| NEWS of the Day - August 22, 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 Google News
Some should be screened more than others
by Michael Smerconish
“I'm not saying we should only screen young Arab men, or that we should screen every young Arab man who gets onto a plane. But we cannot ignore the commonalities in age, gender, nationality, religion and appearance of the 19 men responsible for 9/11 and other acts of terrorism. Some types of people need to be screened more than others.”
I wrote those words in a book I published three years ago, reaffirming a position I'd stated many times in the past decade. In fact, I wrote a book on the subject in 2004: Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11 . And I've echoed those sentiments in countless columns.
Do I still believe that, given the complaints over passenger screening at Logan Airport in Boston? The New York Times reported that an airport program intended to detect the behaviors of terrorists has instead been used for racial profiling. The Times said passengers who fit certain profiles — such as Hispanics flying to Miami, blacks wearing baseball caps backward — are more likely to be stopped and questioned.
Despite that, my answer is yes. Law enforcement needs to take into account the similarities of any group members who have evil intentions. Political correctness should not stand in the way of street smarts.
I was drawn to this subject after watching 9/11 Commission member John Lehman question then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about testimony suggesting that our government had capped the number of individuals of a particular ethnic group who could be singled out for secondary screening at any one time. But, as I learned, the PC influence didn't stop there.
Post-9/11, the Department of Transportation actually fined airlines that took into consideration the profile of the hijackers while seeking to prevent a repeat of the attacks. United and American — the carriers that each lost two aircraft and a total of more than 30 personnel on 9/11 — were each subject to “enforcement actions” that resulted in both paying a fine of $1.5 million.
Here's the typical scenario for which they were reprimanded: A pilot, who has an obligation to remove anyone perceived as a threat, would be told that a passenger was acting in a suspicious fashion, or seemed of Middle Eastern descent, or had a name that was either on a watch list or similar to such a name. A pilot who chose to have the man questioned, at the risk of delaying his travel, subjected the airline to disciplinary measures. I was appalled by the government's PC response then and remain so today.
We'd never tell an organized-crime task force to ignore Italian Americans while investigating La Cosa Nostra, and I'm certain no one told British intelligence to overlook the Irish while investigating the IRA in the 1980s. It's vital that law enforcement be free to transcend all political boundaries — left and right.
The shooter who two weeks ago killed six people at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee was an Army veteran and neo-Nazi. Like the Oklahoma City bombers, he seemed to fit the profile that was discussed in a report from the Department of Homeland Security issued in April 2009 and titled: “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic And Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
The report was widely ridiculed in the conservative media, so much so that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized for its issuance. Napolitano said she was most regretful over a footnote in the report which said that while there is no “specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,” such acts could come from unnamed “rightwing extremists” concerned about illegal immigration, abortion, increasing federal power and restrictions on firearms — and singled out returning war veterans as susceptible to recruitment.
She should not have apologized, and it was hypocritical for those who embraced profiling when it targeted young Arab males to cry foul when this focus was published. After all, as even Fox News noted, just months before the issuance of the report, Homeland Security had released an assessment of left-wing threats, “focusing on cyberattacks and radical ‘eco-terrorist' groups like Earth Liberation Front, accused of firebombing construction sites, logging companies, car dealerships and food-science labs.”
This has never been about the pursuit of all members of a particular ethnic or racial group. It's about freeing law enforcement of concerns over who might be offended when it is pursuing legitimate leads. Thank goodness Jose Melendez-Perez, the Immigration and Naturalization Service agent who deterred the presumed 20th hijacker from entering the United States in August 2001, didn't listen to coworkers' concerns about targeting a Saudi national.
The recent complaints at Logan stem not from the use of profiling but that the wrong profile was relied upon. There is no threat posed by African Americans with baseball hats on backward, or Hispanics flying to Miami. They are not, as a group, threatening national security. But if that should change, then those descriptions should be taken into account. Same with suburban, bald white guys.
Eleven years later, the lesson is the same: Everyone needs to be screened, some more than others. Who they are is constantly evolving.
Michael Smerconish writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Will the City Crack Down on Illegal Immigrants? Minutes With the Mayor
In this edition, Mayor David Gonzalez explains City of Chicago Heights' position on going after undocumented immigrants.
by Christopher Paicely
Patch gathered questions from readers, for Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez. Now, Patch will regularly air a series of video responses to the questions readers voted as most pressing.
In this segment, Gonzalez is answering a question on whether the City of Chicago Heights will crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
His answer? No way.
Interesting question. It's no secret that immigration law is set by the Constitution of the United States of America. It is the federal government's responsibility to set policy for immigration. It is the federal government's to enforce immigration law. It is not the responsibility of the State. It is not the responsibility of local government.
We have seen that there are some areas in other states or cities that want to work with the federal government and take some kind of proactive approach in trying to help them on illegal immigration, but we have to understand where we live here. The city of Chicago Heights is a very, very diverse community and we've got a very, very high immigrant population in the city.
Back in the 1980s the police community started coming up with a program on how do they start reducing crime. This was nationwide, and they came up with this program that was the community policing. The community policing was: How do we get more residents involved and how do we start building that trust factor between law enforcement and residents? Because if we can build that trust factor between the residents and law enforcement, you have residents that can come and say, “Hey, I've been the victim of a crime.” “Hey, I've seen a crime. I can help you.” But there has to be that trust factor. Community policing has been very, very effective throughout this country, including Chicago Heights here too.
The statistics of community policing has seen that violent crime has actually decreased where you have strong community policing. Now, I say this because we have to have that trust factor with our immigrant population. Whether you're black. Whether you're white. Whether you're Hispanic, Italian. Whether you're here illegally or not, we have to maintain that trust factor.
In these other towns that are high in immigrant population that are trying it, they are finding out that it's backfiring on them. Here's what they're doing in these other towns. They're going in there saying, “Local enforcement, we're going to try to help the federal government with immigration status.” What you're doing is you're decreasing that trust factor with those immigrants, because of racial profiling. Now those immigrants, whether they're legal or illegal, don't want to come to the police department to report a crime. (Let's) say that they're a victim. They don't want to do anything to help law enforcement, and it's not because they don't want to help. It's because of their fear of their immigration status. That trust factor starts to go down in those communities, and what happens? Crime starts increasing.
So here in Chicago Heights, we don't want that. We want our residents to feel comfortable with the police department, regardless of their immigration status. And what we're going to do as a police department is, if you have code violations, you have local ordinances you're violating . . . we're going to enforce those ordinances based on you doing something wrong or needing to comply with something, and never ever based on your immigration status.
I think we would be doing a disservice in a community that has such a high immigration population to ever even try to entertain the fact of trying to police and help the federal government crackdown on illegal immigration in the city of Chicago Heights. It would be a detriment to us.
From the Department of Justice
Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez Speaks at Press Conference Announcing Civil Rights Enforcement Unit
Birmingham, Ala. ~ Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Good morning, and thank you all for joining us for this important announcement. It is an honor to be here with Joyce and her staff in the U.S. Attorney's Office. Joyce is deeply committed to protecting the civil rights of the communities she serves. And the attorneys and professionals in her office have been invaluable partners to the Department of Justice throughout my tenure at the Civil Rights Division. Today's announcement commemorates that partnership, and will strengthen it for years to come.
I extend my sincere congratulations to everyone in the U.S. Attorney's Office, the civil rights advocates and stakeholders on the ground, and the communities throughout Northern Alabama who worked so hard in recent months to make this Civil Rights Unit possible.
This announcement is all the more special because of where we are today. I first toured the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute two years ago. I had the opportunity then to see what a great and living monument this Institute is to Birmingham's rich history in the civil rights movement. It is important that we are here together now, during the 20 th anniversary of the Institute, to look back at that history – and to look forward together to how far we have to travel to realize the vision of the brave men and women memorialized on these walls.
The eyes of the world watched as centuries of our nation's troubled history of race relations played out in these streets a half century ago. Residents of Birmingham, many of them children, marched through this city demanding access to the promise of our founding documents. They exposed themselves to great physical violence, and far too many lives were stolen by that fight. But their struggle was not in vain. This city was the eye of the storm that sparked revolutionary change.
To visit these sacred sites is a reminder of how far we have come. Our nation has made great progress toward the promise of equal opportunity and equal justice. Just days ago, we watched as thousands of young people lined up request consideration for temporary relief from removal . These are people who came to this country as children, with loved ones who sought to give them a chance at a better life. They are students and veterans who represent the best of what America has to offer. More than anything, they want to pursue their dreams and contribute to this country, a country that they know and love as their own.
Given the progress we've made, it is not surprising that I frequently encounter people who wonder why, in 2012, we still need a Civil Rights Division. Like all of us, they are proud of the progress we've made as a nation. They see an African-American President and an African American Attorney General. They see a growing number of minorities and women serving in Congress. They see an African American and a Latina on the Supreme Court. And they assume that these great symbols of progress mean that our journey is complete.
But this morning, I had the opportunity to meet with 21 st century civil rights advocates who remind us all that the fight is not finished. They understand that, for so many of our neighbors, true equal opportunity and true equal justice remain just out of reach. Far too many of our brothers and sisters still live in the shadows of life.
Even as thousands of young immigrants to the United States are reaching for a second chance, thousands of schoolchildren in Alabama are starting the school year under the specter of H.B. 56. Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that all students, no matter their immigration status, must be welcome in our nation's schools. Yet far too many children are being kept from the classroom, just as far too many children have yet to see the truly equal educational environment they were promised in perhaps the most well known Supreme Court ruling in our nation's history more than five decades ago.
Together, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office work to enforce the law, which protects these basic principles:
- Expanding opportunity and access for all people – the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to earn, the opportunity to live where one chooses, the opportunity to move up the economic ladder, the opportunity to realize one's highest and best use.
- Ensuring that the fundamental infrastructure of democracy is in place – by protecting the right to vote, and by ensuring that communities have effective and democratically accountable policing.
- And protecting the most vulnerable among us so that they can move out of the shadows and into the sunshine – by ensuring they can live in their communities free from fear of exploitation, discrimination, and violence.
Operating under those principles, we work every day to enforce the nation's civil rights laws – all of the laws – and to do so independently and evenhandedly. Through that effort, we carry forward the legacy of this city.
Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested for the 13 th time on here the streets of Birmingham nearly fifty years ago. At the time, he faced criticism from his fellow clergymen for the peaceful demonstration that led to his arrest. They worried that, by drawing attention to injustice and hate, he was acting too soon and protesting too much. They told him that his actions were “unwise.”
Dr. King understood that the action he had taken was necessary and right. From a narrow cell in a Birmingham jail, he reminded his critics that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and that in our effort to protect justice, we must rise up to face those who disagree. He wrote that he was not afraid to cause tension , for those who push back against injustice are those “that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”
Here in Birmingham, we see what Dr. King's “tension” accomplished. At the same time, are reminded that we must also continue to forge ahead. Perhaps in this city more than any other that dichotomy is palpable – the push and pull between celebrating our great achievements for civil rights, and recognizing that each milestone has been a checkpoint along the way rather than the culmination of our fight for equal justice and equal opportunity.
The Civil Rights Division is honored to partner with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama as we continue that struggle, and to be here to announce the new Civil Rights Unit of the office today.
Iraqi National Pleads Guilty to 12-count Terrorism Indictment in Kentucky
Defendant Attempted to Ship Weapons and Money from the United States To Iraqi Insurgents
Iraqi citizen Mohanad Shareef Hammadi pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges today in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky before Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell, announced Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky; and Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Louisville Division.
Hammadi, 24, a former resident of Iraq, pleaded guilty to all counts of a 12-count superseding indictment. The superseding indictment charged him with five counts of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and four counts of attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The superseding indictment also charged him with one count of conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles and with two counts of making false statements in immigration matters. Hammadi was first indicted on May 26, 2011 and was subsequently charged in a superseding indictment returned on Feb. 15, 2012 by a federal grand jury meeting in Bowling Green, Ky.
Hammadi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison under the sentencing guidelines and a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. Hammadi's sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green before Senior Judge Russell at 11:30 am.
Hammadi's co-defendant, Waad Ramadan Alwan, pleaded guilty to all counts of the 23-count indictment on Dec. 16, 2011, before Senior Judge Russell in Bowling Green. Alwan was charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. nationals abroad; distributing information on the manufacture and use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs); attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to AQI; as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.
Hammadi and Alwan were both arrested on May 25, 2011, in Bowling Green on criminal complaints. Both defendants were closely monitored by federal law enforcement authorities in the months leading up to their arrests. Neither was charged with plotting attacks within the United States.
“Today's guilty plea is another testament to the effectiveness of the intelligence and law enforcement communities in bringing terrorists to justice and preventing them from harming the American people,” said Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “I applaud all those responsible for this successful outcome.”
“In open court today, Mohanad Hammadi admitted to engaging in terrorist activities here in the United States. He admitted that he tried to send numerous weapons from Kentucky to Iraq to be used against American soldiers,” said U.S. Attorney Hale. “Bringing Hammadi to justice is the result of a comprehensive law enforcement effort. The FBI agents of the Louisville Division, along with the federal and local law enforcement members of the Joint Terrorism Task Forces here in Kentucky, including the Bowling Green Police Department, and our many other partners, are to be commended. Their collaborative law enforcement effort successfully thwarted the ongoing intentions of an experienced terrorist. The guilty plea today sends a strong message to anyone who would attempt similar crimes that they will face the same determined law enforcement and prosecution efforts.”
“Protecting the United States from terrorist attacks remains the FBI's top priority,” said Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Kentucky. “Using our growing suite of investigative and intelligence capabilities, FBI Agents and Analysts assigned to our Bowling Green office were able to neutralize a potential threat. Our local Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprised of FBI Agents and other local, state and federal agencies from across the Commonwealth, remains committed to dismantling extremist networks and cutting off financing and other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers, whether they are operating in Kentucky or worldwide.”
According to the charging documents, Hammadi entered the United States in July 2009, and after first residing in Las Vegas, moved to Bowling Green. Alwan entered the United States in April 2009, and has lived in Bowling Green since his arrival.
According to court documents in this case, the Bowling Green office of the FBI's Louisville Division initiated an investigation of Waad Ramadan Alwan, which, beginning in 2010, utilized a confidential human source (CHS). The CHS met with Alwan and recorded their meetings and conversations beginning in August 2010. The CHS represented to Alwan that he was working with a group to ship money and weapons to Mujahadeen in Iraq. Mujahadeen generally refers to Muslim fighters or warriors engaged in jihad. From September 2010 to January 2011, Alwan participated in deliveries of weapons and money that he believed were destined for terrorists in Iraq.
In January 2011, Alwan recruited Hammadi, a fellow Iraqi national living in Bowling Green, to assist in these material support operations. Beginning in January 2011, and continuing until his arrest in late May 2011, Hammadi participated with Alwan in money and weapons deliveries that he believed were destined for terrorists in Iraq, including AQI. Hammadi also detailed to the CHS his prior activities as an insurgent in Iraq, including his prior participation in IED attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. After his arrest on May 25, 2011, Hammadi admitted to his participation in the purported material support operations involving weapons and money that occurred between January and May, 2011. Hammadi also admitted his involvement in insurgent activities while living in Iraq, including his membership in an insurgent group and his participation in various attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.
None of the weapons, including Stinger missiles, nor any of the money delivered by Alwan or Hammadi in connection with the CHS in the United States were provided to AQI, but instead were carefully controlled by law enforcement as part of the undercover operation.
This case is being investigated by the Louisville Division of the FBI. Assisting in the investigation were members of the Louisville and Lexington Joint Terrorism Task Forces, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Bowling Green Police Department.
The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Larry Schneider from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department's National Security Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Bennett and Bryan Calhoun from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky.
From the FBI
District Man Admits Making Bomb Threats Against Amtrak
WASHINGTON—Michael Jerome Dennis, 27, pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from two separate bomb threats against the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director of the FBI's Washington Field Office; and Lisa Shahade, Assistant Chief of the Amtrak Police.
Threats Caused Delays That Affected More Than 1,000 Rail Passengers
Dennis, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of threatening and conveying false information about an attempt or alleged attempt to use a destructive device. The charge carries a statutory maximum of life in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, it carries a likely range of 18 to 24 months in prison. Dennis is to be sentenced on November 9, 2012, by the Honorable Reggie B. Walton.
Dennis was arrested May 3, 2012, following an investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which includes members from various law enforcement agencies, including the Amtrak Police. According to a statement of facts, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Dennis made the threats in telephone calls to Amtrak's National Communications Center on November 30, 2011 and January 19, 2012. Dennis pled guilty to a charge specifically relating to the phone threat of November 30, 2011.
At the time of the threats, Dennis was working for a contractor at a site near the Amtrak bridge on New York Avenue NE, Washington, D.C., just north of Union Station. The bridge was the target of both of the defendant's threats. All Amtrak trains from the Northeast Corridor that come into and out of Washington, D.C., must pass under this bridge.
As a result of both threats, police searched the bridge and surrounding area. During this time, six Amtrak trains were delayed, resulting in losses and delays for Amtrak, which also affected over 1,000 rail passengers.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin, and Assistant Chief Shahade praised the work of those who investigated the case. They also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney's Office, including Paralegal Specialist Katelyn Rowe, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, who prosecuted the matter.