A non-profit organization that receives taxpayer funding and works closely with the Department of Homeland Security is under fire for promoting unjustified terror and fear among the public about terrorism, claiming that Americans should be suspicious even of their best friends and neighbors.
Known as The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (The CELL), the organization produces propaganda designed to hype the threat of terrorism and persuade citizens that they can join the terror-war, too. It includes, among other ventures, a full-scale museum exhibit entitled “Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: Understanding the Threat of Terrorism” that presents terror as one of the gravest dangers facing humanity today.
“If this sounds like an expensive, museum-size example of America's paranoia, that's because it is,” noted a piece from The Economist by Alexander Ewing. “Indeed, the exhibition includes a Rand Corporation expert who notes that the probability of an American being killed in a terror attack is about one in a million, compared to one-in-7,000 or -8,000 chance of being killed in a car accident.”
On November 19, the New York Police Department arrested 27-year-old Jose Pimentel on charges of plotting to explode pipe bombs in New York City and the surrounding area. The next day city officials called a press conference to announce the NYPD’s great triumph in preventing terrorism by an alleged “al-Qaeda sympathizer” whom Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly described as “a total lone wolf.”
It turns out, however, that Pimentel was far from a lone wolf. As in so many other proudly proclaimed victories against domestic terrorists, he appears to have been greatly assisted by a paid government informant. In fact, the New York Times reports that the informant’s role was so significant that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, itself no stranger to busting terrorist plots instigated largely by its own informers, chose to drop its own investigation into Pimentel despite repeated pleas for cooperation from the NYPD.
The United Kingdom has announced that it will continue to use airport body scanners and backscatter X-ray scanners and will not permit passengers to opt out of the machines if they are chosen for further screening — despite reports of the potential dangers posed by radiation from the machines. The announcement follows the European Commission’s adoption of strict new guidelines regarding the limited use of the body scanners and a full ban of the backscatter X-ray scanners pending further studies.
On Veterans Day, November 11, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez fired shots with a Romanian Cugir SA (semi-automatic rifle) from the general direction of the Ellipse and Washington Monument toward the White House. One of the bullets was found between the outer glass and the bulletproof layer of a window on the White House’s second floor, which is part of the first family’s residential quarters, in a largely unplanned apparent assassination attempt on President Obama.
Experts say an assassin typically would know the glass was bulletproof. In addition, the President and first lady Michelle Obama were traveling in California and Hawaii, headed for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit — a trip planned well in advance. Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, it seems, drove some 2,400 miles with no plan, and did no reconnaissance once in Washington.
On November 16 the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved a controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 that sets forth procedures for processing and prosecuting individuals imprisoned on suspicion of being members of al-Qaeda. By a vote of 26-0, the committee granted power to the U.S. Armed Forces to exercise complete control over all custodial matters related to the treatment of those detained for suspected belligerent behavior in the War on Terror.
Another aspect of the clause in question makes Attorney General Eric Holder the final arbiter of whether suspects are tried in federal district courts or before military tribunals.
Rancorous debate over the various provisions contained in the bill have raged for months, but all argument was finally quelled by an accord reached by committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.)Levin and ranking GOP committee member John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Despite the bipartisan support for the measure, President Obama has promised to veto the bill over his disagreement with the delegation of power over the cases of detainees.
The White House has repeatedly affirmed its desire that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should have plenary power over the disposition of issues related to the custody and prosecution of all terror suspects detained domestically.
A harshly critical new report by congressional investigators says that despite spending close to $60 billion on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), screening is based on “theatrics” that has failed to catch any terrorists, while passengers and crew are still the most effective line of defense. Air travel, meanwhile, is no safer than it was before September 11, 2001.
Instead of focusing on security, the agency has become “an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy, more concerned with human resource management and consolidating power,” according to the investigation released on November 16. “Today, TSA's screening policies are based in theatrics. They are typical, bureaucratic responses to failed security policies meant to assuage the concerns of the traveling public.”
The Joint Majority Staff Report entitled "A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform" sharply criticized the widespread waste and inefficiency that is rife throughout the “bloated bureaucracy.” The agency also suffers from a lack of administrative competency, investigators found.
According to the report, TSA has more than 65,000 employees. That means it has more personnel than the Departments of Labor, Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and State — combined. And its own “classified” performance results “do not reflect a good return on this taxpayer investment,” investigators said.
In an opinion streaked with black marks of redaction, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the release order previously entered for Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif.
Latif is a Yemeni national currently imprisoned in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. In a Summary of Evidence memo prepared by the government, Latif is accused of first, being “an al Qaida fighter; and second, having engaged in hostilities against Americans in Afghanistan."
The ruling by a divided D.C. Court of Appeals reversed an order entered in July 2010 by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. wherein the Obama Administration was ordered to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate Latif's release forthwith." In his decision, Judge Kennedy wrote that the government of the United States failed to present sufficient evidence that Latif was a member of al-Qaeda or any affiliated group.
Upon successfully achieving the release of his client via a writ of habeas corpus, Latif's attorney, David Remes, said, "This is a mentally disturbed man who has said from the beginning that he went to Afghanistan seeking medical care because he was too poor to pay for it. Finally, a court has recognized that he's been telling the truth, and ordered his release."
A group of victims and family members of victims of the Ft. Hood shooting carried out by Army Major Nidal Hasan have filed a complaint against the U.S. Army for willful negligence seeking $750 million in damages. The suit filed by 83 co-plaintiffs asserts that the Army was negligent in failing to take appropriate steps to prevent the former psychiatrist from carrying out the armed atrocity that resulted in the death of 13 people and the injury of 32 others on November 5, 2009 at a readiness center where soldiers prepared for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Specifically, the claim filed last week avers that on several occasions Major Nidal Hasan displayed behavior that should have been a clear and convincing warning to his superiors that he intended to harm his comrades and others.
“High-profile detainee” and alleged al-Qaeda operative Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was arraigned Wednesday before a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba. The U.S. government has charged al-Nashiri with war crimes related to his alleged role in the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, an attack that killed 17 sailors. The defendant is additionally charged with the bombing of a French merchant vessel in 2002, and a planned attack on the American naval warship the USS The Sullivans, also in 2000.
Guarded by an escort of American servicemen, al-Nashiri entered the courtroom dressed in his white prison jumpsuit. He was clean-shaven and wearing his hair very short.
Sitting at a table flanked by his cohort of defense attorneys, al-Nashiri appeared confident, smiling occasionally and at one point waving to the media and other observers sitting behind a glass barrier.
The arraignment of al-Nashiri is historic in that it is the first of such tribunals to be held since the system was created during the George W. Bush administration in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The proceeding is especially noteworthy in that not only is it the first military tribunal of a Guantanamo prisoner, but, if convicted, al-Nashiri faces the death penalty.
On Wednesday, prosecutors for the United States government argued that regardless of whether the man accused of bombing the USS Cole is acquitted of those charges by a military tribunal, the feds have the authority to imprison him at the Guantanamo Bay facility until the “War on Terror” is over. While refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden on October 12, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists claiming to be members of al-Qaeda. As a result of the bombing, 17 American sailors were killed and 39 others were wounded.
Saudi-born Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is alleged to have been the mastermind of that deadly attack, as well as that carried out on the the French civilian oil tanker MV Limburg, and the attempted attack on the USS The Sullivans earlier in 2000.
In November 2002, al-Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division. After being held and interrogated at one of the CIA’s infamous rendition facilities (where he was waterboarded and questioned at gunpoint and threatened with a power drill), al-Nashiri was transferred to the Guantanamo Bay prison, where he remains to this day.
Documents obtained as result of a Freedom of Information Act request made by the American Civil Liberties Union indicate that while in the custody of the CIA (which reportedly included time in a “black site” prison north of Warsaw, Poland), al-Nashiri was subject to inhuman torture tactics that led him to sign a confession admitting to having participated in the planning of the attack on the USS Cole.