Archive for the ‘Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts’ Category

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.

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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


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.

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No-fly Watch List Doubles in One Year: ca. 500 Americans on the List

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on February 2, 2012 at 10:28 am

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as the Obama administration says it’s close to defeating al-Qaida, the size of the government’s secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States has more than doubled in the past year, The Associated Press has learned.
The no-fly list jumped from about 10,000 known or suspected terrorists one year ago to about 21,000, according to government figures provided to the AP. Most people on the list are from other countries; about 500 are Americans.
The flood of new names began after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner. The government lowered the standard for putting people on the list, and then scoured its files for anyone who qualified. The government will not disclose who is on its list or why someone might have been placed on it.
The surge in the size of the no-fly list comes even as the U.S. has killed many senior members of al-Qaida. That’s because the government believes the current terror threat extends well beyond the group responsible for the September 2001 attacks.

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Dept. Homeland Security Chief: Terrorism Threat at “its most heightened state”

In al Qaeda, Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts, Yemen on February 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

DHS Chief Napolitano warns of heightened terrorist threat:

The threat of terrorism is at “its most heightened state” since the 9/11 attacks nearly a decade ago, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today.

“The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly in the last ten years — and continues to evolve — so that, in some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks,” she said before the House Homeland Security Committee.

Her comments were a sobering reminder that the potential of another attack is real and growing, most notably from individuals radicalized inside the United States, despite elaborate security measures implemented by the government since 2001.

“One of the most striking elements of today’s threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens,” Napolitano said, referring to so-called homegrown terrorists fueled by the Internet and connections with operatives overseas.

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U.S. Government Wants to Wiretap the Internet

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on September 27, 2010 at 7:43 am

From the NYTimes:

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

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FBI, DHS, NCC: “our nation has dealt with the most significant developments in the terrorist threat to the Homeland since 9/11”

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on September 23, 2010 at 8:05 am

Strong words by the U.S.’s leading intelligence and security agencies (CIA and DoD noticeably absent) in front of a Congressional panel:

Significant Developments in Terror Threats Since 9/11, Officials Say
Napolitano, Mueller, Leiter Discuss Increased Tempo of Attacks Against U.S.
Sept. 22, 2010

The nation’s top counterterrorism officials were blunt. The threat from within—of Americans willing to commit terrorist acts— is growing. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told a congressional hearing today that a spike in recent terrorism cases is direct evidence of the evolving threat.

“Groups affiliated with al Qaeda are now actively targeting the United States and looking to use Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures,” Mueller said. “It appears domestic extremism and radicalization appears to have become more pronounced based on the number of disruptions and incidents.”

Mueller appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee along with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and National Counterterrorism Chief Michael Leiter.

“Homegrown terrorists represent a new and changing facet of the terrorist threat.” Napolitano said, “To be clear, by homegrown, I mean terrorist operatives who are U.S. persons, and who were radicalized in the United States.”  The officials all pointed to a series of recent incidents that show that al Qaeda, its affiliates and associates were more active than ever.

“During the past year our nation has dealt with the most significant developments in the terrorist threat to the Homeland since 9/11,” Leiter told the committee. “The attack threats are now more complex, and the diverse array of threats tests our ability to respond, and makes it difficult to predict where the next attack may come.

The attacks cited included:

The disruption of a plot to bomb the New York City subway by Najibullah Zazi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, last September.

The attack at Ft Hood Texas by gunman Army Maj. Nidal Hassan which resulted in 13 people killed and over 30 wounded.

The attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 by alleged al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

The averted May 1 bombing in Times Square by Faisal Shahzad.

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FBI Used 9/11 to Spy on Leftist Groups in America

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on September 21, 2010 at 9:03 am

According to a report by the U.S. Dept. of Justice Inspector General, the FBI used 9/11 as a cover to improperly pursue leftist groups in America:

The FBI improperly investigated some left-leaning U.S. advocacy groups after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department said Monday, citing cases in which agents put activists on terrorist watch lists even though they were planning nonviolent civil disobedience.

A report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine absolved the FBI of the most serious allegation: that domestic groups were targeted purely for their activism against the Iraq war and other political activity, which would have violated their First Amendment rights. Civil liberties groups and congressional Democrats had accused the FBI of employing such tactics during George W. Bush’s administration.

But the report cited what it called “troubling” FBI practices in the Bush administration’s monitoring of domestic groups between 2001 and 2006. In one instance, the report said, FBI officials falsely said an agent photographed antiwar demonstrators as part of a terrorism investigation, which led FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to unintentionally give incorrect information about the incident to Congress.

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NYPD “Antiterror Unit”: Civilian Analysts of Middle Eastern Culture for Dectectives

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on September 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm

The “Terror Translators” of the NYPD:

The Terror Translators

INSPIRE magazine, an English-language journal published by Al Qaeda, included in its summer edition what amounted to a “Friends and Foes” list. There, on Page 4, following the letter from the editor (“We survive through jihad and perish without it”), were pictures of, and quotations from, kindred spirits like Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty in a plot to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, and, perhaps surprisingly, David Letterman, who was praised for recent criticism of former President George W. Bush.

Among the magazine’s “foes” were Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates; Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France; and King Abdullah II of Jordan. Then there was Mitchell D. Silber, a studious and mild-mannered former financier who grew up in Atlantic Beach, N.Y.

Mr. Silber (“I guess I was flattered in a strange way”) may seem an unlikely choice to occupy that space with a terrorist, a television star, a cabinet secretary, a European head of state and an Arab potentate. He is not, after all, a boldface name. Rather, he is a 40-year-old father with a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University who says his main hobby is reading deeply on the Middle East.

What landed Mr. Silber on that list was his leadership of a little-known counterterrorism team deep within the crime-fighting structure of the New York Police Department.

Formally known as the Analytic Unit of the department’s Intelligence Division, the team was created in 2002 as part of the city’s response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It stands as a unique experiment in breaking traditional law-enforcement boundaries, comprising two dozen civilian experts — lawyers, academics, corporate consultants, investment bankers, alumni of the World Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations and even a former employee of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan.

The team serves as the Police Department’s terrorism reference arm: available on demand to explain Islamic law or Pakistani politics to detectives in the field.

“We have found that conducting terrorism investigations is more art than science and requires a breadth of complementary skill sets,” Mr. Silber said during one of several interviews this summer. “Our detectives tend to have a very narrow focus. But the analysts have 360-degree visibility. They focus on the bigger picture, and they sometimes see things detectives don’t see.”

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Lawrence Wright: My Trip to al Qaeda

In al Qaeda, Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on September 19, 2010 at 7:37 am

Here the NPR interview with Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower.

In 2007, Lawrence Wright won a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, his nonfiction account of the formation of al-Qaida. The book, based on more than 600 interviews, examines the circumstances that led to the formation of al-Qaida — and the creation of Wright’s one-man off-Broadway show, My Trip to Al-Qaeda. The one-man play focused on the insights Wright gained and the moral dilemmas he faced as he tried to remain objective while researching and writing his book.

A new documentary based on his play premieres Sept. 7 on HBO at 9 p.m. EDT. The film combines footage from Wright’s interviews with his sources, many of whom have ties to al-Qaida, with scenes from his play — and raises several questions about the U.S. role in the “war on terror.”

See the trailer for the HBO documentary here.

9/11 in the 2010 Obama Administration’s National Security Strategy

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on August 18, 2010 at 8:13 am

Here are the direct mentions of 9/11 in the Obama administration’s National Security Strategy:

P. 1  “To succeed, we must face the world as it is. The two decades since the end of the Cold War have been marked by both the promise and perils of change. The circle of peaceful democracies has expanded; the specter of nuclear war has lifted; major powers are at peace; the global economy has grown; commerce has stitched the fate of nations together; and more individuals can determine their own destiny. Yet these advances have been accompanied by persistent problems. Wars over ideology have given way to wars over religious, ethnic, and tribal identity; nuclear dangers have proliferated; inequality and economic instability have intensified; damage to our environment, food insecurity, and dangers to public health are increasingly shared; and the same tools that empower individuals to build enable them to destroy.

The dark side of this globalized world came to the forefront for the American people on September 11, 2001. The immediate threat demonstrated by the deadliest attacks ever launched upon American soil demanded strong and durable approaches to defend our homeland. In the years since, we have launched a war against al-Qa’ida and its affiliates, decided to fight a war in Iraq, and confronted a sweeping economic crisis. More broadly, though, we have wrestled with how to advance American interests in a world that has changed—a world in which the international architecture of the 20th century is buckling under the weight of new threats, the global economy has accelerated the competition facing our people and businesses, and the universal aspiration for freedom and dignity contends with new obstacles.”

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