Thursday, August 18, 2011

CQ Behind The Lines

Factor in the inflation-adjusted estimated $636 billion that Uncle Sam has spent since the Sept. 11 attacks on homeland security “and you’re at the edge of $8 trillion in national security spending for the last decade-plus,” Chris Hellman calculates for Salon . “The defense budget grew from $316 billion in 2001 to $708 billion in 2011 . Federal spending on homeland security , which includes everything from airport security to border control, also rose dramatically,” The Associated Press ’ Jonathan Fahey similarly surveys.

Feds: President Obama told CNN that he worries more about a deranged individual striking on Sept. 11 than a large scale, coordinated al Qaeda attack, CBS News ’ Dan Farber reports. Three ATF supervisors , heavily criticized for their role in a failed sting operation that sent firearms into Mexico, have been promoted , the Los Angeles Times ’ Richard A. Serrano reports. The FBI has assigned a new counterterrorism chief to its Gotham field office who will head the city’s Joint Terrorism Task Force , The New York Times ’ Joseph Goldstein updates — while The Saipan Tribune ’s Clarissa David hears an FBI official urging Rotary Club members to “be vigilant for any activities that may lead to terrorism” on that Pacific island territory .

Homies: With the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11 looming, meantime, Janet Napolitano yesterday unveiled new TV ads pegged to DHS’s “If you see something, say something” campaign, CNN ’s Paul Courson recounts. After conservatives “freaked out about” a 2009 DHS intel report on right-wing extremism, the department effectively dismantled a unit tasked with tracking it, AlterNet ’s Rania Khalek rebukes. A Border Patrol supervisor assures that his agents have plenty to do on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula “despite another agent’s assertion to thecontrary,” The Peninsula Daily News ’ Paul Gottlieb relates — while The Arizona Republic ’s Daniel Gonzalez sees illegal immigrant deaths along that state’s southern border dropping 38 percent. CBP is hiring additional Border Patrol agents, perhaps a thousand of them, to monitor the southwest perimeter, The Yuma (Ariz.) Sun says.

State and local: After receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from DHS since the Sept. 11 attacks, Oklahoma has suffered a steep drop in homeland receipts in the past two years, The Tulsa World leads. Damning “a controversial program that has led to an unprecedented number of deportations,” some 200 immigrant activists stormed out of a Los Angeles federal task force hearing Tuesday, The Orange Country Register reports — while California Watch touts an interest group report quoting local sheriffs on Secure Communities’ “downsides.” Under an alleged ethical cloud , Essex County, N.J. officials have inked an agreement with ICE to expand an existing Newark facility to accommodate more detainees, The Asbury Park Press relays. Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security tells The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette it had no jurisdiction for licensing the temporary State Fair stage whose collapse last weekend killed five.

Bugs ‘n bombs: “If you know how to mash an avocado and dry herbs in the sun you can make ricin from castor oil beans ,” The First Post promises, in re: an alleged al Qaeda bid to weaponize the deadly toxin. “The most likely biothreat comes from nature , but the most significant threat is from a bioterrorism attack ,” National Defense Magazine muses. “As the United States faces the growing threat of individual acts of terrorism, farmers are honoring their national duty by supporting DHS regulations on ammonium nitrate,” The Voice of Agriculture assures. A 90-minute National Geographic Channel doc debuting this Sunday details Britain’s 2006 liquid bomb plot , which has so resoundingly affected airport checkpoints worldwide, Raw Television tells.

Ivory (Watch) Towers: With the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre justifying SWAT-style university policing, “campuses are increasingly becoming unsafe — not because of a lack of security but an overabundance of it,” CounterPunch spotlights. A former Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student, relatedly, is in court for making an alleged terrorist threat against the school three years ago, St. Louis’s KMOV 4 News notes — while The Tampa Tribune sees an expelled student arrested for plotting to blow up his high school on the first day of classes. “I am now convinced not only that we do not need a distinct homeland security discipline , but that its successful emergence could prove harmful to the enterprise itself,” a Homeland Security Watch poster posts. “Indiana’s new immigration law is raising concerns among international students who worry they won’t be eligible for tuition waivers or fellowships that help pay for their U.S. educations,” AP spotlights.

Close air support: “Some black women with natural hair report receiving hair pat-downs from TSA employees — in some cases while white women with similar hair sailed through,” Jezebel jabs — and see The New York Times . TSAers at LAX found a loaded . 38-caliber Walther pistol in the carry-on of a passenger, the L.A. Times tells — as The Torrance (Calif.) Daily Breeze highlights a $4.7 million contract to fortify LAX’s perimeter security fence. “Ten years after 9/11, airline cockpits are vulnerable every time a pilot takes a bathroom break. So why isn’t the FAA making secondary barriers a requirement?” The Atlantic asks. In India, Bangalore airport officials were shocked to discover children entering the airport through a gaping hole eroded in a perimeter wall by heavy rainfall, The Deccan Chronicle recounts.

Keeping track: Ohio’s Department of Transportation says a 1996 law cloaks accident reports “whose release would reveal rail operations and security to terrorists and others with ill intent,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Among the many critics of Jerusalem’s SNAFU-plagued new commuter line , whose debut has again been postponed, now to Sept. 14 , “are those who believe that, in a city with a long history of bombings , the new light railway is vulnerable to attack,” The Guardian spotlights. A Russian newspaper says security agents foiled a plot by alleged North Caucasus militants to blow up a high-speed passenger train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, The Moscow Times mentions.

Courts and rights: A lawyer for an elderly South Florida imam and his two sons accused of abetting the Pakistani Taliban argues that a government secrecy request could give prosecutors an unfair advantage, The Miami Herald mentions. A federal judge has handed mor than four years in prison to an Iranian national who admitted trying to illegally export U.S. missile parts to Iran, The Chicago Sun-Times tells. A group of nearly 1,000 American terror victims is suing a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Borse for allegedly assisting Iran’s movement of $250 million in frozen assets out of the United States, The Wall Street Journal relates. “Forty-eight unfortunate souls in Guantanamo Bay will never get a trial, will be presumed guilty and will die in Guantanamo without ever having stepped into a courtroom,” a defense attorney tells CNN .

Over there: State has designated a top Afghani Taliban commander a “global terrorist,” allowing Washington to freeze his assets, bar him from financial institutions and prosecute him for terrorist activities, The Long War Journal relates. “Peru’s new president has vowed to take a hard line against the country’s Shining Path guerrillas, and appears to have modeled his strategy on Colombia’s counterinsurgency successes ,” The Christian Science Monitor spotlights. The Philippines’ prez , meanwhile, wants legislators to strengthen a 2007 anti-terror law by easing safeguards against abuse that have deterred authorities from using it, AP reports.

Over here: Anti-Sharia activists have penned columns attacking GOP White House wannabe and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s longstanding friendship with the Aga Khan , leader of the Ismaili Muslim sect, Salon says. (“Can Rick Perry maintain his good ties with Muslims as a GOP candidate?” The Christian Science Monitor also mulls.) “One small but critical way St. Paul police fight crime and also terrorism on the streets [is taking] a group of mostly Somali youths out bowling,” the Pioneer Press spotlights. Jihadist and Islamist commentators are advocating exploiting the rioting in England, both for stepping up operations and for increasing calls to spread Sharia law, IPT News notes.

Holy Wars: The “war on terror may be a cover resolve,” but America wants “to keep [the Afghan] government in the doldrums, to insult Islamic values and above all to destabilize Pakistan ,” The Peshawar Frontier Post pummels. In a bid to “criminalize Christians, the Anti-Defamation League characterizes anti-Jihadist evangelicals as ‘haters,’ whose inflammatory criticism of Islam inspires anti-Islamic terrorists like” Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik , the Rev. Ted Pike protests in Al Jazeera . “Breivik represents more than his own act of violence. His is a new creed of right-wing extremism, a Christian version of al Qaeda ,” a New York Review of Books essayist asserts. “To thwart the Taliban, U.S. Marines in one Afghan province are teaching the locals to read the Koran,” The Atlantic relates. “Can we say Osama bin Laden was a hero or villain in the formation of al Qaeda ?” a Nigerian Tribune columnist questions.

End of The Line: “Following a flood of complaints from frustrated commuters , Transport for London has today named Amersham on the Metropolitan Line as the official station for killing yourself,” NewsBiscuit notes. “‘It’s really not fair that a few thoughtless “ jumpers ” cause such disruption for so many,’ said a TfL spokesman . ‘From now on we’ll be asking the suicidal to travel to Amersham and wait in line for their turn. They’ll know it’s their moment in the headlights when they hear our special announcement — “ Don’t mind the gap .”’ Details of the scheme were unveiled a day after ex- psychiatric patient John Morton, who had suffered depression since losing his wife and daughter in a road accident , was forced to apologize for causing almost 25 minutes of rush-hour travel chaos after his botched attempt to throw himself under a train. ‘Thankfully I glanced off the train and was thrown clear,’ he said. ‘If I’d ended up on the tracks the hold-ups could’ve been well over an hour.’”
Source: CQ Homeland Security