one ever got back to him with the all-clear.


FEMA halted tractor trailers hauling water to a supply staging area in Alexandria, Louisiana, The New York Times quoted William Vines, former mayor of Fort Smith, Arkansas, as saying. "FEMA would not let the trucks unload," he told the newspaper. "The drivers were stuck for several days on the side of the road" because, he said, they did not have a "tasker number." He added, "What in the world is a tasker number? I have no idea. It's just paperwork and it's ridiculous."


Firefighters who answered a nationwide call for help were sent to Atlanta for FEMA training sessions on community relations and sexual harassment. "On the news every night you hear 'How come everybody forgot us?' " Pennsylvania firefighter Joseph Manning told The Dallas Morning News. "We didn't forget. We're stuck in Atlanta drinking beer."

The government's response to Hurricane Katrina has been sharply criticized. Elected officials -- chiefly President Bush, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin -- have acknowledged flaws in the response.

Some take responsibility
"To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said earlier this week. On Thursday, in a nationally televised address from New Orleans, he proposed a large aid package for the city and other areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. In the speech, he said the lessons from Katrina call for a new approach to responding to disasters. (Full story)

"There were failures at every level of government -- state, federal and local," Blanco told Louisiana legislators Wednesday evening in Baton Rouge. "At the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again," she said. "The buck stops here, and as your governor, I take full responsibility."

Nagin, once angry and embattled, was also conciliatory.

"I think now we are out of nuclear crisis mode, it seems as though myself, the governor and president have done some retrospection as far as what we could have done better, and ultimately we're all accountable at the level of local state and federal government," he told CNN. "And that's what leadership is all about. We should take responsibility and we should try and do better."

While Blanco did not elaborate on her mistakes, Nagin said he mistakenly assumed that if New Orleans could hold out for a day or two, help would surely come.

"I am not going to plan in the future for the cavalry to come in three days," he told CNN. "I'm going to buy high water vehicles, helicopters, whatever I can do to make sure that I am in total control ... of the total evacuation process."

Vice Admiral Thad Allen, of the U.S. Coast Guard, is now heading the federal government's recovery effort. On Wednesday, he encouraged state and local officials to bring their issues to him.

"Whether you're a person or an agency, whatever you're doing, if you have concerns and they're not stated where somebody can act on them, that's just going to fester," he said. "And I, as the principal federal official in this response, am encouraging any leader that wants to talk to me about real or perceived problems of what's going on out there to do that."

Where was Chertoff?
But the men in charge of the federal Department of Homeland Security and FEMA in the critical days immediately after the hurricane haven't shared the blame.

Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary, has offered no explanation as to why he waited three days after the National Hurricane Center predicted a catastrophic hurricane to declare Katrina an incident of "national significance."

In a memo written the day after Katrina made landfall, Chertoff said the Department of Homeland Security will be part of the task force and will assist the [Bush] administration. But the National Response Plan, designed to guide disaster recovery and relief, dictates that the Homeland Security secretary leads the federal response. ( Watch video on Chertoff's delays -- 3:09)

Chertoff appointed Michael Brown, then director of FEMA, as the federal official in charge in the Gulf states. Brown was relieved of his post late last week and resigned from FEMA Monday after taking the brunt of the criticism over the response.

Ex-FEMA boss blames governor
Speaking to The New York Times, his first public comments since he was relieved, Brown laid the blame on Blanco and Nagin. He told the newspaper he frantically called Chertoff and the White House in the hours after Katrina hit, telling them Blanco and her staff were disorganized and the situation was "out of control."

"I am having a horrible time," Brown said he told his superiors. "I can't get a unified command established."

Brown told the Times that he had such difficulty dealing with Blanco that he communicated with her husband instead.

"I truly believed the White House was not at fault here," he told the Times.

On August 30, the same day Chertoff wrote his memo, Brown said he asked the White House to take over the response from FEMA and state officials.

A Senate panel launched the first formal inquiry into the response on Wednesday. But the Senate's Republican majority defeated a bid by Democrats to establish an independent commission to investigate the disaster response.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the panel's chairwoman, said the response to Katrina was plagued by confusion, communication failures and widespread lack of coordination despite the billions of dollars spent to improve disaster response since the terror attacks.

'Sluggish' response
"At this point, we would have expected a sharp, crisp response to this terrible tragedy," Collins said. "Instead, we witnessed what appeared to be a sluggish initial response."

One of the issues the committee will examine is whether FEMA should stay under the Department of Homeland Security instead of operating as a separate agency as it had in the past.

Sen. George Voinovich, a Republican from Ohio, said the committee would "get into the bowels" of Homeland Security as its members investigate how the federal government, specifically FEMA, planned for and responded to the disaster.

Members of the former 9/11 commission blasted Congress and the Bush administration for inaction on some of its recommendations. Had they been in place, lives could have been saved, they said.

"If Congress does not act, people will die. I cannot put it more simply than that," said former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, referring to what could happen in the next major disaster or terrorist attack.

======================================

Student Arrested After Pilot Uniform Found
The Associated Press
Friday, September 16, 2005; 3:22 PM




MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A university student from Egypt was ordered held without bond after prosecutors said they found a pilot's uniform, chart of Memphis International Airport and a DVD titled "How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act" in his apartment.

The FBI is investigating whether Mahmoud Maawad, 29, had any connection to terrorists. He is awaiting trial on charges of wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.

Maawad, who is in the United States illegally, told the judge during a hearing Thursday that he is studying science and economics at the University of Memphis.

"My school is everything. I stay in this country for seven years; I stay for the school," he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker said Thursday that the airport-related items were found during a Sept. 9 search.

"The specific facts and circumstances are scary," Parker said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Thomas Anderson ruled that Maawad be held without bond.

"It is hard for the court to understand why he has a large concentration of those (aviation) items, and nothing else to indicate Mr. Maawad plans to stay in the community," Anderson said.

Maawad had ordered $3,000 in aviation materials, including DVDs titled "Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings," "Airplane Talk," "Mental Math for Pilots" and "Mastering GPS Flying," FBI agent Thad Gulczynski testified.

The company reported Maawad to authorities when he didn't pay for $2,500 of merchandise it had delivered, Gulczynski said.
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« Reply #72 on: September 21, 2005, 11:06:39 AM »

Pentagon Nixes 9/11 Hearing Testimony
Sep 21 9:00 AM US/Eastern
   

By KIMBERLY HEFLING
Associated Press Writer

The Department of Defense forbade a military intelligence officer to testify Wednesday about the work of a secret military unit that identified four 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, according to the man's attorney.

In written testimony prepared for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, attorney Mark Zaid, who represents Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said the Pentagon also refused to permit testimony there by a defense contractor that he also represents.

The Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hear testimony about the work of a classified unit code named "Able Danger."

In his prepared remarks, Zaid was ready to say on behalf of Shaffer and contractor John Smith that Able Danger, using data mining techniques, identified four of the terrorists who struck on Sept. 11, 2001 _ including mastermind Mohamed Atta.

"At least one chart, and possibly more, featured a photograph of Mohamed Atta," Zaid said in his prepared remarks.

Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Defense Department spokesman, said Wednesday that open testimony would not be appropriate.

"We have expressed our security concerns and believe it is simply not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in any public forum," he said.

Swiergosz said no individuals were singled out not to testify.

"There's nothing more to say than that," Swiergosz said. "It's not possible to discuss the Able Danger program because there are security concerns."


On three occasions, Able Danger personnel attempted to provide the FBI with information, but Department of Defense attorneys stopped them because of legal concerns about military-run investigations on U.S. soil, Zaid said in his prepared remarks, encouraging the panel to locate a legal memorandum that he said Defense Department attorneys used to justify stopping the meetings.

Zaid also charged that records associated with the unit were destroyed during 2000 and March 2001, and copies were destroyed in spring 2004.

Rep. Curt Weldon. R-Pa., who was the first to come forward to assert that Able Danger had identified Atta and three others as being members of an al-Qaida cell, was also scheduled to testify.

If Weldon is correct, the intelligence would change the timeline for when government officials first became aware of Atta's links to the terrorist network al-Qaida.

Former members of the Sept. 11 commission have dismissed the "Able Danger" assertions.

Pentagon officials had acknowledged earlier this month that they had found three people who recall an intelligence chart identifying Atta as a terrorist prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

In addition to Shaffer, another military officer, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, has come forward to support Weldon's claims. He was not on Wednesday's witness list.
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« Reply #73 on: September 23, 2005, 01:36:56 PM »

U.S. Terrorism Threats: Overconfidence in California?
Hamid Hayat, a California man who has been held on charges of lying to federal authorities about attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, was accused in federal court in Sacramento on Sept. 22 of providing material support to terrorists. The indictment alleges that Hayat "intended, upon receipt of orders from other individuals, to wage jihad (holy war) in the United States."

In June, federal authorities arrested Hayat, his father and three others from the same mosque in Lodi, Calif., near Sacramento -- later issuing deportation orders for the non-U.S. citizens among them. In announcing the latest Hayat indictment, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said authorities do not know what kind of plot was being hatched at the mosque, but that it had been stopped.

Scott's remarks could be premature.

Terrorist networks often are composed of multiple cells, one or more of them capable of operating independently and carrying out attacks after another has been broken up. For security reasons, terrorist cells often have no knowledge of the activities or status of one another. The December 2004 attack against the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is a case in point. Saudi counterterrorism forces exposed one of the two cells the previous month, but the attack proceeded -- and five consulate employees died, none of them U.S. nationals. Four members of the Saudi military and three of the five attackers also died in the attack.

Attacks also have occurred after authorities believed they had thwarted the entire plot. In 1997, U.S. counterterrorism authorities suspected that an attack was being planned against the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The investigation led to Wadih el Hage, who authorities say had been Osama bin Laden's close confidant and personal secretary. U.S. and Kenyan authorities searched el Hage's home but the suspect managed to flee Kenya in September 1997, leading U.S. officials to believe they had thwarted the attack. On Aug. 7, 1998, the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were simultaneously attacked with massive truck bombs, killing more than 220 people.

The exposure of one cell or individual involved in a terrorist plot does not mean that other attacks are not being planned in the same area. In June 1993 -- four months after the World Trade Center bombing -- U.S. authorities raided a warehouse in Queens, N.Y., based on a tip from informants. The warehouse allegedly was being used by followers of blind Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman to mix explosives to use in attacks against targets in New York, including the FBI building and U.N. headquarters. Abdel-Rahman, who was arrested in 1993 along with nine of his followers, was convicted in October 1995 of "seditious conspiracy." He is serving a life sentence.

Although the investigation into Hayat's activities resulted in multiple arrests and deportations, it is possible that only one part of a larger plot has been exposed. It also is possible that some other aspect of human or tactical intelligence has been overlooked, leaving other cells uninvestigated. After the Lodi arrests, any other cell in the area would have gone underground for a time to keep from being exposed. If that is the case, Scott could be overconfident.
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« Reply #74 on: October 04, 2005, 11:49:05 PM »

From another forum.  Anyone have anything on this?

===================================
Explosion Kills One at University of Oklahoma

Sunday, October 02, 2005


NORMAN, Okla. ? One person was killed in an explosion near a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma on Saturday night in what authorities said appeared to be a suicide.

The blast, in a traffic circle about 100 yards from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, could be heard by some in the crowd of 84,000, but university President David Boren said no one inside the stadium was ever in danger.

"We are apparently dealing with an individual suicide, which is under full investigation," Boren said in a statement. There was no information about the person who was killed, and no reports of any other injuries.

A police bomb squad detonated explosives found at the site of the blast. The area near the stadium was searched by bomb-sniffing dogs.

Jaclyn Hull, an OU freshman who left the game shortly before the explosion, said she saw "a little bit of smoke, about as much as you would see coming up from a grill."

Officers cordoned off an area west of the stadium after the explosion and nobody was allowed out of the stadium for about a half-hour after the blast, which occurred shortly before 8 p.m., about halftime of the Sooners' game against Kansas State. The game continued.

WT Perspective: I'll bet we don't hear another word about this. We should, but we won't.

Admitting it was, if it was, would not be good for business or politics. I wonder. Was this a terrorist event gone wrong?

They say it was a suicide. I investigated many suicides in my time in service. I never saw on done with explosives.
============

http://www.homelandsecurityus.com/

==========

INTELL PROVIDED BY MEMBERS

? Islamic Bomb-Making documents, Other Jihad Materials Reportedly Removed from Suspect's Park View Apartment

? Suspect's Apartment located Near the Islamic Society of Norman, OK

Law enforcement sources close to the Northeast Intelligence Network have confirmed that search and seizure warrants were served today upon the residence of the ?suicide bomber, 21-year-old Joel Henry Hinrichs III of Colorado Springs, CO, who was a resident of the Park View Apartments on campus.

Speaking strictly ?off the record,? the officials stated that they recovered ?a significant amount? of Islamic ?Jihad? type literature, some possibly written in Arabic, along with the suspect?s computer. Some of the documentation included material on how to construct bomb-making vests.

Further reports by the same officials indicated that the bomb was detonated prematurely when the suspect was either arming a bomb vest or backpack, which contained TATP, a homemade explosive.

TATP (triacetone triperoxide) is a very potent but relatively easily manufactured explosive compound that was used in the July London bombings. It is important to note that TATP has been cited in numerous Jihad bomb-making manuals.

The same officials, requiring anonymity as the investigation is ongoing, continued to confirm that ?other un-detonated explosive devices were found in the area cordoned off by police and federal officials.? Those devices WERE NOT DETONATED, but carefully confiscated for further forensic testing. Initially, information provided to the Northeast Intelligence Network suggested that that the so-called ?suicide-bomber? was attempting to attach bombs to the buses parked in the area when one of the bombs detonated prematurely. The investigation has expanded into the possibility that others might have been involved.

WT Editorial -

Suspicions confirmed? Lots of Jihadi connections in OK. Another post will contain more material. I will venture a theory. This American Hadji was going to go inside the stadium and blow himself up killing lots of americans. When they tried to evacuate, more deaths.

Now, the authorities can either say this was a terrorist event or that it was not. If they say it was not, everyone sheds a tear for the dead guy and discussions on how the sad tragedy of a suicide could have been averted. If they state it was a terror attack gone wrong, what would the reaction accross the country be???

I think we know WHY they are being quiet about this. The same thing happened with the Beltway Sniper case as well as with the Egyptian Shooter at LAX. If any WTers are privy to discussions held at the high levels of police admin it would be interesting to hear the logic behind their thinking.
===========

MANY PATHS SEEM TO INTERSECT IN NORMAN, OKLAHOMA

? In early July 2000, Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi visited the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma.

? On or about 29 September, 2000, Zacharias MOUSSAOUI contacted Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma using an e-mail account he set up on September 6 with an internet service provider in Malaysia.

? On or about 26 February 2001, Zacharias MOUSSAOUI opened a bank account in Norman, Oklahoma where he deposited approximately $32,000 in cash.

? Between 26 February 2001 and 29 May 2001, MOUSSAOUI attended the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma, ending his classes early.

? And more recently...26 September 2005: A University of Oklahoma student charged with bringing an explosive device to an airport pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in federal court in Oklahoma City.

Charles Alfred Dreyling Jr. of Norman, Oklahoma faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine at a future sentencing hearing. Dreyling, 24, was arrested in August at the Will Rogers World Airport after security personnel noticed a suspicious object in his carryon bag as he was leaving for a family vacation with his parents.

He later told FBI agents the device -- a modified carbon dioxide cartridge filled with gunpowder -- was "basically a pipe bomb," according to court papers that he had forgotten was in his bag. (Former Oklahoma City, OK Mayor Kirk Humphreys-- who was also DREYLING'S landlord-- spoke on behalf of DREYLING at his bail hearing).

? On a bus trip to the University of Oklahoma, Zacharias MOUSSAOUI was on the same bus as Nicholas BERG, the American man who was beheaded in Iraq in 2004 by Islamic terrorists. At some point on that trip, MOUSSAOUI asked BERG if he could use BERG'S laptop computer. Government sources said BERG gave the MOUSSAOUI his computer password...

? September 11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah?s ticket (United Airlines Flight 93) was purchased from a computer terminal at Oklahoma University.

? Norman, OK is also cited on a number of occasions in the best-selling book, the most comprehensive investigative work by Jayna Davis titled The Third Terrorist, about the truck bomb blast that killed 171 souls and destroyed the Murrah Federal Building on 19 April 1995
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« Reply #75 on: October 05, 2005, 03:38:50 PM »

Senate Will Probe Saudi Distribution Of Hate Materials

BY MEGHAN CLYNE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 5, 2005
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/20998

WASHINGTON - The American government is demanding that Saudi Arabia account for its distribution of hate material to American mosques, as the State Department pressed Saudi officials for answers last week and as the Senate later this month plans to investigate the propagation of radical Wahhabism on American shores.

The flurry of activity comes months after a report from the Center for Religious Freedom discovered that dozens of mosques in major cities across the country, including New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, were distributing documents, bearing the seal of the government of Saudi Arabia, that incite Muslims to acts of violence and promote hatred of Jews and Christians.

A Washington-based group that is part of the human rights organization Freedom House, the Center for Religious Freedom also found during its yearlong study that the Saudi-produced materials describe democracy and America as un-Islamic. They instruct recent Muslim immigrants to consider Americans as enemies and the materials urge new arrivals to use their time here as preparation for jihad. The documents also promote the version of Islam officially embraced by Saudi government and several of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, Wahhabism, as the only authentic Islam.

In response to the Freedom House report and as part of the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005 sponsored by Senator Specter, a Republican of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee - of which Senator Specter is chairman - will be holding hearings into the hate materials on October 25, a spokesman for the senator, William Reynolds, said yesterday.

The Accountability Act, introduced in June, says its purpose is "to halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure fully Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents." The legislation is highly critical of the House of Saud for its support of terrorist activity and cites the January Freedom House report as evidence of the kingdom's complicity in the spread of radical Islamist ideology. As part of the

Accountability Act, Senator Specter has in the past held Judiciary Committee hearings into Saudi financing of terrorism and Saudi Arabia's role in injecting ideology into textbooks for Palestinian Arab schoolchildren.

Many of the details of the Judiciary Committee hearing later this month, Mr. Reynolds said, are still being arranged, including a final witness list. In the meantime, the committee expects testimony from the State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Freedom House, and terrorism experts. The committee will press to determine whether the Saudi government has taken steps to stop the distribution of the materials, and will cull from witnesses recommendations to prevent their future dissemination, Mr. Reynolds said.

Also demanding answers about the hate materials is the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, Karen Hughes. During a high-profile trip to the Middle East last week, Ms. Hughes said American representatives had addressed the propagation of Saudi hate material in America during private meetings with government officials.

In a State Department briefing held en route to Ankara, Turkey, from Saudi Arabia last Tuesday, Ms. Hughes was asked why she had raised the issue that day during a public meeting with Saudi journalists, becoming the first American official to do so publicly. "We had been raising the issue privately," Ms. Hughes said, "and as part of raising difficult issues that we need to discuss, I felt it was appropriate." The undersecretary did not elaborate on the results of the private meetings, but the degree to which Saudi Arabia is making efforts to stop the propaganda will be a subject of the Senate hearings, Mr. Reynolds said.

Requests for comment from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia yesterday were not returned.
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« Reply #76 on: October 05, 2005, 10:20:34 PM »

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3005
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« Reply #77 on: October 26, 2005, 11:00:20 AM »

This is a follow up to an incident that drew several posts here. If you like the thought of various federal agencies with their collective heads shoved securely in the sand, then this piece will provide comfort.


October 26, 2005, 8:33 a.m.
Could It Happen Again?
Terrorists might not have given up on planes.

By Anne Morse

Journalist Annie Jacobsen gained a certain degree of fame last year as the woman who wrote about the strange and frightening behavior of a group of Syrian ?musicians? aboard a Northwest Airlines flight. She has now written a riveting book, Terror in the Skies: Why 9-11 Could Happen Again about what happened that day and in the months that followed. Jacobsen put her investigative skills to work, and discovered that the harrowing events that took place on her flight were far from an isolated occurrence. She ends her book with a warning: If our security system does not improve, another 9/11 is almost inevitable.

The events of Flight 327, on June 29, 2004, became notorious after Jacobsen described them on WomensWallStreet.com. Jacobsen, her husband, and their four-year-old son boarded Flight 327 in Detroit, the last leg of their flight home to Los Angeles after a family vacation in Connecticut. Settling into their seats, the Jacobsens noticed 14 Middle Eastern men board the plane. Shortly after takeoff, she writes, ?The unusual activity began.? One of the men got up and entered the restroom at the front of the coach section, taking with him a large McDonald?s bag. Leaving the restroom, he passed the bag to another man and gave him a thumbs-up sign. For the next hour, the men used the restroom consecutively. They congregated in groups at the rear of the plane. One of them stood in first class a foot from the cockpit door. Two were standing mid-cabin, and two more were standing in the galley, keeping an eye on the flight attendant. Others spent the flight patrolling the aisles, scrutinizing increasingly nervous passengers.

Unable to stand it any longer, Jacobsen?s husband got up and spoke with a flight attendant, who told him the captain was concerned about what was going on, and that there were people on board ?higher up than you and me watching? ? an apparent reference to federal air marshals. But it got worse: As the plane prepared to land, seven of the men suddenly stood up in unison and walked to the front and back lavatories of the coach-class cabin. One by one, they entered the lavatories, each spending about four minutes inside. Two men stood against the emergency-exit door; another stood blocking the aisle. At the back of the plane, two more men stood next to the bathroom, blocking the aisle. They ignored repeated orders from a flight attendant to sit down. ?The last man came out of the bathroom, and as he passed [one of the other Syrians] he ran his forefinger across his neck and mouthed the word ?No,?? Jacobsen writes.

As they deplaned, the Jacobsens saw two air marshals flash their badges and pull over several of the men. She later learned that representatives of the FBI, the LAPD, the Federal Air Marshals Service (FAMS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) met the plane. But, contrary to protocol, there was nobody from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the post-9/11 law-enforcement arm of what was once the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which oversees the air marshals. Nor was there anyone to take statements from passengers who?d witnessed the events. The Jacobsens told airport security what they had seen, and eventually told their story to a FAMS supervisor, who directed them to write down their statements and swear to their veracity. It quickly became clear that key elements of the story they (and a flight attendant) told ? particularly regarding what the men had done with the McDonald?s bag ? conflicted with accounts offered by the Syrians.

The next day Jacobsen was surprised to find no mention of the incident in the newspapers, or of any arrests at LAX. She began doing some online digging ? and what she found chilled her. Jason Burke, a correspondent for the London Observer, had written a story a few months earlier headlined ?Terrorist Bid to Build Bombs in Mid-Flight: Intelligence Reveals Dry Runs of New Threat to Blow Up Airlines.? Burke described ?dry runs? on European flights by terrorists attempting to carry components of explosive devices onto passenger jets hidden in everyday items like cameras and medicine bottles, and assemble them in mid-flight ? in restrooms. Burke noted that the United States was aware of these dry runs and that recent British Airways flights from London to Washington had been canceled over fears of such attacks. The French also knew of these attempts after discovering 100 grams of the explosive pentrite hidden in an armrest on a jet arriving in France from Morocco. (In August 2004, barely a month after the Jacobsens? flight, two civilian aircraft in Russia exploded, killing all 90 passengers and crew. The cause of the explosions? Bombs that had been placed in the planes? bathrooms by women with links to Chechen terrorists.)

When Jacobsen decided to write about her experience aboard Flight 327, she was contacted by Dave Adams, the head of public affairs at FAMS. Adams insisted that the Middle Eastern men on her flight were ?just musicians? from Syria. They?d been questioned by FAMS, the FBI, and the TSA. Their story checked out, Adams said, and none of their names appeared on the FBI?s ?no fly? list. Given the evidence that terrorists had been trying to assemble bombs in airliner restrooms, why, Jacobsen asked, had air marshals done nothing about the Syrians? bizarre behavior ? much of it involving restrooms? ?Our . . . agents have to have an event to arrest somebody,? Adams explained.

Jacobsen didn?t buy Adams?s ?they were just musicians? story, and her gripping account of what happened on Flight 327 ? ?Terror in the Skies, Again?? ? was posted on July 12, 2004, on WomensWallStreet. It exploded through the blogosphere, then the mainstream media, spawning intense debate. To some, Jacobsen was a courageous journalist exposing deadly flaws in America?s security system; to others, she was a racist, paranoid mommy with an overactive imagination. Jacobsen?s persistence in pursuing the story angered higher-ups in FAMS, and led to her testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

Astonishingly, Jacobsen writes, many of the federal agents who investigated the events of Flight 327 continued to insist that nothing unusual happened. In a sense, this was correct: These dry runs, or probes, apparently happen all the time. In the weeks after she posted her story, Jacobsen received more than 5,000 e-mails ? including 250 from commercial pilots, flight attendants, and other airport employees who are forbidden by their employers to talk to the press about similar ?incidents.? Gary Boettcher, president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, told Jacobsen that she?d likely witnessed a ?dry run,? and that he?d had many similar experiences himself: ?The terrorists are probing us all the time.? Mark Bogosian, an American Airlines pilot, said incidents like the one she described were a ?dirty little secret? that airline crew members had known about for some time. Air marshals sent e-mails congratulating Jacobsen for bringing to light ?something that had been going on since shortly after 9/11 and was being suppressed.? Many airline employees expressed outrage over security procedures that are lax, politically correct, and likely to lead to another 9/11.


RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT
Much blame for these procedures can be assigned to two entities: the Transportation Department and the ACLU. Incredibly, the Transportation Department forbids searches of more than two male Arabs per flight; to search more would be ?discriminatory.? This rule is strictly enforced by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who, just ten days after Arab hijackers used jets to murder 3,000 Americans, reminded all U.S. airlines that it was illegal to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin, or religion. To make sure they got the message, Mineta subsequently directed his department to file discrimination complaints against Continental, United Airlines, and American Airlines. (United and American settled their cases for $1.5 million each; Continental, for $500,000.)
In June 2002, the ACLU got into the act, joining forces with the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to launch a number of lawsuits over cases of men being removed from jets. The ACLU has also filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, claming, among other things, that the ?no-fly list? violates passengers? right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The airlines are now working hard to avoid discriminating against anyone else ? apparently by allowing unlimited numbers of Middle Eastern men carrying expired visas and mysterious packages to board jets and engage in conduct that terrifies the passengers and crew. ?The airlines? fear of being accused of racial profiling could very well lead us to stand around and wonder, ?How did we let 9/11 happen again??? Jacobsen writes.

As Jacobsen began appearing on television, FAMS kicked into high gear, repeatedly denying that anything untoward had occurred on Flight 327 and that it had no ?specific intelligence information? that terrorists were conducting dry runs, even as more and more journalists broke stories about them. FAMS spokesman Dave Adams insisted that all 14 of the Syrians had been thoroughly investigated and that they were in the U.S. legally. FAMS employees had followed the Syrians to the casino, he claimed, and then trailed them to their hotel.

The reality, as Jacobsen documents, was that only two of the men were briefly investigated, 13 were traveling on expired visas (the 14th was an American citizen), and nobody had any idea where the ?musicians? went after leaving the airport.

Much of the information FAMS gave out about Flight 327 was contradictory, and as Jacobsen continued to write and speak out, frustrated FAMS and FBI spokesmen tried to discredit her, painting the Princeton-educated journalist as a hysterical mother who had become upset at the sight of Middle Easterners on her plane. ?That the FBI and FAMS wanted the story to disappear was obvious. And I knew why,? Jacobsen writes. ?They made major errors in their handling of Flight 372. The more attention it received, the more would be revealed about how they had bungled the operation.?

Even as they attacked her veracity, seven other passengers from Flight 327 came forward to confirm Jacobsen?s account. One was so frightened by what she witnessed that she no longer travels by air. Others said they were convinced they were about to die. These passengers contacted Homeland Security, the FBI, and FAMS, telling stories similar to Jacobsen?s. Nevertheless, Dave Adams continued to insist that Jacobsen and her husband were the only passengers to complain.

?That so many passengers were terrified underscores how outrageous it was that the government had simply let the fourteen Syrians go based only on their claim that they were a traveling band of musicians with a gig to get to,? Jacobsen writes. (Months later, Jacobsen says, Adams admitted that he?d lied to her about the Syrians? being followed to the casino and to their hotel.)

Thanks to Jacobsen?s reporting ? she wrote 13 additional articles about Flight 327 ? the House Judiciary Committee opened an investigation into the matter, putting the actions of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, and other federal agencies under congressional scrutiny. Even then, Jacobsen says, FAMS officials continued to lie about her, about what took place on Flight 327, and about how they?d dealt with the Syrians once the plane landed. They also refused to allow the Judiciary Committee to question the air marshals from Flight 327.

Jacobsen continues to receive e-mails from airline employees relating apparent terrorist probes: Middle Eastern men who arrive moments before boarding, without luggage, and pay cash for one-way flights on which they take photographs and pass objects to one another. She writes of the all but useless ?no fly? list that allows suspected terrorists to board while keeping babies and U.S. senators off; of law-enforcement officials not bothering to show up to interview badly behaving passengers despite requests from pilots to do so. In July 2004, a flight attendant e-mailed Jacobsen, telling her that a partially made bomb had been found in a flight-attendant jump seat on an Airbus 330S ? discovered because flight attendants heard ticking. And on April 8, 2005, Department of Homeland Security officials discovered that two passengers aboard KLM Flight 685, traveling from Amsterdam to Mexico City, were Saudis who had attended the same flight school as 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour. ?Will we ever know how often these incidents occur? Twice a year? Once a month? Every day?? Jacobsen asks.

More to the point: What can we do to stop them? What it will take, Jacobsen says, is a strong leader in the Department of Homeland Security ? one who will ruthlessly purge the agency of incompetence and out-of-date policies (such as continuing to train flight crews to cooperate with hijackers). The National Intelligence Reform Act, known as the Intel Bill, should also help: It created a new Cabinet-level position, the Director of National Intelligence ? someone who will oversee the 15 federal intelligence agencies and presumably teach them the need to share crucial information about terror suspects. Furthermore, the Intel Bill will make it more difficult for airlines ? ever mindful of those empty jets in the weeks after 9/11 ? to hide suspicious incidents from the public. They must now report them directly to the TSA Operations Center as they happen, preventing airlines from making information from these incidents disappear ? and pretending people like Annie Jacobsen are crazy.

Jacobsen also recommends that Americans take a leaf from the Israeli intelligence book: The Israelis have not lost a commercial plane to hijackers in 35 years because they engage, not in racial profiling, but in passenger profiling.

Terror in the Skies is based on Jacobsen?s 14 WomensWallStreet columns but also contains much new material mined from confidential government reports and correspondence and from interviews with dozens of pilots, flight attendants, air marshals, and FBI agents. It is a sobering and necessary book ? one that ought to be read by anyone planning to fly the increasingly unfriendly skies.

? Anne Morse is a senior writer at the the Wilberforce Forum, a division of the Prison Fellowship. Two of her relatives are still missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


    
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ALDurr
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« Reply #78 on: October 26, 2005, 01:50:04 PM »

Quote from: buzwardo
This is a follow up to an incident that drew several posts here. If you like the thought of various federal agencies with their collective heads shoved securely in the sand, then this piece will provide comfort.


October 26, 2005, 8:33 a.m.
Could It Happen Again?
Terrorists might not have given up on planes.

By Anne Morse

Journalist Annie Jacobsen gained a certain degree of fame last year as the woman who wrote about the strange and frightening behavior of a group of Syrian ?musicians? aboard a Northwest Airlines flight. She has now written a riveting book, Terror in the Skies: Why 9-11 Could Happen Again about what happened that day and in the months that followed. Jacobsen put her investigative skills to work, and discovered that the harrowing events that took place on her flight were far from an isolated occurrence. She ends her book with a warning: If our security system does not improve, another 9/11 is almost inevitable.

The events of Flight 327, on June 29, 2004, became notorious after Jacobsen described them on WomensWallStreet.com. Jacobsen, her husband, and their four-year-old son boarded Flight 327 in Detroit, the last leg of their flight home to Los Angeles after a family vacation in Connecticut. Settling into their seats, the Jacobsens noticed 14 Middle Eastern men board the plane. Shortly after takeoff, she writes, ?The unusual activity began.? One of the men got up and entered the restroom at the front of the coach section, taking with him a large McDonald?s bag. Leaving the restroom, he passed the bag to another man and gave him a thumbs-up sign. For the next hour, the men used the restroom consecutively. They congregated in groups at the rear of the plane. One of them stood in first class a foot from the cockpit door. Two were standing mid-cabin, and two more were standing in the galley, keeping an eye on the flight attendant. Others spent the flight patrolling the aisles, scrutinizing increasingly nervous passengers.

Unable to stand it any longer, Jacobsen?s husband got up and spoke with a flight attendant, who told him the captain was concerned about what was going on, and that there were people on board ?higher up than you and me watching? ? an apparent reference to federal air marshals. But it got worse: As the plane prepared to land, seven of the men suddenly stood up in unison and walked to the front and back lavatories of the coach-class cabin. One by one, they entered the lavatories, each spending about four minutes inside. Two men stood against the emergency-exit door; another stood blocking the aisle. At the back of the plane, two more men stood next to the bathroom, blocking the aisle. They ignored repeated orders from a flight attendant to sit down. ?The last man came out of the bathroom, and as he passed [one of the other Syrians] he ran his forefinger across his neck and mouthed the word ?No,?? Jacobsen writes.

As they deplaned, the Jacobsens saw two air marshals flash their badges and pull over several of the men. She later learned that representatives of the FBI, the LAPD, the Federal Air Marshals Service (FAMS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) met the plane. But, contrary to protocol, there was nobody from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the post-9/11 law-enforcement arm of what was once the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which oversees the air marshals. Nor was there anyone to take statements from passengers who?d witnessed the events. The Jacobsens told airport security what they had seen, and eventually told their story to a FAMS supervisor, who directed them to write down their statements and swear to their veracity. It quickly became clear that key elements of the story they (and a flight attendant) told ? particularly regarding what the men had done with the McDonald?s bag ? conflicted with accounts offered by the Syrians.

The next day Jacobsen was surprised to find no mention of the incident in the newspapers, or of any arrests at LAX. She began doing some online digging ? and what she found chilled her. Jason Burke, a correspondent for the London Observer, had written a story a few months earlier headlined ?Terrorist Bid to Build Bombs in Mid-Flight: Intelligence Reveals Dry Runs of New Threat to Blow Up Airlines.? Burke described ?dry runs? on European flights by terrorists attempting to carry components of explosive devices onto passenger jets hidden in everyday items like cameras and medicine bottles, and assemble them in mid-flight ? in restrooms. Burke noted that the United States was aware of these dry runs and that recent British Airways flights from London to Washington had been canceled over fears of such attacks. The French also knew of these attempts after discovering 100 grams of the explosive pentrite hidden in an armrest on a jet arriving in France from Morocco. (In August 2004, barely a month after the Jacobsens? flight, two civilian aircraft in Russia exploded, killing all 90 passengers and crew. The cause of the explosions? Bombs that had been placed in the planes? bathrooms by women with links to Chechen terrorists.)

When Jacobsen decided to write about her experience aboard Flight 327, she was contacted by Dave Adams, the head of public affairs at FAMS. Adams insisted that the Middle Eastern men on her flight were ?just musicians? from Syria. They?d been questioned by FAMS, the FBI, and the TSA. Their story checked out, Adams said, and none of their names appeared on the FBI?s ?no fly? list. Given the evidence that terrorists had been trying to assemble bombs in airliner restrooms, why, Jacobsen asked, had air marshals done nothing about the Syrians? bizarre behavior ? much of it involving restrooms? ?Our . . . agents have to have an event to arrest somebody,? Adams explained.

Jacobsen didn?t buy Adams?s ?they were just musicians? story, and her gripping account of what happened on Flight 327 ? ?Terror in the Skies, Again?? ? was posted on July 12, 2004, on WomensWallStreet. It exploded through the blogosphere, then the mainstream media, spawning intense debate. To some, Jacobsen was a courageous journalist exposing deadly flaws in America?s security system; to others, she was a racist, paranoid mommy with an overactive imagination. Jacobsen?s persistence in pursuing the story angered higher-ups in FAMS, and led to her testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

Astonishingly, Jacobsen writes, many of the federal agents who investigated the events of Flight 327 continued to insist that nothing unusual happened. In a sense, this was correct: These dry runs, or probes, apparently happen all the time. In the weeks after she posted her story, Jacobsen received more than 5,000 e-mails ? including 250 from commercial pilots, flight attendants, and other airport employees who are forbidden by their employers to talk to the press about similar ?incidents.? Gary Boettcher, president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, told Jacobsen that she?d likely witnessed a ?dry run,? and that he?d had many similar experiences himself: ?The terrorists are probing us all the time.? Mark Bogosian, an American Airlines pilot, said incidents like the one she described were a ?dirty little secret? that airline crew members had known about for some time. Air marshals sent e-mails congratulating Jacobsen for bringing to light ?something that had been going on since shortly after 9/11 and was being suppressed.? Many airline employees expressed outrage over security procedures that are lax, politically correct, and likely to lead to another 9/11.


RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT
Much blame for these procedures can be assigned to two entities: the Transportation Department and the ACLU. Incredibly, the Transportation Department forbids searches of more than two male Arabs per flight; to search more would be ?discriminatory.? This rule is strictly enforced by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who, just ten days after Arab hijackers used jets to murder 3,000 Americans, reminded all U.S. airlines that it was illegal to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin, or religion. To make sure they got the message, Mineta subsequently directed his department to file discrimination complaints against Continental, United Airlines, and American Airlines. (United and American settled their cases for $1.5 million each; Continental, for $500,000.)
In June 2002, the ACLU got into the act, joining forces with the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to launch a number of lawsuits over cases of men being removed from jets. The ACLU has also filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, claming, among other things, that the ?no-fly list? violates passengers? right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The airlines are now working hard to avoid discriminating against anyone else ? apparently by allowing unlimited numbers of Middle Eastern men carrying expired visas and mysterious packages to board jets and engage in conduct that terrifies the passengers and crew. ?The airlines? fear of being accused of racial profiling could very well lead us to stand around and wonder, ?How did we let 9/11 happen again??? Jacobsen writes.

As Jacobsen began appearing on television, FAMS kicked into high gear, repeatedly denying that anything untoward had occurred on Flight 327 and that it had no ?specific intelligence information? that terrorists were conducting dry runs, even as more and more journalists broke stories about them. FAMS spokesman Dave Adams insisted that all 14 of the Syrians had been thoroughly investigated and that they were in the U.S. legally. FAMS employees had followed the Syrians to the casino, he claimed, and then trailed them to their hotel.

The reality, as Jacobsen documents, was that only two of the men were briefly investigated, 13 were traveling on expired visas (the 14th was an American citizen), and nobody had any idea where the ?musicians? went after leaving the airport.

Much of the information FAMS gave out about Flight 327 was contradictory, and as Jacobsen continued to write and speak out, frustrated FAMS and FBI spokesmen tried to discredit her, painting the Princeton-educated journalist as a hysterical mother who had become upset at the sight of Middle Easterners on her plane. ?That the FBI and FAMS wanted the story to disappear was obvious. And I knew why,? Jacobsen writes. ?They made major errors in their handling of Flight 372. The more attention it received, the more would be revealed about how they had bungled the operation.?

Even as they attacked her veracity, seven other passengers from Flight 327 came forward to confirm Jacobsen?s account. One was so frightened by what she witnessed that she no longer travels by air. Others said they were convinced they were about to die. These passengers contacted Homeland Security, the FBI, and FAMS, telling stories similar to Jacobsen?s. Nevertheless, Dave Adams continued to insist that Jacobsen and her husband were the only passengers to complain.

?That so many passengers were terrified underscores how outrageous it was that the government had simply let the fourteen Syrians go based only on their claim that they were a traveling band of musicians with a gig to get to,? Jacobsen writes. (Months later, Jacobsen says, Adams admitted that he?d lied to her about the Syrians? being followed to the casino and to their hotel.)

Thanks to Jacobsen?s reporting ? she wrote 13 additional articles about Flight 327 ? the House Judiciary Committee opened an investigation into the matter, putting the actions of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, and other federal agencies under congressional scrutiny. Even then, Jacobsen says, FAMS officials continued to lie about her, about what took place on Flight 327, and about how they?d dealt with the Syrians once the plane landed. They also refused to allow the Judiciary Committee to question the air marshals from Flight 327.

Jacobsen continues to receive e-mails from airline employees relating apparent terrorist probes: Middle Eastern men who arrive moments before boarding, without luggage, and pay cash for one-way flights on which they take photographs and pass objects to one another. She writes of the all but useless ?no fly? list that allows suspected terrorists to board while keeping babies and U.S. senators off; of law-enforcement officials not bothering to show up to interview badly behaving passengers despite requests from pilots to do so. In July 2004, a flight attendant e-mailed Jacobsen, telling her that a partially made bomb had been found in a flight-attendant jump seat on an Airbus 330S ? discovered because flight attendants heard ticking. And on April 8, 2005, Department of Homeland Security officials discovered that two passengers aboard KLM Flight 685, traveling from Amsterdam to Mexico City, were Saudis who had attended the same flight school as 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour. ?Will we ever know how often these incidents occur? Twice a year? Once a month? Every day?? Jacobsen asks.

More to the point: What can we do to stop them? What it will take, Jacobsen says, is a strong leader in the Department of Homeland Security ? one who will ruthlessly purge the agency of incompetence and out-of-date policies (such as continuing to train flight crews to cooperate with hijackers). The National Intelligence Reform Act, known as the Intel Bill, should also help: It created a new Cabinet-level position, the Director of National Intelligence ? someone who will oversee the 15 federal intelligence agencies and presumably teach them the need to share crucial information about terror suspects. Furthermore, the Intel Bill will make it more difficult for airlines ? ever mindful of those empty jets in the weeks after 9/11 ? to hide suspicious incidents from the public. They must now report them directly to the TSA Operations Center as they happen, preventing airlines from making information from these incidents disappear ? and pretending people like Annie Jacobsen are crazy.

Jacobsen also recommends that Americans take a leaf from the Israeli intelligence book: The Israelis have not lost a commercial plane to hijackers in 35 years because they engage, not in racial profiling, but in passenger profiling.

Terror in the Skies is based on Jacobsen?s 14 WomensWallStreet columns but also contains much new material mined from confidential government reports and correspondence and from interviews with dozens of pilots, flight attendants, air marshals, and FBI agents. It is a sobering and necessary book ? one that ought to be read by anyone planning to fly the increasingly unfriendly skies.

? Anne Morse is a senior writer at the the Wilberforce Forum, a division of the Prison Fellowship. Two of her relatives are still missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


    
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/morse200510260833.asp


 shocked And people always wonder why I hate flying.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #79 on: October 27, 2005, 11:09:29 PM »

The charts in this Stratfor piece probably will not print here, but worth the read anyway IMHO.
====================

U.S. Intelligence: Fixing the System, or Fighting It?
October 27, 2005 22 19  GMT



By Fred Burton

It has been nearly a year since we first noted the churn taking place within the CIA under then-new Director Porter Goss. In the life of any organization -- let alone a political one -- there is bound to be some shakeout within the ranks whenever there is a change of leadership, and doubly so when the outgoing leader has been in place as long as George Tenet was. But rather than reaching a crescendo early on and then dissipating, the turnover at Langley has intensified over the past year, and many of the departures have involved seasoned officials from the Directorate of Operations (DO).

Considering that the value of an intelligence officer is realized over the course of decades and entire careers, any churn in the secretive DO that is sufficiently high-level or widespread to attract the notice of mainstream news media is cause for concern. Neither intelligence agents nor senior managers -- such as deputy DO chief Robert Richer, who resigned in September -- are easily replaced; all require cultivation and heavy up-front investment.

The causes behind the problem are numerous, and most have been amply discussed in public venues: personality clashes with Goss or dissatisfaction over his management style; purges that were deemed necessary to induce a cultural shift following Tenet's business-oriented approach to intelligence collection and analysis; an overall intelligence community restructuring that created a new director of national intelligence (DNI) position, now held by John Negroponte. Though this last issue affects no one but Goss personally -- it shifts to the new DNI the daily responsibility for briefing the president -- it contributes to low morale at the Agency, where one of the perks for those who usually toil in anonymity has been the reflected glory of having your work reported directly each day to the president of the United States.

Add to that the castigation to which all of the nation's intelligence organizations were subjected -- though perhaps none so heavily as the CIA -- for the failures leading to Sept. 11 and unreliable intelligence about WMD in Iraq, and it is clear that there is a deep and systemic problem to be solved at Langley.

Goss is now fighting back, with at least some public attempts to restore the perceived glamour of intelligence work while driving toward a 50 percent increase in the size of the clandestine service and analyst staffs. One of the strategies he is pursuing is a campaign of unilateralism -- an attempt to wean the Agency from any dependencies on foreign intelligence services, rendering the CIA increasingly independent while also expanding and dispersing its agents' presence around the globe. "We are going to be in places people can't even imagine," he told employees in an all-hands meeting in late September.

The approach is intriguing on several levels. In terms of resolving Langley's immediate problems -- first, halting the churn -- it may indeed be just what is needed. Whether the intelligence such efforts produce, and the analysis thereof, ultimately helps mend the Agency's tattered image is a question for the longer term; success on both fronts is needed if Goss is to succeed in his mission.

That said, the intelligence world is riddled with interdependencies. National security, particularly on the counterterrorism front, requires a high level of coordination between the CIA (tasked with gathering human intelligence overseas), the FBI (tasked with gathering intelligence within the United States), and the State Department (which helps in protecting U.S. citizens and assets abroad, as well as with collecting intelligence), along with foreign intelligence services and liaisons and the National Security Administration. It is a complex system, unwieldy under the best of circumstances, and we would be hard-pressed to frame it as an ideal. Workable alternatives, however, are difficult to find.

In the post-Sept. 11 era, all of these systems (which have existed for decades) now come together under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which -- on paper, anyway -- is designed to vet any information about potential terrorist threats and then disperse credible and timely intelligence to the appropriate state and local authorities and the public. Now, there are still many kinks in this system, four years after the Bush administration created the DHS, but this is how it is intended to work.






The problem with a campaign of unilateralism, by the CIA or any other intelligence organization, is that unless it scores a resounding success -- and quite rapidly at that (which is unlikely, given the nature of the work) -- it is more likely to add to national security problems than resolve them in the near term.

Fragmentation has been a feature of the U.S. intelligence system for some time, and for numerous reasons. For example, we noted intelligence from sources in February that John Negroponte -- then the U.S. ambassador to Iraq -- was setting up his own intelligence apparatus within Iraq because he reportedly did not view intelligence from the CIA as reliable. The Department of Defense and other branches of government likewise have established their own intelligence channels, which are not subject to congressional oversight -- and which also make holistic intelligence analysis difficult, if not impossible. This is not a new problem.

Where we are now seeing it play out -- often with incredible inconvenience for everyday Americans (and follow-on credibility problems for all the intelligence agencies involved) -- is in terrorism scares, such as the recent "threat" to Baltimore's Harbor Tunnel or to the New York subway system, that turn out to be based on bogus intel. The difficulty in these cases was not that someone uncovered rumors of a threat, or that those rumors were passed down the chain to local authorities who took action, or even that the daily commutes of thousands of people were interrupted, with resulting costs to the community -- all of these are preferable to failing to report a real threat that is ultimately carried out. Rather, the problem lies in the inability to supply timely and relevant intelligence all the way through the chain, consistently. There are simply too many potential points of failure.

The threat to the Harbor Tunnel is a perfect example of the system's increasing fragmentation, and bears close examination.

We have noted that it is the responsibility of the CIA to gather intelligence overseas, but the Agency is hardly alone in that endeavor. Either the FBI or the Department of State, through its embassies, might also be present in any given country, and quite often all three can be found together -- collecting and transmitting intelligence, jointly or independently, back to their home offices at Langley, Foggy Bottom or the Hoover Building in Washington.

This system appears to have been fully in play with the Harbor Tunnel scare, which originated with a foreign source who was questioned by Dutch intelligence, which then passed the information on to its U.S. counterparts. (This, by the way, is the sort of liaison dependency that Goss envisions weaning the CIA from.) The "in-country" teams would huddle and send the information back to headquarters in D.C., launching a flurry of back-and-forth communications: Do you think the source is credible? Can you get more information? What about specific targets? This part of the process is not necessarily always smooth, but it does work fairly well and is common sense.

The difficulties -- at least for homeland security purposes -- usually begin in Washington, where dozens of agencies by now have been made aware of the intelligence and are individually assessing what, if anything, to do with it. The State Department alone has a system that allows it to transmit intelligence to more than 50 government agencies simultaneously, so that all the pertinent officials are reading from the same page. In the Harbor Tunnel example, this might be a quite detailed report in some respects -- explaining how Dutch intelligence picked up the human source, who he is believed to be, what specifics he gave during interrogation, and so forth. This report might conclude with what is called a "tear line" -- literally, a point at which the page could be torn and a slip of paper with a homogenized message passed on by the DHS to state or local authorities and the general public. It would look something like this:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Begin Tear Line

On Nov. 1, 2005, a source of unknown reliability in a foreign country advised a foreign intelligence service that a terrorist attack will take place inside the United States before Thanksgiving.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


At that point, local officials would face the decision on whether or not to act in the face of what, for all they know, might be an imminent attack in their city. In the Harbor Tunnel case, roads in and out of Baltimore were shut down for about two hours before someone relayed the latest information, which had been known to intelligence agencies in the Netherlands for some time amid all the flurry: The human source was telling tales, and there was no threat to the tunnels.





There are several take-aways from this discussion. First, as we have just noted, tear-line information often is so watered down as to be nearly useless by local authorities. This is a complicated issue in itself. On the one hand, it is a symptom of all intelligence organizations' need and desire to protect their sources and methods and, at times, to compartmentalize sensitive information. On the other hand, it can be almost impossible to interpret and act upon such vagueness -- and all of this is assuming that the original source in Foreign Country A was providing bona fide threat information to begin with, which frequently is not the case. The entire system is rooted in the reliability of the sourcing -- a problem that Stratfor faces as well.

All of these practical difficulties have added to the cacophony of questions about the reliability of the U.S. intelligence system and fueled impulses by some agencies and local police departments to, like Goss, go it alone and collect their own intel. Increasingly, metropolitan police departments and other security agencies have taken to deploying their own agents abroad -- without the diplomatic cover afforded to official intelligence agents -- due to perceived need and distrust of the existing system.

We are not unsympathetic to the problem. It is human nature to prefer one's own sources to another agency's intelligence -- which is often second-hand by the time it is translated into English. Acting on information from their own human sources, the NYPD, State Department, FBI or other agencies are better able to judge its reliability: They would at least have an idea of the source's identity, something about his possible connections to terrorist groups, whether he was coerced during interrogation or developed a nervous tic when discussing the reported "threat." Everyone feels more comfortable assessing and acting on the intelligence when they've had a hand in collecting it.





But, ultimately, this "pile-on" effect stands only to increase the level of kludge in the existing intelligence system -- and it is questionable whether it actually serves the public, as opposed to the intelligence agencies. Because they bypass what ideally should be the firewall imposed by the DHS to shield the public from questionable intelligence, these outriders can lead to more, rather than fewer, needless panics if the local groups' threat information is not well-vetted or protected. And such scares, in turn, tend to reinforce questions and concerns about the reliability of the entire intelligence community -- not just the CIA -- in the minds of the public.

Identifying the problems in a system with so many moving parts is, while not easy, still much easier than proposing solutions -- and, as we noted above, finding viable alternatives to the existing system, imperfect though it may be, is challenging. The missing ingredient is trust, which is not endemic to the intelligence community. The task has now fallen to Goss to find ways of generating that trust in the still-tumultuous CIA, and to Negroponte -- who, we note, was only months ago contributing to the fragmentation in the system -- to streamline it instead.
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« Reply #80 on: November 14, 2005, 06:34:26 PM »

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« Reply #81 on: December 05, 2005, 11:36:50 AM »

From Australia:

Quote


Airplane security and metal knives
By Bruce Schneier
Comment
November 30, 2005

Two weeks ago, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone caused a stir by ridiculing airplane security in a public speech. She derided much of post-9/11 airline security, especially the use of plastic knives instead of metal ones, and said ?a lot of what we do is to make people feel better as opposed to actually achieve an outcome.?

As a foreigner, I know very little about Australian politics. I don't know anything about Senator Vanstone, her politics, her policies, or her party. I have no idea what she stands for. But as a security technologist, I agree 100% with her comments. Most airplane security is what I call ?security theater?: ineffective measures designed to make people feel better about flying.

I get irritated every time I get a plastic knife with my airplane meal. I know it doesn't make me any safer to get plastic. El Al, a company I know takes security seriously, serves in-flight meals with metal cutlery...even in economy class.

Senator Vanstone pointed to wine glasses and HB pencils as potential weapons. She could have gone further. Spend a few minutes on the problem, and you quickly realise that airplanes are awash in potential weapons: belts, dental floss, keys, neckties, hatpins, canes, or the bare hands of someone with the proper training. Snap the extension handle of a wheeled suitcase off in just the right way, and you've got a pretty effective spear. Garrotes can be made of fishing line or dental floss. Shatter a CD or DVD and you'll have a bunch of razor-sharp fragments. Break a bottle and you've got a nasty weapon. Even the most unimaginative terrorist could figure out how to smuggle an 8-inch resin combat knife onto a plane. In my book Beyond Fear, I even explained how to make a knife onboard with a tube of steel epoxy glue.

Maybe people who have watched McGuyver should never be allowed to fly.

The point is not that we can't make air travel safe; the point is that we're missing the point. Yes, the 9/11 terrorists used box cutters and small knives to hijack four airplanes, their attack wasn't about the weapons. The terrorists succeeded because they exploited a flaw in the US response policy. Prior to 9/11, standard procedure was to cooperate fully with the terrorists while the plane was in the air. The goal was to get the plane onto the ground, where you can more easily negotiate. That policy, of course, fails completely when faced with a suicide terrorists.

And more importantly, the attack was a one-time event. We haven't seen the end of airplane hijacking ? there was a conventional midair hijacking in Colombia in September ? but the aircraft-as-missile tactic required surprise to be successful

This is not to say that we should give up on airplane security, either. A single cursory screening is worth it, but more extensive screening rapidly reaches the point of diminishing returns. Most criminals are stupid, and are caught by a basic screening system. And just as important, the very act of screening is both a reminder and a deterrent. Terrorists can't guarantee that they will be able to slip a weapon through screening, so they probably won't try.

But screening will never be perfect. We can't keep weapons out of prisons, a much more restrictive and controlled environment. How can we have a hope of keeping them off airplanes? The way to prevent airplane terrorism is not to spend additional resources keeping objects that could fall into the wrong hands off airplanes. The way to improve airplane security is to spend those resources keeping the wrong hands from boarding airplanes in the first place, and to make those hands ineffective if they do.

Exactly two things have made airline travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and passengers who now know that they may have to fight back. Everything else ? all that extra screening, those massive passenger profiling systems ? is security theatre.

If, as Opposition leader Kim Beazley said, Senator Vanstone should be sacked for speaking the truth, then we're all much less secure. And if, as Federal Labor's homeland security spokesman Arch Bevis said, her comments made a mockery of the Howard government's credibility in the area of counter-terrorism, then maybe Howard's government doesn't have any credibility.

We would all be a lot safer if we took all the money we're spending on enhanced passenger screening and applied it to intelligence, investigation, and emergency response. This is how to keep the wrong hands off airplanes and, more importantly, how to make us secure regardless of what the terrorists are planning next ? even if it has nothing to do with airplanes.

Bruce Schneier is the CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, and the author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. He can be reached at www.schneier.com. This article is reproduced with permission. Copyright rests with the author.



http://www.smh.com.au/news/soapbox/airplane-security-and-metal-knives/2005/11/30/1133026503111.html#

Best regards,

Argyll
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« Reply #82 on: March 20, 2006, 05:42:20 PM »

New York Post

Air Security's Latest "F"
More than four years after 9/11 it's time to fix TSA, improve airport security
By Robert W. Poole, Jr.


The latest bin Laden tape was a grim reminder that terrorists are still probing for our weaknesses. So last month's 9/11 Commission report giving airline passenger-screening an "F" is a kick to the gut.

Why do our airports remain vulnerable? It's not lack of resources: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) earned that "F" despite spending nearly its entire $5.5 billion budget last year on passenger and baggage screening.

Nor is screening the only problem area. Access to planes and the tarmac, either through the airport fence or by thousands of on-airport workers, remains a weak point. We still don't check most carry-on luggage for explosives. And the security measures we've added ? baggage-inspection machines, more checkpoints ? make for more crowds, a likely suicide-bombing target.

Reason Foundation's year-long assessment of airport security concluded that these holes, and others, are due to three fundamental problems with TSA.

First, TSA assumes all passengers are equally likely to be a threat. So all checked bags get the same costly screening; we all stand in the same endless lines, take off our shoes, etc.

Second, TSA is grossly over-centralized and unable to handle the wide diversity of circumstances at 450 different airports. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, calls it a "Soviet-style, command-and-control approach" that "has been unable to match the changing requirements."

Third, as both the provider of airport screening and its regulator, TSA has a built-in conflict of interest that allows it to grade and monitor its own performance. Here's the kind of thing that leads to: Shortly after it's creation, TSA paid a company to recruit new screeners; the taxpayers wound up spending $143,432 in recruitment costs for each screener ? each screener ? in the terrorism hotbed of Topeka, Kan. A bungling bureaucracy shouldn't police itself.

We can, and must, do better.

TSA should be reconceived as a rule-setter and enforcer, and get out of the business of providing security services. Individual airports (which already carry out other security functions, such as perimeter protection) should be given control of security, with strict TSA oversight and auditing. And our policies on airport security should become thoroughly risk-based, with more resources devoted to high-risk passengers and situations and less devoted to low-risk ones.

Israeli airports and 19 of the 20 busiest airports in Europe all use this risk-based airport-security model. Their governments don't provide screening services, but instead set and enforce strict standards that airports and their contractors must meet and adhere to ? with severe penalties for failures.

A risk-based system would focus more resources on potential terrorists ? where they should be focused. A computer program had flagged more than half the 9/11 terrorists as risks ? but they weren't then exposed to tough enough questioning or security.

We need to concentrate time and resources on the highest threats ? and toddlers and terrorists are not equal threats.

The forthcoming Registered Traveler program (scheduled for the summer), under which frequent flyers can opt to go through a background check and security clearance to gain access to fast-lane processing with a biometric I.D. card, is an important first step. This is one way to reduce the haystack, to better find the needles.

Sure, a terrorist could try to roll the dice and infiltrate the Registered Traveler system. But ask yourself this ? are terrorists more likely to volunteer themselves for in-depth background checks and fingerprinting to get a Registered Traveler card (where they'll still have to go through security at the airport) or simply take their chances in the regular lanes, knowing that most carry-on bags and passengers don't even get screened for explosives?

Our reaction to 9/11 created an air-security policy that doesn't examine relative risks, costs or benefits. And that system is failing miserably. It shouldn't take another attack to make us fix its fundamental flaws.

Robert Poole is director of transportation studies at Reason Foundation and author of the new study "Airport Security: Time for a New Model." He was a member of the Bush-Cheney transition team in 2000-01 and advised the White House Domestic Policy Council and several members of Congress on airport security following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

http://www.reason.org/commentaries/poole_20060131.shtml
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« Reply #83 on: April 13, 2006, 04:49:54 AM »

Framing the 'Sleeper Cell' Argument
April 11, 2006 23 00  GMT



By Fred Burton

Sleeper cell.

The very phrase conjures up an image of evil plotters burrowing deep into the fabric of a society, hiding under deep cover until they are called upon to strike at an unsuspecting host. Because it is a "sexy" phrase that arouses deep emotions and commands attention, it is frequently used in the public sphere. In fact, it has so much currency that Showtime even created a dramatic series called "Sleeper Cell" -- and you knew people would watch it on the strength of its name alone. Psychologically, it is the word "sleeper" that arouses the greatest angst in the post-9/11 context -- the world by now has grown familiar with the concept of "terrorist cell," and that phrase no longer carries the emotional impact that the word "sleeper" does.

As a result, the term not only is used frequently, but also often is used incorrectly -- not only by reporters and academics, but even at times by senior officials with agencies like the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, in testimony before the U.S. Congress and in other public statements. The issue is not one of mere semantics; the overuse of the phrase "sleeper cell" tends to blur important distinctions and contribute to general confusion about the nature of the jihadist threat the United States is fighting. Precise language is needed both for clear-eyed analysis and more effective defense and counterterrorism efforts.

Defining a 'Sleeper'

In simple terms, a sleeper is an operative that is infiltrated into the society, or even into the government, of a targeted country -- there to remain dormant ("sleep") until being activated, perhaps by a prearranged signal or a certain chain of events.

The concept of a sleeper operative dates back to the Cold War. In that context, a sleeper would be an officer working with a foreign intelligence service -- which would exercise maximum care in infiltrating him into the target country, to avoid detection by counterintelligence and security forces. The operative could be tasked with carrying out acts of sabotage if war should break out between the country that deployed him and the target country, but barring that, his job was to do nothing but blend into society, until the time came to act. A sleeper differs from what the Soviets (and now the Russians) would refer to as an "illegal", or what the CIA calls a "NOC" (an officer under "non-official cover"), in that a sleeper is not to take immediate operational activity, but rather must remain dormant until activated.

There are great dangers in submerging a sleeper operative for long periods in a target society, so intelligence agencies are very particular about what kinds of people are selected for such assignments. Such operatives must be mentally prepared for the stress they will endure in infiltrating the country, as well as capable of enduring the monotony of being in place for years without engaging in operational acts and without betraying their true identity or purpose. Only highly disciplined people qualify for such assignments.

Moreover, extensive training in operational tradecraft is needed; any contact between the operative and deploying government is extremely risky for the mission, so a highly sophisticated command-and-control system is needed for communication. This requirement would be multiplied in the case of a sleeper cell, given the need to avoid rousing suspicions or linking members of a cell together.

In short, an operation involving a sleeper must be -- by definition -- a long-term, strategic project that may take years or even decades to reach fruition. Great vision, sophisticated planning and deep reservoirs of patience are required of the government or group that prepares and deploys such agents, which are assets to be held in reserve until a time of great need.

In the Cold War context, sleeper operatives were a fallback or redundant intelligence network that could be activated in a crisis situation -- for example, if both the primary intelligence network (consisting of diplomats) and the secondary network (NOCs or illegal intelligence officers) were rolled up, leaving the deploying government blind. Sleeper officers would be the safety net to ensure that the sponsoring agency could still gather intelligence about what was happening in the targeted country.

Al Qaeda and Covert Operatives

Given this definition, we are not aware of any jihadist organization -- including al Qaeda -- that has ever created and run a true sleeper operation or cell. Perhaps the most significant reason for this is that an organization with limited resources would find it difficult to afford an operative who sits in place and does nothing.

As the 9/11 attacks and other operations have made clear, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups certainly have used clandestine operatives in the past. However, it is important to note that simply because an operative is hidden does not mean he is a sleeper.

Consider the 9/11 operatives as an example. The men were divided into two groups -- the pilots and those who might be termed the "muscle hijackers," who wielded box cutters while the al Qaeda pilots took control in the cockpit. Some in the media have equated the pilots with sleeper operatives because they began to arrive in the United States in early 2000, long before their planned attack, but this would be a misnomer. After arriving, these men quickly engaged in operational activities, such as attending English classes and enrolling in flight schools. The 9/11 pilots clearly were sent to the United States with a mission, which they began pursuing shortly after arriving. The same holds true for the muscle hijackers, who began arriving in the country by July 2001. Rather than trying to embed themselves in American society, they remained more or less aloof; they kept to themselves, lifted weights and waited for the green light from an operational commander -- in this case, Mohammed Atta -- to execute their mission.

One of the key aspects to consider in any discussion of al Qaeda -- and one that often is overlooked -- is that al Qaeda is a nonstate entity. That means not only that it is a network set up to carry out attacks, but also that it must sustain itself; it has nodes dedicated to fundraising, recruitment, and logistics and training activities. Examples of such nodes can be clearly seen in a historical review of al Qaeda's activities, and at times these can confuse the sleeper cell discourse.

In the mid-1990s, al Qaeda established a node in East Africa -- with headquarters in Nairobi -- that opened a charity called Help Africa People, as well as a gem-trading business, a fishing business and a branch of Osama bin Laden's Taba Investment Company. Alongside these non-terrorist activities, the Nairobi cell was busy with operational planning -- having surveilled the U.S. embassy in Nairobi as early as 1993. The group's planning activities (and its connection to al Qaeda) attracted so much attention that in August 1997, Kenyan and U.S. authorities visited the home of cell leader Wadih El-Hage, seized his computer and other evidence, and strongly suggested that he leave the country. Thus, even though the East Africa cell was present and active for several years before the 1998 attacks at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, it could not correctly be categorized as a sleeper cell, given its open relationship with al Qaeda and recruiting and fundraising operations.

Grassroots Groups and Sleepers

Since 1979, thousands of Muslim men have fought jihad in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and, most recently, Iraq. These men, along with others who have never been to jihad, have left their home countries or place of residence to attend training camps in places like Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- where they also were ideologically indoctrinated. During the jihad in Afghanistan and Bosnia, many of these men were recruited by Muslim "charities" associated with the Maktab al-Khidmat, or MAK -- known in English as the Afghan Services Bureau -- and many even had their travel expenses paid in whole or in part by these charities. These men eventually returned to their home countries but retained their paramilitary skills, their radical mindsets and their relationships with the men with whom they had fought and trained.

Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups have used such networks to their advantage. When Abdel Basit (perhaps more widely known as Ramzi Yousef) arrived in the United States in September 1992, he was able to use contacts at Brooklyn's Alkifah Refugee Center -- which was one of the U.S. branches of the MAK -- to quickly cobble together a team that helped him plan and execute the first World Trade Center bombing. In that case, Basit was not a sleeper because he came to the United States with a mission in mind and quickly got to work on it. Nor would the others arrested in connection with that case fit the definition of sleeper operatives; though they were living in the United States and were, to some degree, embedded in society, they were not deployed for that purpose by al Qaeda but rather came to the country of their own accord. Mahmoud Abouhalima, Mohammed Salameh and their colleagues were what might be termed "grassroots" operatives who were organized by an operational commander (Basit), who was dispatched to the United States from "the base" in Afghanistan.

The grassroots pattern has been used by al Qaeda far more often than the 9/11 model, in which all the operatives were sent into the United States from overseas.

As al Qaeda's evolution from an organization to a movement continues, the odds of another centrally planned, funded and executed attack like 9/11 will grow ever more remote. Instead, it is the combination of operational planners and grassroots cells that will continue to pose the most significant and most persistent threat. This is the model that was evident in the Madrid and London attacks. Grassroots cells lack the strategic reach and punch demonstrated by the 9/11 cell, but they will continue to pose a tactical threat in their areas of operation for the foreseeable future.

Again, it is critical to distinguish between grassroots militants or supporters of jihadist causes and sleeper operatives. If al Qaeda or any other transnational organization were to demonstrate the strategic reach and capabilities necessary for deploying true sleepers, there would be far-reaching implications for the war against terrorism -- ranging from U.S. counterintelligence policy all the way down to how immigration laws are written and enforced.

The Weight of the Evidence

Now, having said all of those things, it is quite interesting that Osama bin Laden, in the videotape issued in January 2006, implied that al Qaeda operatives are today present within the continental United States, and there have been media reports that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is in U.S. custody, discussed the existence of sleeper cells in the country. At the very least, it is logical to assume that the issue would have been near the top of the list of questions posed by interrogators during his debriefing.

Al Qaeda leaders of such high rank do command a certain amount of credibility, particularly when it comes to threatening and then carrying out specific attacks, and it would be foolish to dismiss their claims out of hand. But it also is important to note that they have strong incentives to spread disinformation, so as to confuse counterterrorism efforts in the United States and elsewhere. Moreover, it is difficult to know how al Qaeda itself defines concepts such as a "sleeper" -- and it is entirely possible that their definition differs from that used by state intelligence organizations.

Thus, while there is strong evidence that al Qaeda has contacts within the United States, the only answer to the question of whether it has sleeper agents in place is that we cannot know for sure. However, we tend to discount the possibility for several reasons.

For one thing, as previously discussed, the deployment of sleeper operatives is a strategic capability that takes a great deal of planning, coordination and training. And since 9/11, al Qaeda's strategic capabilities have been seriously degraded; the U.S.-led counteroffensive has denied the organization places to train, plan and operate, and has inflicted serious damage to its financial and communications networks. As a result, the operational tradecraft of al Qaeda field operatives has degraded to a level below that prior to the 9/11 attacks.

It follows, then, that even if al Qaeda possesses the strategic vision and patience necessary to embed sleeper operatives in the United States, the organization no longer would be capable of training the personnel or coordinating such an operation today. If there is a bona fide threat of al Qaeda sleepers in the United States, it would mean they were present in the country prior to 9/11.

Now, while the leadership of al Qaeda certainly has an attention span and takes a view of history longer than that of many Americans, there is evidence that it also has a relatively short planning cycle. History has shown that key planners and operatives frequently were engaged with more than one operation at a time. In other words, it is not sufficient to use successful al Qaeda attacks to extrapolate a planning cycle; this model does not take into account failed or foiled attempts, such as the shoe bomber plot and other planned spectaculars, that also were being implemented during the same time frame. When one also factors in the large number of senior al Qaeda planners who have been captured or killed since 9/11, it is clear that the organization is under enormous pressure.

The question, then, is this: How much longer could al Qaeda wait before activating any sleeper cells it might have? Logic would argue that any sleeper operatives still out in the cold either must be getting exceedingly nervous at this point or they do not exist. If they do exist, the ability to remain hidden so long after 9/11 implies that they possess a degree of professionalism on par with that of the KGB -- and far exceeding anything exhibited by al Qaeda operatives to date.
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« Reply #84 on: June 03, 2006, 03:21:08 PM »

Canada charges 17 in plot to blow up buildings
Authorities: Group had 3 tons of material used in ?95 Oklahoma City blast

J.P. Moczulski / Reuters
Police officers from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police execute a search warrant at a private residence in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb, on Friday.
 View related photos  NBC VIDEO

 
? Canada suspects knew Ga. Tech student
June 3: The suspects charged in Canada had contact with a Georgia Tech student, who has since been arrested. NBC's Pete Williams reports.
MSNBC
 
 

 NBC VIDEO

 ? Effects of ammonium nitrate
June 3: Col. Jack Jacobs explains how terrorists might use 3 tons of ammonium nitrate.
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MSNBC News Services
Updated: 1 hour, 31 minutes ago
TORONTO - A group of Canadian residents arrested in coordinated raids across the Toronto area for ?terrorism-related offenses? had planned to blow up targets around southern Ontario, Canadian police said on Saturday.

Mike McDonnell, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said the group had acquired three metric tons of ammonium nitrate ? or three times the amount used in the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City ? as they sought to ?create explosive devices.? Police said they had arrested 12 adults and five young people.

?This group posed a real and serious threat,? McDonnell said. ?It had the capacity and intent to carry out attacks. Our investigation and arrests prevented the assembly of any bombs and the attacks being carried out.?

Officials showed evidence of bomb making materials, a computer hard drive, camouflage uniforms and what appears to be a door with bullet holes in it at a news conference Saturday morning.

?This group took steps to acquire three tons of ammonium nitrate and other components necessary to create explosive devices,? McDonnell said.

The arrests were made Friday, with some 400 officers involved.

McDonnell said the suspects were either citizens or residents of Canada and had trained together.

?The men arrested yesterday are Canadian residents from a variety of backgrounds. For various reasons they appeared to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaida,? said Luc Portelance, the assistant director of operations with CSIS ? Canada?s spy agency.

Heavily armed police officers ringed the Durham Regional Police Station in the city of Pickering, just east of Toronto, as the suspects were brought in late Friday night in unmarked cars which were drove into an underground garage.

The Toronto Star reported Saturday that Canadian youths in their teens and 20s, upset at the treatment of Muslims worldwide, were among those arrested.

The newspaper said they had trained at a camp north of Toronto and had plotted to attack CSIS?s downtown office near the CN Tower, among other targets.

Melisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for the federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, had no comment on the arrests.  NBC VIDEO

 
? Canada arrests 17 on terror charges
June 3: Canadian authorities arrested 17 people on ?terrorism-related offenses.?
MSNBC
 
In March 2004, Ottawa software developer Mohammad Momin Khawaja became the first Canadian charged under the country?s Anti-Terrorism Act for alleged activities in Ottawa and London. Khawaja was also named, but not charged, in Britain for playing a role in a foiled bomb plot. He is being held in an Ottawa detention center, awaiting trial.

The Canadian anti-terrorism law was passed swiftly following the Sept. 11 assaults, particularly after Osama bin-Laden?s named Canada one of five so-called Christian nations that should be targeted for acts of terror. The others, reaffirmed in 2004 by his al-Qaida network, were the United States, Britain, Spain and Australian, all of which have been victims of terrorist attacks.

The anti-terrorism law permits the government to brand individuals and organizations as terrorists and gives police the power to make preventive arrests of people suspected of planning a terrorist attack.

Though many view Canada as an unassuming neutral nation that has skirted terrorist attacks, it has suffered its share of aggression, including the 1985 Air India bombing, in which 329 people were killed, most of them Canadian citizens.

Intelligence officials believe at least 50 terror groups now have some presence in the North American nation and have long complained that the country?s immigration laws and border security are too weak to weed out potential terrorists.
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« Reply #85 on: July 09, 2006, 11:27:23 PM »

Al Qaeda linked cleric, Hamas 'charity' fundraiser' to speak at Muslim Youth camp in Villanova PA
July 6, 2006

Al Qaeda linked Imam and suicide bomber supporter among speakers at upcoming youth camp in Villanova PA .

Residents protesting premises expansion cite security concerns at Foundation of Islamic Education Youth camp venue.

The Muslim Youth division of the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim American Society have announced their upcoming summercamp to be held at the Foundation for Islamic Education in Villanova, Pennslyvania on August 2nd to August 6th.

In 2001 the FIE was the location of Young Muslims Jihad Camp.

.The YM camps no longer go under that name, but several of the speakers who attended the Jihad Camp will be among those lecturing at the upcoming Muslim Youth camp at the FIE in Villanova.

According to the Philadephia Inquirer article linked to above the Foundation is "... a New York non profit religious group headed by a Saudi businessman agreed to to buy the campus of the Northeastern Christian Junior College , the former Morris Clothier estate, for 2.7 million.."

MIM has uncovered further information on the Saudi (Wahhabist) ties which go directly to the Saudi government:

The foundation's trustees are based in Saudi Arabia . The president of the board is Mahmoud Abdullah Taiba, a member of the Jajlis Ash Shura and former secretary of the the Energy and Electricity in Riyadh Saudi Arabia.

----------------------------------------------------

The speakers at the upcoming Muslim Youth camp (see original announcement below) have documented terrorism ties and reads like a Who's Who of radical Islamists.

The residents of Villanova have good reason to be concerned about security issues and should do everything possible to stop the planned expansion of the Foundation for Islamic Education.

More information can be found by doing a search for the speakers names on MIM - as well as the original Jihad camp registration form for the camp which took place at FIE in Villanova in 2001.

Speakers:

* Mazen Mokhtar a New Jersey Imam who is under investigation by the FBI for ties to Al Qaeda and bomb plotters in the UK. In 2004 the Washington Post reported on a previous Youth Camp appearance by Mokhtar :

This year's camp is to be held at Villanova Academy, an Islamic school in Pennsylvania, and its theme is "A Few Good Men/Lives of the Khulafa Rashideen (Pious Caliphs)."

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the group's summer gatherings were called "Jihad Camp." Advertised speakers in August 2001 included Imam Siraj Wahaj, identified by federal prosecutors in 1995 as a "possible unindicted co-conspirator" in the terrorism case against blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Saffet Catovic, a Bosnian associated with the Benevolence International Foundation, a now-defunct Muslim charity accused by the U.S. government of financing terrorism.http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/239

*Jamal Badawi an Imam based in Canada who recently justified suicide bombings in an 7/29/06 forum on the Islam Online website with the theme Dying for Allah :"Martyrdom in Islam let's discuss it " Badawi was asked 'what is the difference between a martyr and a a sucide bomber?' and responded:

Not every martyr is a "suicide" bomber. As indicated earlier, a person who is killed in the battlefield is also a martyr; also a woman who dies in a difficult child birth is also a martyr (of a lower degree).

Not every "suicide" bomber is a martyr if that action violates any of the conditions detailed in the answers to the first question (Mr. Jacob). It should be made clear that defense against unprovoked aggression and resistance to reduce oppression are legitimate causes for combative jihad provided that all other conditions, qualifiers and ethics of war are strictly observed. It should also be noted that in all nations and according to the UN charter and international law, the Islamic causes are basically the same. Also, it should also be noted that all nations and peoples have lots of praises for those who not only put their lives on the line but also sacrifice their lives for what they consider as defense for their country or people.

It is known that people from various backgrounds sacrificed their lives in a way that many may classify as "suicidal operations" such as the Japanese pilots in the Second World War. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2074

* Siraj Wahaj an alleged unindicted co conspirator in the WTC 1993 bombings and Imam of Al Taqwa Mosque in New York who justified the cartoon riots at a demonstration saying that Muslims "Had to make sure that they (infidels) do not do this again."

Wahhaj likened the response to the rioting in American cities that followed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. While King's death was not the cause of the riots, he said, it served as a catalyst because the loss was seen as a symbol of the deprivations suffered by African-Americans. Likewise, he said, the extreme Muslim reaction to the cartoons relates to the political and economic oppression of Muslims in parts of the world. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1662
 
* Faisal Hammoudeh : A leading Islamic Relief volunteer form Chicago: Last month the Gaza coordinator of Islamic Relief was arrested and deported from Israel for fundraising for Hamas:  


 
MIM: The Young Muslims Summer Camp Announcement with speakers list to beheld at the Foundation for Islamic Education in VIllanova PA  


YM Summercamp NE 2006
Deen and Dunya: Finding the Balance
Brothers only!
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« Reply #86 on: July 10, 2006, 11:37:57 AM »

CIA Reportedly Disbands Bin Laden Unit
Jul 4, 11:19 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A CIA unit that had hunted for Osama bin Laden and his top deputies for a decade has been disbanded, according to a published report.

Citing unnamed intelligence officials, The New York Times reported Tuesday that the unit, known as "Alec Station," was shut down late last year. The decision to close the unit, which predated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was first reported Monday by National Public Radio.

The officials told the Times that the change reflects a view that al-Qaida's hierarchy has changed, and terrorist attacks inspired by the group are now being carried out independently of bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The CIA said hunting bin Laden remains a priority, but resources needed to be directed toward other people and groups likely to initiate new attacks.

"The efforts to find Osama bin Laden are as strong as ever," said CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise Dyck. "This is an agile agency, and the decision was made to ensure greater reach and focus."

A former CIA official who once led the unit, Michael Scheuer, told the Times that its shutdown was a mistake.

"This will clearly denigrate our operations against al-Qaida," he said. "These days at the agency, bin Laden and al-Qaida appear to be treated merely as first among equals."
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« Reply #87 on: July 10, 2006, 11:39:51 AM »

Back to Story - Help
Ahmadinejad warns of Islamic 'explosion' By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 7, 10:33 AM ET
 


Iran's hard-line president warned Friday that continued Israeli strikes against Palestinians could lead to an Islamic "explosion" targeting Israel and its Western supporters.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital, Tehran, to condemn the strikes in the Gaza Strip that Israel's supporters could be the target of revenge by Muslims.

"They should not let things reach a point where an explosion occurs in the Islamic world," he said. "If an explosion occurs, then it won't be limited to geographical boundaries. It will also burn all those who created (Israel) over the past 60 years," he said.

Ahmadinejad once again questioned Israel's right to exist.

"This is a fake regime ... it won't be able to survive. I think the only way (forward) is that those who created it (the West) take it away themselves," the president said.

Ahmadinejad, who last year called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," has repeatedly voiced fiery rhetoric against the Jewish state.

Iran supports ? and has varying degrees of influence on ? Islamic militant groups in the region including Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Islamic republic also is locked in a standoff with Western nations, over its purportedly peaceful nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is camouflage for developing an atomic bomb.

At least 24 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed in fighting since Israeli army moved into northern Gaza on Thursday.

The offensive is aimed at freeing a soldier captured by Palestinian militants on June 25, as well as destroying the increasingly powerful rockets that militants have been firing at Israel.

Hamas' representative in Iran, Abu Osamah Abdulmota, said Cpl. Gilad Shalit would only be set free in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

"They (Israel) should know that Palestinian combatants won't release this Israeli prisoner ... (unless) Palestinian prisoners are freed from Zionist jails," he said in a pre-sermon speech before weekly Friday prayers in Tehran.
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« Reply #88 on: July 11, 2006, 11:42:33 PM »

XK:  Those last two posts would have been better off in the WW3 thread.
============

I found the following on another forum.  The ideas expressed by the quoted blogger seem insightful to me.-- CD
---------


I've been subscribing to a blog called GLOBAL GUERRILLAS on my RSS feed for a few months now.

The author has some interesting ideas on what terrorist groups have evolved into and how they operate.

Here is his newsletter on the Bombay bombings.

There are some links in the document to other newsletters he has written explaining his terms.

? AN ATTACK ON IRAN = CATALYST OF CHAOS | Main

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

BOMBING SYSTEMS IN BOMBAY

Global guerrillas (claimed by: LeT: Lashkar-e-Taiba) set off seven bombs in quick intervals over a 20 minute period during rush hour on Mumbai's (a city of 16 million and India's commercial hub) commuter rail system. At least 163 people died and a thousand were wounded mostly in first class cabins, on a rail system used by 6.5 million people a day. Cascading systems effects included jammed phone systems and an indefinite suspension of all commuter train service (which will in turn cause jammed highways and reduced business activity).

The radical improvement in technique, targeting, and coordination demonstrated in Mumbai is yet another example of how the innovation generated by open-source warfare is now global. Hacks on warfare's source code generated in Madrid, London, and Thailand have now made their way to India.

As anticipated, this attack is also a sign that future attacks will increasingly target systems rather than low yield targets of symbolic terrorism. As methods of system disruption improve, attacks will be aimed at more precise systempunkts that underly modern economic activity, particularly in highly populated urban zones. One key vector of activity will be to use repetitive attacks to push urban centers to lower economic equilibria (see Urban Takedowns for more) -- it is potentially possible, once the data is developed, to calculate how many attacks are needed to achieve the seven percent "terrorism tax" that will accomplish this descent. Another vector will be aimed at improving the effectiveness of cross system cascades of failure to maximize total levels of disruption (these early demonstrations are fairly crude in this regard).


Posted by John Robb on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 06:26 PM | Permalink
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« Reply #89 on: July 24, 2006, 11:21:44 AM »

FBI Eyes Hizbollah In U.S. as Tensions with Iran Rise

By CAROLINE DREES, REUTERS, NEW YORK


The FBI is trying to ferret out possible Hizbollah agents in the United States amid concerns that rising U.S.-Iranian tensions could trigger attacks on American soil, FBI officials said.
Relations between Washington and Tehran, which soured after the 1979 Islamic revolution, have deteriorated further recently over Iran?s nuclear program and its support for Hizbollah, the militant Islamic group whose capture of two Israeli soldiers last week prompted Israel to launch retaliatory strikes in Lebanon.
American law enforcement officials are concerned the Lebanon-based Hizbollah, which has so far focused on fund-raising and other support activities inside the United States, could turn to violence in solidarity with Iran.
"If the situation escalates, will Hizbollah take the gloves off, so to speak, and attack here in the United States, which they?ve been reluctant to do until now?" said William Kowalski, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Detroit.
Detroit is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States.
"Because of the heightened difficulties surrounding U.S.-Iranian relations, the FBI has increased its focus on Hizbollah," said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson in Washington.
"Those investigations relate particularly to the potential presence of Hizbollah members on U.S. soil."
There is no specific or credible intelligence pointing to an imminent U.S. attack by Hizbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist group, Bresson added.
But Iran?s Hizbollah -- which claims links to the Lebanese group -- said on July 18 it stood ready to attack U.S. and Israeli interests worldwide.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters in Toronto that agents were keeping a close eye on Hizbollah, especially "when the international situation heats up."
AMERICAN MUSLIMS WORRY
Muslim American groups worry that fear of Hizbollah violence in the United States could again cast an unwelcome spotlight on their community, which has often felt a target of surveillance or discrimination since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, said his advocacy group fielded almost daily complaints from Muslims who felt singled out or intimidated by government officials.
Muslim American groups say that while they support fighting against terrorism, they are concerned the focus is unfairly on them.
"There are individual concerns that the government does interviews with individuals, with kind of subtle threats that they could be arrested or deported if they don?t cooperate. That is really the concern for a lot of these groups right now," said Salam al-Marayati, head of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council.
"That fact in itself will alienate, frustrate and perhaps even push these young people further to the margins, which creates a very problematic situation for all of us," he said. "In a way, this is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Marayati, who consults regularly with government officials, said they were listening to his concerns, but should do more to show Americans that their Muslim compatriots are just as determined as they are to fight terrorism.
"Since the relationship is not publicized, people think we?re not contributing and Muslims continue to be seen as a problem in our society as opposed to part of the solution," he said.
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« Reply #90 on: July 29, 2006, 03:28:46 PM »

Seattle security raised after Jewish center shooting By Daisuke Wakabayashi
1 hour, 45 minutes ago
 
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Police stepped up security at Seattle synagogues and mosques on Saturday, a day after a Muslim man who said he was angry at        Israel shot dead one woman and wounded five others at a Jewish center.

Naveed Afzal Haq, 31, burst into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on Friday afternoon. He surrendered without a struggle and police arrested him on charges of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Amy Wasser-Simpson, the federation's vice president, told the Seattle Times that Haq got past security at the building and shouted, "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel," before he began shooting.

Police officers circled Seattle's Seward Park area, the city's traditional Jewish neighborhood and home to three major synagogues. Uniformed guards stood outside the neighborhood's Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath synagogue and the Sephardic Bikur Holim synagogue.

"There is high security," said Robin Boehler, chairwoman of the Jewish Federation. "This is the thing we dread the most happening."

She said three of the victims were not Jewish.

Authorities said they were "taking every precaution," searching for explosives and additional suspects, and were monitoring the city's synagogues and Jewish organizations.

Police said Haq is a U.S. citizen and that their initial conversation with him by phone while he was inside the building indicated that he was a Muslim. Police would not disclose the content of the conversation.

The Jewish federation, a group covering the Jewish community around the Puget Sound region, had organized a large rally last weekend to demonstrate support for Israel in its fight against Hizbollah in southern Lebanon.

"A CRIME OF HATE"

A silent march to protest Israeli actions in Gaza planned for Saturday morning in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland was canceled due to safety concerns, according to Arsalan Bukhari, president of the Seattle chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations.

There are no plans to scale back weekend schools or any other religious activities, he said.

"The events that are happening in the Middle East should not spill over into our city," said Bukhari.

In light of the fighting in the Middle East, Seattle police alerted its officers earlier this week to carefully monitoring synagogues, temples and mosques, but Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said they had received no specific threats.

At a news conference on Friday, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said, "This was a purposeful, hateful act as far as we know, by an individual acting alone. ... This is a crime of hate."

The        FBI was working with local authorities on the case.

Local media reported Haq was on medication for a bipolar disorder and had a misdemeanor lewd conduct charge pending. He allegedly exposed himself at a shopping mall.

A hospital spokeswoman said three of the victims remain in critical condition. The surviving women range in age from 23 to 43, and one is pregnant. The dead woman's name has not been released.

Rob Jacobs, the executive director of the Anti-Defamation League of the Pacific Northwest, said acts of anti-Semitism are on the rise in region. Bias and discrimination complaints reported to the League in the Pacific Northwest quadrupled in the last three years.

"We see ourselves as very tolerant and accepting of all people, but the reality is that, on a day to day basis, we are sadly not too different from many other places," said Jacobs.

(Additional reporting by Elaine Porterfield)
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« Reply #91 on: August 08, 2006, 07:20:53 PM »

WSJ: Scholar Warns Iran's Ahmadinejad May Have 'Cataclysmic Events' In Mind For August 22
Tue Aug 08 2006 10:22:35 ET

In a WALL STREET JOURNAL op-ed Tuesday, Princeton's Bernard Lewis writes: "There is a radical difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments with nuclear weapons. This difference is expressed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers."

"In Islam as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time -- Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined."

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the US about nuclear development by Aug. 22," which this year corresponds "to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to 'the farthest mosque,' usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1).

"This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind."

Developing...

Drudge Report


 

http://cbs4.com/topstories/topstorie...220000914.html



Quote:
FBI Searching For 11 Egyptian Students

(AP) WASHINGTON Eleven Egyptian students who arrived in the United States last month are being sought by authorities after failing to turn up for an exchange program at Montana State University.

The Egyptian men were among a group of 17 students who arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York from Cairo on July 29 with valid visas, according to U.S. authorities and university officials.

The other six have arrived at the Bozeman, Mont., campus for a monthlong program on English language instruction and U.S. history and culture, university spokeswoman Cathy Conover said.

When the 11 didn't turn up by the end of the last week, the FBI issued a lookout to state and local law enforcement, said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.

"At this point all they have done is not show up for a scheduled academic program," Kolko said. "There is no threat associated with these men."

They are between 18 and 22 years old, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the search for the men is continuing.

U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement declined to make their names public.

The government probably will seek to send the students home once they are located because they have violated the terms of their visas, the official said.

The government tightened the student visa process after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when it learned that four of the hijackers entered the country on foreign student visas.

The school has tried repeatedly to contact the students, Conover said, including sending e-mails. When that failed, the school notified Homeland Security officials and registered the Egyptians as "no-shows" in the system developed after Sept. 11 to track foreign students, Conover said.

They were participating in an exchange program Montana State arranged with Mansoura University in Mansoura, Egypt.

"We hope this doesn't cast doubt on this program because we think it's important to have international students on our campus and in our community," Conover said.
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« Reply #92 on: August 12, 2006, 10:05:04 PM »

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Target Britain: Wave of attacks planned, say investigators
Terrorists in UK still possess huge arsenal of bombs and weapons.
Country remains under 'very severe' threat, security sources warn
By Raymond Whitaker, Paul Lashmar, Sophie Goodchild and Severin Carrell
Published: 13 August 2006
Suspected terrorists were planning to unleash a wave of "apocalyptic" attacks on land and air, using an arsenal of bombs and weaponry, including firearms, investigators have discovered.
Police and intelligence sources have indicated that the alleged plot which was thwarted last week was targeted at the UK, as well as at airliners heading for the US, and could have caused devastating loss of life and destruction on the British mainland. One Whitehall source said "many dozens" of plots were under investigation, involving "hundreds" of suspects.
According to one report last night, al-Qa'ida's leader in Britain could have been held in the raids. But security sources estimate that as many as 1,200 people here are actively involved with terrorism, and that the country is still under "very severe" threat from other potential terrorist plots. This, they added, explained why there were no immediate plans to lower the current national threat assessment from "critical", its highest level.
Last night, 23 people were still being held under terror laws at Paddington Green police station, west London, and other police stations in what has been described as the biggest operation carried out by police to prevent a potential terror attack. Legal sources said that most would be detained for the full 28 days allowed under the terror laws, before being charged. Detectives were preparing for "a long haul", police sources said.
Sources have told The Independent on Sunday that intelligence officers are aware of several active "jihadi" cells around the country ­ including one in east London thought to be unconnected to the suspects arrested last week. Investigators said surveillance in progress since the July 2005 bombings in London had identified the locations of explosives and weapons in quantities sufficient to commit wide-scale atrocities.
The alleged plot uncovered last week was said to involve apparently innocuous home-made liquid explosives being carried on to aircraft, and then turned into bombs using electronic devices such as iPods or cameras. Last night it was reported that police had recovered scores of bottles containing peroxide, a chemical which can be used to make bombs, from a recycling bank in High Wycombe.
The IoS has also learnt that British security officers are to investigate the availability over the internet of so-called binary explosives that can be made easily from two harmless substances. Experts were alarmed to discover that a Canadian company is openly selling an explosive made simply by combining a liquid with a powder in a plastic bottle, and then attaching a detonator.
John Reid, the Home Secretary, told police chief constables yesterday that there was no room for "complacency or self-congratulation". He added: "As I have said all along, no one should be under any illusion that the threat ended with the recent arrests. It didn't."
* The Sunday Telegraph reported that it had uncovered a dossier of " extremist Islamic literature" at London Metropolitan University, one of whose students was arrested last week. Material included documents advocating jihad and a pamphlet on how to deal with approaches from the security services.
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/cri...cle1218895.ece
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« Reply #93 on: August 13, 2006, 07:49:14 AM »

My second post of the day:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/13/world/europe/13disrupt.html?th&emc=th



WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 ? The disclosure that British officials conducted months of surveillance before arresting 24 terrorism suspects this week highlighted what many terrorism specialists said was a central difference between American and British law enforcement agencies.

The British, they say, are more willing to wait and watch.
Although details of the British investigation remain secret, Bush administration officials say Britain?s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, was for at least several months aware of a plot to set off explosions on airliners flying to the United States from Britain, as well as the identity of the people who would carry it out.

British officials suggested that the arrests were held off to gather as much information as possible about the plot and the reach of the network behind it. Although it is not clear how close the plotters were to acting, or how capable they were of carrying out the attacks, intelligence and law enforcement officials have described the planning as well advanced.

The Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have suggested in the past that they would never allow a terrorist plot discovered here to advance to its final stages, for fear that it could not be stopped in time.

In June, the F.B.I. arrested seven people in Florida on charges of plotting attacks on American landmarks, including the Sears Tower in Chicago, with investigators openly acknowledging that the suspects, described as Al Qaeda sympathizers, had only the most preliminary discussions about an attack.

?Our philosophy is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible because we don?t know what we don?t know about a terrorism plot,? Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said at the time. ?Once we have sufficient information to move forward with a prosecution, that?s what we do.?

The differences in counterterrorism strategy reflect an important distinction between the legal systems of the United States and Britain and their definitions of civil liberties, with MI5 and British police agencies given far greater authority in general than their American counterparts to conduct domestic surveillance and detain terrorism suspects.

Britain?s newly revised terrorism laws permit the detention of suspects for 28 days without charge. Prime Minister Tony Blair?s government had been pressing for 90 days, but Parliament blocked the proposal. In the United States, suspects must be brought before a judge as soon as possible, which courts have interpreted to mean within 48 hours. Law enforcement officials have detained some terrorism suspects designated material witnesses for far longer. (The United States has also taken into custody overseas several hundred people suspected of terrorist activity and detained them at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, as enemy combatants.)

At the same time, Britain has far stricter contempt-of-court laws intended to prevent the prejudicing of trials. Anything that is said or reported about the suspects rounded up this week could, the police contend, prejudice their trial and prevent their prosecution.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former terrorism prosecutor at the Justice Department, said he believed that British authorities were willing to allow terrorist plots to progress further because, if an attack appeared imminent, they could immediately round up the suspects, even without formal criminal charges.

?They have this fail-safe,? he said. ?They can arrest people without charging them with a crime, which would make a big difference in how long you?d be willing to let things run.? He said F.B.I. agents, who are required to bring criminal charges if they wanted to arrest a suspect, had a justifiable fear that they might be unable to short-circuit an attack at the last minute.

There is a difference, too, in how information is shared, with American law enforcement officials typically communicating much more fully with the news media and other agencies than their British counterparts do.

In one case in particular, last year after the London bombings when New York police officers traveled there to pitch in, the different working style created tension. British police and intelligence officials complained to the F.B.I., C.I.A. and State Department after the New York officers, used to speaking more openly, gave interviews to the press in London and sent information on to their headquarters in New York, where officials then held a news conference with some details about the investigation, according to one senior American official involved in the relationship with British agencies.

While American officials say they do not believe there were any serious compromises of the investigation, the British were extremely upset. ?They don?t want us to share so widely,? the senior American official said.

A senior federal law enforcement official said MI5 also had a distinct advantage over the F.B.I. in that it had a greater store of foreign-language speakers, giving British authorities greater ability to infiltrate conspiracy groups. The F.B.I. still has only a handful of Muslim agents and others who speak Arabic, Urdu or other languages common in the Islamic world.

Justice Department officials and others involved in developing American counterterrorism strategies, however, say it is wrong to suggest that the F.B.I. always moves hurriedly to arrest terrorism suspects, rather than conduct surveillance that may lead to evidence about other conspirators and plots.

On Saturday, as news reports surfaced describing significant disagreements between British and American officials over the the timing of the arrests in the bombing plot, Frances Fragos Townsend, the president?s homeland security adviser, said in a statement: ?There was unprecedented cooperation and coordination between the U.S., U.K. and Pakistan officials throughout the case and we worked together to protect our citizens from harm while ensuring that we gathered as much information as possible to bring the plotters to justice. There was no disagreement between U.S. and U.K. officials.?
John O. Brennan, a former official of the Central Intelligence Agency who set up the government?s National Counterterrorism Center two years ago, said in an interview that he had been involved in a number of recent cases ? most of them still classified ? in which the F.B.I. had placed suspected terrorists under surveillance rather than rounding them up.

He said the bureau?s willingness to wait reflected a new sophistication as supervisors adapted to the rhythm of terrorism investigations. ?Especially given the history of 9/11, of course the bureau wants to move quickly and make sure there is no risk of attack,? he said. ?But over the past two years, I think the bureau has become much more adept at allowing these operations to run and monitor them.?

But others are less certain that the bureau has overcome its traditional desire to make quick arrests.

Daniel Benjamin, a counterterrorism specialist in the National Security Council in the Clinton administration, said the apparent success of the British surveillance operation ? and the failure of the F.B.I. to identify and disrupt any similar terrorist cell in the United States since Sept. 11 ? argued for creation of an American counterpart to MI5. ?The F.B.I. has still not risen to the domestic intelligence task,? he said.

But MI5, others note, may have benefited from the longer experience of dealing with domestic terrorism in connection with the Irish Republican Army. And it has its own critics who question its strategy by noting that it had some of the suspects in last summer?s bombings in the London subway and on a bus under surveillance before the attacks.

British security officials have publicly acknowledged that two of the London bombers ? Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer ? had been observed in connection with a different terrorist plot that was subject to heavy surveillance. But when they dropped out of sight ? well before the London bombings ? intelligence agencies did not pursue them because the other conspiracy seemed a much greater priority.

John Timoney, the Miami police chief who also has run the Philadelphia Police Department and served in the No. 2 post in the New York Police Department, has worked extensively over the years in Britain on policing matters. He said comparing the two country?s approaches was difficult.

?First and foremost, the policing systems are completely different,? said Chief Timoney, noting that in Britain the Metropolitan Police is the dominant national law enforcement agency and is served by MI5.

In the United States, on the other hand, there is intense competition between various federal agencies and between some federal agencies and some state and local forces, he said.

But neither approach is guaranteed to succeed. In June, about 250 police officers stormed an East London row house looking for chemical weapons and arrested two brothers, Abul Koyair and Mohammed Abdul Kahar. Mr. Kahar was shot and wounded during the operation. But the two men were later released without charge after the authorities failed to find any evidence linking them to terrorist activities.

David N. Kelley, a former United States attorney in Manhattan who has overseen a range of international terrorism cases, including prosecuting the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, said, ?The real challenge in law enforcement when you have a plot like that is when do you pull the trigger.?

He also said that the longer investigators waited to take down a case, the risks that they might lose track of suspects increased, even if the plotters were under 24-hour surveillance.

?People think when you have someone under surveillance, it?s a fail-safe, but losing someone is a real fear in these things,? he said. ?It?s not like television. It?s a real juggling act. You?ve got to keep a lot of balls in the air and not let any of them drop.?
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« Reply #94 on: August 15, 2006, 07:18:58 PM »

2006/8/14 10:11:13 
 
http://www.homelandsecurityus.com/site/modules/news/article.php?storyid=28
Liquid explosives carried in child's baby bottle

14 August 2006: According to authorities at Scotland Yard, Abdula Ahmed ALI, 25, and his 23-year-old wife Cossor ALI were arrested and are being questioned over suspicions that they were planning to use their baby's bottle to hide a liquid bomb. Cossor's grandfather, Nazir Ahmed, 84, admitted that Abdula ALI traveled to Pakistan about four weeks ago. That admission follows information from British Intelligence officials that many of the airline bomb plot suspects posed as relief workers to travel to al-Qaeda training camps in Pakistan. Police spent Sunday searching the suspect?s east London housing commission flat for evidence.

Police in the UK have recovered baby bottles containing peroxide, including some with false bottoms, from a recycling centre close to the homes of some of the arrested suspects.

In a separate but related case, a Muslim family of five- a husband, wife and 3 children, boarded American Airlines flight 109 at Britain?s Heathrow airport destined for Boston Logan airport on Sunday, 6 August 2006.

According to intelligence officials, the family checked in at the last minute, and as a result, only a superficial check of the children?s carry-on bags was conducted by airport security personnel.

Following the take off of the airliner, the check-in computer at the airport flashed a warning that a person under observation had boarded the flight. The airline staff informed immigration and security officials, and a background check found that the male adult member of the family was on a suspect list prepared by Scotland Yard subsequent to the 7/7 terror bombings in London. The pilot was ultimately alerted to the situation and after careful consideration, returned to Heathrow airport rather than continuing on to Boston.

Upon landing back at Heathrow, armed marshals boarded the aircraft and took the suspect and his family into custody. It was at that time a search of the children?s carry-on baggage revealed the deadly cargo.
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« Reply #95 on: September 03, 2006, 10:27:22 PM »

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/new-procedures.shtm

http://www.aa.com/apps/netSAAver/ViewPromotionsDetail.jhtml?fileName=system_flightInfo.xml&repositoryName=PromotionContentRepository&itemDescriptor=PromotionContent
« Last Edit: September 03, 2006, 10:32:40 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #96 on: September 13, 2006, 03:40:54 PM »


----- Original Message -----
From: <ajwhitehead@anti-cair-net.org>

Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 11:55 PM
Subject: CAIR: Cops Training Terrorists?


In Defense of the Constitution
>
News & Analysis
037/06  September 7, 2006
>
>
>
CAIR:  Cops Training Terrorists?
>
>
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a "Citizens Academy"
designed to introduce selected Americans to FBI operations and tactics:
>
http://www.fbi.gov/hq/ood/opca/outreach/academy.htm
>
This training program requires both a security clearance and a
recommendation to attend.
>
What is to stop suspected and known Islamic terrorist front groups from
requesting this training?  How about groups like the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has had Islamic terrorists on
staff such as Ismail Royer and Bassem Khafagi:
>
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1179
>
Considering that CAIR has, and does, provide "diversity" training to
various law enforcement agencies, what is to stop a CAIR official from
requesting FBI training?  If the training is denied, what will be the
grounds?  The FBI would be hard-pressed to deny access to the program to
CAIR officials, considering that the FBI uses CAIR for training.

Recently, police officials in Great Britain learned a hard lesson about
trusting so-called "moderate" Muslims.  Sussex police officers were sent
to the Jameah Islameah School near Crowborough, East Sussex to learn about
the Muslim faith and receive "diversity training":

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=403650&in_page_id=1770

Not explained by the Sussex police was just why Sussex police officers are
so bigoted, xenophobic, and prejudiced that they need special training by
Muslims to learn about Islam.  However, this seems to be a defect present
in every police force in the West, but noticeably absent in police forces
located in Islamic countries.
>
Now, the Jameah Islameah School is under investigation as having been used
as an Al Queda training camp.  Yes, to the complete surprise of everyone
who doesn't have a clue about how radical Islam functions, the "school"
appears to have been a hot-bed of Islamic indoctrination where young
Muslims were groomed to become terrorists.
>
How about North American police forces?  Would they be stupid enough to
engage the services of an Islamic hate group to provide "diversity"
training for clueless police officers?
>
We're not so sure that law enforcement officials on our side of the
Atlantic are any more street-smart than their cousins in Great Britain.

Consider:
>
On June 21, DHS officials gave members of CAIR (among others) a tour of
sensitive security areas at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.  The group received
the whole dog-and-pony show, being treated to a tour of the
point-of-entry, customs stations, agricultural screening stations, and
interview rooms.  Just the type of information members of an Islamic
terrorist-supporting hate group need, isn't it?
>
As if that wasn't enough, agents also explained how new systems recently
installed will work to identify suspect passengers.
>
Naturally, like good students, we're sure that CAIR took copious notes and
asked probing questions:
>
http://www.anti-cair-net.org/press_28_06
>
Witnessing the problems that European law enforcement is having with
so-called "moderate" Muslim groups, ACAIR can only hope that our own law
enforcement agencies are practicing due diligence when it comes to
partnering with Muslim groups with proven ties to Islamic terrorism such
as CAIR.
>
American law enforcement agencies would do well to remember that CAIR is
no friend; that CAIR has proven ties to Islamic terrorist groups; that
CAIR works with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
to undermine every action taken by our great country to defend ourselves
from Islamist terror.
>
Is there any doubt that information provided to CAIR by law enforcement
would end up in the hands of our enemies?
>
Just how would the FBI explain this to the American people?

Let us hope that the FBI has the good sense to not do anything dangerous,
like inviting CAIR personnel to attend academy training.


Andrew Whitehead
Director
Anti-CAIR (ACAIR)
ajwhitehead@anti-cair-net.org
www.anti-cair-net.org
>
>
>
> ADVISORY:
> Subscribers are warned that the Council on American Islamic Relations
> (CAIR) may contact your employer if CAIR believes you are using a work
> address to receive any material that CAIR believes may be offensive.  CAIR
> has been known to shame employers into firing employees CAIR finds
> disagreeable.  For that reason, we strongly suggest that corporate e-mail
> users NOT use a corporate e-mail account/address when communicating with
> ACAIR or CAIR.  We make every reasonable effort to protect our mailing
> list, but we cannot guarantee confidentiality. ACAIR does not share, loan,
> sell, rent or otherwise publicize our mailing list.  We respect your
> privacy!
>
> TIPS:
> All persons are invited to submit tips and leads.  ACAIR will acknowledge
> receipt of all tips/leads, but we will NOT acknowledge the source of ANY
> tip or lead in our Press Releases or on our web site. Exceptions are made
> for leading media personalities at the discretion of ACAIR and only on
> request of the person(s) submitting the tip or lead.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #97 on: September 15, 2006, 06:53:25 PM »

Freedom at War
Civil liberties in the age of terrorism.
by Peter Berkowitz
09/18/2006, Volume 012, Issue 01


Not a Suicide Pact
The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency
by Richard A. Posner
Oxford, 208 pp., $18.95

In late June, Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times breathlessly reported on the front page, above the fold and under a big headline, that in the just-announced case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court "shredded each of the administration's arguments." The decision--which held that, as organized, the military tribunals the Bush administration had created to try unlawful combatants seized on the battlefield in Afghan istan, were contrary to federal law and a provision of the Geneva Conventions--was, Greenhouse gushed, "a sweeping and categorical defeat for the Bush administration."

Indeed, she proclaimed, the decision was a "historic event, a definitional moment in the ever-shifting balance of power among the branches of government that ranked with the court's order to President Nixon in 1974 to turn over the Watergate tapes or with the court's rejection of President Harry S. Truman's seizing [in 1952] of the nation's steel mills."

Never mind that the Court had not questioned the government's right to detain Salim Ahmed Hamdan, allegedly Osama bin Laden's driver and bodyguard, without charge or trial, as an unlawful combatant, until such time as the conflict between the United States and al Qaeda comes to an end. Never mind that, in a paragraph-long concurring opinion, Justice Breyer emphasized that much, if not all, of the military tribunal procedures designed by the Bush administration would pass legal muster if explicitly authorized by Congress. Never mind that the Court's opinion commanded only a narrow five-justice majority. And never mind that Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito each authored powerful dissents that elaborated serious objections to which the majority's principal legal arguments are exposed. (Chief Justice Roberts did not participate in the case because, as judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, he joined the opinion, which Hamdan reversed, upholding the administration's military tribunals.)

What was truly remarkable about Greenhouse's performance--her lengthy article was not an op-ed column or piece of "news analysis" but a news story of the sort customarily intended to provide a dispassionate and well-rounded account of the facts--was the omission of a single reference to the features of America's national security situation that motivated the Bush administration to turn to the use of military tribunals. In this failure to put national security considerations into the balance, let alone give them their due weight, Greenhouse and her editors at the Times typify the complacency and shortsightedness in thinking about constitutional rights and the war on terror that Judge Richard Posner's trenchant new book seeks to correct.

Rarely ceasing to amaze over the last three decades or so with the range of his intellectual interests and the acuteness of his analytical powers (and occasionally with the irreverence of his observations and unconventionality of his conclusions), Posner has, in the last several years, turned his attention to questions of national security. In 2004 he published Catastrophe, a book on the regulation of grave but remote risk: For example, what policy should government adopt if a physics experiment poses a truly extraordinary harm--say, the destruction of the planet--but the harm has an exceedingly remote likelihood, perhaps a one-in-fifty-million chance, of coming to pass? And in the last year, Posner published Preventing Surprise Attacks, and a sequel, Uncertain Shield, which explore the nature of intelligence-gathering and analysis, the strengths and weaknesses of our pre-9/11 intelligence system, and post-9/11 reform efforts. (Both volumes appear under the imprint of Hoover Studies, a series for which I serve as co-general editor.)

With his new book, Posner carries forward his analysis of national security questions into the sphere of constitutional law. True to the pragmatic approach to judging that he has long championed, Posner grounds his analysis of national security law and the Constitution in an appreciation of concrete circumstances. The danger posed by jihadist terror, according to Posner, is novel, grave, and growing. As he explains with characteristic vigor, this is partly because of the weapons increasingly at our enemies' disposal:

n the early years of the twenty-first century, the nation faces the intertwined menaces of global terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. A city can be destroyed by an atomic bomb the size of a melon, which if coated with lead would be undetectable. Large stretches of a city can be rendered uninhabitable, perhaps for decades, merely by the explosion of a conventional bomb that has been coated with radioactive material. Smallpox virus bioengineered to make it even more toxic and vaccines ineffectual, then aerosolized and sprayed in a major airport, might kill millions of people. Our terrorist enemies have the will to do such things and abundant opportunities, because our borders are porous both to enemies and to containers. They will soon have the means as well. The march of technology has increased the variety and lethality of weapons of mass destruction, especially the biological, and also and critically their accessibility. Aided by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by unstable nations (Pakistan and North Korea, soon to be joined, in all likelihood, by Iran), technological progress is making weapons of mass destruction ever more accessible both to terrorist groups (and even individuals) and to hostile nations that are not major powers. The problem of proliferation is more serious today than it was in what now seem the almost halcyon days of the Cold War; it will be even more serious tomorrow.
The danger is further defined by the jihadists' character, ideology, and tactics. We know that "they are numerous, fanatical, implacable, elusive, resourceful, resilient, utterly ruthless, seemingly fearless, apocalyptic in their aims, and eager to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction and use them against us." But because they do not represent a nation-state, and thus have neither territory nor population for which they are responsible, we do not know very much about "their current number, leaders, locations, resources, supporters, motivations, and plans; and in part because of our ignorance, we have no strategy for defeating them, only for fighting them."

The knowledge of concrete circumstances emphasized by pragmatists, Posner stresses, is critical when it comes to understanding the Constitution and the rights to which it gives rise. Constitutional rights, he argues, are not specified by the text of the Constitution, nor are they derivable from it by a single governing principle or a unique scientific or logical method. Rather, constitutional rights are created by justices interpreting the Constitution with a view to the moral and political consequences of their rulings.

Take the First Amendment. To be sure, it provides rights to freedom of speech, religion, press, and association. But it is the Supreme Court, over the centuries, that has determined the shape and scope of these rights, concluding, for example, that generally government may restrict speech on the basis of time, place, and manner, but not on the basis of content or viewpoint, and that the free exercise of religion is not wide enough to include prayer in school.

Posner's writings can give the disconcerting impression that sufficiently clever judges are free to reach whatever results they like. That is not his argument here. He recognizes that many legal controversies are resolved by straightforward application of the law. But in hard cases, where traditional legal materials--constitutional text, history, structure, and the holdings of previous cases--fail to yield a single lawful answer, justices ought to craft legal rules that serve the nation's moral and political requirements. Or rather, Posner believes that justices should do this more deliberately and forthrightly.

In reality, he argues, in the difficult and divisive constitutional cases, the very ones to which the public pays the most attention and which appear to have the largest political implications, justices reach their decision in much the same way that ordinary citizens make nonlegal decisions, "by balancing the anticipated consequences of alternative outcomes and picking the one that creates the greatest preponderance of good over bad effects."

Because the Supreme Court's legal conclusions about constitutional rights are, and ought to be, "heavily influenced by contemporary needs and conditions," they involve, in the final analysis, substantial policy judgments that result in the making of new law.

This may sound like an endorsement of judicial activism, but, according to Posner, it isn't. Indeed, he thinks that the pragmatic approach favors judicial restraint. Precisely because of the inevitably large pragmatic element in the adjudication of constitutional rights, justices should be restrained in invalidating the acts of the political branches. This is because Congress and the president are better equipped to weigh the actual or likely consequences of laws and policies, and they are better positioned to bring failed social and political experiments to an end.

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buzwardo
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« Reply #98 on: September 15, 2006, 06:53:50 PM »

Much of Posner's writing about the practice of judging over the last decade has been calculated to rile moral philosophers who believe that reason itself can decide hard cases, and to provoke law professors who insist on the autonomy of legal reasoning. However, this time around, his exposition of the pragmatic dimension of judicial decision-making has an eminently practical purpose: to show the path that national security law should take in the war against Islamic extremism. The key is to appreciate that the Constitution itself requires courts to balance two competing interests or goods, individual liberty and public safety.

Drawing on central insights of the law and economics school, of which he is a founding father, and translating them into terms suitable for dealing with hard constitutional cases, Posner sets forth the appropriate balancing test:

Ideally, in the case of a right (for example, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures) that could be asserted against government measures for protecting national security, one would like to locate the point at which a slight expansion in the scope of the right would subtract more from public safety than it would add to personal liberty and a slight contraction would subtract more from personal liberty than it would add to public safety. That is the point of balance, and determines the optimal scope of the right. The point shifts continuously as threats to liberty and safety wax and wane. At no time can the exact point be located. Yet to imagine it the object of our quest is useful in underscoring that the balance between liberty and safety must be struck at the margin. One is not to ask whether liberty is more or less important than safety. One is to ask whether a particular security measure harms liberty more or less than it promotes safety.
Of course, different justices will attach different weights to liberty and security, and come to different conclusions about the impact of specific measures on liberty and security. Posner does not deny or fear these difficulties. The purpose of his balancing test is not to eliminate but to refine the role of judgment in constitutional adjudication.

It follows that, at the margins, constitutional rights will and should vary with the threat that the nation faces. Posner recognizes that libertarians of both the left and right will decry this approach. They will prefer clear rules with very few exceptions--that, for instance, political speech can only be prohibited if it involves an incitement to crimes. They will also tend to discount the national security threat by treating terrorism as a species of crime. And they will warn darkly of the historical tendency of the government to chip away steadily at civil liberties in wartime in the name of dangers that eventually turn out to be farfetched.

To these libertarian objections, Posner replies that the rigidity of rules is disadvantageous when the constitutional terrain is as rocky and unfamiliar as it is in the case of jihadist terror. Further, he contends, unlike criminals but like traditional armies, Muslim extremists seek to cripple the state, and increasingly will have the means to do so, and thus pose a quantitatively and qualitatively different sort of threat than that for which the criminal law was designed.

Posner notes that what American history actually reveals is that, early on, when the enemy is poorly understood, government does truncate civil liberties--Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, FDR's internment of Japanese citizens, McCarthyite purges of suspected Communists--but that, as wars wear on, and well before they end, the government acquires an understanding of the adversary that allows it to continue to fight without further circumscribing civil liberties.

Posner admonishes those libertarians who would brook no trade-offs in civil liberties, in exchange for heightened security measures, for missing the larger picture. Nothing, he points out, is more sure to bring about a severe restriction of civil liberties in America than the backlash following the failure to prevent another 9/11, or worse.

Posner puts his balancing test to work on several of the novel and difficult legal issues raised by the war on terror, including questions concerning detention, interrogation, search and surveillance, speech, and privacy. Posner's reasoning, though debatable, is invariably illuminating, and overall demonstrates that the Constitution, pragmatically interpreted, is both sturdy and flexible, capable in the war we are now waging of protecting liberty and maintaining security.

Consider his treatment of the detention and interrogation of enemy combatants. To determine the minimum protections, under the Constitution, to which terrorists are entitled, it is necessary to classify terrorists correctly. Because they are making war on the United States by threatening the nation's political sovereignty and territorial integrity, they are not criminals, and therefore they are not entitled to the procedural protections that the Constitution provides those accused of criminal wrongdoing.

However, because they violate the laws of war by fighting without a regular command structure, without uniforms, without carrying their weapons openly, and by targeting civilians, terrorists are not entitled to the procedural protections that cover prisoners of war, or lawful enemy combatants, under international law. So what rights does the Constitution provide for unlawful enemy combatants?

It depends, argues Posner. If unlawful combatants are foreigners and are captured and detained abroad, the case is simple: They have no rights under the Constitution. If a U.S. citizen is detained on suspicion of being an unlawful combatant, then, as Hamdi v. Rumsfeld concluded, the Constitution protects his right to habeas corpus, which gives him the chance to challenge the grounds of his detention in front of an impartial decision-maker.

If the noncitizen, unlawful combatant is captured abroad, but transferred to U.S. territory, then (according to the Court's 1946 Yamashita decision) he, too, is entitled to the writ of habeas corpus. In 2004, the Supreme Court held in Rasul v. Bush that foreign persons detained as unlawful combatants at Guant?namo, which technically is not U.S. territory, also had the right to contest their detention.

Is this good constitutional law? For the most part, Posner thinks that protecting the right of habeas corpus for citizens held as unlawful combatants strikes the proper balance between security and liberty. He would extend that protection to foreigners captured and detained in the United States on suspicion of being terrorists. After all, he points out, there is a much greater risk of mistakenly ascribing to an individual membership in a terrorist organization than of mistakenly ascribing to him membership in a nation-state's armed forces. And giving detainees a limited opportunity to convince an impartial decision-maker that they have been wrongly detained poses only a small threat to national security. (Limits on this opportunity may include permitting the holding of a suspected terrorist for a reasonable period before any hearing and, at the hearings, placing a heavy burden of proof on the detainee.)

Once detained, what methods of interrogation does the Constitution permit the government to employ to elicit information from unlawful enemy combatants? Does the Constitution permit torture? Setting aside for the moment America's international law obligations under the Convention against Torture, Posner points out that the Constitution, which regulates the gathering of evidence, interrogations, trials, and punishments in criminal cases, has very little to say about the acquisition of information from terrorists for the purpose of preventing death and destruction.

The currently applicable constitutional rule is that methods of interrogation that "shock the conscience" are unlawful. But, as Posner points out, this test is sensitive to context: "What shocks the conscience depends on circumstances. In life-and-death circumstances the use of even highly coercive methods of interrogation is unlikely to shock the conscience of most people, even thoughtful and humane ones."

Yet not all highly coercive methods of interrogation rise to the level of torture, which, according to the Convention against Torture, is defined as the infliction of severe physical or mental suffering. Nevertheless, Posner is convinced that "torture is warranted to avert a greater evil." But warranted is not the same as constitutional or lawful.

Even though he believes that many consciences would not be shocked by the decision to shove knives under a person's fingernails to obtain knowledge about the location of a nuclear weapon set to explode in a few hours in Washington, Posner concludes that it would be unwise to hold that the Constitution permits torture. In cases of emergency, where torture is warranted but not constitutional, Posner the pragmatist prefers "to trust public officers to perceive and act on a moral duty that is higher than their legal duty." This approach regards torture as a form of morally and politically justified civil disobedience. In the event, it requires public officials to explain the necessity of their conduct in a court of law, and counts on judges to take account of the necessity under which public officials acted in ordering torture.

The alternative is codifying the circumstances in which torture is lawful. Posner believes that the costs of codification are too high. The costs include the constraint security officials will feel in confronting novel circumstances not dreamt of by the lawmakers, and the open invitation to lawmakers created by codification to constantly expand the boundaries of the legally permissible.

As with his analysis of detention and interrogation, Posner's explorations of surveillance, speech, privacy, and sundry other legal issues raised by the war on jihadist terror reflect the view that "law must adjust to necessity born of emergency." It is Posner's large achievement in this small book to show that this adjustment--difficult and contentious though it may be--is necessary, just, and constitutional.

Peter Berkowitz teaches at the George Mason University School of Law and is the Tad and Dianne Taube senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=12667&R=EDF2284B2
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #99 on: September 18, 2006, 02:41:34 PM »

El Shukrijumah and the 'Dirty Bomb' Threat
Certain bloggers are circulating rumors on the Internet that alleged al Qaeda militant Adnan El Shukrijumah has been sighted recently in Central America and Texas, saying this indicates al Qaeda is close to conducting a "dirty bomb" attack against the United States.

According to the rumors, El Shukrijumah is in possession of dirty bombs -- devices intended to disperse radiation -- and is waiting for a "go" signal or a taped statement from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Still other rumors have circulated about an "American Hiroshima," or an al Qaeda nuclear attack against the United States. Although there is little chance that a dirty bomb attack is imminent, the U.S. government has good reason to believe that El Shukrijumah poses a significant threat.

Although the U.S. government says El Shukrijumah is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in 1975 in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis say El Shukrijumah's father was an expatriate worker in Saudi Arabia and that neither the father nor the son was ever a Saudi citizen. The family also reportedly spent time in Guyana, where his father, Sheikh Gulshair El Shukrijumah, worked as a missionary for the Saudi government. In the early 1990s, the family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where the father took a job at the Al Farouq Mosque. Some members of the mosque were subsequently linked to the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center and a plot to bomb targets in New York, including the Holland Tunnel and U.N. Headquarters. In 1995, the El Shukrijumah family moved to Miramar, Fla., where Adnan studied computer science at Broward Community College.

By the late 1990s, perhaps inspired by the war between Bosnian Muslims and Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, El Shukrijumah began to favor more radical interpretations of Islam. In late 1999, according to the FBI, he began traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan to attend al Qaeda training camps. By 2001, the FBI was investigating El Shukrijumah in connection with two alleged militant plots based out of south Florida.

In the months before 9/11, El Shukrijumah allegedly traveled extensively in the United States and Canada, possibly scoping out potential targets. He disappeared from south Florida shortly before 9/11, but is not believed to have been part of that plot. Based on an investigation into his activities, the FBI obtained an arrest warrant for El Shukrijumah in 2003, but by then he had dropped off the radar. The FBI believes El Shukrijumah could be anywhere, and the hunt for him has spanned into Trinidad, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan's Waziristan province.

According to the FBI, El Shukrijumah is especially dangerous because of his intelligence and because his appearance, which enables him to pass as a Latino or Indian, allows him to blend in with non-Muslims. Also, having spent a considerable amount of time in the United States, he speaks English well and is familiar with U.S. culture. The State Department, through its Rewards for Justice Program, is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to El Shukrijumah's arrest. There also is speculation outside of the government that he is well-versed in nuclear technology and is an accomplished pilot, but these claims are not supported by the FBI's investigation. His technical background, however, suggests he would be able to construct a dirty bomb.

Operationally, an "American Hiroshima" plot would be difficult to successfully carry out. Although obtaining and employing weapons of mass destruction, including dirty bombs, have long been part of al Qaeda's strategic thinking, there has been no indication that the jihadist network has been able to make any significant progress toward that goal.

Rumors of imminent attacks with dirty bombs appear in cycles and are nothing new. If al Qaeda were in the operational phase of such a plot, it doubtfully would provide warnings or allow indicators of its plan to leak out. Speculation about an attack, however, does allow the jihadist network to spread fear, forces U.S. authorities to waste resources and perhaps even serves as cover for its real actions.

The rumors about dirty bomb plots and the whereabouts of the shadowy El Shukrijumah may be unfounded, but they do add to the mystery surrounding him. If he is in fact an al Qaeda operative, he is one of the group's more technically adept and sophisticated members, which makes him dangerous. El Shukrijumah, however, is more threatening as a capable organizer of a more conventional attack inside the United States.
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