Judicial Watch • Homeland Security

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Almost a decade after Middle Eastern terrorists with expired visas attacked the U.S., the government has failed to implement a security measure to adequately track foreigners like them who enter the country legally but never leave.As a result nearly half of the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants actually entered the U.S. legally but overstayed their visa, according to a new federal report. That’s because the agency responsible for keeping the nation safe—the Department of Homeland Security—can’t keep track of immigrants who remain in the U.S. after their visas expire.This clearly creates a huge national security issue because terrorists can plot more attacks from within. In fact, dozens of foreigners convicted of terrorism since the 2001 attacks had overstayed their visas, according to the report, which was published by the investigative arm of Congress known as the Government Accountability Office (GAO).The GAO launched its probe after learning from an independent study that 4 to 5.5 million immigrants had entered the country legally and overstayed their authorized periods of admission. In the course of the probe, GAO investigators interviewed a number of high-ranking Homeland Security officials, visited various field offices and reviewed a mountain of documents.They found that the Department of Homeland Security’s program to identify visa violators by comparing entry and exit data is inefficient and can only process around half of the potential overstays it detects. Currently, the system has a backlog of about 1.6 suspected foreigners who remained in the U.S. past their visa period, the probe found. Some could very well be Islamic extremists.This may seem unbelievable, especially since most of the 9/11 hijackers capitalized on this weakness in the system to plan the murder of thousands of Americans. The massive loophole is precisely why the Homeland Security agency (Immigration and Customs Enforcement—ICE) in charge of tracking down foreigners who overstay visas is well funded by Congress to the tune of 70-plus million dollars annually.The agency doesn’t dispute the findings or the recommendations made by GAO investigators, who suggest establishing a “time frame for completing overstay enforcement planning” and “performance measurement mechanisms,” among other things. In other words don’t wait another decade to implement security measures that actually work.

The Department of Homeland Security has quietly eliminated a post-9/11 counterterrorism program that required men from Muslim countries with active terrorist organizations to register with federal authorities upon entering the United States.Known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) the program was created to intercept Islamic terrorists like the ones who hijacked airplanes and murdered thousands of Americans in 2001. Most were men who entered the U.S. with legal visas and would have been required to register with immigration authorities under NSEERS.Active terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda operate in all of the countries listed on the now-defunct Homeland Security NSEERS list. They include Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.In a largely unnoticed federal register note announcing the end of NSEERS, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asserts that its “redundant” and “no longer provides any increase in security” because her agency has implemented “several new automated systems” that capture the same arrival and exit data of nonimmigrant travelers to the U.S.Madam Secretary further explains in the announcement that there’s been an evolution in terrorism that evidently makes NSEERS unnecessary. “As threats to the United States evolve, DHS seeks to identify specific individuals and actions that pose specific threats, rather than focusing on more general designations of groups of individuals, such as country of origin.”This certainly sounds like it could be yet another move by the Obama Administration to placate Muslims. After all, throughout the counterterrorism program’s six years an army of politically-connected Islamic rights groups decried it as unfairly promoting racial profiling.In the last year the administration has heeded to many of their calls by launching an aggressive Muslim outreach effort that includes national security meetings with extremist groups, ordering the nation’s space agency (NASA) to focus on Muslim diplomacy and a special order allowing the reentry of two radical Islamic academics whose terrorist ties long banned them from the U.S.The Justice Department also created a special Arab-American and Muslim Engagement Advisory Group to foster greater communication, collaboration and new level of respect between law enforcement and Muslim and Arab-American communities. The fruits of its laborwere evident during a weekend raid on a Florida mosque with terrorist ties. Federal agents conducted it under new rules of engagement to assure cultural sensitivity towards Islam.

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Washington, DC — May 12, 2011
Judicial Watch will announce a major new development in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) efforts to obtain “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.” Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Defense (DOD) for the bin Laden information on May 3. An identical request was filed on May 4 with the CIA.

When: Friday, May 13, 10 AMWhere: Judicial Watch
Main Conference Room
425 Third Street, SW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20024

The press conference will be live-streamed beginning at 10AM.

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Washington, DC — May 13, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Defense (DOD) seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:11-cv-00890) (JEB)).
Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request with the DOD on May 3.Under the Freedom of Information Act, the DOD has 20 business days legally to respond. Rather than follow the law, the DOD has stated:

At this time, we are unable to make a release determination on your request within the 20-day statutory time period.

Judicial Watch filed an identical FOIA request with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on May 4. The CIA has yet to acknowledge or respond to the request.“The American people have a right to know, by law, basic information about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Incredibly, the Obama administration told us that it has no plans to comply with the Freedom of Information law, so we must now go to court. President Obama’s not wanting to ‘spike the football’ is not a lawful basis for withholding government documents. This historic lawsuit should remind the Obama administration that it is not above the law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Watch the Announcement

Judicial Watch: 2004 Bush Administration Briefing Presentation Details Specifically References Role of “Couriers” in bin Laden “Support Network”

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Washington, DC — May 4, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that documents recently obtained by JW from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) demonstrate the valuable information gained by so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” that ultimately led to the recent capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Judicial Watch obtained the documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
In March 2011, Judicial Watch released documents obtained from the Department of Defense (DOD) detailing the policies of the Bush administration related to the detention of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay, as well as the significant risks posed to the general population if the detainees were released. The documents include a February 4, 2004, draft presentation entitled “Guantanamo Detainees” previously marked “Not for Public Dissemination.” It specifically references the role of “couriers” in the bin Laden network, noting that enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay include “members of al Qaida’s international terrorism support network, including financiers, couriers, recruiters and operatives.”The DOD documents obtained by Judicial Watch further state that “Detainees have revealed al-Qaida leadership structures, operatives, funding mechanisms, communications methods, training and selection programs, travel patterns, support infrastructures, and plans for attacking the United States and other countries” and “information on UBL’s [Osama bin Laden] personal security procedures.”This is consistent with documents previously obtained in a separate Judicial Watch lawsuit that detail the overall effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against captured terrorists. According to a June 1, 2005, CIA report entitled, Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al-Qa’ida, “Detainee reporting accounts for more than half of all HUMINT reporting on al-Qa’ida since the program began…” Interestingly, this fact was omitted in later versions of the report obtained by Judicial Watch. All versions, however, conclude: “One of the gains to detaining the additional terrorists has been the thwarting of a number of al-Qa’ida operations in the United States and overseas.”Following the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, multiple news outlets stated intelligence from detainees identified the courier who ultimately led Navy Seals to the front door of the million-dollar compound that housed bin Laden. According to The Washington Times: “The debate over the use of harsh interrogation techniques during the Bush administration is being rekindled by the successful operation against Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, which was based on information about the courier extracted from detained terror suspects.”Despite the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the federal government suspended their use in 2005 by passing the Detainee Treatment Act. President Obama officially banned the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” during his first week in office in January 2009. Two months later, in March 2009, President Obama overruled objections from national security officials and released documents detailing the government’s enhanced interrogation program (the so-called “torture” memos). However, President Obama initially withheld information detailing the results of this program, including alleged terrorist plots that the program prevented. Now this same program is credited with the capture of the world’s most notorious terrorist. Meanwhile, Attorney Holder’s Justice Department continues its criminal investigation of the very same CIA employees who may have helped obtain information that President Obama used to kill bin Laden.“These documents show that without ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ Osama bin Laden might still be hiding in his compound plotting to kill more innocents. The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden will prompt President Obama to rethink his ideological and political positions on enhanced interrogation techniques. President Obama can no longer attack the very intelligence techniques that led to his brightest day thus far as president,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch is, of course, grateful to the intelligence community and U.S. military, specifically the nameless Navy Seals, who brought Osama bin Laden to justice.”

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Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305

Washington, DC — May 4, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Defense (DOD) seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.” The request to the Defense Department was filed yesterday, May 3. An identical request was filed today with the CIA.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the agencies have 20 business days legally to respond.“President Obama’s decision not to release the bin Laden photos is at odds with his promises to make his administration the most transparent in history. Judicial Watch hopes its FOIA requests will provide a mechanism to release these records in an orderly fashion in compliance with the FOIA law. President Obama’s reluctance to ‘spike the football’ is not a lawful reason for withholding these historic public documents from the American people. We are prepared to go to court to obtain this information,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

State and county officials who think they can drop out of a mandatory federal program that checks the immigration status of local arrestees have been misled by the Department of Homeland Security’s ambiguous orders.At least that’s the explanation offered by the agency’s beleaguered leader, Janet Napolitano, who finally clarified the matter to a growing number of local officials trying to get out of theSecure Communities program. Launched a few years ago, the initiative requires local authorities to check the fingerprints of arrestees against a federal database. The idea is to deport dangerous criminals, many of whom have fallen through the cracks over the years.But some local leaders refuse to participate in Secure Communities, mainly to protect illegal immigrants who they assert contribute to society. California has even created legislation to let any municipality in the state opt out of Secure Communities and Maryland’s MontgomeryCounty is on the verge of doing the same thing. These sorts of efforts have been going on for months as Napolitano, the Obama official in charge of protecting the nation’s safety, watched from the sidelines.This week she finally spoke out after a federal lawmaker accused the Department of Homeland Security of lying to counties and states by telling them that participating in Secure Communities was optional. Calling the agency’s actions “dissembling and deceiving,” theCalifornia congresswoman has ordered an investigation. If Napolitano knew about the lies, “something has to be done about her,” according to the congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren.Napolitano fired back, acknowledging that there has been “confusion” over the matter and that communications from her agency were “subject to misinterpretation.” However, Madame Secretary made clear that local governments cannot “exclude themselves” from participating in Secure Communities.

In the Obama Administration’s latest move to protect illegal immigrants while an amnesty plan gets worked out, Homeland Security officials said they won’t take action against a group of outlaws arrested in Georgia last week.The illegal immigrants participated in a disruptive Atlanta demonstration to protest a state measure that bans undocumented students from attending some public colleges. The seven self-described activists, who proudly boasted about their illegal status, were arrested by local police for blocking traffic in bustling downtown Atlanta for about an hour.Local media followed up this week by inquiring about the arrested demonstrators and the Homeland Security agency responsible for removing illegal aliens, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), confirmed that it was not taking any “enforcement actions against the student demonstrators.” One ICE official pointed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s well-documented stance on not deporting illegal immigrant students.Last summer the Obama Administration ordered authorities to stop removing illegal immigrants who are students while lawmakers craft legislation to officially shield them from expulsion. The move, which has spared an estimated 700,000 illegal aliens, came in response to nationwide rallies by defiant illegal immigrants protesting their eminent removal or that of their undocumented parents.The directive is part of Obama’s secret backdoor amnesty plan in case Congress doesn’t pass legislation to legalize the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants. Devised by political appointees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the plan aims to enact “meaningful immigration reform absent legislative action.”This includes “deferred action” delaying deportation indefinitely, granting green cards, allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. indefinitely while they seek legal status (known as “parole in place”) and expanding the definition of “extreme hardships” so any illegal alien could meet the criteria and remain in the country.Judicial Watch has sued the Department of Homeland Security to obtain records detailing the stealth amnesty plan because the agency has ignored a federal public records request that dates back to July 2010.

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