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Archive for January, 2015

Albuquerque Journal Opinion: 9 Months Later, DHS Still a Black Hole

By Michael Coleman
Albuquerque Journal

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has no shortage of critics, but few are as fierce – or as informed – as former Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who retired from Congress this month.

In one of his final acts before he left Washington, the former ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee dropped a scathing oversight report that says, in essence, the department is an incompetent mess.

DHS has five primary missions: enforcing immigration law, securing the border, preventing terrorism, safeguarding cyberspace and strengthening national preparedness. According to Coburn, it does none of them well.

“Based upon the available evidence, DHS is not successfully executing any of its five main missions,” Coburn wrote in the report’s introduction. “Many of DHS’s programs, in fact, are ineffective and should be reconsidered.”

Coburn’s report reflects many of the findings in a three-part Journal investigation of DHS’ “Mission Creep” published last April – especially that the agency can’t account for billions of dollars in grants sent to the states. The Journal series found that in New Mexico, the state Department of Homeland Security also was unable to say exactly where the federal money goes.

“DHS has not effectively tracked how these funds are spent and federal dollars often subsidize routine (and in some cases questionable) expenditures by states, localities, and other groups,” the Coburn report says, referring to FEMA grants in particular.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest


How U.S. Came to Blame North Korea for Cyber-Attack of Sony

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

President Obama and the FBI blamed North Korea for the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November based on information that was collected when the NSA hacked into the country’s computer systems in 2010, the New York Times reports.

The NSA eventually was able to penetrate directly into North Korea’s system and use malware to monitor the internal workings of computers and networks of many of North Korean hackers, most of whom are commanded by the country’s main intelligence service.

The evidence gathered in the hack convinced President Obama that North Korea was behind the attack.

It was the first time the U.S. ever accused another country of striking American targets with a cyberattack.

 

Former FBI Agent Claims He Had Information to Stop 9/11 Attacks

A former FBI special agent said he had information that could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but he said the CIA prevented him from taking the evidence to FBI headquarters, Newsweek reports.

Mark Rossini, who lost his job in 2008 for showing confidential FBI documents to actress Linda Fiorentino to help her research a script about a wiretapper, said he was barred from going to FBI headquarters with information that two known terrorists had entered the U.S. Those terrorists later helped carry out the 9/11 attacks.

While government reports have vaguely blamed “intelligence failures” for the terrorist attacks, no details were ever provided about why the CIA didn’t pass on information earlier to the FBI that the terrorists were in the country.

During questioning by the congressional investigators, Rossini said and another FBI agent were told by the CIA to stay quiet.

“It was just understood in the office that they were not to be trusted, that [the congressional investigators] were trying to pin this on someone, that they were trying to put someone in jail,” Rossini told Newsweek. “They said [the investigators] weren’t authorized to know what was going on operationally. … When we were interviewed, the CIA had a person in the room, monitoring us.”

Homeland Security Chief Condemns Republicans for Defunding Immigration Plans

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson sharply criticized Republican efforts to defund President Obama’s new immigration plan, saying an agency that protects the country from terrorists “cannot become a political volleyball,” the Washington Post reports.

The criticism follows last week’s decision by House Republicans to approve DHS’ fiscal year 2015 budget, which removes funding for two of the president’s most controversial immigration policies.

The vote was 236-191.

“Recent world events — the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney, and elsewhere, along with the public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on Western objectives — call for increased vigilance in homeland security,’’ Johnson said. “In these times, the budget of the Department of Homeland Security cannot become a political volleyball.’’

Weekend Series on Crime: Prison Gangs

httpv://youtu.be/ALRZlS1nemM

Father of Ohio Man Accused of Plotting Attack on Capitol Building Blames FBI ‘Snitch’

Christopher Lee Cornell

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

How does your son become the suspect in a horrifying plot to spray bullets into a crowd at the Capitol Building?

John Cornell still can’t believe his 20-year-old son, Christopher Lee Cornell, was arrested in an FBI raid on allegations that he bought two M-15 semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition, he told NBC News on Thursday.

“His best friend is his kitty cat,” the father said. “He’s never even fired a gun before.”

Cornell said his son was manipulated by an FBI “snitch” and never would have gone through such an attack.

“I think a lot of it was coercion. I think he got coerced,” Cornell said. “No way he had the money to carry out any kind of terrorist attack.”

The father said his son recently converted to Islam.

FBI Chief: New York Times Gave Platform to Terrorists by Quoting Anonymous Source

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 
 
The New York Times’ decision to quote an anonymous source from a terrorist group about the bloody attacks last week in France was in poor taste and provided a platform for violent extremists, FBI Director James Comey said in a sharply worded letter to the Times, the newspaper reports. 

The front page story Thursday quoted a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula about the timing of the attacks.

“Your decision to grant anonymity to a spokesperson for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula so he could clarify the role of his group in assassinating innocents, including a wounded police officer, and distinguish it from the assassination of other innocents in Paris in the name of another group of terrorists, is both mystifying and disgusting,” Mr. Comey said in a letter to The Times.

He added: “I fear you have lost your way and urge you to reconsider allowing your newspaper to be used by those who have murdered so many and work every day to murder more.”

Michael Slackman, the international managing editor for The New York Times, stood behind the decision to use anonymity.

“The individual quoted anonymously has for several weeks provided accurate insight and information into the thinking and actions of AQAP,” Mr. Slackman said. “The material was generally central to the news, in one case noting that Al Qaeda and the Islamic State had not jointly planned the attacks in Paris.”

FBI Agent’s Chronic Theft of Heroin Raises Questions about Bureau’s Evidence Rooms

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

An FBI agent’s ability to steal heroin from an evidence room without being detected suspicions for at least 14 months raises serious questions about the bureau’s checks and balances, the Washington Post reports.

By his own admission, Mathew Lowry repeatedly stole heroin from the evidence room at the FBI’s field office in Washington to support his addiction. The thefts have sabotaged drug cases, so far leading to the dismissal of 28 defendants.

The thefts didn’t catch up with Lowry until his colleagues found him incoherent next to his disabled bureau car.

The FBI has responded with an internal review to determine how better to handle evidence.

“It’s shocking that there was such little oversight,” said Steven H. Levin, a former federal prosecutor. “It’s something you would expect to see on a made-for-TV movie. . . . You’re thinking, there is no way that could ever happen. And that’s what happened.”

 

Lowry, 33, has been suspended and is undergoing drug treatment while the case remains under criminal investigation.