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May 2011


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Archive for May, 2011

Pentagon Refiles Charges Against 9/11 Suspects: Sets Stage for Military Trial

Khalid Sheik Mohammad

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration appears to be paving the way to prosecute 9/11 suspected terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others in a military tribunal.

CNN reported that the Defense Department on  Tuesday  refiled charges against the men so they can be prosecuted in a military court in the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base.

The Justice Department had initially announced plans to prosecute the men in U.S. District Court in New York. But the powerful opposition forced the administration to shift gears.

Besides Mohammed, the other suspects included: Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi. All five are at Guantanamo.


2 Iraqis Arrested in Bowling Green, Ky. on Terrorism Charges

By Allan Lengel

Up until now, Bowling Green, Ky. was known mostly as the home of a General Motors assembly plant that builds Chevy Corvettes, Fruit of the Loom and Western Kentucky University.

But on Tuesday, the Justice Department announced the arrest in Bowling Green of two Iraqi men who allegedly tried to send sniper rifles, stinger missiles and money to Al-Qaida operatives in their home country. One man, Waad Ramadan Alwan was alleged to have carried out attacks in Iraq against American troops, authorities said.

Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, both former Iraqi residents residing in Bowling Green, were charged in a 23-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Bowling Green last Thursday.

Alwan is charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. nationals abroad; distributing information on the manufacture and use of IEDs; attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al Qaeda in Iraq; as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles, the Justice Department said.

Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles.

The men were arrested last Wednesday.

The Justice Department said both defendants were closely monitored in the months leading up to the arrests. Neither were charged withg plotting attacks in the U.S.

“Over the course of roughly eight years, Waad Ramadan Alwan allegedly supported efforts to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, first by participating in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and, more recently, by attempting to ship money and weapons from the United States to insurgents in Iraq,” said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

“His co-defendant, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, is accused of many of the same activities. With these arrests, which are the culmination of extraordinary investigative work by law enforcement and intelligence officials, the support provided by these individuals comes to an end and they will face justice,” said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft Dodges Bullet; Supreme Court Tosses Lawsuit Against Him

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Ex-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft is off the hook.

In an 8-0 ruling, the Supreme Court tossed out a lawsuit against Ashcroft. It overturned a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, saying the former Attorney General under President Bush  enjoyed “qualified immunity” from a lawsuit filed by Abdullah al Kidd, a former University of Idaho football player who converted to Islam.

The court ruled that Ashcroft did not clearly violate the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

FBI agents arrested Kidd in 2003 at Dulles Airport and detained him for 16 days in three different states as a material witness supposedly for a pending case. He was never charged and never called as a witness.

Kidd claimed Ashcroft abused his power by detaining him as a material witness. He also alleged the arrest was part of a bigger plan by the Bush administration to round up Muslims, regardless if whether they had ties to terrorism.

But the Supreme Court, in a ruling written by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote: “The affidavit accompanying the warrant application (as al-Kidd concedes) gave individualized reasons to believe that he was a material witness and that he would soon disappear.”

“Qualified immunity gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions. When properly applied, it protects ‘all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law’,” the court wrote.

”We hold that an objectively reasonable arrest and detention of a material witness pursuant to a validly obtained warrant cannot be challenged as unconstitutional on the basis of allegations that the arresting authority had an improper motive. Because Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law, we need not address the more difficult question whether he enjoys absolute immunity.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor voted to overturn the lower court ruling, but conceded that the law in this area is not completely clear. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate.

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Agencies Jumping on the High Tech Wagon; ATF Using iPads and iPhones

By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Somewhere in America, perhaps at this very moment, a bad guy is under video surveillance. He is being watched, every movement, every step – but not on a little TV. That’s so 2009. Instead, a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is keeping tabs on an iPad.

This is not a movie. This is not a Steve Jobs dream. This is the federal government 2.0, where technology upgrades no longer come at a “Little House on the Prairie” pace. Even President Obama, a BlackBerry devotee, has upgraded. He now owns an iPad, and it has been seen on his desk and under his arm.

The flashy consumer products that have been adopted in the corporate workforce – upending BlackBerrys for iPhones, Microsoft Outlook for Gmail and, lately, laptops for iPads – are now invading the federal government. The State Department. The Army. The Department of Veterans Affairs. NASA. The General Services Administration is in the process of moving 17,000 employees onto Gmail.

To read full story click here.

The U.S. Secret Service Goes Tweeting

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Secret Service is tweeting.

The agency launched a Twitter page earlier this month to help recruiting efforts and distribute news and information about the agency. So far, the Twitter page has 24,904 followers and has issued 50 tweets including alerts to meet recruiters at job conferences.

“The internet is a valuable resource for people all over the world,” Secret Service Assistant Director Mickey Nelson said in a statement. “By using social media sites, we hope to supplement our recruitment efforts, while providing an informative, helpful tool to businesses and individuals who are interested in information from our agency.”

Some other federal agencies already have established Twitter pages. The FBI has 169,866 followers and the Department of Homeland Security, which is the umbrella agency for Secret Service, has 36,715 followers.

Justice Dept. Clears Austin Police of Wrongdoing

By Allan Lengel

The Justice Department has given the Austin, Tex. Police Department a clean bill of health.

KUT News reports that the Justice Department concluded after opening its probe in 2007 that the police department did not engage in a pattern or practice of force against minorities.

The probe was prompted by a complaint filed by the Austin Chapter of the NAACP and the Texas Civil Rights Project, KUT reported.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo was thrilled with the results.

“Today we can say with a great deal of pride that the Austin Police Department has been given a clean bill of health and I would just ask you as community leaders to not scream out there’s a problem unless there truly is a problem because it creates challenges, it creates a lot of challenges for the entire community and is not productive,” Acevedo said during a press conference Monday, the radio station reported.

The station reported that the department did make some changes in policies as a result of the probe.

To read more click here.

I don’t know whether my last post

I don’t know whether my last post was ironic or profetic. Or was it just pathetic? Alas, stones having been thrown, my fellow coaches and I arrived at our little league game on Saturday jubilant in the glow of a crystal clear sky and a team full of giddy second graders, only to discover that I apparently live in a glass house. Rather than suffer at the hands of the latest set of Rule Nazis, this time around apparently we were the Rule Nazis.

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