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
Late last week Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded the Department of Homeland Security cough up the immigration and naturalization records of Washington D.C. Metrorail suspected terrorist bomber Farooque Ahmed.
In an effort to determine the best method to protect Americans from illegal aliens who have nefarious intentions toward U.S. citizens, Grassley sought the immigration process used by Ahmed from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but he was refused the records and told he needed a privacy release form from the suspected terrorist.
Grassley’s letter highlighted a clear conflict provided by USCIS and showed that the language contained in the Privacy Act details an exemption for members of Congress. Grassley said it, “is unacceptable as a matter of accountability,” for the American people.
Senator Grassley outlined his concern in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security. “It’s about the suspected terrorist from media reports, including accounts that the would-be bomber hoped to harm as many Americans as possible on the metro system.” In addition to seeking the suspected terrorist’s immigration history, Grassley also asked for the legal background for the excuse the USCIS used to disregard a provision of law designed to ensure checks and balances by giving Congress access to this kind of information.”
The senator pointed out several media reports that concerned him regarding the process used by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and other agencies to arrest Ahmed.
“According to news reports, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted an undercover sting operation, and exposed Mr. Ahmed of plotting terrorist attacks against Americans,” he said in a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of DHS. “Some reports indicate that earlier this year, Mr. Ahmed ‘conducted surveillance and reconnaissance and suggested ways to generate the most causality’s on the DC metro. He reportedly wanted to battle U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan and trained himself in martial arts, use of firearms, and knife and gun tactics. Mr. Ahmed informed those whom he believed to be his co-conspirators that he also planned to wage jihad overseas.”
Various news reports cite that Ahmed obtained a degree in Computer Science from the College of Staten Island, which is a part of the City University of New York. Later Ahmed work in the telecommunications industry in Northern Virginia. It is also alleged that in order to keep his legal status, Ahmed began pursuing an online graduate degree in risk management and data security from Aspen University.
Senator Grassley’s concerns about Ahmed’s visa status draws attention to the process by which potential immigrants enter the country and what kind of background checks are required to ensure the legitimacy of prospective students who seek higher education in the U.S.
“I would like to know how Mr. Ahmed entered the United States and through which immigration channels he was able to remain here,” said Grassley who is also a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security. “I therefore request that you provide me with copies of all documents and reports relating to the issuance of student visa(s), any adjustment of status and subsequent visas, and naturalization for Mr. Ahmed including, but not limited to the following:
a. All immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications filed by Mr. Ahmed;
b. All certificates of eligibility for immigrant and non-immigrant visas provided by Mr. Ahmed in support of his application(s) for legal status in the United States;
c. All law enforcement reports that contained information on Mr. Ahmed’s associations with al-Qaeda and which were available to homeland security official(s) who approved his visa application(s) and naturalization application.
e. Any records on Mr. Ahmed included in the student tracking system, SEVIS, including but not limited to his degree program and classes taken at City University of New York and Aspen University.
f. All documents related to the naturalization process for Mr. Ahmed.
While these documents are a start for Senator Grassley’s office, others are now questioning the effectiveness the H-1B visas and the need to update the provisions to better fight terrorism in a post 9/11 world.
The main pathway for H-1B Visa holders is to obtain a degree from a U.S. college or university on a F-1 Visa, and perhaps extend it with OPT (Optional Professional Training) for up to 29 months and then obtain a H-1B Visa for employment of 6 or more years.
One factor of particular concern for Americans is the easy process for foreigners to obtain an H-1B visa. “These visas are discouraging young Americans from entering technology fields,” according to Gene Nelson, Ph.D. who is an expert in immigration policy. “Why should American students complete the expensive and challenging training to become a scientist or engineer if prospective employers will hire essentially unlimited numbers of (inexpensive) technical professionals from India or Communist China to quickly displace the young Americans from technology fields?”
Nelson believes the second effect of this immigration visa is just as significant, but more difficult to quantify.
“The lack of vetting of imported technical professionals under work visa programs such as H-1B is causing national security harms. I have discussed this problem in testimony delivered in the U.S. House of Representatives and the National Academy of Sciences since 1996,” Nelson explains. “The long-term negative externalities of such immigrant avidity include the prospect of large-scale nuclear terrorism or bioterrorism in the U.S., likely in cities such as Washington, DC or New York City.”
The H-1B Visa holder is a de-facto indentured servant, according to Nelson. He also points out their visa is conditioned on being continuously employed and employers are able to hold out the “carrot” of the eventual green card sponsorship.
Ferreting information about students can be as easy as looking to social networking sites. For example, Ahmed’s LinkedIn profile showed that he was enrolled in a master’s computer engineering program at CUNY’s College of Staten Island. It went on to explain that he did not get his degree because of a “political issue between computer science and engineering department.”
Nelson explains that an employer-sponsored H-1B visa requires practically no vetting of applicants and allows foreign students to remain in the U.S. for at least six years. Plus, foreign students or employees are often granted automatic extensions while they are waiting for a green card. Once a green card is in hand, foreigners are well on their way to completing the U.S. naturalization process.
As far as employers ensuring that no one in America is qualified for the high-tech job, U.S. employers are required to make a “good faith” attempt to hire an American first before they grant an H-1B visa to a foreigner. However, experts contend that few employers do this because they know foreigners are willing to work for less money and longer hours.
According to the Labor Department’s 2006-2011 Strategic Plan notes; “H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker.”
This should be very concerning to Americans. Many of the H-1B visa jobs involve national security inside the telecommunication industry.
In Ahmed’s case he worked for three telecommunication companies since 2000 and according to the Labor Department each of these companies applied for hundreds of H-1B visas; Ericsson which has applied for 446 H-1B visas, Glotel who has applied for 143 H-1B visas and Sprint who has applied for a staggering 857 H-1B visas.
Once Nelson navigated through the Sprint VA H-1B visa spreadsheet he found some disturbing details. He pointed to an incorrect work city shown for Sprint “network” positions that begin in July, 2006, which matched his LinkedIn profile. “Also there is only one Sprint LCA for the state of Illinois, but it is not for Ahmed’s job title. This suggests to me that Sprint failed to follow the (loophole-laden) rules, as a LCA is for a specific job title in a specific city and state,” Nelson points out. (Here is the link to Sprint info; http://www.flcdatacenter.com/CaseH1B.aspx)
One thing is certain, a rash of terror plots continues to be uncovered across the country and there seems to be no end to the profound hatred these terrorists have towards America. The underlying terror threats will require the country’s national security agencies to continually evolve and grow if they are to be successful in preventing the next 9/11 attack.
In a yearly threat briefing to Congress, five senior intelligence community figures responded to tough questions in light of the increased terror plots Americans faced last year. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) directly asked each intelligence member the likelihood of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Each agreed there would “certainly” be another attempt in the next three to six months.
“An attempted attack, the priority is certain, I would say,” said Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence. The other members appearing in front of Congress included, FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director Leon Panetta, John Dinger, acting assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research and Ronald Burgess Jr. the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Blair outlined the possible terrorist threats the United States may face; computer networks and infrastructure attacks, Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and the instability in nuclear-power Pakistan, China’s military buildup, Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions as well as Venezuela’s flirtation with communist countries.
“In our judgment al Qaeda also retains the capability to recruit, train and deploy operatives to mount some kind of an attack against the homeland,” Blair testified. He goes on to explain favorite al Qaeda targets remain on a watch list of sorts and include, airplanes, financial institutions in New York City and the Washington Metro system.
“The recent successful and attempted attacks represent an evolving threat in which it is even more difficult to identify and track small numbers of terrorists recently recruited and trained and short-term plots than to find and follow terrorist cells engaged in plots that have been ongoing for years,” Blair explained.
While the National Security Congressional briefings proved eye-opening and may have caught many Americans off guard those who work the front lines are privy to the inner workings of our ports of entry and say the daily break downs could be fixed.
It was reported several weeks ago that NYC Customs and Border Protection employees point to the “flying Jihad” flights arriving weekly at JFK. “Looking back to the Christmas Day bomber, we now know he trained in an al Qaeda training camps in Yemen, even with this knowledge we continue to allow hundreds of Yemenis per week to enter the U.S. via terminal one, on a Saudi Arabian flight, many of the passengers are Yemenis in violation of their green card status,” a veteran CBP Inspector said.
The full-body scanners to be placed at airports (in which former DHS Secretary Chertoff is a part owner) will not help solve the problem created and continuously perpetuated by the country’s top officials. Many experts agree that the controversial full-body scanners would not have detected the chemicals in the Nigerian underpants bomber.
“I think the message from the Intel community was ominous and accurate, but Washington has still not addressed the potential for attacks on the homeland by terrorist green card holders, instead Washington continues to recklessly place Americans in harms’ way. Actually failing to protect Americans when Intel exists and points to potential terrorist who is in violation of visa misuse,” CBP Agents said.
It has been said Washington is putting on a “Dog and Pony Show” for the American public. “Just as the memo written by A FBI agent detailing an imminent attack using commercial aircraft loaded with passengers and fuel, was ignored by the Washington Elite and bureaucrats before 9/11. It appears the warning that terror cells are already here in the US, aided by U.S. officials ‘look the other way’ policies when it comes to enforcing LPR ‘green card’ regulations and the U.S. Department of State’s liberal immigrant and visitor visa policy,” said another CBP Inspector who spoke in anonymity for fear of work place retaliation.
“U.S. officials who could work to secure our nation are busy playing lip service to the media and their constituents while taking no action to ensure America’s safety. The American public should hold Washington responsible for any future attack(s), because these are the very people who have failed to do their jobs- not TSA Agents, Border Patrol Agents or CBP Officers on the front lines.”
Just as alarming is the fact that the Agency responsible for protecting U.S. borders, CBP, still has no leadership in place to orchestrate an intelligent program necessary to protect the country. “The three ‘acting’ Assistant Commissioners running CBP operations now are like having Larry, Moe and Curly in charge. It’s time for Washington insiders and bureaucrats to put away their theater make up and work, and do the job the American public pays them top dollars to do,” a CBP Agent explained. “If they can’t then it’s time for them to retire and let responsible leaders step up.”
One thing is certain when it comes to national security – nothing is secure. When good rank-and-file agents on the front line are pointing out obvious flaws at the ports of entry, Americas’ front door, citizens expect management to take notice and think outside the box. If this fails to happen al Qaeda will be claiming responsibility for another American tragedy.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
By failing to put the pieces together this past Christmas it is clear the intelligence outfits haven’t learned their 9/11 lesson and continue to keep national security information close to their vests. By refusing to share intelligence with other agencies the U.S. government continues to play Russian roulette with American lives.
After 9/11 many changes began to take place, in typical scapegoat manner government officials decided to place the blame on airport screeners and started the process of nationalizing airport security leaving most security companies without a business and no choice but to fire employees.
Congress felt government workers would be more loyal and the increased pay and benefits would be just the incentive airport security staff needed to protect Americans from terrorist threats. Sounds reasonable, however during the first year of the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA), employees were commonly referred to by airline employees as “Thousands Standing Around.”
Once TSA took over airport security, the government doubled the workforce, started the bureaucratic machine and gave birth to several scandals. It turns out that TSA hired many private employment consultants to sign up airport security staff, the process cost the government and the taxpayer millions of dollars.
For example, The Washington Post broke a story in July 2005 that Sunnye Sims received a government contract to run screener-assessment centers in San Diego. When she started the process she was renting an apartment, however after nine short months she was buying a $1.9 million mansion from the $5.4 million she was paid. According to the story Sims had no prior experience in airport security and she billed the government $24 million for her no-bid contract. Federal auditors also reported $15 million in expenses submitted by her company could not be substantiated.
TSA also garnered a new reputation for dropping the ball where security is concerned. As a result Department of Homeland Security has sent endless amounts of uncover agents into airports to test TSA employees; it’s been reported that in most cases the undercover agents were successful in getting their weapons (guns, knives and bombs) through airport screeners. Not exactly the intent of the U.S. government regarding airport security, plus the bloated government program spends billions of taxpayer money each year and TSA continues to fall short on airline safety.
Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who once supported the move from private airport security companies to nationalize the airport security said, “The inadequacies and loopholes in the system are phenomenal.”
The No-Fly Lists blues
The Christmas day terrorist incident further spotlighted the need to connect the dots and for government agencies to share information with each other in a timely manner. One of the misconceptions about the no-fly databases is the information is not classified as secret, but sensitive.
As the Christmas day bomber illustrated, State Department officials didn’t share the information with the FAA or FBI and a known terrorist was able to slip through security with a bomb sewn into his underpants, and pass through security without any special screening.
In an effort to get terrorists into the United States many groups claim to use stolen identities. This is never more apparent as 14 of the 9/11 terrorists who remain on the no-fly list nine years after the attack and their deaths.
“There is evidence to suggest that the Saudi government is tacitly behind all of this identity nonsense. They have a form of Islam called Wahhabiism, which practices a form of Sha’ria law. As such, they’d possibly issue a ‘legitimate’ passport in another name, one that is not on the watch list. Then the Saudi resident would go to the American Consulate and get a visa, either tourist or student,” says John Sampson, a retired ICE agent with 27 years of experience in ICE as well as immigration law enforcement.
Sampson now runs a private consulting and investigative firm out of Colorado specializing in immigration fraud issues. His company, CSI Consulting and Investigations, deals primarily with sham marriages that seek to defraud U.S. citizens and their attorneys with legal cases regarding immigration law.
“If I were a terrorist, I’d steal or ‘buy’ the identity of a Muslim living in the UK, Australia, Germany, France, New Zealand, or some other country that is a signatory to the Visa Waiver Program (VWPP). Why? Because it’s easier to get into the country. As such, they don’t undergo the vetting process one goes through if they apply for a tourist, student or other form of visa. They are admitted for 90 days, cannot change status or extend their stay,” Sampson says. “The only thing they can do is marry a U.S. citizen and adjust status to a conditional permanent resident.”
Sampson explains if a terrorist steals a passport of a VWPP country citizen and photo substitute the passport with their own photo, they’re home free. No visa issues. No pesky interviews and if the terrorist is smart, they’d have a round-trip ticket, enough money to tide them over and a cover story all set up replete with address as to where he is going.
“Now, if the terrorist is going to be a ‘sleeper,’ one who stays hidden for some time and then resurfaces when he needs to complete his assignment, I’d go the green card route and I’d allege that my U.S. citizen spouse abused me so I could get out of the marriage quickly and still get my green card,” Sampson explains.
“As a former INS Inspector/Customs and Border Protection Officer, I am deeply concerned with abuse of the Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) cards, also known as Green Cards. LPR status is a pathway to American citizenship and essentially a carte blanche to immigration benefits. A Green Card also ensures travel in an out of the United States virtually without scrutiny. This status should not be granted carelessly or taken lightly,” Julia Davis, former Customs and Border Protection Officer, National Security Whistleblower.
Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is entrusted with adjudicating applications for various immigration benefits. To date, the agency has amassed a dubious track record of allowing individuals with terrorist ties to immigrate to the United States. Background checks that are critical to ensuring that potential immigrants qualify to be admitted into the United States as permanent residents, are often incomplete, inaccurate or sometimes completely omitted. For example, an investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that A-files are sometimes missing during adjudications, resulting in LPR cards and even American citizenship being granted to aliens associated with terrorist organizations.
GAO report number GAO-07-85 entitled ‘Immigration Benefits: Additional Efforts Needed to Help Ensure Alien Files Are Located when Needed’ uncovered that of the naturalization applications adjudicated in 2005, about 30,000 or about 4 percent of them may have been adjudicated without A-files, because staff were not using the automated file-tracking system. Missing A-files hinder USCIS’ ability to uncover immigration fraud and the limit Department of Homeland Security’s ability to take enforcement actions.
In 2002, USCIS’s predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), granted naturalization to an alien who was later identified to be associated with a terrorist organization. In this case, the adjudicator had not obtained the A-file in adjudicating the application for naturalization and deciding to grant the benefit. Indeed, background checks conducted as part of USCIS’s naturalization process continue to reveal instances where individuals who pose a potential risk to national security have been granted an LPR status and later applied for American citizenship.
GAO’s investigation uncovered that amongst the 14 district offices included in their review, about 111,000 A-files were lost. Such a state of the immigration system may explain why ineligible aliens are being granted permanent resident status and are able to obtain permanent resident status. For example, terrorist and Lebanese national Mohammad Kamal Elzahabi was able to obtain a Green Card and was driving a school bus. Since he had a permanent resident status, this key Al Qaeda operative moved in and out of the United States, established a viable business that transferred combat gear from New York to Al Qaeda, made it through an FBI background check subsequent to his travel to terrorist countries, obtained driver licenses in more than one state that included driving school children in the Minneapolis school system for four months.
Sheik Omar, who is likely to have played a role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, came to America on a visa and (at a time when he was on the State Department’s Terrorist Watch List) obtained a Green Card as a “Minister of Religion.” Once this status is obtained, the government faces great difficulty in appealing their own decision to grant permanent residency with immigration courts. For example, the Department of Homeland Security attempted to deport Mohammad Qatanani because, according to the DHS, he has ties to Hamas (which the US classifies as a terrorist organization) and failed to disclose an arrest by Israeli authorities on his Green Card application. After a four-day trial last year, an immigration judge in Newark rejected the DHS’ accusations and granted Qatanani permanent residency. This decision is currently being appealed by the Department of Homeland Security.
The Agency that was created seemingly to protect us in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks seems to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) by allowing for the exploitation of loopholes in the immigration law by the terrorists. One of such aliens, El Sayyid A. Nosair married an American citizen to avoid deportation for overstaying his visa. He acquired U.S. citizenship and was later convicted for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed six lives.
Another terrorist, Ali Mohamed, obtained his immigration status by marrying a woman he met on a plane trip from Egypt to New York. Mohamed became a top aide to Osama bin Laden and was later convicted for his role in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa that killed over 200 people. Two other embassy bombing plotters followed similar paths: Khalid Abu al Dahab obtained citizenship after marrying three different American women. Wadih el Hage, Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary, married April Ray in 1985 and became a naturalized citizen in 1989. Fifty nine (59) of the ninety-four (94) terrorists who were identified as operating in our country in the decade leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were found to have engaged in immigration fraud as a means of obtaining their immigration status.
In July 2004, the 9/11 Commission Final Report made the following observations and recommendations: “All points in the border system – from consular offices to immigration services offices – will need appropriate electronic access to an individual’s file. Scattered units at Homeland Security and the State Department perform screening and data mining; instead, a government-wide team of border and transportation officials should be working together. A modern border and immigration system should combine biometric entry-exit system with accessible files on visitors and immigrants, along with intelligence on indicators of terrorist travel.”
Alarming faux pas’ by the DHS/USCIS show that these recommended systems regarding electronic access to an individual’s file are not being used adequately, allowing ineligible individuals to obtain permanent resident status. The formation of the Department of Homeland Security further hindered an already overburdened system and created additional obstacles for immigration officials. In my opinion, mandatory background checks of the potential permanent residents must include intra-agency access to relevant intelligence information, to prevent future abuse of the system by the criminal elements and terrorists.”
Security problems at JFK
One airport that has seen its fair share of problems is JFK. Reported drug and gun possession by TSA screeners have garnered little to no changes at the airport. Even Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “When even our police don’t fully trust our federal security officers, we have a problem.” The scope of the problems at JFK is alarming and yet the discovered security issues haven’t led to any changes.
“Congress along with the new DHS Commissioner Alan Bersin need to look into the daily workings at JFK,” says one airport employee. “We need to keep those with specialized skills whether it is Passenger Operations, Tactical or Trade Ops alone and not subject them to harassment while trying to do their assigned duties without proper skilled training. Management must be held accountable for government and private sector overtime funding and the management should be fired for misusing funds to line their pockets. Sexual expectations, retaliation and nepotism, should not be tolerated at JFK because it is hurting our national security,” said an agent who wished to remain anonymous because work place retaliation is common at JFK.
Another security threat to this country and the mission of the Department of Homeland Security seems to be reassigning officers to job assignments which they are not completely knowledgeable. For example, Legacy Customs Officers from cargo are given only two weeks training for Primary Passport Control yet they are required to know what fraudulent documents like passports, green cards and visas look like.
However many CBP agents explain many officers with more than four months training are sent to company offices and are not required to work the primary booths- a job which they were trained to perform. In addition to new under-prepared CBP agents, Internal Affairs is sending role players into the terminals, mingling undercover with the arriving passengers in order to catch on-duty officers who allow passengers into the U.S. with false documents.
“The fear new CBP agents face is the two weeks training period isn’t an adequate amount of time to decide if documents presented at customs is fraudulent or good,” a senior CBP agent explains. “These new officers are being made to rotate once a month to Primary Control with this limited training and are expected to function properly.”
Port Authority Police, Airport Police as well as NYPD who are in charge of the security at the domestic airport terminals have no respect for CBP because they work outside the rules, according to many CBP agents who work at the JFK airport.
Lawful Permanent Resident or Green Cards
A United States Lawful Permanent Resident Card (LPR), also known as a green card, is an identification card that demonstrates permanent resident status of an alien in the America. The green card serves as proof that its holder, a Lawful Permanent Resident has been officially granted immigration benefits, which include permission to reside and gain employment in the U.S. The holder must also maintain permanent resident status and can be removed from the US if these conditions are not met.
Many CBP officers have extensive experience with LPR cards, in fact many believe it is the most exploited benefit the U.S. grants to foreign nationals who want to come to the U.S. and often abuse the benefits. “If a foreigner is issued a LPR card he/she can work, obtain social benefits and gain access to the social security system. Some foreigners come to the U.S. to begin a better life for themselves and their families; they are sincere about their status and hope to become U.S. ‘naturalized’ citizen. However, many use these cards as a never ending visa with no intention of settling or contributing to American society,” says a CBP agent.
It is these applicants the U.S. should be concerned with as they get there green card and essentially live in another country only traveling to the U.S. to keep their LPR card status. When an LPR card holder is outside the U.S. for more than one year they should lose their green cards as the law requires.
“An LPR holder who shows up in the U.S. port of entry after residing outside the U.S. for more than a year is in violation of law. The card should be taken and the individual should be sent home. We call this an ‘expedited removal’ however approximately 90 percent of LPRs that return to the US in violation of green card requirements are admitted without any enforcement,” says another Custom and Border Protection agent.
“People who wish to do us harm, do not need to hide plastic explosives in their underwear and blow themselves up while on board a commercial aircraft. They can simply obtain a LPR card, return to their home country, like Yemen, train in a terrorist camp and fly back to the U.S. anytime they want,” a CBP agent explains.
Again, just as many rank-and-file CBP agents work to protect our country on a daily basis the best way to begin securing the country is simply to start tightening up the way U.S. issues LPR documents. “We should enforce LPR regulations immediately, and we should start to enforce immigration laws already on the books,” according to CBP agents. “We also need management at DHS and CBP to step away from the ill advised ‘customer service mentality.’ CBP Officers are not customer service agents, we are not the ‘welcome wagon,’ we are the law enforcement officers standing guard at our nation’s Borders.”
Business as usual
As the Obama Administration prepares to decipher all the bureaucratic webs that have now become known as Department of Homeland Security, Americans can only hope that the president will change the practice of ‘business as usual.’
Nearly 10 years after 9/11 and the U.S. is no closer to capturing or killing the world’s most famous terrorist Osama bin Laden. Adding to this frustration is the fact American remains trapped in a Middle East War quagmire with nothing on the horizon but billions of dollars in costs.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that DHS management has designed rules to get around the federal government’s law regarding lobbying. According to The New York Times; “one provision was drawn up by department executives to facilitate their entry into the business world.” The roster reads like a who’s who in the endless world of career politicians; Tom Ridge, former DHS secretary; John Ashcroft former attorney general; Admiral James Loy, former TSA administrator; as well as Asa Hutchinson, former DHS under-secretary.
For these reasons it is understandable that Americans are angry with the politics as usual and will be looking to change the way Washington does business in November of this year, let’s hope the change doesn’t come too late.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
Each year in the United States the immigration department holds a lottery where 50,000 immigrants who seek to reside in America can win the golden ticket and gain legal entry into the country. The popular program is only available for those countries that do not send a large number of immigrants to the U.S.
In an effort to remove any possible security risks, Congressmen Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) have asked Chairman of the Judiciary committee, John Conyers (D-MI) urging the committee to consider eliminating the annual visa lottery. (Note: state sponsors of terrorism are not excluded from the lottery.)
The Congressmen pointed out countries that are eligible for the visa lottery include; Iran, Sudan, Cuba as well as 13 of the 14 nations the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) crack down on airport security, including Nigeria home country of the Christmas Day terrorist incident.
“The visa lottery program poses a national security threat. Under the program, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident based on pure luck,” Rep. Goodlatte explained. “Usually, immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who have an existing connection with a family member lawfully residing in the United States or with a U.S. employer. These types of relationships help to ensure that immigrants entering the country have a stake in our nation’s continued success, and have needed skills to contribute to our nation’s economy. However, under the visa lottery program, visas are awarded to immigrants at random without meeting such criteria.”
Congressman Smith continued to say the visa lottery is a dangerous game with our national security. “America already has the most generous immigration policy in the world, admitting over one million legal immigrants each year. But under the current lottery system, up to 50,000 randomly selected alien applicants win visas each year, many from countries with a significant terrorist presence.”
In 2007, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report stating the visa lottery system “is vulnerable to fraudulent activity committed by and against applicants…” The report continued to say “widespread use of fake documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and passports, presented challenges in the government’s ability to verify the identities of applicants and dependents.”
In addition to this report, at the 109th Congress, the State Department Inspector General testified before Congress that the visa lottery “contains significant risks to national security from hostile intelligence officers, criminals and terrorists attempting to use the program for entry into the U.S. as permanent residents.” Unfortunately, Smith pointed out that the House Committee on the Judiciary has not held hearings on this subject since Democrats took control of Congress in 2006.
“The nature of the lottery is such that we have no control over who applies for admission to our nation,” Goodlatte said. “This flawed policy is just foolish in the age in which we live. Those in the world who wish us harm can easily engage in this statistical gamble with nothing to lose.”
Congressman Goodlatte also introduced the Visa Lottery Elimination Act on May 7, 2009 and the legislation currently resides within the House Judiciary Committee. Perhaps now the Democratic leadership within the committee will put this bill at the top of their “to do list.”
Of coarse there are many ways to combat terrorism and good ideas are sorely needed, but for our country’s security officials to fail the American people and allow a terrorist to board a flight paying cash, checking in no luggage and having his father’s statement to U.S. State officials regarding the radicalization of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab by Yemeni al-Qaeda leaders go unchecked- proves the system failed.
“The best way to prevent a terrorist attack on U.S. soil is to stop terrorists before they reach the U.S. Even the President said that airport screening measures are not foolproof. The first line of defense against foreign terrorists is our visa process—which clearly broke down in the Christmas Day plot and almost cost the lives of 290 innocent individuals,” Rep. Smith pointed out. “But the Christmas Day attack is not the first time terrorists have obtained U.S. visas. Several of the 9/11 hijackers did so as well. The Christmas Day terrorist attack is a grim reminder that the terrorist threat is alive and well and that our work is not yet done.”
With the White House in full scramble mode regarding the latest terrorist attack aboard an American airliner, it is up to Congress to act upon the failed policies put in place and make every effort to prevent all Americans from another devastating 9/11-style attack.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
President Obama campaigned on change, giving Border States hope with the appointment of Arizona’s Janet Napolitano to Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, however this is where the hope and change ended and business as usual persisted.
A recent press release titled “Secretary Napolitano and Mexican Finance Secretary Agustin Carstens Sign Enhanced Declaration of Principles to Strengthen Bilateral Economic and Security Cooperation” from Napolitano’s office, the release unequivocally proves this case; “Protecting the interconnected security and economic interests of the United States and Mexico depends on close collaboration between our two nations,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Secretary Carstens and I will continue to work together to coordinate efforts to crack down on violent drug cartels along the Southwest border while facilitating the flow of travel and trade.”
The release continues to highlight America’s intent to speed up the flow of human and cargo traffic into the U.S. notwithstanding exactly what and who is getting across the borders in the name of speed. “We are building upon a longstanding relationship and cooperation, which have derived extraordinary results, particularly in matters of trade facilitation to legitimate stakeholders and law enforcement,” said Secretary Carstens. “However, today’s world demands from us a more intelligent and coordinated way to protect our borders and facilitate trade.”
The new joint initiatives and long-term programs used by the U.S. and Mexico are said to augment information-sharing mechanisms and coordinate border management
policy framework for engagement on multiple fronts, “including emphasizing professionalism among law enforcement personnel through integrity-related training and the sharing of best practices and establishing improved mechanisms for information-sharing.”
These new tempered caveats only add to the already expanding relationship with Mexico. Since January the Obama Administration has signed three agreements building on unprecedented levels of collaboration between the two nations. The agreements are designed to combat transnational crime, increase law enforcement partnership and amplify the flow of travel and trade along the Southwest border.
However, the breakdowns at ports of entry have now been established in several stories, using numerous employee statements. Instead of strengthening the borders this administration has only broken them down further. DHS has even weakened the E-Verify method of exposing illegal aliens, and slowed its detention and deportation programs. In hearings on Capitol Hill today, Senator Jeff Sessions-R AL railed Napolitano’s stance on enforcement of these very issues.
Miami, More Porous than the Southwest Border, But the Party Continues
This leads us back to Miami Ports of Entry and statements made by employees that Customs officers were side-stepping enforcement and not using the secondary inspection areas as they were intended, of coarse this has been commonplace for years throughout U.S. customs service.
This is never more obvious than the non-checking of foreigners or green card holders in the U.S. Ports of Entry. A Miami Customs employee explains of such an instance that the source had personal knowledge of. “A Russian mob individual came through Customs and a Be On the Look Out (BOLO) flag appeared on the computer screen which prompted a series of questions accompanied by unacceptable answers. The officer then proceeded to escort this person to secondary where the supervisor told the officer to kick the person free. The officer was appalled and then called the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) who put out the BOLO. They responded immediately and said they had been looking for this person for a number of months in connection with several international crimes.”
These types of issues unfortunately are not uncommon at the Miami Port of Entry.
An additional issue seeing an increase within the United States is the anchor baby law. America has one of the most liberal anchor baby policies in the world. All one has to do is make into the country before they have their baby and- boom instant legal American status for both baby and parents.
Another point of contention that often gets glossed over is the fact individuals traveling in and out of the country continue to be allowed to enter using documentation that has expired or isn’t even theirs.
“This is fraud and illegal, yet it continues to be condoned at Customs,” said another employee. “This again goes back to the need to keep the lines moving quickly.”
There have been repeated orders from superiors who order agents to clear individuals even if they are tagged with a BOLO.
“I have come across people entering the country with drugs, illegal contraband and other stolen items. I am ordered to continue processing these people. Some of them have entered the country several different times without any consequence other than officers who query them to no avail,” said the officer.
Stories regarding high ranking CBP officials going to parties and accepting gifts from foreigners, which is illegal, who conduct business at Miami Ports of Entry continue to take place, even though these parties make the local newspapers and are subject to criticism from dedicated CBP officers.
These parties are similar to CBP sex-ring parties that have been fully documented in the Miami Herald and are not limited to Customs and Border Protection Ports of entry in Miami. They have also been reported at the Houston CBP office and they take place within the important cargo department, which has fell victim to serious security breeches in the past few months.
CBP Cargo Programs, A Bigger Waste Than The Secure Border Initiative
Remember that there has been a purge at DHS in CBP where Border Patrol Agents from all ranks including Chief Patrol Agent, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, and other top ranks, as well as Customs where senior officers, as well as supervisors, and mid-management officials were purged and forced to retire years ahead of the mandatory retirement of age fifty-seven.
While on the topic of security compromises, there are two examples that require reporting at this juncture. The first one involves a seizure that took place at a Houston, TX Port of Entry on May 13, 2004. Without getting into extensive details that may compromise operational policy and any officers that were on duty, the details will try to condense this matter.
According to a report authored in November 2008 by Friends of the Border Patrol founder Andy Ramirez titled ‘Unjustifiable and Impeachable,’ “A freight shipment was seized by officers and also placed on hold. A mid-management supervisory customs officer ordered an officer to report to the office and take care of the hold that this supervisory officer was sending over. The officer believed that the supervisor implied the officer was to release the shipment. The officer also felt that the supervisor did not have a valid reason to override the seizure and release it, which was based on the supervisor having looked it over and accordingly determining the shipment was okay with the exception of some minor errors. In fact, not only did the officer feel that releasing the freight did not meet proper agency guidelines, but that the officer was told there were possible terrorist connections to that particular shipment.”
A second incident identified in the FOBP report came from a copy of emails received, which have been redacted due to the operational policies that would be revealed. There were two recent incidents, one of which occurred on February 19, 2008 and involved imported shipments that entered the United States at the Champlain, NY Port of Entry. The shipments originated in England, passed through Montreal Canada, before entering the U.S., and involved Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls; Supporting documents that are required for temporary import and subsequent export of unclassified defense articles. In this case, both imports involved these types of licenses and the unclassified defense articles consisted of a Paveway 2 missile and missile system (in this particular matter) and live ordinance in the form of bombs (in the other).
The following is a redacted excerpt from an exhibit in the FOBP report: “We were also given information by the license holder, Ridgeway International that indicates the original license did not exist at the time this shipment entered the United States through the Port of Champlain. The same license was not presented to CBP in Houston a week later on a shipment of a Paveway Two missile and missile launching system, but they are claiming the shipment falls under this license.
The Customs Broker, A.N. Deringer, is not registered with the Department of State, Department of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) nor are they listed anywhere on the license. This is mandatory by law under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR 129. In Ramirez words, “the paperwork was completely fouled up by inexperienced, untrained personnel. Had these live munitions wound up in the wrong hands, we could have had a catastrophic matter on our hands. Let’s say a terrorist would have taken some form of radioactive material from something like a hospital X-ray machine, he could have detonated a dirty bomb. We were very fortunate that those officers who caught this matter in Houston were as well trained as they are.”
The incidents addressed by FOBP in their report clearly raise questions as to compromises in security similar to those taking place at the ports of entry. Some officers are placed with knowledge of their own area, such as entry or exit, and the corresponding programs of one, but not others. As a result, we are inviting some potential disasters. DHS needs to provide proper training for all employees who are likely to be called upon to handle various responsibilities, and not have supervisory managers place officers in situations where they are insufficiently trained.
Ramirez also states in the report that, “supervisors need to realize that if a freight shipment is on hold or seized, a once over glance type of inspection should never be enough to move shipments or traffic.
At the same time, we need to consider that given incidents raised elsewhere within this report, and given the lack of trust and culture of corruption so rampant within DHS that supervisors are in a position to take an officer that is lacking proper training, and place him/her in a situation where that officer is unqualified for that particular temporary role due to not having qualified, let alone be trained for that new responsibility.
The purpose, given the pattern we see in today DHS, is to set an officer up, where the shipments being processed through the ports of entry and place an officer in a position of responsibility for an incident. With the pattern of abuse that is so rampant inside CBP, an inquiry would not involve the supervisory officer beyond a few questions, as it will focus on the employee ordered to handle an area he/she is untrained for. The bogus investigation would clear management and lead to charges against the employee. It is no wonder employee morale has been destroyed since the merger into CBP from the Departments of Justice and Treasury,” concludes Ramirez.
The after effects of 9/11 culminated in the formation and dysfunction of DHS and as such have created a false sense of security for the U.S. “The combination of agencies has broken down our national security because it is impossible to be comfortable with required job duties with only a few years of experience. This is exactly what America has since the merge and purge of Customs Legacy,” a veteran inside source revealed about the Houston CBP office.
Employees within the Houston agency and throughout CBP target Container Security Initiative (CSI) as an ineffective tool that secures all the cargo entering our country. CSI was intended to help increase security for containerized cargo shipped to the U.S. from ports around the world.
CSI specifically addresses any threats to national security through the ports of entry posed by any potential terrorist that uses a maritime container to deliver weapons. This seems straight forward enough, yet as we now know, there have been several breeches in this specific agency and bombs /missiles have made their way into the U.S. despite being flagged by senior CSI officers.
CBP sources in Houston say the CSI program has lent itself to many national security breeches and many claim this program is ineffective and must be disbanded.
“The money that is wasted in this intra-agency program is not well spent. Many of the new personnel assigned to this agency lack the skills necessary to adequately protect the country from illegal weapons entering the U.S.,” a veteran agent explained. “The training many of our officers receive now comes in the form of virtual-based software. It offers no real world application. I know this because I’ve had extensive training.”
Another program failing to make the grade is the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) Enforcement. This program offers seminars for on-duty officers to sign up for and attend specialized training. “This type of training is very expensive and extremely hard to monitor. It also adds to the bloated government we all complain about, yet never do anything to solve the over-spending problem,” a senior CBP officer said. “Our government has been asked to fund all these types of ineffective programs to the tune of $20.9 billion. Trust me when I say this money is not well spent.”
Expediting human and foreign cargo remains a high priority within CBP; C-TCPAT is a perfect example of this. “Somebody has to be profiting from all this ‘family-owned’ business that is providing the agency with all the equipment and training required to implement many of these ineffective and expense new programs,” Officers claim. “However, the joke is on us as the country is less secure due to less experienced people holding these top jobs, who got their jobs without being qualified for them.”
CBP’s ACE Program, Inadequate Training But Someone’s Making Money
Sources also claim that many new agents being fast-tracked through online classes. The online classes offer a range of lessons regarding law enforcement without offering any practical experience. Many of these new recruits are given badges and weapons that haven’t been through formal weapons training.
The Ports of Entry are also expected to completely transition into the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), a cargo-processing program developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to facilitate trade while strengthening border security.
The ACE Secure Data Portal, essentially a customized Web page, connects CBP, the trade community and participating government agencies by providing a single, centralized, online access point for communications and information related to cargo shipments, according to CBP website.
Highlights of the ACE cargo system include users to monitor daily operations and identify compliance issues, update account data, merge accounts, ensure accuracy of account information. There are approximately 17,000 ACE portal accounts including 3,000 importer broker accounts and 14,000 carrier accounts and the CBP is responsible for all of these daily cargo transactions.
So far CBP has collected more than $40 billion in duties and fees paid through ACE’ monthly statements since its partial inception of July 2004.
The rosy picture painted by CBP hardly explains the real problems that accompany the ACE program. According to senior officers the training offered by the company is insufficient and the lack of training is creating a national security issue.
“When I called ICE to work out some of the program glitches I was told to not worry about it. It’s no big deal,” a CBP officer said. “It’s this type of behavior by insulated managers that will be responsible for the next attack in this country.”
A question that must to be asked is if Congress has appropriated massive money to DHS for these programs that are ineffective and operated by grossly under-trained officers, what is the benefit to national security given the agency’s constant requests of increased funding? Alternately, it should be asked who is benefiting or profiting from the contracts being awarded?
National security breeches, an unwilling management team to address the serious issues within CBP, insulated throughout the agency by incompetent leaders who earned their positions by participating in a sex ring, and untrained personnel operating at our cargo ports of entry seem to be setting up America’s destiny – another 9/11-style attack.
For more stories;
Acting CBP Commissioner Ayhern retiring, leaves a stained legacy;
Corruption in Juarez connected to bridges;
House of Death part one-a dozen murders;
House of Death part two-the cover up;
House of Death part three-keys to amnesty;
Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Ahern to Retire- But Will the Cronyism, Sex-rings and Security Gaffs End
After three decades of service to the federal government, Jayson Ahern will be leaving the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency with the blessing of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano. “Jay has led CBP and we have benefited from his wisdom…Jay has demonstrated remarkable leadership and service to our nation,” the DHS Secretary explained.
There are many who disagree with that statement. Once the story unfolds “service” will have a different meaning. Speculation and allegations surround the retirement of Ahern. Even though his career was marred with indiscretions he continued to move up the chain of command. Many who have worked with him throughout the years believe the retirement comes as the ‘writing is on the wall’ and a quiet departure will lead to greater opportunities without scandal.
In fact, scandal has long been documented in public detail and the fallout has followed Ahern and others in Miami (and elsewhere) for years. That, in and of itself is not anything new, but the result of this internal corruption and sexual antics have left a nation open to security breakdowns.
Ahern says of his retirement, “the agency is filled with strongly committed and dedicated professionals whose responsibility is to secure the homeland…Over the remaining weeks; I will undoubtedly recall numerous highlights, accomplishments and challenges that we have shared.”
Let’s look back at Ahern’s career in the CBP and see what kind of legacy he will be leaving to his successor, Alan Bersin, an Obama appointee.
A number of top CBP officials have long been ensnared in sexual misconduct allegations and when it comes time for punishment it has been the whistleblowers who find themselves in trouble. Unfortunately this is not the exception, but a tried and true rule, a pattern that continues to be practiced each day in the Department of Homeland Security.
Sex, Lies, and Videotapes
The tale of sexual misconduct has been well documented by the Miami Herald (going back a decade), and in very graphic details in online blogs. Customs officers describe a hostile work environment initially within an elite group of Miami inspectors who successfully fought against the cocaine trade only to end up with dubious sexual scandals attached to their resumes. Indiscretions like drunken skinny dippy, strip ‘pornopoly,’ on-the-job drinking, obscene phone calls and various sexual-aids placed in co-workers mailboxes follow Ahern like a proud badge of honor.
Numerous CBP supervisors were implicated in these activities and a pattern of promotion could be counted on each time these extra-curricular activities took place. This is hardly a gratifying solution for those who are on the receiving end of these non-wanted sexual innuendos.
Content in the series of articles in the Miami Herald went unchallenged and included many names like Ahern and Tom Winkowski. A CBP email highlighted some of these transgressions. Internal e-mails and internet postings point out the numerous sexual indiscretions in the Miami and Los Angeles/Long Beach ports, each port director, Ahern and Winkowski merely swapped locations while keeping the same job.
It must be noted that their official biographies at the CBP website show a similar career track, and that both are married. Sources and peers report that the transfer was the “discipline” though in reality both officials and others received promotions, too, and it’s alleged managers are told to cool the activities for a while until things blow over.
“There were many stories of ‘sexual misconduct while on duty’ among managers and the story was that this is how inspectors were getting promoted in record time,” an internal email read. Discussions about a sex-ring were perpetuated throughout Customs in both ports.
The context of an internal employee email (subject: Chapter 7, Sex, lies, and videotapes) contained sexual encounter after encounter. Employees getting caught both on and off duty with their pants down or their skirts up were commonplace within Legacy Customs and continue to this day much to the chagrin of many employees.
Many cases of sexual harassment were brought against both males and females, including one filed in Florida, where Ahern was named as part of a sex ring in Miami – yet no dismissals of employment occurred, while participants continued to be promoted at the fastest rates. A few short suspensions (for a very insignificant amount), and temporary details to headquarters were the punishment for what seems like a business as usual behavior within the government agency.
Employees who did not want to partake in the sexcapades quickly tried to transfer to other ports. And once word got out they refused to partake in sex games they were ostracized within CBP. One employee referred to the feeling in an email, “It is a very eerie feeling to have to work among sexual predators that seem to want to always be in your space for no reason.”
Employees point to other acquiescent behavior occurring in the office with no attempt to disguise the vulgar language.
“Arthur Gainer was having sex with any female at work that he could. We have heard Arthur Gainer make sexual innuendos to other females while at work and we were standing right there,” the email continued. “This thing is that they all cover up for each other and lie for each other at every level whenever they are caught in the act.” Talk of sexual favors and orgies was a company staple and a ‘regular thing’ especially when there was a ‘going away party.’
The email continues to explain that the sexual “conduct has become a part of the organizational culture of the Customs Service. Because this type of culture is perpetuated and fostered from the highest levels of the agency the new employees who unknowingly are targeted by these sexual predators do not have a chance of justice when they are reporting these acts of misconduct in the mistaken belief that the agency administrators share the same values of integrity that they do.”
Another key player Ray Kelly, New York Police Commissioner, and former Commissioner of Customs knew all about the sexual shenanigans within CBP and like other superiors he continued to ignore the scandal. Kelly also held other positions within the industry of Dept of Treasury Undersecretary of Enforcement (including Customs, Secret Service, BATF, and others) 96-98 and Commissioner of U.S. Customs Service 1998-2000, begging the question; why did he do nothing about this unsavory behavior?
Subsequent top officials including former CBP Commissioners Ralph Basham and Robert Bonner were informed by CBP employees as well and also did nothing to put a stop to it. Meanwhile Ahern, Winkowski and countless others continued to be promoted to the highest positions in the agency.
The rank and file officers who didn’t engage in obscene behavior were left to do the job of many since much of this behavior took place while on duty, in government buildings and vehicles. Even though these employees were being caught on government cameras, walked in on by fellow officers at their offices with large glass doors or windows, nothing brought an end to the sexcapades.
However, employees who dared to fight the establishment on sexual innuendo were often taught a painful message. Constant berating, promotion denials (though qualified) and crappy, often humiliating details would await those who dared to say “no.”
Julia Davis Harassed by the Government She Wanted to Defend After 9-11
One woman bucked the norm and was subject to the wrath of the DHS- Julia Davis.
Officer Davis’ case landed in the courtroom and eventually she was able to expose the DHS and CBP outrageous behavior at the San Ysidro Port in San Diego, CA.
Davis joined CBP after the 9-11 attack on America in an effort to serve her country proudly (Davis is an immigrant). However, her enthusiasm and professionalism for her new law enforcement career turned to fear and anger when one of her Senior Supervisors at work, Kevin Crusilla, began to make inappropriate sexual advances. While harassing Davis, Crusilla continually reminded her that she was a probationary employee and during her first year of employment could be easily terminated at any time at management’s discretion.
At first Davis tried to quietly resolve the issue by asking other Supervisors and Port Directors to intervene without filing a formal complaint. She had no idea that her boss Crusilla was part of the “good ole boy” club and a close personal friend with the upper management. She naively counted on management to make the harassment stop, including Port Director William “Bruce” Ward, Assistant Port Director Orlando Chambers and Port Director Oscar Preciado.
Although Port Managers knew Crusilla had made unwanted sexual advances towards other women, Port Directors and the Crusilla friendship stopped any action against him. Officers at the Port knew that the system would retaliate against anyone reporting misconduct by the management. Davis, however, had no idea that the management was in a habit of attacking victims who dared to complain, instead of disciplining perpetrators. She would later discover that a victim of stalking, battery and harassment was subject to even greater danger by seeking protection from the agency.
DHS continued its harassment of the Davis household eventually using a Black Hawk helicopter and a couple of home invasions to break Davis and get her to stop with the sexual harassment charges. However, it would be DHS that would underestimate Davis and her willingness to fight for her God-given rights and the country she now called home.
In desperation Davis filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on May 10, 2003. Since the Department of Homeland Security was not taking any action to stop the harassment and to protect Davis from Crusilla’s harassment and stalking, she petitioned for and was granted first a temporary and then a permanent restraining order against Crusilla with the California Superior Court in Chula Vista, CA.
This would be her first legal victory against DHS, a company she admired and worked hard to be a part of. A final court decision was issued in September 2005, in the complaint of discrimination by former Customs and Border Protection Officer Davis against the Department of Homeland Security awarding her the amount of $225,000. The Judge ruled Davis established agency culpability of an egregious sort and has been awarded damages as well as attorney fees due to discrimination.
The Judge also ruled that no one could work under the conditions Davis was subjected to and said; “I find that based on the record in the case, complainant has established not only that the agency engaged in illegal conduct, but also that the conduct was intolerable to a reasonable person because it was especially humiliating and included unnecessary harassment. Secondly, I find that the complainant’s resignation was caused by, or in response to, the illegal treatment.”
In a statement Davis said, “This decision is an important step in safeguarding civil rights of federal employees and holding agencies accountable for failing to prevent and to timely curtail unconstitutional actions in the workplace.”
Unconstitutional indeed and something that happens throughout the United States at many ports of entry as confirmed by independent sources that shared their stories throughout all levels of government agencies.
Miami Customs District – Animal House with Badges and Guns
Take the Miami Customs District where a current employee and military veteran states she has never seen such corruption in her life. “When I started with the agency I was told by my superiors that I was nothing more than piece of meat and if I played my cards right I’d move up real fast.”
This didn’t sit well with the former military brat. “I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, everyone takes the same oath unfortunately not everyone takes their oath seriously.”
At the Customs agency ‘protect and serve’ take on a new meaning especially in light of the new world order that includes terrorism. When foreign nationals are entering the country it is important to make sure they harbor no ill will towards Americans and it is the job of the agents to figure this out.
One problem the Miami agency faces with the diversity of employees is hometown allegiance- meaning they are Americans second and home country first. This stereotypical nuance seems simple enough except when you are working America’s ports of entry, and where it is easy to let some things slide-to say compadres from Venezuela or elsewhere.
This Miami source says she’s seen this up close and personal. “I’ve witnessed many agents stamp passports as if these entrants had I-94s, which means they have green card status and allows them fewer restrictions upon entering the country.”
As a result some agents report this to supervisors, but they are told by the supervisor ‘to let it go’ and ‘don’t worry about it.’ “I’ve personally talked to people who have green cards who talk very badly to me when I start asking questions. For example, if they are male I asked if they are signed up for the Selective Service (a U.S. law) and the answers are horrible.”
“I hear, ‘I hate the U.S. I will never fight for you infidels, you deserve to die!’ At that point I take the person to secondary only to be told we have to kick them free.” Now to the average person you may take offence to a green card holder speaking of America in that manner. To an agent it’s their job to ensure no hostile people are entering into the country. “I take an oath to protect and serve, however my supervisors are not letting me do my job and I take that personally.”
Another excuse given to inspectors when they get unruly patrons in a Customs line is; “It’s racial profiling.” Looking back to Ft. Hood, Texas where the military let the political-correctness rule shine through and allowed a Muslim fanatic move up the highest military ranks even though he showed disturbing signs of hatred towards Americans and finally murdering 14 people (13 soldiers one of which was pregnant) in the name of Allah; something is broken.
When people are prone to this kind of behavior at ports of entry they are often struck away because of racial profiling and CBP agents have been told accidents can happen, if you don’t tow the agency line. “I want American people to wake up. We are being attacked from the inside out. National security has been gutted; it’s like taking an apple and putting a worm inside and allowing it to feast. The apple still looks tempting from the outside, but inside there’s nothing left.”
Even with all the problems facing the Miami Customs Office, insiders say there are ways to alleviate the corruption that has plagued the agency for decades. The dirty little secret in Miami is its whorehouse reputation. “I hope with Ahern’s retirement the Department of Homeland Security can clean this agency up. I’ve had personal experiences with fellow male coworkers who groped my private parts and tried to influence me to have sex, but I have more integrity and respect for myself. I’ve filed EEOC reports, complained and nothing has been done to address the situation,” says another agent who wished to remain anonymous for fear of workplace retaliation.
“The DHS needs to clean house and fire these people from start to finish because they are making a mockery of the U.S. legal system. National security is an illusion,” she says. “What security.”
Not one to just complain about the horrific working conditions in Miami the agent offered some suggestions for the incoming commissioner.
Many sources feel candidates for DHS require greater hiring standards and if the candidate has dual passports take their foreign passport away as a condition of employment. It is felt the agencies need to enforce conflict of interest, and put an end to fraternizing with foreigners, and firms such as airlines, cruise ship lines, and cargo companies without penalties of a transfer of authority. It is felt such actions will create loyalty to America.
CBP officials need to treat their employees with respect to earn the respect of their officers at all pay grades in order to rebuild morale and trust.
Fire the current internal and incompetent management regime that has been put in place by offering promotions through participation in the sex-ring and allow an independent agency to investigate the Customs agency.
The CBP agency should be more like the military. Customs at the ports of entry are the front lines to those persons, aircraft, ships, and other forms of transportation including cargo entering the country. Assign those employees from other countries away from their region or hometowns. This will take the temptation away to let people slide that are questionable and need to be detained for further questioning.
After interviewing several agents at different ports of entry, different agencies and different environments it has become critically clear DHS has some major problems. If these issues are not resolved quickly all the employees forecasted an ominous act of terrorism on the horizon. An anonymous agent summed it up best; “There is simply no connecting the dots between departments let alone agencies. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
This brings us back to the retiring Jayson Ahern, and ultimately DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Will she and incoming Commissioner Bersin do anything about internal on-duty misconduct, promotions earned solely for sexual activities, gross incompetence, all while they are supposed to be an agency with a key national security mission?
The impact of Ahern’s legacy outside the sex ring is contained in a memo dated September 2005 regarding Hurricane Katrina and the processing of illegal aliens- this memo was circulated within CBP employees. Illegal aliens only needed to utter Hurricane Katrina Relief it was their free pass to stay in U.S. without documentation or background checks. This was considered by some as the ultimate Disneyland free pass. Of course to this day New Orleans is known for its increase in crime, particularly in the areas where illegal aliens reside – significantly increased as reported by CNN.
Particular points of interest contained in the memo include; “The individual does not pose any known terrorist threat to the U.S.; the individual does not pose any immediate threat to the U.S. for criminal activity; and the individual is not likely to add to the illegal immigrant population in the U.S.” How one can gather this information without the benefit of a background check is beyond many CBP employees- they understood this was nothing more than granting “parole” or amnesty.
Ultimately, will Napolitano and DHS properly investigate CBP’s sex-ring and the inappropriate conduct (including promotions) and put an end to it all? Will they begin terminating managers who retire with full benefits though their service has been less than honorable? Or will it be business as usual, meaning the internal terror continues against officers more interested in sex games, until our next 9-11 happens?
What is clear is that Jayson Ahern leaves a shameful legacy behind him. Napolitano claims Ahern has ‘led CBP and we have benefited from his wisdom.’ Let’s hope the incoming Commissioner does learn that the benefits of business as usual equals failure and wisdom can lead to courage and change.
This story will continue…
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A Senate Appropriation Committee dropped an amendment put in by the Republicans to secure the southern border with additional 700-miles of high tech fence.
The porous U.S./Mexico border remains a high-traffic area and increased violence has prompted lawmakers to push the urgency of finishing the border fence.
The Senate report left out the required installation of U.S. border fence by the end of next year. The Republican amendment was penned by Sen. Jim DeMint R- S.C. and included the support of 21 Democrats.
It is no surprise that the White House was able to claim a small victory with immigration reform on the horizon it appears constructing a better fence impedes the friendly relationship with Mexico.
Under the Bush Administration, appropriators called for 670-miles of border fence to be built, however, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found in February less than 36-miles of fence had been completed.
A spokesperson from Congressman Hunter’s office said they were disappointed that the language removed clearly seeing the need for the completion of the fence.
According to Joe Kasper, the Senate Appropriation Committee supported a bipartisan measure earlier in the year that would give Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security Secretary some money to keep in her pack pocket if she feels an emergency need arises and new structures need to be installed.
“We support a double fence with all the advanced technology, but the White House did not want a date certain,” Kasper said. “The current fence doesn’t provide the effective reliable infrastructure needed to protect our national borders.”
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
In a report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in April of this year, department officials charged Americans who believed in topics like anti-abortion, illegal immigration or disgruntled military members may fall victim to domestic extremist groups similar to Timothy McVeigh.
The report in question garnered information from internet websites and news stories found on the internet rather than relying on hard facts and statistics from agencies such as Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm (ATF) or Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). James Carafano, Homeland Security expert said, a good report would included credible sources from the DEA, FBI and ATF.
The DHS report sparked outrage back in April from military groups, veteran’s groups as well as ordinary citizens.
Consumer advocacy group Americans for Limited Government decided to file a Freedom of Information Act request a few days after the DHS report was released in order to find out what was really going on.
ALG was stunned to find the lack of research used by a governmental agency charged with protecting the United States.
“Under Napolitano’s watch, government officials who were supposed to be gathering real intelligence on domestic terror threats were instead surfing the web and reading wacky websites, all to create the public perception of right-wing extremism,” said Bill Wilson of ALG.
Included in the DHS response to ALG was reference to website the officials used at least 11 times http://www.whatdoesitmean.com. “We are demanding that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano resign her post for the Department’s use of a crackpot conspiracy website in drafting and issuing this ‘right-wing extremism’ threat to law enforcement in April,” said Alex Rosenwald of ALG.
He goes on to say that the use of a ‘kook’ website used to indict the American people in the right-wing extremist memo without using proper intelligence gathering is deplorable, highly dubious and extremely insulting to tens of millions of Americans who were targeted by the DHS memo.
Wilson said, “The DHS assessment was actually a political document designed to fuel the public’s perception of right-wing extremism, nothing more.” He continues, “Taking part in a deliberate intimidation campaign against the American people under the guise of protecting them is wrong. The only honorable thing for Napolitano to do is step down.”
DHS declined to comment on the report.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 includes some language that could prevent right-wing extremists from entering the military and serving their country.
The meat of the bill is to authorize appropriations for 2010 military activities of the Department of Defense.
While, much of the bill refers to construction, prescribing military personnel strengths, special pay and allowances to certain members of the Armed Forces, including benefits for disabled military retirees.
The brouhaha over HR 2647 is the language stemming from the first Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremists.
The DHS list included border patrol groups who don’t believe in open borders or religious groups that don’t believe in abortion as well as other perceived-anti government organizations.
The vague language contained in the bill gives authority to the Attorney General to determine what groups are seen as ‘extremist,’ however, tea party groups and border patrol groups feel this is directly targeted at them.
“Think of anything you or someone you know may have said in an email or online that may be construed to support, encourage or affirm a government idea that you could have agreed with an extremist’s views and goals, they or their children could be prohibited from joining the military,” said one Patriot group who wished to remain anonymous.
They also insisted that if you believe in the Constitution of the United States and stand up for it you may not be able to serve in the military, however if you belong to any far-left group, you’ll be fine.
All patriot groups encourage voters to check out this bill as it heads to the Senate for the final vote and contact their Senators with questions and concerns.
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