David Slesinger's blog

Muslim groups demand investigation of NYPD surveillance


Muslim groups demand investigation of NYPD surveillance


Muslim and civil rights organizations are calling for Governor Christie to investigate secret surveillance of Muslim communities by the New York Police Department in New Jersey.

The 16 New Jersey-based groups, including the Paterson-based Arab American Forum and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, sent a letter to the governor asking for a “prompt investigation” into the extent of NYPD spying activity in New Jersey and the involvement, if any, of New Jersey police.

The call for an investigation follows a series of press accounts that reveal the NYPD was closely watching Muslim neighborhoods, including ones in New Jersey, and infiltrating mosques and Muslim student groups. The wide scope and secrecy of the surveillance has left Muslim communities unsettled and has strained trust with law enforcement, community leaders said.

In the letter sent to the governor Friday, the groups allege the NYPD violated civil rights by spying on people based on their ethnicity or religion.

“It’s unauthorized and unconstitutional and they are employing racial profiling. There’s not sufficient reason for them to be spying on certain individuals,” said Aref Assaf, president of the Arab American Forum.

The NYPD and the governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday afternoon. NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have said that police only follow legitimate leads and do not do surveillance based solely on religion.

But local activists feared that was not the case. They pointed to a recent news report that the NYPD had recommended surveillance at Shiite mosques and organizations with no reported link to terrorism, and in Palestinian communities. The reason given by police in a 2006 document was to counter any threat linked to Iran, where Shiite Muslims are the majority of the population.

Public Advocate de Blasio demands data on cancer cops from the NYPD


Updated: Tue., Feb. 14, 2012, 10:04 AM
De Blasio: Give me 9/11 data
By SALLY GOLDENBERG Last Updated: 10:04 AM, February 14, 2012 Posted: 1:44 AM, February 14, 2012
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is using his charter-granted power to demand the city provide him with its research on the rate of cancer among cops who worked at Ground Zero, The Post has learned.
De Blasio sent Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly a letter yesterday insisting they identify the officers who worked at Ground Zero on and after 9/11 and later filed for disability pension benefits.
He also wants a list of all cancer cases reported to the NYPD’s doctors in the past decade, specifically those involving cops who responded to the terror attacks.
The move was his latest salvo in a bid to pressure the city into releasing its data to the federal government so officers’ medical expenses can be covered.
Bloomberg spokeswoman Samantha Levine said the city is working “to share data in a manner that protects individual privacy under the law.”

9/11 woman's remains become 1,633rd identification: Karol Ann Keasler lived in Brooklyn Heights but traveled the world


9/11 woman's remains become 1,633rd identification
Karol Ann Keasler lived in Brooklyn Heights but traveled the world


Friday, February 10, 2012, 10:35 PM

THE REMAINS of a globe-trotting Brooklyn Heights woman whose journeys took her to Tuscany, Asia and Africa have finally been identified.

Karol Ann Keasler, 42, a bride-to-be who volunteered in a soup kitchen and read novels to the elderly, was finally identified by the city’s chief medical examiner on Friday.

“It’s been almost 11 years,” her younger sister Susan told the Daily News from her home near Las Vegas. “And after all this time, I had come to believe that things like this only happen on ‘CSI.’ ”

Keasler worked as an event planner for investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods on the 89th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. She was identified in part through a breakthrough technology, developed years after 9/11, that can extract a full DNA profile from a small bone fragment.

“I didn’t even realize they were still trying to identify her until the Nevada police came to my mother’s door and told us what they had found in New York,” her sister said.

All they had in the big white ME’s tent off FDR Drive was a bone in Karol Keasler’s foot that had been discovered in the months after 9/11. That turned out to be enough to make a positive ID.

'Extremely Loud' director calls for more 9/11 films


'Extremely Loud' director calls for more 9/11 films
By Deborah Cole (AFP) – 20 hours ago
BERLIN — The director of Oscar-nominated 9/11 drama "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," Stephen Daldry, told the Berlin film festival Friday he was stunned by the scarcity of movies about the attacks.
The 50-year-old British film-maker said a decade on, cinema still had little to say about the suicide hijackings in New York and Washington in which some 3,000 people were killed, as well as the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It sort of amazes me really that more films aren't made about 9/11. My personal opinion is that there are millions of stories that should be told, personal stories and I don't just mean the stories in New York, I mean stories from around the world," he told reporters after a screening of his film.
After Hollywood disaster fare such as Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" and Paul Greengrass's "Flight 93", "Extremely Close" is less about the attacks themselves than the shock and sorrow left in their wake.
The film, which is based on the bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer and has been nominated for an Academy Award as best picture, tells the story of Oskar, whose father is trapped in the World Trade Center that September morning.
When the boy finds a key left by his late father, played by Tom Hanks, he goes on a search of New York's five boroughs trying to find the matching lock.
The odyssey brings him closer to his widowed mother (Sandra Bullock) and a mysterious stranger, played by Max von Sydow, who has been nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar.

9/11 cops’ cancer woe Average age just 44: PBA


9/11 cops’ cancer woe
Average age just 44: PBA
Last Updated: 12:57 PM, February 6, 2012
Posted: 1:12 AM, February 6, 2012

More Print
A startling number of healthy, young cops who responded to the 9/11 attacks have since been diagnosed with cancer, according to new data obtained by The Post.
The statistics — which show nearly a tripling in the number of cops applying for cancer-related disability pensions post-9/11 — are the first of their kind to become public and confirm the fears of at least 12,000 police officers who toiled amid the rubble at the toxic World Trade Center site.
There are 297 cops who have been diagnosed with cancer since working at Ground Zero — and the average age is a shocking 44 at the time of diagnosis, according to the data from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Silverstein’s 9/11 Lawsuit Against Airline Continues


FEBRUARY 3, 2012
Silverstein’s 9/11 Lawsuit Against Airline Continues
By Jacqueline Palank

One World Trade Center, 90 floors up so far and scheduled for completion in 2013.
Under a new agreement, the bankruptcy of American Airlines’ parent company won’t completely halt pending litigation from the World Trade Center’s developer over claims the carrier failed to prevent the hijacking of Flight 11 during the Sept. 11th terrorist attack.

In a long-running legal battle, World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein has accused AMR Corp. and its American Airlines subsidiary of failure to put into place safeguards — such as securing the cockpit — to prevent terrorists from seizing control of its airplane. Flight 11 crashed into the site’s North Tower with 81 passengers and 11 crew members on board.

AMR’s Chapter 11 filing last November automatically put a stop to all pending litigation against the company, including the World Trade Center suit. But under the deal AMR filed in bankruptcy court Thursday, plaintiffs may continue pursuing injury and damage claims “solely to the extent of available and collectible [insurance] coverage.”

Court papers show the agreement, which isn’t subject to court approval, precludes plaintiffs from trying to recover for “intentional conduct or punitive damages.”

Silverstein’s company, which leased the Twin Towers and two other World Trade Center buildings from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is seeking billions of dollars in damages for alleged negligence by the airline, according to the lawsuit. It is also seeking compensation for the lost rental income; the developer had signed 99-year leases for the space just two months before the attack.

Questions for the intelligence community


By Walter Pincus, Published: January 30

Here are some questions that members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence should ask the heads of the intelligence community when the panel meets Tuesday morning for Congress’ first public assessment in 2012 of worldwide threats.


Afghanistan is the only country where substantial numbers of U.S. forces are fighting. President Obama and the NATO coalition have set 2014 as the date for all foreign combat forces to withdraw and the Afghan army and police to take over security responsibilities.

In the December 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan, the community opinion was that gains from the 2009 troop surge have been mitigated by continuing government incompetence and corruption and insurgents’ ability to be resupplied from Pakistan sanctuaries. The apparent stalemate, if continued, endangers future stability as U.S. combat troops continue to depart, says the NIE.

The Afghan coalition commander, Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker signed a dissent to the NIE’s judgments, questioning the intelligence community assumptions about Taliban intentions, the capability of Afghan security forces and the speed of the U.S. withdrawal.

Pakistan Says Prime Minister Was Mailed Anthrax Spores

February 1, 2012
Pakistan Says Prime Minister Was Mailed Anthrax Spores
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, received a postal package containing anthrax spores four months ago, his spokesman said Wednesday, adding a new dimension to the security threats faced by the country’s political and military leadership.

The package was intercepted by the prime minister’s security staff in October, according to the spokesman, Akram Shaheedi. The Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, a government laboratory, established that the suspicious white powder it contained was anthrax spores, he said. A criminal case was filed on Tuesday, according to an Islamabad police officer, The Associated Press reported.

Government officials gave contradictory accounts of the identity of the sender, and they offered little sense of motive. While Islamist militants have repeatedly targeted senior government officials in suicide and bomb attacks, an assassination attempt using biological weapons would be an anomaly.

TJ Gilmartin Denied Parade Honoring 9/11 First Responders


TJ Gilmartin Denied Parade Honoring 9/11 First Responders

First Posted: 01/25/2012 5:04 pm Updated: 01/25/2012 5:04 pm

The city has denied a request from a disabled Ground Zero worker to organize a ticker-tape parade honoring 9/11 first responders.

51-year old TJ Gilmartin from Queens said that despite filing all the necessary paperwork and receiving support from community members, the city's lack of financial resources ultimately killed his chance at a permit.

Gilmartin went even further to say that first responders have never been properly thanked:

When everybody 10 years ago were running out of Manhattan, including probably most of the politicians, we went in and nobody has ever said thank you. I don't know what kind of game is being played, I'm sure police want the parade. It's called the 'Canyon of Heroes;' they've called us all heroes, so why can't we walk down that 'Canyon' just like the Giants are going to do.

Department of Homeland Security to begin social media monitoring program


Department of Homeland Security to begin social media monitoring program

The government may soon be following your Facebook updates without you realizing it

by Fox Van Allen | Last updated 7:29PM EST on January 25, 2012
If you're unsettled by the idea of Google maintaining a massive database of your every move on the internet, you're sure to be upset by this: Your government plans to start stalking your every move on Twitter and Facebook to make sure you're not a terrorist.

The creepy, Big Brother-esque program hasn't started yet — the Department of Homeland Security has only begun seeking bids from contractors to build the spy network. But according to a government report, the DHS wishes to conduct "publicly available social media monitoring" effort to detect threats, vulnerabilities, and "bad actors." In other words, the U.S. government wants to get the bad guys' geotagged status updates — whomever the government determines those bad guys to be.

In Shift, Police Say Leader Helped With Anti-Islam Film and Now Regrets It

In Shift, Police Say Leader Helped With Anti-Islam Film and Now Regrets It
Published: January 24, 2012

The New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, through a top aide, acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that he personally cooperated with the filmmakers of “The Third Jihad” — a decision the commissioner now describes as a mistake.
Enlarge This Image

The film, which says the goal of “much of Muslim leadership here in America” is to “infiltrate and dominate” the United States, was screened for more than 1,400 officers during training in 2010.

Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne told The New York Times on Monday that the filmmakers had relied on old interview clips and had never spoken with the commissioner.

On Tuesday, the film’s producer, Raphael Shore, e-mailed The Times and provided a date and time for their 90-minute interview with the commissioner at Police Headquarters on March 19, 2007. Told of this e-mail, Mr. Browne revised his account.

“He’s right,” Mr. Browne said Tuesday of the producer. “In fact, I recommended in February 2007 that Commissioner Kelly be interviewed.”

In an e-mail, Mr. Browne said that when he first saw the film in 2011, he assumed the commissioner’s interview was taken from old clips, even though the film referred to Mr. Kelly as an “interviewee.” He did not offer an explanation as to why he and the commissioner, on Tuesday, remembered so much of their decision.

The Police Department’s admission suggests a closer relationship between it and the provocative film, which has drawn angry condemnation from Muslim and civil rights groups, than officials had previously acknowledged.

In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims

In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims

An Islamic flag atop the White House in “The Third Jihad.”
Published: January 23, 2012

Ominous music plays as images appear on the screen: Muslim terrorists shoot Christians in the head, car bombs explode, executed children lie covered by sheets and a doctored photograph shows an Islamic flag flying over the White House.

"The Third Jihad" says a covert jihad is under way in the West.
Enlarge This Image

“This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America,” a narrator intones. “A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America. ... This is the war you don’t know about.”

This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department.

In January 2011, when news broke that the department had used the film in training, a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened “a couple of times” for a few officers.

A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.

During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.

U.S. fights to keep $6.6 million in al-Qaeda assets from 9/11 victims

January 22, 2012 | By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer

In a ferocious legal battle pitting government lawyers against victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Justice Department is fighting to block thousands of individuals and businesses from taking $6.6 million in frozen al-Qaeda assets seized from an alleged terrorism financier.

Frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2007, the money is sought by the attorneys for 6,000 individual victims and insurers who suffered billions in losses from the attacks on the World Trade Center.

The money, in a Chicago brokerage account controlled by senior al-Qaeda operative Abu al-Tayyeb until his arrest in Saudi Arabia in 2006, drew little public notice until lawyers for 9/11 victims moved in June to collect on a 2007 default judgment.

Read more here: http://articles.philly.com/2012-01-22/business/30652937_1_qaeda-al-qaeda-terror-attacks

Men’s Journal Publishes Mark Wahlberg’s Outrageous 9/11 Claim

By Drew Grant 1/18 3:41pm

Mark Wahlberg: 9/11 revisionist hero (Men's Health)
Mark “Say Hello to Your Mother for Me” Wahlberg might play a rogue vigilante in his new movie Contraband, but his recent boasts in Men’s Journal about how he would have handled the hijackers during September 11th is over the line, according to one widow of the attacks.

“If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did,” the actor and Entourage creator told journalist Erik Hedegaard in a profile for the February issue called Mark Wahlberg Handles His Business. “There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’”

Deena Burnett-Bailey, whose husband Thomas Burnett died after rushing the cockpit of Flight 93 after it was overtaken, isn’t so sure circumstances would have turned out any differently just because Marky Mark was there.

DHS monitoring of social media concerns civil liberties advocates

Washington Post
By Ellen Nakashima, Published: January 13

Civil liberties advocates are raising concerns that the Department of Homeland Security’s three-year-old practice of monitoring social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could extend to tracking public reaction to news events and reports that “reflect adversely” on the U.S. government.

The activists, who obtained DHS documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, say one document in particular, a February 2010 analyst handbook, touts as a good example of “capturing public reaction” the monitoring of Facebook and other sites for public sentiment about the possible transfer of Guantanamo detainees to a Michigan prison.