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Seven Years Later Concerns About Airports Persist

The uniforms may look nicer, but complaints still persist seven years after 9/11 that the airports aren’t as safe as they should be. What’s it going to take?

By John Hilkevitch
Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — The nation’s airport security screeners unveiled new uniforms Thursday on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and as a congressional report blistered the federal government for failing “to provide the American people the security they expect and deserve.”
The report, titled “Wasted Lessons of 9/11,” cited poor progress toward identifying potentially dangerous airline passengers before they show up at the airport. It also questioned whether the Department of Homeland Security will meet a 2010 deadline to screen all cargo transported on passenger planes in the U.S.
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Justice Dept. To Give FBI Agents More Power

Line agents woud get more power under a new plan to be unveiled today. Will the extra power help? Will it stir controversy? 

Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will unveil changes to FBI ground rules today that would put much more power into the hands of line agents pursuing leads on national security, foreign intelligence and even ordinary criminal cases.
The overhaul, the most substantial revision to FBI operating instructions in years, also would ease some reporting requirements between agents, their supervisors and federal prosecutors in what authorities call a critical effort to improve information gathering and detect terrorist threats.

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Related Story: Judge Limits Searches Using Cellphone Data (Washington Post)

Economy Weighs Heavier Than Terrorism

Terrorism is no longer the catch-all phrase. What a difference seven years makes.

By Mathew B. Stannard
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO –Seven years ago today, the roar of exploding planes and the spectacle of collapsing buildings riveted the nation’s attention on a single topic, terrorism – and in the terrible aftermath, it seemed that focus would never waver.
But it has. Just 2 percent of Americans identified terrorism as their nation’s top problem in a Gallup survey in early August – the lowest level since the 2001 attacks. And in new poll results released Wednesday, just 38 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat worried that they or their families would become victims of terrorism – a nine-point drop since the question was asked last year and the lowest level since mid-2005.
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Georgia Sheriff Acquitted of Perjury

   It was a happy day in Georgia for sheriff Winston Peterson who got off  on federal charges stemming from a federal  probe into judicial corruption.  

VALDOSTA, Ga (WALB-tv) – A South Georgia Sheriff is acquitted of three federal charges.

Sheriff Peterson/wabl tv

Sheriff Peterson/wabl tv

A jury found Clinch County Sheriff Winston Peterson not guilty Thursday morning of perjury and two counts obstruction of justice.
The charges are part of a federal probe into corruption in the Alapaha Judicial Circuit and the former Superior Court Judge Brooks Blitch.
Peterson was accused of tipping of Blitch to the identity of an Federal Bureau of Investigation informant.

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Too Much Of A Good Thing In The Homeland

Some towns are getting Homeland Security funds but spending them on things other than terrorism.

Barbara Carmen
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When the first Homeland Security dollars started trickling into Franklin County after Sept. 11, 2001, grants manager Donna A. Monell couldn’t spend it all.
“It was like, ‘Wow, how do we manage this?’ ” she said. “I believe I even asked for an extension.”
She was stymied on how to spend $300,000. Every county in America was vying for the same equipment. Orders were backlogged.
In 2009, her anti-terrorism team is expected to control $5.5 million. She said it could easily spend more, even if there is never a big attack.
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Council Member Testifies in Federal Grand Jury

Just days after Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick stepped down, a cloud continues to hover over city hall in Motown. A veteran city council member was among the guests at a federal grand jury probing city hall corruption. 

Paul Egan and Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Sheila Cockrel/official photo

Sheila Cockrel/official photo

DETROIT — The only official sent to prison as a result of an FBI investigation of Wayne County government under Edward H. McNamara, the late political boss, made a surprise appearance at the federal courthouse Wednesday as a grand jury convened to probe alleged corruption at Detroit City Hall.
The grand jury heard evidence Wednesday from former county official Wilbourne Kelley III, Detroit City Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel and former Cobo Center director Lou Pavledes.
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Southwest Border Fence Behind Schedule

Homeland Security said its goal of finishing up the border fence in Southwest U.S. this year seems to be slipping away. How long will it take?  

By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
New York Times
The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that cost overruns, legal obstacles and other problems were imperiling its goal of completing the 670 miles of fencing and technological improvements on the Southwest border that President Bush has promoted as vital to securing it.
Rising costs for construction and materials and delays in acquiring land from owners could foil the effort to build the fence by the end of the year, said officials, who are now seeking more money for the project.
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Actress’ Lover Pleads to Federal Charges

Italian boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway took center stage in U.S. District Court in New York and pleaded guilty to 14 federal charges.

By THOMAS ZAMBITO and CORKY SIEMASZKO
fan club photo
fan club photo
New York Daily News
NEW YORK – The slick Italian con-man who dated “Get Smart” star Anne Hathaway and posed as a Vatican insider to swindle millions from investors is heading to prison.
Raffaello Follieri pleaded guilty Wednesday to 14 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Follieri admitted in court in accented English.
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