Homeland Security

  Amid Call For Troops, No Call For A DraftDecember 26, 2006 16:11 President Bush's call to build up the size of the Army and Marine Corps confronts the U.S. military with a sizable and potentially costly challenge, especially given its recent history of war-related recruiting problems. But one solution remains firmly off the table: reinstituting a draft.

Bush last week endorsed proposals to enlarge the Army and Marine Corps. The proposals have wide support, from those who advocate a short-term boost in troops in Iraq as well as those who say a larger overall force will be needed even if troops are moved out of Iraq.

By boosting incentives and bonus money, adding recruiters and continuing to increase the military advertising budget, the Army should be able to sign up an extra 10,000 people a year within the all-volunteer system, according to many military experts. But, they add, such an increase will be costly. An extra 10,000 soldiers would cost at least $1.2 billion extra annually.

"We've been at it for 30-plus years," said Theodore G. Stroup Jr., a retired lieutenant general and former head of the Army personnel system. "We do not want to go back to a draft."
  How Breaches In The Us Nuclear-Weapons Program Endanger YouDecember 21, 2006 13:42 Last week, the watchdog Project on Government Oversight reported that workers at Pantex, a Texan nuclear-weapons plant, had almost accidentally detonated a W56 warhead in the spring of 2005. A W56 has 100 times the Hiroshima bomb's yield.

A similar incident occurred there in 2004 when workers discovered a crack in a W56 warhead; they ended up patching it together using "the equivalent of duct tape." BWXT, the Texan plant operator, paid safety-violation fines totaling less than $125,000 in each case.

Unfortunately, the sloppiness and lack of oversight demonstrated at Pantex characterize the running of many US nuclear-weapons facilities.
  Bush: War On Terror A 'Calling'December 20, 2006 10:01 This guys is truly demented...

U.S. President George Bush, calling the war on terror the new "calling" for a generation, said he would increase the size of the military.

"2006 was a tough year," Bush told a White House news conference Wednesday. He called the enemy "merciless and violent."

"The war on terror is the calling for a new generation. It's the calling for our generation," Bush said, adding that the country owes the military the resources for a sustained commitment.
  Pentagon Salutes Departing RumsfeldDecember 15, 2006 15:40 Don't let the door hit your...

He's been a lightning rod for criticism and called the architect of a disastrous war, but on Friday there were only words of praise as the Pentagon gave outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld a full-honors farewell, reports CBS News correspondent Aleen Sirgany.

"This man knows how to lead, and he did. The country's better off for it," President Bush said.

The president called Rumsfeld "one of America's most skilled, energetic and dedicated public servants."

Departing after six years in office, Rumsfeld said he felt "a sense of urgency about the real challenges ahead" in a time of terrorism, unstable dictators and threats of nuclear proliferation.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, awakened the world to the existence of a global extremist movement whose adherents believe it is their calling to kill Americans and other free people, Rumsfeld said.

  Army Chief Of Staff Wants To Ease Restrictions On Using ReservesDecember 14, 2006 16:09 Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker plans to tell the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves on Thursday that the Army needs to be able to mobilize the 345,000-member Army National Guard and 196,000-member Army Reserves more frequently and for longer periods than current restrictions allow, two senior Army officials said Wednesday.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly. They said Schoomaker hoped to gain the commission's support before he made a case for easing restrictions to incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who takes over next week.

Under current law, National Guard and Reserve forces can be called to active duty for up to two consecutive years under a partial mobilization, which is what President Bush declared after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The practice under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has been to mobilize part-time troops for no more than 24 cumulative months. National Guard and Reserve troops called for service in Iraq usually spend about six months training, then a year in Iraq, leaving them only six months of eligibility to serve in other active-duty roles.
  Rumsfeld Says He Regrets The Phrase 'War On Terror'December 13, 2006 11:59 Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is a man of few regrets, but he has acknowledged that he's had second thoughts about the Bush administration's often-used phrase "war on terror" to describe U.S. military endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Asked by conservative commentator Cal Thomas what he would have done differently during his often-stormy, nearly six-year tenure as President Bush's defense chief, Rumsfeld replied: "I guess I don't think I would have called it 'the war on terror.' "

Thomas interviewed Rumsfeld last Thursday, and the Pentagon made a transcript of the interview available Tuesday.

Rumsfeld continued: "The word 'war' conjures up World War II more than it does the Cold War, and it creates a level of expectation of victory and an ending within the 30 or 60 minutes of a soap opera. And it isn't going to happen that way.

"Furthermore," Rumsfeld added, "it's not a war on terror. Terror is a weapon of choice for extremists who are trying to destabilize regimes and impose their -- in the hands of a small group of clerics -- their dark vision on all the people that they can control."

"So 'war on terror' has a problem for me, and I've worked to try to reduce the extent to which that's used, and increase the extent to which we understand it more as a long war or a struggle or a conflict, not against terrorism but against a relatively small number, but terribly dangerous and lethal, violent extremists," Rumsfeld said.
  U.S. Government Issues New Privacy GuidelinesDecember 05, 2006 09:19 Hmmm... are these 'privacy guidelines' or 'lack of privacy guidelines'?

The Bush administration Monday released new guidelines aimed at protecting the privacy of U.S. citizens as the government moves to enhance its sharing of information as part of post-Sept. 11 reforms.

The guidelines, approved by President Bush last month, cover a broad range of government agencies from the CIA and the Pentagon to the State Department, Homeland Security, FBI, Justice Department and state and local law enforcement.

Reforms mandated by Congress in 2004 require government agencies to create an "information sharing environment" to help protect against attacks like those that killed 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Investigators concluded the Sept. 11 attacks were partly facilitated by a pronounced lack of vital information exchanges between agencies including the CIA and FBI.

Reforms also mandated new privacy protection guidelines for U.S. citizens and legal residents, whose privacy rights are constitutionally protected.

The office of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte, which released the guidelines, could not immediately say whether the rules pertain to the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program.

The NSA program, which critics say violates federal law, allows the government to monitor the international telephone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens while in pursuit of terrorism suspects.

  Confirmation Hearings For New Defense Secretary UnderwayDecember 05, 2006 09:15 President Bush's choice for a new defense secretary is telling a Senate panel the Iraq war will be his "highest priority."

Robert Gates say he's "under no illusions" about why he's in line for the job, adding he didn't seek it, but answered Bush's call.

Gates is telling lawmakers that developments in Iraq over the next year or two will greatly shape events to come in the Mideast and elsewhere. He says things could steadily improve -- or there's the "very real risk and possibility" of greater Mideast trouble. He warns Iraq can't be left "in chaos."
  Homeowners Up In Arms: U.S. Military Frequency Jams Hundreds Of Garage DoorsDecember 02, 2006 17:07 What do remote-control garage door openers have to do with national security? A lot, it seems.

A secretive U.S. air force facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., tested a radio frequency this past week that it would use to communicate with first responders in the event of a homeland security threat.

But the frequency also controls an estimated 50 million garage door openers, and hundreds of residents in the surrounding area found their garage doors had suddenly stopped working.

"It would have been nice not to have to get out of the car and open the door manually," said Dewey Rinehard, pointing out that the outage happened during the first cold snap of the year when temperatures fell well below freezing.
  Key Lawmaker Calls Spy Program IllegalDecember 02, 2006 16:59 Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told a gathering of the American Bar Association on Friday that the Bush administration's secret wiretapping program for suspected terrorists is illegal.

Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County), who has become increasingly critical of President Bush's policies in recent months after her initial support for the Iraq war and her defense of the Patriot Act, also blasted the administration for refusing to provide legal opinions and authorizations for its wiretap program, interrogations policy and detentions of accused terrorists.

"The administration has too often operated under vague legal guidelines, pursuant to secret legal opinions generated by few and vetted by almost none," she said Friday.

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, bypassed Harman in announcing that Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, will become chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the new Congress. Harman, who had been backed for the chairmanship by other conservative Democrats, apparently lost favor with some liberal Democrats for not being vigorous enough in challenging the administration's policies.
  Pelosi Chooses Texas Democrat To Chair Intelligence CommitteeDecember 01, 2006 10:14 The new Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has chosen a former Mexican border patrol agent to lead the House Intelligence Committee, ending weeks of debate about who will oversee U.S. spy agencies.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes takes over the key post next year as his party tries to intensify oversight of the intelligence community. Critics say Republicans in the outgoing majority failed to do that, leading to faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq and other stumbles.

"When tough questions are required — whether they relate to intelligence shortcomings before the 9/11 attacks or the war in Iraq, or to the quality on intelligence on Iran or North Korea — he does not hesitate to ask them," Pelosi said Friday in a statement announcing her choice of Reyes.

The selection of Reyes resolves one of the few committee chairmanships that was still in question after Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in elections last month. It set up an early challenge for Pelosi, who had sole discretion on the selection.

  FBI Terror Target Settles Suit Against U.S. For $2MDecember 01, 2006 10:09 Lawyer Brandon Mayfield, wrongly arrested by FBI agents after the 2004 Madrid terrorist bombings,

has settled his lawsuit against the U.S. government for $2 million, his attorney said Wednesday.

The lawsuit said Mayfield was wrongly detained for two weeks in 2004 on the basis of a misidentified fingerprint.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney general's office did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Mayfield, a convert to Islam, said he was arrested because of his faith.

"Not only does my detention as a material witness in the Madrid bombing underscore the fallacy that fingerprint identification is reliable, I hope the public will remember that the U.S. government also targeted me and my family because of our Muslim religion," he said in a separate news release Wednesday.