Homeland Security

  House Approves Wiretap LawSeptember 29, 2006 11:09 Democratic Senators in the US have accused the Bush administration of tearing up '200 years of legal standards' after a bill was passed endorsing proposals to interrogate and prosecute foreign terror suspects.

A majority in the Senate voted in support of the proposals, which were controversially outlined by President George W Bush.

The new bill could be signed into law within a few days.
  Bush Denies That Iraq War Has Worsened Terrorist ThreatSeptember 26, 2006 11:35 An angry US President George W Bush Tuesday stridently denied that the Iraq war has worsened the world terrorist threat, in his first remarks since an important secret intelligence report was leaked to the media.

He said he was so annoyed by the way in which the report, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), completed in April, had been taken out of context that he had ordered the document declassified.

The report found that the US-led invasion of Iraq had given birth to a new generation of home-grown Islamic radicals spread across the globe, according to anonymous sources quoted by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other newspapers over the weekend.

Bush, answering a reporter's question at the White House after meeting with Afghanistan President Hamad Karzai, said that the US had been repeatedly targeted by terrorists long before the invasion of Iraq.

'We weren't in Iraq on September 11, or when they first attacked the World Trade Center (in 1993,) or bombed the (USS) Cole, or blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,' Bush said.
  War In Iraq Has Increased Terrorist Threat, Intelligence Agencies SaySeptember 25, 2006 00:23 A new, classified report says the nation’s spy agencies don't think the Iraq war has reduced the threat of terrorism.

In fact, they concluded that the war has contributed to an increased threat.

The assessment comes in a National Intelligence Estimate, which represents a consensus view of the 16 spy services inside the government.

It's classified, but an intelligence official is confirming reports of the account published Sunday in the New York Times.

The report finds that the war helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism, and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the 9/11 attacks.

In a statement, Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy says the report "should put the final nail in the coffin" for what he calls "President Bush's phony argument about the Iraq war."
  Report: Iraq Increases Terror ThreatSeptember 25, 2006 00:21 Democrats on Sunday seized on an intelligence assessment that said the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat, saying it was further evidence that Americans should choose new leadership in the November elections.

The Democrats hoped the report would undermine the GOP's image as the party more capable of handing terrorism as the campaign enters its final six-week stretch.

Their criticisms came in a collection of statements sent to reporters Sunday amid the disclosure of a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded the war has helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The report was completed in April and represented a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government, according to an intelligence official. The official, confirming accounts first published in Sunday's New York Times and Washington Post, spoke on condition of anonymity on Sunday because the report is classified.

  Clinton, Fox Anchor Battle In InterviewSeptember 25, 2006 00:20 In a combative interview on "Fox News Sunday," former President Clinton defended his handling of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, saying he tried to have bin Laden killed and was attacked for his efforts by the same people who now criticize him for not doing enough.

"That's the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now," Clinton said in the interview. "They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try, they did not try."

Clinton accused host Chris Wallace of a "conservative hit job" and asked: "I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, 'Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?' I want to know how many people you asked, 'Why did you fire Dick Clarke?'"

He was referring to the USS Cole, attacked by terrorists in Yemen in 2000, and former White House anti-terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke.

Wallace said Sunday he was surprised by Clinton's "conspiratorial view" of "a very non-confrontational question, 'Did you do enough to connect the dots and go after Al Qaida?'"
  Military Weapons for Use on US CrowdsSeptember 21, 2006 10:12 It barely made news last week when Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne called for the testing of nonlethal weaponry on US citizens in crowd-control situations. According to Wynne, "If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation."

“War on terror” blowback hits Main Street.

But it’s naïve to think that once developed, US military weapons will only be used against foreign populations. The Bush administration’s "you’re with us or against us" mentality leaves little room for domestic dissent, and as the line blurs between military and national security technologies, folks back home will find themselves increasingly targeted.

One example of a crowd-control device possibly coming to your hometown is Raytheon’s Active Denial System heat-beam, which a US Air Force fact sheet describes as a "focused speed-of-light millimeter wave energy beam to induce an intolerable heating sensation." How long before a weapon like that is illicitly used for interrogations, let alone for torture?

There’s also the crowd-control Taser, an updated version of the "stun gun" already authorized for US government use against civilians. The Taser delivers a short-term electrical charge of 50,000 volts and though marketed as a non-lethal weapon, has been linked to a number of deaths. While the Taser’s dart-firing technology is of little use for crowd control or on vehicles, a new laser version of the gun will reportedly be able to deliver a similar 50,000-volt shock across a crowd.

  Congress Debates Border Fence, Crackdown On TunnelsSeptember 21, 2006 09:54 With midterm elections only seven weeks away, the Republican-led Congress today is once again taking up the controversial issue of immigration, but is focusing on border security issues like building fences and stopping smuggling rather than a broader package sought by President Bush.
The Senate is debating a bill to build a 700-mile fence along almost a third of the U.S.-Mexican border. The House, which passed its own fence construction bill last week, is considering three measures: a crackdown on the smuggling of drugs and people through tunnels, an increase in penalties on illegal immigration and a speedup of deportations.

"Securing our borders is a major step forward in addressing comprehensive immigration reform,"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said as he urged Congress to act to close the borders before moving to broader immigration reform.

The House, in a partisan vote, passed legislation on Wednesday that would eventually require voters to show proof of citizenship. Republican supporters said it would stop immigrants from voting illegally. Democrats said it would dis?enfranchise legal voters, particular ly minorities, the poor and the elderly who would have difficulty coming up with documents to prove citizenship.
  Cheney Sent To Break Up Surveillance, Tribunals DeadlockSeptember 12, 2006 22:47 President Bush dispatched the vice president and top aides to the Capitol on Tuesday to try to break an election-season deadlock with Republicans over the surveillance and prosecution of terrorism suspects.

But officials met stiff resistance from senators and House leaders who say they refuse to give the White House a blank check over the war on terror. The standoff raised questions about whether the president could unite Republicans on his anti-terror agenda before November's midterm elections.

Vice President Dick Cheney and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten appealed to Senate Republicans during their weekly policy lunch to pass legislation that would let Bush begin prosecuting terror suspects. The legislation also would limit the circumstances under which a government interrogator could be prosecuted for mistreating a detainee.

Also meeting with lawmakers this week on detainee treatment was CIA Director Michael Hayden.

  Air Force Chief: Test Weapons On Testy U.S. MobsSeptember 12, 2006 20:19 Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.
  Poll: More Americans Blame Bush For 9/11September 11, 2006 10:12 The percentage of Americans who blame the Bush administration for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington has risen from almost a third to almost half over the past four years, a CNN poll released Monday found.

Asked whether they blame the Bush administration for the attacks, 45 percent said either a "great deal" or a "moderate amount," up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

But the Clinton administration did not get off lightly either. The latest poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, found that 41 percent of respondents blamed his administration a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" for the attacks.

That's only slightly less than the 45 percent who blamed his administration in a poll carried out less than a week after the attacks.
  Election Season Rhetoric: Bush Reminds U.S. Country is at WarSeptember 05, 2006 12:36 President Bush reminded Americans that the United States is a nation at war on the same day his administration proclaimed significant progress in the war on terror but said the enemy has adjusted to U.S. defenses and that "America is safer but we are not yet safe."

Earlier today, the administration released an updated counter-terrorism strategy. The White House said: "The United States and our partners continue to pursue a significantly degraded but still dangerous al-Qaida network."

The White House also rejected Democrats‘ calls for replacing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "It‘s not going to happen," presidential spokesman Tony Snow said. "Creating Don Rumsfeld as a bogeyman may make for good politics but would make for very lousy strategy at this time."

"Years of failed Republican policies have made America less safe and less able to effectively fight terrorism, and Democrats are ready to take this country in a new direction," Democrats said in statement.
  White House Report: "We Are Not Yet Safe"September 05, 2006 08:51 Five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States is safer but "we are not yet safe" from a significantly degraded but still dangerous al Qaeda threat, the White House said in a report on Tuesday.

A White House "national strategy for combating terrorism" was published as the United States prepares to observe the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the Bush administration faces criticism from Democrats over whether it has done enough to safeguard Americans from more attacks.

"Since the Sept. 11 attacks, America is safer, but we are not yet safe," the 23-page report concluded.

The report comes as Bush is trying to help his Republican party retain control of the U.S. Congress with an American electorate weary of the Iraq war.

The report predicted the war on terrorism will last a long time and that terrorists have declared their intention to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction to inflict catastrophic attacks against the United States and its allies.
  The 10 Most Brazen War ProfiteersSeptember 05, 2006 08:49 The history of American war profiteering is rife with egregious examples of incompetence, fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, bribery and misconduct. As war historian Stuart Brandes has suggested, each new war is infected with new forms of war profiteering. Iraq is no exception. From criminal mismanagement of Iraq's oil revenues to armed private security contractors operating with virtual impunity, this war has created opportunities for an appalling amount of corruption. What follows is a list of some of the worst Iraq war profiteers who have bilked American taxpayers and undermined the military's mission.

No. 1 and No. 2: CACI and Titan

In early 2005 CIA officials told the Washington Post that at least 50 percent of its estimated $40 billion budget for that year would go to private contractors, an astonishing figure that suggests that concerns raised about outsourcing intelligence have barely registered at the policymaking levels.
  After A Surge, US Terror Prosecutions Drop To Pre-9/11 LevelsSeptember 04, 2006 21:49 With great fanfare, the federal government last March announced indictments against 19 people for "racketeering to support a terrorist organization." The allegation: They trafficked in contraband cigarettes and other items and sent some of the profits to Hizbullah in Lebanon, which the US calls a terrorist organization.

In the announcement, a US attorney said the terror fight is his office's No. 1 priority. But lawyers for some of those charged claim their clients had nothing to do with terror. At best, they say, their clients may have been involved in "nickel-and-dime" criminal activity.

The contrasting views of this case illustrate the difficulties encountered by the federal government in prosecuting terrorism. A new analysis of federal data since 9/11 also underscores the difficulties: It finds that the number of criminal prosecutions for international terrorism in the US has dropped sharply.

After spiking up in the aftermath of the attacks, the number of prosecutions started to decline in 2004 and now stands at pre-9/11 levels, according to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse (N.Y.) University. In addition, the length of sentences served by those convicted of international terror-related crimes has dropped from a median of 41 months prior to 9/11, to 28 days in the two years following the attacks.
  U.S. Missile Defense Interceptor Hits Target In Test Over PacificSeptember 01, 2006 15:48 What's the likelihood that someone is going to launch a missle at us any time soon? Worth the cost?

An interceptor missile destroyed a mock warhead in space over the Pacific Ocean on Friday in a key test of the nation's missile defense system, U.S. military officials said.

The 54-foot interceptor shot out of an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast at 10:39 a.m., 17 minutes after a target missile was launched from Kodiak Island, Alaska.

A refrigerator-size "kill vehicle" separated from the interceptor. Moving at 18,000 mph, it struck a 4-foot-long mock warhead released by the other missile and both disintegrated more than 100 miles up and a few hundred miles west of Vandenberg, said Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick Lehner.

The test was a "total success," Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III, the agency director, told a Pentagon news conference.

"What we did today is a huge step in terms of our systematic approach to continuing to field, continuing to deploy and continuing to develop a missile defense system for the United States, for our allies, our friends, our deployed forces around the world," Obering said.
  Polls Show Opposition To Iraq War At All Time HighSeptember 01, 2006 15:44 A series of polls taken over the last few weeks of August show that support for the war in Iraq among Americans is at an all-time low. Almost two-thirds of Americans in each of three major polls say that they oppose the war, the highest totals since pollsters starting asking Americans the question three years ago. Many of the polls were conducted in advance of the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.

A new Associated Press/Ipsos poll that surveyed the country, and more specifically residents of Washington and New York, shows that many feel the cost in blood and money in Iraq may already be too high and that Osama bin Laden will never be found. The poll also showed that 60 percent of Americans believe that the war in Iraq has increased the chances of a terrorist attack in the US.