Monday, November 30, 2009

High Court: Soldiers-Gone-Wild Photos Stay Sealed

Back in April, the Obama administration agreed to release detainee abuse photos that had been sought by the detainee lobby (the ACLU) under a Freedom of Information request. In May, the administration did a 180, and now it appears that the photos will be kept under wraps permanently.
The Supreme Court did all it could Monday to lock up forever some incendiary photos that show U.S. soldiers abusing foreign prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yielding to Congress and the White House, justices took the expected but formal step of reversing a lower court's order that the pictures be released. Using its budget powers, Congress already had moved to keep the photos secret.
In a brief, unsigned decision issued Monday without elaboration, the court cited a provision in a Homeland Security funding bill that President Barack Obama signed Oct. 28. The provision permitted the Pentagon to block the public release of the pictures in question, as well as others deemed to "endanger" U.S. soldiers or civilians.
"Disclosure of those photographs would pose a clear and grave risk of inciting violence and riots against American troops and coalition forces," Solicitor General Elena Kagan had warned the Supreme Court.
...Technically, the one-paragraph ruling kicks the case back to the New York -based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is all but certain to follow orders not to release the pictures.
Separately, while out of town for the holiday weekend, we happened to catch a glimpse of a TV commercial by one of the candidates in the upcoming special election in Massachusetts that will fill the late Sen. Kennedy's seat. Now this was perhaps just one issues ad out of a series, but the solon looked into the camera and claimed he was running for the seat because the Bush-Cheney administration engaged in torture. Okay, if someone wants to obsess about harsh interrogation, torture, whatever the term of art, until the cows come home, fine. Free speech. However, with the economy in the tank, and joblessness everywhere, a candidate for federal office airs a commercial about "standing up to Dick Cheney." Even in Massachusetts, does that make sense as a political strategy or more importantly, as an effective way to serve the constituents?

ACORN Gets Paid

It seems like just yesterday when the Bush administration was being blasted for politicizing the U.S. Justice Department. Weren't those the good old days? So let's review the bidding, now that Justice is under new management. AG Eric Holder and his agency won't investigate voter intimidation in Philadelphia but will investigate CIA interrogators and allow war criminals to be tried in civilian courts. In addition, the agency has rung up other, similar accomplishments in the past ten months. Here's the latest: "The Justice Department has concluded that the Obama administration can lawfully pay the community group ACORN for services provided under contracts signed before Congress banned the government from providing money to the group."

The full-text of the five page legal memorandum:
Obligations Public Law11168

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Connecticut Firefighters Get Supreme Court-Ordered Promotions

Despite the best efforts of lower court judges, including then-judge Sonia Sotomayor, the New Haven, Connecticut firefighters in the high-profile Ricci case finally were awarded their civil service promotions to either lieutenant or captain:
A U.S. District Court judge, under instruction by the Supreme Court decision, today issued an judgment finding the city violated the civil rights of a group of white firefighters when it threw out two promotional exams in 2004, and ordered the city to promote 14 of them.
The two-page, bare-boned judgment issued late this afternoon was the culmination of five years of litigation that wound all the way to the nation’s highest court — and has been the target of a recent flurry of legal wrangling trying to prevent the promotions from being made.
Judge Janet Bond Arterton, who in 2006 threw out the firefighters’ lawsuit only to have the decision ultimately overturned by the nation’s high court in June, laid out the city’s road map. It left no ambiguity
The formal promotion ceremony is scheduled for December 10.

Update: More fallout from the Ricci case as reported by the Hartford Courant:
Meanwhile, in Bridgeport, a dozen firefighters this week settled their reverse discrimination suit and related suits against the city, attorneys for those firefighters announced Tuesday. The attorneys cited the Supreme Court decision in the New Haven case, saying the Bridgeport settlement "came as a direct result" of that ruling.
Further Update:
New Haven officials say they will promote 10 more firefighters based on promotional exams given in 2003 that were at the center of a landmark reverse discrimination ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 10 firefighters scored well enough to be promoted to captains and lieutenants, but were not part of the lawsuit settled by the Supreme Court last June. City fire commissioners are expected to approve the promotions Friday.

Friday, November 27, 2009

FBI: Mounting Threat of Cyber Attacks

Federal law enforcement authorities are investigating suspected al Qaaeda sympathizers who might be planning an attack on America's computer networks, possibly targetting the financial, transportation, or energy sectors:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking at people with suspected links to al Qaeda who have shown an interest in mounting an attack on computer systems that control critical U.S. infrastructure, a senior official told Congress Tuesday.
While there is no evidence that terrorist groups have developed sophisticated cyber-attack capabilities, a lack of security protections in U.S. computer software increases the likelihood that terrorists could execute attacks in the future, the official warned.
If terrorists were to amass such capabilities, they would be wielded with "destructive and deadly intent," Steven Chabinsky, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

DHS: Make "EZ Pass" Permanent

The Homeland Security Department wants to make permanent a biometric-based international trusted traveler program:
The U.S. Homeland Security Department today proposed to make permanent its ongoing Global Entry pilot program, which expedites and automates the customs process for prescreened travelers entering the United States.
The pilot program, initially launched in June 2008 at three airports, has since expanded to include 20 major U.S. entry points, including airports in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington, D.C. Releasing the program from pilot mode would enable DHS to further expand the program. The proposal now undergoes a public comment period, ending Jan. 19, 2010.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that operates the program, said Global Entry is available to travelers who pay a non-refundable $100 enrollment fee and undergo a background check to demonstrate clean criminal, customs and immigration records.
When arriving in the United States, Global Entry members can bypass lines for customs agents and scan their passport through an automated kiosk, where a photo is taken, declaration questions are fielded and the traveler is asked to submit fingerprints to be matched against those on file. CBP said the kiosk then prints a receipt, which the traveler must present to a CBP officer upon leaving the customs area.

Court Documents: Recruits Lured to Somalia

From the Los Angeles Times, Minneapolis-area men trained to fight in Somali militias:
Federal authorities unsealed criminal charges Monday against eight suspects alleged to be part of a U.S. recruiting network that sent young men to fight in Somalia -- one of the largest militant operations uncovered in this country since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The court documents disclosed how some older members of the Somali American community in Minneapolis are believed to have lured younger ones to fight in Somalia -- some as suicide bombers -- with an Al Qaeda-affiliated group known as Al Shabab, or "The Youth."
The charges include providing financial support to fighters who traveled to Somalia, attending Al Shabab training camps and fighting with the group against the U.S.-backed transitional government there, as well as against Ethiopian government forces and African Union troops.
The recruitment of young people from Minneapolis and other U.S. communities "has been the focus of intense investigation for many months," said David Kris, the assistant attorney general for national security.

Gang Counterinsurgency in Salinas

Military counterinsurgency tactics are being deployed in gang-ridden Salinas, California:
Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been advising Salinas police on counterinsurgency strategy, bringing lessons from the battlefield to the meanest streets in an American city.
"This is our surge," said [Mayor Dennis] Donohue, who solicited the assistance from the elite Naval Postgraduate School, 20 miles and a world away in Monterey. "When the public heard about this, they thought we were going to send the Navy SEALs into Salinas."
In fact, the cavalry arrived in civvies, carrying laptops rather than M-16s and software instead of mortars. In this case, the most valuable military asset turned out to be an idea: Change the dynamic in the community and victory can follow.
"It's a little laboratory," said retired Col. Hy Rothstein, the former Army career officer in Special Forces who heads the team of 15 faculty members and students, mostly naval officers taking time between deployments to pick up a master's degree. Their effort in Salinas counts as extracurricular and is necessarily voluntary, given the constitutional bar on the military operating within U.S. borders.

Monday, November 23, 2009

9/11 Defendants Take Show Trial To Broadway

Every reasonable, commonsense person knew this was coming:
The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Sunday.
Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but "would explain what happened and why they did it."
...Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, is a nephew of professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain "their assessment of American foreign policy," Fenstermaker said.
"Their assessment is negative," he said.
What's next--a reality TV show?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Terrorists Partnering With South Atlantic Narco-Traffickers

An investigative piece from the Washington Times on the terrorist-drug smuggling connection:
The sea lanes of the South Atlantic have become a favored route for drug traffickers carrying narcotics from Latin America to West and North Africa, where al Qaeda-related groups are increasingly involved in transporting the drugs to Europe, intelligence officials and counternarcotics specialists say.
A Middle Eastern intelligence official said his agency has picked up "very worrisome reports" of rapidly growing cooperation between Islamic militants operating in North and West Africa and drug lords in Latin America. With U.S. attention focused on the Caribbean and Africans lacking the means to police their shores, the vast sea lanes of the South Atlantic are wide open to illegal navigation, the official said.
"The South Atlantic has become a no-man's sea," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity owing to the nature of his work.
A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) confirmed the new route.
...The Washington Times reported in March that Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese Shi'ite group, is deeply involved in the drug trade. Increasingly, however, Sunni groups linked to al Qaeda are also dealing in narcotics to finance their organizations, specialists say.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Park Service Bearish on Border Security

Forest Rangers vs. Border Patrol on border enforcement, according to the Washington Times:
In the battle on the U.S.-Mexico border, the fight against illegal immigration often loses out to environmental laws that have blocked construction of parts of the "virtual fence" and that threaten to create places where agents can't easily track illegal immigrants.
Documents obtained by Rep. Rob Bishop and shared with The Washington Times show National Park Service staffers have tried to stop the U.S. Border Patrol from placing some towers associated with the virtual fence, known as the Secure Border Initiative or SBInet, on wilderness lands in parks along the border.
In a remarkably candid letter to members of Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department could have to delay pursuits of illegal immigrants while waiting for horses to be brought in so agents don't trample protected lands, and warns that illegal immigrants will increasingly make use of remote, protected areas to avoid being caught.
The documents also show the Interior Department has charged the Homeland Security Department $10 million over the past two years as a "mitigation" penalty to pay for damage to public lands that agencies say has been caused by Border Patrol agents chasing illegal immigrants.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

9/11 Trial: Politics Unusual?

As we've repeatedly asked in other contexts, how will this latest policy decision--to try KSM and his colleagues in civilian court--help make the U.S. more safe and secure? Insuring domestic tranquility is one of the key principles of the U.S. Constitution. And apart from the court security nightmare, to what end is the politicized Justice Department giving full Constitutional rights to what amounts to non-citizen war criminals, terrorists, and combatants picked up on the battlefield?

Columnist Charles Krauthammer says granting enemy combatants the rights of American citizens is unconscionable:

Writing in NationalReviewOnline, former federal terrorism prosecutor Andrew McCarthy claims the motivation is even more invidious:
This summer, I theorized that Attorney General Eric Holder — and his boss — had a hidden agenda in ordering a re-investigation of the CIA for six-year-old alleged interrogation excesses that had already been scrutinized by non-partisan DOJ prosecutors who had found no basis for prosecution. The continuing investigations of Bush-era counterterrorism policies (i.e., the policies that kept us safe from more domestic terror attacks), coupled with the Holder Justice Department's obsession to disclose classified national-defense information from that period, enable Holder to give the hard Left the "reckoning" that he and Obama promised during the 2008 campaign. It would be too politically explosive for Obama/Holder to do the dirty work of charging Bush administration officials; but as new revelations from investigations and declassifications are churned out, Leftist lawyers use them to urge European and international tribunals to bring "torture" and "war crimes" indictments. Thus, administration cooperation gives Obama's base the reckoning it demands but Obama gets to deny responsibility for any actual prosecutions.
Today's announcement that KSM and other top al-Qaeda terrorists will be transferred to Manhattan federal court for civilian trials neatly fits this hidden agenda. Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. They are a banquet of information, not just at the discovery stage but in the trial process itself, where witnesses — intelligence sources — must expose themselves and their secrets.
...It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda's case against America. Since that will be their "defense," the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and — depending on what judge catches the case — they are likely to be given a lot of it.
Former Justice Department official John Yoo echoes these concerns:
Trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court will be an intelligence bonanza for al Qaeda, tie up our courts for years on issues best left to the president and Congress, and further cripple our intelligence agencies’ efforts to fight terrorists abroad.
KSM and his co-defendants will have all of the benefits and rights that the U.S. Constitution accords those who live here, most importantly the right to demand that the government produce in open court all of the information that it has on them, and how it was obtained.
Arrested spies commonly use this right to get a better deal out of the government, which will want to avoid opening up its intelligence sources and methods on KSM, what information it got from him, and what else it knows about his fellow al Qaeda operatives.
Finding out what the U.S. intelligence agencies know about al Qaeda will be an incalculable boon to the terrorist organization, which will be able to drop plans and personnel it knows are compromised, and push harder in areas we appear to know nothing about.
Our intelligence agents and military personnel will now have to conduct their capture of the enemy—often in battlefield conditions—under all of the strictures that apply to arrests of garden-variety criminals in the United States. Knowing that al Qaeda leaders may be tried in court, our soldiers and agents will have to gather evidence at the scene of “arrest” and secure it to the standards of a civilian court, all while entering a hostile environment, protecting their own personnel, and leaving without casualties.
And former AG Michael Mukasey weighs in:
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who as a judge presided over a trial stemming from the first attack on the World Trade Center, on Friday warned that the Obama administration's decision to bring Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York, along with three other terrorist detainees, to stand trial in a civilian court, reflected a pre-9/11 mindset that viewed terrorism as a simple criminal matter.
Speaking at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention, Mukasey described the move, as “a decision I consider not only unwise, but based on a refusal to face the fact that what we are involved with here is a war with people who follow a religiously-based ideology that calls on them to kill us, and to return instead to the mindset that prevailed before Sept. 11 that acts like the first World Trade Center bombing, the attacks on our embassies in Africa and other such acts can and should be treated as conventional crimes and tried in conventional courts.”
Mukasey added that the current administration seems to develop policy decisions "to fit and proceed rhetoric."

Despite the legal roadblocks thrown up by the "detainee lobby," the Bush administration should have pushed much harder to get these individuals tried by military commissions. Depending upon your point of view, the U.S. Supreme Court didn't help, but the Bush Justice Department has to bear significant responsibility for its lack of action. On the other hand, defense lawyers with this odd fixation with terror suspects (can we call them terrorists?) must be suffering an extreme form of what used to be called Bush Derangement Syndrome. Forget the politics; law-abiding citizens, society at large, also have rights to be protected, don't they?

White House To Push For Amnesty in 2010

With the economy still in the tank, runaway federal spending, million of Americans jobless, and looming threats to national security, what's the next logical federal initiative? Amnesty for border jumpers, of course:
The Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants as it pushes early next year for legislation to overhaul the immigration system, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Friday.
In her first major speech on the overhaul, Ms. Napolitano dispelled any suggestion that the administration — with health care, energy and other major issues crowding its agenda — would postpone the most contentious piece of immigration legislation until after midterm elections next November.

Friday, November 13, 2009

9/11 Detainees: Tried In Manhattan

According to various media outlets, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is on his way to the Big Apple--the city he tried to destroy:
Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be sent to New York to face trial in a civilian federal court, an Obama administration official said Friday.
The official said Attorney General Eric Holder plans to announce the decision later in the morning.
The official is not authorized to discuss the decision before the announcement, so spoke on condition of anonymity.
...Holder will also announce that a major suspect in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, will face justice before a military commission, as will a handful of other detainees to be identified at the same announcement, the official said.
It was not immediately clear where commission-bound detainees like al-Nashiri might be sent, but a military brig in South Carolina has been high on the list of considered sites.
In the meantime, the White House official who bungled the Gitmo closing (or is taking the rap for doing so) is leaving the administration:
The White House's top lawyer is announcing his resignation on Friday, senior administration officials said.
White House counsel Greg Craig has been the subject of questions about his future since late summer, dogged by talk that President Barack Obama's promise to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay military prison by January went awry under Craig's leadership.
Craig also oversaw the president's revamping of U.S. policy on terrorism interrogations and detentions, including a ban on torture, and was at the center of administration moves to release many documents relating to the treatment of terror suspects under the Bush administration - and to oppose the release of photos of abuse of detainees overseas by U.S. personnel. All those decisions earned Obama considerable criticism, some from the right and some from the left.
Anita Dunn, the White House staffer with a crush on Mao Tse Tung, is also moving on.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Senate to Investigate Ft. Hood Killing Spree

The inevitable Congressional inquiry into the Ft. Hood massacre:
Sen. Joe Lieberman announced [on November 8] that he intends to lead a congressional investigation into the mass shooting at Fort Hood, saying the attack could qualify as a "terrorist act" rooted in Islamic radicalism -- the worst since 9/11.
The Independent Democrat, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said there were "strong warning signs" that the alleged gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was an "Islamist extremist."
"If that is true, the murder of these 13 people was a terrorist act and, in fact, it was the most destructive terrorist act to be committed on American soil since 9/11," Lieberman [said].

Meanwhile, in a report on the Hasan case, Stratfor, the global intelligence clearinghouse, says that separating "the wheat from the chaff" is on one of the big problems in national security investigations:
Many leads are based on erroneous information or a misidentification of the suspect — there is a huge issue associated with the confusion caused by the transliteration of Arabic names and the fact that there are many people bearing the same names. Jihadists also have the tendency to use multiple names and identities. And there are many cases in which people will falsely report a person to the FBI out of malice. Because of these factors, national security investigations proceed slowly and usually do not involve much (if any) contact with the suspect and his close associates. If the suspect is a real militant planning a terrorist attack, investigators do not want to tip him off, and if he is innocent, they do not want to sully his reputation by showing up and overtly interviewing everyone he knows. Due to its controversial history of domestic intelligence activities, the FBI has become acutely aware of its responsibility to protect privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and other laws.
Stratfor also explains that in a departure from the standard operating procedure, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (still known by its old acronym CID) rather than the FBI is running the Hasan investigation:
As the premier law enforcement agency in the United States, the FBI will often assume authority over investigations where there is even a hint of terrorism. Since 9/11, the number of FBI/JTTF offices across the country has been dramatically increased, and the JTTFs are specifically charged with investigating cases that may involve terrorism. Therefore, we find the FBI’s absence in this case to be quite out of the ordinary.
However, with Hasan being a member of the armed forces, the victims being soldiers or army civilian employees and the incident occurring at Fort Hood, the case would seem to fall squarely under the mantle of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). From a prosecutorial perspective, a homicide trial under the UCMJ should be very tidy and could be quickly concluded. It will not involve all the potential loose ends that could pop up in a federal terrorism trial, especially when those loose ends involve what the FBI and CIA knew about Hasan, when they learned it and who they told. Also, politically, there are some who would like to see the Hasan case remain a criminal matter rather than a case of terrorism. Following the shooting death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah [in Detroit] and considering the delicate relationship between Muslim advocacy groups and the U.S. government, some people would rather see Hasan portrayed as a mentally disturbed criminal than as an ideologically driven lone wolf.
Despite the CID taking the lead in prosecuting the case, the classified national security investigation by the CIA and FBI into Hasan and his possible connections to jihadist elements is undoubtedly continuing.
Update: The Army has charged the shooter with 13 premeditated murder counts under the UCMJ (making him eligible for the death penalty if found guilty), but as yet no charges related to terrorism or treason. Additional charges may be forthcoming, however.

DHS Aims To Implement Biometric Exit System For Foreign Nationals

The Washington Post says DHS has a plan--subject to White House approval--for identifying foreign visitors who fly out of the U.S. by air:
The Department of Homeland Security is finalizing a proposal to collect fingerprints or eye scans from all foreign travelers at U.S. airports as they leave the country, officials said, a costly screening program that airlines have opposed.
The plan, which would take effect within two years, would collect fingerprints at airport security checkpoints, departure gates or terminal kiosks, allowing the government to track when roughly 35 million foreign visitors a year leave the country and who might be overstaying their visas, DHS officials said. The department plans to send the proposal to the White House as soon as next month for review and inclusion in President Obama's next budget.
Some experts and former government officials are skeptical. In a concession to industry, DHS said it probably will drop plans to require airlines to pay for the bulk of the program and is looking to cut costs, which could reach $1 billion to $2 billion over a decade, largely to be paid by taxpayers or foreign travelers. In addition, the program would not operate for now at land borders, where 80 percent of noncitizens enter and leave the country, because fingerprinting travelers there could cost billions more and significantly delay commerce.

Paglia: Limousine Liberals Driving Blind

We often wondered why the socialist-oriented, big government interventionists seem to think that they will be immune from the affects of their policies--as if they live in a space station orbiting the Earth rather than down here with the rest of us. In her latest online column, Professor Camille Paglia, a self-avowed Obama and Pelosi supporter, nails it:
As for the actual content of the House healthcare bill, horrors! Where to begin? That there are serious deficiencies and injustices in the U.S. healthcare system has been obvious for decades. To bring the poor and vulnerable into the fold has been a high ideal and an urgent goal for most Democrats. But this rigid, intrusive and grotesquely expensive bill is a nightmare. Holy Hygeia, why can't my fellow Democrats see that the creation of another huge, inefficient federal bureaucracy would slow and disrupt the delivery of basic healthcare and subject us all to a labyrinthine mass of incompetent, unaccountable petty dictators? Massively expanding the number of healthcare consumers without making due provision for the production of more healthcare providers means that we're hurtling toward a staggering logjam of de facto rationing. Steel yourself for the deafening screams from the careerist professional class of limousine liberals when they get stranded for hours in the jammed, jostling anterooms of doctors' offices. They'll probably try to hire Caribbean nannies as ringers to do the waiting for them.
A second issue souring me on this bill is its failure to include the most common-sense clause to increase competition and drive down prices: portability of health insurance across state lines. What covert business interests is the Democratic leadership protecting by stopping consumers from shopping for policies nationwide? Finally, no healthcare bill is worth the paper it's printed on when the authors ostentatiously exempt themselves from its rules. The solipsistic members of Congress want us peons to be ground up in the communal machine, while they themselves gambol on in the flowering meadow of their own lavish federal health plan. Hypocrites!
And why are we even considering so gargantuan a social experiment when the nation is struggling to emerge from a severe recession? It's as if liberals are starry-eyed dreamers lacking the elementary ability to project or predict the chaotic and destabilizing practical consequences of their utopian fantasies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scotland Yard Foils NYS Subway Plot

From the London Telegraph:
British spies have foiled a terrorist plot by a suspected al Qaeda operative to blow up the New York subway.
The plan, which reportedly would have been the biggest attack on America since 9/11, was uncovered after Scotland Yard intercepted an email.
The force alerted the FBI, who launched an operation which led to airport shuttle bus driver Najibullah Zazi, 24, being charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
...Zazi, from Denver, Colorado, is understood to have been given instructions by a senior member of al Qaeda in Pakistan over the internet.
Let's hope there were no civil liberties violations in this investigation, right?

The London Telegraph also has this about the Ft. Hood gunman:
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who killed 13 at America's Fort Hood military base, once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats.
He also told colleagues at America's top military hospital that non-Muslims were infidels condemned to hell who should be set on fire. The outburst came during an hour-long talk Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, gave on the Koran in front of dozens of other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC, where he worked for six years before arriving at Fort Hood in July.
Colleagues had expected a discussion on a medical issue but were instead given an extremist interpretation of the Koran, which Hasan appeared to believe.
...One Army doctor who knew him said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim soldier had stopped fellow officers from filing formal complaints.
As allegations and/or facts like this continue to emerge, it appears that Col. Ralph Peters' somewhat emotional reaction on FNC seems justified:

More from Col. Peters on political correctness in the Army here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

FBI Discloses Counter-Terrorism Handbook

Under its own procedural manual, which some civil libertarians find "alarming," was the FBI nonetheless proactive enough in investigating the the Ft. Hood shooter?
The F.B.I.’s interpretation of those [Bush-era intelligence gathering] rules was recently made public when it released, in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit, its Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide; The disclosure of the manual has opened the widest window yet onto how agents have been given greater power in the post-Sept. 11 era.
In seeking the revised rules, the bureau said it needed greater flexibility to hunt for would-be terrorists inside the United States. But the manual’s details have alarmed privacy advocates.
One section lays out a low threshold to start investigating a person or group as a potential security threat. Another allows agents to use ethnicity or religion as a factor — as long as it is not the only one — when selecting subjects for scrutiny.
...The manual authorizes agents to open an “assessment” to “proactively” seek information about whether people or organizations are involved in national security threats.
Agents may begin such assessments against a target without a particular factual justification. The basis for such an inquiry “cannot be arbitrary or groundless speculation,” the manual says, but the standard is “difficult to define.”
...If agents turn up something specific to suggest wrongdoing, they can begin a “preliminary” or “full” investigation and use additional techniques, like wiretapping.

Friday, November 6, 2009

High Court Wants Input From Napolitano On Arizona Employment Law

Awkward! DHS Secretary Napolitano may be put on the hot seat by the U.S. Supreme Court, although it's far from clear if she will actually respond to the court's request for information:
A simple query from the Supreme Court is forcing the Obama administration to wrestle with the limits of states’ authority to enforce immigration laws — and also is throwing an uncomfortable spotlight on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
On Monday, the justices asked the Justice Department to provide its views on Arizona’s attempt to force employers to verify the immigration status of potential employees. The law being challenged in the cases was signed by Napolitano in 2007, when she was governor of Arizona.
Napolitano has stated that she believes the law is constitutional, but business groups and immigration reform advocates generally in President Barack Obama’s camp are asking the Supreme Court to strike down the statute.
...A federal appeals court rejected the legal challenges to the Arizona law. The Supreme Court has not said that it will take the case but wants the administration’s view on whether further review is warranted.

Utah Gets New Cybersecurity Data Hub

According to InformationWeek, Camp Williams, a National Guard training center 26 miles south of Salt Lake City, will be the home of a brand new NSA cybersecurity center:
The National Security Agency, whose job it is to protect national security systems, will soon break ground on a data center in Utah that's budgeted to cost $1.5 billion.
The NSA is building the facility to provide intelligence and warnings related to cybersecurity threats, cybersecurity support to defense and civilian agency networks, and technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, according to a transcript of remarks by Glenn Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection, who is responsible for oversight of cyber intelligence activities in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Privacy Backers Want Probe of DHS Privacy Officer

Electronic privacy supporters from the left and the right join to demand answers from the federal office headed by Mary Ellen Callahan, Homeland Security's privacy mogul:
Privacy advocates have asked lawmakers to investigate the Department of Homeland Security office in charge of protecting Americans' privacy, saying it has shown "an extraordinary disregard" for its duty.
In a letter sent Friday to the House Homeland Security Committee, 21 organizations and seven people belonging to the Privacy Coalition say the department's chief privacy officer has seen its role as enabling, rather than curbing, government surveillance and intelligence programs.
"The job of Chief Privacy Officer is not to provide public relations for the Department of Homeland Security," stated the coalition letter, whose signers included the American Civil Liberties Union, Gun Owners of America, former congressman Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.) and libertarians inspired by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), a former presidential candidate. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest group in Washington, organized the coalition.
Separately, the aforementioned Mary Ellen Callahan reached an agreement with the EU "on a set of common principles that unite our approaches to protecting personal data when exchanging information for law enforcement and security purposes." According to Callahan, the next step is "a binding international EU-U.S. agreement based on these common principles to facilitate further cooperation while ensuring the availability of full protection for our citizens."

Ft. Hood Shooting Massacre

Details are still unfolding by the minute, but multiple news media outlets are reporting that the alleged Ft. Hood gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire. Also, the feds had been keeping an eye on him for about six months but didn't take any action.

On FNC, O'Reilly and Bernard Goldberg discuss media bias/political correctness in relation to the Ft. Hood murders:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guest Blog: Why We Vote

Guest blogger Jason Tabrys of shares his thoughts on Election Day 2009 and the privilege of democracy:

Another election will have come and gone today and what will it have given us, what have we retained, other then a slain forests worth of cardboard signs left sticking up out of the ground like gravestones never to be visited or removed? Why we don’t even have the excitement and mystery of election night to thrill us anymore, gone the way of the dodo, killed off by polls and analysis that pinpoint exactly who will win and exactly how they will win days or weeks before we bother to vote. Anticipation and patience, suffering the fate of other once simple riches like subtlety and reflective thought, crushed by the violent bore of technology.

Why exactly do we do it? Is it the rush of “say”? Our slight bit of power over this mammoth machine that consumes and bewilders us all. Or are we so frail, so vulnerable, so innocent as to still believe, to still hope that a word can be said and it can be a true map, a direction to a better day that supersedes the hollow delight of rhetoric and actually fulfills a promise? I know that deep below an ocean of doubt and cynicism lies a single glimmer of hope buried within me, a glimmer that cannot be found and thus cannot be extinguished no matter how hard society tries. This hope propels me toward all manner of foolishness, It propels me towards impetuousness. Toward love. Toward the feeling that no matter the trial, triumph is surely not far off. And it propels me towards a belief of heaven and a fear of hell, an open question with regards to the sky, and all manner of idealism. If this little untamed glimmer is my voice, then democracy is my song. And for all its flaws, all of its useless parts, it is far better then the frozen hell of silence.

So while I, while we, may grieve the inevitable disappointment and ready the remedies for our inevitable wounds and struggles under the thumb of those that fall short of their promise let not our sadness kill the hope for joy. Let not our glimmer relent for on the darkest day, it is the light that leads us back home.