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9/11 plus 15

Fifteen years ago today, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American planes, used them as guided missiles, brought down the World Trade Towers, severely damaged the Pentagon, and four terrorists were overpowered by Americans over a field in Pennsylvania. The suicide terrorist attacks killed 2,996, caused more than $100 billion in damages and stole America’s innocence.

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According to a new Pew Research Center poll, the 9/11 attacks continue to be a powerful memory for Americans: 91 percent of adults remember exactly where they were or what they were doing when they heard about the terrorist attacks.

So how has the 15–year “war on terror” changed America? Looking back and forward, can Americans really believe they are safer?

First a bit of history, the “war on terror” rightly started in the tribal nation of Afghanistan. Brand-new President George W. Bush summoned his top advisors to the Oval Office and chose Cofer Black, former CIA whiz, to implement a devastating retaliation for the nearly three thousand deaths. Black offered no mercy and told the rookie president that this effort required a few hundred specially trained military forces, 110 CIA officers, direct firepower, a bunch of money and his plan would end with what Black called – using an old Angola War expression – “when this is all over, the bad guys are going to have flies walking across their eyeballs.”

After 10 weeks, Black and his stealth-fighting machine proclaimed victory. All the Taliban cities, as well as their government, had been toppled.

In a 2013 Men’s Journal interview Black was asked if he briefed the Russians about the impending attack and how the Ruskies responded to his plan. They said, “You’re really going to get the hell kicked out of you.” Black replied, “We’re going to kill them – we’re going to put their heads on sticks… and you know what, the Russians loved it! After the meeting was over, two senior Russian officials, whom I will not name, said to me, ‘Mr. Black, finally America is acting like a superpower!’”

The follow through earned Black and the US the respect that had been sorely lacking.

The success should have ended there. But as we know, it didn’t. Bush ensnared the country into an ill-defined and ill-conceived “war on terror” that continues today.

Whether you agree with the “war on terror” or not, the consequences are very real and very alarming. With the advent of comprehensive counterinsurgency, COIN or nation-building, thanks General Petraeus, the taxpayers have spent trillions of dollars in a region made up of tribal nations.

Case in point, in a recent interview, Commander of Afghanistan US and NATO Forces, General John Nicholson told PBS the war’s progress is tedious. “We’re trying to build an airplane while in flight, OK? So they’re fighting a war while we’re trying to build an army. This is very hard,” he explained.

It must be said that the “war on terror” falls under the asymmetrical category. The sneaky “stateless” armies must be defeated with clear goals and end-state solutions. It’s here where the most powerful armed forces on the planet have stumbled.

In his book the Field of Fight, retired Army three-star General Mike Flynn describes the best way to defeat marauding radical Islamic terrorists. Flynn says to win the battle against radical Islam we must destroy the jihadi armies, kill or capture their leaders, discredit their ideology, create a 21st-century alliance and must hold countries, like Saudi Arabia, accountable for supporting terrorism.

“The best plan gives you the most options at the last possible minute. Right now we don’t have the best plan. A real strategic discussion about what it is that we are trying to achieve. Is it the defeat of radical Islam? It has to be beyond that and that’s where an alliance of nations has to get it together,” Flynn said.

It cost Osama bin-Laden roughly $500,000 to bring down the Twin Towers and Pentagon. In return, the US has suffered tens of thousands of casualties and flushed away trillions of dollars into the Middle East black hole. Plus, hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners have died and more than 12 million of refugees are now stateless. Newt Gingrich said this week the US has failed so badly in the Middle East that we are giving the number one state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, $1.7 billion in cash, just like a drug cartel.

“So 15 years after 9/11, we’re not winning.  We’re not winning in Afghanistan.  We’re not winning in Iraq.  We’re not winning in Syria.  We’re not winning in Libya. We’re not winning in Yemen,” Gingrich emphasized (mimicking Donald Trump). He’s right.

One reason for the protracted war may be the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. American arms and technology companies export, firearms, fighter jets, tanks, as well as Patriot Missile batteries.

The big winner in the Department of State’s 2017 budget includes $5.7 billion for Foreign Military Financing. The main recipients of the proposed budget will be Israel ($3.1 billion), Egypt ($1.3 billion), Jordan ($350 million), Pakistan ($265 million), and Iraq ($150 million).

While the Middle East tops the list, funding for Africa in 2017 will double from last year. Due to ISIS’ expansion into Africa, countries like Mali, Somalia, and Nigeria will see an influx of American weaponry. But why do American leaders want to militarize the African continent? Of course, the prominent argument is; “if the US doesn’t do something then other countries will do it.” However, no other country on the planet finances military sales like the US.

The US and its band of misfit coalition partners have implemented a massive military build-up on the Arabian Peninsula and Israel. Let’s take a look at the military arsenal provided to a few coalition partners, most of which are also classified as human rights violators according to the State Department (link to other FMS article).

For the last three years, the US has provided tens of billions of dollars in military weaponry through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to the United Arab Emirates (UAE); population 5.6 million, Qatar; population 2.1 million, Kuwait; population 2.7 million and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA); population 27.3 million.

The US has also provided both offensive and defensive weapon systems – some are designed to protect against airborne missile retaliation and air attacks. For example, the US supplied Qatar ($9.9B), Kuwait ($4.2 billion), and UAE ($1.1B) with Patriot anti-missile systems and UAE also acquired a $6.5B theater anti-air defense (THAAD) system. This type of weaponry typically protects against missile attacks from such weapons as SCUDs and the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems) like the 880 launchers the Islamic Republic of Iran operates. The MLRS has a range of approximately 300 kilometers, making it easily capable of reaching any of the Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, and even KSA.

America also sold KSA $6.7 billion worth of KC-130 aerial refueling tankers, the UAE $4 billion and KSA $6.8 billion of munitions including “bunker buster bombs,” (typically used to attack harden targets like nuclear facilities); Qatar a $1.2 billion early warning radar suite; KSA $1.3 billion for 30 patrol boats for use in the Gulf of Hormuz; KSA $4 billion to upgrade its national guard; Qatar spent $3 billion on Apache Longbow attack helicopters used for special operations insertions. The list also includes the Globemaster long-range air transport planes, Javelin missiles, F-18’s and F-16’s, and Sidewinder anti-air missiles.

Also for last few years, the US has been quietly aiding the rebel insurgency in Syria trying to overthrow the Iranian-backed government of Bashir al-Assad. There have been multiple news reports, (including this report) that the US provided weapons collected from deposed Libyan Dictator Qaddafi and moved them through its CIA clearinghouse in Turkey to supply al-Qaeda-linked extremist groups opposing the Assad regime. It’s worth pointing out that both Qatar and KSA have been major supporters of the anti-Assad insurgency that evolved from a national rebellion and morphed into a major jihadi operation.

Details of this massive military build-up can be found on the Department of State (DoS) website. The DoS oversees Government-to-Government defense transfers through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and is implemented through DoD’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Interestingly, “(I)n addition to FMS, the Department of State also issues export licenses to US companies providing defense articles and services through our Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) efforts, usually after an intensive interagency review to ensure that exports further US foreign policy and national security interests,” a State Department official said. However, “Export license information is not disclosed by the Department due to restrictions under the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, but general information is released from DCS.”

According to the State Department, in the case of either FMS or DCS, the United States takes into account political, military, economic, arms control, and human rights conditions in making decisions on the provision of military equipment and the licensing of direct commercial sales to any country, in accordance with the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, the Arms Export Control Act, and relevant international agreements

“Review and monitoring are an integral component of the process for US- origin defense articles delivered to any recipient nation. This is to make sure that those articles are being used in the manner intended and are consistent with our legal obligations, foreign policy goals, and values,” a Senior State Department official said.

And both State and Defense argue that Middle Eastern countries have agreed to work toward US security interests and abide by President Obama’s foreign policy doctrine.

However, looking at the current Middle East conflicts finds every country focused on sectarian protectionism, especially since the Obama administration has seemingly checked out. It is essential that this high-tech arsenal provided to foreign nations by US defense contractors be carefully monitored. The consequences of equipment falling into the wrong hands can be deadly, as it was for flight MH17 in Ukraine.

As the impact of ISIS’ offensive continues to sink in, US intelligence officials contend ISIS did not just randomly explode on the scene in 2014, they claim to have been reporting to high-level government officials the rise as well as the expansion of ISIS since 2012. This murderous organization is largely fueled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk testified before a Committee claiming, “The ISIS’ operations are calculated, coordinated and part of a strategic campaign led by its Syria-based leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“This was a very clear case in which the US knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect,” said Vali Nasr, the Dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser for the Middle East. During its assault in the region, ISIS received protection from KSA and Qatar. Both nations warned the US not to interfere with ISIS’s march to conquer northwestern Iraq and its turn west toward Syria and Jordan. America obeyed and ISIS gobbled up the region and spoils of war that included American tanks, helicopters, and artillery.

Many military experts said the opportunity to strike ISIS came and went when the 7,500-man Islamic Army crossed the wide-open Damascus-Baghdad Highway.

Military generals said the terror group was vulnerable to air attack with minimal collateral damage concerns. In the end, ISIS got its free passage from Mosul to eastern Syria with US inaction, which was tantamount to acquiescence.

“We oppose all foreign intervention and interference. There must be no meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs, not by us or by the US, the UK or by any other government. This is Iraq’s problem and they must sort it out themselves,” Saudi Prince Mohammed told the UK Telegraph. Just in case that bad intel was on the horizon, the Saudis immediately moved 30,000 combat troops to protect its border with Iraq.

Many Middle East policy experts say the Sunni’s view of ISIS as an Iraqi Sunni revolution against their Shiite oppressors is myopic and portends a broader Islamic war between Sunnis and Shiites.

From the US perspective, the ISIS campaign presents a myriad of conflicts. Qatar and KSA are major recipients of billions of dollars worth of US weapons through FMS, yet their direct support of ISIS, a terrorist group, means Qatar and KSA meet the definition of state sponsors of terrorism and should be banned from participation in the military program. Nevertheless, the end user certificates and export licenses are routinely approved by the State and Defense Departments, including an $11 billion sale to Qatar. (The Pentagon has refused multiple efforts to release the end-user agreements to this reporter as requested under FOIA.)

Furthermore, Qatar, KSA, and Kuwait are listed as Tier 2WL (Watch List) and Tier 3 under U.S. anti-trafficking in humans reports, which require a waiver by President Obama stating the sale is in national security interests. To the outside world, the US ostensibly appears to be violating its own anti-terrorism and anti-trafficking laws to provide sophisticated weapons systems to these human rights violators.

The infusion of military-grade weapons in the region only portends much more war. The war between the Sunnis and Shiites has grown more contentious due to the dysfunction of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916. Essentially the Agreement drew a twentieth-century map that granted control of Syria, Lebanon and Turkish Cilicia to the French and Palestine, Jordan and areas around the Persian Gulf, Baghdad to the British. That was followed by the 1919 Paris Peace Conference that outlined a “Kurdistan” as an entity by Şerif Pasha, who represented the Society for the Ascension of Kurdistan (Kürdistan Teali Cemiyeti). That promise was never kept and it’s doubtful the Kurds, who are Caucasian or Indo-European and not Arab, will wait another 100 years to establish their own country, one that will control its destiny through its own oil and revenues from oil pipelines from the Caspian Sea.

The complexity of the middle east  today reflects Winston Churchill’s description of Russia in October 1939: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Perhaps Russia is the key to the Middle East today.

Neither agreement ever took into account the tribal nature of the region that will continue to dog the Middle East until new maps emerge, or complete Armageddon is achieved. Until that day, America will continue to find itself under the threat of attack from a region that really doesn’t offer the US much. So are we safer after 15 years of war? Stay tuned!

© Copyright 2016 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved

DHS gaffe nearly results in Christmas air disaster

In what could have been a Christmas day horror, Customs and Border Protection officers apprehended a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist who boarded a Northwest flight bound for Detroit from Nigeria with a stop in Amsterdam. The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, ducked security in Amsterdam by carrying the explosives on his person, possibly sewn into his clothing.

Passengers on flight 253 claim the suspected terrorist began to act suspiciously as the plane commenced its decent into the Detroit region. When travelers heard a popping noise similar to firecrackers and saw flames they wasted no time in subduing the alleged- Nigerian terrorist, holding him down until the plane landed in Detroit.

Former Northwest airline pilot and aviation security expert for the airline, Glen E. Winn explained it was sheer luck this plane didn’t blow up. “This plane was at a critical mode upon the final approach phase where the air inside the aircraft was very unstable. The pilot and crew should be commended for getting the plane onto the runway in one piece.” He goes on to place the blame for this Christmas day incident squarely on the American government. “The system broke down starting with the terror watch list and continued at every check point from Nigeria through Amsterdam.”

“This alleged attack on a U.S. airplane on Christmas Day shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism at all times,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Had this alleged plot to destroy an airplane been successful, scores of innocent people would have been killed or injured. We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously, and we will use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice.”

It is also worth pointing out that President Obama has failed to make an official statement regarding this national security failure. While he and his family vacation and enjoy the beautiful Hawaiian weather, he has chosen to let his senior cabinet members make statements about this incident drawing the ire of many Americans who remain scared to fly as the holiday season winds down. It appears a notable new pattern is emerging with Obama regarding his silence where terrorist activity is concerned though he has shown no hesitation to address any other issue inane or otherwise and regularly requests camera time something his predecessors did not do.

Despite a Nigerian man being able to board a Northwest airliner with explosive chemicals (PETN or pentaerythritol similar to what shoe bomber Richard Reid used) headed for Detroit which is home to the largest concentration of Muslim population (Dearborn-located within minutes of airport) in the country, Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, “The system worked.”

However, the alleged terrorist threw up many red flags along the way and the result was the U.S. failed to connect the dots; he paid in cash, had no baggage and was recently placed on a terrorist watch list. All this intel should have caused red flags, but the era of “political-correctness” allowed Abdulmutallab to slip onto an American bound airplane says Steven Emerson a terrorism expert who has written multiple books about terrorism.

Making the rounds on the Sunday morning shows, Napolitano stated that it was important to remember, “Once the incident happened, everything that was supposed to happened, happened. The passengers reacted appropriately, the crew acted correctly and within an hour to 90 minutes all 128 flights in the air nearby were notified. The system has worked very, very smoothly,” she explained.

According to Janice Kephart of the Center for Immigration Studies, “Secretary Napolitano has a substantially narrow definition of ‘system’- she is simply referencing the airline doing its job alongside FAA once the incident occurred- rather than recognizing that the ‘system’ includes our immigration, intelligence and detection systems which all utterly failed to connect the dots and assure a revoked visa, a no fly listing and a substantial cache of intelligence from the terrorists father and the British intelligence service, both of which should have held high credibility with the U.S. and heightened the alert for this young man.”

“This terrorist is evidence of terrorist travel 101; abusing the loopholes in our ability as a government to properly screen identity, intelligence and a person prior to boarding a plane in a foreign country. There is no excuse for this. The ‘system’ failed miserably and having our Homeland Security Secretary indicate otherwise leaves us nowhere other than Bin Laden and the Taliban laughing at our government’s sheer stupidity. I suggest she read the 9/11 Commission monograph on Terrorist Travel. This terrorist’s story is an even worse failure than the 9/11 immigration story. And she needs to own up to it before the next one succeeds.”

Responding to the latest terrorist attack, airlines quickly put in place new rules; they will no longer hand out blankets and passengers will not be able to leave their seats one-hour before landing.

“The airline response is absurd,” Kephart said. “This is a problem of the no fly list- I believe does not directly check the FBI terror watch list; and that TSA either wasn’t doing its job or the equipment wasn’t sufficient (remember the TSA manual was available to download a few weeks ago and that tells the world exactly what TSA equipment will pick up and what it won’t). This sounds an awful lot like the 9/11 failure of government agencies to connect the dots. There is a whirlwind of government failure here,” Kephart finishes.

When the topic of terrorist attacks arise it goes without saying that the 9/11 surviving family members will have something to add and this incident was no different. Peter Gadiel, of the 9-11 Families for a Secure America stated this latest attack proves the “continuing incompetence of the U.S. government shining through. The government is not functioning and this event is a result of their failure to take this problem seriously. The American people need to wake-up to the fact that all this supposed security is just window dressing.”

When asked about the upcoming hearings that will investigate this matter, Gadiel said this was nothing more than a kangaroo court. “Until we enact Secure ID and figure out who is in this country, these hearings will be nothing more than reshuffling of the chairs.”

Near disaster impacts border expert & family

The handling of this event was of little comfort for the family of border security expert Andy Ramirez who were traveling to Detroit at the same time as the incident on Northwest flight 253. His family was en route to Michigan to visit with family over the holidays. They had spoken upon arriving safely in Detroit a couple of hours after the flight from Amsterdam had landed.

Ramirez said when he contacted his family to discuss what happened; they were surprised having been unaware as to what had taken place prior to their own landing.

“I talked with my family after I saw this come on the news and this hit home for us. They are very nervous about their flight home given the fact that this incident just happened. We are all also concerned that this incident could have been a probe by the terrorists. Outside local Detroit media (and this reporter) nobody has factored in the Dearborn Islamic enclave and the potential for moles to be on the ground. Dearborn is within mere minutes of Detroit Metro airport. Since 2004, I have told my family that when traveling to always be aware of what is going on around them and remember that terrorists do not take days off,” said Ramirez.

“What has hit us is the fact it could have been their flight, and our family. Nothing prepares you for such things because when you travel frequently, you tend to take things for granted. It is a reminder of how little is being done to secure our nation and how our government has left our people at risk. All these years after 9-11, we’ve been reactive, never proactive in addressing security.”

When Ramirez was asked his opinion of the incident, he replied that the biggest surprise is not the incompetence of this terrorist being on the aircraft given the fact our Homeland Security is a complete joke led by incompetent bureaucrats who got their positions due to cronyism and participation in sex-rings.

Detroit also has a number of key terrorist hard targets such as; the Big Three or the automotive industry headquarters, high-profile high-capacity sporting events including “the Big House” (University of Michigan Stadium); where on any given Saturday in the fall more than 104,000 spectators are cheering on the home team. Ironically the suspected terrorist was treated at University of Michigan Medical Center for burns he received from the explosive device.

“I’ve been identifying internal corruption, incompetence, and security breakdowns for more than five years and have testified as to those very facts before Congress. Rather than investigate the indisputable facts that have been presented and demand accountability from the Executive Branch, Congress has given the American people lip-service and bulls**t hearings about steroids in baseball and the Bowl Championship Series. Let’s not forget that DHS has failed countless security audits and experienced personnel that were purged by the agency or those in the know were required to take early retirement. What will it take for someone to get off their butts in D.C. and do something about it? Or do we have to bury more Americans, perhaps families like mine, to fix problem that will continue beyond flight 253. The blood of Americans lost will be on their hands,” concluded Ramirez.

Terror attacks on the rise

Some contend the rise in terror attacks this year are in direct response to the Obama Administration’s luke-warm reaction to terrorists in general. In the first days of the Obama presidency, terms like “terrorist” were banned from press releases and press briefings. “Terrorism is real and the Obama Administration has downplayed terrorism and did away with the word,” explained Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI).

However, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) said the dozen attacks so far this year are reason for concern. “Most were prevented due to diligent law enforcement work; Three attacks were successful, the Army recruiter who was murdered in Little Rock, Major Hasan’s murder spree at Fort Hood and this current one.”

Lieberman continued to explain, “The fact that this guy made it through screening is alarming.” He also questioned the fact an alleged Nigerian terrorist’s inclusion on a watch list didn’t ring any alarm bells.

Security expert Winn also pointed out the fact that there have been at least 15 major terrorist attacks around the world, not including the obvious ones taking place in the war-torn Middle East.

It has also been reported by Newsweek that Abdulmutallab was recently declined a visa from our close ally England and was allowed to keep his multi-entry visa for the United States even though his own father, a well-respected banker in Nigeria, reported to U.S. State Department officials that his son may want to inflict harm to Americans.

In a joint statement from DHS and TSA Napolitano said; “I am grateful to the passengers and crew aboard Northwest Flight 253 who reacted quickly and heroically to an incident that could have had tragic results. The Department of Homeland Security immediately put additional screening measures into place- for all domestic and international flights- to ensure the continued safety of the traveling public. We are also working closely with federal, state and local law enforcement on additional security measures, as well as our international partners on enhanced security at airports and on flights.”

The federal agencies encouraged American people to continue their planned holiday travel, but to be observant, aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials immediately.

Many security gurus suggest full- body scans would have prevented anyone from boarding a plane with explosives attached to their bodies. There are approximately 40 of these machines in use in the United States, but the cost is still too high to add the body scanners to all U.S. airports. Conversely, opponents feel the full-body scan is too revealing and imposes possible complications if the scan is somehow released to the public at large and explained the use of these machines was not worth it.

Senator Lieberman disagreed and pointed out that Iraq was yesterday’s war, Afghanistan is today’s war and if the U.S. does act now to preempt in Yemen, it will be tomorrow’s war. (Earlier this year the Obama Administration released six Gitmo detainees to terrorist-safe haven Yemen.)

Republican lawmaker and ranking member of Department of Homeland Security committee Rep. Peter King (R-NY) says he will ensure this attempted terrorist attack is taken seriously. “When something like this happens it’s important to go back and take a look at it and learn our lessons,” he said.

Considering President Obama’s stance on terrorism, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this incident will be treated as any other law enforcement issue. The mere fact that the Nigerian was read is rights and assigned an attorney will negate any form of interrogation and American’s will not gain access to who, what and why this individual tried to blow up a U.S. airliner or if he was working with al-Qaeda cells in Yemen. “The fact we are not treating these guys as enemy combatants is a mistake, they are at war with us,” says Winn.

Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard concurs, “We are not treating this like an enemy-combatant and now he’s (suspected Nigerian terrorist) lawyered up and we will never know any of the important details.” He further explained the PR-arm of the White House is in full damage-control mode which spotlights the President’s inability to grasp that terrorists want to do harm to America, even under the helm of a new “global president.”

Former CBP Commissioner Ralph Basham also made a statement regarding this latest incident. “Is this troubling- yes? Shocking, no.” He explained that the CBP has dedicated employees, but they need the right tools in order to accomplish their jobs; first they need good intelligence and second the latest technology (body scans).

As far as the terrorist watch lists, they are only as good as the information contained in them contends Basham. “This time the information contained in them wasn’t sufficient enough to deny entry and the break down (in communication) continues,” he said.

Basham’s comments raised the ire of border expert Ramirez. “Former Commissioner Basham is once again talking out of both sides of his mouth and he damn well knows this is not shocking because he is partly responsible for doing nothing to correct these problems during his tenure at CBP. He is an incompetent ‘yes man.’ How can CBP get the right tools needed when they refuse to train their officers properly and promote America’s best up the chain of command. What they did is force the best into early retirement and compromised public safety in the process. Their emphasis has been reducing wait times and turning law enforcement officers into a customer service clerks.”

According to Ramirez, over the next few weeks and months were going to see a lot of dog and pony shows and knee jerk reactions, however, a false sense of security will continue and will do nothing to ease travel worries or God forbid the anguish that the country may be burying loved ones after the next successful attack.

Administration officials admitted that Abdulmutallab’s name was added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) list in November; however this list contains more than 500,000 names with minimal details and it is painfully obvious that this system does not work as it should.

The current investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. According to AG of DOJ Holder, the Justice Department reminds the public that criminal complaints contain mere allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is an insult to the brave passengers who subdued the alleged terrorist.

Lieberman concluded by referring to the 9/11 Commission report in which they believed the U.S. failed to connect the dots. “9/11 happened because of a failure of imagination.”

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Congressmen act on non-English speaking airplane mechanics

San Diego- After learning that many airlines employed non-English reading mechanics, a number of house congressmen sent Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood a letter voicing concerns over the safety of airline passengers.

Now that summer is underway and many families are preparing for summer vacations, anxiety about airline safety has been addressed by these congressmen.

Since English is the language in which the complex aircraft manuals are written, Congressman Brian Bilbray-R and 16 others are seeking to make sure the public is never put in danger because a mechanic cannot understand the instructions on how to repair technical aircraft.

The letter calls on the Secretary of Transportation to address this public safety issue by requiring all U.S. resident airline mechanics have an English proficiency section included in their certification exams.

Amid fears that many low-level airline mechanics are unable to read English in the aircraft manuals, congress has looked to the Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for answers.

“Public safety demands that we enforce airline safety measures, and this includes language proficiency in both the cockpit and in the hanger where the aircraft are being repaired,” Bilbray said.

It has been documented that back in 2003, US Airways Express crashed after take-off killing 21 people. According to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) found that mechanics had not connected some cables properly resulting in the crash.

The NTSB found that the mechanics in charge of repairing the cables could not read English that was written on the cables themselves.

The airlines usually hire two sets of mechanics. Certified mechanics make upwards of $25 per hour, however they are able to oversee another set of mechanics that make less than $10 per hour, many whom are unable to read English.

Fixing airplane engines takes highly trained individuals, who follow a strict step-by-step process. Once an airline decides to skimp on wages the consumer can be the one that loses, a former Navy pilot said.

“We believe the minimum fluency standard for aircraft mechanics should be that required of international pilots as set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Moreover, aircraft mechanic applicants should be required to pass their written, oral and practical examinations in English,” the letter to the Transportation Secretary said.

The FAA has declined to comment on this story.

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