Homeland Security steps up screening of aviation employees
By KATHRYN A. WOLFE
The Department of Homeland Security tightened screening requirements for airport and airline employees today, following a three-month review triggered by allegations of gun-smuggling by airline employees last year.
The changes mean that all airport and airline employees traveling as passengers will have to go through TSA security screening. Aviation workers will also have to submit to a “fingerprint-based criminal history records check” every two years, until TSA can create a real-time system for criminal background checks.
In addition, airports will have to reduce the number of ways to access secure areas to an “operational minimum.” Aviation employees will also be screened more often, including randomly throughout the workday.
Two Senate Democrats were quick to praise the action. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the new steps a “prompt response and a significant first step,” but also said “more is needed.”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the TSA, said it’s a “decent first step. But we need to continue to look at the long-term picture and see how we can broaden this in a cost-effective way.”
This additional screening won’t be “100 percent physical,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement, because it would “not completely eliminate potential risks, but would divert critical resources from other critical security functions to mitigate other risks.”
In the gun-smuggling case, authorities said four men including a Delta Air Lines baggage handler were able to smuggle guns from Atlanta to New York on board airplanes, including getting the guns through security. One of the defendants was traveling using the “Buddy Pass” privileges of his mother, a retired Delta gate agent, ABC News reported at the time.
Court mulls revealing secret government plan to cut cell phone service
Feds: SOP 303 mobile-phone kill-switch policy would endanger public if disclosed.
A federal appeals court is asking the Obama administration to explain why the government should be allowed to keep secret its plan to shutter mobile phone service during “critical emergencies.”
The Department of Homeland Security came up with the plan—known as Standing Operating Procedure 303—after cellular phones were used to detonate explosives targeting a London public transportation system.
SOP 303 is a powerful tool in the digital age, and it spells out a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in February sided (PDF) with the government and ruled that the policy did not need to be disclosed under a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The court agreed with the government’s citation of a FOIA exemption that precludes disclosure if doing so “could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.”
EPIC asked the court to revisit its ruling, arguing that the decision, “if left in place, would create an untethered ‘national security’ exemption'” in FOIA law. On Friday, the court ordered (PDF) the government to respond—a move that suggests the appellate court might rehear the case.
EPIC originally asked for the document in 2011 in the wake of the shut down of mobile phone service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system during a protest. The government withheld the information, EPIC sued and won, but the government then appealed and prevailed.
In its petition for rehearing, EPIC argued that the appellate court’s decision “created a catch-all provision that would allow federal agencies to routinely withhold records subject to disclosure where the agency merely asserts a speculative security risk.”
There have been no publicly disclosed instances when SOP 303 has been invoked, but the telecoms have agreed to shutter service when SOP 303 is invoked.
Local governments, however, have the power to shutter wireless service regardless of SOP 303.
The last known time mobile phone service was cut by a government agency was the San Francisco example from 2011. That’s when the Bay Area Rapid Transit System took heat for disabling service to quell a protest in four downtown San Francisco stations. The three-hour outage was done after BART cut service without the assistance of the telcos.
In the aftermath, BART produced a new policy that said service could only be cut off when “there is strong evidence of imminent unlawful activity that threatens the safety of district passengers, employees, and other members of the public.”
The Department of Homeland Security is seeking bids from companies able to provide law enforcement officials with access to a national license-plate tracking system — a year after canceling a similar solicitation over privacy issues.
The reversal comes after officials said they had determined they could address concerns raised by civil liberties advocates and lawmakers about the prospect of the department’s gaining widespread access, without warrants, to a system that holds billions of records that reveal drivers’ whereabouts.
In a privacy impact assessment issued Thursday, the DHS says that it is not seeking to build a national database or contribute data to an existing system.
Instead, it is seeking bids from companies that already gather the data to say how much they would charge to grant access to law enforcement officers at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a DHS agency. Officials said they also want to impose limits on ICE personnel’s access to and use of the data.
“These restrictions will provide essential privacy and civil liberty protections, while enhancing our agents’ and officers’ ability to locate and apprehend suspects who could pose a threat to national security and public safety,” DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron said in a statement. The solicitation was posted publicly Thursday.
Privacy advocates who reviewed a copy of the privacy impact assessment said it fell short.
“If this goes forward, DHS will have warrantless access to location information going back at least five years about virtually every adult driver in the U.S., and sometimes to their image as well,” said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology.
Commercial license-plate tracking systems already are used by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as some local and state law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement groups say the fears of misuse are overblown. But news of the DHS solicitation triggered a public firestorm last year, leading Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to cancel it and order a review of the privacy concerns raised by advocates and lawmakers.
Over the following months, ICE and DHS privacy officials developed policies aimed at increasing “the public’s trust in our ability to use the data responsibly,” according to a senior DHS privacy officer. The DHS is the first federal agency, officials said, to issue a privacy assessment on such a solicitation.
Commercial license-plate-tracking systems can include a variety of data. Images of plate numbers are generally captured by high-speed cameras that are mounted on vehicles or in fixed locations. Some systems also capture images of the drivers and passengers.
The largest commercial database is owned by Vigilant Solutions, which as of last fall had more than 2.5 billion records. Its database grows by 2.7 million records a day.
DHS officials say Vigilant’s database, to which some field offices have had access on a subscription basis, has proved valuable in solving years-old cases. Privacy advocates, however, are concerned about the potential for abuse and note that commercial data banks generally do not have limits on how long they retain data.
ICE said it will restrict agents’ access to the data to the number of years corresponding to the relevant statute of limitations for any crime being investigated. For civil immigration cases, where there is no statute of limitations, the agency is adopting a five-year limit, officials said.
ICE officers and agents also will be required to enter the type of crime associated with each query to gain access to the database, and there will be random audits to ensure that no one is using the database to look up information on personal associates. Officers and agents may search only for particular plate numbers.
ICE queries will not be shared with other agencies, unless they are working on a joint investigation, a senior DHS official said. ICE personnel also will be able to put plate numbers of interest on an “alert list,” enabling those personnel to be notified almost instantly when a plate is spotted.
Ginger McCall, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Open Government Project, said the new safeguards are not “meaningful.” She called the data retention requirements “exceedingly vague” and said tracking a person through alert lists without a warrant is troubling.
The senior DHS privacy officer said case law does not require the government to seek a warrant for such data.
“This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not nearly strong enough, given the particular acute privacy and civil liberties issues implicated by locational data,” McCall said.
“We in the administration and the government should give voice to the plight of Muslims living in this country and the discrimination that they face,” he said on CSPAN tonight. “And so I personally have committed to speak out about the situation that very often people in the Muslim community in this country face; the fact that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and the Islamic faith is one about peace and brotherhood.”
The administration is clearly oriented towards serving Muslims over any other group. It’s like they’ve got a special pass in the world that lets them murder, bomb, rape, and steal. If that weren’t true then why hasn’t Obama taken a firmer stand against the horde of Musilms who are murdering Christians day in and day out?
For Rudy Giuliani to say Obama doesn’t love America doesn’t really take that much courage.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. (Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbles)
The Department of Homeland Security, fresh off the blunder of saying the administration should “give a voice to the plight of Muslims,” doubles down and “leaks” a report to CNN, claiming “right wing extremists” are more dangerous then ISIS. They did go on air with CNN and correct the statement and say they were worried about the Sovereign Citizen movement, but it didn’t stop CNN and most liberal media outlets from trying to connect the dots to the elusive “right wing extremist” they have yet to find.
There is a problem with the report as well. Of the two in Louisiana he mentioned, one was a paranoid schizophrenic and the other wanted a war with cops. Both were on psychotropic medications. Their dad had taught them to hate the government.
“Dad wanted to go to war with the police,” Derrick Smith once wrote his brother from jail. (The Advocate)
You’ll find common themes in these 24 cases that they say has happened in the last 10 years. There is more then enough evidence to say these 24 cases, mainly suicide by cop, were mostly democrats, on psychotropics, and hated cops. That didn’t stop them from bringing out the grand daddy of them all, Timothy McVeigh in 1995.
It is rather odd that most people overlook one major factor with McVeigh. While McVeigh did quote the Constitution and the Bible on occasion prior to the attacks, they completely ignore his connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. He trained at one of the MoA Camps on US soil. The FBI and Congressional over-site committee cited suspicions of meetings and phone calls between bombing accomplice Terry Nichols and convicted 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) mastermind Ramzi Yousef.
State Department Marie “Jobs for Jihad” Harf went out of her way to try to prove it by saying Joseph Kony was a Christian terrorist. There’s just one major malfunction with that. Kony thinks he is a god and was funded by President Obama’s brother’s administration who was Muslim Brotherhood.
CNN was quick to throw in “data” from the Southern Poverty Law Center that states there may be up to 30,000 Sovereign Citizens active on US soil. Of those, there may have been 24 incidents on US soil. The problem is the majority of those were traced back to incidents like the 2013 LA TSA targeting by a liberal democrat who also had mental problems. They also cite the couple in Las Vegas that were occupy movement members with beliefs in the occult. Four of the lone wolfs in their top 12 were liberal KKK members. None fit the portrayal of the “elusive right wing extremist.” Of course, we should know how accurate the SPLC can be when the FBI stopped using their data in 2009, and they name such “violent” right wingers as Dr. Carson and Ted Cruz as extremists.
Dr. Sebastian Gorka told the Associated Press he could not recall an instance in the last 20 years when right-wing extremists flew jumbo jets into buildings, set off bombs at a marathon, or beheaded 21 Christian hostages.
“It really is the most egregious politicization of national security,” Gorka stated. “We’re going to be looking for right-wing extremists when ISIS prepares to attack us? It’s outrageous.”
“We have tens of thousands of people in the Middle East and elsewhere and here in America who have committed themselves to the destruction of this great nation. And we’re going to be focusing on the small cluster of right-wingers here in the United States?” Gorka said. “This could endanger American lives.”(Fox News)
Dr. Gorka thinks this is just paranoia to leak to the press to help give credibility to their ridiculous “Jobs for Jihad” claims and make it appear they are doing their jobs to protect America. This comes on the heals of President Obama’s Muslim apology tour cleverly disguised as a summit on “extremism” and the news that the US will be quadrupling the number of Syrian “refugees.”
Considering the FBI Lexicon since 2010, it should not surprise us who President Obama and company thinks is the enemy. President Obama and all his followers just got threatened by Jihad followers to be beheaded publically, but yes, lets still chase after the ghost of “right wing extremists.” When is congress and the military, both sworn to uphold the Constitution, going to put a stop to the madness?
Navy Vet Posts Homeland Security Vehicles At Ferguson Hotel, Gets Fired
Navy Veteran Points Out Unnerving Government Presence Not Far From Ferguson — and Now He’s Looking for Another Job
Mark Paffrath was leaving work from the Drury Plaza Hotel in Chesterfield, Missouri, Thursday when he noticed something unnerving — about 100 Department of Homeland Security vehicles in the parking garage, Argus News Now reported.
Paffrath snapped a couple of photos and took a short video that he uploaded to his Facebook page:
“Why are all the cop cars here…I wonder if it has anything to do with Ferguson,” his Facebook status read. Paffrath also included #Ferguson #NoJusticeNoPeace, News Now added.
Drury Plaza Hotel in Chesterfield is about 25 miles southwest of Ferguson where protests erupted since Darren Wilson, a white police officer, fatally shot Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old in August. A grand jury is expected to announce its decision any day on whether Wilson will be indicted — and many are concerned about more unrest should the decision be no.
Shortly after arriving to work on Friday, Paffrath told News Now he was called into the office of hotel general manager Jeff Barker and told to remove the photos and video. Paffrath did — and then finished his shift.
But just 30 minutes after Paffrath arrived to work Saturday, Jim Bohnert, director of security for Drury Hotels Company, told Paffrath he had been fired, News Now reported. His Facebook posts apparently cost the hotel chain a $150,000 contract with the Department of Homeland Security, the outlet added.
As if that wasn’t enough, Paffrath also claimed Bohnert told him, ”[Y]ou’re a terrorist and you have dishonorably served your country by posting the photos and video.”
When Paffrath told Bohnert he never put the location of the vehicles on the photos or the video, Bohnert reportedly said “all they have to do is click on your name and see where you work.” Paffrath said Bohnert concluded their conversation by saying “if you repost the photos and video you will have the federal government knocking on your door and you will be incarcerated.”
But it appears Paffrath didn’t take Bohnert’s advice. His Facebook timeline shows that on Saturday he reposted at least the two photos.
Paffrath, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Middle East before coming home to the St. Louis area, didn’t seem too phased by all that had happened. He had this to say on his Facebook page Saturday:
Drury Hotels General Manager Jeff Barker did not immediately respond to TheBlaze’s request for comment Sunday.
But a front-end manager at the hotel reportedly wrote a message to all employees at the location, saying “The Department of Homeland Security Group: Confidential in nature, which means brag to your family about it after they check out.”
The Department of Homeland Security, which has been stripping Border Patrol agents of their rifles without replacement, is buying nearly 100,000 pairs of underwear, including sport bras, for illegals.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, a division of DHS, announced today it is seeking a company that can provide a wide variety of cotton briefs, panties, and sports bras in various sizes for boys, girls, and women.
“If your company can provide the product/services listed on the solicitation and comply with all of the solicitation instructions, please respond to this notice,” the announcement reads.
The sizes requested range from extra tiny to super large and the overall order is massive enough to accommodate nearly the entire population of Boulder, Colorado.
The request for boys’ underwear in particular alludes to the sudden surge of border crossings by gang members, which the Border Patrol said has increased by 100%.
ICE made a similar purchase only five months ago when the agency purchased 42,000 pairs of men’s underwear, including 6X-Large briefs for men weighing over 450 pounds.
“We have to accommodate all varieties of sizes since we encounter a global population,” ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok told the New York Post.
But DHS isn’t as accommodating to its own Border Patrol agents; the agency is currently removing service rifles from Border Patrol arsenals, forcing agents to share whatever firearms they have left.
“Some of the inspected M4 carbines were deemed unserviceable and removed from inventory to alleviate safety concerns,” states a press release from DHS’s Customs and Border Protection. “Inspections will continue to ensure the unserviceable M4 carbines are repaired or replaced for reintroduction into the field.”
The agency has been slow to replace those rifles, however.
“There’s a lot of agents that are pretty upset over it,” the president of the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector union, Art del Cueto, told KRGV. “We know it’s a dangerous job; we know what we signed on for but we want to have as much of the equipment as we need to perform the job.”
And because shared rifles cannot be sighted in properly for every individual agent, Border Patrol agents could easily miss their shots during a gun battle, putting their lives – and the lives of innocent bystanders – in danger.
But illegals, on the other hand, won’t be in danger of having to wear improperly-fitting underwear during their stay at a DHS facility.
Mohamed Elibiary has left the Department of Homeland Security. Formerly a senior adviser to DHS, Elibiary announced on his Twitter page last week that he had moved on:
The circumstances surrounding Elibiariy’s sudden departure have not yet been made public.
Elibiary, who claims to be a Republican, announced that he plans on “reform[ing] the conservative movement so the GOP can win in 2016.” A critic of the Tea Party movement, he has been known to blame acts of terrorism on those who promote “Islamophobia,” portraying radical Islamists not as aggressors but as poor victims who have been incited to wage jihad. Elibiary has described the intra-GOP battles as between the “RtWing (unhappy ppl)” and the “Moderates/Traditionalists/Centrists (solutions oriented).”
Earlier in the summer, Breitbart News reported on Elibiary’s radical policy stances, raising questions whether he was fit to serve as an official adviser to the Obama administration.
Elibiary was found to be openly supportive of brokering a partnership with the global Muslim Brotherhood terror movement, according to a report by National Security expert Ryan Mauro.
He is also a close friend and confidant of former Holy Land Foundation president Shukri Abu Baker, whose organization was founded as a financing operation for Hamas, the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Elibiary admitted in a 2007 article that he was formerly a monthly donor to the terror-sponsoring Holy Land Foundation.
In June, Elibiary publicly championed on his Twitter page that an Islamic Caliphate is “inevitable,” and America only has a choice whether it wishes to support the upcoming inevitability.
In 2011, he was accused by Texas officials of downloading classified information that he had access to because of his position at DHS, then manipulating the data to try and smear Texas Governor Rick Perry as an “Islamophobe.” When asked about the allegations in an official session of Congress, his boss, former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, refused to acknowledge the reports.
In a startling new bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI have put out a warning to all federal law enforcement agents that the Islamic State has the capability to mount attacks on U.S. targets overseas with “little to no warning.” Law enforcement is being encouraged to stay vigilant and on high alert of any social media postings by Islamic State supporters or those calling for attacks against America.
The warnings come just shy of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, as chatter from jihadi websites increased according to US intelligence officials. The rise of the Islamic State and their recruitment are due to intelligence lapses as other resources and focus have been on America’s decade of war. Blindsided now by the Islamic State, we are now having to figure out a solution to dealing with the rampant rise of the militant group.
According to the bulletin:
[Islamic State members and supporters] “will almost certainly continue to use social media platforms to disseminate their English-language violent extremist messages. Although we remind first responders that content not explicitly calling for violence may be constitutionally protected, we encourage awareness of media advocating violent extremist acts in particular locations or naming particular targets, to increase our ability to identify and disrupt potential homeland threats.”
The bulletin goes on and urges “State and local authorities to promptly report suspicious activities related to homeland plotting and individuals interested in traveling to overseas conflict zones, such as Syria or Iraq, to fight with foreign terrorist organizations.”
According to former CIA officer Brian Fairchild, the focus of the CIA after 9/11 was focused mainly on paramilitary operations and targeted drone strikes, but failed in their ability to“infiltrate organizations and recruit the necessary assets to curb these organizations and counteract the ideology before it takes hold.”
“You can keep targeting all the Osama bin Ladens and his replacements, but you won’t solve the problem,” Fairchild said. “You need a strategy that comprises both the paramilitary and what the CIA was intended to do: analyze, recruit and infiltrate so lawmakers can make the best decisions on how to handle these crisis.”
Fairchild went on to say that without actual people on the ground to gain “actionable intelligence” on these terror cell networks, the US is essentially flying blind:
“All the intelligence we have is that [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi] is trying to provoke a military response from the United States and he’s more than willing and capable of coming here and doing that.”
Fairchild warned that the battleground is not limited to the Middle East:
“How are we going to stop three French men, two Germans, an Australian and a Norwegian coming into the United States when they come here and they have a passport and a visa and they say, ‘Hey, I’m here to see the Grand Canyon.’ How are you going to stop that?” he asked.
He went on to say that the threat is a long-term one that we are dealing with:
[Homegrown radicals] “know that when they go to Iraq that these guys are beheading people and putting their heads on spikes, killing hostages hundreds at a time — they know that before they go and they’ve already accepted that, so to them if Baghdadi says ‘go and gas these suckers, go and behead these suckers’ … Baghdadi says we’re going to kill as many of them as possible in the most horrifying way as possible just to show them.”
After Obama came under fire for his “we don’t have a strategy yet” statement, a Pentagon official with knowledge of the Islamic State’s action said:
“There should be no doubt that a threat to the homeland is real and the failure has been with the administration, which has refused to accept that the ideology was more than Al Qaeda core or Osama bin Laden. The administration chose to play politics instead of looking at the facts and that has cost the West tremendously.”
It’s nice to know that our top officials within the intelligence community realize the danger that the Islamic State poses to the United States. Now if we could just get Obama to take a break from the golf course to come up with a solution and lead the American people, that would be great!