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Two high-ranking NYPD officials, including the department’s top lawyer, have quietly retired Andrew Schaffer, deputy commissione
Two high-ranking NYPD officials, including the department’s top lawyer, have quietly retired
Andrew Schaffer, deputy commissioner of legal matters, and Edward Allocco, NYPD’s deputy commissioner of management and budget have both retired.
BY JOE KEMP / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2012, 12:30 AM
Two high-ranking NYPD officials, including the department’s top lawyer, have quietly retired, the Daily News has learned.
Andrew Schaffer, deputy commissioner of legal matters, stepped away from his post on Nov. 30, officials said.
One of Schaffer’s chief responsibilities was making sure police initiatives — some of them controversial — fell within constitutional guidelines. The policies reviewed by his office include the stop-and-frisk initiative and the so-called Muslim surveillance program.
Inside an FBI anti-terrorist sting operation
By Del Quentin Wilber, Published: November 25
The bomb explosion had been spectacular, sending shock waves for miles. But Amine El Khalifi, who dreamed of a martyr’s death with explosives strapped to his chest, seemed unimpressed.
“This is not enough,” Khalifi told two men who he thought were al-Qaeda operatives after they demonstrated the bomb’s power for him at a West Virginia quarry on a frigid January afternoon.
The men were undercover FBI agents who had spent months getting close to the Moroccan immigrant. That morning, on the way to the quarry, Khalifi had told one of them that he no longer wanted to leave a bomb in a restaurant; he now desired to die for his cause in a suicide attack that would bring down a symbol of American democracy: the U.S. Capitol dome.
A month after the quarry demonstration, Khalifi was arrested as he strode toward the U.S. Capitol wearing what he thought was a suicide coat. He was sentenced in September to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
This type of undercover sting operation, in which authorities seek individuals they think would be willing and able to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States, has generated controversy. Civil liberties groups say that the investigations identify people with radical views but who could not attempt an attack without the government’s help.
FBI officials, who have arrested scores of suspects in such stings since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, call the investigations a key tool in their efforts to prevent terrorism. They also insist that the investigations are thorough and seriously conducted. Before agents launch one, they spend months determining whether someone is full of bluster or a real threat, bureau officials said.
The vast majority of such inquiries determine that the person is harmless, the FBI says.
“It is your constitutional right to spout anti-American beliefs,” said agent Steven Hersem, who helped supervise the Khalifi investigation. “We spend a lot of our time trying to figure out if someone is an actual threat or not.”
In Khalifi’s case, the conversation before the quarry explosion convinced them.
“That was an epiphany for me that this man is a definite threat and he must be stopped at all costs,” said Bryan Paarmann, assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism at the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Initially, Khalifi was no different from many young men who find their way to the United States. He had been born in Morocco and visited Florida with his father at age 16. He overstayed his visa and eventually moved to Northern Virginia, where he worked odd jobs as a cook, busboy and salesman.
He got into mixing and producing music. For a time, agents said, he was a fixture on the D.C. club scene, where he started to use cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy .
In 2007, Khalifi was arrested and charged with assault after an argument at a club. At some point after the arrest, agents said, he decided to be a more devout Muslim and was drawn to the teachings of radical clerics on the Internet.
An FBI analyst noticed in July 2010 that Khalifi had responded to a Facebook posting by a known terrorist in Afghanistan seeking help for his cause. Six months later, a confidential informant told agents that Khalifi was hanging out with friends — some of whom were on the FBI’s radar — in an apartment in Arlington County when someone pulled out an AK-47 and two revolvers. Khalifi agreed with his friends that the war on terrorism was a war on Muslims and that they should be ready for battle, according to the informant.
The tip and the Facebook posting got the bureau’s attention. Agents combed public records and reached out to a network of informants to learn more about Khalifi. The informants told agents that Khalifi wasn’t just expressing support for terrorist groups and jihad; he wanted to participate in what he considered a holy war.
Within a month or so, FBI agents decided that Khalifi was dangerous enough to warrant an intensive inquiry. They tapped his phones, monitored his Internet use and tracked his movements with teams of surveillance agents. The work confirmed what their sources had been saying, and FBI officials said it was time to get a better sense of what Khalifi had in mind by sending in undercover agents.
By late summer of last year, agents determined that Khalifi was brokering car sales on the Internet and was looking to buy a Toyota Prius. One of the FBI’s undercover agents, a man who called himself “Hussien,” posted in an online advertisement that he was selling such a car.
The agent soon heard from Khalifi, and they met in an office building parking lot on a cloudy and warm Thursday in September 2011. They chatted about the car and then hit it off, the FBI said, speaking in Arabic about their pasts as Muslims from Arab countries.
Khalifi also spouted violent rhetoric about Jews, Israel and U.S. policy. Hussien played it loose, agents said, mostly nodding in agreement.
Close Guantánamo Prison
On his second full day in office in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order that was a declaration of American renewal and decency hailed around the globe. It called for the closure, in no more than a year, of the detention camp at the United States Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the grim emblem of President George W. Bush’s lawless policies of torture and detention. Accompanied by other executive orders signaling a break from the Bush era of justice delayed and denied, it was a bold beginning.
What followed was not always as uplifting. The new administration decided to adopt the Bush team’s extravagant claims of state secrets and executive power, blocking any accountability for the detention and brutalization of hundreds of men at Guantánamo and secret prisons, and denying torture victims their day in court.
Attorney General Eric Holder did the right thing by ordering a trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in a federal court in Manhattan. But he bungled the politics of the decision, and the administration had to abandon its plan in the face of fierce opposition from local pols and from Congressional Republicans out to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terrorism. His self-imposed one-year deadline for closing Guantánamo passed, along with the initial boldness and inspiration. Congress piled on hobbling restrictions, making the difficult task of unraveling the Bush travesty and emptying the prison practically impossible going forward.
There are now 166 men held at Guantánamo, 76 fewer prisoners than when Mr. Obama took office. Only a handful of those remaining have been charged with any crime or legal violation. About 86 of the inmates were identified more than two years ago for repatriation to their home countries or resettlement elsewhere by an Obama administration task force that reviewed each prisoner’s file.
Thanks to outrageous limits Congress placed on the transfer of Guantánamo prisoners beginning in 2010, the prisoners are still being held, with no end to their incarceration in sight. In September, a member of this stranded group, a Yemeni citizen named Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, killed himself after a federal judge’s ruling ordering his release was unfairly overturned by an appellate court. It was the kind of price a nation pays when it creates prisons like Guantánamo, beyond the reach of law and decency, a tragic reminder of the stain on American justice.
Business Week On TSA: Airport "Security" Is Making Americans Less Safe
November 24, 2012
By Amy Alkon
Business Week On TSA: Airport "Security" Is Making Americans Less Safe
"$100 billion spent and not one risk analysis study," wrote the engineering prof friend of mine who sent me this link from a Charles Kenny piece in Business Week:
In 2010 the National Academy of Science reported the lack of "any Department of Homeland Security risk analysis capabilities and methods that are yet adequate for supporting decision making." DHS (and the TSA in particular) is spending huge bundles of large denomination bills completely blind.
All this spending on airline security is worse than wasteful. Following the official rules while still attempting to show decency toward passengers all but forces TSA employees to delay, embarrass, and inconvenience many thousands every day. Faced with the prospect of such unpleasantries this holiday season, countless Americans will skip the flight to grandma's house and drive instead.
Homeland Security's $430 million radio investment came in fuzzy
FRIDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2012 15:30
BY PAM LOBLEY
NOW THAT’S FUNNY
The Department of Homeland Security made a big investment -- $430 million -- in radios so that different federal agencies could communicate with each other on a common channel. Unfortunately, no one knows how to use the radios.
Are you Sirius?
According to a report by Pro Publica, only one in 479 DHS employees surveyed was actually able to use the common channel. Most of them, 72 percent, didn’t even know the channel existed. Some knew about it, but couldn’t find it.
And some were using their radios to just get down and funky with some classic rock.
Homeland Security spent $430M on radios its employees don't know how to use Only one of 479 employees surveyed could operate rad
Homeland Security spent $430M on radios its employees don't know how to use
Only one of 479 employees surveyed could operate radio correctly.
by Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica - Nov 21 2012, 4:50pm EST
Getting the agencies responsible for national security to communicate better was one of the main reasons the Department of Homeland Security was created after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
But according to a recent report from the department's inspector general, one aspect of this mission remains far from accomplished.
DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.
Only one of 479 DHS employees surveyed by the inspector general's office was actually able to use the common channel, according to the report. Most of those surveyed—72 percent—didn't even know the common channel existed. Another 25 percent knew the channel existed but weren't able to find it; 3 percent were able to find an older common channel, but not the current one.
The investigators also found that more than half of the radios did not have the settings for the common channel programmed into them. Only 20 percent of radios tested had all the correct settings.
The radios are supposed to help employees of Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service, and other agencies with DHS communicate during crises, as well as normal operations.
DHS officials did not immediately respond to questions from ProPublica about what effect the radio problems could have on how the agency handles an emergency.
United found not liable for alleged 9/11 security lapse
Wed, Nov 21 2012
By Jonathan Stempel and Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - United Airlines bears no responsibility for the collapse of a third World Trade Center building on September 11, 2001, stemming from suspected airport security lapses that allowed hijackers to crash an American Airlines plane into the complex, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein granted a request by United and its parent, United Continental Holdings Inc, to dismiss negligence claims by Larry Silverstein, the leaseholder of the World Trade Center property, over the destruction of 7 World Trade Center.
Tower 7 collapsed several hours after being pierced by debris from the crash of AMR Corp's American Airlines Flight 11 into the nearby 1 World Trade Center, one of the Twin Towers.
Two of the Flight 11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta and Abdul Aziz al Omari, had begun their trip to New York at the Portland International Jetport, in Maine. There, they boarded a flight by US Airways carrier Colgan Air to Boston's Logan International Airport, from which they connected onto the American Airlines plane.
Silverstein said that because United was among the carriers that ran Portland's only security checkpoint, it was legally responsible for the screening of all passengers and had missed a "clear chance" to prevent the hijacking.
Hellerstein, a judge in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, concluded that United did not owe "a duty of care" to Silverstein. He said that United, which is currently the largest U.S. carrier, could not have foreseen events that led to the destruction of Tower 7.
"It was not within United's range of apprehension that terrorists would slip through the security screening checkpoint, fly to Logan, proceed through another air carrier's security screening and board that air carrier's flight, hijack the flight and crash it into 1 World Trade Center, let alone that 1 World Trade Center would therefore collapse and cause Tower 7 to collapse," Hellerstein wrote.
In 2009, Hellerstein had dismissed claims against other airlines for damages caused by United Flight 175, which also crashed into the Twin Towers. Hellerstein has presided over almost all U.S. litigation over the September 11 attacks.
SILVERSTEIN TO PURSUE SEPARATE CASE
Bud Perrone, a spokesman for Silverstein Properties, said the firm was disappointed with Wednesday's ruling, but said it continues to pursue a similar negligence case over United's Flight 175.
"We are determined and look forward to presenting the facts before a jury, which will decide whether the defendants' insurance companies should finally be forced to pay up in order to finish the rebuilding of the World Trade Center," he said.
Members of the Army Corp of Engineers help remove piles of Hurricane Sandy debris remove from the Fresh Kills landfill on the Staten Island borough of New York, Nov. 14, 2012.
Robert Stolarik, New York Times
NYC revives Fresh Kills landfill for storm debris
Article by: ERIC LIPTON and KIRK SEMPLE
New York Times
November 17, 2012 - 7:51 PM
NEW YORK - Amid the clanging of dump trucks, a crane with a clamshell scoop hoisted a pile of debris as big as a minivan and dropped it onto a waiting barge -- striking evidence that New York City has revived a place it just cannot seem to do without.
The Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where tons of debris were dumped after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, once again has been enlisted in the aftermath of a disaster, this time to serve as the staging area for the monumental cleanup job underway since superstorm Sandy hit. Again and again, that scoop plunges into a three-story hill of debris and lifts out pulverized drywall, floorboards, furniture, clothing, photo albums.
The cleanup has turned into a 24-hour-a-day military-scale operation at Fresh Kills, with the New York City Sanitation Department and the Army Corps of Engineers running a fleet of several hundred trucks, river barges and tugboats that will be moving an estimated 4 million cubic yards of debris to landfills in upstate New York and Pennsylvania.
And that is just New York City. Similar operations, on an equally epic scale, are underway on Long Island and in New Jersey, as the next step beyond restoring electricity for the region is cleaning up the giant putrid piles of waste that represent the overturned lives of the tens of thousands of area residents whose homes were flooded by the storm.
How Airport Security Is Killing Us
Posted by: Charles Kenny on November 18, 2012
This week marks the beginning of the busiest travel time of the year. For millions of Americans, the misery of holiday travel is made considerably worse by a government agency ostensibly designed to make our journeys more secure. Created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Transportation Security Administration has largely outlived its usefulness, as the threat of a terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland continues to recede. These days, the TSA’s major role appears to be to make plane trips more unpleasant. And by doing so, it’s encouraging people to take the considerably more dangerous option of traveling by road.
The attention paid to terrorism in the U.S. is considerably out of proportion to the relative threat it presents. That’s especially true when it comes to Islamic-extremist terror. Of the 150,000 murders in the U.S. between 9/11 and the end of 2010, Islamic extremism accounted for fewer than three dozen. Since 2000, the chance that a resident of the U.S. would die in a terrorist attack was one in 3.5 million, according to John Mueller and Mark Stewart of Ohio State and the University of Newcastle, respectively. In fact, extremist Islamic terrorism resulted in just 200 to 400 deaths worldwide outside the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq—the same number, Mueller noted in a 2011 report (PDF), as die in bathtubs in the U.S. alone each year.
Yet the TSA still commands a budget of nearly $8 billion—which is why the agency is left with too many officers and not enough to do. The TSA’s “Top Good Catches of 2011,” reported on its blog, did include 1,200 firearms and—their top find—a single batch of C4 explosives (though those were discovered only on the return flight). A longer list of TSA’s confiscations would include a G.I. Joe action doll’s 4-inch plastic rifle (“it’s a replica”) and a light saber. And needless to say, the TSA didn’t spot a single terrorist trying to board an airline in the U.S., notes Bruce Schneier.
President Obama, It’s Time To Fulfill Your Promise To Close Guantánamo – OpEd
By: Andy Worthington
November 15, 2012
I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.
Now that the dust has settled on last week’s Presidential election, we at “Close Guantánamo” pledge that we will continue to demand that President Obama fulfills his promise to close the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which he made on his second day in office in January 2009.
Although we acknowledge that the President has released 71 prisoners since that time, and we accept that Congress has been monstrously obstructive, this is not sufficient to excuse Barack Obama for his failure to fulfill his promise. 166 men still languish in Guantánamo, almost all abandoned by the justice system on which America prides itself.
Particularly galling is the fact that 86 of the men still held were cleared for release by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, a sober and responsible collection of officials from the major government departments and the intelligence agencies, who analyzed the cases of all the prisoners throughout 2009. The Task Force concluded that 56 of those men should be released, and 30 others — all Yemenis — should be held in “conditional detention” (a category of detention invented by the Task Force) until it was decided that the security situation in Yemen had improved.
Privacy: An Abbreviated Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping, October 9, 2012
Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping, October 9, 2012
Privacy: An Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, October 9, 2012
Privacy: An Abridged Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, October 9, 2012
Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Discussion of Proposed Revisions, November 9, 2012
The defense counsel was denied access to Holmes. Possibly something being covered up. I don't want to see a repeat with the Arapahoe County Sheriffs beating someone to death in jail again.
"Denver defense attorney Larry Pozner said the fact that a client has been denied access to his attorneys is “extraordinary.”
“We’re 200 years past the point when you can keep defense lawyers from seeing their clients,” Pozner said. “It’s inappropriate, it’s uncalled for and it’s out of line.”"
On Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 6:22 PM, Adam Coate wrote:
Sources: Aurora theater shooting suspect injured self by ramming head into cell wall
Investigate the FBI
The real Petraeus scandal is why the bureau was rummaging around in his private communications in the first place.
BY TREVOR TIMM | NOVEMBER 14, 2012
For the past week, Washington has been embroiled in an ever-escalating sex scandal involving Gen. David Petraeus, his biographer Paula Broadwell, and a third woman named Jill Kelley, and now, tangentially it seems, Gen. John Allen. The affair between Petraeus and Broadwell was discovered by the FBI and revealed late last week when Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA. But while the salacious details have kept Washington's press corps busy, the details about how the bureau ever got this information should concern us far more.
Every turn in the investigation that led to Petraeus's resignation perfectly illustrates the incredible and dangerous reach of the massive United States surveillance apparatus, which, through hundreds of billions of dollars in post-9/11 programs -- coupled with weakened privacy laws and lack of oversight -- has affected the civil liberties of every American for years. The only difference here is the victim of the surveillance state's reach was not a faceless American, but the head one of the agencies tasked to carry it out.
The spark that set events in motion was a handful of allegedly harassing emails sent anonymously to Kelley, a friend of Petraeus's, which she brought to a friend at the FBI. Yet it's unclear why an investigation was ever opened, given that everything publicly known about the emails suggests they weren't illegal.
Donald Rumsfeld Can’t Be Sued for Torture
By Katie Mesner-Hage | Posted Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, at 5:12 PM ET
| Posted Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, at 5:12 PM ET
Why Donald Rumsfeld Can’t Be Sued for Torture
His latest and biggest court victory.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Donald Rumsfeld can't be sued by two Americans who were allegedly tortured. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may not be sued by two U.S. citizens who were tortured by members of the military. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which issued the decision, is the third appeals court to let Rumsfeld off the hook legally. But the 7th Circuit decision goes further than the others. By a vote of 7-4, its judges said that no member of our military—presumably even one who personally inflicts torture—can be sued for his related conduct in office.
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Airport security checks are vulnerable to fake boarding passes, experts warn
By James Ball, Published: November 3
More than 11 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it remains possible to use fake boarding passes to get through airport security checks, according to new evidence from security researchers and official documents.
The security vulnerabilities could allow terrorists or others on “no-fly” lists to pass through airport checkpoints with fraudulent passes and proceed through expedited screening. They could even allow them to board planes, security analysts warn.
The Washington Post was alerted to the vulnerabilities by concerned passengers and verified them through independent security experts. At the request of U.S. officials, The Post is withholding details that would make it easier for the vulnerabilities to be exploited.
The security gaps center on airline boarding passes, which can be issued up to 24 hours before a flight’s departure. According to security researchers, the bar codes on those passes can be manipulated with widely available technology to change the information they contain: passenger identification, flight data, and codes indicating whether a passenger has qualified for expedited screening.
Information about reading and altering boarding pass bar codes has circulated on online forums for several months, and has recently been picked up by security researchers. Many of them note that the potential for tampering with the passes has been exacerbated by the proliferation of smartphones that can read the bar codes and free software that can manipulate them.
US investigates possible WikiLeaks leaker for 'communicating with the enemy'
US military's new legal theory threatens to convert unauthorized leaks into a capital offense. Who is the real 'enemy'?
An Iraqi man reads newspaper with news on the Wikileaks documents in Baghdad. Photograph: Mohammed Jalil/EPA
guardian.co.uk, Thu 27 Sep 2012 12.27 BST
A US air force systems analyst who expressed support for WikiLeaks and accused leaker Bradley Manning triggered a formal military investigation last year to determine whether she herself had leaked any documents to the group. Air Force investigative documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that the analyst was repeatedly interviewed about her contacts with and support for WikiLeaks - what investigators repeatedly refer to as the "anti-US or anti-military group" - as well as her support for the group's founder, Julian Assange.
The investigation was ultimately closed when they could find no evidence of unauthorized leaking, but what makes these documents noteworthy is the possible crime cited by military officials as the one they were investigating: namely, "Communicating With the Enemy", under Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
That is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit - it carries the penalty of death - and is committed when a person engages in "unauthorized communication, correspondence, or intercourse with the enemy". The military investigation form also requires investigators to identify the "victim" of the crime they are investigating, and here, they designated "society" as the victim:
How could leaking to WikiLeaks possibly constitute the crime of "communicating with the enemy"? Who exactly is the "enemy"? There are two possible answers to that question, both quite disturbing.
The first possibility is the one suggested by today's Sydney Morning Herald article on these documents (as well as by WikiLeaks itself): that the US military now formally characterizes WikiLeaks and Assange as an "enemy", the same designation it gives to groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This would not be the first time such sentiments were expressed by the US military: recall that one of the earliest leaks from the then-largely-unknown group was a secret report prepared back in 2008 by the US Army which, as the New York Times put it, included WikiLeaks on the Pentagon's "list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States". That Army document then plotted how to destroy the group.
OCTOBER 30, 2012, 10:41 AM
By LINCOLN CAPLAN
At the Supreme Court on Monday, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. told the justices that they should not allow judicial review of a secret surveillance program in order "to preserve the separation of powers" among the government's three branches. But if the court lets the executive branch prevail in this dispute, its power will be almost unlimited for surveillance and the power of the judiciary will be gutted: it is possible no court will ever rule on the constitutionality of the program.
Authorized by a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (which retroactively ratified what the Bush administration had been doing since soon after 9/11) the program empowers the government to intercept every international communication between Americans and non-Americans that potentially contains "foreign intelligence information." Mr. Verrilli contended that the plaintiffs don't even have standing to sue, because they have no hard evidence that they have been subjected to surveillance or suffered any injury.
The trick here is obvious: it is almost impossible for the plaintiffs to have evidence since the program is secret. But since the plaintiffs are lawyers and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations whose work requires them to be in communication with clients, colleagues and others outside the United States, it's likely that the government has intercepted at least some of their emails and phone calls. The plaintiffs contend that the statute violated their rights against illegal searches and seizures, and led some of them to change how they communicate, including by travelling to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other distant places for face-to-face conversations (at considerable expense, a legal injury).
At least some of the justices seemed sympathetic to the plaintiffs' arguments. The statute "greatly expands the government's surveillance power," Justice Elena Kagan said. Justice Anthony Kennedy said "it's hard for me to think that the government isn't using all of the powers under the law." And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged the secrecy problem for evidence: "There may be dozens of concrete applications affecting the plaintiffs in this case, but we will never know."
Muslim spying troubles John Jay president
Published: October 28, 2012 9:54 PM
By DAVID B. CARUSO. The Associated Press
The president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said he is "deeply troubled" about reports that the New York Police Department sent a paid informant to spy on the school's club for Muslim students.
School president Jeremy Travis sent a letter to students and professors Thursday reacting to an Associated Press report on the 19-year-old informant, Shamiur Rahman, who said he quit working for the NYPD at the end of the summer after growing uncomfortable with the job.
Rahman said his assignments included attending lectures hosted by John Jay's Muslim Student Association, photographing people attending its events, and identifying its members and leaders.
The Manhattan college is attended by thousands of students hoping to pursue a career in law enforcement.
In the letter, Travis said he was unaware of the spying, and expressed concerns about using informants for surveillance where there was no evidence of a crime.
Documentary examines physician involvement in detainee torture ‘Doctors of the Dark Side’ screening and panel hosted by UMass He
J. Wesley Boyd Ellen Lubell
The new documentary Doctors of the Dark Side examines the role of physicians and psychologists in torture at U.S. military prisons. The student group Health Professionals for Human Rights (HPHR) will host a screening and panel discussion of the film at UMass Medical School on Thursday, Nov. 8.
According to the producers, the documentary exposes how psychologists and physicians implemented and covered up the torture of detainees in U.S.-controlled military prisons. Director Martha Davis spent four years investigating the controversy and produced the documentary with an award-winning team.
Guest panelists will be Ellen Lubell, JD, a lawyer who represented a former Guantanamo detainee, and J. Wesley Boyd, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who teaches medical ethics in military settings.
News, analysis and primary source documents on terrorism, extremism and national security.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
FBI RELEASES REDACTED INFORMANT MANUALS IN RESPONSE TO FOIA
Documents obtained by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue reveal new details about the FBI's rules of conduct for informants.
The FBI released 147 pages of heavily redacted manuals and policies related to the use of informants, in response to a FOIA request by Trentadue, who is engaged in a years-long lawsuit with the FBI over documents related to the Oklahoma City bombing.
Read the documents here
The documents pertain to unspecified training for "confidential human sources," including chain of command, dispute resolutions and other topics. The vast majority of direct guidance to informants is redacted, including even chapter headings.
Trentadue filed a related complaint alleging that the FBI has engaged in a practice of using informants within the news media to receive advance notice of potentially unfavorable stories.
As an exhibit in that complaint, Trentadue submitted an FBI FD-302 record related to a previously reported claim that the Oklahoma City bombing had been carried out by Iraqi intelligence agents, a lead that was of dubious origin and that did not ultimately pan out. The document was previously published on INTELWIRE.
The document states the FBI received information about the Iraq allegation from "a senior official employed by ABC news for over fifteen years," The source had been assigned an identification number and "had provided highly accurate and reliable information in the past."
Cuomo assesses damage of WTC site The vehicle security center's underground ramps literally funneled storm surge into the floode
Cuomo assesses damage of WTC site
The vehicle security center's underground ramps literally funneled storm surge into the flooded construction pit.
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By Daniel Geiger @dangeiger79
October 30, 2012 2:44 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2012 3:50 p.m.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said the World Trade Center site had suffered extensive flooding as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
"What I saw last night in downtown Manhattan were some of the worst conditions I had ever seen," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference on Tuesday morning, providing the first official description of the impact of the storm at the WTC site. "The Hudson River was literally pouring into the Ground Zero site with such a force we were worried about the structure of the pit itself."
Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the bi-state agency's top New York official, said he doubted the storm surge had caused any structural damage at WTC site but that equipment and electrical systems being installed may have been damaged by the flood waters.
"There was a substantial incursion of water," Mr. Foye said. "I think it's fair to say that salt water and modern electrical equipment don't mix well. We don't expect structural damage but damage to equipment. That assessment is underway and is a high priority."
Mr. Foye said that West, Washington and Cedar streets, roadways that surround the WTC site, were all flooded during the storm. The storm surge swept into the WTC site, a construction pit largely open to the elements, primarily through the Vehicle Security Center on the southern end of the project. The security center will have ramps to allow traffic to pass underground via subterranean roads and parking areas. It appears those ramps served as a chute for the storm's oncoming water.
The WTC site is especially vulnerable to flooding because its located in low lying neighborhoods. Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Joseph Lhota said in a press conference Tuesday morning that the nearby South Street station at the southern tip of Manhattan had been completely flooded during the storm.
October 28, 2012
Surveillance and Accountability
Nearly seven years after the disclosure of President George W. Bush’s secret program of spying on Americans without a warrant, the Supreme Court is about to hear arguments on whether judges can even consider the constitutionality of doing this kind of dragnet surveillance without adequate rules to protect people’s rights.
President Obama’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., will be calling on the court to toss out the case based on a particularly cynical Catch-22: Because the wiretaps are secret and no one can say for certain that their calls have been or will be monitored, no one has standing to bring suit over the surveillance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected that avoidance of accountability, and so should the Supreme Court.
How Ordinary Americans are Surveilled Locally and Nationally, and What Can Be Done About It
Posted By admin On October 25, 2012 @ 10:05 am In Feature Stories | 2 Comments
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While the issue of civil liberties was a hot topic under President George W. Bush’s tenure, particularly over the creation of the Homeland Security Department and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, little is heard in the public discourse these days about on-going infringements of people’s rights. President Obama’s administration has largely continued, and in some arenas, expanded on the Bush-era intrusion into Americans’ lives via warrantless wiretapping and other secret initiatives of the National Security Agency, as well as through so-called “fusion centers” scattered throughout the country.
BY MICHAEL HAYNE
The colossal public-private project to rebuild One World Trade Center should symbolize America’s greatness and liberty, but instead it appears to be symbolizing two other American achievements: mismanagement and nepotism.
The Port Authority, which owns the skyscraper and all the transportation links between the Center, appears to be awash in debts compiled over the years by the governors of NY-NJ from 2002 to present-day. If there ever were bipartisanship, this incompetence is the singular issue. Okay, it’s safe to assume that the re-building of this project wasn’t exactly going to be a simple assignment, free of competing bureaucratic interests, greed, and corruption. But it’s really turning out to be a haphazard melange of all three and, much like when anytime the "stuff" hits the fan in government, the blame game takes precedent.
According to Nicole Genis of the New York Post, “One WTC will cost $3.9 billion. The PATH station has soared to $3.7 billion. And we can’t get back the federal money that pols spent on a sports museum and on the Bank of America and Goldman Sachs towers.
That’s how the Port Authority got caught on the hook for $7.7 billion (after money from other sources) for WTC rebuilding.”
Worse yet, it’s all on borrowed money and the Port Authority now owes $19 billion.
Larry Silverstein’s Got 99 Problems, But Jay-Z Ain’t One
"It doesn't make any sense to me. Why this language? It was horrendous language. Look, I’m 81 years of age, so I can’t relate to that. It’s impossible. But I did appreciate him enormously as a performer..."
By Daniel Edward Rosen 10/04 5:32pm
Hip hop impresario Jay-Z kicked off the opening of Forest City Ratner’s Barclays Center with a series of eight sold-out concerts last week. And while thousands of rap and pop music fans descended on Brooklyn to welcome Hova back to his native borough, more surprising, perhaps, were the boldface real estate titans who lined up as guests of Bruce Ratner to witness the spectacle. Besides Dan Tishman of Tishman Construction and Vornado Realty Trust’s Michael Fascitelli and Steven Roth, Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE described the evening as electric. “The only Jay-Z song I recognized is his New York song, which he performed early in the show,” wrote Ms. Tighe, who added in an email to The Commercial Observer that she also enjoyed the arena’s menu of Brooklyn-based restaurants. “Best arena/stadium food ever,” she wrote.
Perhaps the one attendee who was most impressed with the Barclays Center and its booming sound system, however, was Larry Silverstein, the iconic developer behind the ongoing redevelopment of the World Trade Center. Mr. Silverstein revealed his first impressions of the Barclays Center with The Commercial Observer and shared his opinions on Jay-Z and the venue’s body-shaking bass system.
The Commercial Observer: So a tipster told us they saw you at the Jay-Z show last Friday.
Mr. Silverstein: We attended the concert Friday night, and it was a transformational experience.
Really? How so?
Well, first of all, I have never experienced anything like this before in my life, and I have only been around for 81 years. In fairness, I am not used to going to these concerts. These rap concerts or this type of music, I am [not] an ardent fan. I am on the board of the New York Philharmonic, and classical music is my thing, so this was extraordinarily different by way of an experience for me.
Why did you go?
The only reason why I went is… well, two reasons, really. Number one is Bruce Ratner extended the invitation to my wife and to myself to go out there. As it turns out, my wife said, ‘why don’t you take one your granddaughters?’ I wanted to take both of them. As it turns out, one of them could make it and the other one couldn’t.
he Neverending Story
Final W.T.C. Deal with Silverstein Faces Delay
By Eliot Brown 8/04/10 8:34pm
The tentative restructuring of the World Trade Center financial deal between developer Larry Silverstein and an array of governmental players is taking longer than expected to complete.
A tentative deal between Silverstein Properties, the Port Authority, the Bloomberg administration and the Paterson administration was struck on March 25, with the parties giving themselves 120 days to reach a final agreement.
That 120 days came and went on July 23, and, tomorrow, the Port Authority is holding its monthly meeting, and the Silverstein deal will not be on the agenda, according to multiple people familiar with the deal.
Government officials hope to complete it within the coming weeks, and there don’t seem to be any major sore points—at least not yet.
Still, the deal needs to be approved by the Port Authority’s board, and at least as of March, some leading board members and the agency’s staff weren’t exactly on the same page.
The 1 World Trade Center tower, which seems to spring into view from every vantage point these days, symbolizes different things to different people. To commercial landlords and brokers, it represents both a flagship for the Downtown area and a potential surge in competition. For those with a direct stake, it means the recovery from the terrorist attack is finally reaching the finish line.
“The sense of momentum and progress, which was not universal for years, is now palpable,” said Janno Lieber, who oversees design and construction at the site for Silverstein Properties, the landlord of the two towers that were destroyed 11 years ago.
World Financial submarket.
Passersby can now see three of the four planned office buildings rising from the site, and about 5 million people have visited the 9/11 Memorial since it opened at the complex on the anniversary of the attacks last year, he said.
Silverstein owns 7 World Trade Center, which was the first building to open on the site of the attacks, as well as three of the four towers in progress. Silverstein’s 4 World Trade Center, which topped out at about 1,000 feet, will be open in a year, and the other two are expected to be complete by 2017, Mr. Lieber said.
“As the World Trade Center marches toward completion, concerns are rising about the potential for a glut of space to flood the market at a time when demand remains somewhat evasive,” Cresa, a tenant advisory firm, said in a third-quarter report.
Brutal 9/11 ad takes center stage in Wisconsin Senate race
By Aaron Blake , Updated: October 23, 2012
Eleven years after Sept. 11, 2001, that day’s terrorist attacks are rearing their head in a major way in one of the hottest Senate races in the country.
Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson’s (R) campaign today launched a brutal new ad attacking Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) for voting against a 2006 bill commemorating the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
“It’s a slap in the face to every one of their families and anyone who has ever served in the United States military,” a retired Navy veteran says in the ad. The man adds: “What would you do if these were your children? How would you feel?”
Baldwin did, in fact, vote against the bill. But as her campaign noted Tuesday, it was because the bill also paid tribute to more controversial and contentious things like the Patriot Act — a piece of legislation that Baldwin and many Democrats opposed.
Man Says He Was Paid To Spy On Muslim Groups
By: Dean Meminger
Muslim groups have long complained that the NYPD has targeted them for surveillance and now a self-described informant has come forward to say he was doing more than spying. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Outraged members of the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College say Shamiur Rahman told them he was a paid informant of the police after pretending to be a part of their group.
"It felt like someone stabbed you in the back right there, someone you trust too much, someone you reach out to, someone you try to help out," said Syedtalha Shahbaz, a student at John Jay College.
The Muslim students at John Jay said that Rahman said he was sorry for spying on them in a Facebook message this month. Shahbaz, the president of the association, said they went on Muslim retreats together and he even invited Rahman into his home.
Shahbaz said that Rahman told the group that they were not doing any illegal activities.
"Definitely not," Shahbaz said. "We actually asked him that, and he admitted that he wasted his time over here because obviously we are not doing any illegal activities over here."
The Associated Press reports Rahman was paid up to $1,000 a month to infiltrate groups and mosques and take pictures.
Will the next 9/11 happen online? The secretary of defense claims cyber war is imminent. Its real threat may be to our constitut
MONDAY, OCT 22, 2012 09:45 AM EDT
Will the next 9/11 happen online?
The secretary of defense claims cyber war is imminent. Its real threat may be to our constitutional liberties
BY KAREN GREENBERG, TOMDISPATCH.COM
(Credit: AP/Paul J. RIchards)
This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.
First the financial system collapses and it’s impossible to access one’s money. Then the power and water systems stop functioning. Within days, society has begun to break down. In the cities, mothers and fathers roam the streets, foraging for food. The country finds itself fractured and fragmented — hardly recognizable.
It may sound like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie or the first episode of NBC’s popular new show “Revolution,” but it could be your life — a nationwide cyber-version of Ground Zero.
Think of it as 9/11/2015. It’s Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s vision of the future — and if he’s right (or maybe even if he isn’t), you better wonder what the future holds for erstwhile American civil liberties, privacy, and constitutional protections.
Last week, Panetta addressed the Business Executives for National Security, an organization devoted to creating a robust public-private partnership in matters of national security. Standing inside the Intrepid, New York’s retired aircraft-carrier-cum-military-museum, he offered a hair-raising warning about an imminent and devastating cyber strike at the sinews of American life and wellbeing.
Yes, he did use that old alarm bell of a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” but for anyone interested in American civil liberties and rights, his truly chilling image was far more immediate. “A cyber attack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups,” he predicted, “could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11.”
Panetta is not the first Obama official to warn that the nation could be facing a cyber catastrophe, but he is the highest-ranking to resort to 9/11 imagery in doing so. Going out on a limb that previous cyber doomsayers had avoided, he mentioned September 11th four times in his speech, referring to our current vulnerabilities in cyber space as “a pre-9/11 moment.”