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.