Homeland Security

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  Data On War On Terror Misstated, Audit FindsFebruary 21, 2007 09:12 The Justice Department routinely has misrepresented the number of terrorism prosecutions, possibly undermining decision-making in the war on terrorism, an independent government audit has found.

The report, released Tuesday by the Justice Department's inspector general, concluded that the department in most cases "could not provide support for the numbers reported or could not identify the terrorism link used to classify statistics as terrorism-related."

All but two of the 26 statistics reviewed from October 2000 through September 2005 were wrong. "These inaccuracies are important because department management and Congress need accurate terrorism-related statistics to make informed ... decisions," Inspector General Glenn Fine said in the report.

Part of the problem, according to Fine, was that the Justice Department routinely counted criminal cases as terrorism-related even when prosecutors had found no links to terrorism. Fine also blamed a "decentralized and haphazard" system.

The Justice Department defended its tracking system and the inclusion of cases that are not directly linked to terrorism.

"While such cases often result in convictions for other crimes, their underlying purpose is to prevent and deter terrorist infiltration," Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.

The inspector general's audit is the latest report to raise questions about the Justice Department's tracking of terrorism cases. The Government Accountability Office, Congress' auditing arm, has found fault with the Justice Department's statistics in previous reports. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an affiliate of Syracuse University in New York, found last year that the number of terrorism cases had dropped to nearly the same levels as before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
  Sandia Hacker Gets $4 MillionFebruary 14, 2007 15:25 A jury delivered a strong— and expensive— message to Sandia National Laboratories on Tuesday, awarding more than $4 million to a cybersecurity analyst who was fired after going "over the fence" to the FBI with information about national security breaches.

The 13-person state district court jury determined that Sandia's handling of Shawn Carpenter's termination was "malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, fraudulent or in bad faith."

"If they (Sandia) have an interest in protecting us, they certainly didn't show it with the way they handled Shawn," said juror Ed Dzienis, a television editor.

The verdict was a "clear and unambiguous" message to Sandia and other contractors "that the national security, and not the interest of the corporation, is and must always be their primary concern," Carpenter attorney Phil Davis said.

Jurors awarded Carpenter $387,537 in lost wages, benefits and damages for emotional distress resulting from his January 2005 firing by Sandia Corp., which operates the lab.

But the jury's big message was in the punitive damages.

Jurors, after hearing a week of testimony before Judge Linda Vanzi, more than doubled the $2 million requested by Carpenter attorneys Thad Guyer, Stephani Ayers and Davis.

Carpenter, whose job involved finding breaches in Sandia's computer networks, followed the trail of computer hackers around the globe in the latter half of 2004. His "backhacking" discovered stolen documents about troop movements, body armor and more, but he testified that his bosses told him to concern himself only with Sandia.
  Cheney Surprised By Libby's AccountFebruary 07, 2007 13:15 Vice President Dick Cheney seemed surprised in 2003 when told where his chief of staff had learned the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

"From me?" Cheney asked, tilting his head, according to the grand jury testimony of the aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who is on trial on charges of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI.

Libby's account of the conversation came near the end of nearly eight hours of audiotapes of his 2004 grand jury testimony that prosecutors finished playing at his trial Wednesday.

Libby describes finding in his own handwritten notes a reference to Cheney saying in mid-June 2003 that the wife of war critic Joseph Wilson worked at the CIA. The reference by Cheney was more than a month before Plame was outed in a newspaper column.
  Sen. Joe Lieberman Pushes Tax To Fund War On TerrorFebruary 06, 2007 22:15 This guy reminds me of a Democrat with his brain scrambled... oh yeah...

Sen. Joseph Lieberman said on Tuesday that Congress should consider a tax to fund the U.S.-declared war on terrorism and reduce the need to cut domestic programs to pay for security spending.

A former Democrat who supports the Iraq war and backs President George W. Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq, Lieberman said the proposed increase in the Pentagon's budget for next fiscal year will squeeze funding for critical domestic programs.

"I think we have to start thinking about a war on terrorism tax," the independent Connecticut lawmaker said. "I mean people keep saying we're not asking a sacrifice of anybody but our military in this war and some civilians who are working on it."
  Border Patrol Case OutrageFebruary 05, 2007 15:16 Why did the Bush administration throw the book at these two agents?

Rhetoric from all sides is swirling around the conviction and sentencing of two Border Patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, involved in an incident with illegal alien/drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on the Mexican border near Fabens, Texas.

In an attempt to escape, abandoning his van with 743 pounds of marijuana inside, Aldrete-Davila was shot in the buttocks by a bullet from the gun of agent Ramos. Both agents were convicted of various charges, including violating the smuggler's civil rights and tampering with evidence. Compean received an 11-year sentence and Ramos, a 12-year sentence.

The sentences would have been one and two years, respectively, had not the prosecutor, U.S. District Attorney Johnny Sutton, made a choice to try the Border Patrol agents under a section of the U.S. Code, 18 U.S.C. Section 924 (c), usually reserved for trying hardened criminals when the prosecution wants to throw the book at them. Perhaps he did so to set an example. The section of the federal code that Sutton opted for demands a mandatory 10 years be added to the normal sentence, regardless of the severity of the crime.
  Stand Against Iraq Sends Officer To TrialFebruary 05, 2007 11:33 The soldier stands in his living room eyeing all the cool soldier stuff he never got to use in a real war. Such as the helmet with not a single ding and the sleek body armor with not a scuff. The gear piles high on the carpet.

First Lt. Ehren Watada is giving it all back and, out of courtesy, packing it up. The Army had treated him with utmost respect until the moment it decided to court-martial him. It was nothing personal. The Army does what it has to do.

Just like Watada himself did what he believed he had to do seven months ago when he became the first -- and only -- commissioned officer in the United States publicly to refuse deployment to Iraq.

His conscience, he said, had overtaken him. He told the world what he had privately told his superiors months earlier: that he believed the war was illegal and immoral, and he would play no role in it.

Watada tried to resign; the Army denied him. He said he was willing to fight in Afghanistan; the Army refused him again: A soldier cannot pick and choose where he fights. As his unit shipped off to Iraq, Watada stayed to face the consequences.

Thousands of GIs have gone AWOL or voiced opposition to the war in Iraq, but when an officer says he will not go, the whole military machine must take note. It means dissent has crept up the chain of command, potentially undermining the war effort.