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Tag: Obama

Obama Rules Out Charging CIA Operatives Who Used Harsh Interrogation Techniques

obama-and-biden1Pretty much as many expected, the CIA operatives who used harsh interrogation techiniques won’t be charged. Not a big surprise. One thing for sure, prosecuting those cases would have been one big political and legal mess.

By MARK MAZZETTI and SCOTT SHANE
New York Times
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department made public on Thursday detailed memos describing harsh interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, as President Obama said that C.I.A. operatives who carried out the techniques would not be prosecuted.

One technique authorized for use by the C.I.A. beginning in August 2002 was the use of “insects placed in a confinement box,” presumably to induce fear on the part of a terror suspect.

The interrogation methods were among the Bush administration’s most closely guarded secrets, and what was released on Thursday afternoon marked the most comprehensive public accounting to date of a program that some senior Obama administration officials have included illegal torture.

One memo showed that a top Justice Department lawyer issued a legal opinion in 2005 saying that C.I.A. officers were allowed to use a combination of interrogation methods to produce a more effective result.

For Full Story

Obama Takes it Up a Notch in the Battle Against Mexican Drug Cartels

money-photoOn Wednesday, the administration appointed a Border Czar to deal with the drug problems at the border. Now President Obama is taking it up another notch. Hopefully the administration can sustain its campaign to help the Mexicans battle the dangerous cartels. 
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — President Obama yesterday ratcheted up efforts to curb the flow of drugs and guns across the southern border, imposing financial sanctions against three of the most violent Mexican drug cartels and threatening to prosecute Americans who do business with them.

On the eve of his summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderón today, Obama added the cartels to the list of banned foreign “drug kingpins,” a move that empowers the federal government to seize their assets, estimated to be in the billions of dollars. It also allows the government to seek criminal penalties against U.S. firms or individuals who provide weapons, launder money or transport drugs or cash for the organizations.

By targeting the cartels — Sinaloa, Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana — the administration expanded its support for Calderón’s crackdown on the narco-traffickers, an effort that has provoked a violent backlash and led to thousands of deaths in the past two years.

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TSA Still Waiting For Collective Bargaining

Morale is low, attrition is high. It’s clear collective bargaining would help improve things over at the Transportation Security Administration, which overseas the security of our airports. The Obama administration needs to address this sooner than later. 

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON tsa— Border Patrol agents can do it. So can federal protective officers and U.S. Capitol Police. But Transportation Security Administration officers, who screen passengers at airports across the country, are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining.

The unions representing TSA employees say that one result is the agency has the lowest morale and highest attrition rate of all federal agencies, and that they are eager to see change.

They have the backing of President Obama, who promised on the campaign trail that collective bargaining and workplace protections “will be a priority” for his administration. “It is unacceptable for TSOs to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections — this makes it more difficult for them to perform their jobs,” Obama wrote in a letter to the American Federation of Government Employees in October. “Since 2001, TSA has had the unfettered ability to deny its workforce even the most basic labor rights and protections.”

So far, no changes have been made. The legislation that established the agency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, states that the decision on whether to allow collective bargaining rests with the TSA administrator.

Obama Administration Announces Modest Steps to Deal With U.S.-Mexico Border Trouble

Tex. Gov. Rick Perry/official photo

Tex. Gov. Rick Perry/official photo

As expected, the Obama administration is taking steps to beef up security along the Mexican border. But the announcement falls short for Tex. Gov. Rick Perry, which should count for something since his state has had to deal with a whole lot of trouble.

By TODD J. GILLMAN
The Dallas Morning News
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration announced modest steps this morning to beef up border security and help Mexico fight its drug cartels.

But Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the president isn’t ready to grant Texas’ request for a troop surge to ward off spillover violence.

“There’s already a very, very heavy federal presence. We add to it, we target, we dedicate,” Napolitano said at the White House, adding that she will meet with Gov. Rick Perry in Texas on Thursday to press for details on his call for 1,000 soldiers or border agents.

The drug war has killed more than 7,000 Mexicans in the last 15 months, and Perry and other border officials have expressed concern that the violence is getting worse and could threaten more Americans.

Perry expressed disappointment, saying the state and its taxpayers have had to “fill in the gaps” because the federal presence isn’t enough.

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Inauguration Goes Off Without Glitches Despite Intelligence Reports That A Radical Somalia Group Might Try to Disrupt It

bbc photo

bbc photo

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – The most security-intense inauguration of our times went off without apparent glitches Tuesday, even in wake of intelligence reports of a possible threat from an East Africa radical Islamic terrorist group.
The Associated Press reported that law enforcement and intelligence officials got word that a Somalia-based group, al-Shabaab, might disrupt the inauguration, according to a joint FBI/Homeland Security bulletin issued Monday night.
The news agency said Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke indicated there was little specificity and uncertain credibility. The AP said a senior law enforcement official said the Somali alert had been posted to make sure no effort was spared.

One Day to Go: Feds Ready for Inauguration Armed With High Tech Equipment

Federal authorities are seemingly prepared for the inauguration. But they know they can’t be prepared for everything. Whatever the case: One more day til showtime.

By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — As the multitudes arrive for the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, the most high-tech security bubble ever created is in place to protect the president-elect from any foreseeable act of nature or man.
But authorities say they still dread the “X factor” – intangibles that they cannot control and that could panic the huge crowd.
At the top of that list, they say, is the individual or small group who could slip through the intelligence and security net and fire a burst of gunfire or set off an explosion.
The chance of that is considered extremely unlikely. Law enforcement and intelligence officials say they have seen nothing to suggest the president-elect or his inauguration are being targeted.
Still, they say, no one can know for sure.
For Full Story

Secret Service to Unveil Hybrid Limo for Obama

Good to see there’s some sense of energy conservation going on.

By Mike M. Ahlers and Eric Marrapodi
CNN
WASHINGTON
— As a candidate, Barack Obama promoted hybrid cars.
As president, he’ll be handed the keys to one. Sort of.
Shortly after taking the oath of office, Obama will climb into the Mother of All Hybrids — part car, part truck and, from the looks of it, part tank.
In keeping with recent tradition, the Secret Service will place a brand-new presidential limousine into service January 20 to drive the new president on the 2-mile jaunt down Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade.
Already, spy photos of the limo — with patches of gray primer — have leaked out. And already, the reviews:
“Ugly as sin,” says one car enthusiast on an auto Web site. “Can’t we make a hotter ride for our pres?”
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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Feds Gearing Up For Biggest Security Event Ever on Jan. 20

Security issues are nothing new to Washington, which has seen every type of demonstration and gathering possible. Still, this presidential inauguration is being treated differently.

By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Authorities are organizing what appears to be the largest security operation ever for an inauguration, bringing in thousands of extra police, agents and troops to handle crowds as President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in.
Security officials are bracing not just for the ceremony and parade Jan. 20 but also for at least 70 concerts, balls and other events surrounding the inauguration. Those include the welcome celebration featuring Obama on Jan. 18 at the Lincoln Memorial, which could draw 500,000 people, according to the D.C. mayor’s office.
“You’ve gone from a one-day event to a four-day event,” said Joseph Persichini Jr., head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which will bring in about 20 percent more employees than usual for the activities.
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