UPDATE: Watch this hearing online–Mr. Youssef’s testimony will shed light on significant problems in the FBI’s Counterterrorism program, and I urge everyone who can to attend this hearing (details below). For those who are not in Washington, you can watch a live webcast of the proceedings on the House Judiciary Committee website. Click here to visit their webpage and then click “View Live Webcast.”
Unit Chief to disclose shortfalls in war on terror
WHAT: FBI Whistleblower and Supervisory Special Agent Bassem Youssef testifying before Congress
WHEN: Wednesday, May 21, 1:30 p.m. EDT
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141
Washington, D.C. — FBI Counterterrorism Whistleblower Bassem Youssef will testify before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
During the oversight hearing, titled On The FBI Whistleblowers: Exposing Corruption and Retaliation Inside the Bureau, Supervisory Special Agent Bassem Youssef will for the first time alert Congress and the American people to the grave deficiencies within the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division since 9/11.
It is expected that Youssef’s testimony will include previously undisclosed information.
Youssef is the Unit Chief of the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit. He is the highest-ranking Arab-American agent in the Counterterrorism Division, and the highest-ranking fluent Arabic speaker. In 1994, he earned the Intelligence Community’s prestigious and coveted award, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, awarded by the Director of Central Intelligence. The award was for outstanding accomplishments in a terrorism case involving an al-Qaeda-related investigation.… Continue reading
By Noah Shachtman May 13, 2008
The Air Force wants a suite of hacker tools, to give it “access” to — and “full control” of — any kind of computer there is. And once the info warriors are in, the Air Force wants them to keep tabs on their “adversaries’ information infrastructure completely undetected.”
The government is growing increasingly interested in waging war online. The Air Force recently put together a ” Cyberspace Command ,” with a charter to rule networks the way its fighter jets rule the skies. The Department of Homeland Security, Darpa, and other agencies are teaming up for a five-year, $30 billion ” national cybersecurity initiative .” That includes an electronic test range , where federally-funded hackers can test out the latest electronic attacks . “You used to need an army to wage a war,” a recent Air Force commercial notes. ” Now, all you need is an Internet connection .”
On Monday, the Air Force Research Laboratory introduced a two-year, $11 million effort to put together hardware and software tools for ” Dominant Cyber Offensive Engagement .” “Of interest are any and all techniques to enable user and/or root level access,” a request for proposals notes, “to both fixed (PC) or mobile computing platforms… any and all operating systems, patch levels, applications and hardware.” This isn’t just some computer science study, mind you; “research efforts under this program are expected to result in complete functional capabilities.”
We deserve the full truth about 9/11
Tale of Building 7’s collapse suggests official complicity, persistent obstruction
Regarding “Drinking the 9/11 Kool-Aid” (Editorial, April 24):
After three government investigations and more than six years, we still don’t have answers on 9/11.
Why, for example, did Building 7 collapse? It wasn’t hit by a plane, as the towers were. The 9/11 Commission Report completely ignores Building 7. The Federal Emergency Management Agency report discounts fire as a cause and concludes that the reasons for the collapse of Building 7 are unknown and require further research. But when FEMA issued this report, it already cleared the site and disposed of the dust and steel (evidence from a crime scene), thus possibly committing a felony and complicating any “further research.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal agency, which evaluated the collapse of the towers, has yet to issue its report on Building 7. “We’ve had trouble getting a handle on Building 7,” said the acting director of their Building and Fire Research Lab.
Yet a number of private-sector engineers, architects, and demolition experts have not had that problem. They think Building 7 came down by controlled demolition. The building collapsed suddenly, straight down, at nearly free-fall speed. People heard the explosions, and saw the squibs and the characteristic billowing clouds of pulverized concrete so unique to demolitions. There is no reason to think that Building 7 came down for any other reason than explosive demolition.
And speaking of pulverized concrete,… Continue reading
April 30, 2008
A variety of current and former high-level officials have recently warned that the Bush administration is attempting to instill a dictatorship in America, and will itself carry out a fake terrorist attack in order to obtain one.
FBI agents, Time Magazine, Keith Olbermann and The Washington Post and Rolling Stone have all stated that the administration has issued terror alerts based on scant intelligence in order to rally people around the flag when the administration was suffering in the polls. This implies — as an initial matter only — that the administration will play fast and loose with the facts in order to instill fear for political purposes
More to the point, a former prominent republican congressman stated that the U.S. is close to becoming a totalitarian society and that the Bush administration is using fear to try to ensure that this happens.
Current U.S. Congressman Ron Paul stated, the government “is determined to have martial law”, and that the government is hoping to get the people “fearful enough that they will accept the man on the white horse”
And Daniel Ellsberg, the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower, said “if there is another terror attack, “I believe the president will get what he wants”, which will include a dictatorship.
Terror on U.S. Citizens by American… Continue reading
For decades the federal government has been developing a highly classified plan that would override the Constitution in the event of a terrorist attack. Is it also compiling a secret enemies list of citizens who could face detention under martial law?
By Christopher Ketcham
In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president’s henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.
The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft’s second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush’s first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration’s various… Continue reading
By Greg Palast
April 21, 2008
Psst! George Bush has a secret
While you Democrats are pounding each other to a pulp in Pennsylvania, the President has snuck back down to New Orleans for a meeting of the NAFTA Three: the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico.
You’re not supposed to know that — for two reasons:
First, the summit planned for the N.O. two years back was meant to showcase the rebuilt Big Easy, a monument to can-do Bush-o-nomics. Well, it is a monument to Bush’s leadership: The city still looks like Dresden 1946, with over half the original residents living in toxic trailers or wandering lost and broke in America.
The second reason Bush has kept this major summit a virtual secret is its real agenda – and the real agenda-makers. The names and faces of the guys who called the meeting must remain as far out of camera range as possible: The North American Competitiveness Council.
April 3, 2008
A letter has been sent by leaders of the House Judiciary Committee to Attorney
General Michael Mukasey, demanding that he explain a recent public statement
that federal authorities failed to intercept a call from suspected terrorists
in Afghanistan prior to the 9/11 attacks, when doing so could have prevented
the attacks from taking place.
Mukasey blamed that failure on a lack of the sort of warrantless wiretapping
authority that the administration has now called on Congress to provide. However,
there has never been any previous mention of such a call, and the Judiciary
Committee letter — signed by Chairman John Conyers and two subcommittee chairs
— points out that the law that existed at the time would have allowed the call
to be intercepted immediately, with permission granted retroactively by the
That letter has been noted by blogs, such as Talking Points Memo, but does
not appear to have gained any attention from the mainstream media.
Blogger Glenn Greenwald, who has covered the Mukasey incident extensively,
originally believed that “he just made this up out of whole cloth in order
to mislead Americans into supporting the administration’s efforts to eliminate
spying safeguards and basic constitutional liberties and to stifle the pending
surveillance lawsuits against telecoms.”
However, Greenwald has now received an email from the Department of Justice’s
Principal Deputy Director of Public Affairs, citing both a reference by a 2002
Congressional Joint Inquiry to an untraced call between one of the 9/11 hijackers… Continue reading
Post-9/11 Memo Indicates View Around Constitution
Thursday, April 3, 2008
For at least 16 months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush administration
argued that the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches and
seizures on U.S. soil did not apply to its efforts to protect against terrorism.
That view was expressed in a secret Justice Department legal memo dated Oct.
23, 2001. The administration stressed yesterday that it now disavows that view.
The October 2001 memo was written at the White House’s request by John Yoo,
then the deputy assistant attorney general, and addressed to Alberto R. Gonzales,
then the White House counsel. The37-page memo has not been released.
Its existence was disclosed Tuesday in a footnote of a separate secret Justice
Department memo, dated March 14, 2003, that discussed the legality of various
interrogation techniques. It was released by the Pentagon in response to an
ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application
to domestic military operations,” the footnote in that memo states, referring
to a document titled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist
Activities Within the United States.”
Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear.
Source URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/03/AR2008040300067.html
2003 Justice Department memo justifies torture, presidential dictatorship
By Joe Kay
4 April 2008
On Tuesday, the Defense Department released a 2003 memo asserting the right
of the US president to order the military to torture prisoners.
The memo is signed by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and is
dated March 14, 2003, one week before the launch of the Iraq war.…
By Robert O’Harrow Jr.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver’s license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.
One center also has access to top-secret data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it’s not clear what information those systems contain.
Dozens of the organizations known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to identify potential threats and improve the way information is shared. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies. They are expected to play important roles in national information-sharing networks that link local, state and federal authorities and enable them to automatically sift their storehouses of records for patterns and clues.
Though officials have publicly discussed the fusion centers’ importance to national security, they have generally declined to elaborate on the centers’ activities. But a document that lists resources used by the fusion centers shows how a dozen of the organizations in the northeastern United States rely far more on access to commercial and government databases than had previously been disclosed.
Those details have come to light at a time of debate about domestic intelligence efforts, including eavesdropping and data-aggregation programs at the National Security Agency, and whether the government has enough protections in… Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
In August 2007, Congressman Peter DeFazio, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the House that he and the rest of his Committee had been barred from reviewing parts of National Security Presidential Directive 51, the White House supersecret plans to implement so-called “Continuity of Government” in the event of a mass terror attack or natural disaster. ( 1 )
Norm Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, commented, “I cannot think of one good reason” for denial. Ornstein added, “I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House.” ( 2 )
The story, ignored by the mainstream press, involved more than the usual tussle between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government. What was at stake was a contest between Congress’s constitutional powers of oversight, and a set of policy plans that could be used to suspend or modify the constitution.
There is nothing wrong with disaster planning per se. Like all governments, the U.S. government must develop plans for the worst contingencies. But Congress has a right to be concerned about Continuity of Government (COG) plans refined by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld over the past quarter century, which journalists have described as involving suspension of the constitution. ( 3 )
In the 1980s, a secret group of planners inside and outside the government were assigned, by an Executive Order, to develop a response to a nuclear… Continue reading
Sources: Air marshals missing from almost all flights
By Drew Griffin, Kathleen Johnston and Todd Schwarzschild
March 26, 2008
(CNN) — Of the 28,000 commercial airline flights that take to the skies on an average day in the United States, fewer than 1 percent are protected by on-board, armed federal air marshals, a nationwide CNN investigation has found.
That means a terrorist or other criminal bent on taking over an aircraft would be confronted by a trained air marshal on as few as 280 daily flights, according to more than a dozen federal air marshals and pilots interviewed by CNN.
The Transportation Security Administration flatly denied those reports.
Greg Alter, assistant special agent in charge of the federal air marshal program, said the 280 number “grossly understates coverage by an order of magnitude” and that the number is “four digits,” but he would not elaborate.
In a post on its Web site responding to the CNN story, the TSA said it would not disclose the number of air marshals flying each day so as not to “tip our hand to terrorists.” However, it said, “The actual number of flights that air marshals cover is thousands per day.” Read the full response
The investigation found low numbers even as the TSA in recent months has conducted tests in which it has been able to smuggle guns and bomb-making materials past airport security screeners.
The air marshal program began in 1970, after a rash of airline hijackings, and it was expanded significantly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.…Continue reading
By Peter Phillips
March 20, 2008
Will November 2008 bring a meaningful change to America? Will getting rid of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney without impeachment or indictment really make a difference? Will a 600 billion dollar war/defense budget be cut in half and used for desperately needed domestic spending? Will the ninety-three billion dollars profits in the private health insurance companies—those parasitic intermediates between you and your doctor—be used instead for full health care coverage for all? Will Habeas Corpus and Posse Comitatus be restored to the people? Will torture stop? Will all students in public universities be able to enroll for free? Will the US national security agencies stop mass spying on our personal communications? Will the neo-conservative agenda of total military domination of the world be reversed?
The answer to these questions in the context of the current billion dollar presidential campaign is an absolute no. Instead we have a campaign of personalities and platitudes. There is a race candidate, a gender candidate and a tortured veteran candidate, each talking about change in America, national security, freedom, and the American way. The candidates are running with support of political parties so deeply embedded with the military industrial complex, the health insurance companies, Wall Street, and corporate media that it is undeterminable where the board rooms separate from the state rooms.
The 2008 presidential race is a media entertainment spectacle with props, gossip, accusations, and public relations. It is impression management from a candidates’ perspective. How can… Continue reading
Authorities to Gain Fast and Expansive Access to Records
By Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Several thousand law enforcement agencies are creating the foundation of a
domestic intelligence system through computer networks that analyze vast amounts
of police information to fight crime and root out terror plots.
As federal authorities struggled to meet information-sharing mandates after
the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, police agencies from Alaska and California
to the Washington region poured millions of criminal and investigative records
into shared digital repositories called data warehouses, giving investigators
and analysts new power to discern links among people, patterns of behavior and
other hidden clues.
Those network efforts will begin expanding further this month, as some local
and state agencies connect to a fledgling Justice Department system called the
National Data Exchange, or N-DEx. Federal authorities hope N-DEx will become
what one called a "one-stop shop" enabling federal law enforcement,
counterterrorism and intelligence analysts to automatically examine the enormous
caches of local and state records for the first time.
Although Americans have become accustomed to seeing dazzling examples of fictional
crime-busting gear on television and in movies, law enforcement’s search for
clues has in reality involved a mundane mix of disjointed computers, legwork
These new systems are transforming that process. "It’s going from the
horse-and-buggy days to the space age, that’s what it’s like," said Sgt.
Chuck Violette of the Tucson police department, one of almost 1,600 law enforcement
agencies… Continue reading
BY JAY WEAVER AND ALFONSO CHARDY
The Miami Herald
Bribery. Drug trafficking. Migrant smuggling.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is supposed to stop these types of crimes. Instead, so many of its officers have been charged with committing those crimes themselves that their boss in Washington recently issued an alert about the “disturbing events” and the “increase in the number of employee arrests.”
Thomas S. Winkowski, assistant commissioner of field operations, wrote a memo to more than 20,000 officers nationwide noting that employees must behave professionally at all times — even when not on the job.
“It is our responsibility to uphold the laws, not break the law,” Winkowski wrote in the Nov. 16 memo obtained by The Miami Herald .
Winkowski’s memo cites employee arrests involving domestic violence, DUI and drug possession. But court records show Customs officers and other Department of Homeland Security employees from South Florida to the Mexican border states have been charged with dozens of far more serious offenses.
Among them: A Customs and Border Protection officer at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was charged in February with conspiring to assist a New York drug ring under investigation by tapping into sensitive federal databases.
Winkowski, a former director of field operations in Miami, called the misconduct “unacceptable.” He told The Miami Herald that while he wrote the memo because of an uptick in employee arrests last fall, he didn’t believe the problem was pervasive.
“Do I believe this is widespread in our organization? No, I do… Continue reading
By Colin Meyn, In These Times
February 19, 2008
In New York City, the Department of Homeland Security is training New York City firefighters to assist in gathering intelligence information during routine inspections and emergencies.
In November, the Associated Press reported that in New York, Homeland Security was testing a program called the Fire Service Intelligence Enterprise (FSIE) to help identify “material or behavior that may indicate terrorist activities.”
The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and Homeland Security hosted a September 2007 conference in New York City to discuss plans for the new intelligence program. There, chief officers from fire departments in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and 12 other U.S. cities met with NYC fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and officials from the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Surveillance. “Real-time intelligence and information leads to a heightened state of situational awareness,” Scoppetta said at the conference. “And situational awareness is key to saving lives.”
“We are not training firefighters to be intelligence gatherers or special agents,” says Jack Tomarchio, Homeland Security’s deputy undersecretary of intelligence and surveillance. “We are helping to provide crucial information to those people who are often the first responders.”
In 2002, the Bush administration proposed having bus drivers, mail carriers and telephone repair personnel spy on the American public as part of Homeland Security’s “Citizen Corps” initiative. The program, called TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System), never made it past Congress. But because the FSIE is managed at the city level, it has bypassed… Continue reading
by MICHAEL GOULD-WARTOFSKY
[from the January 28, 2008 issue of The Nation]
Free-speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security
curriculum. Private security contractors. Welcome to the homeland security campus.
From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower
in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to "violent
radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention"–as it was recently
dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name–have set out to
reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.
Building a homeland security campus and bringing the university to heel is
a seven-step mission:
1. Target dissidents. As the warfare state has triggered dissent,
the campus has attracted increasing scrutiny–with student protesters in the
cross hairs. The government’s number-one target? Peace and justice organizations.
From 2003 to 2007 an unknown number of them made it into the Pentagon’s Threat
and Local Observation Notice system (TALON), a secretive domestic spying program
ostensibly designed to track direct "potential terrorist threats"
to the Defense Department itself. In 2006 the ACLU uncovered, via Freedom of
Information Act requests, at least 186 specific TALON reports on "anti-military
protests" in the United States–some listed as "credible threats"–from
student groups at the University of California, Santa Cruz; State University
of New York, Albany; Georgia State University; and New Mexico State University,
among other campuses.
At more than a dozen universities and colleges, police officers now double
as full-time FBI agents, and according to the Campus Law… Continue reading
by Lewis Seiler, Dan Hamburg
Monday, February 4, 2008
"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating
any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of
his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian
government whether Nazi or Communist." – Winston Churchill, Nov.
Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal
government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide
swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without
legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of
immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."
Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts
with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention
camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has
also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some
reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.
According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part
of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal
of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."
Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about
these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to taxpayer-gouging
Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of "new programs"
require the construction and refurbishment of… Continue reading