11.9.01

Archive for 2013|Yearly archive page

GAO Report on Increase in TSA Misconduct

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on July 31, 2013 at 7:32 am

From CNN

A new government report says misconduct by Transportation Security Administration workers has increased more than 26% in the last three years.

Some of the most serious violations include: Employees sleeping on the job, letting family and friends go without being screened, leaving work without permission and stealing.

The Government Accountability Office report released this week says more than 9,000 cases of misconduct were documented over a three-year span.

More than 1,900 of the incidents were deemed significant enough to be possible security threats.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Snowden Documents Detail Restrictions on N.S.A. Surveillance

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on June 21, 2013 at 10:23 am

From the NYTimes:

Documents Detail Restrictions on N.S.A. Surveillance

By SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON — Since the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance documents by the British newspaper The Guardian began this month, President Obama, top intelligence officials and members of Congress have repeatedly assured Americans that they are not the target of the N.S.A.’s sweeping electronic collection system.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Mr. Obama said when the news broke.

But as experts on American intelligence knew, that was not the whole story. It left out what N.S.A. officials have long called “incidental” collection of Americans’ calls and e-mails — the routine capture of Americans’ communications in the process of targeting foreign communications.

On Thursday, in the latest release of documents supplied by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor now believed to be hiding in Hong Kong, The Guardian published two documents setting out the detailed rules governing the agency’s intercepts. Dated 2009 and signed by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., they advise N.S.A. eavesdroppers on how to judge whether a target is a foreigner overseas, and therefore fair game, and what to do when they pick up Americans at home or abroad.

They show, for example, that N.S.A. officers who intercept an American online or on the phone — say, while monitoring the phone or e-mail of a foreign diplomat or a suspected terrorist — can preserve the recording or transcript if they believe the contents include “foreign intelligence information” or evidence of a possible crime. They can likewise preserve the intercept if it contains information on a “threat of serious harm to life or property” or sheds light on technical issues like encryption or vulnerability to cyberattacks.

And while N.S.A. analysts usually have to delete Americans’ names from the reports they write, there are numerous exceptions, including cases where there is evidence that the American in the intercept is working for a terrorist group, foreign country or foreign corporation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Marathon Bombing: Fire at JFK Library

In Other Terrorist Events on April 16, 2013 at 8:28 am

UPDATE:  Boston Fire Department find no link between Boston Marathon Bombing and fire at JFK library:

No link between library fire and Boston Marathon blasts
By Julia Talanova, CNN
updated 10:50 PM EDT, Thu April 18, 2013

(CNN) — A fire at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum was not connected to two blasts at the Boston Marathon, the city’s fire department confirmed Thursday.
“There was a lot of speculation it was related, but when all was said and done it turned out to be a careless disposal of smoking material,” said Steve MacDonald, a Boston Fire Department spokesman.  Six minutes after the explosions near the marathon finish line on Monday, firefighters responded to the blaze at the library in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  The library, a well known landmark, is about five miles southeast of the marathon’s finish line, and speculation immediately surged that there was a connection.
Boston’s police commissioner initially told reporters there had been an explosion at the library, but police later said the incident there was fire-related.
The library fire occurred in an outside area where employees take breaks, the fire department said.

In the Boston Herald:

Cops probe fire at JFK Library

Monday, April 15, 2013 — Anonymous (not verified)
Unclear if blaze related to blasts
Local Coverage
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Author(s):
Erin Smith
Dave Wedge
Joe Dwinell
A fire broke out at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum yesterday afternoon just minutes after two explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line, sending black smoke pouring from the historic building and dozens of police and federal agents scrambling to find out whether the fire was connected to the Copley Square attacks.

“The preliminary investigation indicates that the incident at the JFK may not have been an explosion. It may have been a fire,” said Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis in an announcement.

Earlier in the day, Davis said investigators did not know if the two incidents were linked, but were treating them as if they were.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation last night, but police said the damage at the library may have been caused by a fire or “an incendiary” device.

Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Marathon Bombing: Cell Phone Service Was Not “Shut Down”

In Other Terrorist Events on April 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

After the Boston Marathon bombing, there were news reports that cell phones were “shut down.”  A typical sentence:

Cell phone service was shut down in the area, the AP reported, to prevent any remote detonations.

But multiple cell phone companies say that while traffic was high, service was not interrupted, especially not by U.S. government request:

Wireless carriers say reports that authorities had shut down cellphone service in the Boston area are untrue.

“Verizon Wireless has not been asked by any government agency to turn down its wireless service,” Verizon spokesman Thomas Pica told me via email. “Any reports to that effect are inaccurate.”

The AP, which initially reported that the networks had been shut down, has walked back that claim in an updated report. “Minus some mild call blocking on our Boston network due to increased traffic, our service is operating normally,” Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis told the AP.

The New York Post still carries the “story,” but only in a headline (there is no text):

Cell phone service shut down in Boston to prevent remote detonations: report
Last Updated: 5:03 PM, April 15, 2013
Posted: 5:02 PM, April 15, 2013

Some Boston websites are not operating, and the LATimes has this confusing information, mixing the story that cell phones were shut down, yet Verizon and Sprint say they were not:

Following at least two explosions during the Boston Marathon, many websites in the area have gone offline and the Associated Press is reporting that the city is shutting down cellphone service to prevent use of the device to trigger a bomb.

Verizon said it has not been asked by government officials to shut off cellphone service. Meanwhile, Sprint said it did not turn off its cell phone service either, but it recommends people use text messages instead of phone calls as they have more of a chance of getting through.]

According to reports, two explosions went off at the finish line for the Boston Marathon, injuring dozens of people and killing at least two. That’s causing many to check websites for the city, resulting in Internet traffic jams that are bringing down the sites.

At the time of this writing, the Boston Globe’s website was down, which has forced the newspaper to turn to its Twitter account to report news to readers. Boston.com is also having issues, as is CityOfBoston.gov. Some on Twitter said earlier the Boston Herald’s website was down, but it appears to be up though it is running noticeably slower. That’s also the case for the website of the Boston Athletic Assn., which organized the Boston Marathon.

The Red Cross’ SafeAndWell.org website, which is used during disasters and emergency situations to help connect people, is also having a hard time loading. Anne Marie Borrego, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said the website is having a hard time working right now but said users should keep trying it.

“When you have a site that’s inundated, it’s just going to take some time,” she said. “Just keep checking back.”

The Hill reports that the FCC is not aware of a shut down:

The Associated Press initially reported that Boston police shut down cellphone service to prevent a remote detonation, but a police department spokesman denied the report.

A Federal Communications Commission official said the agency isn’t aware of any shut downs.

“Gitmo Is Killing Me:” Op-Ed in NYTimes

In Guantanamo Bay on April 16, 2013 at 7:45 am

The New York Times

April 14, 2013
Gitmo Is Killing Me
By SAMIR NAJI al HASAN MOQBEL
GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba

ONE man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago.

I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.

I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.

I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.

When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really traveled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.

I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.

Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.

I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.

I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping.

There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.

During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not.

It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.

When they come to force me into the chair, if I refuse to be tied up, they call the E.R.F. team. So I have a choice. Either I can exercise my right to protest my detention, and be beaten up, or I can submit to painful force-feeding.

The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one.

I do not want to die here, but until President Obama and Yemen’s president do something, that is what I risk every day.

Where is my government? I will submit to any “security measures” they want in order to go home, even though they are totally unnecessary.

I will agree to whatever it takes in order to be free. I am now 35. All I want is to see my family again and to start a family of my own.

The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood.

And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made.

I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, told this story, through an Arabic interpreter, to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in an unclassified telephone call.

Bomb during Boston Marathon: Foreign or Domestic?

In Other Terrorist Events on April 16, 2013 at 7:39 am

Boston Marathon Blasts Kill 3

NYTIMES By JOHN ELIGON and MICHAEL COOPER

BOSTON — Two powerful bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, killing three people, including an 8-year-old child, and injuring more than 100, as one of this city’s most cherished rites of spring was transformed from a scene of cheers and sweaty triumph to one of screams and carnage.

Almost three-quarters of the 23,000 runners who participated in the race had already crossed the finish line when a bomb that had apparently been placed in a garbage can exploded around 2:50 p.m. in a haze of smoke amid a crowd of spectators on Boylston Street, just off Copley Square in the heart of the city. Thirteen seconds later, another bomb exploded several hundred feet away.

Pandemonium erupted as panicked runners and spectators scattered, and rescue workers rushed in to care for the dozens of maimed and injured, some of whom lost legs in the blast, witnesses said. The F.B.I. took the lead role in the investigation on Monday night, and Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s Boston office, described the inquiry at a news conference as “a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation.”

The reverberations were felt far outside the city, with officials in New York and Washington stepping up security at important locations. Near the White House, the Secret Service cordoned off Pennsylvania Avenue out of what one official described as “an abundance of caution.”

President Obama, speaking at the White House, vowed to bring those responsible for the blasts to justice. “We will get to the bottom of this,” the president said. “We will find who did this, and we will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

Mr. Obama did not refer to the attacks as an act of terrorism, and he cautioned people from “jumping to conclusions” based on incomplete information. But a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity afterward, said, “Any event with multiple explosive devices — as this appears to be — is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror.”

“However,” the official added, “we don’t yet know who carried out this attack, and a thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”

Read the rest of this entry »

54 Countries Helped CIA after 9/11, Report Says

In 9/11 News, Civil Liberties, Rendition, Secret Prisons, Torture on February 6, 2013 at 8:37 am

According to a report:

February 4, 2013

WASHINGTON — Some 54 countries helped facilitate the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret detention, rendition and interrogation program in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a new human rights report that documents broad international involvement in the American campaign against Al Qaeda.

The report, to be made public Tuesday by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a rights advocacy group, is the most detailed external account of other countries’ assistance to the United States, including things like permitting the C.I.A. to run secret interrogation prisons on their soil and allowing the agency to use their airports for refueling while moving prisoners around the world.

The report identifies 136 people who had been held or transferred by the C.I.A., the largest list compiled to date, and describes what is known about when and where they were held. It adds new detail to what is known about the handling of both dedicated Qaeda operatives and innocent people caught up by accident in the global machinery of counterterrorism.

Some of the harsh interrogation methods the C.I.A. used on prisoners under President George W. Bush have been widely denounced as torture, including by President Obama, who banned such techniques. In addition, some prisoners subjected to extraordinary rendition — transferred from one country to another without any legal process — were sent to countries where torture is standard practice.

Such operations remain the subject of fierce debate, with former Bush administration officials asserting that they were necessary to keep the country safe and critics saying the brutal interrogation techniques were illegal and ineffective. The debate has been renewed most recently with the release of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” which portrays the use of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, though intelligence officials deny that was the case.

When he took office in 2009, Mr. Obama rejected calls for a national commission to investigate such practices, saying he wanted to look forward and not back. The Senate Intelligence Committee recently completed a 6,000-page study of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program, but it remains classified, and it is uncertain whether and when it might be even partially released.

Amrit Singh, the author of the Open Society report, “Globalizing Torture,” said she had found evidence that 25 countries in Europe, 14 in Asia and 13 in Africa lent some sort of assistance to the C.I.A., in addition to Canada and Australia. They include Thailand, Romania, Poland and Lithuania, where prisoners were held, but also Denmark, which facilitated C.I.A. air operations, and Gambia, which arrested and turned over a prisoner to the agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

9/11 Humor from The Onion

In Fiction and 9/11 on January 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm

As time passes, so does the nation’s sense of humor about tragedy.  From The Onion, a joke about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers: “Google’s 9/11 Homepage Design Stirs Controversy.”

Such jokes were unthinkable 10 years ago.  And now, barely a mention.