Entries Tagged as 'Homeland Security'
March 10th, 2012 · Accountability, Homeland Security, National Security, News Alert, War on Terrorism
December 23rd, 2010 · Accountability, Homeland Security, National Security, War on Terrorism, WikiLeaks
By Greg Miller Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010; 12:24 AM
Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it’s mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: W.T.F.
The irreverence is perhaps understandable for an agency that has been relatively unscathed by WikiLeaks. Only a handful of CIA files have surfaced on the WikiLeaks Web site, and records from other agencies posted online reveal remarkably little about CIA employees or operations.
Even so, CIA officials said the agency is conducting an extensive inventory of the classified information, which is routinely distributed on a dozen or more networks that connect agency employees around the world.
And the task force is focused on the immediate impact of the most recently released files. One issue is whether the agency’s ability to recruit informants could be damaged by declining confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to keep secrets.
“The director asked the task force to examine whether the latest release of WikiLeaks documents might affect the agency’s foreign relationships or operations,” CIA spokesman George Little said. The panel is being led by the CIA’s Counterintelligence Center but has more than two dozen members from departments across the agency.
To some agency veterans, WikiLeaks has vindicated the CIA’s long-standing aversion to sharing secrets with other government agencies, a posture that came under sharp criticism after it was identified as a factor that contributed to the nation’s failure to prevent the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
December 23rd, 2010 · Accountability, Defense, Homeland Security, National Security, War on Terrorism
By Peter Finn and Anne E. Kornblut Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 7:30 PM
The Obama administration is preparing an executive order that would formalize indefinite detention without trial for some detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but allow those detainees and their lawyers to challenge the basis for continued incarceration, U.S. officials said.
The administration has long signaled that the use of prolonged detention, preferably at a facility in the United States, was one element of its plan to close Guantanamo. An interagency task force found that 48 of the 174 detainees remaining at the facility would have to be held in what the administration calls prolonged detention.
“We have a plan to close Guantanamo, and this detainee review process is one element,” said an administration official who discussed the order on the condition of anonymity because it has yet to reach the president.
However, almost every part of the administration’s plan to close Guantanamo is on hold, and it could be crippled this week if Congress bans the transfer of detainees to the United States for trial and sets up steep hurdles to the repatriation or resettlement in third countries of other detainees.
Officials worked intensively on the executive order over the past several weeks, but a senior White House official said it had been in the works for more than a year. If Congress blocks the administration’s ability to put detainees on trial or transfer them out of Guantanamo, the official said, the executive order could still be implemented.
December 16th, 2010 · Afghanistan, Defense, Homeland Security, War on Terrorism
By Karen DeYoung – Thursday, December 16, 2010; 10:24 AM
A White House review of President Obama’s year-old Afghan war strategy concluded that it is “showing progress” against al-Qaeda and in Afghanistan and Pakistan but that “the challenge remains to make our gains durable and sustainable,” according to a summary document released early Thursday.
Taliban momentum has been “arrested in much of the country and reversed in some key areas, although these gains remain fragile and reversible,” the five-page summary said.
The review, it said, indicated that the administration was “setting conditions” to begin the “responsible reduction” of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in July.
The overview of the long-awaited report contained no specifics or data to back up its conclusions. The actual assessment document is classified and will not be made public, according to an administration official who said that interested members of Congress would be briefed on it in January
Obama is scheduled to announce the results of the review, compiled from reports submitted by military, diplomatic and intelligence officials since mid-October, in an appearance before reporters Thursday.
Last December, he ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops in a buildup designed to stop insurgent momentum in Afghanistan and ultimately reverse it, particularly in the Taliban heartland in the southern part of the country. Based on conditions on the ground, Obama said, he would begin to reduce the size of the U.S. force, which now numbers about 100,000, after 18 months, or in July 2011.
December 11th, 2010 · Defense, Homeland Security, National Security, War on Terrorism
This week a Democratic Congress ratified Bush-era policy by refusing to fund any effort to shut the detention facility.
When announcing in 2002 that the U.S. would detain al Qaeda fighters at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously described the base as “the best, least worst place.” Mr. Rumsfeld’s quip distilled a truth: The U.S. would capture enemy fighters and leaders, and their detention, while messy, was of great military value.
For two years, President Barack Obama has pretended that terrorism is a crime, that prisoners are unwanted, and that Gitmo is unneeded. As a presidential candidate, he declared: “It’s time to show the world . . . we’re not a country that runs prisons which lock people away without ever telling them why they’re there or what they’re charged with.” Upon taking office, he ordered Gitmo closed within the year.
But the president’s embrace of the left’s terrorism-as-crime theories collided with his responsibility to protect a great nation. Now the reality of the ongoing war on terror is helping to shatter the Gitmo myth and end its distortion of our antiterrorism strategies.
This week the intelligence community reported to Congress that one-quarter of the detainees released from Guantanamo in the past eight years have returned to the fight. Though the U.S. and its allies have killed or recaptured some of these 150 terrorists, well over half remain at large. The Defense Department reports that Gitmo alumni have assumed top positions in al Qaeda and the Taliban, attacked allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and led efforts to kill U.S. troops.
December 9th, 2010 · Homeland Security, Terrorism from Within, Terrorist Attack, Terrorist Threat
By Maria Glod, Jerry Markon and Tara Bahrampour Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 1:02 AM
A Baltimore construction worker was charged Wednesday with plotting to blow up a military recruiting station in Maryland after the FBI learned of his radical leanings on Facebook, joined his plot and supplied him with a fake car bomb that he tried to detonate, federal officials said.
Antonio Martinez, 21, a U.S. citizen who recently converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, declared on his Facebook page that he hates “Any 1 who opposes Allah.” Those kinds of postings, brought to the FBI’s attention, sparked an intensive investigation involving an undercover agent, a secret informant and a chilling plot to kill military personnel in the United States because they were killing Muslims overseas, according to an FBI affidavit filed Wednesday.
Martinez was so intent on carrying out the attack on the Catonsville recruiting station that he approached at least three people to join in what he saw as his mission, court papers say. Another – whom Martinez knew as his “Afghani brother” – was actually an undercover FBI agent.
The arrest is the latest in a series of cases in which federal authorities have used undercover operatives to monitor extremists, secretly befriend those suspected of plotting terror attacks and, in some cases, even to provide the means to carry them out.
Last month, undercover agents in Oregon helped a man who set out to kill thousands at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony prepare a bomb (which was fake), then arrested him after he tried to detonate it in a crowded public square. In October, federal agents posing as Islamic radicals met with a Northern Virginia man later accused of plotting to bomb Washington area Metro stations.
December 6th, 2010 · Homeland Security, War on Terrorism
- Reference: FBI foils elaborate bomb plot in Oregon (Thousands of AMERICAN lives saved)
By Jerry Markon Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 12:47 AM
IRVINE, CALIF. – Before the sun rose, the informant donned a white Islamic robe. A tiny camera was sewn into a button, and a microphone was buried in a device attached to his keys.
“This is Farouk al-Aziz, code name Oracle,” he said into the keys as he sat in his parked car in this quiet community south of Los Angeles. “It’s November 13th, 4:30 a.m. And we’re hot.”
The undercover FBI informant – a convicted forger named Craig Monteilh – then drove off for 5 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI has used informants successfully as one of many tactics to prevent another strike in the United States. Agency officials say they are careful not to violate civil liberties and do not target Muslims.
December 6th, 2010 · Homeland Security
By Spencer S. HsuWashington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 3, 2010; 12:41 AM
The federal government has repeatedly violated legal limits governing the surveillance of U.S. citizens, according to previously secret internal documents obtained through a court battle by the American Civil Liberties Union.
In releasing 900 pages of documents, U.S. government agencies refused to say how many Americans’ telephone, e-mail or other communications have been intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – or FISA – Amendments Act of 2008, or to discuss any specific abuses, the ACLU said. Most of the documents were heavily redacted.
However, semiannual internal oversight reports by the offices of the attorney general and director of national intelligence identify ongoing breaches of legal requirements that limit when Americans are targeted and minimize the amount of data collected.
The documents note that although oversight teams did not find evidence of “intentional or willful attempts to violate or circumvent the law . . . certain types of compliance incidents continue to occur,” as a March 2009 report stated.
November 29th, 2010 · Homeland Security, Immigration, National Security, Obama's Scheme, Selling Out the US, Terrorism from Within, Terrorist Attack, Terrorist Threat
Federal agents arrested an Oregon man intent on exploding a bomb and killing thousands of people at a nighttime Christmas tree lighting in Portland’s central square, authorities said Saturday. The arrest culminated a sting in which the FBI worked extensively with the man and assembled the fake bomb that he twice tried to detonate Friday night.
The capture of Mohamed Osman Mohamud is the latest indication that the government is increasingly turning to undercover operatives to infiltrate extremist cells and fight what authorities call a wave of homegrown terrorism.
Agents arrested Mohamud moments after he tried to detonate a van he thought was packed with explosives in the crowded public square Friday night, the Justice Department said. As he was taken away, Mohamud, 19, kicked agents and screamed “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “God is great,” officials said. The bomb was an elaborate dud, assembled by FBI technicians.
Mohamud, a Somali-born naturalized U.S. citizen and former Oregon State University student, is expected to appear in federal court Monday. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Neither an attorney for Mohamud or his family could be located Saturday.
Although the FBI’s tactics of using undercover operatives have been controversial among Muslims, officials say they have successfully broken up numerous recent plots, including the attempted bombing of Metro stations in Northern Virginia and a plan to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. And it was a tip from the Muslim community that led the FBI to Mohamud, federal officials said.
Unlike other high-profile cases such as the attempted Times Square bombing in May, federal law enforcement officials said there is no evidence that a foreign terrorist group was behind the averted Portland attack. There were no indications of any U.S. collaborators, and officials emphasized that Mohamud’s device posed no real danger to the public.
November 24th, 2010 · Government, Homeland Security, National Security
Federal courthouse security could be at risk, report says
By Ed O’Keefe Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 22, 2010; 7:23 PM
Federal judges and court personnel could be at risk because of poor training, questionable contracts and broken security equipment used by guards protecting the nation’s federal courthouses, according to a new report by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
Federal courthouse security is handled by the U.S. Marshals Service, which employs about 5,000 contract guards to protect more than 2,000 federal judges and 6,000 other court personnel working at 400 facilities nationwide.
But multiple district offices failed to detect mock explosive devices sent to them by agency officials in February 2009 as part of a test of local security procedures, the report said. Three unnamed federal district court chief judges at unspecified locations expressed serious concerns with security procedures, especially with how guards screen visitors and large vehicles entering courthouses. Names and locations were not published for security purposes, according to the inspector general’s office.
Courthouse security is divided into 12 districts, and a review of six districts found that security officials and judges do not meet regularly to review security procedures. Officers in three districts failed to conduct quarterly testing of contract guards to review how they screen visitors, packages and mail.
Despite concerns about physical security at courthouses, the report did not reference any specific or imminent threats against federal judges or court facilities. Federal court personnel were the target of 1,278 threats in fiscal 2008, more than double the threats received in 2003, according to an inspector general report published last year.
The new report raises concerns about the Marshals Service’s management of contracts with private security firms, noting that the agency awarded a $300 million contract to a company with a history of fraud that later filed for bankruptcy, leaving many private guards without pay or benefits.