Mike Awesome passes away
Written: February 19, 2007
WWE is saddened by news of the passing of Mike Alfonso, better known to wrestling fans as Mike Awesome. He was 42.
Mike Awesome's first major exposure came overseas, where he became one of the Japan's top stars. Awesome would eventually become a star and champion in America while wrestling for Extreme Championship Wrestling. Following his successful run in ECW, Awesome spent time working in WCW and later WWE before retiring to his native Tampa, Fla.
While in ECW, Awesome was a two-time World Champion and Tag Team Champion. His matches with Masato Tanaka, including a show-stealer at One Night Stand in 2005 were among the most memorable in ECW history.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Mike Awesome passes away
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 2/24/2007 05:48:00 PM
Former Rams Lineman Lamar Lundy Dies
By Associated Press
2 hours ago
RICHMOND, Ind. - Lamar Lundy, a member of the Fearsome Foursome defensive line for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s, died Saturday. He was 71. He died after a long illness in his hometown, the Community Family Funeral Home told The Associated Press.
Lundy spent his entire 13-year career with the Rams (1957-69). He teamed with Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones _ both future Pro Football Hall of Famers _ and Roosevelt Grier to form a mighty defensive line. In 1968, the defense featuring the four set an NFL record for the fewest yards allowed during a 14-game season.
"He was a tremendous performer and a better person," Olsen said in Saturday's Palladium-Item newspaper.
Olsen called Lundy, 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, the anchor of the line.
"He really was the stabilizing force, Mr. Consistency," Olsen said. "He was an incredibly important part of that equation."
Lundy became the first black scholarship football player at Purdue, the school said. He led Richmond High School to unbeaten football seasons in 1952 and 1953 and to the state's Final Four in basketball in 1953.
Funeral arrangements were not yet announced.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 2/24/2007 05:38:00 PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Cheney slams Iraq plan advocated by Dems
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent 9 minutes ago
Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday harshly criticized Democrats' attempts to thwart President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq, saying their approach would "validate the al-Qaida strategy." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) fired back that Cheney was questioning critics' patriotism.
"I hope the president will repudiate and distance himself from the vice president's remarks," Pelosi said. She said she tried to complain about Cheney to President Bush but could not reach him.
"You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country," the speaker said.
The quarrel began in Tokyo, where Cheney used an interview to criticize Pelosi and Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., over their plan to place restrictions on Bush's request for an additional $93 billion for the Iraq war to make it difficult or impossible to send 21,500 extra troops to Iraq.
"I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we will do is validate the al-Qaida strategy," the vice president told ABC News. "The al-Qaida strategy is to break the will of the American people ... try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit."
In the interview, Cheney also said Britain's plans to withdraw about 1,600 troops from Iraq — while the United States adds more troops — was a positive step. "I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," the vice president said.
Pelosi, at a news conference in San Francisco, said Cheney's criticism of Democrats was "beneath the dignity of the debate we're engaged in and a disservice to our men and women in uniform, whom we all support."
"And you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to call the president and tell him I disapprove of what the vice president said," Pelosi said. "It has no place in our debate." Bush had previously urged her to call him when a member of his administration stepped over the line by questioning Democrats' patriotism, she said.
Later, Pelosi said she had tried to reach the president but was only able to get through to White House chief of staff Josh Bolten.
Bolten said he was certain no one was questioning her patriotism or commitment to national security, she told reporters.
"I said to him perhaps when he saw what the vice president said he might have another comment," Pelosi said. White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said Cheney "was not questioning anyone's patriotism." But she said Bush and Cheney believe that Pelosi and Murtha's "position to immediately pull out our troops would be harmful to our national security and that it is the wrong strategy to pursue."
As for Cheney's assertion that the partial British pullout is a sign that things are going well in Iraq, Pelosi said: "If it's going so well, we'd like to withdraw our troops as well."
Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, said Britain's withdrawal, coupled with a Denmark's announcement to pull out its 460 troops by August, "accelerates the breakup of the coalition in Iraq."
He said the United States should reduce its forces "as a way of pressuring the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future and to reach the political settlements that are essential to end the sectarian violence and defeat the insurgency."
Administration leaders, however, said Britain's decision was good news.
"The British have done what is really the plan for the country as a whole, which is to transfer security responsibility to the Iraqis as the situation permits," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at a news conference in Berlin, where she was in meetings on the Mideast peace process.
National security adviser Stephen Hadley, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, said the decision "reflects the progress that has been made on the ground in Basra and in the south," where British troops were stationed.
"So this is basically a good news story, an indication that progress is being made, and that events on the ground permit this kind of adjustment in forces," Hadley said. Still, he acknowledged the violence in Baghdad and said, "I'm not saying this is an unalloyed picture of progress."
Associated Press writer Scott Lindlaw contributed to this report from San Francisco.
Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Bill's Comment: Another SLAM DUNK for Vice President Cheney. Pelosi and the Democrats simply just don't get it.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 2/21/2007 11:47:00 PM
December 1, 2003
The Department of Homeland Security has decided to suspend the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS) re-registration requirement that mandated aliens to re-register after 30-days and one year of continuous presence in the United States. The new process is outlined in the interim rule published in the Federal Register.
NSEERS established a national registry for temporary foreign visitors (non-immigrant aliens) arriving from certain countries, or who meet a combination of intelligence-based criteria, and are identified as presenting an elevated national security concern. The program has collected detailed information about the background and purpose of an individual’s visit to the United States, the periodic verification of their location and activities, and departure confirmation. NSEERS was the first step taken by the Department of Justice and then DHS in order to comply with the development of the Congressionally- mandated requirement for a comprehensive entry-exit program by 2005.
The domestic registration program included citizens or nationals from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. However, to date, individuals from more than 150 countries have been registered in the NSEERS program.
Most of the foreign visitors registered are students, individuals in the U.S. on extended business travel, or individuals visiting family members for lengthy periods. The requirement to register does not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, asylum applicants, asylum grantees, and diplomats or others admitted under "A" or "G" visas.
At the time of initial registration, all individuals were given instructions that they had to re-register in one year, or after thirty days if initially registered at a port-of-entry. The numbers who were to re-register were expected to vary from last year because some individuals may have left the country; traveled outside and back into the country (changing their one-year anniversary date to the most recent entry registration date); or adjusted their status, eliminating the need for re-registration.
Previous Re-Registration Requirements:
*All individuals registered under NSEERS were required to re-register after thirty days if initially registered at a port-of-entry, and annually if they are remaining in the United States past one year. This notice was given to individuals at the time of registration, either at a designated port of entry or a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services office.
*The annual anniversary date for re-registration is based on the last time that an individual registered.
**The annual interview requirements of those individuals subject to the first call-in registration, which began on November 15, 2002, began November 5, 2003.
**The annual interviews of those individuals who registered at a port of entry, beginning September 11, 2002, began on the one-year anniversary of their date of registration.
*Individuals have a ten-day window in which to show up for their annual interview. In other words, they can report for their interview within ten days after their anniversary date.
*Those individuals required to report for their yearly interview were expected to return to the same office at which they registered last year. If they had moved, they would go to the nearest ICE or CIS office or sub-office. The willful failure to do so is a criminal violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the willful failure to register also would render an alien deportable.
*The NSEERS program is a valuable first step towards a more comprehensive entry-exit system – US-VISIT. Congress mandated that a comprehensive entry-exit program be developed by 2005.
Changes Made By the New Rule:
*There will no longer be a 30-day or one-year re-registration requirement, effective with the publishing of the new rule in the Federal Register.
*In place of the previous requirement, the new rule will allow DHS, as a matter of discretion, to notify individual nonimmigrant aliens subject to NSEERS registration to appear for one or more additional continuing registration interviews in those particular cases where it may be necessary to determine whether the alien is complying with the conditions of his or her nonimmigrant visa status and admission.
*The rule also provides that when an alien who is monitored under Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) notifies DHS of a change of address or change of educational institution through SEVIS, it also constitutes a notification for the purposes of NSEERS registration.
*On September 11, 2002, the U.S. began implementation of NSEERS at U.S. ports of entry. On November 5, 2002, the domestic call-in registration began. Congress required the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to implement a comprehensive entry-exit program in 1996. That system must be in place by 2005. NSEERS is the first step in fulfilling that Congressional mandate.
*NSEERS promotes several important national security objectives: (1) NSEERS allows the United States to run the fingerprints of aliens who may present elevated national security concerns against a database of wanted criminals and known terrorists;
(2) NSEERS enables DHS to determine instantly when such an alien has overstayed his visa, which was the case with three of the 9/11 hijackers);
(3) NSEERS enables DHS to verify that an alien in the United States on a temporary visa is doing what he said he would be doing, and living where he said he would live.
*The countries prioritized for special registration were selected because: (1) All of these countries are places where Al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations have been active, or where the United States has other national security concerns; (2) This was not an exclusive list—all non-immigrant visitors from other countries eventually will be included as the US-VISIT program is implemented.
NSEERS General Information:
*The majority of those required to register under NSEERS complied and fulfilled this requirement successfully. It is the individual’s responsibility to comply with US immigration law and maintain legal status while in the United States.
*There were a small number of individuals who temporarily were kept in detention while they were processed for immigration violations during the domestic enrollment portion of the program.
*As of September 30, 2003, individuals from 150 countries have complied with the NSEERS registration requirements for a total of 290,526 registrations, which includes those registering both at Ports-of-Entry (POEs) and the former INS district offices nationwide. The registrations performed are broken down in the following way: 207,007 registrations (93,741 individuals) at the POEs, and 83,519 individuals at the former INS offices.
*NSEERS requirements applied only to certain non-immigrant aliens. These requirements do NOT include U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, asylum applicants (who filed before November 22, 2002), asylum grantees, and diplomats or others admitted under A or G visas.
*European countries have had similar registration systems in place for decades.
NSEERS Statistics Through September 30, 2003:
Total Number of Registrations: 290,526
Total Number of Individuals Registered: 177,260
Total Port of Entry Registration: 207,007
Number of Individuals: 93,741
Total Domestic Registrations: 83,519
Referred to Investigation
Notices to Appear Issued: 13,799
Total Number Detained: 2,870
Total Number In Custody: 23
Total Number of Criminals: 143
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of four integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.
System designed to protect U.S. citizens from terrorism
05 June 2002
The U.S. Justice Department has announced a national security entry-exit registration system, designed to improve protection for U.S. citizens from possible terrorist threats.
In a fact sheet released June 5, the Justice Department said current U.S. regulations do not adequately track foreign visitors in this country, particularly those who pose national security risks.
Under the entry-exit registration system, all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria, as well as "certain nationals of other countries whom the State Department and the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Services] determine to be an elevated national security risk" will be required to undergo fingerprinting, photographing and registration. In addition, the system will include exit controls that will enable law enforcement officers to remove foreign visitors who overstay their visas.
This new initiative, the department said, eventually will enable the U.S. government to track all of the 35 million foreign visitors who come to the United States annually. In the first year, it will track 100,000 visitors.
The following is the text of the fact sheet:
National Security Entry-Exit Registration System
Strengthening Our Entry-Exit Registration System To Protect Americans From Possible Terrorist Threats
Understanding the Problem:
Congress Has Mandated an Entry-Exit Registration System, Yet Current Regulations and Enforcement Do Not Adequately Track Entry and Exit, Particularly of Individuals Who Pose Potential National Security Risks
Deficiencies in the Immigration System Do Not Allow the Government to Ensure Those Holding Non-Immigrant Visas Are Acting in Accordance with Stated Plans.
The events of September 11 highlighted weaknesses in the current immigration system, which does not provide for the collection of information on the activities and whereabouts of aliens holding non-immigrant visas. We do not know whether such aliens follow their stated plans while in the United States, where to find them or when they have overstayed their visas. We collect no fingerprint or other biometric data from the vast majority of aliens.
An Entry-Exit Registration System Already Exists Under Current Law:
*Under Current Law It Is the Duty of All Aliens to Register and Be Fingerprinted B However, Regulations Have Often Waived This Legal Duty.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, it is the duty of any alien over 14 years old, who remains in the United States more than 30 days to be registered and fingerprinted (INA section 262). Under current law (INA section 263), the Attorney General can require the registration and fingerprinting of any class of aliens, other than those admitted for permanent residence. In most cases, the regulations have waived the fingerprinting requirements.
*Current Regulations Have Limited Registration to Aliens from Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Libya.
Because of regulatory exemptions, rigorous registration and fingerprinting is currently required only for nationals of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Libya who are required to be fingerprinted and photographed at the port of entry, under 8 C.F.R. ' 264.1(f). The Attorney General has the authority to expand this list of countries through the publication of a Federal Register notice.
Taking Steps to Further Protect America:
Proposed Registration Under New System
The New System Will Better Track Aliens Who Might Present the Highest Threat - the Initiative Will:
*Deploy a pilot entry-exit program as quickly as possible, focusing on aliens who present the highest risk of involvement in terrorist organizations.
*Disrupt the activities of terrorists residing in the United States under false pretenses.
*Notify the FBI and other law enforcement agencies when aliens purporting to visit the United States for legitimate reasons deviate from their stated plans.
*Notify the FBI and other law enforcement agencies when aliens overstay the terms of their non-immigrant visas.
*Match the fingerprints of high-risk aliens entering against the fingerprints of known or suspected terrorists at the port of entry.
*Obtain fingerprint and photograph data on aliens from high-risk countries for law enforcement use.
*Obtain current address, telephone, and email information on aliens from high-risk countries.
*Enforce the law requiring aliens to notify the Attorney General when they change address.
The New System Will Require Additional Registration for Individuals Who Potentially Pose National Security Risks.
Individual visitors will be evaluated as to risk of involvement with terrorist activities, and visitors who fall into elevated categories of national security concern will be subject to additional registration requirements. The INS and the State Department will work together to identify these individuals at or prior to entry. The criteria that are used to identify such visitors will be continually updated to reflect our evolving intelligence on terrorist threats. This initiative will require fingerprinting, photographing, and registration requirements on the following:
*All nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria
*Certain nationals of other countries whom the State Department and the INS determine to be an elevated national security risk
*Aliens identified by INS inspectors at point of entry upon specific criteria to be established by the Department of Justice.
Fingerprint Data to Identify Criminals, Wanted Aliens, or Terrorists Will Be Used at Port of Entry.
Two-fingerprint scanning capabilities already exist at all ports of entry. Recently, the Department of Justice has developed an integrated database using two-fingerprint sets derived from approximately 100,000 aliens. The fingerprints of aliens in secondary inspection are currently being matched against the entire database to identify wanted felons in less than two minutes. The early results of this program are extremely promising: the INS is receiving an average of 67 hits per week, and over 1,400 individuals have been apprehended from January through May, 2002.
Requiring of 30-day and Annual Registration with Local INS Offices.
The INS will enforce the law that requires aliens who potentially pose national security risks, who remain in the United States for 30 days or more, to appear in person at an INS field office and register. Aliens will be required to provide:
*Proof of tenancy at stated U.S. address (e.g., rental contract, mortgage)
*Proof of enrollment at educational institution (for student-visa holders)
*Proof of employment (for work-visa holders)
These aliens must visit INS offices at the 30-day point and then every 12 months thereafter until the alien departs from the United States. The 12-month interval between each registration follows the model used in most European countries. Failure to register would result in the alien's name being turned over to law enforcement, and the alien would be subject to a $1,000 fine, incarceration and possible removal from the country.
Requiring Registration of Foreign Visitors Who May Pose a National Security Concern to Provide Any Change in Address Within Ten Days.
Aliens who are subject to this special registration will be told at the point of entry that they are required to provide any change of address within ten days. Up until now, this law has rarely been enforced. Aliens will be able to meet this requirement by mailing the required information to the INS.
Collection of Information from a Targeted Category of Aliens from Designated Countries Who Are Already in the U.S.
The law requires aliens from designated countries to provide a current address to the INS and to furnish such additional information as the Attorney General may require. Exercising this provision on a one-time basis, the same information required of incoming aliens at the 30-day registration point may be required of certain aliens from designated countries who are already residing in the United States.
Exit Reporting. The aliens subject to this special registration will also be required to notify an INS agent of their departure from the United States at the exit port. Such exit records are necessary to help identify and apprehend those aliens who overstay their visas. An alien's failure to report his exit would render him ineligible to return the United States.
Putting Our Registration System in International Context:
Europeans Already Have Registration Systems
European Countries Already Have Systems to Register Aliens.
Our registration system will be similar to those systems already in place in most European countries. Some European countries maintain systems that require even closer tracking:
*Aliens in France Must Register Within 7 Days. An alien who stays for an extended period of time in France, for example, must register with the local prefecture of the national police within one week of arriving in the country, every 12 months, and whenever he changes address. Our proposed initiative combines the European registration model with an entry-exit monitoring system.
*Aliens in Great Britain Are Required to Register Within 7 Days. Registration is required within 7 days and whenever an alien changes address, university or job, he must notify the local police station and provide passport, visa, proof of financial means, proof of enrollment in school or employment, and proof of a place to live.
*Aliens in Germany Must Register and Carry Registration Papers on Their Person at All Times. In Germany, an alien must register when he establishes residence and whenever he changes address. He must provide his passport and documentation of intended activities while in the country and carry registration papers on his person at all times.
Understanding the Logistics:
How the New System Will Work
If an Alien Arrives Who Potentially Could Pose a National Security Risk, He Is Immediately Fingerprinted and Photographed. An alien subject to special registration with a two-year work visa, for example, would be required to do the following: upon arrival at the INS port of entry in the United States, he would be directed to a secondary inspection station. There, he would immediately be fingerprinted (two-fingers only) and photographed.
Alien's Fingerprints Will Be Run Against the IAFIS Database of Known Criminals and a Database of Known Terrorists. His fingerprints would be run against the IAFIS database of known criminals and known terrorists, a database of known terrorists, and the INS IDENT database to determine if he had previously entered the country under a different name.
Alien Would Be Asked to Provide Information About His Plans in the U.S. While the computer check was taking place, he would be asked to provide detailed information about his plans in the United States and about his past history in his home country, as well as contact information.
The Process Would Be Quick and Require Follow-Up. The entire process would take 5-10 minutes. Within 30 days, he would have to report to an INS office and provide more detailed information consistent with his visa, including proof of residence (e.g., a rental contract) and proof of employment (e.g., a pay statement from his employer). Twelve months thereafter he would have to return to confirm the information.
An Alien Must Notify The INS:
*If he changed his address, he would be required to notify the INS by mail.
*If he left the country, he would have to report briefly to an INS station at the port of departure.
If An Alien Failed To Comply, His Name Would Be Added To A Wants And Warrants List. If an alien failed to register or overstayed his visa, the INS computer system would immediately alert the INS to the fact. His name and information would then be added to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) A wants and warrants list. If local police happened to stop him because of a traffic violation, when they checked the NCIC list they would discover that he was wanted. The police would then be able to detain him, call an INS Quick Response Team, and transfer him to the custody of the INS. Depending upon the nature of his violation, he would at a minimum be removable, and possibly be subject to criminal prosecution.
Mills, Laila Ali to test dancing skills
By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer 1 hour, 35 minutes ago
Here's a bet there won't be any Beatles songs on the next "Dancing With the Stars." ABC announced Wednesday that Paul McCartney's estranged wife, Heather Mills, will be among the competitors.
Mills will be the first contestant with an artificial limb to compete on the series, which returns for its fourth season March 19. She lost the leg in a motorcycle accident in 1993.
Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno, boxer Laila Ali, former basketball star Clyde Drexler and actor Vincent Pastore, who played gangster Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero on "The Sopranos," are also in the cast.
Jerry Springer, one of last season's competitors, teased ABC's "Good Morning America" audience before tossing out Mills' name.
"She may be a sentimental favorite," said Springer, even though Mills has Yoko Ono-like favorability ratings among many Beatles fans. Her selection delivers a message that whatever challenges people face in life, they can dance, he said.
Mills is an activist for animal rights and elimination of the use of land mines.
"Dancing With the Stars" has proved to be a substantial hit for ABC, although this is the first time it will air when a season of Fox's "American Idol" is under way. ABC will air its dancing competition on Monday and Tuesday nights to avoid going head-to-head with "American Idol."
Actor and former country star Billy Ray Cyrus, former 'N Sync member Joey Fatone, Miss USA 2004 Shandi Finnessey, former "Entertainment Tonight" host Leeza Gibbons, model Paulina Porizkova and former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star Ian Ziering round out the cast.
On the Net:
Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 2/21/2007 11:52:00 AM
Monday, February 19, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the text of John Ashcroft's opening statement to the 9/11 Commission, delivered on April 13, 2004, as released by the Department of Justice.
It is with great sorrow that I join this Commission today in reflection on September 11, 2001. Even today, 31 months after the attacks, I struggle to learn the lessons of that day without being overwhelmed by the losses of that day. I feel sorrow for the loss of life, sorrow for the loss of promise, sorrow for the lost innocence of a nation forever scarred.
My sorrow for the victims of September 11 is equaled only by my rage at their killer. Usama Bin Laden is to blame for my anger. I blame his hatred for our values, his perversion of a faith, his idolatry of death. It was his hand that took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocents on September 11. It is his face that is the face of evil.
September 11 revealed not just our enemy's capacity for murder but our fellow Americans' thirst for justice. The men and women of the Department of Justice have embraced the cause of our time: the protection of the lives and liberties of Americans. Working within the Constitution, we fight any battle and shoulder any burden — no matter personal or political cost - to prevent additional terrorist attacks. And for the time being, al Qaeda's slaughter has ceased on American soil.
We have been aggressive. We have been tough. And we have suffered no small amount of criticism for our tough tactics. We accept this criticism for what it is: the price we are privileged to pay for our liberty.
Had I known a terrorist attack on the United States was imminent in 2001, I would have unloaded our full arsenal of weaponry against it — despite the inevitable criticism. The Justice Department's warriors, our agents, and our prosecutors would have been unleashed. Every tough tactic we have deployed since the attacks would have been deployed before the attacks.
But the simple fact of September 11 is this: we did not know an attack was coming because for nearly a decade our government had blinded itself to its enemies. Our agents were isolated by government-imposed walls, handcuffed by government-imposed restrictions, and starved for basic information technology. The old national intelligence system in place on September 11 was destined to fail.
This Commission can serve a noble purpose. Your responsibility is to examine the root causes of September 11 and to help the United States prevent another terrorist attack. Your duty is solemn and sobering. But I, too, have a duty today. I have sworn to tell the whole truth, and I intend to fulfill this obligation.
Today I will testify to four central issues which have not been developed fully in the Commission's work and deserve your attention.
First, this Commission has debated the nature of the covert action authorities directed at Usama Bin Laden prior to 2001. In February 2001, shortly after becoming Attorney General, I reviewed these authorities.
Let me be clear: My thorough review revealed no covert action program to kill Bin Laden. There was a covert-action program to capture Bin Laden for criminal prosecution. But even this program was crippled by a snarled web of requirements, restrictions and regulations that prevented decisive action by our men and women in the field.
When they most needed clear, understandable guidance, our agents and operatives were given the language of lawyers. Even if they could have penetrated Bin Laden's training camps, they would have needed a battery of attorneys to approve the capture. With unclear guidance, our covert action team's risk of injury may have exceeded the risk to Usama Bin Laden.
On March 7, 2001, I met with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. I recommended that the covert-action authorities be clarified and be expanded to allow for decisive, lethal action; we should end the failed "capture" policy. We should find and kill Bin Laden. I recall that Dr. Rice agreed and gave Director Tenet responsibility for drafting, clarifying, and expanding the new authorities.
My second point today goes to the heart of this Commission's duty to uncover the fact: The single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents. Government erected this wall. Government buttressed this wall. And before September 11, government was blinded by this wall.
In 1995, the Justice Department embraced flawed legal reasoning, imposing a series of restrictions on the FBI that went beyond what the law required. The 1995 Guidelines and the procedures developed around them imposed draconian barriers to communications between the law enforcement and intelligence communities. The wall "effectively excluded" prosecutors from intelligence investigations. The wall left intelligence agents afraid to talk with criminal prosecutors or agents. In 1995, the Justice Department designed a system destined to fail.
In the days before September 11, the wall specifically impeded the investigation into Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. After the FBI arrested Moussaoui, agents became suspicious of his interest in commercial aircraft and sought approval for a criminal warrant to search his computer. The warrant was rejected because FBI officials feared breaching the wall.
When the CIA finally told the FBI that al-Midhar and al-Hazmi were in the country in late August, agents in New York searched for the suspects. But because of the wall, FBI Headquarters refused to allow criminal investigators who knew the most about the most recent al Qaeda attack to join the hunt for the suspected terrorists.
At that time, a frustrated FBI investigator wrote Headquarters, quote, "Whatever has happened to this — someday someone will die — and wall or not — the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems'. Let's hope the National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decision then, especially since the biggest threat to us, UBL, is getting the most protection."
FBI Headquarters responded, quote: "We are all frustrated with this issue ... These are the rules. NSLU does not make them up."
But somebody did make these rules. Someone built this wall.
The basic architecture for the wall in the 1995 Guidelines was contained in a classified memorandum entitled "Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations." The memorandum ordered FBI Director Louis Freeh and others, quote: "We believe that it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will more clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations. These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation."
This memorandum established a wall separating the criminal and intelligence investigations following the 1993 World Trade Center attack, the largest international terrorism attack on American soil prior to September 11. Although you understand the debilitating impact of the wall, I cannot imagine that the Commission knew about this memorandum, so I have declassified it for you and the public to review. Full disclosure compels me to inform you that its author is a member of this Commission.
By 2000, the Justice Department was so addicted to the wall, it actually opposed legislation to lower the wall. Finally, the USA PATRIOT ACT tore down this wall between our intelligence and law enforcement personnel in 2001. And when the PATRIOT ACT was challenged, the FISA Court of Review upheld the law, ruling that the 1995 guidelines were required by neither the Constitution nor the law.
The third issue I would like to raise with the Commission this afternoon is another limitation government placed on our ability to "connect the dots" of the terrorist threat prior to September 11: the lack of support for information technology at the FBI.
After I became Attorney General in February 2001, it soon became clear that the FBI's computer technology and information management was in terrible shape. The Bureau essentially had 42 separate information systems, none of which were connected. Agents lacked even the most basic Internet technology.
These problems did not just hamper interagency communication; they hindered information sharing with the Justice Department, the intelligence community, and state and local law enforcement. It is no wonder, given the state of its technology, that the Phoenix memo warning that terrorists may be training in commercial aviation was lost in the antique computers at Washington headquarters.
Yet for year after year, the FBI was denied the funds requested for its information technology. Over eight years, the Bureau was denied nearly $800 million of its information technology funding requests. To put this $800 million shortfall in perspective, the Trilogy program, which is now revolutionizing computer, data and information sharing at the Bureau, has cost $580 million.
On September 11, 2001, the FBI's annual technology budget under the prior Administration was actually $36.1 million less than the last Bush budget eight years before. The FBI's information infrastructure had been starved and by September 11 it collapsed from budgetary neglect.
When the Hannsen and McVeigh failures fully exposed that this neglect cost national security, I ordered four independent external reviews of the FBI's information infrastructure under coordination from the Deputy Attorney General. And my first two budgets, both proposed before 9/11, requested a 50 percent increase for FBI information technology.
Finally, the Commission should study carefully the National Security Council plan to disrupt the al Qaeda network in the U.S. that our government failed to implement fully seventeen months before September 11.
The NSC's Millennium After Action Review declares that the United States barely missed major terrorist attacks in 1999 — with luck playing a major role. Among the many vulnerabilities in homeland defenses identified, the Justice Department's surveillance and FISA operations were specifically criticized for their glaring weaknesses. It is clear from the review that actions taken in the Millennium Period should not be the operating model for the U.S. government.
In March 2000, the review warns the prior Administration of a substantial al Qaeda network and affiliated foreign terrorist presence within the U.S., capable of supporting additional terrorist attacks here.
Furthermore, fully seventeen months before the September 11 attacks, the review recommends disrupting the al Qaeda network and terrorist presence here using immigration violations, minor criminal infractions, and tougher visa and border controls.
These are the same aggressive, often criticized law enforcement tactics we have unleashed for 31 months to stop another al Qaeda attack. These are the same tough tactics we deployed to catch Ali al- Marri, who was sent here by al Qaeda on September 10, 2001, to facilitate a second wave of terrorist attacks on Americans.
Despite the warnings and the clear vulnerabilities identified by the NSC in 2000, no new disruption strategy to attack the al Qaeda network within the United States was deployed. It was ignored in the Department's five-year counterterrorism strategy.
I did not see the highly-classified review before September 11. It was not among the 30 items upon which my predecessor briefed me during the transition. It was not advocated as a disruption strategy to me during the summer threat period by the NSC staff which wrote the review more than a year earlier.
I certainly cannot say why the blueprint for security was not followed in 2000. I do know from my personal experience that those who take the kind of tough measures called for in the plan will feel the heat. I've been there; I've done that. So the sense of urgency simply may not have overcome concern about the outcry and criticism which follows such tough tactics.
I am aware that the issues I have raised this afternoon involve at times painful introspection for this Commission and for the nation. I have spoken out today not to add to the nation's considerable stock of pain, but to heal our wounds. This Commission's heavy burden — to probe the causes of September 11 — demands that the record be complete. Our nation's heavy burden — to learn from the mistakes of our past — demands that this Commission seeks the whole truth.
May this Commission be successful in its mission. And may we learn well the lessons of history.
I thank members of the Commission for their service and for the opportunity to testify today.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/19/2007 08:53:00 AM
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Posted Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2003, at 4:01 PM ET
Earlier this month, as fears of new al-Qaida attacks mounted, the Justice Department announced new FBI guidelines that would allow intelligence and law enforcement agents to work together on terrorism investigations. An ACLU spokesman was quick to condemn the guidelines as creating the possibility of "an end run around Fourth Amendment requirements." I used to worry about that possibility myself. Not any more. Because the alternative is to maintain a wall of separation between law enforcement and intelligence. That's what we used to do. And on Sept. 11, 2001, that wall probably cost us 3,000 American lives.
There's a quiet scandal at the heart of Sept. 11; one that for different reasons neither the government nor the privacy lobby really wants to talk about. It's this: For two and a half weeks before the attacks, the U.S. government knew the names of two hijackers. It knew they were al-Qaida killers and that they were already in the United States. In fact, the two were living openly under their own names, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. They used those names for financial transactions, flight school, to earn frequent flier miles, and to procure a California identity card.
Despite this paper trail, and despite having two and a half weeks to follow the scent, the FBI couldn't locate either man—at least not until Sept. 11, when they flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. If we had found them, there is a real possibility that most or all of the hijackings would have been prevented. The two shared addresses with Mohamed Atta, who flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and Marwan Al-Shehhi, who flew into the South Tower. They were linked to most of the other hijackers as well. So August 2001 offered our last chance to foil the attacks. And if we want to stop the next attack, we need to know what went wrong in August 2001. Despite all the resources of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, we did not find two known terrorists living openly. How could we have failed so badly in such a simple, desperate task?
We couldn't find al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi in August 2001 because we had imposed too many rules designed to protect against privacy abuses that were mainly theoretical. We missed our best chance to save the lives of 3,000 Americans because we spent more effort and imagination guarding against these theoretical privacy abuses than against terrorism.
I feel some responsibility for sending the government down that road.
In August 2001, the New York FBI intelligence agent looking for al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi didn't have the computer access needed to do the job alone. He requested help from the bureau's criminal investigators and was turned down. Acting on legal advice, FBI headquarters had refused to involve its criminal agents. In an e-mail to the New York agent, headquarters staff said: "If al-Midhar is located, the interview must be conducted by an intel[ligence] agent. A criminal agent CAN NOT be present at the interview. This case, in its entirety, is based on intel[ligence]. If at such time as information is developed indicating the existence of a substantial federal crime, that information will be passed over the wall according to the proper procedures and turned over for follow-up criminal investigation."
In a reply message, the New York agent protested the ban on using law enforcement resources for intelligence investigations in eerily prescient terms: "[S]ome day someone will die—and wall or not—the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems.' Let's hope the [lawyers who gave the advice] will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [Usama Bin Laden], is getting the most 'protection.' "
It breaks my heart to read this exchange. That "wall"—between intelligence and law enforcement—was put in place to protect against a hypothetical risk to civil liberties that might arise if domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence missions were allowed to mix. It was a post-Watergate fix meant to protect Americans, not kill them. In fact, in 1994, after I left my job as general counsel to the National Security Agency, I argued that the wall should be left in place because I accepted the broad assumption that foreign intelligence-gathering tolerates a degree of intrusiveness, harshness, and deceit that Americans do not want applied against themselves. I recognized at the time that these privacy risks were just abstract worries, but I accepted the conventional wisdom: "However theoretical the risks to civil liberties may be, they cannot be ignored." I foresaw many practical problems as well if the wall came down, and I argued for an approach that "preserves, perhaps even raises, the wall between the two communities."
I was wrong, but not alone, in assigning a high importance to theoretical privacy risks. In hindsight, that choice seems little short of feckless, for it made the failures of August and September 2001 nearly inevitable. In 2000 and 2001, the FBI office that handled al-Qaida wiretaps in the United States was thrown into turmoil because of the heights to which the wall had been raised. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, the body that oversees national security wiretaps, had ordered strict procedures to ensure that such wiretaps were not contaminated by law enforcement purposes. And when those procedures were not followed strictly, the court barred an FBI agent from the court because his affidavits did not fully list all contacts with law enforcement. This mushroomed into a privacy scandal that set the stage for 9/11.
In the spring and summer of 2001, with al-Qaida's preparations growing even more intense, the turmoil grew so bad that national security wiretaps were allowed to lapse—something that had never happened before. It isn't clear what intelligence we missed, but the loss of those wiretaps was treated as less troubling than the privacy scandal that now hung over the antiterrorism effort. The lesson was not lost on the rest of the bureau. According to a declassified Joint Intelligence Committee report on Sept. 11, "FBI personnel involved in FISA matters feared the fate of the agent who had been barred and began to avoid even the most pedestrian contact with personnel in criminal components of the Bureau or DOJ because it could result in intensive scrutiny by the Justice Department office that reviewed national security wiretaps and the FISA Court."
Against this background, it's easy to understand why FBI headquarters and its lawyers refused to use law enforcement resources in the effort to find al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi. To do so would be to risk a further privacy scandal and put their careers in jeopardy. Viewed in this light, the New York agent's fight to get law enforcement involved in his search for the terrorists looks like an act of courage that borders on foolishness. We can all be thankful for his zeal. But in the end, one agent's zeal was not enough to overcome the complex web of privacy rules and the machinery of scandal that we built to enforce those rules.
What lessons can we learn from this tragic unfolding?
First, that the source of this tragedy was not wicked or uncaring officials. The wall was built by professionals who thought they were acting in the country's and their agency's best interest. They were focused on the hypothetical risk to privacy if foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement were allowed to mix, and they worried that courts and Congress would punish them for putting aside these theoretical concerns to combat a threat that was both foreign and domestic. They feared that years of successful collaboration would end in disaster if the results of a single collaboration could be painted as a privacy scandal, so they created an ever-higher wall to govern operations at the border between domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence. As drafted, the rules technically allowed antiterrorism investigators to do their jobs—if the investigators were sufficiently determined and creative. For a while they were, but the FISA court scandal sapped their determination and finally choked off any practical hope of getting the job done.
The second lesson is that we cannot write rules that will both protect us from every theoretical risk to privacy and still allow the government to protect us from terrorists. We cannot fine-tune the system to perfection, because systems that ought to work can fail. That is why I am profoundly skeptical of efforts to write new privacy rules and why I would rely instead on auditing for actual abuses. We should not again put American lives at risk for the sake of some speculative risk to our civil liberties.
And the final lesson? Perhaps it isn't fair to blame all the people who helped to create the wall for the failures that occurred in August of 2001. No one knew then what the cost of building such a separation would be. But we should know now. We should know that we can't prevent every imaginable privacy abuse without hampering the fight against terror; that an appetite for privacy scandals hampers the fight against terror; and that the consequence of these actions will be more attacks and more dead, perhaps in numbers we can hardly fathom.
The country and its leaders have had more than two years to consider the failures of August 2001 and what should be done. In that time, libertarian Republicans have joined with civil- liberties Democrats to teach the law enforcement and intelligence communities the lesson that FBI headquarters taught its hamstrung New York agent: You won't lose your job for failing to protect Americans, but you will if you run afoul of the privacy lobby. So the effort to build information technology tools to find terrorists has stalled. Worse, the wall is back; doubts about legal authority are denying CIA analysts access to law enforcement information in our new Terrorist Threat Integration Center. Bit by bit we are recreating the political and legal climate of August 2001.
And sooner or later, I fear, that August will lead to another September.
Stewart Baker heads the technology law practice at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C. From 1992 to 1994, he was general counsel of the National Security Agency.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 2/18/2007 06:13:00 PM