Judicial Watch • State Dept.

State Dept. Archives | Judicial Watch

Months after the world’s largest Spanish news network revealed that Middle Eastern terrorists infiltrated Latin America to plan an attack against the United States, the Obama Administration has determined that the groups don’t seem to have a presence in the region though there is growing concern.

The assessment, made public recently via a lengthy State Department report on terrorism, contradicts an alarming exposé broadcast last December in a Univision documentary titled “La Amenaza Irani” (Iranian Threat). Using undercover, never-before-seen video footage, the documentary illustrates how Middle Eastern terrorists have infiltrated Latin American countries—especially Mexico—to plan an attack against the U.S.

The videos were part of a seven-month investigation in which college-aged Mexicans infiltrated diplomatic circles in Mexico to obtain recordings that prove diplomats from Iran, Venezuela and Cuba planned a cybernetic attack against the White House, FBI, Pentagon and U.S. nuclear plants. The Univision documentary also features secret video taken by extremists linked to Iran and footage from an undercover journalist who infiltrated Venezuelan military camps where terrorists trained.

The news network’s investigative team also tracked the expansion of Iranian interests in the hemisphere, including money-laundering and drug-trafficking activities by terrorist groups supported by Iran. A segment is dedicated to the connection between Mexican drug cartels and the foiled plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. last year.  One of the Iranians charged had been ordered by that country’s Special Forces to travel to Mexico to recruit members of the notorious drug cartel “Los Zetas” to carry out the plot. The massive scheme against U.S. government information and computer systems had been in the works years earlier, the documentary reveals.

Around the same time the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which examines issues for federal lawmakers, published a report on Latin American terrorist concerns to the United States. It points out that, while Latin America has not been the focal point of the U.S. war on terrorism, the region has struggled with domestic terrorism for decades and international terrorist groups have used it as a battle ground to advance their causes. In fact, it reveals that sympathizers of Hezbollah and the Sunni Muslim Palestinian group Hamas are raising money among the sizable Middle Eastern communities in the tri-border area of Argentina.

This makes the new State Department assessment appear less than credible. It claims that the majority of terrorist attacks within the Western Hemisphere in 2011 were committed by enterprises such as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces and other “radical leftist Andean groups elsewhere.” There were no “known operational cells” of either Hezbollah or al-Qaeda, according to the report.

The State Department also claims that “no known international terrorist organization had an operational presence in Mexico,” the focus of the worrisome Univision exposé. It further assures that “no terrorist group targeted U.S. citizens in or from Mexican territory” and that there is “no evidence of ties between Mexican criminal organizations and terrorist groups.”

While President Obama pushes for tax hikes to finance yet another flawed government program, separate audits expose the enraging waste of public dollars at two of the nation’s largest federal agencies.The probes, released just weeks apart, illustrate how bloated government agencies go on spending sprees with American tax dollars, even as the nation suffers through a dire financial crisis and record-high unemployment. None of this serves as a deterrent when it comes to living it up on the public’s dime.At the Department of Justice (DOJ) more than $120 million went to host law enforcement conferences that featured “extravagant and wasteful” costs for food, beverages and event planning, according to the agency’s inspector general. This includes $16 muffins for breakfast, $76 lunches, $10 cookies and candy bars that cost more than $7 each. The agency also spent thousands on event planning “consultants” and their travel between venues.Considering the DOJ hosted nearly 2,000 conferences between fiscal years 2008 and 2009 that translates into $121 million. In a sampling of 10 conferences that took place in less than a year, investigators determined that the DOJ doled out more than $4.4 million. A big chunk of it went to “wasteful” event planning services, food and beverages, according to the report, which was made public this week.Days earlier a separate audit exposed a similar situation at the State Department, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from a special emergency fund for unrelated matters such as parties and a kitchen renovation at the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters. The money is provided by Congress for “urgent needs” such as evacuating diplomats from dangerous posts or paying rewards for information on terrorist activities.During fiscal years 2008 and 2009 the State Department used approximately $34.3 million from the special account—known as K Fund—and the agency’s inspector general determined that $723,378 of it was not properly spent. Some of it was used for a holiday party hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to engrave holiday cards for senior-level officials and to buy linens for an annual retirement party. The kitchen renovation cost more than $320,000 and should have been paid for from another fund.State Department brass has essentially flipped the finger at its watchdog, dismissing most of its recommendations to ensure the money is used appropriately and justifying the expenses as “legally permissible.” The agency has also failed to provide mandatory quarterly reports to Congress, according to the audit.

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