From the L.A. Daily News
16 bodies found in truck in new wave of Mexico drug violence
by The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY - Police in southern Guerrero state found 16 bodies left in a truck in a region plagued by drug violence.
The bodies were found in Coyuca de Catalan, the state Attorney General's Office said in a statement Monday. That city is close to the border with Michoacan state.
The remote mountain region known as "Tierra Caliente" for its steamy climate is a battleground between drug gangs including La Familia Michoacana and the breakaway Knights Templar.
Officials did not identify the victims or describe a motive for the slayings, but Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre said authorities suspected they were killed in Michoacan and dumped in his state.
State Attorney General Martha Garzon told an anonymous call alerted police to the bodies and urged people in neighboring Michoacan with missing relatives to get in touch with the morgue in the city of Iguala.
Garzon said investigators suspected the victims were brought in from Michoacan because there weren't any recent reports in Guerrero of 16 people being missing.
From Google News
U.S. ambassador to Libya, 3 other Americans killed in Benghazi
by Karen DeYoung and Michael Birnbaum
U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed Tuesday in an assault on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the White House said.
In a statement issued by the White House early Wednesday morning, President Obama said he had directed an increase at U.S. diplomatic posts around the world.
Wire services and reporters on the ground said that Stevens and the others were fleeing the consulate when a rocket-propelled grenade struck their vehicle. The identities of the other three dead were withheld pending notification of their families.
Stevens, a longtime Middle East hand in the State Department, was named ambassador to Libya in May. He had worked in Libya for a number of years, both before and after the fall of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.
“Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States,” Obama said. “Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she had called Libyan President Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf “to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya.”
The attack in Benghazi followed protests in neighboring Egypt, where a group of protesters scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday evening and entered its outer grounds, pulled down an American flag, then tried to burn it outside the embassy walls, according to witnesses. On Wednesday morning, a sit-in of several dozen protesters continued outside the Cairo embassy.
The attacks — apparently prompted by outrage over an amateur, anti-Muslim film made in the United States — are likely to prompt a deep rethinking of U.S. policy toward both Libya and Egypt, where the United States supported Arab Spring revolutions and was instrumental in providing financial and diplomatic support for their newly-democratic governments.
Both the Egyptian and Libyan governments condemned the violence outside the American diplomatic compounds. But local security officials in both countries appeared slow to provide protection for the American diplomatic installations, and have issued no firm statements explaining the violence or expressing strong concern.
The incidents raised the question of to what extent governments in countries where suspicions of the United States run high are willing or able to provide security for American diplomats.
According to wire services, Wanis al-Sharif, the Libyan deputy interior minister, told reporters in Tripoli that Gaddafi loyalists were responsible for the attacks there, but implied a failure of U.S. security at the consulate.
“They are to blame simply for not withdrawing their personnel from the premises” despite earlier incidents, Sharif reportedly said. “It was necessary that they take precautions.”
Libyan deputy prime minister Mustafa Abu Shagur called the incident a “cowardly act.”
In a statement Tuesday night, Clinton said that while she “deplores” any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, “there is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
The film that appears to have sparked the protests is called “The Innocence of Muslims.” It calls the prophet Muhammad a fraud and shows him having sex. A controversial Cairo television host, Sheikh Khaled Abdallah, aired clips from the video on an Islamic-focused television station on Saturday, and the same video clips were posted online on Monday.
A California real estate developer, Sam Bacile, who described himself as an Israeli Jew, said he made the film. Bacile had gone into hiding on Tuesday, but remained defiant in his condemnations of Islam, the Associated Press reported.
The crisis quickly spilled over into the U.S. presidential campaign, as Mitt Romney issued a brief statement saying he was “outraged” by the assaults. Romney then said “It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn the attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Obama's reelection campaign quickly responded in kind, saying “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose the launch of a political attack.”
Stevens, who spoke Arabic and French, had described himself on the embassy's Web site as “fortunate to participate in this incredible period of change and hope in Libya.”He was the U.S. representative to the Transitional National Council, the provisional government set up by Libyan rebels in Benghazi before Gaddafi was overthrown.
“When he's not meeting with government officials or foreign diplomats, you can find Ambassador Stevens meeting with Libyan academics, business people, and civil society activists, exploring Libya's rich archaeological sites, and enjoying Libya's varied cuisine,” Stevens wrote on the site.
He was the first U.S. ambassador to be killed on duty since Adolph Dubs, who was killed in Afghanistan in 1979.
The security breach at the embassy in Cairo comes at an awkward time for broader relations between the United States and Egypt, as the new Egyptian government strives to convince the world that it is running a stable and safe country. A 120-person U.S. business delegation was just wrapping up a visit on Tuesday that had been intended to inspire more investment in Egypt. Many of their events were held inside the fortress-like embassy compound in central Cairo that was stormed on Tuesday night.
Relatively few embassy employees were inside when the protesters hopped the wall because many had gone home early, according to a U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly about the developing incident.
Later in the evening, the Egyptian military sealed the entrances to the embassy to secure it from the ongoing protest, witnesses reported. Protesters were still outside the Cairo embassy early Wednesday, but Nuland later said that police had cleared the remainder.
A spokesman for the embassy said that Ambassador Anne Patterson was out of Egypt on unrelated business and that all embassy employees were “safe and accounted for.”
The security breach in Cairo appeared to catch both the United States and Egyptian security forces by surprise, even though the protest was announced in advance. Shortly before the protesters went over the wall, witnesses said, few Egyptian police or military officers were nearby.
“We are, obviously, working with Egyptian security to try to restore order at the embassy,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday. “We all want to see peaceful protests, which is not what happened outside the U.S. mission, so we're trying to restore calm now.”
Local media estimated that about 2,000 people participated in the protest, though in video footage of the incident only about a dozen appeared to have scaled the embassy wall. The protesters on the wall replaced the U.S. flag with a black flag with an inscription that read, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet.”
A spokesman for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi did not respond to telephone calls requesting comment. “The security of embassies and providing protection for diplomatic delegates is a responsibility of the utmost priority for official authorities in any country,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Protests at the U.S. Embassy are a regular feature of life in Cairo, where many people are suspicious of the United States and resent it for its support for Israel. But no previous protests have actually breached the embassy compound.
The embassy is in central Cairo, just a few blocks from Tahrir Square, and is a complex of several buildings surrounded by high white walls. Usually, police check vehicles in the streets surrounding the embassy, and cars must pass through moveable barriers.
Many protesters at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday said they were associated with the Salafist political parties al-Nour and al-Asala.
Organizers at the embassy protest told the Associated Press that they'd begun planning the protest last week when a controversial Egyptian Christian activist who lives in the United States, Morris Sadek, started promoting Bacile's film. Depicting the prophet at all is considered deeply offensive by Muslims.
“We are speaking out and will never be tolerant toward any curses for our prophet,” said Moaz Abdel Kareem, 37, who had a long beard typical of followers of the Salafist movement and was carrying a black flag.
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt had condemned insults to religion, saying in a statement that “we firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a member, said that the United States should do a better job of protecting Islam.
“It isn't a matter of freedom of speech,” Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Gozlan said. “It's a matter of a holy Islamic symbol.”
Anti-Muslim film that sparked violent protests ‘a political movie': director
A film portraying the life of the Prophet Mohammed, which touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality, has sparked a deadly attack on a US mission in Libya and furious protests in Egypt.
Clips of the film at the centre of the controversy have been posted on the Internet and private satellite channels have been showing segments.
The low-budget movie, “Innocence of Muslims” in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.
It pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality, sparking protests in Egypt and violence in Libya that left America's ambassador Chris Stevens and three American officials dead.
The film was produced by Israeli-American Sam Bacile, according to the Wall Street Journal, but Egyptian media say that some Egyptian Copts living in the US were involved in the production.
On Wednesday, an Egyptian journalist filed a lawsuit against the producers of the film for “offence to Islam” and has called on authorities to strip the Egyptian Copts involved in the production of their nationality.
Mr. Bacile, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from southern California says Islam is a hateful religion.
“Islam is a cancer,” Mr. Bacile told the Wall Street Journal of his crudely-produced film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed variously sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as “the first Muslim animal.”
With amateur costumes, a choppy script and fake backdrops, the film would hardly have been noticed some say, had it not been for its promotion by US pastor Terry Jones, who drew protests in the past for burning the Koran.
Mr. Bacile told the Journal he was responsible for the film -- an excerpt of which has been viewable online since July -- saying he had raised $5-million to make it from about 100 Jewish donors, whom he declined to identify.
He said he had worked with some 60 actors and 45 crew to make the two-hour movie in a three-month period last year in California. “The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie,” he said.
Feds can't say how often anti-terror surveillance program inadvertently monitored US citizens
by Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration maintains it is unable to say how many times one of the government's most politically sensitive anti-terrorism surveillance programs — which is up for renewal this week on Capitol Hill — has inadvertently gathered intelligence about U.S. citizens.
In a briefing for reporters on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Tuesday that the program designed to monitor international communications by terrorist suspects has collected an extraordinary amount of valuable intelligence overseas about foreign terrorist suspects while simultaneously protecting civil liberties of Americans.
Originated by the George W. Bush administration, the program was publicly disclosed by The New York Times in 2005 and was restructured in 2008 to provide oversight by a secret federal court and with additional oversight from Congress.
Civil liberties groups and some members of Congress have expressed concern that the government may be reviewing the emails and phone calls of law-abiding Americans in the U.S. who are at the other end of communications with foreign terrorist suspects being monitored abroad.
The House began debating renewal of the program Tuesday and expected to vote Wednesday. A hold has been placed on the legislation in the Senate by one of the program's critics, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
The program “is not a tool for spying on Americans,” said Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Litt said the program cannot be used to target American citizens and cannot be used to target people within the U.S. In addition, it cannot be used to collect the contents of any communication when all the participants are in the United States, said the ODNI's general counsel.
There has never been any intentional effort to bypass restrictions, he added.
At Tuesday's news briefing, reporters repeatedly pressed Litt on how many times there had been incidental collections of intelligence on Americans.
Litt pointed out that the National Security Agency, the ODNI and independent inspectors general for each office have said information is not readily available on the number of instances involving unintentional monitoring of U.S. citizens.
Some members of Congress have suggested that the law contains a loophole that enables intelligence-gathering on U.S. citizens.
“I strongly take exception to the suggestion that there is a ‘loophole,'” James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a letter to 11 Senate Democrats and two Senate Republicans on Aug. 24.
The law prohibits “reverse targeting — targeting a person located outside the United States as a pretext when the real goal is to target a person inside the United States.”
On Tuesday night, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said the DNI's Aug. 24 response does not sufficiently address Udall's concerns regarding “the possibility of unauthorized surveillance of Americans.” Wyden criticized the lack of “even a ballpark estimate of how many Americans have had their communications collected under this law.”
Asked at the news briefing about the program's successes, Litt said that the ability to collect certain kinds of communications that cannot be gathered any other way is “incredibly helpful.” He said that being more specific would signal to the targets of the surveillance what was being collected.
In July, the administration acknowledged in a rare disclosure that the program had exceeded legal limits on at least one occasion, but that the problem had been remedied. The ODNI made the comment in a letter to Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
On at least one occasion, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that an intelligence collection effort was “unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment” requirement to obtain a court warrant, Wyden said at the time.
In response, the intelligence office said that Wyden's statements “may convey an incomplete and potentially misleading understanding” of what is at issue.
Litt said he had met with Wyden, talked through the issues and that the ODNI was prepared to continue doing that.
“If a problem develops, we fix it,” Litt said of the program.
From the Department of Justice
A Day of Remembrance
September 11th, 2012
by Tracy Russo
Today the nation remembers the lives lost on September 11, 2001. It is a solemn day, but it is also a day of service. By taking time to serve others today we demonstrate our resolve and resilience as we continue to embrace democratic values and fundamental liberties, not fear and oppression.
This morning, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Holder paid tribute to the 72 law enforcement officers who rushed to the scene and made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty:
In the face of hatred and destruction on a nearly unprecedented scale, these heroic men and women answered the highest calling of their profession – placing the safety of others above their own. As images of smoldering wreckage and crumbling buildings played out on television screens and in their own backyards – from New York City; to Arlington, Virginia; to Shanksville, Pennsylvania – these officers heard the call go out. They saw the rising smoke, and heard the cries of those in need. And – without hesitation, without delay, and with the knowledge that this critical mission could well be their last – every one of them rushed toward the dangers from which all others had fled.
Put simply, their selfless actions saved countless lives. Their valor reminds us of the quiet power of compassion, patriotism, and selflessness. And – especially this morning – as we lift up their stories, we also affirm that this annual observance has always been about much more than the pain that was inflicted – and the buildings that were destroyed – eleven years ago today.
It's about the extraordinary life that binds us together. It's about the enduring values that have always been the hallmark of America's law enforcement community. And, above all, it's about honoring the friends, neighbors, and loved ones who were taken from us – far too suddenly, and far too soon – on that terrible day.
Each of their names has been forever etched, alongside more than 19,000 others, in this place of remembrance. Each of their legacies lives on in the efforts of those who wear the uniform, who safeguard their countrymen and –women from crime, and who protect our nation's security. And each of their sacrifices is honored in the work of all who strive to promote – not only safety and security, but peace and justice; in the actions of organizations like this one, and our nation's Department of Justice, as we stand together to support the officers and their families who give so much to keep us safe; and in the commitment of Americans across the country who gather on this day to ensure that – in our own time, in the lives of our children, and in the work of future generations – the stories, the memories, and the rich legacies of those we lost on September 11 th will never be forgotten.
The Justice Department and the entire nation honor the memory of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. At the department, we remain fully committed to the fight against those who target Americans and our way of life. We know the best way to honor the legacies of the victims of 9/11 is to prevent further terrorist attacks on this country, which remains the highest priority and most urgent work of the department.
For more information about the department's efforts to protect Americans and the American way of life, visit justice.gov/911
ICE Gallery pays tribute to 9/11 sacrifice
(Slideshow on site) Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) joins the nation in remembering the 11th anniversary of Sept 11 - a day in modern history that forever changed the country and ultimately led to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE.
Through its 9/11 exhibit, unveiled earlier this year at the ICE Gallery's opening, the agency pays tribute to the nearly 3,000 innocent people who lost their lives, the countless family members left behind, the staggering number of first responders who selflessly rushed to help, as well as the role that its legacy agencies - U.S. Customs and Immigration and Naturalization Service - played in recovery efforts.
When American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower, employees in the U.S. Customs House, which was located at 6 World Trade Center, immediately began evacuating. Miraculously, the building was emptied in just 12 minutes, and no one was killed before it was destroyed from the North Tower's falling debris and fire.
Many of the U.S. Customs and Immigration and Naturalization Service employees, based in the New York area, quickly responded in the aftermath. The ICE Gallery exhibit, housed within ICE's Washington, D.C., headquarters, features photos of the destroyed building and of employees siphoning through the ruins. Also displayed is the uniform worn by Nick Raudenski, a former U.S. Customs special agent who is now a special agent with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, during the recovery efforts. A section of a cross beam from 6 World Trade Center is also on display among simulated ruins.
Although September 11 predates ICE's formation, the events of that day are the reason the agency was created and are intertwined into the agency's history. ICE will never forget the many sacrifices made and will continue to diligently fulfill its mission of protecting the homeland.