EXCLUSIVE: Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne report: An intelligence community review has re-affirmed that two classified emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Hillary Clinton’s unsecured personal server despite a challenge to that designation by the State Department, according to two sources familiar with the review.
“The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level.”
The sources described the dispute over whether the two emails were classified at the highest level as a “settled matter.”
“The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information.”
The agencies that owned and originated that intelligence – the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA – reviewed the emails to determine how they should be properly stored, as the State Department took issue with their highly classified nature. The subject matter of the messages is widely reported to be the movement of North Korean missiles and a drone strike. A top secret designation requires the highest level of security, and can include the use of an approved safe.
The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level. The second email is still considered classified but at the lower “secret” level because more information is publicly available about the event.
The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information. Read the rest of this entry »
Long-withheld document provides insight into secretive system in which people can be placed on terrorism databases with astounding ease, and without any way to get off.
Spencer Ackerman reports: Placement on a terrorism watchlist is a life-changing event. Your travel is monitored and in many cases restricted. If overseas, you could be stranded, costing your employment or reunion with your family. You could be detained and, certain lawsuits allege, tortured by foreign governments.
Yet the ease with which someone can be placed on US watchlists and terrorism databases contrasts markedly with the impact placement has. A long-withheld document published on Wednesday by the Intercept detailing the guidelines for placement shows that the standards for inclusion are far lower than probable cause, and the ability for someone caught in the datasets to challenge their placement do not exist. In 2013, the government made 468,749 nominations for inclusion to the Terrorist Screening Database, up from 227,932 nominations in 2009; few are rejected.
The rise – and the low standards the Intercept documented – is partially explained by the near-miss airliner bombing in Christmas 2009, by a man connected to a Yemeni branch of al-Qaida. Partially it is explained by the overwhelming secrecy surrounding the process: attorney general Eric Holder has called it a state secret (although the guidance document itself is unclassified), preventing meaningful outside challenges that would recalibrate a balance between reasonable expectations of security and liberty.
That secrecy, as the Intercept’s publication indicates, is starting to erode – slowly. Recent court cases have given the beginnings of insight into how the US government’s apparatus of terrorism databases and watchlists works in practice. Here is a guide.
They’re reading your tweets
The watchlisting guidance says that “first amendment protected activity alone shall not be the basis” for nominating someone to the lists. The key word: alone. What you say, write and publish can and will be used against you. Particularly if you tweet it, pin it or share it.
The guidelines recognize that looking at “postings on social media sites” is constitutionally problematic. But those posts “should not automatically be discounted”, the guidelines state. Instead, the agency seeking to watchlist someone should evaluate the “credibility of the source, as well as the nature and specificity of the information”. If they’re concerned about a tweet, in other words, they’re likely to go through a user’s timeline. That joke about that band blowing up could come back to haunt you at the airport.
Where you go might get you placed on the list – and then stranded
Contained within the guidance is a potential reason why many US Muslims find themselves abruptly unable to return from trips abroad without explanation. An example given of “potential behavioral indicators” of terrorism is “travel for no known lawful or legitimate purpose to a locus of TERRORISM ACTIVITY”. Not defined: “lawful”, “legitimate” or “locus”. That could mean specific training camps, travel to which few would dispute the merits of watchlisting. Or it could mean entire countries where terrorists are known or suspected of operating – and where millions of Americans travel every year.
The guidelines themselves, in that very section, warn that such behavioral indicators include “activity that may have innocent explanations wholly unrelated to terrorism”. It warns analysts not to judge any circumstance “in isolation”.
What happens on the no-fly list does not stay on the no-fly list. A federal judge, writing in June, noted that the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center shares information on banned passengers with 22 foreign governments as well as “ship captains”, resulting in potential “interference with an individual’s ability to travel by means other than commercial airlines”.
Many people who have sued the US government over the watchlists have reported being unable to return from travel abroad. Ali Ahmed, a US citizen in San Diego, attempted in 2012 to fly to Kenya to meet his fiancee for their arranged marriage. But first he flew to Saudi Arabia to make the religiously encouraged pilgrimage to Mecca; he found himself stranded in Bahrain after he was unable to enter Kenya. Ayman Latif, a disabled US marine originally from Miami who now lives in Egypt, was prevented from flying to the US for a disability evaluation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
There’s room for the family (and perhaps your friends)
A precursor data set that feeds the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB or, “the watchlist”) is the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center. TIDE contains records of known or suspected international terrorists. It also contains information on their families and perhaps their friends.
“Alien spouses and children” of people NCTC labels terrorists get put into TIDE. They “may be inadmissible to the United States”, presumed to be dangerous. TIDE also contains “non-terrorist” records of people who have a “close relationship with KNOWN or SUSPECTED terrorists”, the guidance reads. Examples listed are fathers or brothers, although the guidance does not specify a blood or marital relationship as necessary for inclusion. Those people can be American citizens or noncitizens inside the United States. While those “close relation[s]” are not supposed to be passed on for watchlisting absent other “derogatory information”, their data may be retained within TIDE for unspecified “analytic purposes”.
Just because a jury finds you innocent doesn’t mean watchlists agree
The guidelines explicitly state that someone “acquitted or against whom charges are dismissed for a crime related to terrorism” can still be watchlisted. A federal official nominating such a person for inclusion on the list just needs “reasonable suspicion” of a danger – something defined as more than “mere guesses or hunches”, based on articulable information or “rational inferences” from it, but far less than probable cause. A judge or jury’s decision is not controlling.
Watch how you walk
In keeping with a general enthusiasm exhibited by law enforcement and the military for identifying someone based on their seemingly unique physical attributes, biometric information is eligible as a criteria to watchlist someone. Several of those biometric identifiers are traditional law enforcement ones, like fingerprints; others are exceptionally targeted, like DNA. Then there are others that reflect emerging or immature analytic subjects: “digital images”, iris scans, and “gait” – that is, the way you walk.
Gait and other biometric identifiers do not appear sufficient to watchlist someone. But they are sufficient to nominate someone to the watchlist or TIDE, provided they rise to the “minimum substantive derogatory standards” – articulable reasons for suspecting someone of involvement of terrorism, a far lower standard than probable cause – unless they come accompanied with evidence that the manner of walk in question includes “an individual with a defined relationship with the KNOWN or SUSPECTED terrorist”. It does not appear that a particular swagger by itself can be watchlisted.
Lisa says …
Lisa Monaco is a former US attorney who holds one of the most powerful and least accountable positions in the US security apparatus: assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism. She has enormous influence over the watchlisting system. Read the rest of this entry »
Senate Office Building Briefly Evacuated After Threat, Nothing Hazardous Found
Several floors of a Senate office building on Capitol Hill were briefly evacuated Tuesday afternoon, following a report of a suspicious package that Capitol Police described as a bomb threat.
Investigators did not find anything hazardous.
Anyone check Josh Earnest’s phone to see if he called in the threat himself? “I can’t take these f*ckers anymore!” https://t.co/uDhYuzyDxc
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) June 9, 2015
Staff, lawmakers and reporters were kept out of parts of the building for about an hour while police investigated the scene. U.S. Capitol Police told Fox News they received the call reporting a suspicious package in a third-floor room of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Read the rest of this entry »
(CNN) — The man who attacked a security area at the New Orleans airport with a machete and wasp spray also had a bag of Molotov cocktails and a car containing smoke bombs and gas cylinders, authorities said.
The suspect, Richard White, 63, died Saturday after treatment for three bullet wounds he suffered when a sheriff’s lieutenant fired at him to halt the Friday night attack, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff Newell Normand said earlier that investigators hadn’t been able to talk to White, who officials said suffered from some type of mental illness. He said White’s wife and children had been very cooperative.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was back open and fully operational, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. He praised security officials for acting quickly and heroically and doing everything they could to stop the attack.
Agent told everyone to ‘run, run’
The incident began when White, carrying a bag, entered one of the lanes at the security checkpoint for Concourse B and began spraying Transportation Security Administration agents and bystanders with a can of wasp spray, the sheriff’s office said.
He then pulled a machete from his waistband and began swinging it at agents and others in the area.
“What I saw originally was one of the officers getting sprayed with the wasp spray,” said TSA agent Caroll Richel, whose arm was hit by one of the bullets fired at White.
The officer being sprayed with wasp spray picked up a bag and threw it at White to slow him down, but the suspect still barged through, Richel told reporters.
Richel, who was not armed, yelled for everyone to run as she made her way toward the sheriff’s lieutenant, who she knew had a weapon.
“I was calling, ‘Run, run’ for them to get away from him, and I was calling for the (lieutenant) so she was there and alert,” Richel said.
“I didn’t hear him say anything,” she said. “Once I yelled for the checkpoint to be cleared, I looked over my shoulder and he was coming after me. And I ran as fast as I could and thank God the officer was as close as she was, because I wouldn’t be here today.”
She said the man came “within inches” of whacking her with the machete. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Richard White, Machete-Wielding Suspect in New Orleans Airport Attack, was Carrying Bag with 6 Molotov CocktailsPosted: March 21, 2015
Man attacks TSA agents with a machete at New Orleans airport
The machete-wielding man who attacked two Transportation Security Agency workers at a New Orleans airport was carrying a bag holding six Molotov cocktails.
Officials said they don’t know what suspect Richard White intended to do with the homemade bombs or what triggered the incident.
“As you know this was unexpected incident involving a clearly troubled and disturbed individual,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu at a Saturday afternoon press conference.
White, 62, chased the two Transportation Security Agency workers at New Orleans International Airport with a machete and wasp spray late Friday. He was shot multiple times by an officer, police said.
Officials said they noticed White had been carrying a bag when they checked surveillance video after the incident.
In the bag they found six half-pint mason jars with cloth wicks. The jars were filled with gasoline. The bag also held a barbecue lighter, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said.
Normand said as the bag was being checked other investigators from the Bomb Squad were combing through White’s car parked on the airport ramp. They found three tanks in the trunk holding acetone, Freon and oxygen.
White approached the airport security checkpoint Friday evening, pulled out a can of the insecticide and began spraying both agents and several passengers standing in line before he then drew a large machete from the waistband of his pants, Normand said.
The male officer grabbed some luggage to defend himself from the machete, and then was chased by White, Normand said. Read the rest of this entry »
KENNER, La. — A terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was evacuated Friday night after a man with a machete attacked TSA agents and was shot by a police officer, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The TSA said in a statement the incident took place at approximately 9 p.m., Central time Friday night.
“…A female Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (STSO) at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was assaulted in the public area outside of Checkpoint B,” the statement said. “The officer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.”
Sheriff Newell Normand told CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans the suspect, whom he identified as 63-year-old Richard White, was taken to the hospital and was last reported as “unresponsive.”
Eyewitnesses told authorities White approached a TSA agent and sprayed that person in the face with wasp spray from a can. According to Normand, White got past the first agent and headed for the second TSA agent, again spraying wasp spray, before pulling out a machete and striking another agent, who grabbed a piece of luggage for protection.
Normand said the third TSA agent called a non-TSA officer for help, and as White continued to chase him, the officer showed up on the scene and fired three times, striking White. Read the rest of this entry »
Every 9/11, pundits talk about how “everything changed” after the attacks. But the homeland security bureaucracy is as petty, vindictive, wasteful and stupid as ever.
Michelle Malkin writes: “If you see something, say something.” That’s what our homeland security apparatchiks incessantly preach. But 13 years after the 9/11 attacks, the freedom to warn is in danger and vigilant whistleblowers are under fire.
Listen to Robert MacLean. He’s a former Air Force nuclear weapons specialist and Border Patrol agent recruited by the government to serve as one of the first federal air marshals after 9/11.
“I blew the whistle because I had to. I could not live with the tragedy risked if I had been the cynical silent observer.”
— Robert MacLean, federal air marshal testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. His legal case heads to the Supreme Court this fall
In 2003, MacLean underwent emergency training to prepare for a new round of al-Qaida hijacking threats. Jihadists exploiting visa and screening loopholes had planned to target East Coast airliners, according to intelligence analysts. For unknown reasons, however, the Transportation Security Administration abruptly called off air marshals from duty on nonstop, long-distance flights — just two days before the anticipated hijacking.
“Quinn, a former Secret Service agent, insisted that air marshals abide by military-style grooming standards and a rigid business dress policy regardless of weather, time of year or seating arrangement. Yes, really. Marshals were ordered to dress like characters straight out of ‘Men in Black’ — leaving them vulnerable to terrorist identification. Critics of the code dubbed Quinn the Captain Queeg of homeland security.”
How did they notify the air marshals? Cue the Keystone Cops. “TSA chose to send the unlabeled text message to our unsecured Nokia 3310 cellular phones instead of our $22 million encrypted smart phone system. There were no markings or secrecy restrictions on the message,” MacLean recounted to Congress this week. “We all thought it was a joke given the special training we had just received and the post-9/11 law that nonstop long-distance flights were a priority.”
“How did they notify the air marshals? Cue the Keystone Cops. “TSA chose to send the unlabeled text message to our unsecured Nokia 3310 cellular phones instead of our $22 million encrypted smart phone system.”
A supervisor told MacLean the agency was broke and there was nothing he could do. Appalled at both the dangerous pullback and the reckless way in which the feds notified the air marshals, MacLean then contacted his department’s inspector general hotline and was warned he would be “cutting (his) career short if (he) pursued the issue further.” Instead, he went to the press and made his homeland security concerns public. In 2006, MacLean was fired. Read the rest of this entry »
For City Journal, Myron Magnet writes: When a British-educated Muslim terrorist beheads an American journalist to display the sentiments of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria toward the United States; when photos of a Chicago office building and the White House appear on social media with hard-to-deny evidence in the pictures that ISIS is here in our own country with ill intent; when a peace-preaching imam in Canada reports that ISIS is recruiting among his flock; when an experienced U.S. senator warns of ISIS plans to blow up an American city; and when a top ex-intelligence officer cautions that ISIS terrorists have “very likely” entered the United States along with the flood of illegal immigrants surging through our southern border, what would a responsible president do?
[Check out Myron Magnet’s book “The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817“ at Amazon]
Surely, for starters, he would use the National Guard to seal the border with Mexico, as a matter of national security, let alone national sovereignty. He would surely order the Transportation Security Administration to stop at once allowing illegal aliens to board commercial airliners without the usual government-issued identification, as is now reportedly happening routinely, perhaps allowing terrorists to move freely throughout the nation. Read the rest of this entry »
Michelle Malkin writes; The Obama administration doesn’t have watchdogs. It has whitewash puppies.
The president’s Chicago bullies have defanged true advocates for integrity in government in D.C. from day one. So the latest report by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee on corruptocrat Charles K. Edwards, the former Department of Homeland Security inspector general, isn’t a revelation. It’s confirmation.
Investigators found that Edwards compromised the independence of his office by socializing and sucking up to senior DHS officials. “There are many blessings to be thankful for this year,” the sycophantic Edwards wrote to the DHS acting counsel on Thanksgiving 2011, “but one of the best is having a friend like you.” Geez, get them a room.
Whistleblowers outlined how Edwards cozied up to multiple DHS execs and legal staffers, who directed him to alter reports on immigration enforcement, TSA screening and the Secret Service’s dalliances with prostitutes in Argentina. Edwards failed to obtain independent legal analysis of ethics issues. The IG counsel was cut out of the loop. Edwards ordered reports to be doctored or delayed. He failed to recuse himself from audits and inspections that had conflicts of interest related to his wife’s employment. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew Johnson reports: TSA agents in St. Louis, Missouri, disarmed Rooster Monkburn, a cowboy sock money, of his two-inch toy gun after a woman brought the stuffed monkey through security. Agents said that it posed a threat because it could be confused for a real gun, according to local reports.
“[The agent] said ‘this is a gun,’” said Phyllis May, recounting the experience to fly back to her home in Washington state. “I said no, it’s not a gun it’s a prop for my monkey.”
May, who has a small business selling sock monkeys, was also questioned for bringing the sewing supplies she uses to make the stuffed animals in her carry-on bag. TSA agents told her they would have to confiscate the miniature firearm and call the police, although Washington’s KING-TV reports that the TSA never did call the authorities. May’s sewing supplies were ultimately returned to her.
A vehicle crash and reports of a man with a gun cause panic at the L.A. airport Friday night
Robin Webb and Melanie Eversley report: A car crash just outside Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport and an anonymous call reporting a man with a gun in Terminal 4 incited panic Friday evening and triggered a large police response.
LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the vehicle crash outside Terminal 5 Friday night caused passengers to report gunfire.
“Apparently there was a very loud crash. People inside the terminal did not know what was happening. Some people panicked and they self-evacuated from the terminal,” reported KCAL9’s Derek Bell.
A woman driving on the airport’s arrivals loop at about 7:30 p.m. lost control of her SUV, hitting another woman who was walking on a sidewalk before slamming into a parking garage across the roadway from Terminal 5, Los Angeles police Sgt. Mark Guardado said.
WZZM 13 tweeted that the car accident sounded like shots fired.
The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas reports: A veteran Washington D.C. investigative journalist says the Department of Homeland Security confiscated a stack of her confidential files during a raid of her home in August — leading her to fear that a number of her sources inside the federal government have now been exposed.
In an interview with The Daily Caller, journalist Audrey Hudson revealed that the Department of Homeland Security and Maryland State Police were involved in a predawn raid of her Shady Side, Md. home on Aug. 6. Hudson is a former Washington Times reporter and current freelance reporter.
Michelle Malkin writes: Forget gun control. America needs government control. Have you noticed the common thread among several mass killings and homeland security incidents lately?
Time and again, it’s the control freaks in Washington who have fallen down on their jobs, allowing crazies, creeps and criminals to roam free and wreak havoc while ignoring rampant red flags. Let’s review:
Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis: Despite gun-grabbing Democrats’ best efforts to blame a nonexistent “AR-15″ for this week’s horrific Navy Yard massacre, the truth is seeping out about shooter Aaron Alexis. The 34-year-old Navy veteran had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for a host of mental problems that plagued him for up to a decade. Read the rest of this entry »
Its unnecessary, ineffective, and expensive. And thats just for starters.
1. It’s unnecessary. In the months immediately following September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush initially resisted calls to create a new high-level bureaucracy that would be laid on top of current activities. He was right to recognize that coordinating existing agencies would have been smarter and better. Unfortunately, he caved in to pressure to create a massive new department.
2. It’s ineffective. To read the titles of Government Accountability Office (GAO) analyses of Homeland Security is to be reminded constantly that DHS is never quite on top of its game. Recent reports include “DHS Requires More Disciplined Investment Management to Help Meet Mission Needs,” “DHS Needs Better Project Information and Coordination Among Four Overlapping Grant Programs,” and “Agriculture Inspection Program Has Made Some Improvements, But Management Challenges Persist.”
3. It’s expensive. Last year, Homeland Security spent a whopping $60 billion, a figure that will doubtlessly increase in coming years. The construction of its new headquarters – the single-largest projectever undertaken by The General Services Administration – will cost at least $4 billion and is already years behind on schedule since breaking ground in 2009.
Since it’s the holiday season, here’s a bonus reason to get rid of the Department of Homeland Security: It also runs the Transportation Security Administration, whose nasty reputation for manhandling innocent travelers is only slightly more annoying than its massive and undeserved growth in personnel and cost over the past decade.