November, 2015 - Week 3
Belgium widens hunt with Brussels on maximum alert
by Philip Blenkinsop
Belgium widened its search on Sunday for armed Islamist extremists whose presence has put Brussels on maximum alert, with officials saying more than one militant was at large in the city.
The alert has closed the capital's metro system, although a senior minister said it was likely to reopen on Monday.
Belgium has been at the heart of investigations into the Paris attacks on Nov. 13 that left 130 people dead after links emerged to Brussels, and the poor district of Molenbeek in particular.
Two of the Paris suicide bombers, Brahim Abdeslam and Bilal Hadfi, had been living in Belgium. Fugitive suspected militant Salah Abdeslam, Brahim's 26 year-old brother, slipped back home to Brussels from Paris shortly after the attacks.
Asked whether Brussels' maximum threat level since Saturday related to Salah Abdeslam alone, Interior Minister Jan Jambon told broadcaster VRT "unfortunately not".
"It is a threat that goes beyond just that one person," he said. "We're looking at more things, that's why we've put in place such a concentration of resources."
Bernard Clerfayt, the mayor of the Brussels district of Schaerbeek, was quoted by broadcaster RTBF as saying there were "two terrorists" in the Brussels area ready to carry out violence.
Mohamed Abdeslam, the brother of Brahim and Salah, urged Salah in an interview on RTBF television to give himself up, adding that he believed Salah was still alive because he had had a last-minute change of heart while in Paris.
Belgium's crisis centre, a state body that advises the government on security, said on Sunday the alert status for Brussels remained at its highest level of four, meaning a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack.
Intelligence, police and judicial officials would review the alert status during the course of the day. The national security council, including top ministers, was expected to convene on Sunday afternoon to determine what measures to take or retain.
Justice Minister Koen Geens told VRT the metro system was likely to resume on Monday.
"We will guard the metro stations ... We are not going to paralyse Brussels economically, nor the country. We are not led by panic and fear, but we have needed time to reorganise everything," Geens said.
Prime Minister Charles Michel has advised the public to be alert rather than panic-stricken, but also said Brussels risked Paris-style coordinated attacks.
Belgium has urged the public to avoid crowds in the capital, and also closed museums, cinemas and shopping centres. Clubs and venues have cancelled events.
Brussels Chief Rabbi Albert Gigi told Israel's Army Radio on Sunday that the city's synagogues were shut over the weekend for the first time since World War Two.
Soldiers are on guard in parts of Brussels, a city of 1.2 million people and home to institutions of the European Union and the headquarters of NATO.
That said, Brussels on Sunday morning resembled most other Sundays, with the normal limited number of shops, such bakeries and small supermarkets open, and many churches in the largely Catholic country still holding services.
However, larger markets were shut.
The weekend's measures go far beyond those taken the last time Brussels was put on level four alert, for about a month at the end of 2007 and the start of 2008, when authorities intercepted a plot to free convicted Tunisian Nizar Trabelsi from a Belgian jail.
Then the city closed the downtown Christmas market early and cancelled its New Year fireworks display.
Obama: U.S. 'Will Not Relent' In Islamic State Campaign
"The most powerful tool we have is to say we are not afraid."
by Josh Lederman
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — President Barack Obama said Sunday that the United States and its international partners "will not relent" in the fight against the Islamic State group and that the world would not accept the extremists' attacks on civilians in Paris and elsewhere as the "new normal."
"The most powerful tool we have is to say we are not afraid," Obama said as he wrapped up a nine-day trip to Turkey and Asia that was shadowed by terrorist attacks.
The president also pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to align himself with the U.S.-led coalition, noting that IS has been accused of bringing down a Russian passenger jet last month, killing 224 people.
"He needs to go after the people who killed Russian citizens," he said of Putin.
The president spoke in Malaysia shortly before departing for Washington. His trip also took him to the Philippines and Turkey, where he met with Putin on the sidelines of an international summit.
While Russia has stepped up its air campaign in Syria, Obama said Moscow has focused its attention on moderate rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Russian ally. He called on Russia to make a "strategic adjustment" and drop its support for Assad, insisting the violence in Syria cannot be stopped as long as Assad is in office.
"It will not work to keep him in power," Obama said. "We can't stop the fighting."
Nearly five years of fighting between the Assad government and rebels has created a vacuum that allowed IS to thrive in both Syria and Iraq. The militant group is now setting its sights on targets outside its stronghold, including the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.
French President Francois Hollande is due to meet with Obama at the White House on Tuesday to discuss ways to bolster the international coalition fighting the Islamic State. Hollande then heads to Russia for talks with Putin.
"Our coalition will not relent. We will not accept the idea that terrorist assaults on restaurants and theaters and hotels are the new normal, or that we are powerless to stop them," Obama said.
The discussions about a military coalition to defeat IS come amid parallel talks about a diplomatic solution to end Syria's civil war. The violence has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced millions, sparking a refugee crisis in Europe.
Foreign ministers from about 20 nations agreed last week to an ambitious yet incomplete plan that sets a Jan. 1 deadline for the start of negotiations between Assad's government and opposition groups. Within six months, the negotiations are to establish a "credible, inclusive and nonsectarian" transitional government that would set a schedule for drafting a new constitution and holding a free and fair U.N.-supervised election within 18 months.
The Paris attacks have heightened fears of terrorism in the West and also sparked a debate in the U.S. about accepting refugees from Syria. It's unclear whether any of the terrorists in the Paris attacks exploited the refugee system to enter Europe, though Obama has insisted that's not a legitimate security threat in the United States.
"Refugees who end up in the United States are the most vetted, scrutinized, thoroughly investigated individuals that ever arrive on American shores," Obama said.
Still, the U.S. House passed legislation last week essentially blocking Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the U.S. Democrats in large numbers abandoned the president, with 47 voting for the legislation. Having secured a veto-proof majority in the House, supporters are now hoping for a repeat in the U.S. Senate, while Obama works to shift the conversation to milder visa waiver changes that wouldn't affect Syrian refugees.
Obama has focused his ire on Republicans throughout the trip, harshly criticizing GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates for acting contrary to American values. He took a softer tone Sunday, saying he understands Americans' concerns but urging them not to give into fear.
He said IS "can't beat us on the battlefield so they try to terrorize us into being afraid." The president declared, "We will destroy this terrorist organization."
Speaking dismissively of IS' global prowess, Obama said, "They're a bunch of killers with good social media."
The president also paid tribute to Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old from California who was killed in the Paris attacks, and Anita Ashok Datar, a 41-year-old from Maryland who died in Friday's attack in Mali. He said the women reminded him of his teenage daughters and his late mother.
"It is worth us remembering when we look at the statistics that there are beautiful, wonderful lives behind the terrible death tolls we see in these places," he said.
DOJ Lawyers Will Fly To Minneapolis To Probe Jamar Clark Shooting
A key issue during their visit will be whether authorities should release to the public videos of the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Clark a week ago.
by Greg Moore
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. Justice Department attorneys are expected to fly to Minnesota on Sunday to investigate the killing of a black man that has prompted protests and calls for the two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting to be prosecuted.
A key issue during their visit will be whether authorities should release to the public videos of the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark a week ago.
Federal and state authorities have resisted releasing the footage — from an ambulance, mobile police camera, public housing cameras and people's cellphones — because they said it doesn't show the full incident and making the recordings public would compromise their investigations.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said on Saturday that he had asked Clark's family and representatives of the Black Lives Matter group protesting his death to meet with the federal government lawyers.
"I will urge that the tapes be provided to the family and released to the public, as soon as doing so will not jeopardize the Department of Justice's investigation," Dayton said after meeting with the family and leaders of the protesters.
Dozens of demonstrators huddled around bonfires early Sunday in frigid temperatures at an encampment outside a Minneapolis police station that they have said will not be dismantled until their demands are met.
Minneapolis civil rights activist Mel Reeves said the primary goal of the protests is to see the officers involved in the death of Clark prosecuted based on statements of people who say they saw the shooting. He said the officers should face charges and "go through the same procedures that we do. We think they're guilty, but let the court decide."
Both officers involved in the shooting, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, have been placed on standard administrative leave. Authorities haven't said who fired the fatal shot.
Police have said the officers were responding to an assault call and found the 24-year-old Clark interfering with paramedics. Authorities say there was a struggle. The head of the Minneapolis police union has said Clark was shot after reaching for an officer's gun. Protesters have said they don't believe that version of events.
Some people in the community say they saw him handcuffed at the time of the shooting — a claim police have disputed.
Tensions between black community, police resurface after shooting
Divisions between Minneapolis police, North Side residents have been decades in the making, resistant to change.
by Libor Jany
Bettie Smith stepped up to the bank of television microphones in front of the Fourth Precinct police station, her hands clasped, and made a fervent plea for justice to be served in the death of a young black man during an encounter with Minneapolis police.
“The police need to be held accountable for murdering our children,” she said.
Her words were not only about her son, Quincy, who died of cardiac arrest in 2008 after a scuffle with police, but also Jamar Clark, killed a week ago during a confrontation with police on the city's North Side.
The circumstances around Clark's death are murky and in deep dispute, with police union leaders saying the unarmed 24-year-old was reaching for the officer's gun. But as protests continue and a federal civil rights investigation begins in the wake of the fatal shooting, Minneapolis is once again being forced to confront what has been one of its most chronic and high stakes problems: relations between the police and black residents of a community often burdened by crime and violence.
Some North Side residents see Clark's shooting as the latest example of the community's strained relationship with a police force that, historically, has rarely reflected the city's racial and ethnic makeup.
The department has never had a black chief. The City Council's only black member is from the Somali community — not the North Side. And although diversity in hiring has picked up in recent years, less than a quarter of Minneapolis officers are racial minorities.
The protests last week prompted Gov. Mark Dayton and influential legislators to include community and economic development measures specifically for the black community in a possible special legislative session. The emerging statewide effort comes after a recent U.S. Census report showing that income levels were down and poverty rates were up for black Minnesotans.
Police Chief Janeé Harteau said her department has made progress in its relationship with the black community, but acknowledged that more can be done.
“There certainly are some people that are very connected to history, and [Clark's shooting] brings back things from the past, but we have done many things,” Harteau said Friday. “Every time that there was an incident, this department has evolved and tried to move forward, and tried to make things better.”
Despite recent efforts by city officials to address disparities in arrest rates — the City Council in June repealed bans on spitting and loitering, ordinances that critics said disproportionately affected blacks — the community's wariness persists.
“You call police out of necessity, not because you trust them,” said Mel Reeves, a longtime North Side community activist. “It's dishonest to think that we're going to have a relationship. No, no, we've just learned to be tolerant of each other.”
Clark's death occurred in the midst of a national debate sparked by deadly encounters between police and young black men in Baltimore, South Carolina and Ferguson, Mo. The head of the national NAACP led a candlelight vigil Friday, and both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have stepped in, at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges and with Harteau's approval, to investigate Clark's death.
Police have said Clark, whose criminal record included a conviction for first-degree robbery, was shot in an altercation with officers after he interfered with a paramedic assisting his girlfriend, the victim of an assault. Witnesses have said Clark was handcuffed and forced to the ground.
An autopsy showed Clark died of a gunshot to the head. The officers involved in the shooting, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, were placed on paid leave.
Despite the federal investigation, protesters have expressed skepticism and demanded more information, including the release of videos of the incident.
For some longtime North Siders, Clark's death stirred memories of the police shootings of Tycel Nelson and Terrance Franklin, whose deaths also set off protests and heightened calls for a culture change at the police department.
“There's nothing unfortunately different about this, other than the name of the victim, and the name of the perpetrator,” said Ron Edwards, a longtime civil rights activist.
Black residents have also expressed concerns about being singled out by police in less obvious ways.
One department-sponsored study found nearly two-thirds of those arrested by police over the past six years were blacks, who make up less than 20 percent of the city's population. An American Civil Liberties Union study suggested blacks were significantly more likely than whites to be arrested for low-level crimes like marijuana possession (11.5 times more likely) and disorderly conduct (9 times).
Shvonne Johnson, a college professor and lifelong North Side resident, said she joined a community group and frequently protested for police accountability after repeatedly seeing black motorists pulled over for seemingly minor traffic offenses. She said she's also witnessed people being beaten by officers.
“These are the types of things that send messages to the community and instill fear,” she said.
Of the 29 people killed by Minneapolis officers in incidents involving use of force since 2000, 18 were black, according to a Star Tribune analysis of news and police reports, and death certificate data. Not all of those victims were unarmed, and department policy says Minneapolis officers are authorized to use deadly force when a suspect “creates a substantial risk of causing death or great bodily harm.”
The city has paid out more than $6 million in alleged cases of police misconduct since 2012. The largest of those settlements — $2.19 million — went to the family of Dominic Felder, a black man who was shot and killed by two officers in 2006.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis police union, said he didn't dispute the statistics, but asked the public not to rush to judgment in the Clark case.
“What do you do to change it? I don't know,” Kroll said. “All I can say is our cops are not out there hunting people, that's for damn sure.”
Efforts to improve
Some community activists say hiring more black officers would go a long way to restoring community confidence in law enforcement. In 2003, a federal mediation board recommended the department hire more minority and female officers.
As of October, 22 percent of Minneapolis' approximately 800 officers were ethnic minorities, according to department statistics, up from 18 percent in 2011. Next year's 32-member class of community service officers includes 22 candidates of color.
Harteau said she has taken a hard stance on problem officers, firing six in her tenure, including two who were caught using racial slurs in Green Bay, Wis. She invited the Justice Department to overhaul the department's training system to identify officers who need more instruction.
Earlier this year, the city was selected for a Justice Department pilot program focused on “racial reconciliation, procedural justice and implicit bias.” And the city has set aside $1.1 million to outfit officers with body cameras — a tool that many hope will help with transparency and trust.
Ray Dunn, 54, a lifelong North Sider, traced the shift to more aggressive policing back to the 1980s and the rise of crack cocaine, which ravaged urban neighborhoods in Minneapolis and parts of the country.
“It's pervasive and you've gotta be blind not to know that,” Dunn said, before ducking into the Camden Mart at the corner of N. Fremont and 42nd avenues.
Hodges, who has been outspoken in the past about her intention to root out problem officers, said last year that she wants the department to mirror St. Paul's “high touch” approach to community policing, “getting officers out of their cars and talking to people, building those relationships, building trust.”
“My hope is that we move forward as a city,” Hodges said Friday.
It's tough, Harteau and Kroll said, because in many cases, officers are running from call to call and don't have time to build connections with the community.
Harteau said the recent discord over Clark's death is “a temporary setback” in community relations “and is an opportunity for us to move forward, with reinvigorated partnerships and new partnerships.”
But Johnson, the professor, and others wonder if change will really come.
“It's sad that I remember marching here 15 years ago and now we're back,” Johnson said.
Tamir Rice Shooting: One Year After Cleveland Boy Was Killed, Case Drags On
by Erik Ortiz
The frantic scene unfolded swiftly on Nov. 22, 2014: A police cruiser raced in front of a Cleveland recreation center and rolled up alongside 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
One of the two police officers inside the car jumped out and fired his service weapon twice. Rice, who earlier had been flashing around a toy pellet gun, crumpled onto the snowy soil.
The incident lasted less than two seconds.
The choppy surveillance footage of the fatal shooting stoked public outrage and prompted calls for police reform. The death of the young black boy also became the latest example in the national debate over policing in minority communities and what constitutes a justifiable use of force — a rallying point for the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
But a year later, one key question has gone unanswered: Will the officer who pulled the trigger be held criminally culpable?
A grand jury began hearing evidence in the case last month to decide on an indictment, and Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, could testify within a few weeks. Rookie patrolman Timothy Loehmann, who shot Rice, has been subpoenaed to testify next week.
While debate continues over whether the shooting was justified, criminologists and activists on both sides of the issue agree on this much — the road to a resolution has taken an unusually long time.
"Why in God's name does it take an entire year to get justice for this child?" Cleveland pastor William Myers asked during a news conference this month as clergy members called for the county prosecutor to step aside in the case.
The frustration is similarly felt by members of the Rice family, who are expected to attend a public vigil Sunday afternoon at the Cudell Recreation Center where the sixth-grader was shot.
"There's a lot of tension in the community, people are very angry," said Edward Little, a criminal justice consultant who has called for the arrest of the officers involved. "After all, this was a 12-year-old child."
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has been feeling the heat. He has been accused of dragging his feet on the case and even taking sides with the police.
McGinty has vowed not to cloak the case in secrecy, and commissioned three separate independent reports by criminal justice experts made public.
All three found the police officer's actions "reasonable" — leading many in the community to presume the grand jury won't indict Loehmann.
Jonathan S. Abady, the lead attorney for Rice's family, told NBC News that McGinty's handling of the case strikes him as "unorthodox" since those same reports are presumed to be part of the grand jury deliberations.
"Grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret," Abady said Friday, adding, "We have concerns about the prosecution (process) taking so long."
By comparison, the decision to bring charges in other recent high-profile shootings involving black males and white officers has not been as drawn out.
It took less than four months from when unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri, to when a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.
It took two months from when 50-year-old Walter Scott was fatally shot in North Charleston, South Carolina, to when a grand jury indicted Officer Michael Slager.
And it took only 10 days from when 43-year-old driver Samuel DuBose was fatally shot by University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing for the officer to be indicted in the killing.
But the Rice shooting, while having the advantage of being caught on video, is also more complicated case in some respects, experts say.
For one, when the officers were called to the scene, they believed the boy was armed with an actual firearm, according to investigators. A dispatcher failed to relay to them that the 911 caller thought the gun may have been fake.
The airsoft-type gun that Rice was holding — which had been given to him by a friend in exchange for borrowing Rice's smartphone — was missing the orange safety tip that would have indicated it wasn't a real firearm.
The officers also said Rice was reaching for the inside of his waistband when they pulled up — forcing them into a life-or-death situation.
Rice, physically, wasn't a typical 12-year-old either : He was 5-foot-7 and 195 pounds, according to his autopsy.
All of these factors would have played into Loehmann's response — and whether he feared for his life, said forensic criminologist Ron Martinelli, who was a defense expert witness earlier this year in the trial against white Cleveland cop Michael Brelo. (Brelo was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2012 shooting deaths of two unarmed black passengers.)
"The Tamir case is not that difficult a case. You have a contained crime scene, a lot of video and two rounds fired," Dr. Martinelli said.
He believes the prosecutor is facing intense political pressure in investigating the case, which is under even more scrutiny because of Rice's race and age.
"You've got the prosecutor doing his due diligence, and he's getting major push back by the family and the attorney of Tamir Rice," Martinelli said.
David Klinger, an associate criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said it's surprising that charges haven't been decided on yet.
Klinger — who, like Martinelli, does not believe the officer's actions rose to a criminal level — said the evidence clearly shows that Loehmann had every reason to believe the gun was real.
"I understand why people can be outraged from the outside looking in," Klinger said, "but I hope they can step back and see why things like this can happen."
If anything, he said, the case highlights the need for proper police training when there's no pending threat and how departments can be negligent in those instances.
A spokesman for the county prosecutor hit back on claims that McGinty is biased in favor of police, citing his prosecution of Brelo, the white officer.
"We have also charged about two dozen police officers on various charges since Tim McGinty took office, including very recently, misconduct by an officer who tipped a suspect that his business was about to be raided by law enforcement," spokesman Joseph Frolik said in an email. "That officer is now in prison."
But some in the Cleveland community say disappointment and resentment have only been allowed to fester in the past year. If an indictment doesn't happen and the case ultimately doesn't go to trial, people will demand answers, Little said.
"I know for certain there will be outrage," he said. "People from all over the country and the world saw that video. If there is [no indictment] in this case, people will want this prosecutor to step down."
From the Department of Justice
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Statement at Briefing to Discuss the U.S. Government's Ongoing Counterterrorism Efforts
Washington, DCUnited States ~~ As I've said previously, we stand in solidarity with the people of France at this difficult time. We are committed to providing any and all assistance to our allies in Europe and around the world as we all face this global threat. Now we've made that commitment clear, not just with words, but with our actions. The Department of Justice, the FBI and other agencies are in close contact with French authorities, through our international legal assistance channels, to provide support to the French in their ongoing investigation, to coordinate strategies with them, and to advance our shared efforts as we obtain further information that may be relevant to these attacks.
We are operating on an expedited basis, as well, to ensure that the victim assistance professionals at the Department of Justice and the FBI are available to assist the victims and their families. We've also expanded the FBI's legal attaché office in Paris to offer assistance on an as-needed basis, and we have personnel working day and night to respond to any additional requests for assistance. Now earlier today, President Obama spoke by phone with President Hollande to discuss the latest developments in the investigation and to reaffirm our partnership in the fight against terrorism.
Now of course, our highest priority is and will remain the security of our homeland and the safety of all Americans. At the Department of Justice, we are operating around the clock, as we have since 9/11 and even before, to uncover and disrupt any plot that take aim at our people, our infrastructure and our way of life. We take all threats seriously, we're acting aggressively to defuse threats as they emerge, and we are vigorously investigating and prosecuting those who seek to harm the American people.
In fact, since 2013, we have charged more than 70 individuals for conduct related to foreign-fighter interests and homegrown violent extremism, and we continue to take robust actions to monitor and to thwart potential extremist activity. The Department of Justice and the FBI are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security, with the broader intelligence community and our partners around the world in all of these efforts, and we are bringing every resource to bear in the service of our mission.
As I think it's important to note, that as we do this work, we are guided, obviously, by our commitment to the protection of the American people, but also by our commitment to the protection of our American values, which include the timeless principles of inclusivity and freedom that have always made this country great. We need to say, we will not let our actions be overtaken by fear, and we will not allow merchants of violence to rob us of our most precious ideals. Our values are not secondary considerations in the fight against terror – they are central to the work that we do, and they are essential to the nation that we protect. They are also the reason that we are a target, and they are what terrorists want most to see us abandon. They want us to live in fear, and we refuse. They want us to change who we are, and what makes us quintessentially American, and that we will never do.
from the Department of Justice
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks on Violent Crime Reduction
Meeting with the U.S. Conference of Mayors
Washington, DC - United States ~~ Good afternoon and thank you all for being here. I'm pleased to be joined by the distinguished leaders of five proud American cities: Mayor [Stephanie] Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore; Mayor [Michael] Nutter of Philadelphia; Mayor [Mitch] Landrieu of New Orleans; Mayor [Karen] Freeman-Wilson of Gary and Mayor [Muriel] Bowser of Washington, D.C. This group – and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) as a whole – has been a source of critical support, wise counsel and steadfast partnership and I'm looking forward to today's discussion about how we can advance our common efforts to reduce violence, strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the citizens we serve and create stronger and safer communities where every American can thrive.
That urgent work is never easy. In recent months, we've been reminded that violence remains a grim reality in far too many neighborhoods. We've seen the harmful consequences of eroded trust between law enforcement and residents. And we've witnessed painful examples of the dangers and uncertainties that our brave police officers face every day. But we've also seen how hard work and productive partnerships can lead to real and important progress.
Through programs like our National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, we're working with local stakeholders to enhance procedural justice, reduce bias and encourage reconciliation. Through the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21 st Century Policing – which benefited from recommendations made by a group that included the mayors who are here with me today – we are taking innovative new approaches to criminal justice and community policing. In September, we expanded our Violence Reduction Network, which makes a wide range of Justice Department tools and services available to municipal authorities. And we continue to offer local departments training, technical assistance and funding through our Office of Justice Programs and our Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which has for years enjoyed a close and productive relationship with the USCM.
In all these efforts and many more, we're working tirelessly and creatively, through a variety of channels, to reduce violent crime, to promote officer safety and to restore community trust and security across the country. And in every instance, we are emphasizing the input and participation of those who know our communities best – the men and women who call them home. That's why conversations like this one are so important: they allow us to share pressing concerns and innovative ideas; they give us a chance to evaluate our progress and to chart the way forward; and they reaffirm our shared commitment to a safer and stronger nation. I'm confident that, with the help of our valued partners, we will continue to take significant strides towards the realization of that goal – and I'm looking forward to all that we'll continue to achieve together in the days and months to come.
from the FBI
Latest Hate Crime Statistics Available -- Report Contains Info on Offenses, Victims, and Offenders
According to the FBI's latest report, law enforcement agencies reported 5,479 hate crime incidents involving 6,418 offenses to our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2014. And these crimes—which often have a devastating impact on the communities where they occur—left 6,727 victims in their wake.
The latest figures are down from 2013, when 5,928 criminal incidents involving 6,933 offenses were reported.
Hate Crime Statistics, 2014 provides information about the offenses, victims, and offenders. Among some of the highlights:
Of the 5,462 single-bias incidents reported in 2014, 47 percent were racially motivated. Other motivators included sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, and gender. (See above chart.)
Of the 6,418 reported hate crime offenses, 63.1 percent were crimes against persons and 36.1 percent were crimes against property. The remaining offenses were crimes against society, like illegal drug activity or prostitution.
The majority of the 4,048 reported crimes against persons involved intimidation (43.1 percent) and simple assault (37.4 percent).
Most of the 2,317 hate crimes against property were acts of destruction, damage, and vandalism (73.1 percent).
Individuals were overwhelmingly the most common victim of a single-bias hate crime, accounting for 82.4 percent of the reported 6,418 offenses. The remaining victim types were businesses, financial institutions, religious organizations, government, and society or the public.
Also during 2014, law enforcement agencies reported 5,192 known offenders in 5,479 bias-motivated incidents. (In the UCR Program, “known offender” does not imply that the suspect's identity is known, only that some aspect of the suspect was identified by a victim or witness—such as race, ethnicity, or age.)
And while 15,494 law enforcement agencies contributed to UCR's Hate Crime Statistics report in 2014, only 1,666 agencies reported hate crimes within their jurisdiction (the remaining agencies reported zero hate crimes).
To enhance the accuracy of hate crime reporting, representatives from the UCR Program participated in five hate crime training sessions provided jointly by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. Since April 2015, DOJ and the FBI provided the training sessions to law enforcement agencies and community groups in several different areas of the county. UCR personnel also worked with states to ensure proper data submission and met with police agencies to provide training and discuss crime reporting issues.
In addition to releasing annual Hate Crime Statistics reports, which give the nation a clearer picture of the overall crime problem, the FBI also investigates incidents of hate crimes—as a matter of fact, it's the number one priority within our civil rights program. We investigate hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction, assist state and local authorities during their own investigations, and in some cases—with the DOJ's Civil Rights Division—monitor developing situations to determine if federal action is appropriate.
The 2016 release of the Hate Crimes Statistics report, which will contain 2015 data, will feature even more information—expanded bias types in the religion category and the added bias type of anti-Arab under the race/ethnicity/ancestry category. The collection of both types of data began in January 2015.
from the FBI
International Operations -- Building Partnerships in the Americas
Members of the FBI's International Operations Division who work in North, Central, and South America carry out their mission in some of the most violent countries in the world and face criminal threats—such as drug cartels and transnational gangs—that spill across borders and threaten the safety of Americans at home and abroad.
Some of the most potent weapons against these threats are strong and lasting partnerships—not only among U.S. federal agencies but also with international allies.
“In the Americas, the drug dealers, gangs, and human traffickers do not recognize borders,” explained Special Agent David Brassanini, chief of the Americas Unit in the FBI's International Operations Division. “That is why partnerships with our host countries and fellow federal agencies are so important. We can only fight these violent criminals through strong alliances,” he said, adding that while many Americans think of the FBI as primarily a domestic law enforcement organization, “our presence abroad is strong, as it must be to protect the homeland.”
At a recent conference at the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) military headquarters in Florida were the FBI's legal attachés—or legats—who cover the Americas: the Bureau has offices in Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, and Panama.
Holding the conference at a Department of Defense (DOD) facility was fitting, because the military is a key FBI partner in the Americas. Both organizations have personnel cross-assigned in liaison roles so that intelligence can be shared seamlessly and operations can be carried out jointly.
“The Bureau and the DOD tend to look at threats the same way and seek to disrupt and dismantle them by working together,” said an FBI agent stationed at SOUTHCOM, one of nine combatant commands within the DOD.
“SOUTHCOM's most important mission is to protect the southern approaches to the United States,” said Gen. John F. Kelly, SOUTHCOM commander. “We do not and cannot do this mission alone. We work side by side with the FBI and other law enforcement professionals to defend the U.S. homeland against transnational criminal networks, illicit trafficking, and the threat of terrorism.”
Participants at the conference—including other federal law enforcement agencies—were briefed on recent investigations and a variety of criminal trends relating to terrorism, cyber intrusions, espionage, and more. The overwhelming crime issues in the Americas stem from transnational gangs and criminal organizations that traffic in drugs and people. These groups routinely murder, extort, and commit other crimes in the region, and those crimes have an impact inside the United States.
“The gang violence in Central America, particularly in El Salvador, has really taken off lately,” Brassanini said, “and we have seen an influx of that violence to the U.S. In many cases, Central American gang leaders are ordering crimes and murders committed in the U.S.”
Being vigilant about crime in the Americas is important because the countries there are U.S. “touch points,” Brassanini said. “The Americas touch us by land and by sea,” he explained. “That is why we work so closely with our partners to share intelligence, provide training, and bring these criminals to justice.”
The partnerships are working. “Our accomplishments are significant,” Brassanini said. “Almost on a daily basis we are able to identify and track down violent criminals, and that makes all our countries safer.”
Gunmen attack luxury hotel in Mali capital, take 170 hostages
by Sarah Kaplan and Brian Murphy
Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali's capital on Friday, killing at least three people and taking about 170 hostages in a city that serves as a logistics hub for French forces helping in a fight against Islamist insurgents.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the identities or affiliation of the attackers was not clear.
Some captives managed to escape or were released by the attackers, who reportedly freed those able to recite a Muslim profession of faith. Among those released were five members of a six-member Turkish Airlines crew, the company said.
It was unclear how many people remained inside the hotel hours after the standoff began. Mali security forces and commandos surrounded the site, and some units appeared to enter the compound in a floor-by-floor operation. Sporadic gunfire was heard, witnesses said.
Authorities drew no direct links to last week's attacks in Paris. But Mali — home to the famous ancient city of Timbuktu — has been at the center of a French-backed effort to drive back Islamist rebels that once had control over large portions of the vast nation, which stretches from tropical West Africa to desert regions bordering Algeria.
Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore said at least 10 gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako shouting “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great” in Arabic — then fired on guards and began rounding up hostages.
It is not clear how many people have been injured or killed in the assault. A Malian military official, Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, told the Associated Press there were three confirmed deaths, but gave no other details. According to CNN, two of the dead are Malian. One is a French national.
Security forces surrounded the hotel, which was hosting foreigners including U.N. envoys involved in Mali peace talks. Mali's president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, cut short a trip to a regional summit in Chad, said a statement from his office.
In a statement issued on its Web site, the Rezidor Hotel Group, which operates the Radisson Blu in Bamako, said 30 the hostages were hotel staff, the group said. The other 140 were guests in the 190-room hotel near the city center.
Kassim Traoré, a Malian journalist was in a building about 150 feet from the Radisson, told the New York Times that the gunmen asked hostages to recite a Muslim declaration of faith called the shahada. Those who could were allowed to leave the hotel.
Some of those who left, including Malians and foreigners, were not wearing any clothes as they were taken to a police station, Traoré said.
A Chinese citizen who is trapped in the hotel told Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, that he heard gunshots go off outside his room around 6:30 a.m. He can smell smoke in the hallway and his room. Internet service in the hotel has been flickering on and off, he said, and when he tried to call down to reception the phone just rang and rang.
The man, who is identified by his last name, Chen, sent the agency videos and photos from the hotel showing local police in a stand off with the gunmen.
Olivier Salgado, a spokesperson for the U.N. mission to Mali, said the hotel was host to a large delegation of UN workers involved in the ongoing peace process in Mali. The Reuters news agency reported that French nationals were among those held, citing a source close to French president François Hollande.
French troops have been stationed in Mali since 2013 to help Mali fight insurgents in the northern part of the country.
The U.S. Embassy in Mali tweeted that it is aware of the “ongoing active shooter operation” at the Radisson and urged embassy staff and U.S. citizens to shelter in place. The White House says that President Obama has been briefed on the situation.
Northern Mali came under the control of Islamist militants in 2012, but were ousted by a French-led offensive the following year.
Extremist violence still crops up in the country. In March, attackers reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” fired on a popular bar in Bamako, according to the BBC. Three Malian civilians were killed, along with a Belgian security officer working for the European Union and a French national.
Two months ago, more than a dozen people — including five United Nations contractors — were killed in a 24-hour hostage drama at a hotel in Sevare, in central Mali. Responsibility for that attack was claimed by Algerian jihadi leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, according to the AFP. The infamous one-eyed militant had also orchestrated the bloody seizure of an Algerian gas facility in 2013, where at least 100 workers were held hostage and dozens were killed.
Paris attacks bring new scrutiny to visa waiver program
by Rebecca Kaplan
The terror attacks in Paris last week have brought new scrutiny to the visa waiver program in the U.S., which is intended to facilitate travel among several Western countries.
Initiallay, attention in the aftermath of the attacks focused on the plan for the U.S. to accept up to 10,000 Syrian refugees. The House voted Thursday to effectively pause the program. But while one of the attackers might have posed as a Syrian refugee to re-enter Europe, the other terrorists appear to have been French or Belgian citizens. And some lawmakers are saying it's time to revise the visa waiver program so Europeans who become radicalized don't have such easy access to the U.S.
Some Western Europeans "are allowed to travel to the U.S. without getting a visa in advance, and so if they're not on a no-fly list, if they're not watch listed, they can come in," said CBS News Senior National Security Analyst Juan Zarate. "That has lawmakers worried."
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, teamed up Thursday to introduce a bill that would not allow anyone who has traveled to Iraq or Syria in the past five years to travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program. They would still be allowed to visit but would have to obtain a traditional visa, which involves submitting to an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
The bill would also require individuals using the visa waiver program to hold a passport with an e-chip that contains biometric data, which prevents tampering with passports and makes it easier for law enforcement officials to make sure the passport belongs to the person carrying it.
The visa waiver program "is important to the business community and the tourism industry and I have supported it, but I also believe it is the soft underbelly of our national security policies," Feinstein said at a press conference Thursday. "Considering there are 45 million lost or stolen travel documents on the global black market today, many of them passports, it's clear that we need to reform the program."
There are currently 38 countries whose citizens are allowed to travel to the U.S. without applying for a visa. Most are in Western Europe. Twenty million people each year use the program.
The bill could be a bipartisan answer to the calls for better security after the attacks.
"The visa waiver program potentially is the place where there's greater gaps, possibly, than the refugee program itself," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, said after a Wednesday briefing on the terror attacks.
But such a move is likely to draw scrutiny from peole in the travel industry. Jonathan Grella, the executive vice president for the U.S. Travel Association, said, "It would be a grave error by Congress to scapegoat a successful program--without as much as a hearing--that had zero to do with a recent tragedy."
"We are concerned even more by the unknown consequences or expenses of an elaborate new 'system' -- devised and deployed in an instant--to overhaul [the visa waiver program] without appropriate vetting or scrutiny," he said.
Democrats are eyeing another bill as well: Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, introduced legislation Thursday to close a loophole in federal law that allows foreigners who have come to the U.S. under the visa waiver program to purchase and carry guns (foreigners who do not come from visa waiver countries are prohibited from purchasing guns).
"To think that we have this loophole or gap in the law is unimaginable," Durbin said at the press conference. "This man who went into the concert hall in Paris used an automatic weapon to kill so many people. Wouldn't we want to make certain under our laws in the United States that kind of person would never ever be able to buy a firearm." Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, called it a "wildly reckless loophole."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, echoed Durbin's and Reid's complaint and added that known or suspected terrorists interested in buying firearms or explosives "don't have to bring it with them -- they can buy it once they get here."
A report from the New America Foundation released Wednesday estimated there are 4,500 Westerners who have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other militant groups. Far more come from Western European countries and Australia, which are in the visa waiver program. Americans represent just six percent of that total.
Western Europe poses a particular challenge, in part because aspiring militants can draw on more established jihadist networks.
"The French have said they've got a problem, and certainly what you saw on the streets of Paris reflects that," Zarate said. "The problem there is can you identify where they've come back from? And secondly even if you know that, can you actually track all these individuals? As we've known from the French they've got hundreds and thousands of individuals they've got to worry about. The British have thousands of cases that they've got to worry about....So, how do you prioritize when you've got all these people, and how do you know that these individuals are dangerous or not? That's the challenge."
New data show homelessness dropped early this year, HUD says, but problems persist
by Lisa Rein
New figures released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday show that 564,708 people were homeless on a night in January of this year, a 2 percent drop from 2014.
HUD officials said the decline, of a total of 11 percent since 2007, is an encouraging sign that the Obama administration is succeeding in its five-year-old goal of preventing and ending homelessness and ending what the government calls chronic homelessness by 2017.
The so-called point-in-time count in cities across the country on one night 10 months ago also showed persistent challenges for some populations to find permanent homes, including veterans, children and young adults and the chronically homeless.
The count found 180,760 homeless youth under age 25, including 127,787 who were under 18. About 37,000 were children without parents, the data showed.
The Department of Education, however, has said the numbers are going up. according to advocacy groups that say the agency counted more than 1.3 million children and youth in a survey during the 2013-2014 school year, a 3.4 percent jump from the year before.
The count, done by volunteers who fan out across major cities every year, looking under bridges, in parks and other known encampments for the homeless, measures people who are in shelters or living outside. But it does not count those who double up with families and friends for short spurts or longer durations, leading advocates to question whether the government is able to accurately gather information on the problem.
HUD officials said they are working to improve strategies for counting homeless youth. Although the counts for this population was slightly lower in 2015 than in the previous year, officials cautioned against comparing year-to-year data. They said they are still working on ways to accurately count young people, and want to explore more use of social media, and housing advocates who have direct relationships with young people.
Housing officials conceded that they will not reach the administration's goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of the year, but pointed to progress helping a population that has long struggled with homelessness.
The data released Thursday puts the number of homeless veterans across the country at just under 48,000 in January, a drop of 2,000 from a year earlier and more than 27,000 since 2010.
“The value of having these kinds of urgent and ambitious goals is that it drives more progress than we ever would have achieved otherwise,” Matthew Doherty, executive director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, said at a press conference with HUD to announce the numbers. “As we get closer to that goal date, we're seeing that level of urgency and action in communities.”
Washington D. C.
Tourniquet Use Urged in Public-Safety Push
White House calls for wide distribution of tourniquets to reduce fatalities in emergencies
by Michael M. Phillips
WASHINGTON—The White House is pushing to make tourniquets as commonplace as heart defibrillators in U.S. schools, stadiums, airports, malls and other public places, to reduce fatalities from mass shootings and terror bombings.
Applying lessons learned on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration wants ordinary citizens armed with both the will and ability to grab a tourniquet and stop the wounded from bleeding to death before trained medics arrive.
Last month, Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina placed more than 150 bleeding-control kits, including tourniquets, around the terminals, baggage claim and checkpoints. Schools in Wisconsin, Illinois and New York have put tourniquets in classrooms and school offices, and have taught teachers and nurses how to apply them.
The White House last month convened emergency managers, medical groups, health-care companies and school administrators to urge civilians with little or no medical training to intervene to stem hemorrhaging.
“Someone needs to ask the question: ‘With all of the shootings going on, why doesn't every school in the country have hemorrhage-control devices?' ” asked former Army surgeon John Holcomb, professor of surgery at the University of Texas in Houston and a national advocate for widespread tourniquet use.
Last week's attack in Paris, which killed 129 people, is precisely the kind of tragedy advocates believe calls for the ready availability of tourniquets, for use when manual pressure isn't enough to stanch bleeding. “It's not a question of if it will happen on our own soil; it's a matter of when,” Dr. Holcomb said.
The campaign signals a turnaround for tourniquets, straps that cut off blood flow to extremities. The devices were commonly used through World War II, and then fell out of favor, with doctors warning that they could cause nerve damage or permanently ruin the injured arm or leg.
The military, however, discovered in Iraq and Afghanistan that uncontrolled bleeding presented a far more lethal risk, and that patients could wear tourniquets for hours without losing limbs. Since 2005, the military has issued tourniquets to all troops in the field, which researchers believe has saved 2,000 lives.
The findings have gradually made their way to civilian emergency responders. Police officers, often the first official responders at the scene of an attack or accident, are increasingly being asked to perform medical services on the injured. Dr. Alexander Eastman, a trauma surgeon and lieutenant in the Dallas Police Department, found that 51 of 78 major-city police agencies covering more than 80 million Americans had equipped or were equipping officers with hemorrhage-control kits.
Dallas police have saved 15 people with tourniquets in the past 20 months, Dr. Eastman said. In San Diego in 2013, Officer Kelly Copeland applied a tourniquet to save a fellow policeman, who had been shot in the brachial artery during a chase. Last month, a Beloit, Wis., policeman used a tourniquet to save a teenager whose artery had been severed during an ice-skating accident.
The drum-beat of large-scale violence, including school shootings and terror attacks, has pushed the concept into the mainstream and has convinced the White House that the most severely wounded can't wait for professional aid. Indeed, after the Boston Marathon bombing, bystanders and others applied 27 tourniquets to the wounded.
The Winnebago County, Ill., Sheriff's Office, has used seized drug money to buy 1,500 bleeding-control kits and install them in classrooms. Public defibrillator cabinets in Davie, Fla., also contain tourniquets. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., provides tourniquet education to farmers at the annual Farmfest agricultural show. In the area around Janesville, Wis., more than 3,000 teachers have been trained to apply tourniquets, and classrooms have bleeding-control kits.
“They're all worried about it, because they realize it could happen here,” said Dr. Christopher Wistrom, an emergency medical specialist at Mercy Rockford Health System, in Janesville.
The White House is even advocating for public hemorrhage-control kits that include video or audio instructions much the way automated external defibrillators do.
The White House sees this as a public-education campaign, akin to efforts to persuade people to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the “see something, say something” anti-terrorism program. The administration isn't seeking funds to put bleeding-control kits in public places.
“They're in their infancy,” Dr. Eastman said of public hemorrhage-control kits. “I don't think they're very widespread at all yet, but they're going to become very much more widespread.”
There remain obstacles, including leftover reluctance among some in the medical profession. The Red Cross's First Aid app for smart phones tells users that the “use of tourniquets is NOT recommended for the untrained rescuer.”
In October, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, which provide guidelines for 911 emergency dispatchers, changed its tourniquet advice to read: “If asked about applying one, tell them to do what they think best.” Operators are, however, instructed to tell callers not to remove a tourniquet if one is in place.
The move came after an incident in San Diego in January, in which a bystander used a belt as a tourniquet on a man whose leg had been severed by a motorcycle. The 911 operator instructed the bystander to remove the belt. The patient died at the hospital a short time later.
Paris attacks at a glance: Thursday's developments
by Jethro Mullen and Eliott C. McLaughlin
French investigators have determined that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the Paris terrorist attacks, was killed in a major police operation in a suburb of the city.
Another key suspect linked to Friday's atrocities by ISIS attackers in the French capital is still at large. And Belgian authorities are conducting fresh raids around Brussels.
Here are the most important recent developments:
• NEW: Papillary prints -- which include prints from fingers, palms and soles -- led officials to identify the remains of the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the French prosecutor's office announced Thursday in a statement. He was one of two people killed in raids Wednesday in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, the office said.
• NEW: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader in last week's terrorist attacks in Paris, has been killed, the Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday.
• NEW: Lawmakers in France's National Assembly on Thursday approved a plan by President Francois Hollande to extend by three months -- to February 2016 -- the state of emergency declared the night of the Paris attacks. The bill, which gives the government sweeping powers, now moves to France's upper house, or Senate, for an expected Friday vote.
• NEW: Chinese President Xi Jinping "strongly condemned" ISIS for kidnapping and killing Fan Jinghui, the first known Chinese national to die at the hands of the terror group. ISIS announced that its militants had killed Fan and a Norwegian citizen in the latest edition of its English-language magazine, Dabiq. Blasting ISIS for having "brutally murdered" Fan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his government "firmly cracks down on ... any terrorist crime that challenges the baseline of human civilization." Hong added, "(China) will continue to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation with the international community to safeguard world peace and tranquility."
• Belgian authorities are conducting six raids at various locations around Brussels on Thursday in relation to one of the Paris attackers, said Eric Van Der Sypt of the country's federal prosecutor's office. The raids are targeting people connected to Bilal Hadfi, one of the suicide bombers who blew themselves up Friday outside France's national stadium on the outskirts of Paris. A separate raid was carried out in the Brussels suburb of Laeken in connection to the Paris attacks, and one person was taken in for questioning, the official said.
The investigation and the raids
• Seven men and a woman were detained in the major police operation Wednesday in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.
• The suspects appeared to be "prepared to act" in another possible attack, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said, noting their weaponry, structured organization and determination.
• A suicide bomber who blew herself up during the raids has been identified as a cousin of Abaaoud, a Belgian state broadcaster reported. CNN has not verified the report, but earlier Wednesday, a Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN that authorities had launched the raid believing Abaaoud's female cousin was in one of the apartments targeted in Saint-Denis.
• Investigators will use DNA analysis to determine whether Abaaoud was killed in the raid. A French commando team used powerful munitions to neutralize suspects, resulting in the collapse of an entire floor of the building. In the rubble, investigators found body parts, the Belgian counterterrorism official said.
ISIS video threatens New York City; mayor says city won't be intimidated
by Catherine E. Shoichet, Shimon Prokupecz and Ed Payne
A new video released by ISIS warns of an impending attack on New York City.
The video mentions Times Square and purports to show an explosive device being put together and a bomber zipping his jacket over a suicide belt.
The New York City Police Department said it was aware of the video and was deploying additional members of its new anti-terrorism squad out of an abundance of caution.
"While some of the video footage is not new, the video reaffirms the message that New York City remains a top terrorist target," the statement said. "While there is no current or specific threat to the city at this time, we will remain at a heightened state of vigilance and will continue to work with the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the entire intelligence community to keep the city of New York safe."
Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to go about their normal business.
"The people of New York City will not be intimidated," he said late Wednesday. "We understand it is the goal of terrorists to intimidate and disrupt our democratic society. We will not submit to their wishes."
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the video offers nothing new.
"In New York, we understand we are a terrorist target. It reflects the importance of this city," he said. "Understanding that, this city places great importance on the safety of New Yorkers and the almost 60 million visitors who will come to this city."
A similar video was released in April, according to John Miller, the NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
"This is an old video that was kind of rehashed," he said. "This is ISIS doing what ISIS and al Qaeda and terrorist groups do, which is propaganda."
"When we see the video, we make note of it, but it's like a lot of videos we've seen," Miller said.
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said authorities can't ignore the video, whether or not it turns out to be a credible threat.
"I think they have to treat it quite seriously, because ISIS is the richest terrorist group in history. It has an extraordinary number of Western recruits. ... One of its biggest ambitions right now is to a launch a terrorist attack inside the United States," he said.
ISIS first drew international attention for taking over swaths of Iraq and Syria, leaving a trail of violence and destruction in its wake. Its efforts to bring terror to the global stage seem to be growing. This month alone, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, the downing of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt and a pair of suicide bombings in Beirut.
Earlier this week, another video released by ISIS threatened to strike Washington.
Authorities in the U.S. capital said they were stepping up security. The FBI said there was "no specific or credible threat to the United States."
Obama says can close Guantanamo jail while keeping Americans safe
by Matt Spetalnick
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Thursday to press ahead with the release of his plan on how he hopes to close the Guantanamo military prison but said last week's Paris attacks would stoke further congressional resistance to his efforts.
Obama drew a link between a bid by Republicans to block the inflow of Syrian refugees to the United States, based on concerns they could ignite Paris-style violence in American cities, and their opposition to the closing of the Guantanamo detention center at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.
While attending an Asia-Pacific summit in Manila, he spoke amid fresh delays in his administration's submission to Congress of a plan aimed at meeting his long-standing pledge to shut the internationally condemned prison for foreign terrorism suspects.
“We can keep the American people safe while shutting down that operation,” Obama told reporters at a joint appearance before reporters with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Obama predicted that the prison's population would be reduced to fewer than a hundred by early next year, an important symbolic milestone. The number has been whittled down to 107 prisoners, mostly through repatriations and transfers to third countries.
The Pentagon had been expected to unveil Obama's Guantanamo closure plan last week, before his departure for summits in Turkey and Southeast Asia, U.S. officials said. But that was held up without explanation, and Obama did not specify any new timeline.
The killing of 129 people in gun and bomb attacks last week in Paris in attacks claimed by Islamic State appears to have complicated Obama's Guantanamo strategy.
Some of Obama's Republican critics have called on him to drop the idea of closing Guantanamo, saying this is not the time to release more inmates overseas or bring them to U.S. prisons.
Obama equated that with calls from Republicans who say that the U.S. acceptance of Syrian refugees should be restricted because militants might slip into the country and carry out attacks, an argument he has dismissed as politically motivated.
He reiterated his view that Guantanamo has been “an enormous recruitment tool” for groups like Islamic State, which has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq.
“We are going to go through meticulously, with Congress, what our options are and why we think this should be closed,” Obama said.
“I guarantee you there will be strong resistance, because in the aftermath of Paris, I think that there is just a very strong tendency for us to get worked up around issues that don't actually make us safer.”
Republicans who control Congress have vowed to block Obama's efforts to transfer any detainees to the United States from Guantanamo, which was opened by his predecessor, George W. Bush, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The White House has not ruled out the possibility that Obama could use executive powers to shut the prison, but some lawmakers have vowed legal action if he takes that route.
Swedish police identify terror suspect amid security clamp down
by Johan Sennero and Sven Nordenstam
Swedish police on Thursday identified the suspect in a manhunt launched after the country raised its terror threat assessment to the highest level ever.
Security has been stepped up around possible targets such as main railway stations and the parliament.
Security services said on Wednesday they had concrete information about a possible attack on Sweden, days after the Islamist militant attacks in Paris that killed 129 people.
Pictures of the suspect, identified as Mutar Muthanna Majid, have been distributed to police around the country. Media published a grainy picture of a smiling, bearded young man dressed in dark clothing.
"That is the picture we are working with," police spokeswoman Malin Nafver said, referring any further questions about the man to security services.
Citing unidentified police sources, public service television SVT reported the suspect was of Iraqi origin and about 25-years-old. Tabloid Expressen reported Majid was a member of Islamic State.
Police raised their presence at public and strategic locations around the country as the alert went out, including sites such as government buildings, foreign embassies and some media outlets.
Five police vehicles were parked outside Stockholm's central station but the visible police presence was minimal inside the building.
Stockholm public transit authority spokesperson Christian Hoffmann said fewer people than normal were using trains and subways in the capital.
"There aren't many people on the subway - I don't recognize my Stockholm," tweeted Camilla Kvartoft, a news anchor at public television station SVT.
Gefle Dagblad, a newspaper in eastern Sweden which published a series of investigative articles about militant Islamism and received a bomb threat in September, was among newspapers to which police had deployed patrols, its publisher told Reuters.
Lena Posner Korosi, president of the council of Jewish communities in Sweden, said evening activities such as sports training for youths were canceled in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo after discussions with police and security police.
On Wednesday, security police raised their assessment of the threat to Sweden by one step, to four on a scale of five - indicating a high risk of an attack.
They issued an arrest warrant for one person suspected of preparing to carry out terror crimes in Sweden.
Over the last few years, Sweden has participated in NATO missions in Afghanistan and is training Kurdish forces in Iraq, moves that have changed its traditional image of neutrality.
The last militant attack in Sweden took place in 2010 when a suicide bomber died when his bomb belt went off prematurely in central Stockholm as he was getting ready to attack a train station or department store during the Christmas shopping rush.
The Cop Shooting So Horrific It Cost $5 Million to Hide
by Justin Glawe
A black Chicago teen with a knife was hit 16 times last year. Now a judge will rule if the public has a right to see what happened.
CHICAGO -- A Cook County judge decides today whether a dashcam video showing the police-shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald must be released.
If the footage is made public, it will prompt the mobilization of activists and members of Chicago's black community who have been calling for its release for more than a year.
Some fear it will also cause riots.
The video reportedly shows McDonald carrying a knife on the south-west side of the city on Oct. 20 last year, walking as far as the width of two car lanes away from police before an officer shoots him 16 times.
If the streets explode, it will be hard for even the most skeptical observer to say it is anything but justified: McDonald never posed a serious threat to officers. Despite his erratic actions that included puncturing a squad car's tire while high on PCP, the teen was clearly walking away as the fatal shots were fired.
That night, a Fraternal Order of Police spokesman told reporters what had happened in the eyes of the officers he represents in the union.
McDonald threatened the officers, said Pat Camden, the FOP rep. The officers were in fear for their lives, this former spokesman for the Chicago Police Department asserted. Jason Van Dyke, the officer identified as the killer by the Chicago Tribune, “discharged his weapon, striking the offender.”
Such is the language of all police shootings — until an autopsy occurs, or an eyewitness comes forward, or video evidence contradicts an officer's statement.
“The story has 24 hours and it's basically told by the police union, and the police union's role is to defends its members,” says Jamie Kalven, a Chicago journalist who runs the Invisible Institute, a police-accountability non-profit.
In a July interview with The Daily Beast, Kalven stressed the importance of independent autopsies — especially in cases like McDonald's.
“What you do have with the autopsy, though, is one wholly independent piece of evidence.”
McDonald's autopsy is a brutal document to read. I breezed through it in a conference room at the Cook County President's Office in May, along with the 18 other autopsies detailing the deaths of those who died at the hands of the Chicago Police Department last year. Going through them, making sure they were all there, it can be easy to forget that these were once lives and not simply stacks of paper bundled four inches high.
McDonald's autopsy tells us the following: One of Van Dyke's bullets grazed McDonald's head, causing a groove in his skull one-quarter of an inch deep, one and three-quarters of an inch long.
A 9 millimeter bullet from Van Dyke's service weapon was recovered from McDonald's neck.
A bullet entered McDonald's left upper chest and came out that same shoulder.
Another entered the right side of his chest, and a “markedly-deformed, copper-jacketed bullet” was recovered from McDonald's torso, according to the autopsy report.
Another bullet lodged in McDonald's left elbow. Five. One in the right upper arm. Six. One in the left forearm. Seven. Upper right leg. Eight. Left upper back. Nine. Another bullet in the left elbow and one more in the right upper arm. Ten and 11. Two more in the right arm. Twelve and 13. One in the right hand. Fourteen.
Gunshot wounds in the right lower back and right upper leg round out the report.
“They were completely locked down on that story,” Kalven said of police and public officials in the immediate aftermath of McDonald's death.
And for good reason: Officer Jason Van Dyke had fired 16 shots into a 17-year-old boy—prompting the extended silence in the year and 30 days since the killing. If the accounts of those who have viewed the video—including at least one witness who says 13 shots were fired after McDonald was down—the disturbing and shocking footage may cause parts of Chicago to burn with the fires of rage that consumed Ferguson and Baltimore.
“If it is released, I don't believe there will be any riot as the mayor fears,” said former Chicago police commander and Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) whistleblower Lorenzo Davis. “But I do believe it will prompt another increase in calls for police accountability.”
Since McDonald's death, activists and some journalists and columnists in Chicago have called for the video to be released . Throughout that time, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials both in city government and within the Chicago Police Department have sasaid the footage should remain sealed from public view. As part of a $5 million settlement between the city and the McDonald family, a judge barred attorneys from releasing the video.
Another of the McDonald family attorneys, Jeffrey Neslund, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the jarring footage will prompt chaos — and, possibly, riots.
“I met with [McDonald's mother] and Laquan's uncle,” Neslund said in April, “and he was really concerned. He didn't want to see their neighborhood burned.”
Today's decision comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by Chicago journalist Brandon Smith, who filed a FOIA request in May in an attempt to force the video's release.
When Chicago police denied the request, Smith filed suit.
“The city hasn't submitted evidence that releasing the video would harm any investigation,” Smith told The Daily Beast on Monday. “It has basically ceded that point in our case.”
While that may be Smith's contention, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others have cited an ongoing federal investigation as reason why the footage shouldn't be released, saying, "There's an appropriate way to handle when videos become public, and that procedure will be followed."
From the beginning, Chicago police have sought to conceal information about McDonald's death—in at least one case by apparently violating not only IPRA procedures but the Constitution when they seized security footage from a nearby restaurant without a warrant.
Eventually, McDonald family attorneys learned that police had wiped 86 minutes of footage from that tape, which doesn't include the shooting but does show the events that led up to the fatal confrontation.
When a reporter started poking around about the missing footage, a manager at the restaurant said he didn't realize some of the footage was going to be deleted. When pressed, IPRA released a statement:
"We have no credible evidence at this time that would cause us to believe CPD purged or erased any surveillance video," the agency told NBC Chicago.
Davis, the former police commander and one of only two black supervisors at IPRA, countered that statement with statements made to him by IPRA employees at the time.
“There was at least a couple of investigators at IPRA who did feel like a portion of (the security footage) was erased,” he told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.
Larry Merritt, spokesman for IPRA, would not comment on the 86 minutes of video that McDonald family attorneys allege was deleted.
“All I can say right now is that the status of the case is that it is still pending,” he said Tuesday .
In addition to the reportedly missing footage, audio from the dashcam footage depicting McDonald's death is also absent, according to the family's attorneys. The missing audio has served to cause only more speculation into the Chicago Police Department's actions following McDonald's death.
Laquan McDonald was one of 19 men killed by Chicago police in 2014, according to media reports and police data compiled from open records requests filed by The Daily Beast in the past year and a half.
The 17-year-old boy's death was by far the most egregious use of lethal force by Chicago police, a Daily Beast review found from autopsy reports, investigative findings fromthe Independent Police Review Authority, and statements from law enforcement regarding all 19 police-involved killings.
The McDonald story begins on Oct. 20 when police were called to an industrial area in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. There, the teen was reported by police to have been behaving erratically. Officers requested back up because they weren't equipped with the Tasers they should have used to take McDonald down and arrest him.
McDonald was put down without the Tasers, anyway.
Van Dyke and four officers followed McDonald in their squad cars as he wandered, high on the PCP that was later found at autopsy, waving a four-inch blade. The teen eventually teetered into the street from the side, prompting the need for officers to react, the police union spokesman Camden said. Van Dyke and other officers reportedly ordered McDonald to drop the knife.
When he didn't comply, Van Dyke and his fellow officers tried to box McDonald in with their squad cars. McDonald responded by puncturing a tire.
What came next depends on who you believe, which is why so many have called for the release of the video that may answer the questions that have persisted since Oct. 20:
Why didn't police wait for the Tasers to arrive?
Why did they shoot him so many times?
Why did Laquan McDonald have to die?
If the video is released—which remains up in the air because police are likely to appeal the judge's decision—Chicago and the world may get a disturbing answer to those questions.
Michael Robbins, an attorney for the McDonald family, told the Chicago Tribune in April that the altercation “starts out as an unjustified shooting, and it turns into some kind of sadistic execution.”
A federal investigation into McDonald's death was announced in April by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois, and includes IPRA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
If a federal indictment is issued—which some in legal and law enforcement circles see as an inevitability—Van Dyke would be the defendant. With none of the other officers on scene of McDonald's death firing their weapons, Van Dyke is the lone killer. He is solely responsible for firing 16 bullets into the teen's body as it reportedly bounced off the pavement, according to some who have viewed the troubling footage.
“I have not seen the video,” said Davis, the veteran cop, IPRA whistleblower and police-accountability advocate. “But I've talked to people who have seen, and they were horrified by what they saw.
“Grown men were brought to tears.”
Community involvement, more dialogue with police key to public safety
by Wyatt Massey
Adrian Spencer tried to keep her head down. She tried to ignore the violence in her community. Then, there came a point at which her family's safety spurred her to action.
"Because I was directly affected by the violence in the community, I decided to get involved," she said.
Her efforts led to the creation of the 2nd Street Pocket Park in 2008 and the Harambee Tot Lot in 2014. Spencer, like many other neighborhood leaders, started her efforts at the grassroots level, collaborating with organizations such as Riverworks Center, Northcott Neighborhood House and the Home Depot's Team Depot. Her decision to get involved in improving her community led to her role as Safe & Sound's District 5 community organizer.
Spencer's story was featured at the recent Neighborhood Safety Symposium held by LISC Milwaukee. The one-day conference assembled national and local experts to share success stories, build partnerships and discuss issues affecting Milwaukee neighborhoods. The approximately 160 attendees raised concerns about safety at the local level and the ways neighborhoods can organize to decrease crime across the city.
"Safety and security are big topics in our neighborhoods," said Chris Grandt, Riverworks director of neighborhood development.
Chief Edward Flynn of the Milwaukee Police Department called crime the greatest deterrent of community development because of its multiple effects on local economies. Crime drives out development, hinders further growth of organizations that stay and prevents future development.
"Our problem right now is that we have more young people getting involved in more dangerous crime earlier," Flynn said.
Flynn asked neighborhood leaders to help foster dialogue with police officers in neighborhood centers, so that community interactions are not occurring solely on the streets.
Laura Bray, executive director of LISC Milwaukee, said neighborhood leaders must think strategically about how they can work together and with the police department. "What people say is there's not a real conversation with the police department and community people in our neighborhoods."
According to Bray, more conversations can lead to greater police involvement in community building. This is especially important given the lack of equal representation in law enforcement and recent conflicts between police and black communities across the country.
Flynn acknowledged that MPD lacks sufficient African American officers, calling it "one of our greatest challenges," but noted the success of the Fire and Police Commission's Police Aide Program for 17-19-year-olds and Students Talking it Over with Police as ways to build interest for careers in law enforcement.
Community policing is another way of increasing involvement. "We solve crimes because people told us who did it, and that requires community policing," Flynn said. This also can lead to greater interest among young people to become police officers.
Keynote speaker Greg Saville, senior partner at AlterNation – a consulting firm that builds safe neighborhoods – agreed that community policing curbs crime. "No matter how you cut it, in my view, crime is best tackled in the neighborhood," he said.
Neighborhoods can organize to advocate for themselves at the city level, Saville noted. The former police officer and urban planner challenged neighborhood leaders to imagine the many possible futures for Milwaukee and recognize that they have the power to create the future they want.
Involving members of the community during every step in the planning processes is crucial for long-term neighborhood development, Saville said. "You don't do things to people; you do them with them." He advocated for micro-level community development in which neighborhoods create and maintain public spaces with help from the city.
"We think about neighborhood development as one size, fits all. It doesn't," he said.
Crime typically occurs in public areas, so mobilizing community members to mold these areas to fit local needs will change how people interact with the space, but it's not easy, added Saville. "You know the old phrase, 'This isn't rocket science'? This isn't rocket science, it's harder," he said.
Hard, but not impossible. Spencer, Grandt and Jacob Corr, community prosecutor in MPD District 5, pointed to a resident-led task force they created in 2013 to address safety along Keefe Avenue as an example of what can be accomplished. The group closed two drug houses, and the community experienced a 20 percent drop in crime between 2013 and 2014.
Dr. Michele Bria and Charles Brown of Journey House showcased the success of the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative and the construction of the local football stadium. People are seeing the effects of community investment, Bria said, explaining that success is the result of effort, time and belief by neighborhood residents.
The success of Riverworks Center, Journey House and others underlines the power of neighborhoods to create positive social change. Innovation happens when people come together. "People come up with amazing, amazing ideas," Saville said.
Russia confirms Sinai plane crash was the work of terrorists
by Andrew Roth
MOSCOW —The mid-air explosion of a Russian jetliner over the Sinai desert last month that killed all 224 people on board was the result of a terrorist attack, Russia's chief intelligence officer said Tuesday.
At a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin, Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov said that traces of explosives found in the plane's wreckage indicated that an improvised explosive device had been detonated on board.
The statement marked the first time Russian authorities verified the crash was the work of terrorists. Western leaders, including President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, said just days after the October 31 tragedy that a bomb may have been responsible.
“We can say conclusively that this was a terrorist act,” Bortnikov said on Tuesday, according to an official transcript of the briefing.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, authorities Tuesday detained two employees of Sharm el-Sheikh airport in connection with the downing of the Russian jet, two security officials told the Reuters news agency. The doomed airliner was traveling from the Sinai resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg, Russia when it exploded in mid-air and crashed into the desert.
“Seventeen people are being held, two of them are suspected of helping whoever planted the bomb on the plane at Sharm el-Sheikh airport,” one of the officials said.
Egypt has still not yet confirmed that a bomb was responsible, saying it wants to wait until all investigations are complete.
In Moscow, Putin, flanked by Bortnikov and other top advisors at a briefing of Russia's National Anti-Terrorist Committee, said that those behind the attack would be brought to justice.
" We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding,” he said in remarks that were later televised. “We will find them at any point on the planet and punish them.”
The Russian government offered a $50 million bounty on Tuesday for information about those behind the attack. An affiliate for the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the plane crash in the days following the attack, although the claim could not immediately be verified.
Neither Bortnikov nor Putin indicated the Islamic State by name on Tuesday, although Putin directed Russia's military to intensify airstrikes in Syria, where the group's strongholds are located.
U.S. officials have been cautious in blaming the attack on terrorism. Obama said earlier this month that there was “a possibility” that a bomb was on board and “we're taking that very seriously.” U.S. military officials said an infrared satellite had detected a heat flash, which could have been the result of an explosion, from the plane. But the information was not conclusive, they had added a the time.
Russia launched an intervention in Syria in late September to back the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its enemies, including the Islamic State, as well as a hodgepodge of Islamist and more moderate rebel forces. Dmitri Peskov, Putin's press secretary, ruled out a ground operation in Syria when questioned about Putin's statements Tuesday.
Putin also said that Russia would invoke its right to self-defense under the United Nations charter and called on other countries to aid Russia in its search for the culprits.
" Anyone who tries to supply help to the criminals should know that the consequences for trying to harbor them will lie squarely on their shoulders,” he said.
The Russian government suspended flights to Egypt on Nov. 6 because of concerns of lax security at the airport in the Sinai resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the stricken plane took off from. The jet, on its way to St. Petersburg, Russia, blew up in mid-air shortly after take-off.
Russian tourism officials said this week that more than 70,000 tourists have returned from Egypt, Russia's most popular tourist destination outside of the former Soviet Union. They have been ferried back to Russia under tight security controls, including a ban on checked luggage, in order to prevent a bomb from being smuggled aboard.
The decision followed similar measures taken by a half-dozen European airlines and a statement by Cameron, the British Prime Minister, that the crash was “more likely than not” caused by a bomb.
Russian officials at the time urged patience until the investigation concluded, but experts said that Tuesday's news had likely been expected in the Russian government.
“This will not come as too much of a shock to the Russians,” said Dmitry Trenin, the head of the Carnegie Endowment in Moscow.
Trenin said that he did not expect the public to blame Russia's government for the crash, nor did he think the terrorist attack would sharply change Russia's foreign policy.
" The Russians have been living in this atmosphere of potential terrorism for a long time, since the 1990s, non-stop virtually,” Trenin said. “It's not the kind of revelation that the French have just experienced.”
In Moscow, many people expressed condolences for those killed in the attacks, and added that they had believed it was the result of an attack even before Tuesday's confirmation.
“I was sure it was a terror act from the very beginning,” said Aleksey Kalganov, 37, an engineer, dressed in a dark blue jacket, checked scarf and grey cap. “A plane cannot just fall apart in the air.”
Metrojet, the airline managing the Airbus A321-200, made a similar argument at a press conference shortly after the crash, earning a swift threat from Russian officials to “abstain from premature statements.”
Kalganov said that he had always been afraid of flying because of the possibility of a terrorist attack and preferred traveling by car or train, even over long distances.
“This is their response and I think that there might be more,” he said, adding that he believed this was tied to Russia's airstrike campaign in Syria. “But nevertheless I support the campaign. They are crazy there, and we should destroy them.”
Others were opposed to the airstrikes.
“This is terrible,” said Elena Lopatina, 44, a manager, when asked about the news of the terrorist attack. “But I am not surprised.”
“No, I do not support the airstrikes, I am against the operation in Syria,” she continued. “I don't think we can stop now, but I wish we could.”
Paris attacks should be ‘wake up call' for more digital surveillance, CIA director says
by Andrea Peterson and Brian Fung
U .S. and European officials are calling for expanded government surveillance powers in the wake of Friday's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, which have killed at least 129 people.
Addressing the violence Monday at a Washington conference, CIA director John Brennan blamed public “handwringing” over U.S. surveillance programs as an obstacle to catching terrorism suspects.
"I do hope that this is going to be a wake-up call,” Brennan said.
Brennan's comments reflect growing pressure to grant new digital authorities to law enforcement days after the blasts in Paris. Speaking in Washington Monday, European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said “targeted access” to personal data is becoming “crucial” to terror investigations. And British officials debated Sunday whether to fast-track sweeping new legislation that would allow police to monitor citizens' Web browsing.
The renewed push to empower intelligence services undercuts a years-long backlash against domestic spying triggered by the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It also revives a major debate over the effectiveness of surveillance laws, months after France approved a controversial expansion of police authority in the wake of attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Despite giving the government greater powers, the new law “did nothing to stop these attacks,” said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The French law, passed in May and reviewed by the country's highest constitutional authority in July, gives officials the ability to monitor the phone calls and e-mails of terror suspects without a warrant. It also requires Internet providers to collect and analyze information about French Internet users, and make that information available to intelligence agencies.
The draft British law, known as the Investigatory Powers Bill, would force telecom companies to keep records of their customers' Web activities for up to a year, allowing officials to search through that online history. It would also require tech companies to give law enforcement access to consumers' encrypted Internet communications — a controversial proposal among privacy advocates. British Prime Minister David Cameron, along with a former U.K. terrorism legislation official, have suggested speeding the bill to passage. But others, such as Home Secretary Theresa May, cautioned against the move.
In the United States, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a vocal surveillance critic, warned Monday against rushing to establish new government powers in the wake of the Paris bombings.
“While some people seem eager to seize on this crisis to resurrect failed policies of the past, the facts show mass surveillance doesn't protect us from terrorist attacks,” he said.
It remains unclear how the Paris attacks were coordinated, but some have speculated or cited unnamed officials who say the attackers may have used encrypted methods to communicate.
As part of an attempt to gain access to terrorist and criminal communications, the Obama administration has been mired in a debate over electronic encryption — the security technology that helps keep sensitive digital data from prying eyes. By promoting encryption that they themselves cannot unlock, even with a warrant, tech companies are making it more difficult to apprehend criminals and terrorists, some U.S. officials warn. Those officials have pressured companies to build ways to unlock such data. But privacy advocates and tech companies say doing so would undermine the security of their products, potentially leaving all users at increased risk.
In recent months, the White House said it wouldn't pursue legislation requiring companies to cooperate with authorities on encrypted content at this time. But some pushed to keep that option on the table: In an August internal e-mail obtained by the Post, Robert Litt, a senior intelligence agency lawyer, argued the tide could turn in favor of a legislative mandate “in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.”
Some civil liberties advocates are warning against using the Paris attacks to re-open the debate.
" We cannot let fear drive us to make irrational decisions that will only make us less safe—reducing both our cybersecurity and our economic security,” said Kevin Bankston, the director of New America's Open Technology Institute.
In the month after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the U.S. passed the USA Patriot Act. Congress reauthorized and built on the legislation, which gave the government expanded surveillance powers, in the following years. But revelations from Snowden published by The Washington Post and other outlets in recent years shed new light on how those surveillance powers were wielded and resulted in some revisions. And to some, the documents from Snowden indicated that government surveillance had gone too far to be useful.
" We learned that what's happening with the NSA and other national intelligence agencies isn't a lack of information, it's too much information,” said EFF's Cardozo. “They couldn't put two and two together because they had too much to process.”
Members of the intelligence community disagree. Stewart Baker, a former senior Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency official, says that programs like one that collects Americans' domestic phone records en masse enable investigators to “pull out targeted information from bulk surveillance,” and can give them broad insight into a suspected terrorist's social network.
However, a White House group set up to review NSA surveillance found that the phone records program was “not essential to preventing attacks.” It is set to end this month and be replaced with a system where phone companies store the data for officials to query with judicial oversight.
Baker also worries that reporting on NSA capabilities and encryption tools have given terrorists a technological edge. “If you pay attention, you've got a very good idea of where our blind spots are," he said. Some level of secrecy is necessary to preserve intelligence capabilities, he argues.
However, civil liberties activists raise concerns about how to balance that secrecy with oversight and accountability.
In the Paris attack, Center for Democracy and Technology human rights and surveillance fellow Sarah St. Vincent said lack of transparency about the country's new surveillance laws makes it hard to tell to what went wrong.
" There hasn't been enough information available that could give the legislature or the public a way to evaluate if they are effective,” she said.
Shortcomings in Baltimore police response to riot
by Jake Carter
Earlier in the year, police and federal law enforcement officials speculated that the looting of drugs from pharmacies during the April 27 rioting may have played a role by disrupting street markets.
At a press conference following its release, Gene Ryan – the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, which represents more than 2,500 cops – said that police officers thought BPD leadership was “unprepared, politically motivated, uncaring and confusing” during the riots.
It said planning was inadequate, arrest policies were unclear, equipment was severely lacking, officer training was inadequate, mutual aid agreements with other localities were insufficient or unclear, and orders to officers were not clearly defined.
City officials said they were unsurprised by the findings.
“We have worked tirelessly to address numerous recommendations that have been proposed in this report and many of them have been completed”, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) said in a statement.
Weve taken steps to ensure that Baltimore wont see another period of unrest like we had in April, Ms. Rawlings-Blake said. It is our goal that something like that never happens again.
The report, “Lessons Learned from the 2015 Civil Unrest in Baltimore”, was conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum at the request of the city's former police commissioner, Anthony Batts.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called the count a “sad milestone”, vowing that “Baltimore will win again”, come the next year. Meanwhile, the city is bracing for the first of six trials for the police officers charged in Gray's arrest and death; it is scheduled to begin November 30.
The unrest left almost 400 buildings damaged or destroyed and about 155 officers were injured.
Officers lacked adequate training and equipment, such as advanced riot gear and working gas masks.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said the findings have implications for police agencies across the nation. In 2014, the city saw 211 killings for the year. Kevin Davis was sworn in as the city's police commissioner last month.
Baltimore's 2015 homicide rate now sits at 47 per 100,000 people, second only to the rate in St. Louis, which has also seen a steep spike in gun violence this year. We didnt have those experiences under our belt, Mr. Davis said.
The Baltimore Police Department did not have an adequate plan for the unrest that began on April 25 downtown and flared two days later into rioting, the review said.
Second forum on community policing scheduled for next week in Carbondale
by Molly Parker
CARBONDALE — A second community policing forum has been scheduled for next week to continue a dialogue about how police and citizens can interact more constructively, an organizer said.
The forum will be at 6 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 23, at the Carbondale Civic Center, 200 S. Illinois Ave.
Jerrold Hennrich, chairman of the Human Relations Commission, which is hosting the event, said the purpose of the ongoing sessions are to increase dialogue between the community and police department.
Hennrich noted that the ongoing dialogue is necessary because community policing is not a concept that is one-size-fits-all-communities. According to the Department of Justice, community policing is defined as a philosophy that promotes the systemic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to address conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime.
Coming up with a plan that works for Carbondale means tapping into unique ideas and developing a deep understanding of the needs of the community, Hennrich said.
A Justice Department report suggests that communities create polices that include partnerships between law enforcement and individuals and organizations that make up a community. The report also calls for alignment of organizational structures to support those partnerships, and the employing of problem-solving techniques to develop and evaluate effective responses.
The first forum took place in May, and November's forum is meant to be a continuation of the conversation that was started, Hennrich said. While the forum was open to the public, police officers were asked not to attend so that people could speak more freely about their concerns, Hennrich said.
For the second forum, an invite has been extended to the Carbondale Police Department, and Hennrich said Chief Jeff Grubbs has confirmed plans to attend. Grubbs could not be immediately reached by the newspaper Monday for comment.
Hennrich said the invite was extended to the Carbondale Police Department because there were questions asked at the first forum that “we really didn't have the knowledge to give a good answer to because the police weren't there.”
“This is an opportunity for them to come out and explain services they provide or don't provide, and to talk about ways to interact better with the community,” he said.
Nearly 50 community members attended the first community policing forum that was facilitated by Joseph Brown, an SIU professor of Africana Studies, Catholic priest and member of Carbondale's Human Relations Commission. The HRC was created in 2003 as an advisory body to the city.
As with the first forum, this one next week will center around small group discussions where people write their ideas on paper tablecloths. Each table will have a discussion topic intended to kick off and guide discussion, but not limit it, Hennrich said.
Anyone from the community is invited, and Hennrich said he hopes people come out to participate. “This will be an ongoing thing until we get it right,” he said. “And even then, we'll continue having forums, because things change and demographics change and it's an ever-evolving process.”
World Leaders Vow to Step Up Anti-Terror Efforts After Paris
by The Associated Press
ANTALYA, Turkey — World leaders vowed Monday to boost intelligence-sharing, cut off terrorist funding and strengthen border security in Europe, as they sought to show resolve and unity following the deadly terror attacks in Paris.
"We agreed that the challenge can't just be tackled with military mean, but only a multitude of measures," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also announced plans to host a donor conference early next year to raise "significant new funding" to tackle the flood of refugees spilling out of Syria.
"None of this is a substitute for the next urgent need of all: to find a political solution that brings peace to Syria and enables the millions of refugees to return home," Cameron said.
The leaders of the Group of 20 rich and developing nations were wrapping up their two-day summit in Turkey against the backdrop of heavy French bombardment of the Islamic State's stronghold in Syria. The U.S. was expanding its intelligence sharing with the French and helping them identify targets, according to American officials.
Numerous meetings about next steps in Syria and the Islamic State campaign were being held Monday on the sidelines of the summit in the Turkish seaside resort of Antalya.
U.S. President Barack Obama huddled with European leaders from France, Britain, Germany and Italy. French President Francois Hollande skipped the summit to stay home and deal with the aftermath of the attacks, but Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius planned to attend the meeting with the U.S. president.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key player in ending the conflict in Syria that created a vacuum for the Islamic State, met separately with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Cameron.
Putin and Cameron both emphasized the need for joint action against terrorism in the wake of Paris terror attack.
"The latest tragic events in Paris show that we have to unite our efforts in fighting this evil, something we should have done long time ago," Putin said.
Putin launched an air campaign in Syria a month-and-half ago with the Islamic State as the top declared target. The U.S. and its allies, however, have accused Moscow of focusing on other rebel groups in a bid to shore up Syria's leader Bashar Assad, whom the West sees as the main cause of the Syrian conflict and the chief obstacle to peace.
Nearly five years of clashes between Assad's forces and opposition groups have left more than 250,000 people dead, created a vacuum for the Islamic State and other extremists groups to thrive, and spurred a massive refugee crisis in Europe.
Ahead of the G-20, foreign ministers met in Vienna to discuss a new diplomatic plan to end the Syrian war. The plan appears to be based largely on a Russian proposal that envisions negotiations between Assad's government and opposition groups starting by Jan. 1.
Still, sharp differences over Assad's future and disagreements about what militant groups in Syria should be considered terrorists have dampened hopes for a breakthrough.
The Vienna talks were high on the agenda when Obama and Putin huddled for about 35 minutes Sunday on the sidelines of the G-20.
Obama appeared to take a softer tone with Putin in the talks, noting "the importance of Russia's military efforts" aimed at IS, according to a White House readout of the meeting.
Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said the leaders share similar "strategic goals" for defeating the Islamic State extremists "but tactical differences remain."
Obama also met Sunday with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, another key player in the effort to end the Syrian war. The Saudis have pushed strongly for the ouster of Assad and have funded his foes. Putin met Monday with the king, who is scheduled to visit Moscow soon.
Amid the diplomatic wrangling, the shock over the Paris attacks that killed at least 129 people raised the demand for quick action. The attacks in Paris, along with earlier bombings in Lebanon and Turkey, as well as the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, indicated that the Islamic State has grown bold enough to strike a variety of targets far away from its base in Syria and Iraq.
In Turkey, five police officers were injured Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a police raid on a suspected IS hideout near the Syrian border. Turkish security forces also rounded up 20 suspected IS militants in and around Antalya before the summit.
While U.S. officials said Obama viewed the attacks in France as an act of war, they cautioned he had no plans to overhaul his strategy for dismantling the IS and said he remained staunchly opposed to an American ground war in Syria. Instead, they foreshadowed an expansion of steps the U.S. is already taking, namely airstrikes and train-and-equip missions for rebels inside Syria.
In addition to the violence and instability afflicting much of the world, this year's G-20 agenda also included efforts to hasten global economic growth, with a particular focus on addressing the effects of China's economic slowdown. In a draft of the final G-20 communique obtained by The Associated Press, leaders renewed their goal to grow their collective GDP by another 2 percent by 2018.
A new Islamic State video threatens a Paris-style attack on Washington
by Adam Taylor
A video released by an Islamic State sub-group appears to show militants in Iraq praising the Paris shootings and warning that a similar attack could take place in Washington.
The message, which was distributed by Islamic State-related social network accounts on Monday, claimed to be made by Wilayat Kirkuk, a group based in Salahuddine province, north of Iraq. Its authenticity could not immediately be confirmed.
The six-minute long video begins with a selection of news clips showing the aftermath of the attacks, with French President Francois Hollande condemning them.
Later in the video, a man identified as "Al Ghareeb the Algerian" speaks to the camera, threatening the "crusader" nations in the coalition against the Islamic State. The United States' capital city is specifically singled out.
"We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day, God willing, like France's and by God, as we struck France in the center of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its center in Washington," the man shown says, according to a translation from Reuters.
The same man also said that European nations should expect similar attacks.
"I say to the European countries that we are coming, coming with booby traps and explosives, coming with explosive belts and [gun] silencers and you will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before," he said.
Friday's attacks in Paris, which have left at least 129 people dead, were claimed by the Islamic State shortly afterwards. French warplanes launched a retaliatory attack on Sunday, dropping 20 bombs on the Islamic State's de facto in Raqqa, Syria.
Two people were removed from a Boston-bound flight from Washington Sunday
After the Paris attacks and the airline crash in Egypt, US officials are looking hard at gaps in airport security
by Jessica Mendoza
The removal of two people from a Boston-bound flight from Washington Sunday is emblematic of heightened security at airports and other public places nationwide in the wake of the Paris attacks Friday and the crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt in late October.
The incident, which involved the delay of an American Airlines flight scheduled to leave Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Sunday afternoon, reflects stepped-up security measures in major US cities over the weekend, including Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and New York. Authorities have not identified any specific dangers.
“Thank God there's no specific threats toward New York City that we know of,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told The Wall Street Journal . “We believe this … is isolated to Paris. But it is a very, very painful thing to see Paris go through this again.”
But on Monday, ISIS released a videotaped message threatening Washington, D.C. The self-described Islamic State warned that countries taking part in air strikes against Syria would suffer the same fate as France, and threatened to attack Washington, reported Reuters.
Friday night's terrorist attack in Paris, which killed at least 129 people and wounded more than 350, raised tensions at airports and other points of entry across the US.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates three major airports out of New York City and New Jersey, increased security at its sites and warned travelers to remain vigilant, the International Business Times reports.
Police in Chicago are currently working with federal and international partners to monitor threat levels; Baltimore police deployed “unspecified additional resources” citywide; and Massachusetts state police said they would add security to man critical infrastructure throughout Boston, according to the Journal.
In Washington, officials conducted a pre-flight evacuation of all passengers on the American Airlines plane Sunday afternoon after the crew reported concerns about the behavior of two passengers. A K-9 unit was called in to sweep the aircraft, and police later questioned and released the two passengers.
No specific threats were identified.
Another, broader issue officials face is the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) reliance on airport operators to vet aviation workers – a matter that drew attention following the crash of a Russian charter plane over the Sinai peninsula late last month. Concerns that a bomb may have brought down the plane, and that attackers could have taken advantage of security gaps at the Sharm el-Shiekh airport to get an explosive device aboard, led US national security officials to scrutinize the airport security process here.
The nation's 450 airports use contractors from the TSA, which oversees travel security in the US, to check employees' names against terrorism databases, and review their immigration status and criminal histories.
Which is why despite the fact that US airports are seen as models for security worldwide, the screening process for workers has caused some to worry, a US official with knowledge of American aviation security told CNN last week.
“[The TSA] checkpoint is only one part of it. You can lock that front door all you want, if you've left the back window open it doesn't really matter,” the official said.
FBI: Worcester army reserve break-in no indication of terrorism connection 'whatsoever'
by Gintautas Dumcius
BOSTON – FBI officials are investigating a weekend break-in at the Worcester U.S. Army Reserve armory. The agency later said some weapons were taken but added there is no indication the theft is connected to terrorism.
“We're currently looking into it,” said Hank Shaw, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston division.
“Nothing at this point in time would tie this to any specific threat or anything else, at this point,” he told reporters during a media briefing at the State House on security measures in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
In a statement late Sunday, the FBI said the missing weapons have been entered into a national database and added that the agency is working with the Massachusetts State Police, the Worcester police and others in an effort to locate the weapons.
"There is no indication that these missing weapons are connected to any kind of terrorism threat whatsoever. Nevertheless, every effort will be made to recover these weapons immediately," the statement said.
The incident came up during a Sunday briefing as an example of law enforcement officials continuing to focus on “day to day stuff” while also communicating and collaborating on national security matters, according to Gov. Charlie Baker.
Along with the Worcester break-in, law enforcement officials have also discussed three shootings in Dorchester on Saturday night and three overdose deaths in Chelsea, Baker said, while sharing the stage with officials from the State Police, the FBI , the Massachusetts Port Authority, and the Boston Police Department.
“These sorts of things, people are going to be chasing and investigating no matter what and I think it's important for us to recognize that law enforcement will be collaborating, communicating and cooperating across all levels of government,” he said.
Protests erupt after black man shot by police in Minneapolis
by KARE TV
MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota agency is investigating an officer-involved shooting of a black man in Minneapolis on Sunday.
The shooting sparked protests in the city Sunday, with another protest scheduled for Monday afternoon.
According to authorities, a man was shot during a physical altercation with police early Sunday morning.
Minneapolis police were responding to a call of an assault around 12:45 a.m. Sunday. Police said that while en route, officers were informed that the suspect in the assault had returned to the area and was confronting paramedics.
According to authorities, officers arrived and a physical altercation took place with Jamar Clark. Authorities say Clark was not in handcuffs. During the struggle, an officer discharged his weapon, striking the suspect, according to Minneapolis Police.
But several witnesses say Clark was in handcuffs at the time of the shooting.
"Every witness account I heard said he was handcuffed. Every witness account. Put a knee on him and shot in the head. That's the account I've heard from young people, older people, etc.," said Jason Sole, criminal justice chair for the Minneapolis NAACP.
Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds said they are demanding involvement by federal investigators, as well "grief counselors in the form of African-American psychologists to be supplied to people in north Minneapolis who witnessed the event."
Clark was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. His condition has not been confirmed. However, witnesses said he was "lifeless" at the scene.
Martez McKnight, 22, told The Associated Press that Clark, his uncle, was put on life support after he was taken to the hospital.
"The family is heartbroken and traumatized by the whole event," said McKnight.
Two Minneapolis police officers are currently on paid administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing, according to authorities.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday, Mayor Betsy Hodges said the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will conduct an independent investigation into the incident. Police Chief Janeé Harteau said the department had spoken with the family of the man who was shot and has reached out to community leaders.
"I want to acknowledge that this is a very difficult situation for everyone involved: For members of our community, members of the Minneapolis Police Department and their families, and for the people that are standing here beside me," said Harteau.
Clark's condition is unclear. Sunday night, Harteau and Hodges said they last heard he was being treated at the hospital. However, the NAACP and multiple family members claim Clark was killed.
"We need to know exactly what happened. We need to know the truth. Everyone involved needs that and deserves that," Harteau said.
Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis organized the protest Sunday. They started at the site of the shooting and marched to a police precinct, where they banged on the door and demanded to be allowed inside.
Raeisha Williams with the Minneapolis NAACP told the AP protesters planned to stay at the precinct until the names of the officers involved are released.
Drew Evans, superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said the agency wants to talk to anyone who saw the shooting or might have video of it. When asked about the handcuffs, Evans said there were handcuffs at the scene, but added that authorities are working to determine the exact situation when the man was shot.
Citizens police academy an enlightening experience
by Mike McFeely
MOORHEAD – Seth Saarinen is a 10-year veteran of the Moorhead Police Department who has seen many things you don't want to think about. For the past two years, he's investigated crimes against children. Sexual assault, abuse, neglect. Yes, these things happen with alarming regularity in our cozy little community.
How he sleeps at night knowing what he knows and seeing what he sees is anybody's guess. He's a stronger man than most, clearly. There must be a steel constitution, or something, to keep him -- a father himself -- from pummeling the scum who commit such crimes against the most innocent.
Yet, there was Saarinen, standing before a gathering of about two dozen citizens in the basement of the Moorhead Law Enforcement Center last Thursday night, breaking down as he recounted the story of a 7-year-old girl in our community who was forced into sex acts by her mother's boyfriend dozens of times over a two-year period.
“I'm sorry,” Saarinen said to the gathering as he choked up and paused. “She was just such a remarkable little girl when I was interviewing her. She remembered that she was wearing a SpongeBob T-shirt sometimes when she had to do this. She remembered what pajamas she was wearing. It's just ...”
Just horrific. Heartbreaking. And a million other things. Who could blame even a tough, veteran cop for becoming emotional re-telling such a story?
It was another fascinating moment that unfolded during the 10-week run of the Moorhead Citizens Police Academy, an annual series of classes and seminars conducted by the police department. My wife and I signed up after hearing Chief David Ebinger rave about it at a social gathering. He was right. Anybody who has the time should sign up for a citizens academy in their town.
This was Moorhead's 20th edition of the academy. Fargo and West Fargo offer similar programs. Call your local police department or check their website for more information. The academies are usually offered once a year and are limited to a couple of dozen people.
The Moorhead academy is a combo platter of classroom education, workshops, hands-on training, entertainment and police public relations.
You get to fire a police-issue handgun at a bad-guy target!
You get to see classmates crumpled by a Taser!
You get to ride along with a cop in a squad car during patrol!
Fun, fun and more fun!
But you also see dash-cam video of officers losing their lives in the line of duty and you learn that little old Fargo-Moorhead has a seedy underbelly filled with drugs, prostitution, child abuse and a bunch of other stuff you may or may not want to know.
“It's an opportunity for our officers to share with citizens the inside, behind-the-scenes things they do every day in their jobs,” said Lt. Tory Jacobson, who organizes and runs the academy with community policing coordinator Leeann Wallin. “It's also an opportunity for citizens to talk with the people doing the police work in their town. We can present to them how things work, and we encourage them to ask questions of us and challenge us.”
The classes run from 6-9 p.m. for nine Thursdays. The 10th session, scheduled this week, is a “graduation” ceremony. Each three hours is devoted to a specific topic or two. One week focused on the use of deadly force and gang activity in Fargo-Moorhead. Another was devoted to felony investigations, including a detailed breakdown of a recent murder investigation in Moorhead. A more recent class was spent at SWAT headquarters in north Fargo, with full demonstrations of all the sweet gadgets and vehicles that team uses.
These are important outreach programs for police. With the recent hyperfocus on cop activities in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore -- with the police usually coming out on the losing end of the public-relations battle -- it's crucial to connect with real people and be transparent.
If you're one of those gutsy people who posts snide remarks about cops on Facebook, that they eat too many doughnuts or are power-hungry quasi-soldiers, I would challenge you to sit through 10 weeks of a citizens police academy and come away with the same beliefs.
I had the opportunity to ride along with a young officer on the midnight shift, from 11 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. It was four hours of nonstop motion, from a traffic stop at 11:05 p.m. to dropping off a 19-year-old woman at detox at 2:45 a.m. In between was a meth bust at a south Moorhead hotel and knocking on apartment doors in search of a man with outstanding warrants.
I was exhausted from the activity and stress, and I was just riding along. I didn't have to worry whether somebody in a van in the Taco Bell parking lot, its driver possibly drunk, had a gun.
It was enough to make a person wonder why anybody would sign up for this duty.
So we'll end with words from Detective Saarinen, who answered thusly when somebody in class raised their hand and asked why he chooses to work in a seemingly awful, depressing area of police work such as crimes against children.
“I can remember every kid I've talked to in every investigation. I can remember their words, what they were wearing, what they looked like,” Saarinen said. “A lot of these kids can't have a voice for themselves, so somebody has to be a voice for them. That's how I see my role. That's my job.”
Do yourself a favor. Sign up for a citizens police academy.