Homeland Security

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  Bush Homeland Security Adviser ResignsNovember 19, 2007 11:07 Fran Townsend, the leading White House-based terrorism adviser who gave public updates on the extent of the threat to U.S. security, is stepping down after 4 1/2 years.

President Bush said in a statement Monday morning that Townsend, 45, "has ably guided the Homeland Security Council. She has played an integral role in the formation of the key strategies and policies my administration has used to combat terror and protect Americans."

Her departure continues an exodus of key Bush aides and confidants, with his two-term presidency in the final 15 months. Top aide Karl Rove, along with press secretary Tony Snow, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and senior presidential adviser Dan Bartlett, have already left.

In her handwritten resignation letter to Bush, Townsend wrote, "It is with a profound sense of gratitude that I have decided to take a respite from public service." White House press secretary Dana Perino said Towsend struggled with the decision, talking about it with the president for months.

In an interview, Townsend said she hates to leave when figures like Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, remain at large. "Do I wish that I was going to be standing here when they are captured or killed? Absolutely. But I have no doubt that we will ultimately be successful," she said.

Townsend decided it was time to take a break from government work - only a break, not an end, she insisted - and look for a job in the private sector.

She hopes to work in global risk management for a large bank or financial services company. Townsend also said she has now changed her mind and would consider running for public office someday. In the past, she prosecuted violent crimes, narcotics offenses, Mafia cases and white-collar fraud as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. and as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan.
  Whistleblower: At&T Maintained A 'Secret Room' For The NsaNovember 10, 2007 10:03 Bringing his claims to Capitol Hill for the first time, former AT&T network technician Mark Klein appeared yesterday at a press conference to reiterate his astonishing claim: AT&T operated a 24 x 48-foot room in one of its network operations centers in San Francisco, where Klein discovered his employer was cooperating with the National Security Agency in the monitoring of all Internet traffic over a major backbone line.

"I have first-hand knowledge of the clandestine collaboration between one giant telecommunications company, AT&T, and the National Security Agency to facilitate the most comprehensive illegal domestic spying program in history," Klein remarked in his press conference yesterday.

Klein's allegations have been part of an ongoing class-action suit against AT&T since January 2006, funded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. While he was not able to witness everyday goings-on in the "Secure Room," as an engineer, Klein was privy to how the room was wired. In a June 8 sworn deposition entered into evidence in this case, he described what he saw.

In January 2003, Klein was invited to tour the Folsom Street Facility of what was then known as SBC Communications. There he saw for the first time Room 641A, categorized as the "SG3 Secure Room." That fall, when he was hired to work at the facility, he noted that an NSA agent was interviewing field support specialists for clearance to be able to work in the Secure Room.

"To my knowledge, only employees cleared by the NSA were permitted to enter the SG3 Secure Room," Klein stated in his June deposition (PDF available here). "To gain entry to the SG3 Secure Room required both a physical key for the cylinder lock and a combination code number to be entered into an electronic keypad on the door. To my knowledge, only [two Field Support Specialists] had both the key and the combination code." But Klein, who often worked at Folsom alone, had keys to every other door except SG3.

As part of his job there, Klein installed new circuits to a fiberoptic "splitter cabinet," whose sole purpose, diagrams entered into evidence show, was to duplicate WorldNet service Internet traffic into SG3. The existence of this splitter suggests that the NSA had access to all the traffic on that circuit.

  From The Desk Of Donald Rumsfeld . . .November 02, 2007 09:19 In a series of internal musings and memos to his staff, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued that Muslims avoid "physical labor" and wrote of the need to "keep elevating the threat," "link Iraq to Iran" and develop "bumper sticker statements" to rally public support for an increasingly unpopular war.

The memos, often referred to as "snowflakes," shed light on Rumsfeld's brusque management style and on his efforts to address key challenges during his tenure as Pentagon chief. Spanning from 2002 to shortly after his resignation following the 2006 congressional elections, a sampling of his trademark missives obtained yesterday reveals a defense secretary disdainful of media criticism and driven to reshape public opinion of the Iraq war.

Rumsfeld, whose sometimes abrasive approach often alienated other Cabinet members and White House staff members, produced 20 to 60 snowflakes a day and regularly poured out his thoughts in writing as the basis for developing policy, aides said. The memos are not classified but are marked "for official use only."

In a 2004 memo on the deteriorating situation in Iraq, Rumsfeld concluded that the challenges there are "not unusual." Pessimistic news reports -- "our publics risk falling prey to the argument that all is lost" -- simply result from the wrong standards being applied, he wrote in one of the memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Under siege in April 2006, when a series of retired generals denounced him and called for his resignation in newspaper op-ed pieces, Rumsfeld produced a memo after a conference call with military analysts. "Talk about Somalia, the Philippines, etc. Make the American people realize they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists," he wrote.