NEWS of the Day - May 7, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - May 7, 2012
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country

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 the Washington Times

Long fight predicted in Guantanamo 9/11 case

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE , Cuba (AP) — The United States finally has started the prosecution of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, but the trial won't be starting any time soon, and both sides said Sunday that the case could continue for years.

Defense lawyer James Connell said a tentative trial date of May 2013 is a “placeholder” until true date can be set for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the attacks, and his co-defendants.

“It's going to take time,” said the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who said he expects to battle a barrage of defense motions before the case goes to trial.

“I am getting ready for hundreds of motions because we want them to shoot everything they can shoot at us,” he said in the wake of Saturday's arraignment, which dragged on for 13 hours because of stalling tactics by the defendants.

“Everyone is frustrated by the delay,” Gen. Martins said. He noted that the civilian trial of convicted Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui took four years, and he pleaded guilty in 2006 before being sentenced to life in prison.

On Saturday, Mr. Mohammed and his co-defendants refused to respond to the judge or use the court's translation system and demanded a lengthy reading of the charges, tactics that Mr. Connell called “peaceful resistance to an unjust system.”

The arraignment, Mr. Connell said, “demonstrates that this will be a long , hard-fought but peaceful struggle against secrecy, torture and the misguided institution of the military commissions.”

The defendants' actions outraged relatives of the victims.

“They're engaging in jihad in a courtroom,” said Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of the plane that flew into the Pentagon. She watched the proceeding from Brooklyn on one of the closed-circuit video feeds around the United States.

A handful of those who lost family members in the attacks were selected by a lottery and flown to watch the proceedings at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, where Mr. Mohammed and his co-defendants put off their pleas until a later date.

They face 2,976 counts of murder and terrorism in the 2001 attacks that sent hijacked jetliners into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The charges carry the death penalty.

The detainees' lawyers spent hours questioning the judge, Army Col. James Pohl , about his qualifications to hear the case and suggested their clients were being mistreated at the hearing, in a strategy that could pave the way for future appeals. Mr. Mohammed was subjected to a strip search and “inflammatory and unnecessary” treatment before court, said his attorney, David Nevin.

It was the defendants' first appearance in more than three years after stalled efforts to try them for the terror attacks.

The Obama administration renewed plans to try the men at Guantanamo Bay after a bid to try the men in New York City blocks from the trade center site hit political opposition. Officials adopted new rules with Congress that forbade testimony obtained through torture or cruel treatment, and they now say that defendants could be tried as fairly here as in a civilian court.

Eddie Bracken of the New York borough of Staten Island was one of the victims' relatives allowed to attend the hearing. He said it was important to him to see the people accused of killing his sister, Lucy Fishman, a Brooklyn mother of two who worked in the World Trade Center.

He said he came away impressed with the military justice system, with defense lawyers putting up an aggressive defense.

“If they had done this [in] another country, it would have been a different story,” Mr. Bracken said Sunday, “but this is America.”

Human rights groups and defense lawyers say the secrecy of Guantanamo and the military tribunals will make it impossible for the defense. They argued the U.S. kept the case out of civilian court to prevent disclosure of the treatment of prisoners such as Mr. Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced in 2009 that Mr. Mohammed and his co-defendants would be tried blocks from the site of the destroyed trade center in downtown Manhattan, but the plan was shelved after New York officials cited huge costs to secure the neighborhood and family opposition to trying the suspects in the U.S.

Congress then blocked the transfer of any prisoners from Guantanamo to the U.S., forcing the Obama administration to refile the charges under a reformed military commission system.

MR. Mohammed, a Pakistani citizen who grew up in Kuwait and attended college in Greensboro, N.C., has admitted to military authorities that he was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks “from A to Z,” as well as about 30 other plots, and that he personally killed Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Mr. Mohammed was captured in 2003 in Pakistan.

Ramzi Binalshibh allegedly was chosen to be a hijacker but couldn't get a U.S. visa and ended up providing assistance such as finding flight schools. Walid bin Attash, also from Yemen, allegedly ran an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and researched flight simulators and timetables. Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi is a Saudi accused of helping the hijackers with money, Western clothing, traveler's checks and credit cards. Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, a Pakistani national and nephew of Mr. Mohammed, allegedly provided money to the hijackers.

During the failed first effort to prosecute the men at the base in Cuba, Mr. Mohammed mocked the tribunal and said he and his co-defendants would plead guilty and welcome execution. The lawyers' statements indicate that plan has changed.



Hearing recalls 9/11 attacks for victims' families

by Samantha Gross and Verena Dobnik

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly 11 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, family members of some of the victims watched via closed-circuit TV as the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks and four co-defendants were arraigned Saturday at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a proceeding that left one father emotional as he recalled the loss of his firefighter son.

Seated in military movie theaters, with chaplains and grief counselors on hand, the relatives of those lost got their first glimpse of a long-awaited legal process that is likely to stretch on for many months.

In the rain outside Fort Hamilton in New York City during a break in the proceedings, Jim Riches spoke about his son, Jimmy Riches, a firefighter who died at the World Trade Center .

“I'm here for him, because he can no longer speak for himself,” Riches said.

He choked up as he said that seeing the five men brought to justice would not bring his son back. “I miss him terribly,” he said.

Riches, himself a retired firefighter who worked digging up remains in the days after Sept. 11, said he carried with him dark memories of the days after the attacks, and he hoped that if convicted the five men would be executed.

“I saw what they did to our loved ones — crushed them to pieces,” he said.

Fort Hamilton was one of four military bases where the hearing was broadcast live for victims' family members, survivors and emergency personnel who responded to the attacks. The others were Fort Devens in Massachusetts, Joint Base McGuire Dix in New Jersey and Fort Meade in Maryland, the only one open to the public. Riches said about 60 people representing 30 families were in the theater at Fort Hamilton.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other defendants were being arraigned on charges that include terrorism and murder, the first time in more than three years that they appeared in public. They could get the death penalty if convicted in the attacks that sent hijacked airliners slamming into the World Trade Center , the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. The trial is probably at least a year away.

At Fort Meade, about 80 people watched the proceedings at a movie theater on the base, where “The Lorax” was being promoted on a sign outside.

One section of the theater for victims' families was sectioned off with screens, and signs asked that other spectators respect their privacy.

Once the proceedings began, spectators in the public section laughed at times, including when a lawyer indicated Mohammed was likely not interested in using his headphones for a translator and again, briefly, when one of the defendants stood and the judge said that kind of behavior excited the guards. But the crowd was quiet when the man began to pray.

Six victims' families chosen by lottery traveled to Guantanamo to see the arraignment in person.

Alan Linton of Frederick, Md., who lost his son Alan Jr., an investment banker, at the World Trade Center, said he and his wife put their names in the lottery for the Cuba trip but weren't interested in watching a video feed of the arraignment.

“That's just not the same as being there to me,” Linton said. “Going to Fort Meade, it's kind of like watching television.”

Whether they watched or not, family members expressed frustration that it's taken so long to bring the Sept. 11 conspirators to justice.

The administration of President Barack Obama dropped earlier military-commission charges against them when it decided in late 2009 to try them in federal court in New York. But Congress blocked the civilian trials amid opposition to bringing the defendants to U.S. soil, especially to a courthouse located just blocks from the trade center site.

Al Santora, whose firefighter son Christopher died at the World Trade Center, said this week that he hopes the trial can proceed quickly once it starts.

“They have tons and tons of evidence and they've already admitted their guilt,” he said. “So I don't know why the trial should be long.”

“I want to bear witness that in fact these people are brought to justice,” he said.



From Google News

US citizen held hostage by al-Qaida in plea to Barack Obama

An American hostage being held by al-Qaida has said he will be killed unless President Barack Obama agrees to his captors' demands.

"My life is in your hands, Mr President," Warren Weinstein said in a video released on Sunday. "If you accept the demands, I live; if you don't accept the demands, then I die."

Weinstein was abducted in August 2011 in Lahore, Pakistan after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home. The 70-year-old from Rockville, Maryland is the country director in Pakistan for JE Austin Associates, a Virginia-based firm that advises Pakistani business and government.

In a video message posted on militant websites in December, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri said Weinstein would be released if the US halted air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. He also demanded the release of all al-Qaida and Taliban suspects around the world.

The Site Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages, said al-Sahab, al-Qaida's media arm, posted the Weinstein video on jihadist forums on Sunday.

"It's important you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay," Weinstein said in the video, addressing Obama. "There'll be no benefit in delaying. It will just make things more difficult for me."

He also appealed to Obama as a father. If the president responds to the militants' demands, Weinstein said, "then I will live and hopefully rejoin my family and also enjoy my children, my two daughters, like you enjoy your two daughters".

After his kidnapping, Weinstein's company said he was in poor health and provided a detailed list of medications, many of them for heart problems, that it asked the kidnappers to give him.

In the video released on Sunday, Weinstein said he would like his wife, Elaine, to know that "I'm fine, I'm well, I'm getting all my medications, I'm being taken care of."



Violence against youths must stop, Holder says

by Maureen Feighan

Calling the homicide rate among young black men unacceptable, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Sunday said his department is committing "unprecedented" resources to address violence to which young people are exposed.

Addressing more than 6,000 at the Detroit Branch NAACP's Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner at Cobo Center, Holder, the nation's first African-American attorney general, said an average of two young black men a week are killed in Detroit, according to one report. And 60 percent of young people are exposed to violence as victims or witnesses.

"This is shocking and all of this is unacceptable," Holder said.

Holder said that's why his office is directing resources to reduce childhood exposure to violence, raise awareness of its ramifications and study its causes.

He has also launched a task force, which gathered testimony at Wayne State last month, on youth violence that will make recommendations to Holder. "In far too many American cities, there are neighborhoods where too many kids go to prison and too few go to college, where the doors of education opportunity seem to be firmly closed," Holder said. "And where for too many young people, funerals are more common than weddings."

Holder's remarks came as violent crime continues to be a major issue in Detroit. From Jan. 1 to March 21, there were 70 murders in the city — a 37 percent jump over the same period last year, according to Detroit Police Department figures.

U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, one of several members of Michigan's congressional delegation who attended — including U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. John Conyers — was encouraged by Holder's remarks. He said he saw a man shot in the head when he was 9, and it profoundly affected him.

"That was a rarity back then. Now it's commonplace," said Clarke, D-Detroit. Earlier Sunday, Holder urged graduates at the University of Michigan's Law School to be mindful of their duties to society as they search for jobs.

Sunday's dinner marked the branch's 100th birthday. Many applauded its successes in fighting for civil rights, but said work remains, especially after the Detroit City Council approved a historic consent agreement with the state to restructure its finances.

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, branch president, called on members to "remain at the guard post" as basic Democratic rights are being "stripped."

"Democracy is … under siege," Anthony said.

In one of his first public appearances since his recent health crisis, a thinner Mayor Dave Bing urged the crowd not to get complacent, to vote this fall and to make sure state officials do "what they're supposed to do, and that the federal government does what it's supposed to do."



Virginia man accused of threatening to kill President Barack Obama, bomb White House

by Associated Press

May 6, 2012

HARRISONBURG, Va. — A Virginia man has been charged with threatening to kill President Barack Obama.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Harrisonburg said Christopher Hecker of Waynesboro made death threats against the president and threatened to bomb the White House, hotels and other places, including Philadelphia City Hall and the site of the former World Trade Center. An affidavit said the threats were emailed to various media outlets.

Media outlets report an email sent April 19 to a Roanoke radio station threatened the president's life. The FBI traced the email to Hacker's account.

The affidavit said four days later, Hecker allegedly sent an email to another media outlet that threatened more violence.

“Sooner or later I will grab someone, maybe in the woods, on the trail, and beat the life out of them,” the email said.

The writer also said Obama “is the one that is destroying patriotism in the U.S.A.”

On April 25 a Secret Service agent began exchanging emails with Hecker, who allegedly continued to send out more written threats.

After it was determined last week that Hecker had signed on to a computer at the Waynesboro Public Library, Secret Service agents arrested him on the side of a street.

Hecker refused to be sworn in during an appearance Friday in federal court in Charlottesville. He told a magistrate judge he didn't want an attorney, wanted to be sentenced immediately and is seeking the death penalty.

Hecker was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation from the Valley Community Services Board.



New Jersey

Phillipsburg police Chief James Faulborn expands community policing efforts

by David Foster

When Phillipsburg police Chief James Faulborn took over the reins of the department last December, he had a plan.

“I wanted to make community policing part of what the department does,” Faulborn said last week. “We did some community policing under former Chief Ed Mirenda, but I wanted to expand upon that.”

A half-year later, Faulborn's vision is reality.

The chief has divided the town into 21 neighborhoods with an officer assigned to each one.

“The officer in each neighborhood deals with local concerns,” Faulborn said, noting officers handle issues such as quality of life, crime and speeding. “Better communication with the public can help solve problems.”

Faulborn said the size of an assigned area might be smaller or larger than others due to call volume.

Phillipsburg officials unanimously agreed to adopt community-oriented policing at a council meeting in February attended by numerous officers.

“Many of the officers came out and a majority came out on their own time to support the resolution,” Faulborn said.

This type of support is leading officers to develop their own initiatives.

Faulborn said Phillipsburg police officer Kevin Hulse is launching a fall festival in Shappell Park in October. He is working with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association to set up the event.

“When officers have more input, they are motivated to do it better,” Faulborn said.

Other programs the police are involved with are National Night Out, Teen Fun Night at the Firth Youth Center, Frolic in the Park and Cops 'n' Kids Reading Room.

The Cops 'n' Kids Reading Room is held on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Riverview Arts Center, 68 S. Main Street.

“We've received 1,800 books from donations for the reading room,” said Georjean Trinkle, associate director of Northwest New Jersey Community Action Partnership , which has championed community policing efforts. “Working with the children allows the police to know the residents and have a one-on-one time with police officers and the children.”

Children are allowed to come to the reading room and take books with them, she said.

The police department also initiated an anonymous tip line system in February .

Residents can text anonymous tips to Tip411.

“The more we reach out to the community, the better for both of us to prevent an environment of crime,” Faulborn said.