of the Day
- November 14, 2009
some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local
newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage
of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood
activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible
issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular
point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From LA Times
Four men arrested while digging tunnel across U.S.-Mexico border
November 13, 2009 | 2:58 pm
Four men were arrested in Baja California while digging a tunnel across the U.S.-Mexico border, officials said today.
The men were using heavy machinery to bore through the ground and had dug down more than 21 feet when the Baja State Police arrested them Thursday night in Mexicali, Mexico.
An anonymous tip led the officers to the group.
Baja police are valuing the heavy equipment at more than $75,000.
Police released the names of three of the four men: Rigoberto Gaspar Méndez, 27, and Carlos Gáspar Méndez, 18, of Chihuahua; and Roberto Carlos Osuna Villegas, 36, of Sinaloa.
Mid-City slaying shows the difficulty of protecting domestic violence victims
November 13, 2009 | 7:42 am The slaying of a Mid-City woman who had just filed a domestic violence complaint against her boyfriend underscores the difficulties of stopping an attacker determined to strike his or her victim, domestic violence experts said.
“I've worked with offenders for the last 15 years, and they don't care if there's one restraining order, five restraining orders. If they want to get to the victim, they'll get to the victim," said Elizabeth Vera, director of Community Support Services in L.A. "They will do everything physically and psychologically to abuse their victim."
Los Angeles police investigators continued today to investigate how a man eluded officers watching a Mid-City apartment and managed to kill Flor Medrano, who had just filed a domestic violence complaint.
Wilshire Division officers who specialize in domestic abuse were on the lookout for the man after taking Medrano's report, counseling her and returning her to her Cochran Avenue apartment Wednesday evening.
The officers escorted Medrano, 30, to her door, checked to make sure the apartment appeared safe and then returned to their unmarked patrol car to watch for the suspect, officials said. The officers later tried to check on Medrano via cellphone and tell her they were leaving, but they were cut off. When they reestablished contact and heard screaming, the officers rushed to the apartment and saw a man stabbing Medrano.
Unable to gain entry through a metal security door, the officers fired through a front window, fatally wounding the attacker, according to police sources who asked not to be named because of the ongoing investigation.
Vera said she was not surprised by the determination shown by the suspect. She said offenders are often so focused on the assault that nothing else concerns them. “Chances are with most offenders, my experience is if they believe they're going to die, they're going to take their victim with them. It's almost suicide by cops.”
Vera said the greatest time of risk for a victim is when they're trying to leave an offender.
“That is when she is most likely to be assaulted or murdered,” she said.
The chain of events in the Mid-City case began Wednesday afternoon when Medrano flagged down patrol officers, saying she had been raped, according to the Police Department sources.
At the Wilshire station, she declined to go forward with the charges, the sources said, but told officers that she had been seeing the man off and on and that he was abusing her physically.
During the course of the investigation, the suspect sent Medrano several text messages, leading investigators to believe he was possibly in the area. Officers went to Medrano's apartment but did not find him, Capt. Eric Davis of Wilshire Division said.
Medrano was counseled about seeking a restraining order and going to a domestic violence shelter, but said she wanted to go home, sources said.
Vera said it's common for victims of domestic violence to turn down shelter.
“There's this sense that even if they seek assistance that they're not going to be protected from the offender, because for the victim a restraining order is a piece of paper," she said. "It doesn't stop a bullet, it doesn't stop a knife, it doesn't stop an assault.”
Here are some resources for victims of domestic violence:
L.A. County Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 978-3600
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233
Laura's House (Orange County): (949) 498-1511
Valley Trauma Center Rape Crisis Center: (818) 886-0453
Interval House (Orange County): (714) 891-8121
L.A. County sheriff's deputies arrest 73-year-old tagging suspect
November 13, 2009 | 12:44 pm
Calling him the oldest tagging suspect they have ever captured, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrested a 73-year-old Los Angeles man for allegedly putting "slap tags" on the inside of Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses.
For the last seven months, deputies assigned to the Special Problems Unit of the Sheriff's Transit Bureau have been trying to determine the identity of an "older" vandal who had been placing orange and black "Who Is John Scott?" stickers on buses in Baldwin Hills and other areas concentrated on the Westside of Los Angeles.
Deputies involved in a saturation patrol this morning at the downtown 7th and Metro Center subway station encountered the septuagenarian suspect, later identified as 73-year-old John Scott of Los Angeles, as he was putting slap tags in one of the main stairwells at the transit hub.
"Up until this year, the oldest guy we had arrested was 36," said sheriff's Lt. Erik Ruble. "We knew our guy was older, but not 73."
Ruble said Scott was caught with stickers in his pockets as well as a black brief case, which appears to be similar to a case that is pictured on the whoisjohnscott.com website.
Investigators said they were not sure how long Scott had been vandalizing buses or the particulars of his life story. But Ruble said deputies believe Scott was driven to tag by the same motivation as his younger cohorts: "fame and notoriety."
"It just goes to show, the graffiti culture in Los Angeles is not age-specific and is very diverse," Ruble said.
Seven months ago, deputies began noticing "Who Is John Scott?" stickers being placed on light poles, bus benches and even on the seats of the MTA buses themselves. Ruble said many of the stickers are hard to get to and required dismantling equipment to remove.
With a little research they found that their vandal had created a website selling the mystery of his identity as well as T-shirts, baseball caps and the slap tags.
"Who am I? John Scott -- world traveler, entrepreneur, producer, but, above all, mystery -- an ordinary man with an extraordinary idea of himself," read a description above a picture of a man dressed in black, his face hidden and a question mark over it. "A real person with a real history, he is also you and me, the face in the window, the voice on the bus."
"The mystery exists no more," Ruble said.
Ohio to lead way in single-injection executions
It's the first state to switch from a three-drug lethal injection formula that some consider cruel and unusual punishment. The change was prompted by the failed execution of Romell Broom in September.
By Carol J. Williams
November 14, 2009
Ohio became the first state in the nation Friday to adopt a single-injection method for executing condemned inmates, a process that state officials believe will avoid violating the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The single large dose of anesthetic is similar to the method used by veterinarians to euthanize pets and livestock. Other states with capital punishment now use a three-drug formula that is believed to inflict pain if not properly administered.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said that Ohio's new method was "a better alternative."
"My understanding is this one drug is not in itself painful -- that it will put you to sleep and cause death all in one process," said Dieter, who remains opposed to executions on moral grounds. "That said, it hasn't been tried with human subjects, so it's a bit of an experiment."
Ohio's decision, announced in filings with the U.S. District Court in Columbus, was prompted by an incident at the Lucasville prison on Sept. 15, when the execution team failed to carry out the death penalty against Romell Broom because they couldn't locate a vein capable of receiving the injections.
The corrections personnel spent more than two hours poking the convicted murderer's limbs, making as many as 18 insertions before the execution was called off.
Lawyers for Broom fought the state's plan to carry out the execution a week later and won a reprieve. Other executions have been on hold pending review of the procedures.
Ohio will now use a 5-gram dose of sodium thiopental -- 2 1/2 times the amount used in the three-injection method.
In the 34 other states that allow execution, the sodium thiopental injection is followed by a dose of pancuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, and then a final dose of potassium chloride to stop the heart.
The advantage to the single-injection method is that "there is no chance the inmate could be awake" when death occurs, said Dr. Mark Dershwitz, a University of Massachusetts Medical School anesthesiology professor who served as an expert witness in the Ohio deliberations. "The disadvantage is it will take longer for the coroner to be able to pronounce the inmate dead."
How much longer is uncertain, Dershwitz said, as the procedure hasn't been performed on humans. But he estimated that death would probably occur within 10 minutes, as opposed to the nearly instantaneous death caused by the potassium chloride injection.
Ohio corrections chief Terry Collins said in the court papers that the new procedures would be in place by Nov. 30 -- in time for a scheduled Dec. 8 execution if the stay imposed after Broom's experience is lifted.
"Ohio has taken an important step by abandoning the barbaric practice of paralyzing inmates before executing them," said Elisabeth Semel, a law professor and director of the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley.
Semel added, however, that more medical information will be needed before courts can determine whether the one-drug method satisfies the 8th Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
Legal analysts say that they expect other states to follow Ohio's example if the state manages to carry out single-injection executions without the problems that have arisen in some of the three-drug procedures.
California, which has the nation's largest death row with 685 prisoners, is revising its lethal injection procedures but rejected the single-drug method early in the review process. No reason was given at the time.
Anthony Sowell, suspect in multiple Cleveland killings, pleads not guilty to rape and attempted murder
Sowell enters his plea in a case that led investigators to his house, where they found the remains of 11 women. He previously was charged with five counts of aggravated murder.
By P.J. Huffstutter
12:10 PM PST, November 13, 2009
The Ohio man whom investigators believe may be one of the Midwest's most prolific serial killers pleaded not guilty this morning to charges of rape and attempted murder in connection with a September attack that led to investigators discovering the remains of 11 women at his home.
Amid heavy security inside Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland, Anthony Sowell, 50, also pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and felonious assault as part of the alleged Sept. 22 sexual attack.
Judge John P. O'Donnell ordered that $1 million be added to Sowell's existing $5 million bond. Sowell is being held at the Cuyahoga County Jail.
Assistant county prosecutor Gayle Williams said the 36-year-old woman who accused Sowell of raping and choking her is still afraid.
"She was only breaths away from becoming another victim of Mr. Sowell's," Williams said.
Sowell, who was arrested on Oct. 29 in that attack, was previously charged with five counts of aggravated murder in connection with the discovery of bodies at his home.
Prosecutors are expected to file additional murder charges against Sowell for the other six victims in the coming weeks. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The case is far from over. Local and federal investigators are continuing to search Sowell's home, as well as the backyards of nearby properties, for more victims.
The FBI is also expanding its search into other cities -- including the Camp Pendleton area and other parts of Southern California -- where Sowell, a former Marine, was stationed in the past.
Law enforcement agencies from the California communities of Oceanside and Coronado are checking their files for any possible related cases, as are police departments in North Carolina, South Carolina and Japan.
Sowell moved into the eastside Cleveland duplex in 2005.
He had spent the previous 15 years in state prison for luring a 21-year-old woman into his home, then choking and repeatedly raping her, according to the county prosecutor's office. He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted rape in that case, according to the prosecutor's office.
When police arrived at Sowell's house to arrest him for the alleged September attack, investigators discovered the bodies of two women lying on the living room floor.
As the days passed, more bodies were discovered. One was in a freshly dug grave underneath a set of stairs in the backyard, while another was in a shallow grave in the basement.
Two more were crammed in a crawl space inside the house. Four more bodies were found buried in the backyard, and a skull was inside a bucket in the basement.
Ten of the 11 victims have been identified so far. Of those who have been identified, all were African American women who ranged in age from 25 to 52.
Investigators and family members of the victims have said that many of the victims either had criminal records, substance-abuse problems or both.
Ft. Hood shooting suspect Nidal Malik Hasan is paralyzed, his lawyer says
The suspect, who is under guard in intensive care, has no feeling in his legs and might never walk again.
By Nicholas Riccardi
November 14, 2009
Reporting from Ft. Hood, Texas
The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 12 soldiers and one civilian at this sprawling military base last week was left paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by two police officers, his attorney said Friday.
John P. Galligan said that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan feels no sensation in his legs and that doctors at a San Antonio military hospital -- where Hasan is in intensive care and under guard -- have said he may not walk again.
"He's pretty much paralyzed," Galligan said, adding that Hasan does have some feeling in his hands and is in significant pain.
A retired Army colonel specializing in military criminal defense, Galligan said he met with Hasan Thursday after military officials filed 13 charges of premeditated murder. If convicted, Hasan could face the death penalty.
Hasan, 39, is accused of opening fire on dozens of unarmed soldiers inside Ft. Hood's Soldier Readiness Center. They were filling out paperwork for pending deployments.
A devout Muslim, Hasan too was due to deploy to Afghanistan to counsel troops there. According to witnesses, Hasan walked into the center, uttered an apparent prayer and cried " Allahu akbar " -- Arabic for "God is great" -- before discharging more than 100 rounds.
Dozens of people were wounded in the attack.
Before the shooting, the FBI and two high-profile anti-terrorism task forces had investigated e-mails that Hasan sent over the last year to Anwar al Awlaki, a radical imam in Yemen and a U.S. citizen who has ties to militants.
However, authorities said, the task forces concluded that the communications posed no threat and had been undertaken as part of Hasan's research on Muslims, the military and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hasan was promoted to major and sent to Ft. Hood this summer for deployment. The Defense Department did not learn about Hasan's contacts with Awlaki until after the shootings, said a senior official who requested anonymity when discussing the ongoing investigation.
President Obama has ordered a review of all intelligence decisions related to Hasan. The first round of the review is due to end Nov. 30. The Senate next week will hold hearings about the case.
Galligan, who along with a military attorney will defend Hasan, said Friday that his client was still dazed, probably due to medication.
According to the Dallas Morning News , Galligan also expressed anger that reporters had been allowed into Hasan's apartment Wednesday after military and FBI investigators released control of it.
Although Hasan had given away most of his belongings in the days before the attack, some items remained, the paper said, including a business card listing Hasan's credentials as a psychiatrist that had the letters "SoA" under his name. According to experts, "SoA" stands for "Servant of Allah" or "Soldier of Allah." The latter phrase has been associated with Muslim extremist groups.
"I know some people are saying [it means] soldier of Allah," Galligan said. "Is that any more troubling than saying I'm a servant of Christ?"
Napolitano sees hope for immigration reform
The Homeland Security chief sees a shift in support of such an effort. She calls for a 'tough pathway' to legal status for undocumented workers.
By Joe Markman
November 14, 2009
Reporting from Washington
The government has beefed up border security and workplace immigration enforcement, and now should begin the work of overhauling immigration laws, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday.
"The hope is that when we get into the first part of 2010, that we will see legislation begin to move," Napolitano said. The legislation should not only give law enforcement officials more tools to fight illegal immigration but create a "tough pathway" for undocumented workers to gain legal status, she said.
Napolitano said the government's progress in shoring up the border with Mexico and enforcing laws at the workplace meant that more Americans and more lawmakers would support an overhaul of laws than during the last effort, in 2007.
"I've been dealing hands-on with immigration issues since 1993, so trust me, I know a major shift when I see one. And what I have seen makes reform far more attainable," Napolitano told the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.
She said the "tough pathway" to legal status would require illegal immigrants to register, pay a fine, pass a criminal background check, pay all taxes and learn English.
Critics responded that immigration reform was code for a blanket amnesty, and that the strides Napolitano cited in enforcement were overstated.
They also said that economic turbulence, with 10.2% unemployment, meant the timing was bad for an effort to legalize undocumented workers.
"The substance of her case is divorced from the reality of America's economy today," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. "The arguments against amnesty are far stronger today than they were in 2007. You have a much tighter job market."
An estimated 12 million illegal immigrants live in the United States.
Napolitano pointed to improved border security as the strongest argument for immigration reform's better chances. Since 2007, more than 600 miles of border fence have been built in the Southwest, and there are now more than 20,000 patrol officers guarding the nation's southern boundary, she said.
But she said a path to legal status was important too. "We will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows," she said.
Despite Napolitano's optimism about passing reform next year, the 2010 congressional elections remain an obstacle.
"Congress does not want to debate amnesty during an election year," said Jon Feere, a legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors "low-immigration" policies. "The year after that, Obama is looking at reelection himself, and he's not going to want to make immigration an issue."
John Vinson, president of the American Immigration Control Foundation, which advocates tough immigration laws, said, "The American people are not sympathetic to people who break laws."
But others said that immigration had proven to be ineffective as a wedge issue in elections.
Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said, "Candidates who stand up for rational, comprehensive solutions to this complex problem don't lose races."
Mexico irked by recognition of 'El Chapo'
The U.S. magazine Forbes ranks Joaquin Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, among the world's movers and shakers.
By Tracy Wilkinson
November 14, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City
Mexicans were none too pleased to read that their country's most-wanted cocaine kingpin has been ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful people in the world.
Joaquin Guzman, alias El Chapo -- Spanish for "Shorty" -- was listed by Forbes this week as No. 41 in a collection of 67 ("one for every 100 million people on the planet") movers, shakers, rulers and crooks judged as the people who really run the world.
A senior official with the Mexican attorney general's office, Juan de Dios Castro, said the inclusion of Guzman was "frivolous," and Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan used his debut on Twitter to denounce it.
"Sadly, Forbes insists in parading criminals and drug-traffickers," he wrote, according to the Reforma newspaper. Sarukhan went on to suggest that it would take social networks, such as Twitter, to paint a more positive picture of Mexico than that portrayed by "traditional media."
Mexican officials have long been irked over newspaper reports, especially in the U.S., that emphasize the blood-soaked war the government is waging against heavily armed drug cartels such as the one controlled by Guzman.
President Felipe Calderon lashed out in March when Forbes named Guzman one of the world's top billionaires. The question of "powerful" is more nuanced and subjective, however. Forbes says it wanted to start a "conversation" with its first such list and asked whether naming "despicable criminals" like Guzman was an accurate reflection of power.
Guzman heads the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's oldest and largest drug-trafficking organization, which is believed to have smuggled billions of dollars' worth of cocaine and other drugs into the U.S. The organization has extensive networks throughout the U.S. and is responsible for much of the recent drug-related violence in Mexico.
Guzman has been on the lam since escaping in 2001 from a maximum-security prison days after a court ruled that he could be extradited to the U.S. He is said to have been helped by guards and wardens to escape by hiding in a laundry truck.
"Surely . . . we have more than one screw loose," columnist Francisco Rodriguez said on the Web publication EjeCentral. The ranking by "Forbes magazine, that tool of capitalism . . . is enough to make us all ask if we didn't choose the wrong profession."
The other Mexican to make the list was Carlos Slim Helu, a telecom tycoon considered by Forbes to be the third-richest man on Earth. Slim, who has benefited wildly from monopolies, controls a wealth that stands in glaring contrast to Mexico's overall poverty (his wealth, Forbes says, equals 2% of the Mexican gross domestic product). He ranked No. 6 on the "powerful" list, just ahead of Rupert Murdoch and above Bill Gates and the pope.
"For a U.S. publication to distinguish Slim and El Chapo, far from filling us with pride, should make us reflect," journalist Miguel Angel Granados Chapa noted in his Reforma column. "The two figures embody our worst evils: Slim represents the extreme of deep, growing inequality, and Guzman embodies the prosperous [life of] crime and impunity."
Plan for Mohammed's trial upholds U.S. values
The decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other accused 9/11 conspirators in the civilian judicial system shows a commitment to the rule of law.
November 14, 2009
To predictable criticism, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Friday that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other accused 9/11 conspirators held at Guantanamo Bay will be put on trial in New York City. The fact that even Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, will have his day in court makes an eloquent statement about the Obama administration's determination to avenge the victims of terrorism within the rule of law.
Holder immediately was denounced by Democrats and Republicans alike for sending the cases to the civilian judicial system rather than military commissions (which, inexplicably, he has decided to entrust with the trials of those accused of attacking the U.S. destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000). In the weeks ahead, the administration will need to redouble its efforts to calm hysteria in Congress about the supposed threat posed by moving detainees to U.S. soil.
Ironically, one focus of the criticism is a fact Holder emphasized in his announcement: that Mohammed and the other defendants "will be brought to New York to answer for their alleged crimes in a courthouse just blocks from where the twin towers once stood." Critics say that bringing the trial to New York would make the city a target again . Yet Omar Abdel Rahman , the "blind sheik" convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up several New York landmarks, was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in that city without incident.
It's not crucial, however, that the alleged architects of 9/11 face their legal reckoning near the site of the attacks. Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing, was tried and sentenced to death not in that city but in Denver. What matters is that they will be afforded the panoply of rights enjoyed by defendants in U.S. courts, including a prohibition on the use of illegally obtained evidence.
To try these accused terrorists in civilian courts doesn't equate them with common criminals, as Sen. Joe Lieberman , the Connecticut Independent, has suggested. Obviously they're not accused of robbing banks or committing extortion, but neither are they traditional prisoners of war who are being held until the foreseeable end of hostilities. Given the seemingly indefinite duration of the war on terror, criminal trials offer the fairest way to determine whether they should be confined.
Holder said he's confident that Mohammed and the others will be convicted and face the death penalty. Still, the ultimate decision -- unless one or more defendants plead guilty -- will be a jury's. That is of inestimable value to the image of the United States so damaged by the excesses of the George W. Bush administration.
From the Daily News
Evangelist Tony Alamo sentenced to 175 years in federal prison
By Jon Gambrell, Associated Press
Updated: 11/13/2009 08:11:37 PM PST
TEXARKANA, Ark. — Evangelist Tony Alamo used his stature as a self-proclaimed prophet to force underage girls into sham marriages with him, controlling his followers with their fears of eternal suffering.
But the judge who sentenced Alamo on Friday to 175 years in prison for child sexual abuse warned of another kind of justice awaiting the aging evangelist.
"Mr. Alamo, one day you will face a higher and a greater judge than me," U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes told the preacher. "May he have mercy on your soul."
Barnes leveled the maximum sentence against the 75-year-old, who preyed on followers' young daughters and took child "brides" as young as age 8. A jury convicted Alamo in July on a 10-count indictment accusing him of taking the girls across state lines for sex.
Alamo, who has made millions through his ministry, also must pay $250,000 in fines. He will return to court for a Jan. 13 hearing at which Barnes will determine if the five women who testified about their sexual abuse will be paid restitution. Federal prosecutors say an expert believes each one should get $2.7 million for the physical and mental abuse they endured.
Barnes said Alamo used his influence as both a father figure and a pastor to force himself upon impressionable girls who feared "the loss of their salvation."
"You are described by others who testified as a prophet of God, a person of trust, a person of supreme authority in the church," Barnes said, staring the pale preacher. "It's hard to imagine the scenario and the damage that occurred to these five young girls."
Alamo, who had muttered and cursed through his two-week trial, stood silently during the sentencing, dressed in a yellow prison uniform and a blue windbreaker. Before Barnes' ruling, Alamo told the judge: "I lean on the lord Jesus Christ."
"I'm glad I'm me and not the deceived people in the world," the evangelist said.
Alamo's defense team, which had asked for leniency due to the preacher's age and poor health, promised to appeal Barnes' ruling.
FBI agents and Arkansas State Police troopers raided Alamo's compound in nearby Fouke in September 2008. The FBI arrested Alamo five days later in Flagstaff, Ariz., charging him with violating the Mann Act, a century-old morality law originally aimed at stopping women from being sold into prostitution.
Five women, age 17 to 33, testified in July that Alamo "married" them in private ceremonies while they were minors, sometimes giving them rings. Each detailed trips beyond Arkansas' borders for Alamo's sexual gratification.
With little physical evidence, prosecutors relied on the women's stories to paint an emotional portrait of a charismatic religious leader who controlled every aspect of his subjects' lives. The women said Alamo ordered beatings or punitive fasts for minor infractions or at the whim of his paranoia.
Defense lawyers said the government targeted Alamo because it disapproves of his apocalyptic brand of Christianity. Alamo never testified at trial, but spoke to Barnes twice during the hearing Friday. He first told the judge he thought his defense team provided him adequate legal help, though he wanted them to harshly cross-examine the women to show "that the people who were testifying against me were lying."
My lawyers "did prove that I never took girls out of state to have sex with them," Alamo said.
Three of the five victims spoke in court Friday about how Alamo stole their childhoods and tore apart their families to satisfy his sexual perversions. One woman Alamo took as a child "bride" at age 8 described how she shook uncontrollably when he first molested her.
"You have the audacity to ask for mercy," the woman said, looking up from her handwritten notes to stare at Alamo. "What mercy did you show us?"
The evangelist's lawyers pleaded for a lower sentence because of his age and infirmities. They called as witnesses two followers and a doctor, who discussed how Alamo suffered from hypertension, diabetes, obesity and glaucoma. However, Dr. Samuel Berkman acknowledged under cross-examination that he examined Alamo only once in 2004, as the preacher sought an eye lift to look younger.
"There's no question he's done a lot of good," said Don Ervin, a Houston lawyer who led Alamo's defense, outlining the church's efforts to reach the poor. "He's an unusual man and an unusually great man."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner said after the hearing that prosecutors would work with the federal prison system to ensure Alamo can't control his ministry and its many businesses from behind bars. At trial, one of the victims described how Alamo "married" and groped her during a prison visit.
How long Alamo remains an influence depends on whether police or former followers dismantle the ministry through lawsuits and criminal cases. The FBI declined to say Friday whether it had ongoing investigations involving the ministry.
As Alamo left the courthouse, he said he would leave to his church's future in other hands.
"The Lord is in charge," the preacher said.
Michael Jackson memorial costs: $3.2 million
By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer
Updated: 11/13/2009 01:37:54 PM PST
The Michael Jackson memorial service cost the city of Los Angeles about $3.2 million, according to a new city report released Friday, an expense city officials justified spending because of the massive crowds they had anticipated at the July 6 event.
The report from Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller said the costs involved $1.2 million in direct salary and $2 million in overtime for preparation and deployment of the 3,968 officers assigned to the event in anticipation of crowds of more than 250,000.
In the end, with officials asking the public not to show up at Staples Center if they didn't have tickets, the crowds were much smaller than expected.
"When the morning progressed and it was obvious that the crowd size would be relatively minimal, the LAPD command post began demobilization," the report said.
"Not withstanding the fact that significant crowds did not materialize and little or no violence or other threats to the public materialized, in light of the potential risks to the public...city staff acted reasonably and responsibly."
At the same time, the report estimated the memorial service brought in $4 million in revenue from increased tourism to the city.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has said he would seek reimbursement from AEG, the owner of Staples Center and organizer of the memorial, for the city's costs. His office had no immediate comment on the report.
Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, claimed last month that Trutanich tried to "bully" his company into paying the city $6 million to cover the costs of the memorial.
Miller recommended the City Council request a report from Trutanich on his plans for reimbursement and transfer funds to cover the LAPD costs.
The Jackson family this week agreed to transfer $1 million to cover the costs of the funeral for the pop singer.
From the Washington Times
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Immigration bill is promoted for 2010
by Stephen Dinan
Declaring success in border security and immigration enforcement, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that the federal government has done its work and now it's time for Congress to pass a broad bill to legalize illegal immigrants.
Her speech signals President Obama will make good on his promise to push Congress to pass an immigration bill next year - adding yet another hot-button issue to an already long and contentious list.
Ms. Napolitano said members of Congress and voters who balked at an immigration bill two years ago, fearing a repeat of the 1986 amnesty that only made the problem worse, can be assured this time is different. She said in those two years, the flow of illegal immigrants across the border has dropped dramatically and the government is doing more to catch fugitive aliens inside the U.S.
"The security of the southwest border has been transformed from where it was in 2007," she said in a speech to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. "The federal government has dedicated unprecedented resources to the Mexican border in terms of manpower, technology and infrastructure - and it's made a real difference."
But Republicans said her declaration of victory on border security was premature.
"How can they claim that enforcement is 'done' when there are more than 400 open miles of border with Mexico, hundreds of thousands of criminal and fugitive aliens and millions of illegal immigrants taking American jobs?" said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
The number of illegal immigrants being caught on the border has fallen - a measure Border Patrol officials say means fewer are trying to cross - and Ms. Napolitano said the government has hundreds of miles of fencing on the border, has boosted the number of Border Patrol agents to 20,000 and has begun to deport illegal-alien criminals being kept in U.S. prisons and jails.
The number of illegal immigrants apprehended by immigration authorities is down from 1.8 million in 2000 to 556,041 in fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30, and demography experts say the number of illegal immigrants remaining in the U.S. has actually begun to fall.
Ms. Napolitano said both a slowing economy and better enforcement account for the changes, which she said creates a window for Congress to act.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee, said Ms. Napolitano "contradicted herself by claiming the downturn in our economy has reduced illegal immigration but then advocated for an amnesty policy that allows millions of illegal aliens to take American jobs."
"This is exactly the wrong time to be giving a pro-amnesty speech since we just received news that the national unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent," Mr. King said.
Immigrant rights groups say they've changed the debate in Congress, and Ms. Napolitano said the attitude among Americans has changed as well.
But when it comes to actual votes in Congress, there hasn't been a good test for some years, and earlier this year White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the "votes aren't there right now" to pass a broad legalization bill.
Immigrant rights advocates said they'll be watching to see how much muscle Mr. Obama puts behind the effort. Some have said Mr. Obama betrayed them by embracing E-Verify, the voluntary employee verification system, and revamping but not ending local police enforcement of immigration laws.
On Friday, though, groups said they saw a "real commitment" from Ms. Napolitano and the administration to try to pass a broad bill, which they argue would take care of many of the key problems that have led to stepped-up enforcement.
In 2007, President George W. Bush teamed with Senate Democrats and some Republicans to try to pass a bill that legalized most illegal immigrants, rewrote the rules for legal immigration and provided money for some border security.
The bill lost on an unusual majority filibuster that saw 15 Democrats and one independent join 37 Republicans in blocking the measure.
A year earlier, the Senate had passed a bill that had legalized some illegal immigrants, while the House passed an enforcement-only measure. Both bills died because they could not be reconciled with one another.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Same old, same old
by Victor Davis Hanson
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is accused of murdering last week 13 people (12 of whom were soldiers) and wounding another 30 at Fort Hood, Texas. It was not the first, nor will it be the last, domestic terrorist incident since Sept. 11, 2001.
We now see that authorities had, or should have had, reason to be suspicious of Hasan - including his contact with a radical cleric and a bizarre "medical" presentation he once gave to Army doctors that focused on Islam and the military.
Now, we're also learning that someone going by the name Nidal Hasan posted extremist views on the Internet and that at least one former classmate questioned his loyalty to America.
Yet no one acted.
Was, as there appears to be, a fear among would-be accusers of being charged with politically incorrect bias?
That worry has certainly been evident in the postmortem Fort Hood analysis. Repeatedly the media advised us not to rush to judgment about the motives of Hasan, who, witnesses say, yelled "Allahu Akbar" before he shot the unarmed.
Many commentators were more likely to cite the stresses of hearing patients discuss two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than Hasan's own apparent extremist beliefs.
In truth, the Fort Hood murders fit into a now-familiar pattern of radical Islamic-inspired violence that manifests itself in two principal ways.
First are the formal terrorist plots. Radical Muslims have attempted, in coordinated fashion, to blow up a bridge, explode a train, assault a military base and topple a high-rise building - in ways al Qaeda terrorist leaders abroad warned us would follow Sept. 11.
This year alone, three terrorist plots have been foiled.
Najibullah Zazi was indicted for plans to set off a bomb in New York on the anniversary of Sept. 11.
Daniel Patrick Boyd and Hysen Sherifi were charged with conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel at the Quantico, Va., military base.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi - a 19-year-old Jordanian in the United States illegally - was arrested after being accused of placing what he thought were explosives near a 60-story office tower in Dallas.
In all these cases, the plotter (or plotters) either had ties to terrorists or voiced Islamic-fueled anger at the United States.
More than 20 other domestic terrorist plots have been stopped by law enforcement agencies since Sept. 11. On average, in the 98 months since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, a radical Islamic-inspired terrorist plot has been uncovered every four months.
There also have been "lone wolf" mass murderers in which angry radical Muslims sought to channel their frustrations and failures into violence against their perceived enemies of Islam.
Since Sept. 11, several Muslim men have run over innocent bystanders or shot random people at or near military bases, synagogues and shopping malls.
After the initial hysteria died down, we usually were told that such acts were isolated incidents, involving personal "issues" rather than radical Islamic hatred of the United States. Yet a few examples show that was not quite the case.
The just-executed sniper John Allan Muhammad, who, along with an accomplice, killed 10 people and voiced approval of Osama bin Laden and radical Islamic violence.
Naveed Afzal Haq is currently on trial for going on a murderous rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building. A survivor said Haq stated his attack was a "personal statement against Jews."
Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar ran over nine students at the University of North Carolina. Officers said he told them afterward he wanted to avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide.
Omeed Aziz Popal struck 18 pedestrians with his car near a Jewish center in San Francisco. Witnesses say he said, "I am a terrorist," at the scene.
No doubt in each case, experts could assure us that there were extenuating personal circumstances - stresses and mental illnesses that better explain what happened.
Mere mention that such killers typically voiced radical Islamic or virulently anti-Semitic themes often can earn one charges of Islamaphobia, racism or other illiberal biases. Indeed, I expect dozens of angry, accusatory letters in response to this column.
Nevertheless, the facts since Sept. 11 reveal an undeniable reality.
Every few months, either an Islamic-inspired terrorist plot will be foiled or a young Muslim male will shoot, run down or stab someone while invoking anger at non-Muslims.
In other words, the attack on Fort Hood happened on schedule. It was the rule, not the exception. And something like it will occur again - soon.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The folly of unilateral disarmament
by Jacob Sullum
When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan started shooting up the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, Pfc. Marquest Smith dove under a desk. The Associated Press reports that "he lay low for several minutes, waiting for the shooter to run out of ammunition and wishing he, too, had a gun."
Neither Pfc. Smith nor the other victims of Hasan's assault had guns because soldiers on military bases within the United States generally are not allowed to carry them. Last week's shootings, which killed 13 people and wounded more than 30, demonstrated once again the folly of "gun-free zones," which attract and assist people bent on mass murder instead of deterring them.
Judging from the comments of those who support this policy of victim disarmament, Pfc. Smith's desire for a gun was irrational. According to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified Army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places."
Note how the reference to "a heavily fortified Army base" obscures the crucial point that the people attacked by Hasan were unarmed as a matter of policy. Also note the breathtaking inanity of Mr. Helmke's assurance that "more guns" are not "the solution to gun violence." In this case, they assuredly were.
The first people with guns to confront Hasan, two local police officers, were the ones who put a stop to his rampage. And while Sgt. Kim Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd acted heroically, they did not arrive on the scene until a crucial 10 minutes or so had elapsed and Hasan had fired more than 100 rounds.
If someone else at the processing center had a gun when Hasan started shooting, it seems likely that fewer people would have been killed or injured. Furthermore, the knowledge that some of his victims would be armed might have led him to choose a different, softer target in order to maximize the impact of his attack.
There would have been plenty of targets to choose from: any of the locations in Texas, including public schools, universities and shopping malls, that advertise their prohibition of gun possession. The problem is that crazed killers tend not to follow such rules.
That problem was vividly illustrated by the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, which occurred in Killeen, Texas, a stone's throw from Fort Hood. In 1991, George Jo Hennard drove his pickup truck through the window of a Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, jumped out and began firing two pistols at the defenseless customers and employees inside, killing 23 of them.
One customer, Suzanna Hupp, saw Hennard gun down her parents. Ms. Hupp later testified that she had brought a handgun with her that day but, to her bitter regret, left it in her car, as required by state law. The massacre led the Texas legislature to approve a "shall issue" law that allows any resident who meets certain objective criteria to obtain a concealed carry permit.
But people with such permits are still barred from bringing their weapons into areas designated as gun-free zones. And when a killer fires on people he knows will be unarmed, it matters little whether he has 20-round or 10-round magazines, a detail emphasized in press coverage of the Fort Hood massacre. The second or two it takes to switch magazines is a minor nuisance when the people you are shooting at cannot shoot back.
Even less relevant is the allegation that Hasan used illegal armor-piercing ammunition. The Brady Campaign bizarrely chose to highlight that claim even though there was no indication that any of Hasan's victims were wearing bulletproof vests, let alone that his bullets penetrated them. Perhaps the group hoped that such puzzling illogic would distract people from the plain fact that having a gun is better than not having one when you are confronted by a homicidal maniac.
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Blind diversity equals death
by Michelle Malkin
The violence at Fort Hood, President Obama told mourners on Tuesday, was "incomprehensible." The "twisted logic that led to the tragedy," he reiterated, may be "too hard to comprehend." If the Bush administration suffered a systemic failure of imagination on homeland security, the Obama administration is suffering a willful failure of comprehension.
What exactly is so hard to comprehend? Fort Hood jihadist Maj. Nidal Hasan made his means, motives and inspiration all too clear for those willing to see and hear. In his 2007 slide presentation to fellow Army doctors on "The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the Military," Hasan spelled it out: "We love death more then [sic] you love life!"
Hasan exposed the deadly tension between his adherence to Islam and his service in the U.S. military. Slide 11 stated: "It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims." Slide 12 cited Koranic sanctions for killing fellow believers. And Hasan made clear he wasn't alone among Muslim soldiers who "should not serve in any capacity that renders them at risk to hurting/killing believers unjustly."
Slide 13 ominously listed "adverse events" involving Muslim soldiers - including the fatal 2003 fragging attack on American soldiers in Kuwait by Sgt. Hasan Akbar (who was sentenced to death but remains alive while his case is on appeal); the desertion case of Lebanon-born Muslim Marine Wassef Ali Hassoun; and the espionage case of Muslim chaplain James Yee (the charges were dropped, but the case raised lingering security concerns about Muslim chaplains at Gitmo and elsewhere trained by terror-linked Saudi-subsidized institutes).
Hasan missed a few "adverse events" that have faded from public memory in our reflexive age of "Islam is peace" emotionalism-over-comprehension:
c John Muhammad, the Beltway jihadist put to death Tuesday night, was a member of the Army's 84th Engineering Company. As I've reported previously, Muhammad was suspected of throwing a thermite grenade into a tent housing 16 of his fellow soldiers as they slept before the ground-attack phase of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Muhammad was admitted to the Army despite being court-martialed while serving in the Louisiana National Guard for willfully disobeying orders, striking another noncommissioned officer, wrongfully taking property and being absent without leave.
Although Muhammad was led away in handcuffs and transferred to another company pending charges for the grenade attack, an indictment never materialized. Muhammad was honorably discharged from the Army in 1994. He later brainwashed young Lee Malvo in black nationalism and jihad, and the two carried out the three-week killing spree that left 10 dead in 2002 in the name of Allah.
c Muslim American soldier Hasan Abujihaad was convicted last year on espionage and material terrorism support charges after serving aboard the U.S.S. Benfold and sharing classified information with al Qaeda financiers, including movements of U.S. ships just six months after al Qaeda operatives had killed 17 Americans aboard the U.S.S. Cole in the port of Yemen.
c Jeffrey Leon Battle was a former Army reservist, convicted of conspiring to levy war against the United States and "enlisting in the Reserves to receive military training to use against America." He had planned to wage war against American soldiers in Afghanistan.
c Egyptian Ali A. Mohamed joined the U.S. Army while a resident alien despite being on a State Department terrorist watch list before securing his visa. An avowed Islamist, he taught classes on Muslim culture to U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg, N.C., and obtained classified military documents. He was granted U.S. citizenship over the objections of the CIA. Honorably discharged from the Army in 1989, Mohamed then hooked up with Osama bin Laden as an escort, trainer, bagman and messenger. Mohamed used his U.S. passport to conduct surveillance at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. He later pleaded guilty to conspiring with bin Laden and admitted his role in the 1998 African embassy bombings that killed more than 200 people, including a dozen Americans.
Political correctness is a gangrenous infection. My generation has submitted to a toxic diet of multiculturalism, identity politics, anti-Americanism and entitlement. The problem festered under the Bush administration. Despite Sept. 11, government at all levels refused to screen out jihadi-apologizing influences in our military, at the FBI, in prisons and even fire departments. Despite the bloody consequences of open borders, the Bush Pentagon allowed illegal immigrants to enter the military. The grievance lobby has plied the Muslim jihadist-as-victim narrative for nearly a decade now.
They prevail. In June, Muslim domestic terror suspect Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad went on another shooting spree at an Arkansas recruiting station that left one serviceman dead. The Obama Justice Department response: to redouble its efforts to use "criminal and civil rights laws to protect Muslim Americans."
Next week, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will speak at a banquet featuring the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorism-financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
"How did Fort Hood happen?" obtuse Washington asks. Simple: Blind diversity equals death.
Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery, 2009).
From the New York Post
Sat., Nov. 14, 2009, 6:03 AM
Terror thugs to get justice near WTC
By DAN MANGAN
Last Updated: 6:03 AM, November 14, 2009
Posted: 3:09 AM, November 14, 2009
Let's get it on!
Admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four al Qaeda co-conspirators are headed to Manhattan to face a civilian trial in federal court -- and a possible death sentence -- just blocks from hallowed Ground Zero.
Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday said the five terror thugs will be shipped from the American base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they had been facing a military commission for the evil plot that slaughtered nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania.
Holder's decision immediately was met with praise by supporters of civilian trials for terrorists. But it also drew howls from others who argue that military commissions are the right place to deal with fiends engaged in attacks on America -- and that trying them in a civilian court in lower Manhattan will put the city at great risk.
"After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September the 11th will finally face justice," said Holder. "I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial, just as they have for over 200 years. I also want to assure the American people that we will prosecute these cases vigorously, and we will pursue the maximum punishment available.
"I fully expect to direct prosecutors to seek the death penalty against each of the alleged 9/11 conspirators."
At the same time, Holder said that five other detainees at Guantanamo, among them a main suspect in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, will be tried before a military commission.
Speaking before Holder's announcement, President Obama said, "I'm absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheik Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice."
"The American people insist on it, and my administration insists on it."
It will be well over a month -- at minimum -- before Mohammed and the other four defendants are flown from Gitmo to New York. They will be housed in the ultra-high-security 10th-floor south wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, next to the federal courthouse a half-mile from Ground Zero.
Under federal law, the Justice Department must give Congress 45 days notice and file a report before transporting Guantanamo detainees to the United States.
In the meantime, prosecutors will prepare evidence to present to a grand jury here.
"I support the Obama administration's decision to prosecute 9/11 terrorists here in New York," said Mayor Bloomberg.
"It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site, where so many New Yorkers were murdered. We have hosted terrorism trials before, including the trial of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing."
"New York City stands ready to assist the federal court in the administration of justice in any way necessary."
Former Manhattan US Attorney David Kelley said Holder's decision is "great."
"The Southern District [of New York] has demonstrated that they've handled these cases before. They've had a successful track record," said Kelley, who prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case and multiple other terror cases in the district.
"They've been sitting in jail for eight years. Eight years has demonstrated that [the government doesn't] know how else to handle this in a way that will have the respect and confidence not only of the public here, but of the global community."
But Gov. Paterson told WPIX/Channel 11 in an interview that "I do not understand" why Mohammed and the other four evildoers are not being tried in Guantanamo Bay.
"It's an added security risk" to have their case tried in New York, Paterson said. "We are still in a vulnerable situation here in New York and I made that clear to the attorney general when he called six months ago."
US Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) called the decision "an unnecessary risk" that could result in the disclosure of classified information, citing the Manhattan federal court trial of the "blind sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman as a case where "valuable information about US intelligence and methods" was revealed to al Qaeda.
And Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was murdered while piloting the plane that hijackers then used to crash into the Pentagon, said, "We have a president who doesn't know we're at war."
She said she was disgusted by "the prospect of these barbarians being turned into victims by their attorneys."
That's a possibility because Mohammed had been subjected to now-banned waterboarding. He was dealt the harsh treatment a staggering 183 times in 2003 when he was being interrogated about how he orchestrated 9/11 for Osama bin Laden.
Defense lawyers could cite that coercion of him and the other defendants to argue that the entire case should be tossed out on the grounds that the evidence is inadmissible under the rules of a civilian criminal court.
"Obviously, there are issues out there with Khalid Sheik Mohammed. We know the nature of the interrogation is going to create issues," said Gerald Zerkin, a federal public defender in Richmond, Va., who defended "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui.
Another possible monkey wrench in trying the five defendants is their desire to act as their own lawyers.
Mohammed and two other defendants -- Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali -- had been representing themselves in military proceedings in Guantanamo, albeit under the observation of teams of both military and civilian defense lawyers. The other two defendants -- Waleed bin Attash and Ramzi Binalshibh -- had been trying to get permission to fire their own legal teams.
It is not known if the five men now will try to represent themselves in Manhattan federal court, or accept lawyers appointed by the trial judge.
KHALID SHEIK MOHAMMED
Baluchistan province, Pakistan
* Mastermind of 9/11 attacks, proposed idea to Osama bin Laden as early as 1996
* Planned aborted “Operation Bojinka” with his nephew Ramzi Yousef to blow up 12 planes flying between US and Asia during one day
* Sent al Qaeda operative Richard Reid on failed mission to explode a trans-Atlantic jet with a shoe bomb
* Decapitated Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan
* Provided funding for 1993 World Trade Center bombing
WALEED BIN ATTASH
* Ran al Qaeda training camp in Logar, Afghanistan, where two 9/11 hijackers were trained
* Believed to have been bin Laden's bodyguard
ALI ABD AL-AZIZ ALI
Baluchistan province, Pakistan
* Helped nine 9/11 hijackers travel to US and sent them $120,000 for expenses and flight training
* Believed to have been Khalid Sheik Mohammed's lieutenant in Pakistan
MUSTAFA AHMAD AL-HAWSAWI
* Helped the hijackers with money, Western clothing, traveler's checks and credit cards
* Helped find flight schools for the hijackers, aided their entering US and assisted with financing the operation
* Believed to be a lead operative for foiled plot to crash aircraft into London's Heathrow Airport
Wake up, Mr. President! We're in a war here
Last Updated: 5:02 AM, November 14, 2009
Posted: 3:11 AM, November 14, 2009
The Obama administration's obdurate refusal to accept the reality of Islamist terrorism was underscored yet again yesterday when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that 9/11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed will be brought to New York to be tried as a common criminal.
What an outrage.
Mohammed not only admits his role in the worst terrorist attack in American history but actually boasts about it. He should have been stood up in front of a wall and shot years ago.
Never mind that the trial of Mohammed and four terrorist associates is certain to devolve into a propaganda circus.
Their acts were committed in furtherance of a perverted holy war against the United States; they are not American citizens -- and thus they have no legitimate claim to the constitutional protections this country affords accused criminals. Indeed, KSM and his co-terrorists -- Ramzi Binalshibh, Waleed bin Attash, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi -- all offered to plead guilty last year before a military commission and accept execution.
No, the fundamental question is whether such a proceeding will make America safer, or place her at greater risk.
Or, as former Attorney General Michael Mukasey put it: "Those moving this process forward should consider whether the main purpose is to protect the citizens of this country or to showcase the country's criminal-justice system -- which has been done before and which failed to impress Khalid Sheik Mohammed."
Certainly, the decision represents a return to pre-9/11 sensibilities, when terrorism was seen as a law-enforcement issue, to be fought in the courtroom -- not on the battlefield.
That approach yielded, among other bloody acts, the attacks on USS Cole, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon -- and, quite frankly, last week's slaughter at Fort Hood.
They were acts of war, plain and simple, whether or not President Obama and Holder want to accept it.
It makes no more sense to try those responsible in a civilian court than it would have been to hold a trial for the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor.
On a purely self-interested note, New Yorkers must be wondering whether it makes sense for their city -- still a high-priority terrorist target -- to have another bull's-eye painted on its buildings.
Of course it doesn't.
But bringing the world's most notorious terrorists to New York for criminal trials will do just that.
Alas, that's the reality of it.
So here's hoping that Holder really has his heart in it -- that he will secure convictions across the board, and that he presses hard and successfully for the death penalty he's promising to seek.
KSM and his crew deserve to be executed -- not as glorious martyrs, but as murderous thugs -- and the sooner, the better.
Certainly America would be the safer for it.
A Loss for America
By KRIS W. KOBACH
Last Updated: 7:14 AM, November 14, 2009
Posted: 1:11 AM, November 14, 2009
Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees in civilian federal court in New York City is the latest in a long series of missteps in the war against radical Islamist terrorism.
KSM -- the notorious, self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks -- and the other accused terrorists will no longer face trial in military commissions, which the US government has historically used for such cases. The administration's decision is a blatantly political one -- intended to placate the ACLU and the radical Left -- that jeopardizes the interests of the nation.
The five main problems:
* Military commissions are the appropriate venue for trials of unlawful combatant. The US military seized these terrorists on foreign battlefields -- and so didn't read them Miranda rights. The evidence against them was collected by soldiers under war-fighting conditions -- not with sterile gloves and clear plastic bags. And much of the best evidence against them is classified, because making it public would compromise the sources and methods of US intelligence gathering.
In short, these cases do not fit the mold of a typical murder trial in a civilian court.
Military commissions were designed for this purpose. They provide a secure environment that allows for the introduction of classified evidence without making it public. Yet the accused still enjoys the right to an attorney, the right to make his case in full and all of the fundamental rights of due process.
The commissions are also the ideal forum for trying unlawful combatants-belligerents who make war without following the law of war. One of the central tenets of the law of war is that civilians must never be attacked. Since terrorists shatter this rule completely, they are appropriately tried before military commissions.
These commissions provide a fair forum that takes into account the military context of the terrorists' acts. Just because the government has enough unclassified evidence to win a guilty verdict in civilian court doesn't make the civilian court the right venue.
The last time the United States used military commissions in a comparable context was during the Second World War, for the trial of eight Nazi saboteurs transported here by German submarines under cover of darkness in 1942. They landed on US soil carrying explosives with the intent to engage in acts of sabotage. The Supreme Court ruled that the military commissions were an entirely fair and appropriate forum for their trial. They were "offenders against the law of war, subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals." The same is true of these five terrorists.
* The administration is again blurring the line between ordinary crimes and acts of war. Likening terrorists at war with the United States to common shoplifters is wrongheaded. These are not members of our society who refuse to obey our laws: They are enemies of the United States, engaged in war against America and all that it stands for.
* The administration has offered no clear criteria for deciding which terrorists will be charged as criminals in federal court and which ones will face military commissions. Attorney General Holder, in announcing the decision, suggested that the five cases were appropriate for civilian trial simply because the evidence against the terrorists is so strong that they'll surely be found guilty.
Choosing which terrorists will get civilian trials on the basis of who you can convict is not a principled way to administer justice. It also fosters the false impression that military commissions are unfair tribunals, where the government can win with a weaker case.
As the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, military commissions satisfy the Constitution's due-process requirements. The radical Left refuses to accept this fact -- and now the Obama administration is giving them rhetorical ammunition.
* A very real safety threat exists when a terrorist like KSM is tried in an urban area: The city becomes an enticing target for terrorists around the world.
Holder yesterday claimed that New York City is "hardened" and somehow secured against such terrorism. Yet he seemed to be focused on the courtroom itself. But US marshals' ability to protect the courthouse doesn't mean they can protect the whole city.
During the trial, every building in Manhattan becomes a target for the jihadists. They don't need to specifically hit the courthouse to make their point to the world.
*Finally, the trial will take many years to complete. Indeed it may not even start for five years or more.
Once these terrorists are placed into the civilian justice system, an avalanche of motions from their lawyers will ensue. Military commissions can avoid these delays.
It is often said that justice delayed is justice denied. For many who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, those words ring painfully true. Obama's actions will only prolong their pain, for no good reason.
Holder insists that the government will win in these civilian trials. I'm sure he's correct. But winning a trial and winning the approval of the ACLU means little when so much more is lost.
Kris W. Kobach is professor of constitutional law at the Univer sity of Missouri (Kansas City). He served as a White House Fel low and as counsel to Attorney General John Ashcroft, 2001-'03.
O's terrible call
By PETER KING
Last Updated: 7:14 AM, November 14, 2009
Posted: 1:17 AM, November 14, 2009
Like many New Yorkers and members of the families of the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans murdered on that horrific Tuesday morning eight years ago, I'm outraged and insulted by President Obama's decision to transfer Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to New York City for trial in civilian federal court.
The decision will go down in history as one of the worst made by any US president. While it may be hailed by Europeans, the ACLU and the far-left-wing of the Democratic Party, the president's action actually threatens American lives and weakens US national security.
By transferring KSM and four of his fellow conspirators from the impenetrable detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to lower Manhattan, the president creates an enormous, unnecessary terror risk to the people who already live and work downtown. Now, these terrorists will join them -- mere blocks from Ground Zero, City Hall, police headquarters and the Brooklyn Bridge.
While I have the utmost respect for and confidence in the NYPD and US Marshals Service, these terrorists' new home and the courthouse in which they'll be tried will immediately move to the top of al Qaeda's target list -- requiring significant local resources to protect the city that is already a top target.
Unfortunately, President Obama may have set into motion a process that could result in Khalid Sheik Mohammed walking free. By moving his and the other cases from the military-commission system to the civilian courts, the president has granted KSM constitutional rights -- which defense attorneys will certainly seek to exploit in order to bog down the pace of the judicial process.
Whenever the case actually comes to trial, we're likely to see a circus-like proceeding potentially lasting years, in which the attorneys will undoubtedly try to paint the brave and selfless US military and intelligence community as the terrorists.
The cases against these and other terrorists are, not surprisingly, based significantly on classified intelligence gathered over many years. By prosecuting these men in civilian court instead of a military commission, the government will have a more difficult time protecting the sources and methods of gathering that intelligence -- disclosure of which would place American lives in jeopardy.
For example, a civilian court judge could throw out Khalid Sheik Mohammed's confession because the intelligence operatives who captured him failed to read him Miranda rights. The bottom line is that, because of Obama's decision yesterday, KSM could be acquitted for any of a host of reasons -- both foreseeable and unforeseeable.
Perhaps President Obama knew how insulting and unpopular his decision to welcome terrorists to America would be. News of the decision came from Attorney General Eric Holder on a Friday (the day folks in Washington always dump their "bad" news) while the president himself was in Japan -- 14 time zones from Ground Zero and the families who still mourn lost loved ones.
As a man who promised transparency and integrity during his campaign, President Obama should have personally announced his decision. That was the least he could have done for the families of the 9/11 victims, New Yorkers and all Americans who will never forget the day al Qaeda attacked our nation.
Rep. Peter King (R-LI) is the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee.
Putting the city in danger
By STEVE CASSIDY
Last Updated: 7:14 AM, November 14, 2009
Posted: 1:15 AM, November 14, 2009
ATTORNEY General Eric Holder's decision to send the radical Islamic terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks to New York City for trial is horribly misguided.
This public-safety mistake will further endanger our city and the lives of New Yorkers.
New York City has always been in the crosshairs of terrorists seeking to attack our nation. Our city likely will always be the No. 1 terrorist target, but yesterday we had another bulls-eye placed on our backs, inviting yet another terrorist attack.
The trials for these murderous terrorists are expected to be long and drawn out -- perhaps taking years, thanks to myriad trial motions and appeals.
At a time when the city, facing a $5 billion budget shortfall, is re- ducing services, can we really afford to incur the significant financial burden of protecting not only these terrorists, but every major landmark and office complex -- including Wall Street, the United Nations and a mass-transit system that moves over 1 billion commuters a year?
Just who does Washington expect will absorb that cost burden?
Then there's the fact that the majority of New Yorkers don't agree that these murderous terrorists are entitled to the rights afforded our nation's citizens -- such as the right to trial by jury.
These terrorists declared war on our city and nation.
The 9/11 attack killed 343 New York City Firefighters and thousands of other innocents. These murderers showed no mercy and didn't think twice about the rights of the innocents they were killing.
The terrorists offered no warning to the 25,000-plus workers in those towers. The victims were mothers, fathers, children and grandparents. The killers' goal was to inflict the greatest possible pain and suffering -- while scoring more points with their sympathizers by exploiting all the symbolism of New York and its great Twin Towers.
While they succeeded in murdering 2,973 people on 9/11, they could not break our nation's spirit.
If there is another terrorist attack, New York City Firefighters will once again be there to protect the lives of innocent civilians. But I don't believe that this White House policy -- which again endangers our city, our citizens and our firefighters -- is a smart gamble.
While the president has resolved to close Guantanamo Bay, against the objections of millions of Americans, New York City is absolutely not the place to bring these terrorists. To hold the trials of the terrorists who attacked our nation on 9/11 here is foolish.
If the administration is 100 percent resolved to have the trials on American soil, giving these terrorists all of the trial rights of US citizens, I suggest selecting an unpopulated and remote area in the middle of the desert or wilderness.
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must recognize that New Yorkers don't welcome this ill-conceived move. If they really care about the safety of Americans and New Yorkers, they will reverse course.
Steve Cassidy is president of the Un iformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, representing 20,000 active and retired NYC firefighters.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Prepared Remarks by Secretary Napolitano on Immigration Reform at the Center for American Progress
Release Date: November 13, 2009
Center for American Progress
(Remarks as Prepared)
Thank you to John Podesta for that warm introduction. John is a good friend of mine, and I admire the work he's done here at the Center for American Progress to advance the national debate on a range of important issues. John and I have worked together extensively, and I look forward to his continued partnership.
It's not news to say that these are challenging times. From our first day in office, this new Administration was called on to meet an economic and financial crisis as deep and threatening as we've seen since the Great Depression. The President took bold and difficult steps to prevent the collapse of our financial system and reverse the ominous trends of negative growth and massive jobs loss.
Today, thanks in no small part to the Recovery Act and other steps we have taken, the economy is growing again and job losses have slowed. But that progress is fragile, and we can't let up until all the millions who are looking for work today can find it. Yet we know that surviving this storm isn't enough if we fail to do the things we must to fortify America for the long run.
That's why this Administration is taking on the critical challenges that have been ignored in Washington for too long. We are laying a new foundation for growth and prosperity that will strengthen the economy, families and small businesses throughout the country.
By tackling the issue of health insurance reform, we can bring new security and stability to families and businesses across the country. By planting the seeds of growth for a new, clean energy economy, we can open the door to the creation of millions of good jobs and secure America's continued leadership in this new century. By making a serious, national commitment to education reform—which means college or technical training accessible to every young person willing to strive for it—we can insure their success, and America's success, in a world where the best educated workers and workforce will win.
So even as we press to end this recession and get America back to work, we are determined to deal with long lingering problems that cloud our future. And another problem that has been punted from year to year, from Congress to Congress, from Administration to Administration, is the clear need for immigration reform.
We all know the story: A steady influx of undocumented workers, crossing our borders illegally in search of work and a better life. A market among employers willing to flout the law in order to hire cheap labor. And as a result, some 12 million people, here illegally, living in the shadows—a source of pain and conflict.
It is wrong. It's an affront to every law-abiding citizen and every employer who plays by the rules.
Like the Administration's other priorities, when it comes to immigration, we are addressing a status quo that is simply unacceptable. Everybody recognizes that our current system isn't working and that our immigration laws need to change. America's businesses, workers, and faith-based organizations are calling for reform. Law enforcement and government at every level are asking for reform. And at the Department of Homeland Security, we need reform to do our job of enforcing the law and keeping our country secure.
Over the past ten months, we've worked to improve immigration enforcement and border security within the current legal framework. But the more work we do, the more it becomes clear that the laws themselves need to be reformed.
Let me be clear: when I talk about “immigration reform,” I'm referring to what I call the “three-legged stool” that includes a commitment to serious and effective enforcement, improved legal flows for families and workers, and a firm but fair way to deal with those who are already here. That's the way that this problem has to be solved, because we need all three aspects to build a successful system. This approach has at its heart the conviction that we must demand responsibility and accountability from everyone involved in the system: immigrants, employers and government. And that begins with fair, reliable enforcement.
We know that one-sided reform, as we saw in 1986, cannot succeed. During that reform effort, the enforcement part of the equation was promised, but it didn't materialize. That helped lead to our current situation, and it undermined Americans' confidence in their government's approach to this issue. That mistake can't happen again, and it won't happen again.
The American people expect us to act. Americans value our identity as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Unfortunately, too many politicians and pundits have treated these values as contradictory. They are not, and we will pursue reforms that emphasize both. The immigrant story is part of what it means to be an American – but failing to fix a broken system that undermines our shared values of lawfulness and fairness is not.
This is why key members of Congress are taking steps toward legislation that will create an immigration system that works. This is why the President continues to be fully committed to reforming our immigration laws, and why he asked me to take a lead role in this effort.
What Has Changed Since 2007
While everyone may agree that the status quo isn't working, what everyone may not be aware of is how much the immigration landscape has changed since comprehensive reform efforts fell short in 2007. I've been dealing hands-on with immigration issues since 1993, so trust me: I know a major shift when I see one, and what I have seen makes reform far more attainable this time around.
For starters, the security of the Southwest border has been transformed from where it was in 2007. The federal government has dedicated unprecedented resources to the Mexican border in terms of manpower, technology and infrastructure—and it's made a real difference.
Last March, the Obama Administration announced a Southwest Border Initiative that has increased the resources the government is dedicating to combating drug cartels, and the smuggled cash and illegal weapons they thrive on. The Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense have dedicated unprecedented resources to this initiative. This includes additional inspection and surveillance technology, as well as hundreds of personnel specializing in fields like inspection, intelligence and prosecutions. At DHS, we started screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons and cash—for the first time ever.
Compared to last year, seizures in all categories—drugs, smuggled cash, and illegal weapons—are up dramatically. For example, just looking at bulk cash, Customs and Border Protection has seized at the border more than $34 million in cash being smuggled southbound so far this year—more than four times as much as at this time last year.
Moreover, the immigration debate in 2007 happened during a period of historically high levels of illegal entry into the United States. Two years later, because of better enforcement and the current economic circumstances, those numbers have fallen sharply. The flow has reduced significantly – by more than half from the busiest years, proving we are in a much different environment than we were before.
These are major differences that should change the immigration conversation. In 2007, many members of Congress said that they could support immigration reform in the future, but only if we first made significant progress securing the border. This reflected the real concern of many Americans that the government was not serious about enforcing the law. Fast-forward to today, and many of the benchmarks these members of Congress set in 2007 have been met. For example, the Border Patrol has increased its forces to more than 20,000 officers, and DHS has built more than 600 miles of border fencing. Both of these milestones demonstrate that we have gotten Congress' message.
We've also shown that the government is serious and strategic in its approach to enforcement by making changes in how we enforce the law in the interior of the country and at worksites. We have replaced old policies that merely looked tough with policies that are designed to actually be effective.
We've revised and standardized our immigration-enforcement agreements with state and local law enforcement to make sure that these agencies are effective forcemultipliers in our efforts to apprehend dangerous criminal aliens. We've expanded the Secure Communities program, which identifies illegal aliens being booked into local jails. Yesterday, we marked the end of the first year for this program, which is being used by 95 jurisdictions and has identified more than 111,000 criminal aliens.
Furthermore, we've transformed worksite enforcement to truly address the demand side of illegal immigration. We are auditing the books of thousands of employers suspected of relying on illegal labor to achieve an unfair advantage in the marketplace. As part of this effort, Immigration and Customs Enforcement audited more employers suspected of hiring illegal labor in a single day in July than had been audited in all of 2008. We're also encouraging workplace compliance by expanding and improving the E-Verify system—an Internet-based system that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires. More than 167,000 employers at 639,000 worksites use E-Verify. In the past month, the program has grown at the rate of nearly 2,000 employers per week.
Improved interior and worksite enforcement is a critical part of comprehensive immigration reform. We've demonstrated that when it comes to that issue, this Administration is committed to action.
In addition, recent improvements at managing the legal immigration system also prove that the federal government is ready to handle major reform.
We've ended a year-long backlog for background checks on applicants for green cards and naturalization. We've expanded the opportunity for a widow to gain legal status here, despite the untimely death of her U.S. citizen spouse. We've launched a new interactive website that allows people to receive information about the status of their immigration cases by e-mail or text message, and we have reduced the time it takes to process those cases.
In addition to these changes, since 2007 we have made significant strides in technology. For example, new biometric technology allows us to take the fingerprints of people coming into the United States and compare their prints against databases we couldn't access before. This means we have new and enhanced abilities to quickly identify people committing immigration fraud, either by using someone else's documents or by forging documents to escape detection for a past crime or immigration violation. We also have enhanced our capacity to exclude those suspected of supporting terrorism or other serious international crimes before they enter our country.
Overall, these and other changes make comprehensive immigration reform more attainable as a matter of both politics and policy. At the border, in the interior of the country, and when it comes to legal immigration, the government has made significant strides to improve enforcement. This is a fundamental change from 2007.
Here's the other thing that has shifted in this debate: a larger segment of the American public has embraced the need to engage this debate and arrive at a sensible solution to this problem. CAP has helped to document this shift.
There are leaders of the law enforcement community speaking out, saying that immigration reform is vital to their ability to do their jobs keeping Americans safe. Faith leaders, including the National Association of Evangelicals, have announced their support for immigration reform as a moral and practical issue. We are seeing more business leaders and more labor leaders engaged in this debate in a constructive way than we have ever seen before.
These constituencies have all arrived at the same conclusion that prevails among the American people: this is a problem that needs to be fixed—and the best way to ensure that we can uphold our laws is to make sure our laws are rational and enforceable.
Why DHS Needs Immigration Reform
That reality is apparent to us at DHS. Over the past year, as this Administration has pursued more effective strategies within the current laws, the picture of how exactly those laws need to be changed has become clearer than ever before. In the past ten months, we have made tough choices, and implemented significant reforms within the current legal framework—but they are not enough to create the system that we want or that we need. If we are truly going to fix a broken system, Congress will have to act.
When it comes to immigration, I took an oath as Secretary of Homeland Security to secure the nation by enforcing the law and managing legal flows across the border. Let me be clear: to do this job as effectively as possible, DHS needs immigration reform.
Reform legislation would provide lasting and dedicated resources at our borders, and provide some critical legal tools that we don't currently have to combat smuggling organizations. For example, we need tougher anti-smuggling laws in dealing with the aggravated crimes smugglers commit—including assaulting law enforcement officers, endangering children, threatening relatives and abandoning people in the desert— hundreds of whom succumb to death from heat and lack of water. We also need to update current laws that don't cover some of the new means by which criminals conduct their business. For instance, today's smugglers and drug traffickers often move cash through “stored value” cards, which aren't even considered monetary instruments under the current money-smuggling laws.
In addition, we need improvements to the current law when it comes to interior and worksite enforcement. Dishonest businesses often ignore the civil fines for illegal employment now on the books because they're so low. It's also very difficult to prosecute these crimes as felonies because of the over-elaborate intent requirements built into the current statutes.
Moreover, some current laws covering immigration-related fraud have to be brought more in line with common sense. Right now, a corrupt immigration attorney who facilitates hundreds of immigration violations by knowingly helping aliens fraudulently seek asylum or permanent residence is treated almost the same as an alien who buys a single fake green card.
On top of this, in order to have fully effective law enforcement, we need Congress to create the legal foundation for bringing the millions of illegal immigrants in this country out of the shadows, require them to register and pay all taxes they owe, and enforce the penalties that they will have to pay as part of earning legal status. Let me emphasize this: we will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows.
Making sure these people become full taxpayers and pay their fair share will both benefit our economy and make it easier to enforce the laws against unscrupulous or exploitive employers. A tough and fair pathway to earned legal status will mandate that illegal immigrants meet a number of requirements—including registering, paying a fine, passing a criminal background check, fully paying all taxes and learning English.
These are substantial requirements that will make sure this population gets right with the law. It will help fix our broken system.
The Broad Need for Reform
While it's important to emphasize the need for immigration reform from an enforcement perspective, the need for reform stretches far beyond those reasons. We have to make sure the immigration system works to support American families, businesses and workers.
As part of the Administration's outreach on this issue, my Department has held stakeholder meetings with more than 1,000 people and organizations across the country. The businesses, community leaders, labor leaders, faith groups and law enforcement we've met with all have different stories, but they all reach the same conclusion: we need reform. This reform will be part of the new foundation for growth, prosperity, and security that this Administration is working to create.
Our system must be strong enough to prevent illegal entry and to get criminal aliens off our streets and out of the country. But it must also be smart enough to reward the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that immigrants have always brought to America—traits that have built our nation.
Requiring illegal immigrants to register to earn legal status, as I discussed earlier, will strengthen our economy as these immigrants become full-paying taxpayers. As labor leaders have made clear to me, immigration reform will be a boon to American workers. Think about it: unions will never achieve the best terms for workers when a large part of the workforce is illegal and operates in a shadow economy. By contrast, the status quo not only hurts American workers, it also stifles potential opportunities to grow our economy.
A few months ago, I held a forum where I heard from technology executives in Silicon Valley, our country's center of technological innovation. They told me that they want to increase their workforce and help get the economy moving again, but some of the major barriers they have to growing their companies are visa laws that make it difficult for high-skilled foreigners to stay here to work. Today, we have a system where America educates many of the brightest individuals from around the world, and then tells them to leave the country when many of them would rather start their own ventures or strengthen businesses right here in America. This hurts the economy for all of us, and it has to change.
Going forward, our visa policies must work for every sector of our economy, and across the income scale. In my meetings, leaders in agriculture, service industries and other fields have told me that current visa policies are hindering the growth of businesses looking to expand. To address this economic need, we need carefully crafted programs that allow American businesses to hire needed foreign workers while protecting the labor and health-and-safety rights of all workers. We need to revise our current provisions for legal migration to help assure a legal workforce in cases where businesses can't find Americans to fill their jobs. These changes will make our economy stronger and more prosperous at all levels.
Community and faith leaders have also emphasized to me that we need reform because of how difficult the current laws can be on families, especially families of mixed legal status. Our immigration system is outdated where families are concerned, and we need to modernize and streamline the laws governing this process.
No one should have to wait in a line for years in order to reunite with a spouse or a young child. And we must protect the families of our men and women in the armed forces, some of whom volunteer to serve this country before they even become naturalized citizens. These individuals risk their lives to ensure the safety of all Americans. We have a duty to ensure that their families are treated with dignity when their soldiers return from combat.
I have had the honor of administering the oath of citizenship to active-duty personnel who had been serving our country long before I swore them in. These men and women are a reminder, as the President told them on the day of their swearing-in, that America is not just “a collection of rights,” but also “a set of responsibilities...it depends on each of us doing our part.”
So we all have to do our part to have a system that works. At the end of the day, when it comes to immigration, people need to be able to trust the system. Americans need to know that their government is committed to enforcing the law and securing the border—and that it takes this responsibility seriously. Law enforcement needs to have better legal tools and the necessary resources to deal with border-related and immigration-related crime. Businesses must be able find the workers they need here in America, rather than having to move overseas. Immigrants need to be able to plan their lives—they need to know that once we reform the laws, we're going to have a system that works, and that the contours of our immigration laws will last. And they need to know that they will have as many responsibilities as they do rights.
The President is committed to this issue because the need for immigration reform is so clear. This Administration does not shy away from taking on the big challenges of the 21st century, challenges that have been ignored too long and hurt our families and businesses. When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them.
As I said earlier, we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. This is ingrained in our national character and it has helped make America the great nation that it is. But we must modernize our laws for the 21st century so that this vision can endure. This is a task that is critical, that is attainable, and that we are fully committed to fulfilling.
From the Department of Justice
Attorney General Announces Forum Decisions for Guantanamo Detainees Washington, D.C.
~ Friday, November 13, 2009
Good morning. Just over eight years ago, on a morning our nation will never forget, nineteen hijackers working with a network of Al Qaeda conspirators around the world launched the deadliest terrorist attacks our country has ever seen. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in those attacks, and in the years since, our nation has had no higher priority than bringing those who planned and plotted the attacks to justice.
One year before, in October 2000, a terrorist attack on the USS Cole killed seventeen American sailors.
Today we announce a step forward in bringing those we believe were responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the attack on the USS Cole to justice.
Five detainees at Guantanamo have been charged before military commissions with participation in the 9/11 plot: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi. Those proceedings have been stayed since February, as have the proceedings pending in military commissions against four other detainees accused of different crimes. A case in military commissions against the alleged mastermind of the Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was withdrawn in February.
For the past several months, prosecutors at the Department of Justice have been working diligently with prosecutors from the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions to review the case of each detainee at Guantanamo who has been referred for prosecution. Over the past few weeks, I have personally reviewed these cases, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, have made determinations about the prosecution of ten detainees now held at Guantanamo, including those charged in the 9/11 plot and the alleged mastermind of the Cole bombing.
Today, I am announcing that the Department of Justice will pursue prosecution in federal court of the five individuals accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 attacks. Further, I have decided to refer back to the Department of Defense five defendants to face military commission trials, including the detainee who was previously charged in the USS Cole bombing.
The 9/11 cases that will be pursued in federal court have been jointly assigned to prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of Virginia and will be brought in Manhattan in the Southern District of New York. After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September the 11 th will finally face justice. They will be brought to New York to answer for their alleged crimes in a courthouse just blocks from where the twin towers once stood.
I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial, just as they have for over 200 years. The alleged 9/11 conspirators will stand trial in our justice system before an impartial jury under long-established rules and procedures.
I also want to assure the American people that we will prosecute these cases vigorously, and we will pursue the maximum punishment available. These were extraordinary crimes and so we will seek maximum penalties. Federal rules allow us to seek the death penalty for capital offenses, and while we will review the evidence and circumstances following established protocols, I fully expect to direct prosecutors to seek the death penalty against each of the alleged 9/11 conspirators.
In his speech at the National Archives in May, the President called for the reform of military commissions to ensure that they are a lawful, fair, and effective prosecutorial forum. The reforms Congress recently adopted to the Military Commissions Act ensure that military commission trials will be fair and that convictions obtained will be secure.
I know that the Department of Defense is absolutely committed to ensuring that military commission trials will be consistent with our highest standards as a nation, and our civilian prosecutors will continue to work closely with military prosecutors to support them in that effort.
In each case, my decision as to whether to proceed in federal courts or military commissions was based on a protocol that the Departments of Justice and Defense developed and that was announced in July. Because many cases could be prosecuted in either federal courts or military commissions, that protocol sets forth a number of factors – including the nature of the offense, the location in which the offense occurred, the identity of the victims, and the manner in which the case was investigated – that must be considered. In consultation with the Secretary of Defense, I looked at all the relevant factors and made case by case decisions for each detainee.
It is important that we be able to use every forum possible to hold terrorists accountable for their actions. Just as a sustained campaign against terrorism requires a combination of intelligence, law enforcement and military operations, so must our legal efforts to bring terrorists to justice involve both federal courts and reformed military commissions. I want to thank the members of Congress, including Senators Lindsay Graham, Carl Levin and John McCain who worked so hard to strengthen our national security by helping us pass legislation to reform the military commission system.
We will continue to draw on the Pentagon's support as we bring cases against the alleged 9-11 conspirators in federal court. The Justice Department has a long, successful history of prosecuting terrorists for their crimes against our nation, particularly in New York. Although these cases can often be complex and challenging, federal prosecutors have successfully met these challenges and have convicted a number of terrorists who are now serving lengthy sentences in our prisons. And although the security issues presented by terrorism cases should never be minimized, our marshals, court security officers, and prison officials have extensive experience and training dealing with dangerous defendants, and I am confident they can meet the security challenges posed by this case.
These detainees will not be transferred to the United States for prosecution until all legal requirements are satisfied, including those in recent legislation requiring a 45 day notice and report to the Congress. I have already spoken to Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg and am committed to working closely with them to ensure that all security and related concerns are properly addressed. I have every confidence that we can safely hold these trials in New York, as we have so many previous terrorism trials.
For the many Americans who lost friends and relatives in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and on the USS Cole, nothing can bring those loved ones back. But they deserve the opportunity to see the alleged plotters of those attacks held accountable in court, an opportunity that has been too long delayed. Today's announcements mark a significant step forward in our efforts to close Guantanamo and to bring to justice those individuals who have conspired to attack our nation and our interests abroad.
For over two hundred years, our nation has relied on a faithful adherence to the rule of law to bring criminals to justice and provide accountability to victims. Once again we will ask our legal system, in two venues, to rise to that challenge. I am confident it will answer the call with fairness and justice.
Cyber Crime and Security
November 13th, 2009
Posted by Tracy Russo
This week's announcement of charges against individuals from Eastern Europe and Russia for allegedly hacking into credit card processors in the United States shines a spotlight on the issue of cyber crime and security.
The Department of Justice, through the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program ( ICITAP ), is working diligently with foreign nations all over the world to develop professional and transparent law enforcement institutions that protect human rights, combat terrorism and corruption, and reduce the threat of transnational crime, including cyber crimes.
One of the areas that ICITAP is focused on improving is cyber security. In Eastern Europe, for example, Department of Justice officials are working with law enforcement agencies in nations that make up the U.S. – GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) Framework Program. ICITAP helped develop a Virtual Law Enforcement Center, which links the four member countries through a secure video and criminal information network.
Increasing coordination and cyber security capabilities in these nations will help prevent fraud and allow for better communications to investigate crimes and catch criminals. In December 2009, ICITAP will provide training in Moldova for cyber crime investigators, in partnership with other law enforcement partners. ICITAP also provided training and equipment to the Ukrainian forensic laboratory for the examination of digital evidence seized in cyber crime investigations, including recent international investigations of child pornography and trafficking in persons. In Serbia, ICITAP is working with the Organized Crime Directorate to develop a Cyber/High Tech Crimes Workshop and has facilitated communication between U.S. and Serbian law enforcement officials involved in joint cases.
Established in 1986, ICITAP's first mission was to help train police officers in Latin America. Over the next two decades, ICITAP evolved into a full-service criminal justice development agency that plays an important role in fostering international stability and rule of law, which are vital to U.S. security.
During the past 20 years, ICITAP – part of the Department's Criminal Division – has provided law enforcement development assistance around the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kenya, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru. ICITAP works in close partnership with its funders; the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Department of Defense.
The office has been particularly busy recently, with 17 field offices worldwide and three new offices opening soon. In FY 2009, ICITAP carried out more than 1,000 training events for approximately 40,000 foreign law enforcement professionals, and was involved in nearly 140 technical assistance and training partnership activities with U.S. government agencies.
In December, ICITAP personnel from the field offices will gather in Washington, D.C., for the annual managers' conference where they will share best practices and lessons learned from their overseas programs, before heading back to the far reaches of the globe to continue their missions.
For more information on ICITAP, please visit their Web site: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/icitap