BTW, Happy Birthday to Ziggy Stardust, he turned 64 on Saturday.
197 documents found in 0.002 seconds.
- BP oil spill
- Bob Gates
- Bush Administration
- CBS News
- Department of Homeland Security
- Faisal Shahzad
- Fox News
- Government Policy
- Iraq War
- Mike's Blog Round Up
- Mike's Blog roundup
- National Security
- North Korea
- Nuclear Weapons
- Paul Krugman
- Peter King
- President Bush
- Republican Hypocrisy
- TECS II
- Tom Ridge
- White House
- department of homeland
- domestic terrorism
- federal response
- government database
- government policy
- hate crimes
- memory hole
- plane crash
- right-wing extremism
- security committee
- terror alerts
- times square
- war veteran
- war veterans
- white supremacists
Seriously, why Sen. Lieberman (I-CT) still the chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs? I totally get his desire to be the chair of a major Senate committee - he gets to make broad, somber statements about "protecting the homeland" and holds these open meetings to ensure that the press gets to headline his concerns. But he's really not doing anything to either improve homeland security or to boost the Democratic platform (other than providing the occasional vote in cloture calls that still fail to move legislation forward).
On Wednesday, Lieberman and fellow moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) held a hearing titled "Nine Years After 9/11: How Can We Keep Fear Alive Confronting the Terrorist Threat to the Homeland"(also see WaPo coverage here). Featured witnesses included DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and NCTC Director Michael Leiter. Here's a summary of their talks:
Sen. Lieberman: "Thank you for being here to remind the American people about Teh Terrorist Threat. So let me point out the concern over the 'home-grown' threat of 63 Americans arrested in 2009 on terrorist-related issues amidst our population of 310 million people."
Sen. Collins: "I, too, am worried about the possibility of Americans being recruited and trained to use automatic rifles and explosives against our populace. No, I didn't mean the Tea Party activists and white militia groups, only the brown people who speak with accents."
Sec. Napolitano: "We're just now figuring out that terrorists do, in fact, prefer small arms and explosives to CBRN hazards. We're still paying out billions in grants to state and local agencies, because you like us to do that. And we intend to make travel on America's rails just as painful as flying."
Dir. Mueller: "Since it is the FBI's job to counter 'home-grown' terrorists as well as look out for the foreign-based terrorists, let me assure you that we are on top of things. But rest assured, we're not going to bother watching those Tea Party activists until they shoot someone."
Dir. Leiter: "There are lots of flavors of al Qaeda out there. We're watching them all, but don't blame us if another 'underwear bomber' slips through. And we're intent on retaining the Cheney doctrine on WMD terrorism - maximum focus on the lowest probability events."
I jest - a little. But I find it curious that the three witnesses want to promote this common thesis that "al-Qa‘ida, and its affiliates and allies, will attempt to conduct smaller-scale attacks targeting the Homeland but with greater frequency." Is it really a general trend, or are they projecting their fears that they might miss another "lone wolf" who flies into the United States with a bulge in his pants?
I'm going to just suggest here that the general foreign terrorist community was always focused on small-scale attacks - that 9/11 was a "black swan" and future terrorist incidents may never be repeated on that scale. Small arms and explosives remain easy to purchase and easy to master. We're FINALLY getting acknowledgment that WMD terrorism is overblown and is not in fact the future mode of attack for terrorists coming to the United States (but we're still going to spend a lot of time and money on countering WMD terrorism, just in case).
If there is an increase in frequency of attacks, maybe, just maybe that's because of a general failure in US strategic communications and the extended period of US military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention increased "kinetic" involvement in Yemen and Somalia. These events tend to foster AQ's recruiting drive. I know that's difficult for some to believe, but I'm just putting it out there as a possibility.
Finally, note these witnesses and their organizations. Did you see any DOD officials there? Protecting the homeland from foreign terrorists is not a military-led activity. It's a law enforcement and intelligence activity. Add the State Department when you want to talk about preventing terrorist growth overseas. Let's just get past the chest-thumping and try to develop coherent government policy based on that understanding, and we'll be a whole lot better off.
Brilliant at Breakfast: Hey Mom! Alan Simpson thinks you should go out and get a job
Los Angeles Homeland Security Examiner: U.S. Congressman wants Wikileaks whistleblower dead
Scott Horton: Crazy Like a Foxman
Shakesville: What you're projecting aint saying much for ya
Obsidian Wings: Make it a double
BTC News: Nobody could have predicted the disaster that is Homeland Security
Scott Horton : Another audacious whitewash at DOJ
Pruning Shears: Putting Geneva down the memory hole
jaysays: Federal Hate Crimes case illustrates Christian myopia
FavStocks: More than weather heating up in DC: Rush-Waxman bill puts Toxic Chemicals Safety Act reform back on the front burner
I was attracted to this post by Chris Bellavita at Homeland Security Watch, where he discusses the use of Incident Command System (ICS) in the federal response to the BP oil spill. For those of you who haven't heard of ICS, it is a way to develop a unified, standard approach to responding to incidents or accidents when you've got a cast of agencies involved. It was developed by the military, who as you may suspect, loves unified, standard approaches to command and control. It works best, however, when everyone understands the system and everyone has practiced the process in exercises prior to the incident. So the question is, does ICS really work as the one standard approach to all accidents and incidents?
I don't know the answer to that question. There are a lot of qualifications to such a discussion, but it's one that's worthy of an analytical study. My impression is that ICS works well for the state and local response, and as for folding in the federal agencies, that all depends on how well the feds work with the state and local officials. But the approach, on its own, appears to be sound. Using the federal response to Deepwater Horizon may be illustrative for how not to do ICS. There is this one report of heavy staffing by BP personnel to the point where neighboring state officials are being deliberately excluded from assisting. Reports of integrating international offers of assistance have not been encouraging.
BP has been allegedly doing its best to block reporters from covering the oil spill's effects as it hits the shoreline. The Danger Room reports that BP is going so far as to hire security specialists to stop reporters from getting to the scene of the spill. And hiring operators to take calls from the concerned public probably doesn't help when BP uses this as a vehicle to shield its corporate office from complaints. I'm not sure how this plays out when the ICS process executes its public information plan. All taken together, it ought to be very healthy to review how the federal goverment has implemented ICS for this major operation and where it could improve the process, either through cleaner implementation or changing the way it's exercised, in preparation for future significant incidents and accidents.
Stories on mainstream sites that begin with "sources tell..." but do not name those sources usually end badly. This one is no exception. Because OMG, can you believe this? Faisal Shahzad has been on a Homeland Security List since 1999!!! CBS News says it, so it must be true, right? As usual, the answer is yes, and no.
The Department of Homeland Security and concept of 'no-fly' lists were not born until 2002 -- November 25, 2002-- to be exact, when President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act. Here's a handy timeline.
CBS News Investigates, in their own words:
Sources tell CBS News that would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad appeared on a Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list - Traveler Enforcement Compliance System (TECS) - between 1999 and 2008 because he brought approximately $80,000 cash or cash instruments into the United States.
Well, that doesn't really square with the large headline saying he was "ON A LIST", does it? Sometime between 1999 and 2008 is not "since 1999", no matter how you spin it.
TECS is a major law enforcement computer system that allows its approximately 120,000 users from 20 federal agencies to share information. The database is designed to identify individuals suspected of or involved in violation of federal law.
Yeah, not so much on the purpose of the TECS database, CBS. Here's the official word from the DOJ archives on what TECS is. TECS II is a container database for specific data on people entering and leaving the US. The key passage:
As noted above, IBIS is a multi-agency database of lookout information that was initiated in 1989 to improve border enforcement and facilitate inspection of individuals applying for admission to the United States at ports of entry and pre-inspection facilities. IBIS is a joint effort of the INS, the Customs Service, and the Departments of Agriculture and State.11 It combines lookout information from 27 agencies into the Treasury Enforcement Communications System II (TECS II) database. The system, created and maintained by United States Customs Service, supports federal agencies by collecting information on individuals suspected of illegal activities.
TECS II was created to maintain and receive information on persons entering the United States and now serves as the central database for IBIS.
I can see why the CBS News Investigates person was confused. Use of the generic term "the system" could certainly lead one to conclude the reference was to TECS II. It could also lead one to conclude that the IBIS database is the "lookout" database which is part of the larger system combining Treasury Enforcement Data. Whatever it was, it was initiated in 1989, and the TECS database contained the IBIS database.
I'm mostly disturbed by the 30-point bold headline on the CBS.com site and article suggesting some sort of failure on someone's part because this man may have landed on a list years before the DHS was even a glimmer in Cheney's eye.
Yes, he was in a database. So am I. So are you. So what? He brought cash into the country in excess of $10,000. Maybe they suspected him of dealing drugs. Who knows? The existence of a name on a list is evidence of absolutely nothing beyond evidence of a list. And a name.
(h/t The Political Carnival)
Fox News' anchors seemed eager to assure viewers today that the plane-crash attack on IRS offices in Austin this morning was not an act of domestic terrorism.
Now, it's true that Homeland Security officials originally released this statement:
“We believe there’s no nexus with criminal or terrorist activity”
They later amended this to just say "terrorist activity." Fox's Catherine Herridge also reported that Homeland Security officials had briefed President Obama on the incident, and that he had been told "this was not an act of terrorism."
So how did Fox's anchors interpret all this?
And the president was told this was not an act of terrorism. We have not received word, though, as to whether the F-16s are still airborne, just in case, until the Department of Homeland Security and the military is absolutely satisfied that this is the act of a single individual who used a dangerous instrumentality, to be sure, a plane, as a weapon.
And it is akin, I suppose, Megan, to, you know, somebody who gets angry at a workplace, and takes a gun, or a knife, and goes in and begins to attack people. This is unusual because instead of a gun or an automobile, it was indeed an airplane. But it has happened before.
Our Homeland Security contacts telling us, this does not appear to be terrorism in any way that that word is conventionally understood. We understand from officials that this is a sole, isolated act.
Well, this is true only if the conventional understanding of the word "terrorism" has now been narrowed down to mean only international terrorism and to preclude domestic terrorism altogether.
Since when, after all, is attempting to blow up a federal office as a protest against federal policies NOT an act of domestic terrorism?
It really is frustrating watching career political hacks like Rep. Peter King get as much media attention as they do. On GMA, he reiterated his attacks on President Obama over the failed attempt by the Christmas bomber. His solution of course is for the President to just say terror, terror, terror all day long.
New York Rep. Peter King, a leading Republican critic of the White House on terror policy, offered a piece of advice on Good Morning America today: Obama should speak the word "terrorism" more.
"You are saying someone should be held accountable. Name one other
specific recommendation the president could implement right now to fix
this," host George Stephanopolous said to King.
"I think one main thing would be to -- just himself to use the word
terrorism more often," said King, the ranking Republican on the
Homeland Security Committee.
I have an idea. Whenever a pundit asks about Peter King to anyone from the left, we use just one word to describe him. Asshole, Asshole, asshole.
And Eli responds to my post on Cokie with a very serious way for all Democrats to appear tough on National Security.
No, what really makes someone a Serious Qualified Expert on national security is a little voice in their head screaming “AAAAAHHHH!!! The scary brown people are coming to kill us we have to kill them first OMG OMG OMG!!!” 24 hours a day, and the ability to bedwet on command.
For whatever the Bush administration and most of the other Very Serious Republican National Security Experts may lack in military experience, they more than make up for in bloodthirst and paranoia. And that’s why they’re still eating the Democrats’ lunch despite being wrong about virtually everything it’s humanly possible to be wrong about.
So what’s the solution? Simple, really: If Obama can develop an appropriately irrational fear and hatred of Muslims, then no one will care that he’s never served in the military. I suggest that he pretend that all Muslims are, alternately, health industry CEOs and progressive bloggers – that should make him a respected national security expert in no time.
That would probably excite Cokie Roberts, for sure.
Tom Ridge wants to have it both ways. He sat on his hands then to save his job and now he wants to get paid again. Remember, he could have made a difference. Now he describes the terror alerts he propagated as "political" when he has a book to sell, but it's not sitting well with a lot of us, especially when he already knew that in 2004.
First, the timing of terror alerts raises questions that aren’t adequately answered.
If there’s no intent to benefit the president in a re-election year, Ridge should say more than “we don’t play politics” at the Department of Homeland Security.
Especially after doing a virtual campaign ad by announcing “new” threats just after the Democratic convention and praising “the president’s leadership in the war against terror.”
And it wasn’t said off the cuff or in answer to a question. It was said in prepared remarks.
It makes Ridge more salesman than guardian, more political servant than public servant.
Same with failing to divulge the full context of information on potential terror sites later revealed as three to four years old.
How does pushing the president while holding back the truth give anyone confidence “we don’t play politics”?
Maybe he’s told what to say, when and how, and maybe that’s why he wants out. A source close to Ridge tells me the relationship between Ridge and the White House “isn’t what it used to be.” Still, it’s his gig.
[Shawn Stuart, Iraq War veteran, at a 2006 neo-Nazi rally in Olympia, WA.]
Remember how the right-wingers screamed and yelled about that Homeland Security bulletin which indicated that white supremacists might be recruiting Iraq war veterans or pushing recruitment within military ranks?
Remember how the ensuing hissy fit ended with Janet Napolitano apologizing (for a report that originated in the Bush administration)? Notice how even now, after the report has been proven prescient in its warning about "lone wolf" domestic terrorists, guys like Joe Scarborough are still trying to claim that it "insulted our veterans"?
Well, Matt Kennard at Salon has an eye-opening report that should permanently shut up the right-wing whining, because it demonstrates clearly the broad nature of the problem -- namely, not only are veterans being actively recruited, but neo-Nazis and other radicals are actively joining up to fight -- and the military is turning a blind eye to it:
Since the launch of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has struggled to recruit and reenlist troops. As the conflicts have dragged on, the military has loosened regulations, issuing "moral waivers" in many cases, allowing even those with criminal records to join up. Veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder have been ordered back to the Middle East for second and third tours of duty.
The lax regulations have also opened the military's doors to neo-Nazis, white supremacists and gang members — with drastic consequences. Some neo-Nazis have been charged with crimes inside the military, and others have been linked to recruitment efforts for the white right. A recent Department of Homeland Security report, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," stated: "The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today." Many white supremacists join the Army to secure training for, as they see it, a future domestic race war. Others claim to be shooting Iraqis not to pursue the military's strategic goals but because killing "hajjis" is their duty as white militants.
Soldiers' associations with extremist groups, and their racist actions, contravene a host of military statutes instituted in the past three decades. But during the "war on terror," U.S. armed forces have turned a blind eye on their own regulations. A 2005 Department of Defense report states, "Effectively, the military has a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy pertaining to extremism. If individuals can perform satisfactorily, without making their extremist opinions overt … they are likely to be able to complete their contracts."
Carter F. Smith is a former military investigator who worked with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command from 2004 to 2006, when he helped to root out gang violence in troops. "When you need more soldiers, you lower the standards, whether you say so or not," he says. "The increase in gangs and extremists is an indicator of this." Military investigators may be concerned about white supremacists, he says. "But they have a war to fight, and they don't have incentive to slow down."
Tom Metzger is the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and current leader of the White Aryan Resistance. He tells me the military has never been more tolerant of racial extremists. "Now they are letting everybody in," he says.
Now, much of this, in fact, we have already reported at C&L. Indeed, this is not a new problem, as Kennard makes clear:
Following an investigation of white supremacist groups, a 2008 FBI report declared: "Military experience — ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces — is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement." In white supremacist incidents from 2001 to 2008, the FBI identified 203 veterans. Most of them were associated with the National Alliance and the National Socialist Movement, which promote anti-Semitism and the overthrow of the U.S. government, and assorted skinhead groups.