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.
The Department of Homeland Security has announced it will be bringing it’s "If You See Something, Say Something™" campaign to hotel rooms across the nation. Guests checking in at reputable hotels like the Marriott and Hilton will be greeted by a message featuring Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano immediately upon turning on their televisions.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the "If You See Something, Say Something™" campaign was launched in July 2010, as a “simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper state and local law enforcement authorities.” It was launched in conjunction with the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI) which is touted by the DHS as “an administration-wide effort to develop, evaluate, and implement common processes and policies for gathering, documenting, processing, analyzing, and sharing information about terrorism-related suspicious activities.”
It was first utilized by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), but will be reportedly expanding. UPI explains, “The Department of Homeland Security is turning to television and public service announcements to urge U.S. hotel guests to fight terrorism.” The same PSAs that will be aired in hotel rooms are already playing at hundreds of Wal-Marts across the country. They will now be expanded to 5,400 hotels that are serviced by television provider LodgeNet.
A string of attacks launched in Nigeria on Friday left dozens dead, according to international news reports. The attacks are believed to have been carried out by Islamists. The bombers and gunmen reportedly targeted churches and government facilities in the northeastern region of the country.
Shortly after the November 4 murder spree, a spokesman for the Nigerian Jihadist group known as Boko Haram operating primarily out of the Islamic north of Nigeria claimed responsibility. The anti-Western terror organization seeks to extend Sharia law to the largely Christian southern half of the nation while consolidating Muslim rule in northern states.
Death-toll estimates cited in media accounts vary widely. But according to a rescue official cited in multiple reports, over 150 people were killed. Hundreds more were wounded and remain hospitalized.
Among the targets in Yobe state were the Anti-Terrorism Squad office, churches, various federal buildings, several police stations, a bank, an Islamic theological college, and more. The apparently coordinated attacks hit at least two cities in Yobe: the state capital Damaturu and Potiskum.
Colombian government officials claim that the leader of that nation’s most prominent rebel group was killed Friday in an operation carried out by the Colombian military.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army) leader Alfonso Cano was killed in a raid on a town in the Cauca department of Colombia, having been chased months ago out of a FARC stronghold in the mountains in the southwest area of the country.
Pinzón declared that Cano had been pursued relentlessly by armed forces in the southwestern Colombian state and was killed just hours after several of his lieutenants were killed in a bombing raid in Suarez, a rural town in Cauca.
The Colombian army may have been aided in its efforts to locate Cano (real name: Guillermo Saenz) by locals motivated to cooperate with the government by the offer of a reward of $3.7 million for information that led to his capture.
Cano, for decades the ideological polestar of the leftist movement, was known to be an intellectual and a hardliner with his eyes firmly fixed on a final triumph over the forces of the government of Colombia. He took command of FARC in March 2008 upon the death of Manuel Marulanda Velez (A.K.A. “Tiro Fijo”).
On Wednesday, November 2, Viktor Bout, the former Soviet military intelligence officer and international arms dealer on trial for attempting to sell weapons to communist FARC terrorists, was found guilty in the Federal District Court in lower Manhattan.
The verdict and possible life sentence, expected to be announced in February 2012, brings an end to the three-week-long trial that may perhaps go down as the of the most important case in years, highlighting the link between Moscow and international terrorism under the covert guise of spreading communism.
“Viktor Bout is key in all this,” says "Jimmy from Brooklyn," frequent radio caller in the New York area and renowned expert on communism and the USSR. “Bout connects Russia to Marxist and Muslim terrorism,” Jimmy said.
“How does a Soviet military officer go from being a military intelligence officer to becoming in charge of an international air freight company selling arms over night, unless he was working for the Russian government?” Jimmy asked rhetorically when interviewed by The New American magazine.