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Archive for the ‘Homeland Security’ Category

A national treasure

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2014

Andrew Bacevich:

Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.

* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.

* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.

* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.

* The interests of the United States and Israel align.

* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.

Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up.

Bacevich is a national treasure. An Army colonel who lost a son, he has spoken out against our dangerous and ineffective policy with great courage.

Posted in history, Homeland Security, international, Iraq war, military | Comments Off on A national treasure

The land of the free… [the detention and interrogation of Laura Poitras]

Posted by Charles II on April 9, 2012

Via Avedon, we learn from Glenn Greenwald the astonishing depths to which our government will go to suppress any consideration of the damage the so-called War on Terror is inflicting to our own freedoms.

Laura Poitras is an award winning film maker. At present, she is making a film about

…the way in which The War on Terror has been imported onto U.S. soil, with a focus on the U.S. Government’s increasing powers of domestic surveillance, its expanding covert domestic NSA activities (including construction of a massive new NSA facility in Bluffdale, Utah), its attacks on whistleblowers, and the movement to foster government transparency and to safeguard Internet anonymity.

She has been the target of an organized campaign of harassment:

Since the 2006 release of “My Country, My Country,” Poitras has left and re-entered the U.S. roughly 40 times. Virtually every time during that six-year-period that she has returned to the U.S., her plane has been met by DHS agents who stand at the airplane door or tarmac and inspect the passports of every de-planing passenger until they find her (on the handful of occasions where they did not meet her at the plane, agents were called when she arrived at immigration). Each time, they detain her, and then interrogate her at length

She has had her laptop, camera and cellphone seized, and not returned for weeks, with the contents presumably copied. On several occasions, her reporter’s notebooks were seized and their contents copied, even as she objected that doing so would invade her journalist-source relationship. Her credit cards and receipts have been copied on numerous occasions. In many instances, DHS agents also detain and interrogate her in the foreign airport before her return, on one trip telling her that she would be barred from boarding her flight back home, only to let her board at the last minute.

Recently, the attack has been escalated:

This time, however, she was told by multiple CBP agents that she was prohibited from taking notes on the ground that her pen could be used as a weapon. After she advised them that she was a journalist and that her lawyer had advised her to keep notes of her interrogations, one of them, CBP agent Wassum, threatened to handcuff her if she did not immediately stop taking notes. A CBP Deputy Chief (Lopez) also told her she was barred from taking notes, and then accused her of “refusing to cooperate with an investigation” if she continued to refuse to answer their questions (he later clarified that there was no “investigation” per se, but only a “questioning”).

Think about it. Agents seriously imply they will arrest a journalist for assault for writing and that they will arrest her for obstruction of justice for declining to answer questions. They spit on the Fourth Amendment by searching laptops, cell phones, and so on. They potentially expose a journalist to identity theft by photocopying credit cards.

It seems to me that Poitras almost doesn’t need to make a film about how the so-called War on Terror is destroying liberty. Just telling us what she has gone through is lesson enough…if Americans will listen.

Posted in abuse of power, civil rights, Homeland Security, impunity | 2 Comments »

The Crime Of Being Right

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 22, 2009

Howard Dean and the DFHs: Right about Iraq, right about Bush’s use of the Department of Homeland Security’s terror alert system for political gain — as even Tom Ridge now finally admits.

Which is, of course, what Bush-loving Villagers like Marc Ambinder can never, ever forgive.

Posted in anti-truth, Bush, BushCo malfeasance, GOP/Media Complex, Homeland Security, Iraq war, terrorism, The smear industry | 3 Comments »

“Border Wall” Preserves Rich Texans’ Property, Protects Crony Corporations’ Profits

Posted by MEC on February 19, 2008

We already knew that the 18-foot-high wall DHS wants to build along the Texas-Mexico border is useless for security. The Texas Observer reports that it will have gaps in it: gaps corresponding, by some strange coincidence, with the locations of rich people’s property.

As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security marches down the Texas border serving condemnation lawsuits to frightened landowners, Brownsville resident Eloisa Tamez, 72, has one simple question. She would like to know why her land is being targeted for destruction by a border wall, while a nearby golf course and resort remain untouched.

Just 69 miles north, Daniel Garza, 76, faces a similar situation with a neighbor who has political connections that reach the White House. In the small town of Granjeno, population 313, Garza points to a field across the street where a segment of the proposed 18-foot high border wall would abruptly end after passing through his brick home and a small, yellow house he gave his son. “All that land over there is owned by the Hunts,” he says, waving a hand toward the horizon. “The wall doesn’t go there.” In this area everyone knows the Hunts. Dallas billionaire Ray L. Hunt and his relatives are one of the wealthiest oil and gas dynasties in the world. Hunt, a close friend of President George W. Bush, recently donated $35 million to Southern Methodist University to help build Bush’s presidential library.

The Observer also reports that the “wall” project is completely privatized. There is no oversight whatever for the project:

In a February 2007 hearing, Congressman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had more scathing remarks for Giddens and the SBInet project. “As of December, the Department of Homeland Security had hired a staff of 98 to oversee the new SBInet contract. This may seem like progress until you ask who these overseers are. More than half are private contractors. Some of these private contractors even work for companies that are business partners of Boeing, the company they are supposed to be overseeing. And from what we are now learning from the department, this may be just the tip of the iceberg.”

There is also no spending limit. Oh, what a surprise.

This is worse than Security Theater. It’s another Bushevik scam to drive unrich people from their homes and pour taxpayers’ money into corporate coffers.

Posted in BushCo malfeasance, DHS, Homeland Security | 1 Comment »

When Security Theater Becomes Farce

Posted by MEC on January 31, 2008

The government that’s imposed upon us tax cuts for billionaires and stricter eligibility for school lunches, standardized testing for Head Start, and an opponent of contraception as head of the government’s family planning programs has created “war games” to test the country’s preparedness for terrorist attacks.

They’re even more paranoid than you’d expect.

The laundry list of fictional catastrophes — which include hundreds of people on “No Fly” lists suddenly arriving at airport ticket counters — is significant because it suggests what kind of real-world trouble keeps people in the White House awake at night.

Imagined villains include hackers, bloggers and even reporters. After mock electronic attacks overwhelmed computers at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an unspecified “major news network” airing reports about the attackers refused to reveal its sources to the government. Other simulated reporters were duped into spreading “believable but misleading” information that worsened fallout by confusing the public and financial markets, according to the government’s files.

Okay, reporters being duped into spreading misleading information is a plausible scenario, especially if you stretch the definition of “reporters” to include the wankers on Faux News. But depicting a news organization refusing to reveal its sources to the government as a terrorist threat? That just shows the Busheviks’ opinion of the Constitution.

Oh, and hundreds of people on “No Fly” lists suddenly arriving at airport ticket counters? Has the “No Fly” list ever stopped any passenger from getting on the plane who was actually a potential terrorist? Or has it only stopped members of peace and environmental groups, Democratic politicians, military veterans, and a four-year-old boy?

Did the participants in the little exercise actually learn anything? Perhaps, but not what the government was hoping they’d learn:

In the middle of the war game, someone quietly attacked the very computers used to conduct the exercise. Perplexed organizers traced the incident to overzealous players and sent everyone an urgent e-mail marked “IMPORTANT!” reminding them not to probe or attack the game computers.

The lesson of that “prank” could have been, should have been that you have to be able to respond to things you didn’t anticipate. Instead, the official reaction was to issue a scolding to the people who didn’t follow the rules and insist that everybody stay within the limits the government set for them. That says it all.

Meanwhile, everything from fake bombs to live kittens are getting through airport screening undetected. The millions of dollars the government spent on that cyber-exercise in absurdity isn’t doing a thing about the incompetence of the TSA.

The purpose of “Homeland Security” is patently not security.

Posted in Homeland Security | 9 Comments »

Our Tax Dollars At Work

Posted by MEC on June 27, 2007

Since I’m traveling by air tomorrow, I dropped by the TSA web site to get the latest changes to the luggage regulations.

The first thing I saw was:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“Click here for more” led to a press release:

On June 21, TSA’s primary operational hub was re-named the Freedom Center, symbolizing the agency’s commitment to protecting the nation’s transportation systems against terrorist threats. The name was proposed by Todd Fox, security manager at Philadelphia International Airport, through an agency-wide contest asking TSA employees to submit names.

Excuse me? A contest? To rename the building? Don’t these people have more important things to do?

And the winning entry is the trite and obvious “Freedom Center”, which oh by the way coincides exactly with George W. Bush’s message about what the Global War on Terror is all about?

Let’s have a contest to rename the Department of Homeland Security. My entry: “Ministry of Propaganda”.

The irony is that I visited the TSA site for a definitive list of what objects I’m not allowed to have in carry-on luggage … that is, how the TSA is curtailing the freedom of law-abiding air travelers by imposing pointless restrictions that don’t protect anybody from anything.

Posted in anti-truth, Homeland Security, our tax dollars at work, TSA, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | 7 Comments »

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