Surprise, surprise U.S. Homeland Security officials missed a number of opportunities to stop the Chechen terrorist who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings because they failed to properly investigate, coordinate and communicate, according to a new congressional report.
A decade ago we heard a similar version of this involving the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the agency responsible for protecting the United States against foreign threats, also missed many opportunities to stop the 9/11 hijackers and failed to uncover important intelligence about the Islamic terrorists that murdered thousands of innocent Americans. All these years later it seems that little has changed in the U.S. intelligence community.
It’s as if the Three Stooges are in charge of national security only it’s the monstrous umbrella agency—the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—created after 9/11 to protect the country from another terrorist attack. It turns out that two DHS agencies, the FBI and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), could have intercepted Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev if they had done their job! The brutal details are laid out in the lengthy report that blasts federal officials for their failures.
Years before the 2013 marathon bombing Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old terrorist who was eventually killed in a wild shootout with police, was under investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Russian authorities actually notified the FBI in 2011 to express concern that Tsarnaev had become radicalized and that he might return to Russia to join extremist groups. Tsarnaev appeared on a federal hot list of potential terrorists yet was not detained when alerts were triggered.
Despite the alarms, congressional investigators found that CBP failed to stop Tsarnaev at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York in 2012 even though an advisory made his detention “mandatory.” The warnings had been triggered when Tsarnaev booked roundtrip air travel to Russia, but—get this—CBP was not reviewing all of the “high-interest” subjects on the daily advisories! “While it is impossible to say with certainty that such a second look would have prevented the bombings, it is equally impossible to say with certainty it could not have,” says the report, which was released this week by the House Homeland Security Committee.
Judicial Watch exposed another interesting tidbit about Tsarnaev a few months after the bombings; the Obama administration could have deported him years before he detonated bombs at a major sporting event over a criminal arrest. In 2009 Tsarnaev was nabbed for domestic violence and, though he was a legal U.S. resident, federal authorities could have removed him from the country but evidently didn’t feel he represented a big enough threat. The House report doesn’t mention the case, but it points out plenty of other mishaps by the feds.
Besides dropping the ball on Tsarnaev, the committee chastises DHS agencies for not sharing information even though they supposedly have the same mission of protecting the country. “There were opportunities in which greater sharing of information might have altered the course of events,” the report says, adding that “such failures must not be allowed to persist.” The FBI must also improve information sharing about terrorists with local police, according to the report. Lack of information sharing between federal agencies is an issue that has come up many times over the years.
The FBI’s many transgressions have also been well documented throughout history and were especially highlighted in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. In fact, a Justice Department Inspector General report disclosed that the FBI missed at least five opportunities before the 9/11 terrorist attacks to uncover crucial intelligence about the perpetrators. The watchdog blamed the FBI for not knowing that two of the 9/11 hijackers lived in the U.S. and for failing to follow up on an agent’s theory that Osama bin Laden sending students to American flight schools.
A year after Judicial Watch exposed the Justice Department’s tight relationship with a radical anti-Christian group linked to domestic terrorism the agency appears to have quietly severed ties with the leftwing organization.
It marks a rare victory for conservatives in a leftist administration led by a president obsessed with political correctness. Among the extremist organizations that wield tremendous influence in the Obama White House are the terrorist front group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the open-borders powerhouse National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
JW has investigated all of these nonprofits’ unscrupulous ties to the Obama administration and uncovered a series of records detailing the unprecedented influence they have on our government. This particular case involves the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that labels conservatives who disagree with it on social issues hateful. In fact, its website features conservative organizations on a catalogue of “hate groups.” The hate catalogue made headlines in 2012 when a domestic terrorist who carried out a politically-motivated shooting at a Christian organization, the Family Research Council (FRC), admitted he got his target list from the SPLC.
The shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins, stormed into the FRC’s Washington D.C. headquarters with the intention of killing as many employees as possible, according to a news report that cites legal documents. He shot an unarmed security guard at the FRC before the guard subdued him. Corkins pleaded guilty to three felonies, including committing an act of terrorism, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Led by the FRC, a coalition of conservative groups—including Judicial Watch—demanded that the Obama administration stop relying on the SPLC for advice and training materials.
Last year JW obtained files from the Obama DOJ that reveal SPLC co-founder Morris Dees actually conducted a “Diversity Training Event” for the agency. Later in the year, another shocker was exposed by the conservative coalition working to chip away at the SPLC’s influence in government; the radical group also provides the U.S. military with training supplies and briefings. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a DOJ entity, also endorsed the SPLC as a source and listed it as a resource on its hate crime web page.
The conservative groups fired off letters to both the DOJ and the Department of Defense (DOD) demanding an end to this outrageous relationship with the SPLC. The first one, delivered to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in December, asks that the U.S. military stop using SPLC training materials. “It is imperative that the Defense Equal Opportunity Institute (DEOMI) ensure future materials do not rely on information from organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) or any others that engage in groundless and highly pejorative mischaracterizations of long-standing ministries and organizations for their own political purposes,” the letter says.
In mid-February of this year a similar letter went out to the DOJ and the FBI regarding the agencies’ relationship with the SPLC. It specifically addresses the FBI hate crimes website including the SPLC as a partner in public outreach. That means the FBI shares information and cooperates in solving problems with the SPLC. “The presentation of SPLC to the public as a trusted source of information on the serious matter of hate crimes is completely unacceptable,” the letter says. It further reminds that the SPLC has used its website to inflame public sentiment against those who disagree with the group’s goals, resulting in tragic consequences.
Incredibly, the feds took the information seriously though no formal notice was ever delivered and it’s unlikely that there will be any public announcement. The Washington Examiner reported this week that the FBI quietly dumped the SPLC as a resource on its hate crime website, calling it a “significant rejection of the influential legal group.” The “scrubbing” came at the end of last month, shortly after the DOJ and FBI received the hard-hitting letter from the conservative coalition.
The U.S. has been side-swiped by a robust wave of political correctness, so it may be tough to believe that the nation’s Attorney General actually authorizes federal agents to engage in “limited racial and ethnic profiling” when conducting assessments of criminal and terrorist threats.
It’s probably something the Obama administration would prefer to keep quiet so as not to upset or alienate the president’s liberal base, but evidently it’s considered a valuable homeland security tool. Otherwise, why would this, the most leftist and politically correct administration of modern times, allow it to continue? Furthermore, why would the Obama Justice Department engage in a legal battle to make sure details of the “FBI’s use of ethnic and racial data” are kept secret?
The authorized racial and ethnic profiling began after the 9/11 Commission report determined that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should be restructured to be the domestic equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). That included overhauling the FBI and revising its internal manual, known as the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG). Among the manual’s revisions was permission for FBI agents to engage in limited racial and ethnic profiling when conducting proactive assessments of criminal and terrorist threats.
Specifically, the DIOG allows FBI agents to identify and map “locations of concentrated ethnic communities” if doing so would “reasonably aid the analysis of potential threats and vulnerabilities” and “assist domain awareness for the purpose of performing intelligence analysis.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asserted this would encourage unlawful racial profiling and took the administration to court to obtain internal documents about the FBI’s use of ethnic and racial data.
As is often the case when a group or individual seeks government records, the FBI turned over some files, would neither confirm nor deny having a portion of the records and refused to provide a large stash. A federal judge ruled in favor of the government’s right to withhold hundreds of pages of documents and the ACLU appealed, determined to expose the administration’s racial profiling initiative.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected the ACLU’s argument, ruling last week that the FBI has the right to protect the information. In its 21-page decision the court also rebuffs the ACLU’s claim that release of the limited public source information it seeks would not tip off targets or impede investigations. “This argument misses the obvious point that while the demographic data itself may be public, its use by the FBI is certainly not,” the court writes.
The al Qaeda terrorist that President Obama ordered assassinated by drone was closely monitored by the FBI and even followed to the Pentagon’s front door years before his murder, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The files, more than 250 pages of FBI surveillance logs, illustrate alarming incompetence by the U.S. national security establishment involving American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Aulaqi. In late 2011 al-Aulaqi was killed in Yemen by a CIA-led drone strike. President Obama called it a major “milestone” in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates, saying that al-Aulaqi took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.
But years earlier it appears that he was considered an asset protected by the U.S. government, according to the documents obtained by JW through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. At the very least the files raise serious questions about the nature of the relationship between the al Qaeda operative and the U.S. government. For instance, the files indicate that the U.S. may have tried to recruit the radical Islamic cleric as an intelligence source in 2002.
That year al-Aulaqi spoke as an invited guest at a Department of Defense (DOD) luncheon that included top Pentagon officials, according to a Fox news report. Incredibly, the FBI had already identified him as a “terrorist organization member,” the files obtained by JW show, and the agency had issued an alert warning to approach al-Aulaqi with caution.
The reports and logs show that agents from the FBI’s elite Special Surveillance Group (SSG) trailed al- Aulaqi to the front door of the Pentagon on the day he broke bread with DOD brass. Here’s a sampling from the government files: “Aulaqi boarded the Metro train, blue line north for the Pentagon.” At 11:32 am, “Aulaqi exited the Metro train, walked through the turnstyle [sic] and greeted two unidentified white females.” At 11:40 am, “Aulaqi and the two unidentified females walked through the train station, onto the escalator, walked southwest and west adjacent to the Pentagon, up the steps and walked northeast towards the entrance to the Pentagon.” And at 12:00 pm, “Surveillance discontinued at the Pentagon.”
It’s beyond comprehension that the FBI, charged with protecting the United States against terrorism and foreign intelligence threats, followed a known terrorist to the Pentagon for his high-level meeting with top officials. This certainly seems to indicate that the Obama administration is not telling the American people the whole story.
If you recall, Judicial Watch previously obtained separate FBI documents showing that the agency was aware as far back as September 27, 2001, that al-Aulaqi may have purchased airplane tickets for three of the 9/11 terrorist hijackers, including mastermind Mohammed Atta. On October 10, 2002, al-Aulaqi was detained at New York’s JFK airport under a warrant for passport fraud, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. However, the FBI ordered al-Aulaqi’s release, even though the arrest warrant was still active the time of his detention.
While it blows hundreds of millions of dollars on wasteful “stimulus” projects and the expansion of costly entitlement benefits, the Obama Administration is eliminating a crucial FBI division that counters gang violence.
This could not have come at a worse time considering gang violence in the United States is at an all-time high. In fact, the latest annual gang threat assessment issued by the agency—National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC)—on the chopping block is downright alarming. It says that gangs are responsible for nearly half of all violent crimes in most parts of the country and up to 90% in many jurisdictions. That’s because there are over 33,000 active gangs in the U.S. with some 1.4 million members, according to the NGIC.
To help curb the growth of gangs and related criminal activity, Congress directed the FBI to establish the NGIC in 2005. It’s a multi-agency operation that combines the efforts of several federal and local agencies working together to tackle a crisis. According to its website, the NGIC integrates gang intelligence from across federal, state and local law enforcement on the growth, migration, criminal activity and association of gangs that pose a significant threat to the nation.
Why, then, would FBI Chief Robert Mueller eliminate the NGIC? A conservative news website uncovered Muller’s plan because a congressman grilled him about it at a House Appropriations Committee hearing this week. That’s where government agency heads go for money each year. It turns out that the FBI’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal calls for the elimination of the NGIC, which has more than a dozen positions and an annual budget of nearly $8 million.
That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the billions that have been wasted under the president’s fraud-infested $787 billion stimulus, which he vowed would jumpstart the economy and put Americans back to work. Instead, much of the cash has gone to unthinkable things like a genitalia-washing program for uncircumcised African men, international ant research and a Pennsylvania “tunnel to nowhere.” Click here to read Judicial Watch’s stimulus fraud reporting.
Bless the FBI for trying to save taxpayers money. In its 2013 budget proposal the bureau assures that nixing the NGIC won’t hinder its ability to counter the threat posed to the U.S. by criminal gangs. The congressman challenging the NGIC’s closure, Frank Wolf of Virginia, struck back with a rather interesting statement indicating that the White House was behind the plan.
“We received a revised version of your testimony late yesterday that the OMB [the White House’s Office of Management and Budget] inserted language making the absurd claim that the elimination of the National Gang Intelligence Center – $7.8 million and 15 positions – will not hinder the FBI’s ability to perform the analytical work done there,” Wolf said to the FBI chief.
Could this be part of a bigger Obama plan to pander to Latinos in an effort to earn that crucial Hispanic vote in the upcoming election? After all, it’s been well documented that most violent gangbangers in the U.S. are, either Hispanic or illegal immigrants.
To meet the Obama Administration’s high standards of political correctness, the U.S. government will change the way it trains agents to combat terrorism and violent extremism by eliminating all materials that shed a negative light on Muslims.
It’s a government-wide call to end Islamophobia, if you will. A few months after the White House ordered an investigation of government counterterrorism training, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has destroyed instructional material that characterizes Muslims as prone to violence or terrorism.
So far 700 pages of documents from about 300 presentations given to agents since the 2001 terrorist attacks have been purged, according to a news report published this week. The White House order came after the same publication reported in late November that the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ) and Pentagon taught employees that mainstream Muslims embrace violence and compared the Islamic religion to the death star.
Last year Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress that anti-Muslim instructional materials hurt the country’s fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. As a result of this mentality, the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked to collect counterterrorism training materials at all military academies and academic centers such as the National Defense Intelligence College and the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center. The goal, evidently, is to banish any material that could be viewed as offensive to Muslims.
To fulfill the mission the FBI enlisted the Army Combating Terrorism Center at West Point to purge material that conflates terrorism with mainstream Islam, according to inside information cited in the news report. The cleansing also includes a White House review on any information related to “cultural awareness” training for troops that were preparing to deploy to the Middle East.
This appears to be part of a wider Muslim outreach effort on the part of the Obama Administration and the president’s allies in Congress. Last spring, for instance, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee quietly scheduled a special hearing to better protect Muslim civil rights in America. Organized by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the event came in “response to the spike in anti-Muslim bigotry” and marked the first ever congressional hearing on Muslim civil rights.
Other Muslim outreach efforts under Obama include; Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano meeting to discuss national security matters with a group of extremist Muslim organizations, the nation’s space agency (NASA) being ordered to focus on Muslim diplomacy and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signing a special order to allow the reentry of two radical Islamic academics whose terrorist ties long banned them from the U.S.
The president also sent an America-bashing mosque leader (Feisal Abdul Rauf) who blames U.S. foreign policy for the 9/11 attacks on a Middle Eastern outreach mission and ordered a government-funded meal program for home-bound seniors to offer halal cuisine prepared according to Islamic law.
Now that Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial is done and the disgraced Illinois governor has been sentenced, the FBI’s extensive interview with President Barack Obama related to the case should be made public.
After all, Obama and his top aides—including Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett—were prominently mentioned at both of Blagojevich’s federal trials in Chicago because he was charged with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated when Obama got elected president. For all intents and purposes it was one of the biggest political scandals of modern times.
The nation’s commander-in-chief and his top aides were subpoenaed (only Emanuel testified) as were records associated with the mystery FBI interview, which took place after Blagojevich got criminally indicted. In the end, Blagojevich got convicted of 18 corruption charges and, this week, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, making him the fourth Illinois governor in recent history to serve time.
Throughout the scandal, the White House has insisted the president had nothing to do with Blagojevich. However, in 2009 Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Illinois Governor’s Office that prove Obama and Blagojevich had repeated contact after Obama became president. They include a letter from Obama to Blagojevich less than a week before the crooked governor’s arrest.
Judicial Watch has a long-standing public-records request to access the now famous FBI interviews with Obama, Emanuel and Jarrett relating to Blagojevich’s corruption case. The “most transparent” administration in history has refused to make the information available and has also denied requests to explain the president’s involvement in the Blagojevich scandal or the nature of the FBI interrogations.
What we do know is that court testimony at both trials (the jury hung the first time and Blagojevich was retried) indicates that Obama was embroiled in the scandal. Judicial Watch covered both trials in the same Chicago federal courtroom where witness after witness indicated top-level White House involvement in the Senate-appointment scheme.