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Topic: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom (Read 394192 times)
Reply #100 on:
September 19, 2006, 01:42:02 PM »
Bill Gertz on our grave intel gaps.
An NRO Q&A
Bill Gertz is long-time defense and national-security reporter for the Washington Times. Today he is out with a new book, Enemies: How America?s Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets?and How We Let It Happen, about which he took some questions from NRO editor Kathryn Lopez.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Most of us think Jack Bauer nowadays when we think of counterintelligence. Is there anything real about him?
Bill Gertz: Counterintelligence is the function of identifying and stopping foreign spies and terrorists. The fictional character Jack Bauer in TV?s ?24? is a good example of the kind of counterterrorism specialist who often applies counterintelligence techniques to the problem of terrorism, something I advocate in Enemies, that needs to be done. Every terrorist attack is preceded by an intelligence operation and our counterterrorism agents need to get into that intelligence stream in order to stop the attacks before they take place.
Lopez: Briefly, who is Leandro Aragoncillo and why is he important?
Gertz: Leandro Aragoncillo was a spy for the Philippines who infiltrated the White House offices of Vice President Al Gore and Vice President Dick Cheney. He went on to get a job as an analyst at an FBI analytical unit in New Jersey and was caught by immigration agents after he tried to use his official status as an FBI employee to help one of his confederates in a spy ring that supplied U.S. secrets to Philippines opposition politicians.
The case showed that despite the extremely damaging spy case of FBI Agent Robert Hanssen, who spied for Russia, the FBI has not done enough to screen employees and limit their computer access to secrets.
Lopez: ?Today, nearly 140 nations and some 35 known and suspected terrorist groups target the United States through espionage, according to intelligence officials,? you write. Is that exceptionally high for the world?s superpower?
Gertz: We are the main target because enemies of the United States want to obtain our most important secrets, which range from our military?s unique warfighting techniques, to advanced weaponry, to our economic and high-technology secrets. They also seek to influence our government and force it to adopt policies that are contrary to U.S. national interests, such as the unprecedented Chinese-influence operations that have resulted in naive and counterproductive policies toward China that seek to portray a nuclear armed Communist dictatorship as a non-threatening power. Terrorists also have targeted our military and intelligence services, seeking to learn valuable information that could be used to conduct terrorist attacks against us.
Unfortunately, we know very little about these enemies? intelligence-gathering capabilities and unless we rapidly build-up our counterintelligence agencies, we are vulnerable to devastating losses.
Lopez: How significant a threat is China to our national security? Are we taking it seriously enough?
Gertz: China today represents the most serious long-term threat to our national security. Beijing is rapidly building up its military forces with one aim: To prepare to win a future military conflict against the United States. China?s intelligence services, both its Ministry of State Security (civilian) and Second Department of the People?s Liberation Army, known as 2 PLA, are the leading edge of a secret war by China against the United States. They are following the dictum of ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, who said he acme of skill is defeating your enemy without firing a shot. Unfortunately, China, through intelligence operations and related influence operations have fooled major portions of the U.S. government, from the White House National Security Council to the higher levels of the military services into believing that China poses not threat to the United States.
The civilian part of the Pentagon alone among U.S. government agencies is taking the threat from China seriously and has begun quietly implementing a so-called ?hedge strategy? that involves a build up of military forces in the Pacific and Asia that will better position the United States to deal with a China that in the future drops the facade of friendliness and openly declares its hostility. Our intelligence and security agencies remain woefully unprepared to deal with China?s intelligence assault, as I reveal in Enemies in the case of Katrina Leung, China?s mole in the FBI in Los Angeles, and in the case of Tai and Chi Mak, two brothers who passed valuable defense technology that has helped China?s military.
The chapter on the spies who got away reveals that either gross negligence or a Chinese spy in the highest levels of government, or both, can explain why so many recent Chinese spy cases were mishandled.
Lopez: You say that the best way to deal with North Korea is counterintelligence. Does that mean we?re doomed?
Gertz: No. The current U.S. policy toward North Korea has been announced as ?diplomacy,? albeit a feckless effort to try and convince a radical Communist regime in Pyongyang to give up its nuclear-arms program. The diplomatic policy is doomed to failure but that does not mean that the only other option is to begin flying Tomahawks and dropping JDAMs on North Korea. The most effective middle ground between feckless diplomacy and heavy-handed military attacks is an effective, targeted program of regime change. The key to reaching this goal is to organize a major counterintelligence program that will target North Korean intelligence and government officials for recruitment. A targeted campaign would have the effect of creating opponents of the current regime within the power structure and to use those recruited agents to bring down the peaceful fall of the Pyongyang government and its replacement with a democratic regime. It will not be easy but it is the best option available.
Lopez: You have an entire chapter on Cuba ? can Cuba really be a big threat (to more than the Cuban people), all things considered?
Gertz: My chapter on Cuba?s mole in the Pentagon is a detailed look at the little-known spy case of Ana Montes, one of the most senior intelligence analysts in the U.S. government who provided vast amounts of classified information to Cuba, whose government in turn then sold or traded those secrets to Russia and China. Montes was an ideological spy for Cuba who worked within the Defense Intelligence Agency and ultimately became the most important U.S. intelligence analyst in the entire government. She spied at first to oppose U.S. policy that supported the anti-Communist contra rebels in Nicaragua because Montes supported the Communist Sandinistas. She later switched her allegiance to Cuba after the Sandinistas were ousted in elections.
Cuba remains a threat because it is spreading its anti-Americanism throughout the region and is now deeply involved in backing the leftist government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, which could cause tremendous harm to U.S. national security by virtue of its oil exports to the United States. Chavez has invited Cuban intelligence and security police into the country in large numbers.
Lopez: How much of a problem for intelligence has media disclosures on that NSA surveillance program and other top-secret operations been?
Gertz: Electronic intelligence by its nature has a limited shelf life as targets are constantly identifying NSA electronic surveillance and shutting it down. It is a constant challenge for NSA to find new links for eavesdropping and certainly media disclosures have limited NSA?s ability to gather intelligence. That said, foreign governments and terrorists organizations know very well that all electronic signals they use to communicate are subject to monitoring so that it would be overstating the case to say we have been crippled by media disclosures. The problem for U.S. intelligence today is an over reliance on electronic eavesdropping and photographic intelligence, and a dramatic lack of human intelligence-gathering. As one intelligence official put it: ?The problem with the CIA can be summed up in two words: ?No spies.? Our intelligence agencies currently lack any inside sources in the places where we need them most: North Korea, China, Iran, Syria and other places. Thus the government has been forced to rely too much on its formidable electronic eavesdropping capabilities.
Lopez: What makes you so sure you have the full counterintelligence picture?
Gertz: I have interviewed scores of U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence officials and I have been writing and reporting on these issues for over 20 years. I feel very confident that the portrait I paint of a broken counterintelligence system is accurate and full. But the nature of intelligence is that it is secret and there is probably much more that we don?t know about. Just since the publication of Enemies I was able to learn about another spy for China inside the U.S. military who managed to get away without prosecution.
Lopez: What practical things can Congress do? Would they?
Gertz: Unfortunately, the problem of foreign spies and weaknesses in U.S. counterintelligence have been studied by numerous commissions, both administration and congressional, over the years, usually as a result of some of the recent extremely damaging spy cases. Nothing seems to change and bureaucrats in the intelligence community resist needed reforms.
The latest effort was the so-called WMD commission, which called for fixing the broken counterintelligence system.
I recommend creating new joint White House-Congressional panel that would focus exclusively on the counterintelligence failures of recent years and make practical recommendations for fixing the problems.
The problem has been that the CIA is averse to tough counterintelligence, viewing it as an impediment to their offensive spying efforts. The FBI continues to view counterintelligence from a law enforcement perspective, which means that instead of exploiting spy cases for counterintelligence operations against the enemies, they tend to first focus on ?putting the cuffs? on spies, when that should only be one option. The better course of action is to find the spies and then turn them to our strategic advantage.
Lopez: Your book is, ultimately, about how bad our intelligence is. Has it gotten any better in the wake of 9/11? What can be done?
Gertz: Enemies in some ways is a follow-up to my 2003 book Breakdown, on the intelligence failures related to the September 11 attacks, but with a special emphasis on counterintelligence, that is, the failures of counterintelligence agencies and the need to fix the problem so that we can defend our nation from spies, saboteurs and terrorists.
U.S. intelligence agencies remain mired in what I call crushing bureaucratization ? the loss of focus on national, strategic goals and the overemphasis on protecting bureaucratic turf, budgets and personnel. The problem is seriously undermining our national security.
The intelligence community is bloated, with too many agencies doing to many of the same things. Restructuring is needed to upgrade our intelligence services to the 21st Century. While some reform has been carried out, there is so much more that needs to be done. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in my view, has become another layer of bureaucracy on the overly bureaucratic system. It turns out that what the intelligence community didn?t need was a czar who could make all well.
We need smaller agencies with better people and radically different operating methods and procedures.
National Review Online -
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #101 on:
September 20, 2006, 12:22:14 PM »
Study: U.S. Prisons Can't Combat Islamic Terror Recruiting
Updated: September 19th, 2006 12:14 PM EDT
By LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press Writer
Jailed Islamic extremists with violent interpretations of the Quran are taking advantage of scarce religious monitoring programs to breed terrorists in U.S. prisons, a study released Tuesday shows.
State and local prison officials struggle to track radicalized behavior by inmates or religious counselors, the joint study by George Washington University and the University of Virginia found.
Many prisons can't afford preventive programs; in California, for example, officials reported "that every investigation into radical groups in their prisons uncovers new leads, but they simply do not have enough investigators to follow every case of radicalization."
"Radicalized prisoners are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups," concluded the study, released at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "homegrown" terrorists. "The U.S., with its large prison population, is at risk of facing the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries."
An estimated 2 million people are imprisoned in the United States; 6 percent of them are Muslim, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism consultant, told senators that "chilling" interpretations of the Quran were given to prison inmates when he worked for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity that served as a major al-Qaida financier.
The readings urged Muslims "to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule," Gartenstein-Ross said in prepared testimony to the Senate panel.
"I know of only a few instances in which prisons rejected the literature we attempted to distribute - and it was never because of the literature's radicalism," said Gartenstein-Ross, who has since left the charity and converted to Christianity.
Prisons have long been considered recruiting stations for gangs and, more recently, terrorists, but little has been done throughout government to combat them. The Senate hearing came as law enforcement and intelligence officials focus on finding out how and why extremist homegrown sympathizers cross a line to become operational terrorists.
The panel's chair, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called the matter "an emerging threat to our national security." Added Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., "While homegrown Islamic terrorism might not be as much of a threat as in say, Europe or some other places, we ignore the threat that does exist at our peril."
The report cited several high-profile cases of terrorists who became radicalized while incarcerated, including British shoe bomber Richard Reid. It also noted what authorities call a foiled plot of a potential shooting rampage against California military facilities, synagogues and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles by followers of Kevin James, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS, as an inmate at California State Prison in Sacramento.
Researchers interviewed federal, state and local prison officials, religious counselors and counterterror authorities in four states - California, New York, South Carolina and Ohio - and the District of Columbia. They concluded that federal prison authorities have made significant strides in collecting and sharing information to help monitor whether inmates are becoming radicalized.
But state and local prison officials have largely relied on contractors and volunteers to lead Islamic services because of a lack of well-trained Muslim chaplains, the report found. In New York, that led to several cases of "imams espousing violent views," it said.
The report noted a 2004 study that found that about half of 193 prisons surveyed supervised religious services or monitored them with video or audio recorders. "In the absence of monitoring by authoritative Islamic chaplains, materials that advocate violence have infiltrated the prison system undetected," it found.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #102 on:
September 24, 2006, 06:50:40 PM »
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #103 on:
October 07, 2006, 07:26:26 AM »
We're Ignoring Simple Measures to Prevent Terrorist Infiltration of Borders & Prisons
By Michael Cutler
It seems that the only thing that is predictable where our nation's supposed "War on Terror" is concerned is that incompetence is the order of the day. A recent ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) press release dealt with a thwarted effort by a translator, who was employed as a contract translator at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, to secure an immigrant visa as the result of a fraudulent petition. I believe it is important to once again provide you with this press release because it meshes with the story in yesterday's "Washington Times" about a lack of translators who can read mail and other documents of detainees who are suspected of being involved in terrorism. According to the article, this lack of translators also prevents the Bureau of Prison, the agency in charge of these prisons, from monitoring verbal communications as well. This, in my opinion, creates two major critical issues that are not being addressed. First of all, it is important for officials in charge of a jail to be able to know what is going on to help prevent escapes and assaults on prison guards as well as other inmates. Second, this failure to read these letters and monitor phone conversations and other oral communication also impedes efforts to gain critical intelligence that might be culled from a review of all of these various potential sources of information.
We face a ludicrous paradox: While we agonize over how much pressure interrogators should bear against inmates who might possess intelligence that might be critical in preventing future terrorist attacks, our government is missing what might be critical information that would not even involve the interrogation of prisoners, only the ability to read and understand the languages in which they communicate, including Arabic.
Interestingly, I have recommended in testimony before Congress that it is essential to mandate that ICE enforcement personnel successfully complete a Spanish language training program, which was mandated when I attended Border Patrol Academy in 1972, as were all INS enforcement personnel. I further recommended that in addition to Spanish language training (a reasonable requirement since the great majority of illegal aliens are Spanish-speaking), that the ICE academy also provide other language training where strategic languages are concerned. Among those languages would be Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. Thus far, ICE special agents are still receiving absolutely no foreign language training! Apparently Bureau of Prison personnel are similarly hobbled by a lack of language training.
I hate to keep on saying the same things, but we need to remember that we are at war. Three thousand innocent victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001 provide mute testimony to that simple fact. Yet, the "Can-do" attitude that America demonstrated in prosecuting World War II is lacking today. While members of both houses jump up and down, usually only when a television camera is taping them, demanding that we do a better job of screening the containers arriving on vessels to search for Weapons of Mass Destruction, only a comparative few members of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate have been willing to tackle the issue of border security and the lack of integrity of the immigration system. Those who have consistently demanded such improvements are the true leaders of our nation, but they are waging an apparent uphill battle with their colleagues from both sides of the political aisle.
Clearly it is critical to provide language training to employees of BOP and ICE, as well as other agencies whose employees might be able to use foreign language ability to help prevent future terrorist attacks. This is not a new issue. After the attacks of September 11 much was made about the inability of the FBI to translate a mountain of intercepts and other material that might have helped them to prevent the attacks of 9/11. Yet, even this obvious strategy of providing appropriate foreign language is not being pursued. So while the debates about the use of torture to extract intelligence and information from detainees at Guantanamo has made the headlines, other non-controversial methods of securing intelligence have been ignored!
We the people have the absolute right to demand our government does a much better job of addressing these critical issues immediately! No less than the safety and survival of our nation and our citizens hang in the balance.
"Supermax" mail unchecked
Most calls, letters by terrorist inmates in Florence aren't monitored, report says
By Mike Soraghan
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated:10/05/2006 08:51:54 PM MDT
Washington - The federal government wants to do more wiretapping to catch terrorists, but according to a new Justice Department watchdog report, it's still not listening in on some of the terrorists it's already captured. Sometimes it doesn't even read their mail.
At "Supermax," the federal government's top-security prison in Florence, officials monitored less than half of the phone calls of prisoners on its "alert list," including those convicted of terrorism whose calls are supposed to be monitored "live."
The report by the Justice Department's inspector general warned that because of gaps like that, important information could be missed.
"The threat remains that terrorist and other high-risk inmates can use mail and verbal communications to conduct terrorist or criminal activities while incarcerated," said the report, issued this week.
Supermax - officially known as the Administrative Maximum United States Penitentiary, or USP Florence ADMAX - came under scrutiny in 2005 when NBC reported that three men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing sent letters from the prison that were suspected of being used to recruit suicide bombers.
Since then, those prisoners have been locked up even tighter, and the prison has hired three Arabic translators with top-security clearances to monitor inmate letters and phone calls. But even then, prison officials didn't provide counterterrorism intelligence training to the translators in their first year on the job, the new report says.
The inspector general looked at 10 federal prisons including Supermax and found that the federal prison system does not read all the mail of its terrorist and other at-risk inmates; doesn't have enough good translators; doesn't do enough to flag the most dangerous international terrorists; and doesn't effectively monitor terrorists' phone calls and other conversations.
Federal prison officials said they've been trying to upgrade their monitoring of terrorists. But they told investigators they've been unable to do everything they want because they don't have enough money and the number of prisoners in their custody keeps going up.
The report recommended that:
Prisons should provide more foreign-language and counterterrorism intelligence training.
The federal Bureau of Prisons should improve its access to intelligence information.
Prisons should consider monitoring the cellblock conversations of all high-risk inmates.
Supermax, built to hold the nation's most dangerous criminals, houses more terrorists than any other federal prison.
Prison staffers told investigators they didn't feel as if they had the proper training to adequately analyze intelligence from terrorist inmates.
The report also says that investigative supervisors specially trained to monitor terrorists are often pulled for other duties because of staffing and funding shortages at the prison.
Supermax's two mailroom staffers randomly monitored less than 2 percent of the nearly 400 prisoners' mail, the report said.
Staff writer Mike Soraghan can be reached at 202-662-8730 or
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #104 on:
October 12, 2006, 07:50:16 AM »
Instructor Call For Interest
Homeland Security Corporation and PPCT Management Systems is currently
recruiting individuals interested in
instructing for the Department of State Antiterrorism Assistance
Program (ATAP). HSC/PPCT is seeking
successful and energetic trainers that will bring dynamics and
enthusiasm to the learning experience and who
have proven ability and expertise in the below listed fields. This is
an exciting opportunity for qualified
applicants to contribute to a successful and demanding organization
that embraces training as a valuable tool in
achieving our nation's security goals and objectives.
FIELDS OF INSTRUCTION
Hostage Negotiations - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Interdicting Terrorist Organizations - Policy -Lead Instructor, Staff
Instructor, Instructor "Cyber"
Interdicting Terrorist Activity - Basic - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Interdicting Terrorist Activity - Policy
Integrating Counter Terrorism Strategies at the National Level -
Implementation - Lead Instructor and Staff
Integrating Counter Terrorism Strategies at the National Level - Policy
Emergency Medical Intervention for Mass Casualties - Lead Instructor
Hospital Based Management of Mass Casualty Incidents - Lead Instructor
Kidnap Incident Management - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Weapons of Mass Destruction - Awareness - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Weapons of Mass Destruction - Operations - Lead Instructor and Instructor
A Police Executive's Role in Countering Terrorism- Instructor
Anti-Terrorism Executive Forum- Expert moderator
. Must possess current certifications in the field of instruction from
state or federally recognized programs.
. Must have a minimum of five years of instructional experience.
. Must have well-developed interpersonal skills and excellent
leadership and motivational skills.
. Must possess confident public speaking, presentation, delivery, and
. Must be able to train one-on-one, in small groups, and in a
classroom setting while maintaining a mature,
composed, and professional approach within diverse student
environments and situations.
. Must be adaptable/flexible and work effectively under challenging
. Selected applicants should have the flexibility to travel, as needed.
The salary range for the contract is generally between $700-$800 per
day, based on position and experience.
Interested applicants are asked to submit a Resume' to Tom Jost via
), or to call the
Belleville, IL. office of HSC/PPCT at 618-234-7728. Upon selection,
applicants will be asked to provide copies
of all applicable certifications and proof of 5 years instructional
experience as outlined on the resume'.
Deadline for resume' submittal is no later than October 19, 2006.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #105 on:
October 13, 2006, 02:25:31 PM »
Is this position in Belleville, IL or will the position include traveling? I grew up in Belleville, IL and although I do not have the qulifications I may know of some people that do.
"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #106 on:
October 13, 2006, 03:49:07 PM »
Haven't a clue.
Why not ask them?
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #107 on:
October 13, 2006, 04:50:18 PM »
Good point, I forward the info to several people as well. Thanks!
"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #108 on:
November 01, 2006, 06:41:08 AM »
Peter Huber, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Reasearch, speaking at the Gilder/Forbes Telecosm 2006 Conference earlier this month in Lake Tahoe (excerpt):
When a deliberate nuclear release occurs in the United States, as I think it inevitably will, we will almost certainly find that the material originated somewhere mundane?a hospital, a factory, an industrial setting. There is a whole lot of nuclear material out there all over the place. It has many useful applications. People who want it will find it.
The London subway bombers used Triaceatone Triperoxide (TATP). They brewed it in the bathtub using acetone, drain cleaner, and bleach. The Japanese subway attackers home-brewed their Sarin gas. The Oklahoma City bombers mixed liquid fertilizer and diesel fuel.
It is easy to forget about things like this if they haven?t happened in very recent memory. One would prefer to think that they?re not possible. But, the simple fact is?and people in the know really do know this?we still face today an absolutely horrifying disconnect between u-weapons (these very toxic materials) and our own ability to see them before they are released or detonated in a subway or a stadium.
Scientists can of course see anything in a lab. They can see a single atom of Cobalt-60 or a molecule of TATP or a strand of anthrax DNA. Just bring your sample to the right building and a well-trained technician will fire-up a room-sized or larger mainframe unit and in due course the instrument will tell you exactly what it is you brought in. It happens after every attack. They can always tell you what hit you, after you?ve been hit.
The challenge is to see these things before they detonate, before they?re dispersed, before they get into the air ducts, and to see them not roughly or approximately, but so precisely that you can see exactly what they are and react to them appropriately, in real time, in all of the places where they could inflict damage.
How do you even begin to do that?
Just across Manhattan on any given day are some 4 million letters, 3 million people, at least half a million motor vehicles, half a million parcels, any of which could be carrying a tiny amount of something that could cause enormous harm.
Some time ago, the officers who patrol the mall in Washington D.C. were given portable radiation detectors. They soon removed the batteries. The units registered so many false alarms, they were worse than useless.
Radiation is easy to detect. It?s easy to detect badly. You can?t evacuate Yankee Stadium twice during every game to respond to false alarms.
Again, inferior technologies are worse than useless. A significant fraction of money spent in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 on technology was wasted. Yet, with that said, there is absolutely no other alternative. You cannot fight unstable atomic nuclei or nerve agents or DNA with guns and guards and gates. Guns and guards and gates are too expensive and completely ineffectual. They can?t see the stuff and, if they can see it, they can?t intercept it. You need the accuracy of a lab in something the size of a pager. You need to push out the boundaries, so you can screen huge numbers of packages and containers and so on at points of origin overseas and screen again at ports of entry and at key switching points like mail centers and transportation transits points and buildings and hospitals, where the first responders are treated, and on and on and on.
What are the essential technologies that will make this possible? What are the core enablers?
I will not suggest that there is a short list, but one can begin to zero in on a few of them. That is certainly what I and some fellow investors started doing before 9-11 and have continued doing since?
Download the audio of Peter Huber?s complete Telecosm 2006 keynote address:
(NOTE: This is a large 69MB MP3 file, which includes George Gilder?s opening Telecosm 2006 remarks. It may take a few minutes to download.)
The Increased Vigilance of Radioactive Materials
Western security agencies made more than 300 seizures of material that could be used in radioactive "dirty bombs" between 2002 and 2005, according to a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The report goes on to say that annual seizures rose dramatically over the latter two years of the study. Although the rise appears significant, it likely represents the increase in efforts to confiscate radioactive material rather than an actual increase in trafficking.
A U.N. press release citing the report says the number of cases involving illicit smuggling of radioactive material occurred mostly in Europe, though it fails to specify the precise nature of the radioactive materials seized. Instead it breaks them down into broad categories such as "nuclear material" and "radioactive material."
Black market sales of military-grade radioactive materials spiked following the collapse of the Soviet Union as criminal elements descended on abandoned Russian nuclear and research facilities. The Russian government, in conjunction with various international agencies and the U.S. government, has since clamped down on the sale of Soviet-era radioactive materials. U.S. aid to Russia in the form of so-called nonproliferation assistance -- money paid to destroy or adequately secure such nuclear and radiological material -- increased from roughly $760 million a year before 9/11 to about $810 million in 2002 and $957 million in 2003.
What the IAEA's broad categories fail to show is the wide variety of materials that could be usable for dirty bombs. The term "radioactive material" used by the IAEA covers a broad spectrum of items ranging from spent plutonium and uranium used in nuclear reactors to items used for industrial purposes. Equipment used in the dental and medical professions for X-rays and certain cancer treatments contains a substantial amount of radioactive materials. Radioactive cobalt is used in the steelmaking process to further refine the quality of the metal. Even common household items such as smoke detectors and the mantles used in camping lanterns contain a certain amount of radioactive materials that could be harvested.
The wide-scale use radioactive materials in the commercial sector means that materials needed for a dirty bomb are everywhere. Militants who might seek to create such a device do not necessarily need to smuggle in radioactive waste in shipments when they can gradually and relatively safely gather significant quantities from products used commercially without major risk of detection from security organizations. On the other hand, the more often they smuggle materials, the more likely they are to get caught.
Since 2002, the number of agencies and personnel monitoring the smuggling of radioactive materials has increased. Therefore, a rise in the number of materials found does not necessarily mean an increase in the amount of materials being smuggled. Moreover, the threshold for what is considered an actual threat is lower now than it was before 9/11.
As a result, false threats can inadvertently materialize out of a monitoring agencies' zeal to find a legitimate threat. This was the case with the red mercury hoaxes of the late 1980s to mid-1990s, when intelligence agencies worldwide reported on a substance that supposedly could be used in the production of a nuclear device. Ultimately, most of the red mercury was discovered to be nothing more than harmless dyes and powders being promoted by criminals and scam artists as valuable nuclear material. The scares, however, did highlight the proclivity of monitoring agencies to overreact to nonexistent threats.
Though increased vigilance could lead to more false alarms, it also makes it harder for a person or group that is actually trying to make a dirty bomb to assemble the required materials.
Last Edit: November 01, 2006, 10:49:11 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #109 on:
November 24, 2006, 08:58:30 AM »
A Profiling In Courage
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Homeland Security: Kudos to US Airways. Risking fines and a boycott, it did the right thing this week by removing a group of Muslim men from a flight to protect its crew and passengers.
By most accounts, the six bearded men were behaving suspiciously at a time when airports were on high alert for sky terror during the holidays. "There were a number of things that gave the flight crew pause," an airline spokesman said. According to witnesses and police reports, the men:
? Made anti-American statements.
? Made a scene of praying and chanting "Allah."
? Asked for seat-belt extensions even though a flight attendant thought they didn't need them.
? Refused requests by the pilot to disembark for more screening.
Also, three of the men had only one-way tickets and no checked baggage.
Police had to forcibly remove the men from the flight, whereupon they were taken into custody. A search found no weapons or explosives, and they were released to continue on their journey.
Within hours, the men enlisted a Muslim-rights group to make a stink in the press, insisting they were merely imams returning home from an Islamic conference in Minneapolis. They say they were "harassed" because of their faith.
But were they victims or provocateurs?
All six claim to be Americans, so clearly they were aware of heightened security. Surely they knew that groups of Muslim men flying together while praying to Allah fit the modus operandi of the 9/11 hijackers and would make a pilot nervous. Throw in anti-U.S. remarks and odd demands about seat belts, and they might as well have yelled, "Bomb!"
Yet they chose to make a spectacle. Why? Turns out among those attending their conference was Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who will be the first Muslim sworn into Congress (with his hand on the Quran). Two days earlier, Ellison, an African-American convert who wants to criminalize Muslim profiling, spoke at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim-rights group that wasted no time condemning US Airways for "prejudice and ignorance."
CAIR wants congressional hearings to investigate other incidents of "flying while Muslim." Incoming Judiciary Chairman John Con-yers, D-Mich., has already drafted a resolution, borrowing from CAIR rhetoric, that gives Muslims special civil-rights protections.
While it's not immediately clear whether the incident was a stunt to help give the new Democratic majority cover to criminalize airport profiling, it wouldn't be the first time Muslim passengers have tried to prove "Islamophobia" ? or test nerves and security.
Two years ago a dozen Syrian men caused panic aboard a Northwest Airlines flight by passing bags to each other as they used the lavatory. As the plane prepared to land, they rushed to the back and front of the plane speaking in Arabic.
Then there's the case of Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi, two Arizona college students removed from an America West flight after twice trying to open the cockpit. The FBI suspected it was a dry run for the 9/11 hijackings, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. One of the students had traveled to Afghanistan. Another became a material witness in the 9/11 investigation.
Even so, the pair filed racial-profiling suits against America West, now part of US Airways. Defending them was none other than the leader of the six imams kicked off the US Airways flight this week.
Turns out the students attended the Tucson, Ariz., mosque of Sheikh Omar Shahin, a Jordan native. Shahin has been the protesters' public face, even returning to the US Airways ticket counter at the Minneapolis airport to scold agents before the cameras.
In an Arizona Republic interview after 9/11, he acknowledged once supporting Osama bin Laden through his mosque in Tucson. FBI investigators believe bin Laden set up a base in Tucson.
Hani Hanjour, who piloted the plane that hit the Pentagon, attended the Tucson mosque along with bin Laden's onetime personal secretary, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Bin Laden's ex-logistics chief was president of the mosque before Shahin took over.
"These people don't continue to come back to Arizona because they like the sunshine or they like the state," said FBI agent Kenneth Williams. "Something was established there, and it's been there for a long time." And Shahin appears to be in the middle of it.
CAIR asserts the imams are peace-loving patriots. "It's inappropriate to treat religious leaders that way," a spokesman said.
Yeah, they all wear halos. Omar Abdul-Rahman, a blind sheikh, is serving a life term for plotting to blow up several New York landmarks. Imam Ali al-Timimi, a native Washingtonian, is also behind bars for soliciting local Muslims to kill fellow Americans. Imams in New York were recently busted for buying shoulder-fired missiles. Another in Lodi, Calif., planned an al-Qaida terror camp there.
We could go on and on. Imams or not, US Airways did right by its customers. Shahin is calling on Muslims to boycott the airline; that might actually work in its favor. US Airways has been flooded with calls from Americans saying it just became the safest airline.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #110 on:
November 29, 2006, 05:21:47 PM »
"An aircraft mechanic e-mailed Laura Ingram and said the extenders can be used to buckle the belts across the aisle and create a barrier."
Fascinating , , ,
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #111 on:
December 02, 2006, 01:13:18 PM »
Note that the "handcuffing" never happened!
The flying imams: What didn't happen
Audrey Hudson follows up her two Washington Times stories on the flying imams with an interview of ringleader Omar Shahin: "Imam disputes ties to Hamas." It's an oddly muted interview by contrast, for example, with this AP report. Shahin does not claim that the imams were mistreated by authorities. No handcuffs. No barking dogs. He speaks up for US Airways: "We love US Airways, and we want to fly with them," he said, which I'm sure is a great comfort to all involved.
Shahin disputes his knowledge that the KindHearts charity he supported was a Hamas front. Although KindHearts was established as a successor to the Global Relief Foundation shuttered by the feds after 9/11, his involvement was an innocent mistake.
Hudson apparently didn't ask Shahin about the seat belt extenders for which two or three of the imams asked. Shahin was reportedly one of the imams who asked for and received one, despite the fact he has no apparent need for it.
Hudson's article seems to me to save the best for last:
Mr. Shahin says that after they were questioned and released, US Airways declined to sell them another plane ticket, even after an FBI agent intervened at the imam's request. "I told him, 'Please sir, to call them.' And he did and talked for more than 20 minutes. He was trying to tell them we have no problem with the government and we can fly with anybody, but they still refused. He told me, 'I'm sorry I did my best.' I really appreciated it."
Paul McCabe, FBI spokesman in Minneapolis, says no such call took place on behalf of the men. "That never happened," Mr. McCabe said.
But where did all those reports imams in handcuffs come from? According to this AP report, they came from none other than Shahin himself:
"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," said Omar Shahin, of Phoenix.
The six Muslim scholars were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Shahin, president of the group. Five of them were from the Phoenix-Tempe area, while one was from Bakersfield, Calif., he said.
Three of them stood and said their normal evening prayers together on the plane, as 1.7 billion Muslims around the world do every day, Shahin said. He attributed any concerns by passengers or crew to ignorance about Islam.
"I never felt bad in my life like that," he said. "I never. Six imams. Six leaders in this country. Six scholars in handcuffs. It's terrible."
It's terrible -- terrible he made up the stuff about the imams in handcuffs special for the first wave of publicity about the incident. Those imams in handcuffs -- I guess, to quote Paul McCabe, "that never happened" either.
Also, here's this:
Marshals decry imams' charges
By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published November 29, 2006
Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called "racists," after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Six imams, or Muslim holy men, accused a US Airways flight crew of inappropriately evicting them from a flight last week in Minneapolis after several passengers said the imams tried to intimidate them by loudly praying and moving around the airplane. The imams urged Congress to enact laws to prohibit ethnic and religious "profiling."
Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats.
"The crew and passengers act as our additional eyes and ears on every flight," said a federal air marshal in Las Vegas, who asked that his name not be used. "If [crew and passengers] are afraid of reporting suspicious individuals out of fear of being labeled a racist or bigot, then terrorists will certainly use those fears to their advantage in future aviation attacks."
But Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said Muslims "have to walk around on eggshells in public just because we don't want to be misconstrued as suspicious. You have to strike a balance between legitimate fears which people may have, but not allow passengers to have so much discretion that they can trigger a process that would violate a traveler's basic civil rights."
"Because one person misunderstood the actions of other law-abiding citizens, they were able to trigger a very long and daunting process for other travelers that were pulled off the plane in handcuffs and detained for many hours before they were cleared."
The imams say they were removed from the Phoenix-bound flight because they were praying quietly in the concourse. They had been in Minnesota for a conference sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.
But other passengers told police and aviation security officials a different version of the incident. They said suspicious behavior of the imams led to their eviction from the flight. The imams, they said, tested the forbearance of the passengers and flight crew in what the air marshal called a "[political correctness] probe."
"The political correctness needs to be left at the boarding gate," the marshal said. "Instilling politically correct fears into the minds of airline passengers is nothing less than psychological terrorism."
The passengers and flight crew said the imams prayed loudly before boarding; switched seating assignments to a configuration used by terrorists in previous incidents; asked for seat-belt extensions, which could be used as weapons; and shouted hostile slogans about al Qaeda and the war in Iraq.
Flight attendants said three of the six men, who did not appear to be overweight, asked for the seat-belt extensions, which include heavy metal buckles, and then threw them to the floor under their seats.
Robert MacLean, a former federal air marshal, expressed the fear yesterday that the situation "will make crews and passengers in the future second-guess reporting these events, thus compromising the aircraft's security out of fear of being labeled a dogmatist or a bigot, or being sued."
Flight attendants said they were concerned that the way the imams took seats that were not assigned to them -- two seats in the front row of first class, exit seats in the middle of the plane and two seats in the rear -- resembled the pattern used by September 11 hijackers, giving them control of the exits.
A Minneapolis police officer and a federal air marshal who were called to the plane after the imams refused to leave the plane for questioning said "the seating configuration, the request for seat-belt extensions, the prior praying and utterances about Allah and the United States in the gate area ... was suspicious."
One pilot for a competing airline said the incident would have a chilling effect on the flight crews.
"The flight crew may be a little more gun-shy about approaching people, they may have a higher standard for the next few weeks for screening unusual behavior. I hope that's not the case, because I do think US Airways did the proper thing."
Andrea Rader, spokeswoman for US Airways, said its employees "are going to do what is appropriate" to ensure that airplanes are safe and will not be dissuaded by uproar over last week's incident.
"I don't think people will be less vigilant as a result of this, and I think that's appropriate. There is a balance, and I think we will continue to achieve that. Our crews and people on the airplanes are going to watch for behavior that raises concerns."
Many airports offer private rooms for prayer, but CAIR's Miss Ahmed said travelers required to arrive at airports two hours in advance to go through security inspections are too exhausted and must pray at the gate.
"It's convenient to check in then get to the gate and pray there," she said.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #112 on:
December 02, 2006, 06:22:54 PM »
Surprised this hasn't been posted:
DHS official admits taking bribes to fake documents
POSTED: 4:46 p.m. EST, December 1, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal immigration official pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving more than $600,000 in bribes for falsifying documents for illegal immigrants.
Robert Schofield, 57, could face 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in February.
He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, to issuing fraudulent documents to at least 184 illegal immigrants who falsely received U.S. citizenship.
Schofield, a former supervisor for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, was arrested in June.
He had served as a supervisory district adjudications officer at the Washington district office of agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security.
According to court documents, Schofield illegally helped Asian immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship in return for payments of $30,000 or more.
Under terms of the plea agreement Schofield has agreed to surrender his home, his bank accounts and his government retirement account.
"The breadth and scope of Mr. Schofield's fraud and corruption are truly stunning," said U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.
"Those who compromise the integrity of our national immigration system betray the confidence of the American people, and their actions are shameful."
Prosecutors said Schofield employed a network of brokers to bring aliens to him who were willing to pay for the phony documents.
The government says it has identified a number of these brokers.
One of them, Qiming Ye of Washington, has already pleaded guilty and will be sentenced December 21.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #113 on:
December 02, 2006, 09:11:55 PM »
The police report on the Six Imans taken off the plane. Note the original complaint was made by an Arab speaker who listened in on their conversation. Although the report does not say so (PC reasons? Security reasons?) given how few non-Arab Americans speak Arabic, the probability is that the complainant was Arab/Arab-American/Muslim?-- which given the concerns of many about where the loyalties of Arab Americans/Mulims lie, is worth noting.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #114 on:
December 03, 2006, 12:40:50 AM »
I can't go into any great detail, but I once was part of a case where an American of arab descent spotted something suspicious and reported in to LE. I performed the initial investigation while my supervisor relayed the info to alphabet soup types in the DC area. I know that the various federal agencies did follow-ups and I was out of the loop after that. IMHO, some bad guys got spotted and hopefully something was prevented.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #115 on:
December 03, 2006, 08:38:52 AM »
Posted December 02, 2006 06:43 AM Hide Post
THE FAKING IMAMS -- Pajamas Media Exclusive: Police Report, Passenger Reveals That Flying Imams Were Up to No Good
PJM in Seattle
December 1, 2006 5:58 PM
The Now Notorious Flying Imams Claim Their Only Crime Was “Flying While Muslim,” But Our Exclusive Reporting Reveals They Are Trying to Sweep Their Real Motives Under Their Prayer Rugs
Area Muslims pray near the ticketing area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Friday, Dec. 1.
SEE ALSO: The first public publication of the official police report on the incident including handwritten statements from witnesses. Download file — PDF 3.8 Mgb
PLUS: The letter from US Airways passenger “Pauline” to U.S. Airways: Download file PDF 68K
[Bloggers are invited to examine these documents and provide theories for what happened. Please notify Pajamas Media. — Editors]
By Richard Miniter, PJM Washington Editor
The case of U.S. Airways flight 300 gets stranger by the minute. When six traveling Muslim clerics were asked to deplane last week, it looked like another civil rights controversy against post-9-11 airport security.
Now new information is emerging that suggests it was all a stunt designed to weaken security….
Yesterday I spoke with a passenger on that flight, who asked that she be only identified as “Pauline.” A copy of airport police report, which I also obtained, supports Pauline’s account - and includes shocking revelations of its own. In addition, U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader also confirmed much of what Pauline revealed…..
The passenger, who asked that she only be identified as “Pauline,” said she is afraid to give her full name or hometown. She is spending the night at “another location” because she does not feel safe at home. She credits reports that one imam is apparently linked to Hamas. “It is scary because these men could be dangerous.”
Pauline said she never wanted media attention. She wrote an email to U.S. Airways and cc:ed her daughter, who unexpectedly emailed it to her friends. As the letter took on an internet life of its own, it made its way to the inbox of a retired CNN executive producer. Then, to her dismay, the feeding frenzy began.
Pauline revealed to the Pajamas Media that the six imams were doing things far more suspicious than praying - an Arabic-speaking passenger heard them repeatedly invoke “bin Laden,” and “terrorism,” a gate attendant told the captain that she did not want to fly with them, and that bomb-sniffing dogs were brought aboard. Other Muslim passengers were left undisturbed and later joined in a round of applause for the U.S. Airways crew. “It wasn’t that they were Muslim. It was all of the suspicious things they did,” Pauline said.
Here is her story, along with corroborating quotes from the U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader and the official report, another Pajamas Media Exclusive.
Sitting in Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Airport Gate C9, she noticed one of the imams immediately. “He was pacing nervously, talking in Arabic,” she said.
She quickly noticed the others. “They didn’t look like holy men to me. They looked like guys heading out of town for a Vikings game.”
Pauline said she did not see or hear the imams pray at the gate (she was at dinner in a nearby airport eatery), but heard about the pre-flight prayers from other passengers hours later.
As the plane boarded, she said, no one refused to fly. The public prayers and Arabic phone call did not trigger any alarms - so much for the p.c. allegations that people were disturbed by Muslim prayers.
But a note from a passenger about suspicious movements of the imams got the crew’s attention. A copy of the passenger’s note appears in the police report.
To Pauline everything seemed normal. Then the captain - in classic laconic pilot-style - announced there had been a “mix up in our paperwork” and that the flight would be delayed.
In reality, the air crew was waiting for the FBI and local police to arrive.
Ninety minutes after the flight’s scheduled 5:15 p.m. departure, the captain announced yet another delay. Still, Pauline said, there was no sense of alarm.
Still, it seemed like just another annoying development, typical when flying the friendly skies.
The situation in cockpit was far more intense, according to a U.S. Airways spokeswoman and police reports.
Contrary to press accounts that a single note from a passenger triggered the imams’ removal, Captain John Howard Wood was weighing multiple factors - factors that have largely been ignored by the press.
Another passenger, not the note writer, was an Arabic speaker sitting near two of the imams in the plane’s tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside, and in a whisper, translated what the men were saying. They were invoking “bin Laden” and condemning America for “killing Saddam,” according to police reports.
Meanwhile an imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extension, even though according to both an on-duty flight attendant and another deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one. Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm. The U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said she did not dispute the report, but said the airline’s internal investigation cannot yet account for the seat-belt extension request or its subsequent use.
A seat-belt extension can easily be used as a weapon, by wrapping the open-end of the belt around your fist and swinging the heavy metal buckle.
Still, it seemed like just another annoying development, typical when flying the friendly skies. Days after the incident, the imam would claim that the steward helped him attach the device. Pauline said he is lying. Hours later, when the police was being evacuated, the steward asked Pauline to hand him the seat-belt extension, which the imam did not attach, but placed on the floor. “I know he is lying,” Pauline said, “I had it [seat belt extension] in my hand.”
A passenger in the third row of first class, Pauline said, told a member of the crew: “I don’t have a good feeling about this guy,” about the imam who wanted the seat-belt extension.
A married couple one row behind first-class, tried to strike up a conversation with the imam seated near them. He refused to talk or even look at the woman in the eye, according to Pauline. Instead, he stood up and moved to join the other imams in the back of the plane. Why would he leave the luxury end of the aircraft? Pauline wondered. The account of the married couple does not appear in the police report.
Finally, a gate attendant told the captain she thought the imams were acting suspiciously, according to police reports.
So the captain apparently made his decision to delay the flight based on many complaints, not one. And he consulted a federal air marshal, a U.S. Airways ground security coordinator and the airline’s security office in Phoenix. All thought the imams were acting suspiciously, Rader told me.
Other factors were also considered: All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.
And, Pauline said, they spread out just like the 9-11 hijackers. Two sat in first, two in the middle, and two back in the economy section. Pauline’s account is confirmed by the police report. The airline spokeswoman added that some seemed to be sitting in seats not assigned to them.
One thing that no one seemed to consider at the time, perhaps due to lack of familiarity with Islamic practice, is that the men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice.
“It was almost as if they were intentionally trying to get kicked off the flight,” Pauline said.
A lone plain clothes FBI agent boarded the plane and briefly spoke to the imams. Later, uniformed police escorted them off.
Some press reports said the men were led off in handcuffs, which Pauline disputes. “I saw them. They were not handcuffed.”
Later, each imam was individually brought back on the aircraft to reclaim his belongings. They were still not handcuffed. They may have been handcuffed later.
At this point, the passengers became alarmed. “How do we know they got all their stuff off?” Pauline heard one man ask.
While the imams were soon released, Pauline is fuming: “We are the victims of these people. They need to be more sensitive to us. They were totally insensitive to us and then accused us of being insensitive to them. I mean, we were a lot more inconvenienced than them.”
The plane was delayed for some three and one-half hours.
Bomb-sniffing dogs were used to sweep the plane and every passenger was re-screened, the airline spokeswoman confirmed. Another detail omitted from press reports.
The reaction of the remaining passengers has also gone unreported. “We applauded and cheered for the crew,” she said.
“I think it was either a foiled attempt to take over the plane or it was a publicity stunt to accuse us of being insensitive,” Pauline said. “It had to be to intimidate U.S. Airways to ease up on security.”
So far, U.S. Airways refuses to be intimidated, even though the feds have launched an investigation. “We are absolutely backing this crew,” Rader said.
Tucked away in the police report is this little gem: one of the imams had complained to a passenger that some nations did not follow shariah law and his job in Bakersfield, Calif. was a cover for “representing Muslims here in the U.S.”
So what are the imams really up to? Something more than praying it seems.
By Beila Rabinowitz and William A. Mayer
December 1, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The November 20 action by 6 Imams on a U.S. Airways flight was a pre-conceived exercise in cultural jihad.
The Muslim preachers had just returned from the North American Imam Federation conference and were merely putting into practice the media manipulation techniques which they had studied and discussed at the 2 day event.
It is no coincidence that the event took place in Minneapolis where Muslim voters had just elected Keith Ellison, a Wahhabist Muslim [who, incidentally is insisting on taking the oath of office by swearing on the Quran rather than the Bible].
The Minneapolis/St. Paul airport was also the site of a controversy that we reported on in September [Muslim Taxi Drivers At Minneapolis International Airport Subjecting Fares To Sharia] when Muslim taxi drivers, working with radical Islamist groups refused to transport passengers whom they believed to be carrying alcohol. A follow-up piece [Are Minneapolis Taxi Fares Going To Support Al-Qaeda?] explored the ties to terror that exist among the mostly Somali immigrant taxi drivers.
The imam's actions were the culminating event in a carefully executed plan that was preceded by a series of smaller incidents in which Muslims tested the tolerance level of the airlines and passengers by wearing T shirts to the airport reading "I am not a Terrorist." As part of this ramp-up in provocation, an Islamist activist goaded airport security personnel into preventing him from entering a plane because he was wearing a T shirt emblazoned with possibly threatening Arabic text.
Following this same template, the imams intentionally pushed all the right buttons to arouse the suspicions of airport security, Federal air marshals and passengers alike.
Specifically, some of the Imams had one way tickets and checked no baggage, they had prayed loudly and very publicly before entering the plane, shouting Allahu Akhbar ["God is great," an Arabic chant often used by terrorists as a war cry] they refused to take their assigned seats instead occupying seats strategically chosen to control all entrances and exits of the airliner. Passengers overheard them making anti-American remarks, statements strongly against the war in Iraq and mentions of al-Qaeda and bin-Laden. Two of the Imams demanded seat belt extenders [which could be used as weapons] when neither of them were overweight and thus realistically in need of making their seat belts longer. When confronted for their bizarre behavior and asked to voluntarily leave the plane for questioning, they refused and were then forcibly removed.
Their actions were thus consistent with either a terrorist probe - a dry run - or the real thing, the prelude to a hijacking attempt.
It is extremely troubling to consider the degree to which these supposedly holy men were familiar with the intricacies of the airline terror MO especially their request for heavy buckled seat belt extenders, which were placed on the floor alongside the imam's seats - supposedly ready for action - and their desire to be able to control entry and exit from the aircraft.
One explanation for the imam's apparent first hand knowledge of terrorist methodology might be due to the acumen of Omar Shahin who has a long history of involvement with terrorists and terror fundraising activities as Imam of the Islamic Center of Tucson which is linked to Hamas and al-Qaeda. The former director of Shahin's mosque, Wael Hamza Julaidan was the co-founder of al-Qaeda and current board member, Mir Ramatullah who also worked with Shahin sits on the ICT board today. Shahin has admitted that he supported bin-Laden "in the past." In addition, Hani Hanjour, the pilot of the airliner that was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 attended this same Tucson mosque.
Shahin's familiarity with incipient hijackers is personal; he defended two Muslim college students who had been removed from an America West flight for attempting to storm the cockpit in what the FBI believes was a dry run for 9/11. One of the students had trained in Afghanistan and the other was a material witness in the 9/11 investigations.
Shahin was also a representative for the Hamas terror financing faux charity "Kind Hearts" which was shut down after an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Given the above realities it's obvious that the imams designed this incident, set it in motion and then managed the public relations aspect of it intending to create a sense of anti-Muslim victimhood, with lawyer/spokesmen and press releases ready even before they had to be wrestled from the plane.
Doubtless this group was emboldened by the Ellison election which they view as an important step on the journey towards eventual Islamization of the United States.
The imams see this whole event as an experiment in how far they might be able to manipulate the media. Any criticism of their actions is framed as religious discrimination and bigotry so it's not surprising in the least that Ellison has injected [he was a speaker at the NAIF conference after all] himself into this controversy, demanding high level meetings with the Minneapolis airport managers as well as US Airways.
The goal of all of this is of course to batter the airlines and security into submission through fears of financial liability for "discrimination" against Muslims.
The six Imams operated straight out of the handbook prepared for the NAIF Imam conference which described how Imams should handle the media.
"Islam is now almost constantly on the news, and Imams must be capable of dealing effectively with the media. Good communication skills encompass being able to respond to media inquires , fielding questions from journalists, addressing information about Islam and the media, generating positive story ideals, and writing letters to the editor when necessary. Communication should not be limited to responding to misconceptions, but Imams should also take advantage of opportunities to highlight activities in local mosques and the contribution of Muslims to local communities."
In this same document NAIF counseled extremely aggressive and thoroughly coordinated media manipulation:
"In this regard NAIF intends to select a number of Imams to be in charge of this task of responding to the media. Each Imam will be responsible for one or more specific week(s) of the year. Given the unfortunate state of the world. it is likely that during each week there will be an opportunity to condemn extremism and violence. The Imam in charge of this week would write a short message, perhaps 50 to 100 to 200 or 300 words , responding to the specific event released in the news during their week. Then this message would be sent via e-mail to all the Imams on NAIF mailing list seeking their approval or disapproval of the event that occurred. Aftwards, an official statement representing NAIF's stance condemning violence and extremism could be issued.. NAIF would then phone the editorial page editor or the city page editor of the local newspaper or the local broadcast station to post Imam's official statements, NAIF would tell this editor that his newspaper or broadcasting statement will have sole and exclusive right (sic) to print or broadcast the message within the next 24 hours. Afterwards the message will be sent to the national media."
Access entire NAIF conference handbook, in .pdf file format here.
In our opinion, by their actions these imams were waging psychological terrorism - cultural jihad - on America and therefore this event has to be considered a political act designed to degrade airport security by linking reasonable precautions with anti-Muslim bigotry.
The question remains as to whether U.S. Airways will hold their ground and refuse to succumb to this radical Muslim pressure.
We suggest that the U.S. Airways and Minneapolis/St. Paul airport refuse to meet with the imam's representatives, including Congressman elect Keith Ellison who sees the potential in this created controversy as payback for his Muslim constituents and a first test of how he can use his newly acquired Congressional clout to promote the radical Islamist agenda.
We further suggest that the Department of Justice investigate this incident as a conspiracy intended to destroy reasonable and prudent airport security measures, thus enabling future airline based terrorist activities.
©1999-2006 Beila Rabinowitz, William A. Mayer/PipeLineNews.org
Last Edit: December 03, 2006, 11:46:11 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #116 on:
December 05, 2006, 10:46:15 AM »
Tale Of Fibbing Imams
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Islam And Politics: As we first suspected, the six imams bounced from a US Airways flight misled the public about the incident and likely staged the whole thing as a scheme to weaken security.
Their actions undermine any good will and trust Muslim leaders have built since 9/11. And they call into question what we really know about these supposedly virtuous men we invite to the White House and other halls of power in gestures of tolerance.
Are they really moderate? Do they really mean it when they renounce terrorism? Do they really have America's best interests at heart?
The police report detailing the US Airways flap gives us serious pause. The imams acted more like provocateurs than victims. At the gate before boarding, they angrily cursed the U.S. Then they bowed to Mecca and prayed "very loud," chanting "Allah, Allah, Allah," according to the gate agent and another witness.
On the plane, they didn't take their assigned seats and instead fanned out to the front, middle and rear of the plane. One even "pretended to be blind" to gain access to another passenger's seat, according to a flight attendant.
Some ran back and forth speaking to each other in Arabic. Adding to suspicions, most of them asked for seat belt extensions even though they didn't need them — or even use them.
Yet the ringleader, Omar Shahin, claimed before the police report was released that they "did nothing" unusual. "It's obvious discrimination," he insisted.
When the story first broke, the imams denied they chanted "Allah." Yet, several witnesses in the police report say they did. The imams also claimed they were handcuffed and harassed by dogs. "Six imams. Six leaders in this country," Shahin complained. "Six scholars in handcuffs." But the police report puts the lie to both those claims, too.
Shahin also claimed that a local FBI agent pleaded with US Airways to sell the Saintly Six imams another plane ticket, telling airline reps that the government had "no problem" with the men. "Never happened," says an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis.
Shahin and his fellow imams, who were educated in Sudan and Saudi Arabia, says he and the imams are all moderates who love the U.S. and denounce terror. He doubts Muslims were responsible for 9/11.
"We have been asked by God and by the prophet Muhammad to respect all human life," he said. "The Quran is very clear, to save one life he saves all human life, and whoever kills one person he kills all humankind, and that is what Islam is all about."
But Shahin engages in more dissembling. He leaves out a key part of the verse (5:32) that condones killing those who murder fellow Muslims or spread "mischief in the land." Mischief is defined as "treason against Allah," and the very next verse calls for guilty infidels to be beheaded.
Shahin himself has ties to terrorism. He served (unknowingly, he now says) as an agent and fundraiser for a Hamas front. He ran a mosque in Tucson, Ariz., attended by several al-Qaida operatives including the hijacker who flew the plane into the Pentagon. And he now runs an imam federation that counts an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing among its trustees.
Shahin also teaches at an Islamic school fully accredited by an Egyptian university tied to the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood. The school's founder preaches sharia law. One of the imams kicked off the US Airways flight, an Egyptian native, praised sharia law, according to a passenger who sat next to him.
"He expressed views I consider to be extreme fundamentalist Muslim views," said the witness, a clergyman who has traveled to the Middle East. "He indicated that it was necessary to go to whatever measures necessary to obey all that's set out in the Quran."
But most disturbing, these imams aren't the fringe. Shahin's group, the North American Imams Federation, represents more than 150 mosque leaders across the country. It works in concert with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which wasted no time slamming US Airways for "stereotyping" Muslims and calling on Congress to pass legislation to outlaw passenger profiling.
Both CAIR and NAIF work closely with Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim member of Congress. Conveniently enough, he immediately stepped in on their behalf to pressure US Airways and the local airport to change security policies.
If it were an orchestrated stunt to create public sympathy and force airports to look the other way when groups of Muslim men fly, it's working. The Minneapolis airport plans to add a prayer room for Muslims, and Democrats plan to hold hearings on Muslim profiling. This could have a chilling effect on efforts to investigate terror suspects in the Muslim community.
Such hearings would only confer legitimacy on bogus complaints by Muslim leaders. We need to take a harder look at them, not airlines' security policies.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #117 on:
December 06, 2006, 03:53:35 PM »
Fine Print in Defense Bill Opens Door to Martial Law
By Jeff Stein, CQ National Security Editor
It’s amazing what you can find if you turn over a few rocks in the anti-terrorism legislation Congress approved during the election season.
Take, for example, the John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2006, named for the longtime Armed Services Committee chairman from Virginia.
Signed by President Bush on Oct. 17, the law (PL 109-364) has a provocative provision called “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.”
The thrust of it seems to be about giving the federal government a far stronger hand in coordinating responses to Katrina-like disasters.
But on closer inspection, its language also alters the two-centuries-old Insurrection Act, which Congress passed in 1807 to limit the president’s power to deploy troops within the United States.
That law has long allowed the president to mobilize troops only “to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.”
But the amended law takes the cuffs off.
Specifically, the new language adds “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident” to the list of conditions permitting the President to take over local authority — particularly “if domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order.”
Since the administration broadened what constitutes “conspiracy” in its definition of enemy combatants — anyone who “has purposely and materially supported hostilities against the United States,” in the language of the Military Commissions Act (PL 109-366) — critics say it’s a formula for executive branch mischief.
Yet despite such a radical turn, the new law garnered little dissent, or even attention, on the Hill.
One of the few to complain, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., warned that the measure virtually invites the White House to declare federal martial law.
It “subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law,” he said in remarks submitted to the Congressional Record on Sept. 29.
“The changes to the Insurrection Act will allow the President to use the military, including the National Guard, to carry out law enforcement activities without the consent of a governor,” he said.
Moreover, he said, it breaks a long, fundamental tradition of federal restraint.
“Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy.”
And he criticized the way it was rammed through Congress.
It “was just slipped in the defense bill as a rider with little study,” he fumed. “Other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals.”
No matter: Safely tucked into the $526 billion defense bill, it easily crossed the goal line on the last day of September.
The language doesn’t just brush aside a liberal Democrat slated to take over the Judiciary Committee come January. It also runs over the backs of the governors, 22 of whom are Republicans.
The governors had waved red flags about the measure on Aug. 1, sending letters of protest from their Washington office to the Republican chairs and ranking Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services committees.
No response. So they petitioned the party heads on the Hill — Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and his Democratic opposite, Nancy Pelosi of California.
“This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors,” said the Aug. 6 letter signed by every member of the National Governors Association, “and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors . . .to the federal government.”
“We urge you,” they said, “to drop provisions that would usurp governors’ authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act.”
Again, no response from the leadership, said David Quam, the National Governors Association’s director of federal relations.
On Aug. 31, the governors sent another letter to the congressional party leaders, as well as to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who had met quietly with an NGA delegation back in February.
The bill “could encroach on our constitutional authority to protect the citizens of our states,” they protested, complaining again about how the provision had been dumped on a midnight express.
“Any issue that affects the mission of the Guard in the states must be addressed in consultation and coordination with governors,” they demanded.
“The role of the Guard in the states and to the nation as a whole is too important to have major policy decisions made without full debate and input from governors throughout the policy process.”
“We did not know until the bill was printed where we stood,” Quam said.
That’s partly the governors’ own fault, said a Republican Senate aide.
“My understanding is that they sent form letters to offices,” she said. “If they really want a piece of legislation considered they should have called offices and pushed the matter. No office can handle the amount of form letters that come in each day.”
Quam disputed that.
“The letter was only the beginning of the conversation,” he said. “The NGA and the governors’ offices reached out across the Hill.”
Looking back at the government’s chaotic response to Katrina, it’s not altogether surprising that the provision drew so little opposition in Congress and attention from the mainstream media.
And of course, it was wrapped in a monster defense bill related to the emergency in Iraq.
But the blogosphere, of course, was all over it.
A close analysis of the bill by Frank Morales, a 58-year-old Episcopal priest in New York who occasionally writes for left-wing publications, spurred a score of liberal and conservative libertarian Web sites to take a look at it.
But a search of The Washington Post and New York Times archives, using the terms “Insurrection Act,” “martial law” and “Congress,” came up empty.
That’s not to say the papers don’t care: There’s just too much going on in the global war on terror to keep up with, much less write about such a seemingly insignificant provision. The martial law section of the Defense Appropriation Act, for example, takes up just a few paragraphs in the 591-page document.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #118 on:
December 06, 2006, 04:07:49 PM »
When New Orleans and the state of Louisiana dropped the ball, the the federal gov't got the blame. Now the feds have the legal authority to act. Could it be abused? Sure, anything gov't have the power to do can be abused/misused.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #119 on:
December 07, 2006, 04:07:37 PM »
Probes dismiss imams' racism claim
By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
December 6, 2006
Three parallel investigations into the removal of six imams from a US Airways flight last month have so far concluded that the airline acted properly, that the imams' claims they were merely praying and their eviction was racially inspired are without foundation.
An internal investigation by the airline found that air and ground crews "acted correctly" when they requested that the Muslim men be removed from a Minneapolis-to-Phoenix flight on Nov. 20.
"We believe the ground crew and employees acted correctly and did what they are supposed to do," US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said.
Omar Shahin -- one of the imams and the group's spokesman -- said the men did not behave out of the ordinary while on the plane, and that passengers overreacted because some of the imams conducted prayers in the concourse before boarding.
US Airways' investigation is "substantially complete" but Miss Rader said airline officials still want to meet with the imams to review the situation. "We're looking at it as a security issue and as a customer-service issue and where we might need to do outreach," she said.
Airline officials have had several discussions with Mr. Shahin, but a meeting scheduled for Monday with all six men was canceled at the imams' request.
"We talked with crew members and passengers and those on the ground. We've done what we typically do in a situation where there is a removal or some kind of customer service at issue," Miss Rader said. "We found out the facts are substantially the same, and the imams were detained because of the concerns crew members had based on the behavior they observed, and from reports by the customers."
The Minneapolis airport police department's report on the incident said the imams' behavior warranted their removal. The imams were not accused of breaking any laws.
The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is reviewing the actions of department members who were involved in the incident.
Secret Service agents questioned the imams, who are accused of making negative comments about President Bush and the Iraq war. Officials of the Transportation Security Administration were involved in screening the imams and their baggage.
"There is no indication there is any inappropriate activity, at least no indication at this time," DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said. "To my knowledge, we are only doing a review, and that is a fairly routine practice with incidents like this."
The Air Carrier Security Committee of the Air Line Pilots Association investigated the incident and said, "The crew's actions were strictly in compliance with procedures and demonstrated overall good judgment in the care and concern for their passengers, fellow crew members, and the company."
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #120 on:
December 09, 2006, 09:27:49 AM »
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 — Four years after the Coast Guard began an effort to replace nearly its entire fleet of ships, planes and helicopters, the modernization program heralded as a model of government innovation is foundering.
Failure to Navigate
First of two articles
Four years ago the Coast Guard launched what is now a 24-billion dollar program to replace or rebuild nearly its entire fleet of planes, helicopters and large ships. The start-up has been rocky.
PATROL BOATS Converted at a cost of $12 million each, these boats, which have been taken out of service, sustained hull breaches and shaft alignment problems that the Coast Guard tried to repair in Key West, Fla.
The initial venture — converting rusting 110-foot patrol boats, the workhorses of the Coast Guard, into more versatile 123-foot cutters — has been canceled after hull cracks and engine failures made the first eight boats unseaworthy.
Plans to build a new class of 147-foot ships with an innovative hull have been halted after the design was found to be flawed.
And the first completed new ship — a $564 million behemoth christened last month — has structural weaknesses that some Coast Guard engineers believe may threaten its safety and limit its life span, unless costly repairs are made.
The problems have helped swell the costs of the fleet-building program to a projected $24 billion, from $17 billion, and delayed the arrival of any new ships or aircraft.
That has compromised the Coast Guard’s ability to fulfill its mission, which greatly expanded after the 2001 attacks to include guarding the nation’s shores against terrorists. The service has been forced to cut back on patrols and, at times, ignore tips from other federal agencies about drug smugglers. The difficulties will only grow more acute in the next few years as old boats fail and replacements are not ready.
Adm. Thad W. Allen, who took over as Coast Guard commandant in May, acknowledged that the program had been troubled and said that he had begun to address the problems. “You will see changes shortly in the Coast Guard in our acquisition organization,” Admiral Allen said. “It will be significantly different than we have done in the past.”
The modernization effort was a bold experiment, called Deepwater, to build the equivalent of a modest navy — 91 new ships, 124 small boats, 195 new or rebuilt helicopters and planes and 49 unmanned aerial vehicles.
Instead of doing it piecemeal, the Coast Guard decided to package everything, in hopes that the fleet would be better integrated and its multibillion price would command attention from a Congress and White House traditionally more focused on other military branches. And instead of managing the project itself, the Coast Guard hired Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, two of the nation’s largest military contractors, to plan, supervise and deliver the new vessels and helicopters.
Many retired Coast Guard officials, former company executives and government auditors fault that privatization model, saying it allowed the contractors at times to put their interests ahead of the Guard’s.
“This is the fleecing of America,” said Anthony D’Armiento, a systems engineer who has worked for Northrop and the Coast Guard on the project. “It is the worst contract arrangement I’ve seen in all my 20 plus years in naval engineering.”
Insufficient oversight by the Coast Guard resulted in the service buying some equipment it did not want and ignoring repeated warnings from its own engineers that the boats and ships were poorly designed and perhaps unsafe, the agency acknowledged. The Deepwater program’s few Congressional skeptics were outmatched by lawmakers who became enthusiastic supporters, mobilized by an aggressive lobbying campaign financed by Lockheed and Northrop.
And the contractors failed to fulfill their obligation to make sure the government got the best price, frequently steering work to their subsidiaries or business partners instead of competitors, according to government auditors and people affiliated with the program.
Even some of the smaller Deepwater projects raise questions about management. The radios placed in small, open boats were not waterproof and immediately shorted out, for example. Electronics equipment costing millions of dollars is still being installed in the new cutter, even though it will be ripped out because the Coast Guard does not want it. An order of eight small, inflatable boats cost an extra half-million dollars because the purchase passed through four layers of contractors.
Page 2 of 5)
For the Department of Homeland Security, which took over responsibility for the Coast Guard in 2003, Deepwater joins its already long list of troubled programs, including its airport checkpoint measures, its biodefense efforts and its widely condemned handling of the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Four years ago the Coast Guard launched what is now a 24-billion dollar program to replace or rebuild nearly its entire fleet of planes, helicopters and large ships. The start-up has been rocky.
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general has warned that the department cannot repeat this experience as it begins a $7 billion plan to tighten the border. The department is taking a similar management approach with that plan, relying on the Boeing Corporation to develop, supervise and execute the strategy.
Spokesmen for Northrop and Lockheed, and the partnership they formed to run Deepwater, declined repeated requests for interviews, saying they would leave it to the Coast Guard to discuss the project. The companies also declined to respond to written questions.
Admiral Allen said the Coast Guard engineers and procurement staff team would now play a much larger role in overseeing the project in an effort to rein in its private sector partners, adding that the mistakes made were unacceptable.
“Our people are demoralized by it, they don’t deserve it, and it really impedes our ability to execute our mission,” he said.
On a clear, calm morning in Key West, Fla., one day last month — perfect weather for running drugs and migrants — six of the eight converted Coast Guard patrol boats were broken down or out of service. Their crews had little to do but shine the ships’ already gleaming bells and clean its guns.
The Deepwater plan called for transforming the 110-foot boats into larger, more versatile cutters with rebuilt hulls, new communications and surveillance gear and a 13-foot extension to make room for a small boat launch ramp.
Even before the refurbishing began in 2003, though, Coast Guard engineers expressed doubts that the boats could bear the extra weight the changes would impose. “You could have buckling of the structure of the ship,” Chris Cleary, of the Engineering Logistics Center at the Coast Guard, said he recalls pointing out. But Bollinger Shipyards, a business partner of Northrop and Lockheed, insisted the conversion would succeed.
As the work got under way, the Coast Guard provided only limited oversight. It did not fill dozens of its seats on joint management teams set up for the project. And the Coast Guard assigned seven inspectors to monitor the work, compared with 20 on a similar-size job.
“In theory, we were going drive a 110-foot cutter up to the pier, drop it off and come back in 34 weeks to pick up a 123-foot cutter,” said Lt. Benjamin Fleming, the Coast Guard’s representative at the shipyard in Lockport, La. “We were putting a lot of trust and faith in our partners.”
Michael De Kort, a former Lockheed project manager, said the results quickly became apparent.
The VHF radio on the small launch would be exposed to the elements but was not waterproof, Mr. De Kort said. The classified communications equipment had not been properly shielded to protect messages from eavesdropping. Cameras intended to provide 360-degree surveillance had two large blind spots.
Mr. De Kort said he had repeatedly warned his Lockheed supervisors of the problems, but was rebuffed. “We have an approved design and we aren’t going to change it,” Mr. De Kort said he was told. He was later laid off from the company. Lockheed officials declined to comment.
In September 2004, more serious flaws in the boat conversion program became obvious after the first one, the Matagorda, was launched. As it traveled in relatively heavy seas from Key West to Miami, large cracks appeared in the hull and deck.
Giant steel straps that looked like Band-Aids were affixed to the side of the boats, and the vessels were barred from venturing out in rough water. But cracks and bulges continued to scar the Matagorda and other converted ships, followed by a series of mechanical problems.
Bollinger, it turned out, had overestimated how much stress the modified boats could handle, a miscalculation it cannot fully explain. “The computer broke for some reason,” said T. R. Hamlin, a senior Bollinger manager. “Whether it was a power surge or something, who knows?” The cursory oversight by the Coast Guard meant the mistake was not caught in time.
Page 3 of 5)
After spending about $100 million on the first eight boats, the Coast Guard suspended the conversion plan. Last week, Admiral Allen ordered the boats taken out of service, citing concerns about crew safety.
Facing a shortage of patrol boats, the contractors and the Coast Guard decided to speed development of a larger ship, the Fast Response Cutter. The hull was to be built from glass-reinforced plastic, known as a composite, something never tried on a large American military ship.
While acknowledging that it might cost much more to build the 58 planned cutters with composite hulls instead of steel, Northrop and Lockheed claimed the boats would last longer and require less maintenance, saving money over the long run.
Coast Guard engineers again were doubtful that Northrop’s design would work, citing concerns about weight, hull shape and fuel consumption. The Coast Guard also found inconsistencies in the cost data Northrop used to justify the new hull.
One former Northrop executive said the company was pushing the plan not because it was in the best interest of the Coast Guard, but because Northrop had just spent $64 million to turn its shipyard in Gulfport, Miss., into the country’s first large-scale composite hull manufacturing plant for military ships.
“It was a pure business decision,” said the former executive, who disagreed with the plan and would speak only anonymously for fear of retribution. “And it was the wrong one.”
That became clear when a scale model of the Fast Response Cutter was placed in a tank of water — and flunked the test. After three years and $38 million, Northrop Grumman’s plan was suspended.
The Coast Guard recognized from the start that it might need help financing a project as big as Deepwater, and that was part of the reason it turned to Lockheed and Northrop.
“They have armies of lobbyists, they can help get dollars to get the job done,” explained Jim McEntire, a retired captain who had served as a senior Coast Guard budget official. “The White House and Congress listen to big industrial concerns.”
That assistance would prove valuable. Just months after the contract was awarded in June 2002 through a competitive bidding process, the Coast Guard began to study whether the $17 billion Deepwater budget would be inadequate, given additional costs for antiterrorism equipment. In 2005, the service informed Congress that the program would cost $24 billion over 20 years and that the annual allocation would need to double, to $1 billion.
By then, though, the patrol boat conversion had been halted. Deepwater’s costs were ballooning, but the Coast Guard was having a hard time explaining exactly how it would spend more money. Government auditors were starting to churn out reports warning of serious management weaknesses.
That record disturbed some members of Congress. In May 2005, the House Appropriations Committee slashed the program’s annual budget request nearly in half to register its frustration.
At a hearing two months later, Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who oversees the Homeland Security budget, instructed the Coast Guard to fix its problems and restrain costs. “You simply took the most expensive, all-inclusive Cadillac Seville and we’re going to have to, with our limited funds, fit you into something a bit more appropriate,” Mr. Rogers said. “I hope it’s more than a Chevrolet.”
To fight back, the Coast Guard and contractors relied on Congressional allies, led by Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, Representative Frank A. LoBiondo, Republican of New Jersey, and Representative Gene Taylor, Democrat of Mississippi. Mr. Taylor and Mr. LoBiondo had formed a group called the Congressional Coast Guard Caucus. It began in the late 1990s with 4 members and today has more than 75. The enthusiasm of the three leaders for the Deepwater project was not simply about meeting the Coast Guard’s needs. Maine is home to Bath Iron Works, a major ship builder that Ms. Snowe said might benefit from increased Deepwater spending. While that was a factor, she said it was not her primary motivation.
Reply #121 on:
December 09, 2006, 09:29:09 AM »
(4 of 5)
Ms. Snowe and Mr. LoBiondo, the leaders of the Senate and House panels that oversee the Coast Guard, said they pushed for more spending only after the service’s leaders reassured them during hearings that they were addressing the program’s problems. They both also said they were convinced that the Coast Guard desperately needed Deepwater because its helicopter engines were routinely breaking down and the hulls of old ships were failing.
“We don’t want to waste money; we don’t want ineffective programs,” Ms. Snowe said in an interview. “At the same time, we can’t allow the Coast Guard to languish.”
Mr. Taylor’s district is home to Northrop Grumman’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., which is building the Coast Guard’s largest ship, and Northrop and its employees are one of his biggest sources of campaign contributions. He worked along with two key Republicans in Mississippi — Senator Trent Lott, whose father was once a pipe fitter at the Pascagoula shipyard, and Senator Thad Cochran, the chairman of the Senate appropriations committee — to win more money.
Mr. LoBiondo’s district is home to the Coast Guard’s national training center, and Lockheed Martin built its Deepwater equipment testing center just outside his district. He is also one of the top Congressional recipients of Lockheed contributions.
The contractors ran advertisements aimed at lawmakers in Washington publications, delivering ominous messages about the need to stop terrorists before they reach American shores. The Navy League, a nonprofit group partly financed by Lockheed and Northrop, orchestrated telephone calls, letters and visits to lawmakers, reminding them that hundreds of contractors across the country were already working as suppliers on the project.
And the Coast Guard got an important boost when it was widely praised for its helicopter rescues after Hurricane Katrina.
The lobbying effort paid off. In September 2005, Congress agreed to increase the annual financing for Deepwater to nearly $1 billion.
If there was a single ship that could prove to skeptics that the Coast Guard and its contractors could get the job done right, it would be the National Security Cutter, a ship unlike anything the Coast Guard had ever built. Bigger than any existing cutter, it was more like a warship, designed to patrol with Navy vessels.
It would carry sophisticated weapons systems, surveillance equipment, a helicopter and two unmanned aerial vehicles, all vital in its effort to intercept boats suspected of carrying terrorists, drug dealers or illegal immigrants. It was designed to monitor 56,000 square miles a day, an area four times as large as that covered by any other Coast Guard ship.
Because the ship was so expensive — each was expected to cost about $300 million — the Coast Guard decided to build only 8 to replace its fleet of 12 large cutters.
There was just one catch. Even before the cutter began taking form at the Pascagoula shipyard on the Gulf of Mexico, familiar problems cropped up.
The Coast Guard’s engineers believed the design proposed by Northrop and Lockheed had serious structural flaws that could result in the hull collapsing or premature cracking of the hull and deck, according to Mr. Cleary and his boss, Rubin Sheinberg, chief of the Coast Guard’s naval architecture branch.
When they alerted the contractors and Coast Guard officials, they were largely brushed off, the men said. In March 2004, their supervisor protested, saying the Coast Guard should delay construction.
“Significant problems persist with the structural design,” Rear Adm. Erroll M. Brown wrote to the Deepwater project director. “Several of these problems compromise the safety and the viability of the hull, possibly resulting in structural failure and unacceptable hull vibration.”
The Coast Guard decided to move ahead anyway, figuring it would be less disruptive to fix any problems later. As the shipbuilding progressed, other Coast Guard officials began to openly complain that some decisions by the contractors appeared to be motivated by a drive to increase profits, not to best serve the Coast Guard.
Lockheed, for example, ordered computerized consoles for the ship that it had developed for a Navy aircraft carrier. But they were too big for the cutter, said Jay A. Creech, a retired Coast Guard captain working as a contractor on Deepwater.
Page 5 of 5)
A consultant hired by the Coast Guard to review Northrop and Lockheed’s purchasing decisions found that of $210 million worth of contracts awarded in 2004, just 30 percent involved a formal competitive process. Northrop in particular was faulted for failing to aggressively seek bids to ensure the best price.
Northrop and Lockheed “lack the independence needed to make objective decisions in the best interests of the Coast Guard,” an August 2006 report by the Homeland Security inspector general said.
Others say that giving the contractors so much authority was a mistake from the start. “A contractor with a profit motive is never a trusted agent,” said Joe Ryan, a Coast Guard consultant who has helped with the Deepwater project. “They are the vendor, and they are selling you something.”
Problems began to accumulate elsewhere. In Texas, a prototype of the unmanned aerial vehicle that was to be placed on the ship’s deck crashed this year. After the crash, the project, by Bell Helicopter, also faced a money crunch and was put on hold, pushing delivery back to at least 2013, six years after the first national security cutter is scheduled for active duty. Without the two aerial vehicles, the cutter’s surveillance range is reduced by more than half.
By the time the ship was christened last month, its price had grown to $564 million, nearly twice its original cost. (The average price for the eight ships is expected to be $431 million.) And by then, Coast Guard officials had conceded that the ship had structural flaws. Navy experts had evaluated the ship and confirmed many of the earlier warnings.
Admiral Allen said he had been given assurances that the ship was not at risk of a catastrophic hull failure and would not pose a safety threat to its crew. But the Coast Guard has decided to make structural modifications to the vessel and require design changes for the third cutter. Work is too far along to change course on the second cutter.
Four years into the Deepwater project, the Coast Guard, according to its original plan, was supposed to have 26 new or rebuilt ships, 12 new planes and 8 unmanned vehicles, but none are available. Now, officials are scrambling to find an off-the-shelf design for a new cutter and make modest repairs to keep their aging patrol boats operable.
“We don’t have the ships we need, and we don’t have a way to get them anytime soon,” said Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, who will take over the House Appropriations Committee next month. “It’s inexcusable.”
The Coast Guard, which would not disclose the management fees it has paid Northrop and Lockheed, is renegotiating the contract to ensure that the companies honor a commitment to open the work to competition and deliver what they promise.
And Admiral Allen and other Coast Guard officials say the Coast Guard’s engineers are being given more power to supervise the work. Admiral Allen is also creating a division to oversee the procurement and maintenance of its ships and airplanes. “That is the main gap that needs to be closed,” he said.
The Deepwater experiment, one contracting expert said, underscores the need for the Coast Guard to be a smart buyer, even if it has hired high-priced advice.
“The government still needs to be in there so they know what decisions are being made and if the decisions are in their best interest,” said Michele Mackin, an assistant director at the Government Accountability Office. “It is still their money. And they are going to be flying the planes and running the ships.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #122 on:
December 12, 2006, 11:51:30 PM »
Overstayed Muslim busted for seeking truck license but not wanting to learn to back up the truck. Also see
for recent bust of 200 Somali and Bosnian Muslims for fraudulently obtaining hazmat truck licences
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #123 on:
December 15, 2006, 09:32:14 AM »
Administration to Drop Effort to Track if Visitors Leave
By RACHEL L. SWARNS and ERIC LIPTON
Published: December 15, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 — In a major blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to secure borders, domestic security officials have for now given up on plans to develop a facial or fingerprint recognition system to determine whether a vast majority of foreign visitors leave the country, officials say.
Domestic security officials had described the system, known as U.S. Visit, as critical to security and important in efforts to curb illegal immigration. Similarly, one-third of the overall total of illegal immigrants are believed to have overstayed their visas, a Congressional report says.
Tracking visitors took on particular urgency after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it became clear that some of the hijackers had remained in the country after their visas had expired.
But in recent days, officials at the Homeland Security Department have conceded that they lack the financing and technology to meet their deadline to have exit-monitoring systems at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. A vast majority of foreign visitors enter and exit by land from Mexico and Canada, and the policy shift means that officials will remain unable to track the departures.
A report released on Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, restated those findings, reporting that the administration believes that it will take 5 to 10 years to develop technology that might allow for a cost-effective departure system.
Domestic security officials, who have allocated $1.7 billion since the 2003 fiscal year to track arrivals and departures, argue that creating the program with the existing technology would be prohibitively expensive.
They say it would require additional employees, new buildings and roads at border crossings, and would probably hamper the vital flow of commerce across those borders.
Congress ordered the creation of such a system in 1996.
In an interview last week, the assistant secretary for homeland security policy, Stewart A. Baker, estimated that an exit system at the land borders would cost “tens of billions of dollars” and said the department had concluded that such a program was not feasible, at least for the time being.
“It is a pretty daunting set of costs, both for the U.S. government and the economy,” Mr. Stewart said. “Congress has said, ‘We want you to do it.’ We are not going to ignore what Congress has said. But the costs here are daunting.
“There are a lot of good ideas and things that would make the country safer. But when you have to sit down and compare all the good ideas people have developed against each other, with a limited budget, you have to make choices that are much harder.”
The news sent alarms to Congress, where some Republicans and Democrats warned that suspending the monitoring plan would leave the United States vulnerable.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who is a departing subcommittee chairman on the House International Relations Committee, said the administration could not say it was protecting domestic security without creating a viable exit monitoring system.
“There will not be border security in this country until we have a knowledge of both entry and exit,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “We have to make a choice. Do we want to act and control our borders or do we want to have tens of millions of illegals continuing to pour into our country?”
Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who is set to lead the Homeland Security Committee, also expressed concern.
“It is imperative that Congress work in partnership with the department to develop a comprehensive border security system that ensures we know who is entering and exiting this country and one that cannot be defeated by imposters, criminals and terrorists,” Mr. Thompson said in a statement Thursday.
In January 2004, domestic security officials began fingerprint scanning for arriving visitors. The program has screened more than 64 million travelers and prevented more than 1,300 criminals and immigration violators from entering, officials said.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other officials often call the program a singular achievement in making the country safer. U.S. Visit fingerprints and photographs 2 percent of the people entering the country, because Americans and most Canadians and Mexicans are exempt.
Efforts to determine whether visitors actually leave have faltered. Departure monitoring would help officials hunt for foreigners who have not left, if necessary. Domestic security officials say, however, it would be too expensive to conduct fingerprint or facial recognition scans for land departures. Officials have experimented with less costly technologies, including a system that would monitor by radio data embedded in a travel form carried by foreigners as they depart by foot or in vehicles.
Tests of that technology, Radio Frequency Identification, found a high failure rate. At one border point, the system correctly identified 14 percent of the 166 vehicles carrying the embedded documents, the General Accountability Office reported.
The Congressional investigators noted the “numerous performance and reliability problems” with the technology and said it remained unclear how domestic security officials would be able to meet their legal obligation to create an exit program.
Some immigration analysts said stepping away from the program raised questions again about the commitment to enforce border security and immigration laws.
A senior policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, Jessica Vaughn, said the government had long been too deferential to big businesses and travel groups that raised concerns that exit technology might disrupt travel and trade.
“I worry that the issue of cost is an excuse for not doing anything,” said Ms. Vaughn, whose group advocates curbing immigration. Domestic security officials said they still hoped to find a way to create an exit system at land borders. “We would to do more testing,” a spokesman for the department, Jarrod Agen, said. “We are evaluating the initial tests to determine how to move forward.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #124 on:
December 18, 2006, 10:49:58 AM »
December 18, 2006
Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment
By MICHAEL MOSS
One night in mid-April, the steel door clanked shut on detainee No. 200343 at Camp Cropper, the United States military’s maximum-security detention site in Baghdad.
American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.
The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.
Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.
The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.
But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.
At Camp Cropper, he took notes on his imprisonment and smuggled them out in a Bible.
“Sick, very. Vomited,” he wrote July 3. The next day: “Told no more phone calls til leave.”
Nathan Ertel, the American held with Mr. Vance, brought away military records that shed further light on the detention camp and its secretive tribunals. Those records include a legal memorandum explicitly denying detainees the right to a lawyer at detention hearings to determine whether they should be released or held indefinitely, perhaps for prosecution.
The story told through those records and interviews illuminates the haphazard system of detention and prosecution that has evolved in Iraq, where detainees are often held for long periods without charges or legal representation, and where the authorities struggle to sort through the endless stream of detainees to identify those who pose real threats.
“Even Saddam Hussein had more legal counsel than I ever had,” said Mr. Vance, who said he planned to sue the former defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, on grounds that his constitutional rights had been violated. “While we were detained, we wrote a letter to the camp commandant stating that the same democratic ideals we are trying to instill in the fledgling democratic country of Iraq, from simple due process to the Magna Carta, we are absolutely, positively refusing to follow ourselves.”
A spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s detention operations in Iraq, First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso, said in written answers to questions that the men had been “treated fair and humanely,” and that there was no record of either man complaining about their treatment.
Held as ‘a Threat’
She said officials did not reach Mr. Vance’s contact at the F.B.I. until he had been in custody for three weeks. Even so, she said, officials determined that he “posed a threat” and decided to continue holding him. He was released two months later, Lieutenant Fracasso said, based on a “subsequent re-examination of his case,” and his stated plans to leave Iraq.
Mr. Ertel, 30, a contract manager who knew Mr. Vance from an earlier job in Iraq, was released more quickly.
Mr. Vance went to Iraq in 2004, first to work for a Washington-based company. He later joined a small Baghdad-based security company where, he said, “things started looking weird to me.” He said that the company, which was protecting American reconstruction organizations, had hired guards from a sheik in Basra and that many of them turned out to be members of militias whom the clients did not want around.
Mr. Vance said the company had a growing cache of weapons it was selling to suspicious customers, including a steady flow of officials from the Iraqi Interior Ministry. The ministry had ties to violent militias and death squads. He said he had also witnessed another employee giving American soldiers liquor in exchange for bullets and weapon repairs.
On a visit to Chicago in October 2005, Mr. Vance met twice with an F.B.I. agent who set up a reporting system. Weekly, Mr. Vance phoned the agent from Iraq and sent him e-mail messages. “It was like, ‘Hey, I heard this and I saw this.’ I wanted to help,” Mr. Vance said. A government official familiar with the arrangement confirmed Mr. Vance’s account.
In April, Mr. Ertel and Mr. Vance said, they felt increasingly uncomfortable at the company. Mr. Ertel resigned and company officials seized the identification cards that both men needed to move around Iraq or leave the country.
On April 15, feeling threatened, Mr. Vance phoned the United States Embassy in Baghdad. A military rescue team rushed to the security company. Again, Mr. Vance described its operations, according to military records.
“Internee Vance indicated a large weapons cache was in the compound in the house next door,” Capt. Plymouth D. Nelson, a military detention official, wrote in a memorandum dated April 22, after the men were detained. “A search of the house and grounds revealed two large weapons caches.”
On the evening of April 15, they met with American officials at the embassy and stayed overnight. But just before dawn, they were awakened, handcuffed with zip ties and made to wear goggles with lenses covered by duct tape. Put into a Humvee, Mr. Vance said he asked for a vest and helmet, and was refused.
They were driven through dangerous Baghdad roads and eventually to Camp Cropper. They were placed in cells at Compound 5, the high-security unit where Saddam Hussein has been held.
Only days later did they receive an explanation: They had become suspects for having associated with the people Mr. Vance tried to expose.
“You have been detained for the following reasons: You work for a business entity that possessed one or more large weapons caches on its premises and may be involved in the possible distribution of these weapons to insurgent/terrorist groups,” Mr. Ertel’s detention notice said.
Mr. Vance said he began seeking help even before his cell door closed for the first time. “They took off my blindfold and earmuffs and told me to stand in a corner, where they cut off the zip ties, and told me to continue looking straight forward and as I’m doing this, I’m asking for an attorney,” he said. “ ‘I want an attorney now,’ I said, and they said, ‘Someone will be here to see you.’ ”
Instead, they were given six-digit ID numbers. The guards shortened Mr. Vance’s into something of a nickname: “343.” And the routine began.
Bread and powdered drink for breakfast and sometimes a piece of fruit. Rice and chicken for lunch and dinner. Their cells had no sinks. The showers were irregular. They got 60 minutes in the recreation yard at night, without other detainees.
Five times in the first week, guards shackled the prisoners’ hands and feet, covered their eyes, placed towels over their heads and put them in wheelchairs to be pushed to a room with a carpeted ceiling and walls. There they were questioned by an array of officials who, they said they were told, represented the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
“It’s like boom, boom, boom,” Mr. Ertel said. “They are drilling you. ‘We know you did this, you are part of this gun smuggling thing.’ And I’m saying you have it absolutely way off.”
The two men slept in their 9-by-9-foot cells on concrete slabs, with worn three-inch foam mats. With the fluorescent lights on and the temperature in the 50s, Mr. Vance said, “I paced myself to sleep, walking until I couldn’t anymore. I broke the straps on two pair of flip-flops.”
Asked about the lights, the detainee operations spokeswoman said that the camp’s policy was to turn off cell lights at night “to allow detainees to sleep.”
A Psychological Game
One day, Mr. Vance met with a camp psychologist. “He realized I was having difficulties,” Mr. Vance said. “He said to turn it into a game. He said: ‘I want you to pretend you are a soldier who has been kidnapped, and that you still have a duty to do. Memorize everything you can about everything that happens to you. Make it like you are a spy on the inside.’ I think he called it rational emotive behavioral therapy, and I started doing that.”
Camp Rule 31 barred detainees from writing on the white cell walls, which were bare except for a black crescent moon painted on one wall to indicate the direction of Mecca for prayers. But Mr. Vance began keeping track of the days by making hash marks on the wall, and he also began writing brief notes that he hid in the Bible given to him by guards.
“Turned in request for dentist + phone + embassy letter + request for clothes,” he wrote one day.
“Boards,” he wrote April 24, the day he and Mr. Ertel went before Camp Cropper’s Detainee Status Board.
Their legal rights, laid out in a letter from Lt. Col. Bradley J. Huestis of the Army, the president of the status board, allowed them to attend the hearing and testify. However, under Rule 3, the letter said, “You do not have the right to legal counsel, but you may have a personal representative assist you at the hearing if the personal representative is reasonably available.”
Mr. Vance and Mr. Ertel were permitted at their hearings only because they were Americans, Lieutenant Fracasso said. The cases of all other detainees are reviewed without the detainees present, she said. In both types of cases, defense lawyers are not allowed to attend because the hearings are not criminal proceedings, she said.
Lieutenant Fracasso said that currently there were three Americans in military custody in Iraq. The military does not identify detainees.
Mr. Vance and Mr. Ertel had separate hearings. They said their requests to be each other’s personal representative had been denied.
At the hearings, a woman and two men wearing Army uniforms but no name tags or rank designations sat a table with two stacks of documents. One was about an inch thick, and the men were allowed to see some papers from that stack. The other pile was much thicker, but they were told that this pile was evidence only the board could see.
The men pleaded with the board. “I’m telling them there has been a major mix-up,” Mr. Ertel said. “Please, I’m out of my mind. I haven’t slept. I’m not eating. I’m terrified.”
Mr. Vance said he implored the board to delve into his laptop computer and cellphone for his communications with the F.B.I. agent in Chicago.
Each of the hearings lasted about two hours, and the men said they never saw the board again.
“At the end, my first question was, ‘Does my family know I’m alive?’ and the lead man said, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Mr. Vance recounted. “And then I asked when will we have an answer, and they said on average it takes three to four weeks.”
Help From the Outside
About a week later, two weeks into his detention, Mr. Vance was allowed to make his first call, to Chicago. He called his fiancée, Diane Schwarz, who told him she had thought he might have died.
“It was very overwhelming,” Ms. Schwarz recalls of the 12-minute conversation. “He wasn’t quite sure what was going on, and was kind of turning to me for answers and I was turning to him for the same.”
She had already been calling members of Congress, alarmed by his disappearance. So was Mr. Ertel’s mother, and some officials began pressing for answers. “I would appreciate your looking into this matter,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois wrote to a State Department official in early May.
On May 7, the Camp Cropper detention board met again, without either man present, and determined that Mr. Ertel was “an innocent civilian,” according to the spokeswoman for detention operations. It took authorities 18 more days to release him.
Mr. Vance’s situation was more complicated. On June 17, Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for the American military’s detention unit, Task Force 134, wrote to tell Ms. Schwarz that Mr. Vance was still being held. “The detainee board reviewed his case and recommended he remain interned,” he wrote. “Multi-National Force-Iraq approved the board’s recommendation to continue internment. Therefore, Mr. Vance continues to be a security detainee. We are not processing him for release. His case remains under investigation and there is no set timetable for completion.” Over the following weeks, Mr. Vance said he made numerous written requests — for a lawyer, for blankets, for paper to write letters home. Mr. Vance said that he wrote 10 letters to Ms. Schwarz, but that only one made it to Chicago. Dated July 17, it was delivered late last month by the Red Cross.
“Diana, start talking, sending e-mail and letters and faxes to the alderman, mayor, governor, congressman, senators, Red Cross, Amnesty International, A.C.L.U., Vatican, and other Christian-based organizations. Everyone!” he wrote. “I am missing you so much, and am so depressed it’s a daily struggle here. My life is in your hands. Please don’t get discouraged. Don’t take ‘No’ for answers. Keep working. I have to tell myself these things every day, but I can’t do anything from a cell.”
The military has never explained why it continued to consider Mr. Vance a security threat, except to say that officials decided to release him after further review of his case.
“Treating an American citizen in this fashion would have been unimaginable before 9/11,” said Mike Kanovitz, a Chicago lawyer representing Mr. Vance.
On July 20, Mr. Vance wrote in his notes: “Told ‘Leaving Today.’ Took shower and shaved, saw doctor, got civ clothes back and passport.”
On his way out, Mr. Vance said: “They asked me if I was intending to write a book, would I talk to the press, would I be thinking of getting an attorney. I took it as, ‘Shut up, don’t talk about this place,’ and I kept saying, ‘No sir, I want to go home.’ ”
Mr. Ertel has returned to Baghdad, again working as a contracts manager. Mr. Vance is back in Chicago, still feeling the effects of having been a prisoner of the war in Iraq.
“It’s really hard,” he says. “I don’t really talk about this stuff with my family. I feel ashamed, depressed, still have nightmares, and I’d even say I suffer from some paranoia.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #125 on:
December 18, 2006, 11:03:06 AM »
A very interesting piece, but it doesn't really belong in this "Homeland Security" thread. If you have a moment, please move it somewhere more suitable.
Reply #126 on:
December 18, 2006, 11:40:22 AM »
December 18, 2006
Naked To Our Enemies
By Clarice Feldman
Much as been made of the demonstrated ignorance of Silvestre Reyes, the newly named chair of the House Intelligence Committee. But Reyes is far from alone in failing to have learned the most basic facts of the forces arrayed against us.
Reyes' position requires that he provide oversight of our intelligence operations, and those in charge of those operations have demonstrated they know little more than Reyes does:
At the end of a long interview, I asked Willie Hulon, chief of the [FBI's] new national security branch; whether he thought that it was important for a man in his position to know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. "Yes, sure, it's right to know the difference," he said. "It's important to know who your targets are."
That was a big advance over 2005. So next I asked him if he could tell me the difference. He was flummoxed. "The basic goes back to their beliefs and who they were following," he said. "And the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shia and the difference between who they were following."
O.K., I asked, trying to help, what about today? Which one is Iran - Sunni or Shiite? He thought for a second. "Iran and Hezbollah," I prompted. "Which are they?"
He took a stab: "Sunni."
So it appears that neither the watchers (our counter intelligence officials) nor their watchers, the Congressmen selected to oversee them have a clue as to what they ought to know to do their work effectively.
One of the most disturbing books I can remember reading in a long time, is Bill Gertz' Enemies which reveals the failure of the U.S. Government in stopping the penetration of enemies and terrorists, stealing our secrets and using them against us. The numerous failures and the utter insufficiency of the few corrective steps taken are mind boggling. If Congressional oversight cannot accomplish what executive authority has not, we are in serious trouble. Management by committee having a poor track record, I am not comforted.
The most astonishing reports in the book are the incredible failures of David Szady who was appointed the FBI's senior counterintelligence official, despite consistent failures detailed throughout Enemies! Szady's blunders are so numerous and glaring that Gertz could have used them for a follow up book: What the Hell Do You Have to Do to Be Fired From the FBI?
What's less well known is that there has been little discernable change in our counter terrorism efforts. They still stink.
Gertz details the ghastly performance of our counter-intelligence forces. While he deals with several agencies, the most detailed deficiencies in the book involve the FBI, and I want to highlight two of its failures as he describes them., The focus is on the one man more responsible than anyone else for these failures: David Szady. He, and what came to be known as "the Posse", FBI officials Mike Rochford, Rudy Guerin, Jim Milburn and Bill Cleveland, have a lot of explaining to do.
The Hanssen Case
It was obvious there was a KGB mole operating in the US government. This person was likely to be in either the CIA or FBI. The agents in charge of the investigation, posse members Rochford, Guerin, and Milburn, were overseen by David Szady. All automatically assumed it could not be someone inside the Bureau. They focused instead on Brian Kelley of the CIA whom-in the absence of any credible evidence-they hounded and harassed (along with his family), ignoring a large body of very credible evidence that it was not he.
The mole, as we learned too late, was Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent whose own brother-in-law, another FBI agent, Mark Wauck, had over a decade earlier warned the FBI that Hanssen had suspicious amounts of cash on hand and was likely working for the Russians.
The supervisor to whom he conveyed this information, Jim Lyle, astonishingly never followed up on it. This alone is shocking enough.
Hanssen's betrayal was never uncovered by investigative effort. It was caught fortuitously because a tape recording and other evidence in the hands of a Soviet defector pointed the FBI to finally identify him as the mole.
Lyle, the FBI agent who failed to act on Wauk's suspicions, was promoted to head the Counterintelligence Center at the CIA.
The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General cited among other things:
(a) "long-standing systematic problems " in the FBI's CI program
(b) "ineffective oversight" of the Hanssen investigation
(c) "the absence of adequate security controls at the FBI"
(d) The Bureau's systematic failure to comply with Executive orders, Department regulations and sound intelligence-community procedures for internal security.
Gertz notes that while the FBI post-Hanssen did some things to improve security,
"Even today, the FBI's security problems are pervasive, from personnel security, to computer security, to document security, to security training and compliance." (Enemies, p. 125).
The damage did not end with Hanssen. Of Szady's numerous failures post-Hanssen, none is more documented or inexplicable than that involving the Chinese spy, Katrina Leung.
The Leung Case
The Inspector General's detailed report of his investigation into the matter is detailed here.
Here's the summary of that report:
As early as 1991 the FBI knew that Leung had privately confessed to spying for the Chinese and yet kept her working.
In part this may have been because two of the FBI's senior counterspies, J.J. Smith and Bill Cleveland, had been engaged in long-term sexual relationships with her and were thereby compromised. Smith had flat out lied to his supervisors when the evidence came to light in 1991, claiming falsely that Leung had passed a polygraph test.
She was the most highly paid of the US sources and the (dis)information she supplied was used by her supervisors to downgrade the credibility of other American intelligence sources on China which were sound.
The FBI engaged in a long cover up of this mole, who had so compromised our intelligence. Once Leung's perfidy could no longer be denied, Szady led the damage assessment team and allowed Leung's handler (Smith) off the hook, by early retirement. (Cleveland went on to Lawrence Livermore lab. When he did so, he failed to tell the security office about his affair with Leung, itself a serious breach which Szady excused, saying the violation should not be pursued.)
Not only was Szady's good friend, Cleveland, never prosecuted for his role in this, probably the most serious breach of intelligence in years, but Smith who was prosecuted did not cooperate as even the very weak plea deal he worked out required. Smith's inadequate cooperation allowed Leung to make a very generous plea agreement of the case against her as well.
As Gertz observes: "Szady himself was involved in the problems that plagued the Leung case." He looked the other way when preparing the damage assessment (particularly ignoring the fact that the disinformation she provided caused the agency to discount far more valuable contrary information, for example.) "His hands were in it from the beginning to the end," Gertz concludes. "And he never was held accountable for the obvious conflict of interest."
In an interview
for NRO, Gertz offered some suggestions to improve our intelligence operations:
"U.S. intelligence agencies remain mired in what I call crushing bureaucratization - the loss of focus on national, strategic goals and the overemphasis on protecting bureaucratic turf, budgets and personnel. The problem is seriously undermining our national security.
The intelligence community is bloated, with too many agencies doing too many of the same things. Restructuring is needed to upgrade our intelligence services to the 21st Century. While some reform has been carried out, there is so much more that needs to be done. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in my view, has become another layer of bureaucracy on the overly bureaucratic system. It turns out that what the intelligence community didn't need was a czar who could make all well.
We need smaller agencies with better people and radically different operating methods and procedures."
I have some other ideas I do wish the Congressional intelligence committees would give serious attention.
a) Take domestic counter/intelligence (CI) out of the FBI's purview. Sooner or later it may have to be done. While that measure alone won't make any difference or improve anything, it could possibly prevent other reform measures from going astray due to the engrained organizational/cultural issues at the Bureau.
b) Consider a revision to our present-apparently rather toothless-espionage laws and set up a Court and a division of the Department of Justice specially designated to handle such cases. As we know from the performance of the FISA Court this is not a perfect solution. There is a tendency of such courts and divisions to expand and over zealously protect their own powers and cling to old procedures, rather than acting with good sense to meet new threats. Nevertheless, there is a great value to having judges with expertise in these matters and the kind of uniformity not possible when the cases are spread out over courts with such varying degrees of approach as, say, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Ninth Circuit.
c) Take all counter intelligence employees and officials out of the Civil Service system which makes it impossibly hard to remove poor performers. We pay with our lives and security if they do a bad job. It's not too much to hold them really accountable when they fail to do their jobs.
d) Professionalize CI; it is too important to neglect. If we choose to retain a CI office in the FBI, we must change the training of FBI CI agents and improve the resources available to them. Many FBI careerists have little interest in national security and no expertise in it. They are frequently anti-intellectual and distrustful of non-criminal experts. It's time a centralized pool of linguists (particularly Arabic, Chinese and Russian) and political experts was created to serve as a continuing resource to the FBI. People who know Sunni from Shia, can read and understand foreign communications and who can shed light on what otherwise is not obvious. Additionally, since so much of the spying involves the theft of military technology, a pool of technology experts which can regularly be tapped should be set up.
e) Laws should be enacted, barring military, Department of State and CIA and FBI officials from working for foreign governments, and operations funded by them, upon leaving government service. The number of such people already working for the Chinese and Saudi governments is a scandal, and the road to such employment posits a danger to honest analysis and actions in our national interest while still in government service.
Elections matter. The oversight functions of Congress are about to be shifted around. It isn't at all clear who will be even tasked with oversight of intelligence, a development creating yet more confusion and defusing accountability, making it even more likely that nothing much can be anticipated to change.
Nancy Pelosi has announced a brand new oversight of our intelligence operations is in the works:
Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she will create a new congressional panel to examine the administration's intelligence budget and to make sure the money is being spent properly. [....]
The Select Intelligence Oversight Panel proposed by Pelosi would be made up by members of the Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, and would work within the Appropriations Committee.
It would examine, through hearings, the president's intelligence budget, prepare the classified annex to the annual defense spending bill and conduct oversight of the use of appropriated funds by intelligence agencies
I'd be interested to watch how this proceeds.
Tom Maguire asks some sensible questions.
Will this new sub-committee have the budget authority to match oversight with money? How much power will it have relative to the Appropriations and Intel committees? And if it has real budget authority, shouldn't the chair of the House Intel Committee also chair this? Time will tell.
If Congressman Reyes, incoming chair of the House Intel Committee, is on this panel, is he up to the job? And who will staff it?
Will the sub-committee make the same mistake the 9/11 Commission did of relying so heavily on FBI and CIA employees seconded to it, people one can imagine were far more concerned about protecting the bureaucracies for which they work than an honest assessment of those agencies' failures?
I am growing increasingly concerned. How much longer can we count on dumb luck to protect us from our enemies?
Page Printed from:
at December 18, 2006 - 12:38:31 PM EST
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #127 on:
December 19, 2006, 08:13:05 AM »
The Smoky Bomb Threat
By PETER D. ZIMMERMAN
Published: December 19, 2006
THE exotic murder-by-polonium of the former K.G.B. spy Alexander Litvinenko has embroiled Russia, Britain and Germany in a diplomatic scuffle and a hunt for more traces of the lethal substance. But it also throws into question most of the previous analyses of “dirty bombs,” terrorist attacks using radioactive isotopes wrapped in explosives (or using other dispersion techniques) to spread radioactive material in crowded areas.
Essentially all analysts, myself included, played down the possibility of using alpha radiation — fast-moving helium nuclei ejected during the radioactive decay of certain isotopes, such as of polonium 210, the substance that killed Mr. Litvinenko — as a source of dirty bombs. We concentrated instead on isotopes that emit penetrating gamma rays, which are basically super-powered packets of light, hard to shield and effective at a yard or more.
The alpha radiation from polonium can be easily shielded — by a layer of aluminum foil, a sheet or two of paper, or the dead outer layer of skin. And so, the reasoning went, alpha radiation could not hurt you as long as the source stayed outside your body. Exactly. Mr. Litvinenko was apparently killed by polonium that he ate or drank or inhaled. That source was so physically small that it was hard to see, perhaps the size of a couple of grains of salt and weighing just a few millionths of a gram.
Dirty bombs based on gamma emitters, analysts have learned, can’t kill very many people. Mr. Litvinenko’s death tells us that “smoky bombs” based on alpha emitters very well could.
Polonium 210 is surprisingly common. It is used by industry in devices that eliminate static electricity, in low-powered brushes used to ionize the air next to photographic film so dust can be swept off easily, and in quite large machines placed end-to-end across a web of fabric moving over rollers in a textile mill. It is even used to control dust in clean rooms where computer chips and hard drives are made.
It may be difficult to get people to eat polonium; it isn’t hard to force them to breathe it. The problem for a radiological terrorist is to get his “hot” material inside people’s bodies where it will do the most harm. If the terrorist can solve that problem, then alpha radiation is the most devastating choice he can make. Precisely because alphas emit their nuclei so quickly, they deposit all of their energy in a relatively small number of cells, killing them or causing them to mutate, increasing the long-term risk of cancer.
The terrorist’s solution lies in getting very finely divided polonium into the air where people can breathe it. Without giving away any information damaging to national security, I see several fairly simple ways to accomplish this: burn the material, blow it up, dissolve it in a lot of water or pulverize it to a size so small that the particles can float in the air and lodge in the lungs.
It would be unwise for me to dwell on the details of just how one goes about getting a hot enough fire or breaking polonium into extremely fine “dust.” In the end, however, the radioactive material will appear like the dust from an explosion, or the smoke from a fire. My point is to demonstrate the urgent need for new thinking in the regulatory arena, not to give away important information.
Air containing such radioactive debris would appear smoky or dusty, and be dangerous to breathe. A few breaths might easily be enough to sicken a victim, and in some cases to kill. A smoky bomb exploded in a packed arena or on a crowded street could kill dozens or hundreds. It would set off a radiological emergency of a kind not seen before in the United States, and the number of people requiring life support or palliative care until death would overwhelm the number of beds now available for treating victims of radiation. First responders dashing unprotected into the cloud from a smoky bomb might be among the worst wounded. Fire and police departments around the country will need alpha radiation detectors, since the counters they carry now cannot see alphas.
Some of the steps involved with making a good smoky bomb from polonium would be dangerous for the terrorists involved, and might cost them their lives. That, unfortunately, no longer seems like a very high barrier.
What can we do to stop them? We must make it far less easy for them to acquiring polonium in deadly amounts. Polonium sources with about 10 percent of a lethal dose are readily available — even in a product sold on Amazon.com. Only modest restraints inhibit purchase of significantly larger amounts of polonium: as of next year, anyone purchasing more than 16 curies of polonium 210 — enough to make up 5,000 lethal doses — must register it with a tracking system run by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But this is vastly too high — almost no purchases on that scale are made by any industry.
The commission (and the International Atomic Energy Agency as well) is said to be considering tighter regulations to make a repeat of the Litvinenko affair less probable. There is talk that it might tighten the polonium reporting requirement by a factor of 10, to 1.6 curies. That’s better, but still not strict enough.
The biggest problem is that the regulatory commission’s regulations do not restrict the quantity of polonium used in industry. This may make it quite easy for terrorists to purchase large amounts of one of the earth’s deadliest substances. A near-term goal should to require specific licensing of any person or company seeking to purchase alpha sources stronger than one millicurie, about a third of a lethal dose. A longer-term goal ought to be eliminating nearly all use of polonium in industry through other technologies.
That is a technical challenge and would cost some money, but it would certainly be less expensive than coping with the devastation of a smoky bomb.
Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist, is a professor of science and security in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He was chief scientist of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001 to 2003.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #128 on:
December 31, 2006, 01:13:18 PM »
A group with a compound in upstate NY.
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
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
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
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
Holy Warriors of Terrorism
For over ten years, a secretive Black Muslim sect in the United States and Canada has sought to carry out a self-declared policy of "jihad," or holy war, by taking violent action against its perceived enemies, generally other minorities or other Muslims with whom they disagree. The sect, known as Al-Fuqra, has been linked by law enforcement officials to terrorist violence in Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, the Pacific-northwest and Canada.
Most recently, attention has been focused on the group in connection with a plot to bomb public sites in New York, including the United Nations, FBI offices at 26 Federal Plaza, and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. One of the fourteen men facing trial for this alleged conspiracy, which also included the World Trade Center bombing, is reportedly a member of Al-Fuqra, who is charged with training gang members and supplying them with weapons and explosives.
The bomb plot, described in a federal indictment as a plan "to levy a war of urban terrorism against the United States," also included the targeting of Jewish leaders and individuals.
Threats of terrorist violence by shadowy groups of fanatical religious extremists pose a serious challenge to public order and safety - as exemplified by the World Trade Center bombing which killed six people and injured hundreds more. This report is an effort to meet the need for increased public awareness about one such group in the hope that exposure can help prevent further violence of this nature.
Al-Fuqra is the name of a violent Muslim extremist sect which has come under law enforcement scrutiny in the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Headed by Sheikh Mubarak Ali Jilani Hashemi (also Hasmi) in Pakistan, the majority of its members are of African-American descent. The sect is an offshoot of orthodox African-American Muslims and has no connection to the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan.
The name of the organization is taken from the Arabic term "al- fuqara," meaning "the impoverished." The sect was formed in Brooklyn in 1980, after Sheikh Jilani visited the United States for the first time. During his stay, Jilani, who is known as a mystic and as a charismatic speaker, acquired followers by preaching at a local African-American mosque described as what was then the "most influential black American mosque" in the area. He has visited the United States several times since then. Adherents of Al- Fuqra have also been active in Canada.
Over the past thirteen years, followers of the sect have visited Pakistan to receive religious indoctrination from Sheikh Jilani. Additionally, Al-Fuqra members have sent funds to Jilani regularly at his base in Lahore, Pakistan. Press reports indicate that members of the sect in the United States number between 1,000 and 3,000.
The Two Faces of Al-Fuqra
Members of the Muslim community have described the Al-Fuqra sect as an organization which espouses the Islamic concept of self-help, undertaking civic works such as fighting drug dealers, cleaning and patrolling the streets and apartment project corridors and courtyards. Other adherents of the group who lived in a remote compound at Trout Creek Pass near Buena Vista, Colorado described themselves as shepherds fleeing the difficulties of urban life who owned guns in order to protect themselves from the evils of society.
Yet the contents of a Colorado Springs storage locker owned by members of the sect which was confiscated by police in 1989 revealed a hoard of explosives, military manuals, bomb-making instructions and detailed plans of the sect's intended targets. The materiel found at the site included 30 pounds of explosives, three large pipe bombs, and ten handguns and silencers. Among the explosives were three pipe bombs "fused and ready to blow," homecooked plastic explosives, and other bomb-making components, such as electric wiring, fuses, mercury switches and timing devices.
Also seized at the storage locker were target-practice silhouettes bearing such markings as "FBI Anti-Terrorist Team" and "Zionist Pig."
Documents discovered at the site indicated that sect members planned to murder a Muslim religious leader in Tucson, Arizona and were making efforts towards carrying out attacks on Colorado- based military installations and acts of sabotage on the Colorado state power, communications and air transportation infrastructures.
The plans of the group were painstakingly recorded by sect members in the documents found in Colorado Springs. According to a description of the records in the search warrant affidavit, members of the group are "specifically instructed, by means of a written doctrine, not to dispose of records, but to maintain - in a safe place - all documentation which could expose their true purpose and plans."
Husain Abdallah, described as one of the early organizers of Al- Fuqra in the U.S., responded to recent press reports concerning the violent nature of the sect by declaring, "We do not commit acts of terrorism in this country. just because other members of a faith commit crimes does not mean that we are criminals ... The government is trying to create a blueprint to destroy us, to pull another Waco and destroy us."
Terrorism Against Religious Targets
Al-Fuqra has focused on Hindu houses of worship and places of business for its acts of violence in North America. In Pakistan, Al- Fuqra has been charged with fomenting violence over the border in the Kashmir province of India by aiding Muslim separatists there. Over the same period of time, press reports indicate that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has linked members of the sect to sixteen criminal and terrorist activities in both the United States and Canada, including the firebombings of Hindu temples in Denver, Philadelphia and Seattle in 1984 and the murder of Muslim religious leaders in Canton, Michigan in 1983 and Tucson, Arizona in 1990. Also among the group's potential targets was the Jewish Community Center of Denver.
Al-Fuqra continues to be under investigation in Arizona for the 1990 murder of Imam Rashid Khalifa, the leader of a Tucson mosque. In Canada, the sect has been linked by investigators to the 1991 bombings of property owned by Hindus in Toronto.
Last Edit: December 31, 2006, 02:39:32 PM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #129 on:
December 31, 2006, 02:40:48 PM »
"Soldiers of Allah"
Reflecting the doctrines of the organization, members of Al-Fuqra cells refer to themselves as "Soldiers of Allah." In previous years they called themselves "Muhammad Commandos." The organization is structured into cells, each of which is assigned a geographic location in which to operate. Al-Fuqra is believed to have at least five cells, since the Colorado cell's members were allegedly designated as "Muhammad Commandos Sector 5."
In order to preserve the organization's overall structure, contact between members of a cell is never made directly. This ensures that members of the cell will not know the true identity or a physical description of another member. Cell members further obscure their identities by contacting other cell members via pay telephones at pre-determined times. The use of these methods has led law enforcement officials to describe Al-Fuqra as operating according to the principles of "classically structured terrorist cells."
Documents belonging to the sect in Colorado revealed that the organization was doing surveillance on even more ambitious possible targets, for the purpose of designing an attack to culminate in a major disaster. Among them were the route lines and control stations for the Colorado state petroleum, gas, electric and hydroelectric systems. In addition to this, a member of the group was requested to provide information on National Guard armories, U.S. military installations, police stations, communications control sites, and airports.
Centers of Al-Fuqra activity are spread across the United States. Certain criminal activities in Brooklyn (NY), Baltimore (MD), Philadelphia (PA), Tucson (AZ), Portland (OR) and Denver, Colorado Springs, and Buena Vista (CO) are being investigated for possible links to the sect by law enforcement authorities. Of particular interest are the Al-Fuqra compounds located in remote areas of the United States. In October of 1992 the Colorado State Police raided the 101-acre Al-Fuqra compound near Buena Vista and discovered a cache of weapons including Soviet manufactured AK-47 assault rifles, as well as American- made M-16 and M-14 rifles.
The headquarters of the organization is believed to be in Hancock, New York, along with what is regarded as the most important of the sect's compounds which is located near Deposit, New York in the Catskill Mountains. Two other compounds are located in South Carolina and the California desert. Press reports indicate that Sheikh Jilani took part in the purchase of Al-Fuqra's Colorado and New York compounds.
Turning Point: The Jihad Council for North America
The earliest attacks by members of Al-Fuqra have been traced to 1979; however, the group's well-orchestrated attacks on its perceived enemies commenced in 1983, the same year that the group initiated its Jihad [Holy War] Council for North America in Toronto. Al-Fuqra was estimated at that time to consist of three cells.
In contrast to the activities of other terrorist organizations, Al-Fuqra has never claimed responsibility for the acts of violence linked to its members. The existence of the group came to light in 1983, when police arrested Stephen Paster, an Al-Fuqra member who was later convicted for the bombing of a Portland, Oregon hotel owned by the Bagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian guru.
Materiel found at Paster's home included components for the construction of pipe bombs and what was described by investigators as an "urban warfare handbook." Paster subsequently jumped bail and was re-arrested on June 26, 1985. A search of his home at that time revealed a cache of several handguns, a semi-automatic pistol that looked like a submachine gun, written documents describing the construction of electronic bombing mechanisms, and a number of passports under a variety of aliases. Arms found in his car included a "zip gun" with a bore "large enough to hold a shotgun shell" together with a device for using it as part of a booby trap.
The growing sophistication of the methods and weapons used by Paster mirrors the development of Al-Fuqra from a loosely-knit organization whose adherents carried out bombing attacks on religious institutions to a North American network of organized cells whose members advanced to commit acts of fraud and target individuals for murder.
"Everyone Who Comes Must Be Eliminated. . ."
Evidence of the existence of a larger network of the organization only became apparent in 1989, after the Colorado Springs storage locker with its hoard of Al-Fuqra documents and weapons was discovered.
One of the documents found by the Colorado Springs police consisted of a detailed three-page plan to murder Sheikh Rashid Khalifa of the Islamic Center in Tucson, Arizona. Together with the plan were surveillance photographs of the mosque. On the assumption that there might be police patrols or other people at the mosque, the plan recommended that the "dispatching [of) the subject
" should be done "in the quietest method possible: knife, garrotte . . . "
Reply #130 on:
December 31, 2006, 02:42:22 PM »
The plan went on to anticipate that Sheikh Khalifa "may not be there" at the time that the Al-Fuqra members expected, and therefore recommended that "[a]s we wait, everyone who comes must be eliminated until he shows up." Khalifa was stabbed to death on January 31, 1990. As of yet, no arrests have been made, although two Al-Fuqra members in Colorado who were arrested on fraud charges are also suspected of having been a part of the plot to murder Khalifa.
Members of the sect allegedly funded their activities by illegally collecting and cashing 276 checks totalling $355,000 from a Colorado state insurance fund that paid workers' compensation claims. Dummy corporations with names such as "McClean Carpenters" and "Professional Security International" were used in order to receive the checks from the insurance fund, and the checks were sent to post office boxes.
Four members of the sect were arrested in Colorado and Pennsylvania on charges of racketeering and forgery in October of 1992. Edward Ivan McGhee, James L. Upshur, James D. Williams, all of Colorado, were arrested after law enforcement authorities raided their homes and the Al-Fuqra compound. Williams was separately charged with conspiracy to commit murder for his involvement in the 1984 bombing of a Hare Krishna temple in Denver and Imam Khalifa's murder in Arizona. Vicente Rafael Pierre was sentenced to four years of probation in July of 1993 for his part in defrauding the the Colorado workers' state compensation fund, and was permitted to return to his home in Pennsylvania. In reviewing Pierre's role as part of the sect, the sentencing judge described Pierre's role in defrauding the fund as minor, and further pointed out that Pierre had not taken part in the actual terrorist attacks.
Part of the funds collected by the sect were believed to have been used for the purchase of an isolated 101-acre farm compound near Buena Vista, Colorado where the sect members' families resided. To date, less than $20,000 of the stolen funds have been accounted for,which has led law enforcement authorities to believe that they may have been sent to Pakistan. Documents from the Colorado Springs storage locker that were discovered in 1989 indicate that this may well be the case, since members of the sect are described as being required to regularly donate a percentage of their income to Al-Fuqra's headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan. New documents discovered at the group's compound near Buena Vista, Colorado in October of 1992 formed the basis for the filing of new charges against Colorado Al-Fuqra members James Williams and Edward Flinton in February of 1993. The two men, who were previously charged with violations of organized crime laws were additionally charged with conspiracy to murder Imam Rashid Khalifa. The documents showed that Williams and Flinton had been involved in the planning of the murder, but those who actually carried it out have yet to be found.
Ties to the Afghani Mujahideen'
Throughout the last decade, Sheikh Jilani promoted the cause of the Afghani mujahideen' ('Those who fight the Jihad, or holy war) to American members of the Al-Fuqra sect. Corresponding to similar efforts throughout the Muslim world during the 1980's, some American members of the group travelled to the Sudan for military training in order to join the Afghanis in what was advanced as a "holy war" against the Soviets.
Most recently, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, an African-American allegedly connected to the averted attempt to bomb four major New York City locations, has been described as "having worked closely" with the Al-Fuqra sect. Hampton-El, who is also known as Abd al Rashid Abdallah, or "Dr. Rashid," is also alleged to have been a part of the World Trade Center bombing by assisting in the testing of explosives.
During the Afghan war, Hampton-El was recruited as a member of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar's Hizb al-Islami (also Hizb-I-Islami) - "Islamic Party" - to fight in Afghanistan. Hikmatyar is known as one of the most vehement opponents of secular regimes - including that of the United States - and it was his group which received the lion's share of aid from the United States via Pakistan in the 1980's. According to press accounts, the Afghan war's foreign volunteers kept to themselves by establishing camps separate from those of the Afghan troops. The volunteers acquired the reputation of being "zealous troops" who did not avoid "fierce combat," and were also known to have the policy of not taking any prisoners. Anthony Hyman, an expert on Afghanistan, described the mujahideen as having "gained the reputation as some of the most brutal fighters in the war, and they deserved it. They kept themselves apart from the Afghans and were disliked for it. They regarded themselves as superior."
After he was wounded as a combatant in the Afghan war in November of 1988, Hampton-El returned to the United States in order to recuperate. Robert Dannin, an anthropologist who visited him at Long Island College Hospital, described Hampton-El as having expressed the desire to go back to Afghanistan so that he could have "another chance at martyrdom and Paradise
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #131 on:
January 07, 2007, 12:57:18 PM »
MIAMI — The Port of Miami on Sunday was in a heightened state of security after police discovered two men hiding in a cargo truck and a bomb squad was summoned to the scene, FOX News has learned.
The container truck was stopped near the cargo-area entrance to the port around 8 a.m. and the driver of the vehicle, who had valid port identification, was questioned by authorities.
"The driver of the 18-wheeler was apparently asked several questions — we're told routine questions — and at one point, he said he was alone," FOX News' Nancy Harmeyer said.
Police became suspicious and discovered two men hiding in the sleeper cab of the 18-wheeler. All three men are of Middle Eastern descent. The men were believed to be in the country legally.
"At this time we don't know why they were here, what they were planning to do, or quite honestly even if the driver knew that the two men were back there," Harmeyer said.
No searches of the truck had been conducted as of 1:30 p.m. EST, Harmeyer said, but two government vehicles with blacked-out windows were seen pulling up beside the vehicle and then driving away.
Two of the men reportedly are of Iraqi and Lebanese descent and authorities have a warrant out for one of the three, sources said.
The tractor-trailer has been cordoned off and investigators from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were on the scene.
Weekends at the port are busy, with heavy cruise ship traffic; on Sunday, six cruise ships were at the port.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #132 on:
January 09, 2007, 09:37:55 AM »
WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 — House Democrats intend to fulfill a campaign promise this week by passing broad new antiterrorism legislation, but some Senate Democrats and the Bush administration object to security mandates in the plan, citing concerns about their cost and practicality.
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Kate Phillips and The Times’s politics staff report on the latest political news from around the nation.
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The House measure, the Sept. 11 Commission Bill, is intended to write into law recommendations by the group that investigated the 2001 terror attacks. They include initiatives intended to disrupt global black markets for nuclear weapons technology and to enhance cargo inspection.
“Today marks a giant leap forward toward a safer and more secure America,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, the new chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, as he unveiled the bill Friday.
But the proposed legislation, which could come to a vote as early as Tuesday, goes beyond what the Sept. 11 commission recommended, taking up measures previously favored by Democratic lawmakers but opposed by the Department of Homeland Security.
The bill requires that within three years, all cargo on passenger jets be inspected for explosives, as checked baggage is now. The House bill also requires that within five years all ship cargo containers headed to the United States be scanned overseas for components of a nuclear bomb.
Homeland Security Department officials say there is no proven technology for such comprehensive cargo screening, at least at a reasonable cost or without causing worldwide bottlenecks in trade. The screening for air cargo is estimated to cost $3.6 billion over the next decade, and ship inspections could cost even more. “Inspecting every container could cause ports to literally shut down,” said Russ Knocke, a Homeland Security spokesman.
Many Republicans and some Senate Democratic committee chairmen said that the goal of 100 percent inspections was worthy, but that they were not convinced that mandates should be included in the bill.
“Airplane passengers must be assured that any cargo on a passenger jet will not pose a terrorist threat,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who now leads the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. “But we must achieve these goals in an efficient manner to allow for the free flow of commerce without placing undue economic burdens on importers or bringing air traffic to a standstill.”
The Sept. 11 commission said in its 2004 report that any proposed new security measures must be carefully considered, weighing the cost and benefit of any one step, like inspecting cargo, against others that could be taken, like protecting planes against shoulder-fired missiles.
The commission recommended, for example, that passenger planes be equipped with hardened, bomb-resistant containers for some cargo, instead of moving immediately to inspect every cargo shipment.
Homeland Security Department officials said they were researching ways to inspect more air and sea cargo. The agency has tests planned this year at three ports in Pakistan, Honduras and England, where all ship containers headed for the United States will be checked for radioactive substances or dense objects that might be hiding a bomb.
Until then, the department intends to follow its existing security procedures, which include mandatory inspections of the small fraction of cargo containers deemed suspicious because of the sender, the destination or the contents, among other factors.
Currently, about 30 percent of air cargo on passenger planes is inspected by dogs or screening devices, while about 5 percent of all incoming ship containers are sent through a device like an X-ray machine.
Mr. Lieberman and Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii, the new chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, want the security department to complete its tests on new technology before mandating inspection of all cargo.
But Mr. Thompson, the chief author of the House bill, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said the timetables were essential to push the department to move faster.
“We need firm deadlines to end the administration’s foot-dragging,” Mr. Schumer said Monday.
The push for 100 percent screening of all ship cargo containers first became a top priority for Democrats last year after the Bush administration proposed allowing a Dubai company to assume management of a half-dozen United States ship terminal operations. Democrats said then that they recognized the idea was compelling not only to increase security, but also as a political pitch as they tried to buttress their credentials as a party that takes domestic security seriously.
Part of the skepticism about the mandate for 100 percent screening is that even if the equipment is installed, it is not clear it would do much to prevent an attack, some security experts said.
The radiation detection equipment now in use, for example, probably would not pick up a crucial radioactive substance for a nuclear weapon if the material was shielded. And even if all cargo containers were checked, terrorists could find other ways to smuggle weapons into the United States, including on private boats or ships that carry cars, which would not be not covered by the inspection mandates.
“Tax dollars should not be spent on what makes for the best election-year bumper sticker, but on initiatives that offer the most security for the dollar spent,” said James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group in Washington, and a critic of the 100 percent inspection requirement.
Aside from the cargo inspection mandates, other security measures proposed by Democrats have a greater chance of becoming law.
The House bill calls for changes in the way some $2 billion a year in state and local domestic security grants are distributed, so that the money is more based on risk. A separate bill has been introduced in the Senate that would provide antiterrorism grants for Amtrak, freight railroads and other transit systems, a plan that previously passed the Senate but was opposed by House Republican leaders.
Mr. Thompson said that with the Democrats now in charge the party had a chance to push forward at least some of these measures, although he said he recognized compromise might be necessary before they were signed into law.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #133 on:
January 14, 2007, 06:12:17 AM »
Publication:The New York Sun; Date:Jun 30, 2004; Section:Front page; Page:1
IRANIAN ENVOYS ARE CAUGHT CASING NEW YORK
TWO GUARDS AT U.N., SUSPECTED OF SPYING, RETURNED TO TEHRAN
By BENNY AVNI Special to the Sun
UNITED NATIONS — In the wake of growing rhetorical Iranian threats against America and recent disclosures of ties between Iran and Al Qaeda,Washington expelled two guards at the Iranian mission to the United Nations, it was disclosed yesterday.
The American U.N. envoy, Stuart Holliday, told reporters the Iranians were “asked to leave the country” after being caught casing New York sites. They left on Saturday.
The demand by Washington, the third such case involving suspicions against Iranians affiliated with the U.N. mission, came as tensions over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program has led Tehran hard-liners to directly threaten the use of terrorism against America.
“We will map 29 sensitive sites in the United States, and give the information to all international terror organizations,” the head of an Iranian body known as Security Without Borders, Hassan Abassi, said two weeks ago.
Speaking in Tehran, he added, “We know where America’s Achilles’ heel is.”
Israel Radio’s Farsi service director, Menashe Amir, who closely monitors the Iranian press, told The New York Sun that Mr.Abassi is the top ideologue of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and is often being used as a mouthpiece for the hard-liners in Tehran. “The heads of the Revolutionary Guards have increased their anti-American rhetoric in the last few weeks,” he said.
Since the two spying suspects returned to Iran, Mr. Amir added, the Iranian press was divided among hardliners, who presented them as heroes, and the moderates, who criticized the circumstances that led to their return.
At the U.N.,Mr.Holliday said the two men, described as “security officials” but not identified by name, were seen “moving around New York City and essentially surveilling and taking photographs of a variety of New York landmarks and infrastructure and the rest. Obviously, this isn’t something that’s a part of protecting their mission here in New York.”
In a statement faxed to the Sun, a spokesman for Iran’s U.N. mission, Morteza Ramandi, said that the two security guards “curtailed their temporary assignments and left the United States,” stressing that they had done nothing wrong.
The men, who had no diplomatic immunity, left after Washington “invoked the shooting of a videotape and picture” in May, Mr. Ramandi said. He insisted they did not violate any law, and were merely taking pictures of “obvious popular tourist attractions in New York City.”
“We categorically deny that they ever took any photos of anything of security or sensitive nature,” he said.
American sources point to two previous incidents, in June 2002 and last November, when Iranians assigned to the U.N. mission were caught suspiciously photographing landmarks, infrastructure, and transportation sites and were asked to leave.
The latest one, involving videotaping by Iranians of a Woodside, Queens, subway station, was described by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in an interview with Fox News last December. “They were clearly focused on the train tracks for an inordinate period of time,” Mr. Kelly said. The pattern of Iranians, who temporarily come to New York on security assignments and then are either expelled or simply return to Iran and replaced by others, does not fit the normal flow of diplomatic activities, U.N. officials said.
“I understand that obviously the threshold is different for people that are assigned, in a sense, to activities here at the United Nations,” Mr. Holliday said. Countering Mr. Ramandi’s contention that the two were innocent tourists, he added,“We have great confidence in the ability of federal law enforcement to determine what actions and behavior is typical and what is atypical.”
In a little noticed detail of the interim staff report — of the congressional commission investigating the September 11 attacks, intelligence was cited, showing “far greater potential for collaboration between Hezbollah and Al Qaeda than many had previously thought.”
In particular, the report contended that Osama bin Laden played a role in the 1996 bombing of the Saudi Khobar Towers complex, which previously was thought to be solely conducted by Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy.
Tehran has long been suspected of using Hezbollah, particularly through its founder, Imad Moughniyeh, for overseas operations like the attacks on the Jewish Community Center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the mid-1990s.
Recently, as America increased its pressure for tougher action by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, the ayatollahs have flexed muscles, threatening to use known terrorist ties and perhaps physically preparing for such an eventuality as well, terrorism experts say.
Iran also toughened its public nuclear stance. Over the weekend, it announced it would resume building centrifuges for its nuclear program, pledging to temporarily not use the devices to enrich uranium.
It also said that in addition to its midrange Shihab 3 missiles, which can reach 750 miles, it would resume building the Shihab 4, with a range of 1,500 miles,and the Shihab 5,which can reach as far as 3,000 miles and threaten major European and American targets.
(Marc: Note that these ranges put Europe within the reach of Iranian nukes when they have them.)
“The Iranians are very thorough,” Israeli intelligence expert and journalist Yossi Melman told the Sun. “They are preparing themselves for the next battle with America.” One weapon in that battle, he added, might well be the collection of possible New York sites for a future “target bank.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #134 on:
January 22, 2007, 04:04:49 PM »
Details Emerge About Possible Terror Threat
Suspects, Reportedly Tied to Al Qaeda in Iraq, Sought Student Visas
By PIERRE THOMAS
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2007 — - Mimicking the hijackers who executed the Sept. 11 attacks, insurgents reportedly tied to al Qaeda in Iraq considered using student visas to slip terrorists into the United States to orchestrate a new attack on American soil.
Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently testified that documents captured by coalition forces during a raid of a safe house believed to house Iraqi members of al Qaeda six months ago "revealed [AQI] was planning terrorist operations in the U.S."
At the time, Maples offered little additional insight into the possible terror plot. ABC News, however, has learned new details of what remains a classified incident that has been dealt with at the highest levels of government.
Watch "World News with Charles Gibson."
Sources tell ABC News that the plot may have involved moving between 10 and 20 suspects believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq into the United States with student visas -- the same method used by the 19 al Qaeda terrorists who struck American targets on Sept. 11.
U.S. officials now require universities to closely track foreign nationals who use student visas to study in the United States. University officials must report international students who fail to arrive on campus or miss class regularly.
In August, the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement alerted intelligence agencies and state and local law enforcement about 11 Egyptian students who had failed to report to their classes at Montana State University. The students were ultimately apprehended.
Still, despite the heightened precautions, some security analysts fear that skilled terrorists -- handpicked because of their clean records and because they are carefully trained -- could still slip through an academic setting.
The plot was discovered six months ago, roughly the same time that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed by coalition forces. Sources tell ABC News that the suspects involved in the effort to launch the U.S. attack were closely associated with Zarqawi.
The plan also came only months after Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2, had requested that Zarqawi attempt an attack inside the United States.
"This appears to be the first hard evidence al Qaeda in Iraq was trying to attack us here at home," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, former chief counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council.
The plan was uncovered in its early stages, and sources say there is no indication that the suspects made it into the United States. Officials also emphasize that there is no evidence of an imminent attack.
The hunt for suspects continues, however, and some fear that al Qaeda recruits in Iraq could be easily redirected.
"Anyone willing to go to Iraq to fight American troops is probably willing to try to come to the United States," Clarke said.
Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #135 on:
January 22, 2007, 10:45:09 PM »
Second post of the day:
New York Times
Filed at 10:29 p.m. ET
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) -- Eleven Iraqis carrying false passports and heading to California were arrested at Monterrey's airport, immigration officials said Monday.
Nine men, a woman and a two-year-old girl traveled from Madrid, Spain, to Monterrey, where they were detained Saturday, an immigration official said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the arrests.
None of the Iraqi citizens appear on terrorist watch lists and they told authorities they were Chaldean Christians trying to get to California were they would request asylum, the official said.
They are being held at an immigration detention center in Mexico City pending charges for using false documents.
Chaldean Christians have a sizable community in southern California and frequently try to enter the United States through Mexico, saying they face persecution in Iraq.
A Rare Event
Reply #136 on:
January 23, 2007, 07:37:17 AM »
Tis a rare event when I post a NY Times editorial, but frankly I find its premise about Republican motivation here believable.
Published: January 23, 2007
The new Democratic leadership in Congress has a chance to finally do what the Republican Congress and the Bush administration failed to do after Sept. 11: to protect the nation’s chemical plants from an attack. Lawmakers should stop the Homeland Security Department from adopting new regulations that would block state and local governments from doing more to protect their residents and should finally pass a federal law with teeth.
An attack on a single plant could release deadly chemicals that could put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of death or serious injury. But since Sept. 11, the chemical industry — a major campaign contributor — has managed to ward off any significant new federal rules that might require it to spend money to increase security.
Now it is going a step further by trying to get the federal government to “pre-empt,” or invalidate, state and local efforts to impose safety standards. Supporters of pre-emption always claim that they just want a uniform standard. But in situations like this one — where the federal law is absurdly weak — it is obvious that the real agenda is to block serious safety measures at every level of government.
Congress wisely refused to include a pre-emption provision in legislation it adopted last year. Now, however, the Homeland Security Department has proposed regulations that would give itself the authority to pre-empt state and local laws. If the proposed regulations were adopted, they could wipe away the serious chemical plant security law that New Jersey has passed, and prevent other states and cities from requiring the chemical industry to do more to protect their residents.
It is up to Congress to act. It should block these deeply flawed regulations and move quickly to pass a comprehensive law that imposes tough requirements on chemical plants to harden their facilities.
Last year Congress passed a bad rider, backed by the industry, that gives the chemical industry far too much leeway to decide on its own how its plants are vulnerable and how to protect them. The new law should contain specific requirements for plant safety. It should also require companies to switch to safer chemicals when the cost is not prohibitive, a key safety measure that the industry has resisted. And it should clearly state that federal chemical-plant laws do not pre-empt state and local laws. Congress should finally put the public’s safety ahead of the chemical industry’s bottom line.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #137 on:
February 09, 2007, 11:02:40 AM »
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 — New York City is about to become a laboratory to test ways of strengthening the nation’s defenses against a terror attack by a nuclear device or a radioactive “dirty bomb.”
Starting this spring, the Bush administration will assess new detection machines at a Staten Island port terminal that are designed to screen cargo and automatically distinguish between naturally occurring radiation and critical bomb-building ingredients.
And later this year, the federal government plans to begin setting up an elaborate network of radiation alarms at some bridges, tunnels, roadways and waterways into New York, creating a 50-mile circle around the city.
The effort, which could be expanded to other cities if proven successful, is a major shift of focus for the Department of Homeland Security. As it finishes installing the first generation of radiation scanners at the nation’s ports and land border crossings, the department is trying to find ways to stop a plot that would use a weapon built within the United States.
“How do you create deterrence against terrorism?” said Vayl S. Oxford, director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the Homeland Security agency coordinating the work. “You complicate the ability for the terrorist to do what they want.”
But even as the new campaign begins, some members of Congress and antiterrorism experts are raising concerns that the initiative, like previous Homeland Security programs, could prove extraordinarily costly and provide few security gains.
“This is just total baloney,” said Tara O’Toole, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Energy during the Clinton administration, where she oversaw nuclear weapons safety efforts. “They are forgetting that no matter what type of engineering solution they try in good faith to come up with, this is a thinking enemy and they will look for a way around it.”
While Homeland Security officials repeatedly declined to estimate the costs of a nationwide detection system, agency documents show they might spend more than a billion dollars on the cargo-screening equipment alone.
Local officials in New York are sparring with Homeland Security over a plan to immediately transfer to local and state authorities the burden of maintaining and operating the network of detection machines when it is completed within several years.
“We are concerned they will put money forward for a piece of hardware and then move to another project,” said Raymond W. Kelly, New York City’s police commissioner. He added that while the city supports the plan, he is not convinced that the proposed detection network makes sense. “Whether or not it works, whether or not it causes too many false alarms, which causes a whole other set of problems, all of these things are still to be determined,” he said.
Mr. Oxford said he is aware of the concerns about costs, which is still the subject of negotiations, and the performance of the new detection machines. But with a threat like a nuclear attack, the country cannot afford to wait until all the details are worked out, he said.
“Our philosophy is not to wait for perfection, because perfection never comes,” he said.
The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, among the newest agencies at Homeland Security, was established in April 2005, in response to criticism that efforts to combat nuclear terrorism were too disorganized.
The office focuses on blocking two types of plots: a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb. A nuclear attack by terrorists is considered unlikely, because of the difficulty of obtaining the required radioactive materials, such as highly enriched uranium.
The detonation of a dirty bomb is considered much more feasible. It only requires dynamite or another conventional explosive to detonate a widely available radioactive source — like the cesium or cobalt in certain medical devices. The blast might cause injuries or deaths, but the radioactive residue would cover a two- to three-block area and not pose an immediate health threat. Possible panic and economic disruption could be among the most serious consequences, experts say.
The Securing the Cities detection network, as the New York experiment is called, is intended to stop a nuclear or radiological threat as far away from a city as possible. “Detecting it in the core of Manhattan is too late,” Mr. Oxford said.
Page 2 of 2)
The network would most likely include truck inspection stations along highways approaching New York, which would be equipped with radiation detection devices, agency budget documents say. Devices might also be installed at highway tollbooths and at spots where rail, boat and subway traffic could be monitored.
The detection equipment, some of which would be mobile, would be electronically connected and monitored so if a suspicious vehicle passed one spot without being stopped, it might be intercepted after passing another detector.
Some New York agencies already have a limited supply of radiation detection equipment, but the new system would be much more extensive and go much further outside the city.
Mr. Kelly said that the city would, at least initially, use any new detection equipment to screen vehicles heading into Lower Manhattan. The project would complement a city program to install cameras, license plate readers and devices that can block vehicle traffic, creating a “ring of steel” around the financial district.
The actual design of the Homeland Security system and the protocols for how responses to alarms will be handled, are still being negotiated by federal officials and authorities in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York state.
Benn H. Tannenbaum, a physicist and nuclear terrorism expert at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, said the system would never create anything close to an impenetrable barrier, particularly for a nuclear bomb, since the required ingredients have low levels of radioactivity and can easily be shielded. But the project still might be worthwhile, he said. “If nothing else, it makes the terrorist think twice before they do something like this,” he said.
Ms. O’Toole, the former Department of Energy official, pointed to Homeland Security’s BioWatch program, set up in about 30 cities in 2003 to monitor the air for a possible biological attack.
The equipment was installed quickly, but there was no detailed plan in place for how to respond to positive alarms, which meant three weeks of confusion among Houston authorities in October 2003, after tularemia, a naturally occurring pathogen, was discovered. “There is this disconnect between these grand schemes for technology and reality,” Ms. O’Toole said.
Laura S. H. Holgate, vice president at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based research group, said the government should put far more energy into a global effort to prevent nuclear materials from getting into the hands of terrorists.
The testing planned on Staten Island at the New York Container Terminal is intended to police concerns about false alarms.
Three sets of new types of detection machines have been installed there. For the first time, such machines sound an alarm when something radioactive passes through, and simultaneously identify the radioactive isotope. That allows officials to distinguish between innocuous items that can emit low levels of radiation, such as granite or kitty litter, and real threats.
Officials at the Government Accountability Office and some members of Congress are concerned that Homeland Security is moving too quickly to buy the new machines. Initial tests have shown them to be not much more effective than existing machines that are a fraction of the cost.
“We know this system is going to be expensive,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “We need to be sure it will perform as promised.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #138 on:
February 14, 2007, 10:39:32 AM »
Shooting in Utah
I have been trying to determine whether the shooter, Sulejmen Talovic, was a Muslim. My suspicious nature was aroused when the name of the shooter was not released in a quick manner, and then major media would not talk about it after release. He came from Bosnia, certainly a state with large numbers of Muslims, good and bad. The name Sulejmen is a very common Muslim name in Bosnia. The name honors Suleiman the Magnificent. (
) He had a backpack loaded with ammunition, a shotgun and a 38 pistol. Curiously, there are a large number of mosques within four miles of the Trolley Mall. (And the Trolley Mall has signs posted that guns are not allowed in the Mall, in a state where gun ownership and carrying of weapons is very common.)
WND reports hims as Muslim. Other blog sites are speculating the same.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #139 on:
February 14, 2007, 04:18:46 PM »
SB Mig: That post, while interesting, does not belong in this thread. Please put it in Military Science and then delete it here. If you can't delete it, then I will once you've posted it there. TIA-CD
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #140 on:
February 22, 2007, 08:14:48 AM »
Two Chicago-Area Men Arrested In Ohio Terrorism Case
POSTED: 4:14 pm CST February 21, 2007
UPDATED: 7:55 pm CST February 21, 2007
Two cousins were arrested Wednesday on federal charges of conspiring to wage holy war against Americans overseas, including U.S. military forces in Iraq.
Zubair A. Ahmed, 27, of suburban North Chicago, and Khaleel Ahmed, 26, of Chicago, were accused along with three other men who already had been under indictment on charges of plotting acts of terrorism against Americans overseas.
The fresh indictment returned by a grand jury in Cleveland added the two Chicago-area men to the roster of defendants and brought additional charges against the three other men.
The cousins, both American citizens, appeared briefly in Chicago before U.S. Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown, who ordered them sent to Ohio for arraignment. Prosecutors asked her to order them held in custody and sent to Ohio as federal prisoners. Defense attorneys asked for bond.
A hearing on whether to permit bond was set for 2:30 p.m. Monday.
Defense attorneys Gerald Collins and Brian Sieve said they had just met the two defendants, knew little about them and had no comment on the case.
The indictment claims that, between June 2004 and February 2006, the cousins and the other three men -- Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 27, and Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 42, both formerly of Toledo, and Wassim I. Mazloum, 22, formerly of Sylvania, Ohio -- conspired to "kill or maim persons in locations outside of the United States, to including U.S. armed forces personnel serving in Iraq."
The conspiracy allegedly included finding fresh recruits to commit terrorist acts and seeking out sites for training in firearms, hand-to-hand combat and the use of explosives. The men also allegedly agreed to raise funds for "jihad training" and download Internet information on improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
"They were perhaps not as intimately involved as the original three individuals from Toledo," said Bill Edwards of the U.S. Attorney's Office. "But, they did get involved, they knew one of the original individuals, Mr. El-Hindi."
A shadowy figure was described in the indictment only as the Trainer, a U.S. citizen with a military background. The indictment said the two cousins met with the trainer in July 2004 and discussed sniper tactics, counter-surveillance techniques and the use of heavy machine guns.
The three Ohio men, currently in federal custody, were charged in the original indictment with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Amawi was also charged with verbally threatening the president of the United States and unlawful distribution of a video concerning suicide bomber vests.
"They certainly knew exactly what was going on," Edwards said. "They talked to 'The Trainer' about being trained in 50-caliber machine guns. Mr. El-Hindi informed The Trainer that the two Ahmeds had attempted at one point to travel to Afghanistan or Iraq."
Wednesday's indictment charged Amawi with distributing information about explosive chemicals downloaded from the Internet and charged El-Hindi with distributing information about explosives and making false statements to officials.
The five men face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of conspiring to kill Americans overseas, according to federal prosecutors.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in Cleveland said a separate indictment was returned charging Bilal Mazloum, 22, of Sylvania, Ohio, brother of Wassim I. Mazloum, with making a false statement to federal agents.
In addition, El-Hindi and Ashraf Zaim, 39, of Ottawa Hills, Ohio, are charged in a separate, seven-count indictment with conspiring to commit theft of public funds, making false statements and wire fraud in connection with a $40,000 federal grant they obtained to operate clinics for low-income taxpayers.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #141 on:
March 07, 2007, 01:54:18 PM »
Wired Iraqi man triggers scare at L.A. airport
Tue Mar 6, 2007 6:36 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An Iraqi national wearing wires and concealing a magnet inside his rectum triggered a security scare at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday but officials said he posed no apparent threat.
The man, identified by law enforcement officials as Fadhel al-Maliki, 35, set off an alarm during passenger screening at the airport early on Tuesday morning.
A police bomb squad was called to examine what was deemed a suspicious item found during a body cavity search of the man. Local media reports said a magnet was found in his rectum.
"He was secreting these items in a body cavity and that was a great concern because there were also some electric wires associated with that body cavity," Larry Fetters, security director for the Transportation Security Administration at the airport, told reporters.
Maliki, 35, who lives in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was preparing to board a US Airways flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia.
The flight left without Maliki but with his luggage aboard. It made an unscheduled landing in Las Vegas, where the plane was thoroughly searched but nothing was found, officials said.
Passengers were not evacuated and no flights were disrupted by the incident at Terminal One at Los Angeles airport.
"There never was a threat," Fetter said.
He said police and the FBI were called in from "an abundance of caution" because Maliki was "so bizarre in his behavior."
Maliki, who had a U.S. green card, was being questioned by immigration officials about his immigration status.
Is there something they are not telling us?
Reply #142 on:
March 08, 2007, 01:41:08 PM »
LAX passenger hides objects in his body; bomb squad called
By Andrew Blankstein
Los Angeles Times
Authorities called in the bomb squad early Tuesday and diverted a flight to Las Vegas after Los Angeles International Airport security screeners found hidden wires and other objects in a body cavity of a Philadelphia-bound passenger.
Fadhel Al-Maliki, a 35-year-old Iraqi national living in Atlantic City, N.J., had been flagged by security officials at LAX and was undergoing a secondary "selectee screening" when he set off a metal detector.
Al-Maliki, a former security guard, told screeners that he knew what had triggered the alarm and proceeded to remove items from his rectum, including a rock, chewing gum and thin wire filament.
Fetters, federal security director at LAX, said at news conference that Transportation Security Administration officers had become alarmed because Al-Maliki was acting strange but initially refused to identify the items he had hidden.
Concern that the objects might be components for an explosive device led airport authorities to call in the Los Angeles Police Department and FBI bomb technicians as well as a hazardous material team.
A preliminary investigation appeared to rule out a theory that Al-Maliki may have been looking for weaknesses in security or was rehearsing for a terrorist act, federal and local law enforcement authorities said.
During questioning, Al-Maliki said the objects in his rectum were used to alleviate stress, federal law enforcement sources said.
The rock, authorities said he told them, was from another planet.
As Al-Maliki was being detained, his two bags were loaded on to US Airways Flight 1422, which took off for Philadelphia with 143 passengers and six crew members on board, said Liz Landau, a spokeswoman for the airline.
Federal officials said the bags had been checked for explosives, chemicals and other hazardous materials using the most modern and extensive screening devices available. Even so, they diverted the aircraft to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas "out of an abundance of caution."
There, passengers were taken off the plane, which was parked away from the terminal. Passengers had to leave their carry-on bags aboard, and the plane and their luggage were searched, Landau said.
Federal officials also said a search of Al-Maliki's luggage turned up nothing "hazardous or illegal." "Based on our investigation, there was no threat to Los Angeles International Airport or the airports in Las Vegas or Philadelphia," said Ethel McGuire, the FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Airport police briefly blocked access to roads leading to LAX and diverted vehicle traffic. But no other flights were disrupted at the airport, and Terminal 1, the building used by Southwest Airlines and US Airways, remained open.
After several hours of questioning, the FBI determined that Al-Maliki had not committed a crime, but he was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
At Tuesday afternoon's news conference, authorities said that Al-Maliki had been in the United States legally since 1994 but that federal officials were reviewing his immigration status because he may have outdated information on his green card.
Law enforcement sources said Al-Maliki previously served time in jail for criminal trespassing in Atlantic City.
In addition, he was arrested on suspicion of possession of a destructive device, but the sources said charges were dropped; details of the incident were unavailable.
A law enforcement source close to the investigation said Al-Maliki spent only a day in Los Angeles, arriving Monday afternoon after taking a flight from Philadelphia.
Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #143 on:
March 09, 2007, 01:18:58 PM »
Audit: FBI snooping did not follow rules
POSTED: 1:27 p.m. EST, March 9, 2007
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI is guilty of "serious misuse" of the power to secretly obtain private information under the Patriot Act, a government audit said Friday.
The Justice Department's inspector general looked at the FBI's use of national security letters (NSLs), in which agents demand personal and business information about individuals -- such as financial, phone, and Internet records -- without court orders.
The audit found the letters were issued without proper authority, cited incorrect statutes or obtained information they weren't supposed to.
As many as 22 percent of national security letters were not recorded, the audit said.
"We concluded that many of the problems we identified constituted serious misuse of the FBI's national security letter authorities," Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in the report.
The audit said there were no indications that the FBI's use of the letters "constituted criminal misconduct."
The FBI has made as many as 56,000 requests a year for information using the letters since the Patriot Act was passed in October, 2001, the audit found.
A single letter can contain multiple information requests, and multiple letters may target one individual.
The audit found that in 2004 and 2005, more than half of the targets of the national security letters were U.S. citizens.
Letter used to track phone calls, FBI says
FBI Director Robert Mueller said Friday that 90 percent of the letters are used to access phone records in helping to track U.S. contacts with suspected terrorists overseas.
Mueller took responsibility for the FBI's problems and said steps had been taken to eliminate them.
"I am to be held accountable," he said, for failing to provide the proper guidelines, training and tools for agents working with the national security letters.
The inspector general's review identified "26 possible intelligence violations" between 2003 and 2005, 19 of which the FBI reported to the president's Intelligence Oversight Board, the audit said.
Of the 26, "22 were the result of FBI errors, while four were caused by mistakes made by recipients of the NSLs," it said.
The audit also found problems with "exigent letters," which are supposed to be used only in emergencies when time may not permit the NSL procedure to be followed.
The audit found exigent letters were not used in emergencies and gave the agency access to telephone records it should not have had.
Mueller said Friday the FBI stopped using exigent letters in May 2006 after the practice was revealed. He said they were used to obtain information the FBI was entitled to but should have gained in other ways.
Use of letters grew after 9/11 attacks
Most of the 200-page report focuses on the national security letters, the use of which it says has undergone a "dramatic increase" since the Patriot Act was put into law after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The letters existed before the attacks, but the Patriot Act allowed them to be used on a broader scale to seek more information.
The American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to "act immediately to repeal these dangerous Patriot Act provisions."
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wrote Fine, praising the report and saying he has asked the Justice Department's National Security Division and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Office to work with the FBI in making changes.
"They will report to me regularly on their progress," Gonzales said. "In addition, I ask that you report to me in four months on the implementation of your recommendations."
Mueller said the national security letters are indispensable in the the war on terror, saying that the recent arrest on espionage charges of a former U.S. Navy sailor in Arizona as one instance where they were needed.
The FBI director said no one has suffered harm from the errors made in use of the letters.
On Capitol Hill, the audit brought calls for better oversight and possibly changes in the law.
"There will be oversight hearings," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania. He said the Patriot Act may have to be changed and power given the FBI curtailed because "they appear not to be able to know how to use it."
"You cannot have people act as free agents on something where they are going to be delving into your privacy," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said. "We all want to stop terrorists. We all want to stop criminals. But the FBI work for us, the American people, not the other way around."
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #144 on:
March 09, 2007, 02:16:56 PM »
National Security Letters...An Important Investigative Tool for the FBI
By Dennis Lormel
Periodically, media stories appear articulating a sense of concern about the increased use of National Security Letters (NSLs) by the FBI since 9/11. Civil libertarians and critics of the FBI use these reports as a platform to voice apprehension about the perceived abuse of authority and infringement on personal rights and freedoms.
The Inspector General (IG), U.S. Department of Justice, has issued a report delineating audit findings identifying significant deficiencies in NSL recordkeeping and reporting processes. This determination is quite troubling and inexcusable. Disclosure of this report has obviously garnered considerable and deserved media scrutiny. However, before there is a rush to judgment and a race for juicy media sound bites about infringements of privacy and civil liberties and calls for eliminating or diminishing the program, the pertinent facts must be assessed and placed in proper context.
As mentioned above, the reported discrepancies are inexcusable and unacceptable. Immediate steps must be taken to correct all deficiencies. The FBI has issued statements acknowledging the accuracy and fairness of the IG report. More importantly, the FBI has indicated they have taken steps and will further take action necessary to rectify reporting deficiencies. In his response, FBI Director Robert Mueller stated “We strive to exercise our authorities consistent with privacy protections and civil liberties that we are sworn to uphold. Anything less will not be tolerated. This statement is the central point in this situation. Having been a former executive in the FBI dealing with financial records and terrorist financing issues, privacy rights and civil liberties were critically important to me. On numerous occasions, I heard Director Mueller reinforce the FBI’s responsibility to protect the civil liberties of our citizenry.
The problems identified by the IG are problems of process in terms of recordkeeping and reporting, which are administrative. The process in terms of operation and use of the information has not been problematic. The IG found no deliberate or intentional misuse of authority, meaning there were no infringements on privacy rights or civil liberties. Even though recordkeeping and reporting was inadequate, actual use of information was appropriate.
By way of background, an NSL is a letter requesting information from a third party. It is like a grand jury subpoena and is often used in counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations. In the post 9/11 environment, NSLs have been an indispensable investigative tool. NSLs have contributed significantly to the FBI’s ability to carry out its national security responsibilities.
Before rushing to judgment and calling for the restriction or elimination of the NSL program, critics should remember that the problem is administrative, not operational. As such, civil liberties are not at risk. The only true risk is to national security if this issue escalates as a platform to diminish or eliminate an important investigative tool.
By Dennis Lormel on March 9, 2007 2:40 PM
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #145 on:
March 09, 2007, 03:00:36 PM »
Thanks for that.
Before rushing to judgment and calling for the restriction or elimination of the NSL program, critics should remember that the problem is administrative, not operational.
A very important distinction which will hopefully not be overlooked. We can only hope that the bureaucracy can be streamlined...or is that oxymoronic?
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #146 on:
March 09, 2007, 04:20:30 PM »
Well, as someone that has been working for governmental entities most all my adult life, I think it's unlikely. Kafka has nothing on what i've lived through.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #147 on:
March 09, 2007, 05:21:45 PM »
"the problem is administrative, not operational."
Would someone explain this distinciton to me please?
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #148 on:
March 09, 2007, 05:46:28 PM »
Not being an FBI SA, I don't know the exact details, but the problem probably boiled down to the letters being obtained and used properly by the case agents in doing the investigation, but the documentation tracking the statistics for administrative reporting purposes isn't getting done in some cases.
Re: Homeland Security - imams
Reply #149 on:
March 15, 2007, 10:10:40 AM »
An eerie development in the imams case here in Minneapolis. The pretend terrorists trying to cripple airport security are suing the unidentified passengers for reporting the intentionally bizarre behavior. Even if a jury gets this right, and we don't know that they will, some poor travelors are going to spend a lifetime of income into legal defense costs.
Source: Katheryn Kersten Mpls Strib column -
Excerpts and analysis from Powerline (
March 15, 2007
Meet John Doe
Gary Cooper played John Doe in the Frank Capra's movie "Meet John Doe." It's a timely film about media manipulation driven by a sinister newspaper mogul with cynical political purposes. The media manipulation nevertheless takes on a life of its own in the flowering of the "John Doe Movement."
Many of us think that the case of the flyling imams begins with another case of media manipulation. In her Star Tribune column today, Katherine Kersten takes a look at the complaint they have filed against US Airways in Minnesota federal district court. Kathy discovers some John Doe defendants -- defendants whose identity plaintiffs do not know at present, but may later include in the lawsuit:
the most alarming aspect of the imams' suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes "John Doe" defendants whose identity the imams' attorneys are still investigating. It reads: "Defendants 'John Does' were passengers ... who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged 'suspicious' behavior of Plaintiffs' performing their prayer at the airport terminal."
Paragraph 22 adds: "Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants'] liability ... at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same."
In plain English, the imams plan to sue the "John Does," too.
Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as "an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch" as they prayed. "The gentleman ('John Doe') in the couple ... picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray," then "moved to a corner" and "kept talking into his cellular phone."
In retribution for this action, the unnamed couple probably will be dragged into court soon and face the prospect of hiring a lawyer, enduring hostile questioning and paying huge legal bills. The same fate could await other as-yet-unnamed passengers on the US Airways flight who came forward as witnesses.
The imams' attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, "John Does" like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams' suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our "first responders" against terrorism. But the imams' suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.
Unlike Frank Capra's John Doe, these John Does are the real deal. Like Capra's John Doe, however, they represent a genuine citizens' movement. If identified and added to the lawsuit, they may have a claim or two of their own to assert against the flying imams, or a movement to start.
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