Homeland Security

  Another Bomb for Cruise: Movie Promotion Confused With Terrorist Attack in L.A.April 29, 2006 23:38 A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise's upcoming "Mission: Impossible III" got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the "Mission: Impossible" theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers.

Sheriff's officials said they rendered the news rack in this suburb 35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles "safe" after being called to the scene Friday by a concerned individual who thought he'd seen a bomb.

Times officials said the devices were placed in 4,500 randomly selected news boxes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in a venture with Paramount Pictures designed to turn the "everyday news rack experience" into an "extraordinary mission."


 
  Democrats Make Issue Of U.S. Port SecurityApril 26, 2006 14:38 Congressional Democrats, sensing a rare opening to score points against the Bush administration on security issues, launched an offensive this week over vulnerabilities at the nation's seaports.

Ridiculing the president's plans to beef up port security at a Tuesday news conference, a group of Democrats demanded that every container entering the United States be inspected at foreign ports.

"Ronald Reagan used to say, 'Trust but verify,'" said Representative Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.

The Democrats, energized by the embarrassment caused to President George W. Bush by the failed plan by a Dubai-based company to take over the management of six American port terminals, see the debate on ports as a central element of their election year push to make domestic security an issue they can call their own.
  Ex-Cia Analyst Played By Rules, Colleagues SayApril 24, 2006 03:21 In 1998, when President Bill Clinton ordered military strikes against a suspected chemical weapons factory in Sudan, Mary McCarthy, a senior intelligence officer assigned to the White House, warned the president that the plan relied on inconclusive intelligence, two former government officials said.

McCarthy's reservations did not stop the attack on the factory, which was carried out in retaliation for Al Qaeda's bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. But they illustrated her willingness to challenge intelligence data and methods endorsed by her bosses at the CIA.

On Thursday, the CIA fired McCarthy, 61, accusing her of leaking information to reporters about overseas prisons operated by the agency in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks. But despite McCarthy's independent streak, some colleagues who worked with her at the White House and other offices during her intelligence career say they cannot imagine McCarthy as a leaker of classified information.
  Rumsfeld Ideas SlammedApril 21, 2006 15:44 The unprecedented criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his management of the Iraq War by retired generals who have served there goes deeper than the conflict itself.

Criticism of the planning and execution of the war points to Rumsfeld's broader -- and controversial -- transformation of the military into a lighter, faster, smaller force theoretically more adept to fight modern wars.

Critics say Rumsfeld's vision, which relies on expensive weapons, is out of step with the kind of insurgency warfare U.S. forces face in Iraq and are likely to encounter again in the ongoing war against terrorists.

  Late Reporter's Family Rejects FBI Records RequestApril 20, 2006 03:23 The family of the late investigative newspaper columnist Jack Anderson rejected an FBI request for agents to search his files for any classified government documents, according to a letter made available on Wednesday.

"The family has concluded that were Mr. Anderson alive today, he would not cooperate with the government on this matter," the family said in a letter sent this week by Washington lawyer Michael Sullivan.

Anderson, a crusading journalist who tackled powerful figures like former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting during Richard Nixon's presidency, died in December.

  Pre-2003 State of the Uniion Memo: President's Evidence FalseApril 19, 2006 15:00 Sixteen days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa - an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war - the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.

The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored intelligence information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.

On January 12, 2003, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) "expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries," the memo dated July 7, 2003, says.

Moreover, the memo says that the State Department's doubts about the veracity of the uranium claims may have been expressed to the intelligence community even earlier.


 
  $23 Billion in Weapons Cost OverrunsApril 16, 2006 15:55 A survey of major US weapons development programmes found an estimated 23 billion dollars in cost overruns and an average two years delay in reaching production, a government report said on Friday.

The Government Accountability Office, a congressional audit agency, said that of 23 major weapon programmes that it reviewed, 10 had already reported cost overruns of greater than 30 percent and production delays of at least a year.

Most of the other programmes were still too early in the development cycle to be effectively analysed, it said.

The report noted that the Pentagon plans to spend 1.3 trillion dollars on weapons development and procurement from 2005 to 2009, 800 million dollars of which still lies ahead.


 
  Criticism Mounts Vs. RumsfeldApril 13, 2006 21:51 Crusty and unapologetic, Donald H. Rumsfeld is the public face of an unpopular war and a target of unrelenting criticism. A growing number of commanders who served under him say he has botched the Iraq operation, ignored the advice of his generals and should be replaced.

The White House insists the defense secretary retains President Bush's confidence. Few close to the administration expect him to be shown the door.

"The president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday as the administration circled its wagons around the embattled Pentagon chief.

Two more retired generals called for Rumsfeld's resignation on Thursday, bringing the number this month to six.


 
  Republican Push-Back On Bush Wiretap StanceApril 09, 2006 00:00 The attorney general of the United States was playing rope-a-dope. Why, the senators wanted to know, did the White House circumvent a law passed by Congress, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires intelligence services to obtain search warrants before intercepting international communications inside the United States? Alberto Gonzales was evasive and bland. Speaking in legalisms, he offered few details about the National Security Agency's sweeping post-9/11 eavesdropping program. After a series of senatorial questions had gone essentially unanswered, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont interjected, "Of course, I'm sorry, Mr. Attorney General, I forgot: you can't answer any questions that might be relevant to this."
  No Challenge to Bush Leak AssertionApril 07, 2006 21:48 The White House on Friday left unchallenged a prosecutor's disclosure that President George W. Bush authorized a former top official, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to share intelligence data on Iraq in 2003 with a reporter to counter Iraq war criticism.

Spokesman Scott McClellan insisted that Bush had the authority to declassify intelligence and rejected charges from Democrats that he did so selectively for political purposes.

"Declassifying information and providing it to the public when it is in the public interest is one thing," McClellan told reporters during a combative briefing. "But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious, and there's a distinction."

Democrats seized on the issue, which has put Bush on the defensive at a time when his popularity is slumping and the Iraq war is increasingly unpopular. They accused the president, who has often spoken of the damage done by leaks, of hypocrisy.

  Testimony Adds New Element To Probe Of Cia LeakApril 07, 2006 18:48 The allegation that President Bush authorized the dissemination of secret intelligence as part of an effort to buttress his case for war with Iraq introduces a new dimension to the long-running CIA leak investigation, while posing troubling new political problems for the administration.

Until now, the investigation had been about aides to Bush and their alleged efforts to attack the credibility of a vocal administration critic, including by possibly leaking classified information. Bush cast himself as a disinterested observer, eager to resolve the case and hold those responsible accountable.

But court papers filed late Wednesday night by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, in the perjury case of former White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, implicate Bush as knowing about efforts to disseminate sensitive information -- and also as orchestrating them.

  Foreign Military Studies OfficeApril 06, 2006 21:23 Declassified Iraq documents downloadable here!
  US Security Could Not Be In Worse HandsApril 05, 2006 22:31 This blog resonates soundly with one of my recent policy posts...

According to polls, the public perceives Republicans as stronger on national security than Democrats. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past century, Democratic presidents have been the dominant force in protecting our country.

As for the current Administration, our national security has steadily deteriorated since President Bush came into office. For example, he shares major responsibility for the 9/11 disaster. The White House had expert advice and unprecedented warnings from around the world of an impending al-Qaeda attack. These warnings included the use of aircraft as weapons. The President went on vacation and did nothing to prevent the catastrophe. Within months he began diverting our military from the responsible terrorist network to an unnecessary war in Iraq. This diversion has weakened our military, made it difficult to sustain a volunteer army, distracted attention from pressing national security issues, and turned most of the world against us.


 
  Pentagon Admits "Improper Data" In Security DatabaseApril 05, 2006 22:27 The Pentagon says that an internal review launched after revelations that it had collected data on U.S. peace activists found that some information stored in a database, of possible terrorist threats, should not have been kept there.

According to the Reuters report, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman says that "less than 2 percent" of the more than 13,000 entries in the database provided through the so-called Talon reporting system "should not have been there or should have been removed at a certain point in time."

  Child Porn Sting Nets Homeland Security StafferApril 05, 2006 22:24 Ahh... they're making me feel safer and safer...

A deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security is in a Maryland jail today, awaiting extradition to Florida on child pornography charges.

Brian J. Doyle, who will be 56 on Friday, was arrested Tuesday evening at his Silver Springs, Md., home. He was charged with 23 felony counts, including using a computer to seduce a child and transmitting harmful materials to a minor, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department.

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The minor was actually a sheriff's investigator. The Homeland Security Department's inspector general's office was also involved in the case.

According to the Polk County sheriff's office, Doyle is accused of starting a sexually explicit conversation with whom he thought was a 14-year-old girl whose profile was posted on the Internet. Doyle told the detective that he worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

  Bush Team Wins On Power To Detain, For NowApril 04, 2006 14:53 The US Supreme Court has handed the White House a temporary victory in a legal battle over the war on terror by declining to take up the appeal of suspected Al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla.
Mr. Padilla's lawyers were waging a potential landmark appeal challenging President Bush's power to indefinitely detain American citizens arrested on US soil as enemy combatants.

Rather than argue the case on the merits, the Bush administration had undertaken an array of procedural maneuvers that appear to have been calculated to avoid Supreme Court review of the case. Many legal analysts were watching closely to see if the high court would permit the government to benefit from such tactics.

But in its Monday order, the justices made clear that while they were divided on whether to take up Padilla's case, a majority was prepared to hear the case should the administration attempt to shift him back into open-ended military custody.

  Intelligence Watchdog Slow To Bite: Critics Contend Bush Marginalized Panel By Failing To Fill Posts Until 2 Years Into TermApril 03, 2006 15:39 When a privacy-rights group requested records to show how many times a secretive presidential oversight board had asked the Justice Department to investigate possible violations of intelligence-gathering laws since 2001, the answer that came back last month was as simple as it was startling.

Zero.

One possible reason: For more than half of President Bush's first term, the Intelligence Oversight Board had no members because Bush did not appoint anyone to it.

Bush didn't make appointments to the board until March 17, 2003, well after his administration had begun an aggressive post-Sept. 11, 2001, expansion of intelligence-related activity.

  Padilla Appeal Rejected By SupremesApril 03, 2006 15:30 The U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal from Jose Padilla, refusing to question the Bush administration's authority to capture American citizens on domestic soil and hold them as ``enemy combatants.''

Padilla, arrested in Chicago in 2002, was held without charges by the military for more than three years before being indicted in November on charges of supporting terrorists. His appeal accused President George W. Bush of overstepping his authority, usurping the proper roles of Congress and the courts.

``This assertion of authority is unprecedented, triggering weighty constitutional questions regarding separation of powers and individual rights,'' Padilla argued.