Tag Archives: homeland security

Big Sis Refuses To Answer Congress On Bullet Purchases

Big Sis Refuses To Answer Congress On Bullet Purchases

Steve Watson
Infowars.com

Speaking at CPAC with Infowars and We Are Change reporter, Luke Rudkowski, Congressman Timothy Huelscamp revealed this week that the Department of Homeland Security has refused to answer questions from “multiple” members of Congress regarding its recent purchase of huge amounts of weapons and ammunition.

“They have no answer for that question. They refuse to answer to answer that,” Huelscamp said.

“I’ve got a list of various questions of agencies about multiple things. Far from being the most transparent administration in the world, they are the most closed and opaque,” the Congressman added.

“They refuse to let us know what is going on, so I don’t really have an answer for that. Multiple members of Congress are asking those questions,” he added.

“It comes down to during the budget process, during the appropriations process, are we willing to hold DHS’s feet to the fire?”

“We’re going to find out… I say we don’t fund them ’til we get an answer. Those type of things really challenge Americans. They are worried about this administration,” Huelscamp urged.

Watch the clip below:

The Congressman’s comments come in the wake of a demand for answers from New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance on the same subject.

“I would like a full explanation as to why that has been done and I have every confidence that the oversight committee ….should ask those questions,” said Lance, adding that he shared a belief, “that Congress has a responsibility to ask Secretary Napolitano as to exactly why these purchases have occurred.”

The DHS has purchased over 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the past year – enough to wage a 20 year plus war. Earlier this month, Forbes Magazine called for a “national conversation” on the matter.

During the CPAC interview, Congressman Huelscamp also spoke briefly about why he voted twice against the National Defense Authorization Act, stating that it was because of the lack of detail regarding the provision in the bill to allow for incarceration of Americans without due process.

“I think it’s something that is so Constitutionally suspect,” Huelscamp said. “It’s one of those things, if you’re not absolutely crystal clear on a Constitutional issue like that, we shouldn’t take those chances.”

“I gather there are folks on the other side who think they covered that. I just don’t think we did a good enough job,” the Congressman added. “And based on how hard it was for Senator Paul to get an answer out of the administration, very clearly we need to make it absolutely clear that there are Constitutional protections in this country.”

The Congressman also spoke with regards to the recent and ongoing furor over the Obama administration’s intentions for using drones domestically and it’s withholding of information on it’s overseas drone program.

“One of the difficulties I have as a member of Congress is the failure of this administration to provide information on what is actually going on,” Huelscamp said.

“When we take office we sign an oath to office, but we also sign a little card that says we have access to classified military intelligence, and I’ll just tell you, this administration and prior administrations are not very clear or transparent with the folks that actually control their budget.”

“Every member of Congress should know the answers to those questions, and whether or not they can share them,” the Congressman concluded.SOURCE

1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo For Homeland Security? It’s Time For A National Conversation


1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo For Homeland Security? It’s Time For A National Conversation

The Denver Post, on February 15th, ran an Associated Press article entitled Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo, to far too little notice. It confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an open purchase order for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. As elsewhere reported, much of this purchase order is for rounds forbidden by international law for use in war plus a frightening amount specialized for snipers. Also reported elsewhere, at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending fewer than 6 million rounds a month. 1.6 billion rounds, therefore, would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. In America.

Add to this perplexingly outré purchase of ammo, DHS now is showing off its acquisition of heavily armored personnel carriers, repatriated from the Iraqi and Afghani theaters of operation. As observed by “paramilblogger” Ken Jorgustin last September:
NRA Winning the Influence Battle Over Gun Control Bruce Rogers Bruce Rogers Forbes Staff
Obama’s Gun-Control Laws Would Limit, Not Destroy $32B Firearm Industry Abram Brown Abram Brown Forbes Staff
A Gun-Control Battle That Could Actually Damage The Industry Is Escaping Public Attention Abram Brown Abram Brown Forbes Staff
How To Rescue The Republicans From The Grave Karl Rove Is Digging For Them Ralph Benko Ralph Benko Contributor

“[T]he Department of Homeland Security is apparently taking delivery (apparently through the Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico VA, via the manufacturer – Navistar Defense LLC) of an undetermined number of the recently retrofitted 2,717 ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ MaxxPro MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the United States.” …

“These MRAP’s ARE BEING SEEN ON U.S. STREETS all across America by verified observers with photos, videos, and descriptions.

“Regardless of the exact number of MRAP’s being delivered to DHS (and evidently some to POLICE via DHS, as has been observed), why would they need such over-the-top vehicles on U.S. streets to withstand IEDs, mine blasts, and 50 caliber hits to bullet-proof glass? In a war zone… yes, definitely. Let’s protect our men and women. On the streets of America… ?

“They all have gun ports… Gun Ports? In the theater of war, yes. On the streets of America…?

“Seriously, why would DHS need such a vehicle on our streets?”

Why indeed? It is utterly inconceivable that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is planning a coup d’etat against President Obama, and the Congress, to install herself as Supreme Ruler of the United States of America. There, however, are real signs that the Department bureaucrats are running amok. About 20 years ago this columnist worked, for two years, in the U.S. Department of Energy’s general counsel’s office in its procurement and finance division. And is wise to the ways. The answer to “why would DHS need such a vehicle?” almost certainly is this: it’s a cool toy and these (reportedly) million dollar toys are being recycled, without much of a impact on the DHS budget. So… why not?

Why, indeed, should the federal government not be deploying armored personnel carriers and stockpiling enough ammo for a 20-year war in the homeland? Because it’s wrong in every way. President Obama has an opportunity, now, to live up to some of his rhetoric by helping the federal government set a noble example in a matter very close to his heart (and that of his Progressive base), one not inimical to the Bill of Rights: gun control. The federal government can (for a nice change) begin practicing what it preaches by controlling itself.

And … remember the … Sequester? The president is claiming its budget cuts will inconvenience travelers by squeezing essential services provided by the (opulently armed and stylishly uniformed) DHS. Quality ammunition is not cheap. (Of course, news reports that DHS is about to spend $50 million on new uniforms suggests a certain cavalier attitude toward government frugality.)

Spending money this way is beyond absurd well into perverse. According to the AP story a DHS spokesperson justifies this acquisition to “help the government get a low price for a big purchase.” Peggy Dixon, spokeswoman for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center: “The training center and others like it run by the Homeland Security Department use as many as 15 million rounds every year, mostly on shooting ranges and in training exercises.”

At 15 million rounds (which, in itself, is pretty extraordinary and sounds more like fun target-shooting-at-taxpayer-expense than a sensible training exercise) … that’s a stockpile that would last DHS over a century. To claim that it’s to “get a low price” for a ridiculously wasteful amount is an argument that could only fool a career civil servant.

Meanwhile, Senator Diane Feinstein, with the support of President Obama, is attempting to ban 100 capacity magazine clips. Doing a little apples-to-oranges comparison, here, 1.6 billion rounds is … 16 million times more objectionable.

Mr. Obama has a long history of disdain toward gun ownership. According to Prof. John Lott, in Debacle, a book he co-authored with iconic conservative strategist Grover Norquist,

“When I was first introduced to Obama (when both worked at the University of Chicago Law School, where Lott was famous for his analysis of firearms possession), he said, ‘Oh, you’re the gun guy.’

“I responded: ‘Yes, I guess so.’

“’I don’t believe that people should own guns,’ Obama replied.

“I then replied that it might be fun to have lunch and talk about that statement some time.

“He simply grimaced and turned away. …

“Unlike other liberal academics who usually enjoyed discussing opposing ideas, Obama showed disdain.”

Mr. Obama? Where’s the disdain now? Cancelling, or at minimum, drastically scaling back — by 90% or even 99%, the DHS order for ammo, and its receipt and deployment of armored personnel carriers, would be a “fourfer.”

The federal government would set an example of restraint in the matter of weaponry.
It would reduce the deficit without squeezing essential services.
It would do both in a way that was palatable to liberals and conservatives, slightly depolarizing America.
It would somewhat defuse, by the government making itself less armed-to-the-teeth, the anxiety of those who mistrust the benevolence of the federales.

If Obama doesn’t show any leadership on this matter it’s an opportunity for. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, to summon Secretary Napolitano over for a little … national conversation. Madame Secretary? Buying 1.6 billion rounds of ammo and deploying armored personnel carriers runs contrary, in every way, to what “homeland security” really means. Discuss.
SOURCE

DHS To Grant Illegal Aliens “Unlawful Presence Waivers”

DHS To Grant Illegal Aliens “Unlawful Presence Waivers”

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In its quest to implement stealth amnesty, the Obama Administration is working behind the scenes to halt the deportation of certain illegal immigrants by granting them “unlawful presence waivers.”

The new measure would apply to illegal aliens who are relatives of American citizens. Here is how it would work, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcement posted in today’s Federal Register, the daily journal of the U.S. government; the agency will grant “unlawful presence waivers” to illegal aliens who can prove they have a relative that’s a U.S. citizen.

Currently such aliens must return to their native country and request a waiver of inadmissibility in an existing overseas immigrant visa process. In other words, they must enter the U.S. legally as thousands of foreigners do on a yearly basis. Besides the obvious security issues, changing this would be like rewarding bad behavior in a child. It doesn’t make sense.

But the system often causes U.S. citizens to be separated for extended periods from their immediate relatives,” according to the DHS. The proposed changes, first announced in January, will significantly reduce the length of time U.S. citizens are separated from their loved ones while required to remain outside the United States during the current visa processing system.

The administration also claims that relaxing the rule will also “create efficiencies for both the U.S. government and most applicants.” How exactly is not listed in the Federal Register announcement, which gives the public 60 days to comment. That’s only a formality since the DHS has indicated that the change is pretty much a done deal.

This appears to be part of the Obama Administration’s bigger plan to blow off Congress by using its executive powers to grant illegal immigrants backdoor amnesty. The plan has been in the works for years and in 2010 Texas’s largest newspaper published an exposé about a then-secret DHS initiative that systematically cancelled pending deportations. The remarkable program stunned the legal profession and baffled immigration attorneys who said the government bounced their clients’ deportation even when expulsion was virtually guaranteed.

In late 2011 a mainstream newspaper obtained internal Homeland Security documents outlining “sweeping changes” in immigration enforcement that halt the deportation of illegal aliens with no criminal records. This also includes a nationwide “training program” to assure that enforcement agents and prosecuting attorneys don’t remove illegal immigrants who haven’t been convicted of crimes.

Judicial Watch has been a front runner in investigating the Obama Administration’s stealth amnesty program by pursuing DHS records concerning “deferred action” or “parole” to suspend removal proceedings against a particular group of individuals. Last spring JW sued DHS to obtain information because the agency ignored a federal public records request that dates back to July 2010.

SOURCE

Rise of the Machines

New Police Drone Near Houston Could Carry Weapons

By Stephen Dean

CONROE, Texas — A Houston area law enforcement agency is prepared to launch an unmanned drone that could someday carry weapons, Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Conroe paid $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money and Friday it received the ShadowHawk unmanned helicopter made by Vanguard Defense Industries of Spring.

A laptop computer is used to control the 50-pound unmanned chopper, and a game-like console is used to aim and zoom a powerful camera and infrared heat-seeking device mounted on the front.

“To be in on the ground floor of this is pretty exciting for us here in Montgomery County,
” Sheriff Tommy Gage said.
He said the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) could be used in hunting criminals who are running from police or assessing a scene where SWAT team officers are facing an active shooter.
Gage said it will also be deployed for criminal investigations such as drug shipments.

“We’re not going to use it to be invading somebody’s privacy. It’ll be used for situations we have with criminals,” Gage said.

It could have been used to help firefighters in the recent tri-county wildfires, he said, and it also could be handy in future scenarios like a recent search for a missing college student in The Woodlands.

In 2007, Local 2 Investigates uncovered a secret Houston Police Department test of a different kind of drone, fueling a nationwide debate over civil liberties and privacy.

A constitutional law professor and other civil liberties watchdogs told Local 2 Investigates that questions about police searches without warrants would crop up, as well as police spying into back yards or other private areas.

HPD fueled that 2007 controversy even further by suggesting that drones could be used for writing speeding tickets.
The backlash prompted Mayor Annise Parker to scrap HPD’s plans for using drones when she took office.

Gage said he is aware of those concerns.
No matter what we do in law enforcement, somebody’s going to question it, but we’re going to do the right thing, and I can assure you of that,” he said.

He said two deputies are finishing their training and should be ready to fly police missions within the next month.
Tapped to operate the Montgomery County Sheriff’s helicopter UAV are Sgt. Melvin Franklin, a licensed pilot, and Lt. Damon Hall, who heads the department’s crime lab and crime scene unit. The sheriff said Hall’s SWAT team background will assist the department in using the new tool on hostage standoffs or active shooter events.

The ShadowHawk chopper was displayed on a small conference room table as it was unveiled Friday. It displayed a sheriff’s logo and flashing blue lights on the side. On the front of the chopper, a grapefruit sized back unit houses the camera and Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) sensor that can detect heat from a gun or a suspect’s body.

Deputies said they can quickly switch between day and night vision on the camera, which is zoomed and moved from side to side by a game-like console inside a police command vehicle on the ground.

The display shows up on a small TV-like box, while the actual flight controls are handled from a laptop computer.
Michael Buscher, chief executive officer of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, said this is the first local law enforcement agency to buy one of his units.

He said they are designed to carry weapons for local law enforcement.
“The aircraft has the capability to have a number of different systems on board. Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems,” he said, including Tazers that can send a jolt to a criminal on the ground or a gun that fires bean bags known as a “stun baton.”
You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft. A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect,” he said.
Gage said he has no immediate plans to outfit his drone with weapons, and he also ruled out using the chopper for catching speeders.

“We’re not going to use it for that,” he said.
Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel said, “I’m tickled to death” about using the drone, pointing out that in his years of police work he could imagine countless incidents having ended more quickly and easily.

“It’s so simple in its design and the objectives, you just wonder why anyone would choose not to have it,” said McDaniel.
At the same time Houston police were testing a different drone, the Miami-Dade Metro Police department was also taking test flights of a helicopter UAV, and the Federal Aviation Administration said that department is now using its drone for local police work.

The San Diego Police Department also made local headlines in 2008 for beginning its own flights with a fixed-wing UAV.
But Les Dorr, an FAA spokesman in Washington, said very few local police departments actually have the required certificate of authorization (COA) to fly police missions nationwide.

He said Montgomery County is the first COA by a local police department in all of Texas.

In September 2008, the Government Accountability Office issued a 73-page report that raised issues about police drones endangering airspace for small planes or even commercial airliners.

The report’s author, Gerald Dillingham, told Local 2 Investigates that 65 percent of the crashes of military drones on the battlefield were caused by mechanical failures.
He said a police UAV could lose its link to the ground controllers if wind knocks the aircraft out of range or the radio frequencies are disrupted.

“If you lose that communication link as the result of that turbulence or for any other reason, then you have an aircraft that is not in control and can in fact crash into something on the ground or another aircraft,
” said Dillingham.

Pilots of small planes expressed those concerns in the original 2007 Local 2 Investigates reporting on police drones, and the FAA reported then that police departments across the country were lining up to apply for their own drones.

At Montgomery County, Franklin said an onboard GPS system is designed to keep the UAV on target and connected with the ground controllers. He said coordinates are plotted in advance and a command is given for the UAV to fly directly to that spot, adjusting to turbulence and other factors. He said he and the other controller can alter “waypoints” quickly on the laptop to move the chopper to areas that had not previously been mapped out. He said the aircraft moves at a speed of 30 knots, which he said makes it unsuitable for police pursuits.
Small aircraft pilots have expressed concerns that drones cannot practice the “see and avoid” rule that keeps aircraft from colliding in mid-air. Since the camera may be aimed somewhere else, pilots said police controllers may not be able to see and avoid other aircraft in the area during a sudden police emergency.

Gage said he would take every concern into account as his UAV is deployed.

The only routine law enforcement flights inside the United States over the past four years have been the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their border flights over Texas and Arizona have included one crash, where the drone lost its link to the ground controller.

SOURCE

More Americans Die From Intestinal Illnesses Than From Terrorism

More Americans Die From Intestinal Illnesses Than From Terrorism

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com

Television networks are preparing an onslaught of 9/11 tenth anniversary specials as the establishment desperately tries to reinforce the myth that terrorists pose any more threat to Americans than intestinal illnesses or allergic reactions to peanuts.

Columnist Glen Greenwald has written an excellent piece focusing on the biggest scam of the decade, “Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power,” and how 10 years after 9/11, despite limitless fearmongering, terrorists pose no more threat to Americans than drowning in a bathtub.

It’s a subject that we’ve touched upon several times before, but with major networks set to saturate our television screens over the next ten days with documentary after documentary about how ‘the world changed on 9/11?, it’s important to point out that the only genuine change has been the growth of a gigantic and oppressive Homeland Security surveillance state that feeds on fear and ignorance of the facts.

In his outstanding article, The decade’s biggest scam, Greenwald analyses the amount of money spent on, “Patently absurd domestic “homeland security” projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of “9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret” to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles. All of that — which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all — is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat.”

Greenwald cites Ohio State University professor John Mueller’s study, as well as Harper’s Index and a McClatchy article, to expose the security state boondoggle.

“Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8 — Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29.” That’s the threat in the name of which a vast domestic Security State is constructed, wars and other attacks are and continue to be launched, and trillions of dollars are transferred to the private security and defense contracting industry at exactly the time that Americans — even as they face massive wealth inequality — are told that they must sacrifice basic economic security because of budgetary constraints.

“The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It’s basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year,” Mueller told the L.A. Times, while the McClatchy piece explains how, “undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism.”

Despite Americans being hit with crippling austerity measures, security state insiders are confident that their piece of the pie will not be significantly reduced. Even worse, they all but admit that the entire Homeland Security cash cow is based on little more than hot air and fearmongering.

“Polls still show that there is increasing public concern about another terrorist attack. It is this fear and an unrealistic American perception of risk that will continue to propel some aspects of the market,” a recent edition of industry publication National Defense noted (emphasis mine).

Greenwald also explains how most of this anti-terror behemoth is not aimed at foreign terrorists, but is targeted against American citizens as a tool of homeland oppression, designed to “impose domestic order, preserve prevailing economic prerogatives and stifle dissent and anticipated unrest.”

The fact that intestinal illnesses pose a greater threat to Americans than the target of a multigenerational, multi-trillion dollar global war is a good example to illustrate the absurdity of Homeland Security, but there are several others.

Figures collected by Mueller in the same study cited by Greenwald clearly show that Americans are just as likely or more likely to be killed by accident-causing deer or severe allergic reactions to peanuts than they are in terrorist attacks.

So over the course of the next ten days when you find yourself confronted with an array of self-proclaimed “terror experts” soberly lecturing you about how “the world changed on 9/11,” and how the attacks necessitated a Homeland Security slush fund of epic proportions to “protect America,” just remember that it’s all a giant scam.

The war on terror, and the onslaught of domestic repression that came with it, is based on the completely phony pretext that terrorists pose any more threat to Americans than bowel complications, rare weather events, or wandering animals.

Last word goes to Greenwald;

“Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power has been the biggest scam of the decade; only Wall Street’s ability to make the Government prop it up and profit from the crisis it created at the expense of everyone else can compete for that title. Nothing has altered the mindset of the American citizenry more than a decade’s worth of fear-mongering So compelling is fear-based propaganda, so beholden are our government institutions to these private Security State factions, and so unaccountable is the power bestowed by these programs, that even a full decade after the only Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its growth continues more or less unabated.”

*********************
SOURCE

“Travelling States of Emergency” Unmasked: Did British Colonial Repression Tactics Inspire the American DHS?


Travelling States of Emergency” Unmasked: Did British Colonial Repression Tactics Inspire the American DHS?
Posted: 06/ 6/11 10:56 AM ET

Have two Britishh academics found the key to why Americans keep being bombarded today with a discourse that highlights dramatic “emergency” events — that then leads inevitably to legislation that chips away (or chisels away) at what is left of the Constitution? I believe they have. Dr. Stephen Morton and Dr. Elleke Boehmer, in their very important new book, Terror and the Postcolonial, show how today’s headlines on CNN may have been crafted for use in India in the 1800s — perfected throughout the nineteenth century — and road-tested on unfortunate Irish citizens in the 1910s.

This weekend, in an Oxford lecture titled “Travelling Texts in a Time of Emergency“, Morton demonstrated that the British “practiced” techniques for repressing populations in their colonies. His conclusions are deeply relevant, not just to a British colonial or post-colonial reality but to the American “Homeland.”

He looked at an essay by Walter Benjamin, the “Eighth Thesis on the Philosophy of History.” It is a 1933 essay — very important timing — in which Benjamin, who was watching the consolidation of European fascism, began to say: don’t believe the language about “terror”; don’t be fooled into the propaganda that the need for “a state of emergency” is an aberration, a response to genuine dramatic threats. Don’t be taken in by it. “The tradition of the oppressed teaches that the “state of emergency” is a permanent historical tradition. The “state of emergency” exists permanently as a state of lawlessness — it is not the exception but the rule.” In other words, Benjamin saw clearly in 1933 that the German discourse of “Oh my God, things are really unstable, we need to suspend certain civil liberties for the sake of national security” was a hoax — a historical constant always used by elites and always for the same reasons.

Prof. Morton went on to trace this practice — of manipulating the words “terrorist” and propagandizing a need for states of emergency that lead to preventive detention, torture, suspension of constitutional rights and so on — to many places in the British colonial regime. He noted that “terrorist” was a term the British often applied to local populations that were fighting for — yes — freedom from oppressive British rule. He pointed out that the “Bengal Suppression of Terror Act” of the 1900s, for instance, was aimed at local freedom movements. (The word “Terrorist” was first coined in reference to the French Revolutionary state.)

Legal scholar Albert Venn Dicey pointed out in 1883 that martial law is “anomalous to the law in England” and a sign of a totalitarian state or a terrorist state. In spite of this ideology that Britain is a constitutional democracy, Morton said that British Colonial governments have all used emergency legislation to suppress colonial uprisings. They allowed the Colonial governors to develop torture, preventive detention, the maintenance of “order” by force, the denial of rights to subjects. The “state of emergency” operated “as a traveling concept for global counter-insurgencies, reiterated in different colonial authorities” around the world. Even more disturbingly fascinating, he made the case that British authorities would “practice” certain kinds of repression on Ireland between 1900 and 1922 — and then “export” these practices overseas. So in Ireland at that time, “subversive” material was criminalized in newspapers, and so on. The “state of emergency‘ in that period — for Ireland, not for Britain as a whole — “was the rule, and the application of the Constitution the exception.”

Morton went on to say that the “causative” emergencies for the “state of emergency” were often manufactured, for example in Malaya; that the ostensibly “dramatic character of these emergencies made them appear spontaneous rather than systemic”; and the strategy was the same for the imposition of Martial Law.

I’ve looked, as readers may know, at various fascist and totalitarian regimes, to get a handle of what the US was up to in terms of the erosion of our civil liberties. But I did not look at British colonialism in relation to the systemic development of the deployment of “state of emergency” policies to suspend US Constitutional rights, and I should make that connection now. It seems clear to me from this lecture and from other research that the architects of the suppression of our rights have probably studied British colonial rule as well as other repressive regimes.

Why would this historical source be especially useful for them? Because Britain, like America, as a putative constitutional democracy, can’t just say, “Okay, now we are a police state, and we are suspending the Constitution.” Britain in that period, like the United States today, needed to maintain its own ideology as a “free” nation, an exporter of human rights and democracy, around the world, to all these benighted brown peoples. So Britain needed to develop a discourse of rationale — hence the “state of emergency” discourse and the reliance on whipped-up “dramas” to justify a seeming exception to constitutional democracy that is actually the rule.

I think we should pay close attention to what Walter Benjamin tried to tell readers in 1933 — and really take in what Professors Morton and Boehmer are alerting us to today: “states of emergency” have a long historical record of being manipulated by elites, for repressive purposes that have nothing to do with the always “dramatic” rationales that are used to justify them; and British colonial rule was a laboratory of the very tactics and the same soundbites that we are seeing at home now in the United States. The past is prologue.

SOURCE

It’s hard to stop a “Train”

Feds Ask for Vigilance on Trains based upon information found at Bin Laden Compound

Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Updated 8:00 PM EDT

Feds Issue Train Warning

By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz

An advisory has been sent to law enforcement officials asking them to be vigilant about train security based on information uncovered at Osama bin Laden’s compound after his death, officials said.

Officials stressed the advisory is general in nature and the information apparently uncovered from the bin Laden house in Pakistan dates back more than a year.

According to NBC News, U.S. officials say they have not found reference to specific plots. Instead, they say they’ve found what they call “aspirational” items — events al-Qaida operatives were interested in trying to make happen.

There was nothing specific to New York, according to a law enforcement official.

“We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said in a statement.“We want to stress that this alleged al-Qaida plotting is based on initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change,”

A government advisory sent Thursday says that as far back as February 2010, al-Qaida was contemplating “an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary” of the 9/11 attacks.

One option, the advisory says, was trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or on a bridge. Such an attempt would probably only work once, the material in bin Laden’s house said, because tilting or tampering with the rails would be spotted, the advisory says.

Other material mentions a desire to target major mass-transit hubs, an interest long familiar to law enforcement because of the history of al-Qaida attacks on rail targets in Spain, the U.K. and India.

The FBI and Homeland Security are encouraging local governments to be vigilant. But there are no plans to issue a terror alert, because there’s still no specific or credible intelligence of any actual attack plan in the works.

Rep. Peter King said “there was information found in the last several days — I don’t know where it’s come from — but that al-Qaida was considering having an attack on mass transit or trains before the 10th anniversary of September 11th.”

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Feds-Ask-for-Vigilance-on-Trains-Based-on-Information-from-Bin-Laden-Compound-121350829.html?iigg

Reporting Suspicious Activity? There’s a Homeland Security app for that

Reporting Suspicious Activity? There’s a Homeland Security app for that

By Nicole Martinelli

Concerned citizens in Kentucky can report “suspicious activity” to their state branch of Homeland Security through an iPhone app.

Called Eyes and Ears of Kentucky, the app is offered gratis on iTunes. The handiwork of developers NICUSA, it has been in the store since March 7. So far, it has not received enough reviews to reach an average rating. Through the app, you can report a suspicious incident or activity along with details about the alleged subjects and their vehicles.

Gene Kiser, director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, said the iPhone application is the latest step to protect the state. Kiser told the Associated Press “putting the technology in people’s hands will allow the homeland security office to receive the most current information on threats.”

My first thought: forget about terrorists, this app is perfect for vendettas large and small. Ex-paramours, evil bosses, neighbors you hate, report them anonymously and watch them squirm. What are the consequences for crying wolf, especially if the claim is as vague as “suspicious activity?”

Do you think this app is a good idea or not?

http://www.cultofmac.com/reporting-suspicious-activity-theres-a-homeland-security-app-for-that/88842

Borders? We don’t need NO stinkin’ borders!

Federal Auditor: Border Patrol Can Stop Illegal Entries Along Only 129 Miles of 1,954-Mile Mexican Border
Thursday, March 31, 2011
By Terence P. Jeffrey


(CNSNews.com) – Richard M. Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office (which is responsible for “auditing agency operations to determine whether federal funds are being spent efficiently and effectively”), told the Senate Homeland Security Committee yesterday that the federal government can actually prevent or stop illegal entries into the United States along only 129 miles of the 1,954-mile-long U.S.–Mexico border.

That leaves 1,825 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border where the Border Patrol cannot prevent or stop an illegal entry.

Nonetheless, Stana told the committee, the Border Patrol itself says it has established “an acceptable level of control” along 873 miles of the 1,954-mile-long southwest border. This is because of the way the Border Patrol defines “an acceptable level of control” of the border.

According to Border Patrol,” Stana told the committee, “an acceptable level of border control is established when it has the capability (i.e., resources) to deter or detect and apprehend incursions at the immediate border or after entry.” [Emphasis added.]

In addition to the 129 miles where the Border Patrol says it can actually “deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries” at the border itself, Stana told the committee, there are another 744 miles where the Border Patrol says it has the capability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entrants after they have entered the county and penetrated U.S. territory to “distances of up to 100 miles or more away from the immediate border.”The 3,918-mile-long northern border of the United States is virtually wide open, according to Stana’s testimony. The Border Patrol, Stana said, reports that it has established “an acceptable level of control” along only 69 miles of this border and that of those 69 miles there are only 2 miles where the Border Patrol can actually prevent or stop an illegal entry.

Along the remaining, 3,916 miles of the northern border the Border Patrol does not have the capability to deter or detect and apprehend an intruder.

As we testified in February 2011 about our preliminary observations on this measure, Border Patrol indicated that in fiscal year 2010, 873 of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles and 69 of the nearly 4,000 northern border miles between Washington and Maine were at an acceptable level of control,” Stana told the committee in his written testimony.

Within this border security classification, Border Patrol further distinguished between the ability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border versus after entry—at distances of up to 100 miles or more away from the immediate border—into the United States,” Stana wrote.

“Our preliminary analysis of these Border Patrol data showed that the agency reported a capability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border across 129 of the 873 southwest border miles and 2 of the 69 northern border miles,” Stana testified. “Our preliminary analysis also showed that Border Patrol reported the ability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries after they crossed the border for an additional 744 southwest border miles and 67 northern border miles.”
Stana said that in fiscal 2010 “about $11.9 billion [was] appropriated to secure the entire U.S. border (for personnel, infrastructure, and technology).”
Only about a third of this money was spent to secure the border in the vast territories between the official ports of entry (POE). “CBP reported that $3.6 billion was appropriated in fiscal year 2010 for border security efforts between the POEs,” Stana testified.

Overall, the federal government spent $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. That means the $11.9 billion the government spent on securing the entire U.S. border equaled 0.3 percent of federal spending and the $3.6 billion the federal government spent on securing the border between the ports of entry equaled about 0.1 percent.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/federal-auditor-border-patrol-can-stop-i