Tuesday, July 31, 2012
A new Congressional report hoists blame on five ATF agents and, three U.S. attorneys for the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking operation that led to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, ICE Agent Jamie Zapata and hundreds of Mexican nationals. The report concludes agency supervisors failed to reign in the reckless operation, yet none of the agents named in the congressional report have been fired for their roles in the botched gunwalking program that allowed high-powered weapons, purchased with taxpayer stimulus money, to fall into the hands of ruthless drug cartels. The new report comes 18 months after Agent Terry’s murder and a month after Congress voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not providing thousands of documents related to the investigation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearm and Explosives (ATF) agents named in the report include, (then) Acting Director Kenneth Melson, Phoenix field office Agent Bill Newell, Deputy Director William Hoover, Deputy Assistant Director of the Phoenix office, William McMahon and Assistant Director for field operations Mark Chait. The three attorney’s named were Dennis Burke, U.S. Attorney for the Arizona District, Emory Hurley, assistant U.S. Attorney in Arizona and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General at Main Justice. Acting ATF Director Melson suggested the Obama Administration tried to pin responsibility for the wrong-headed gunwalking scheme on him after he secretly testified before Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Melson claims that once details of the gunwalking operation were leaked to members of the media, ATF as well as Department of Justice (DOJ) officials went into damage control mode. “I think they (ATF/DOJ) were doing more damage control than anything,” Melson said in the Fast and Furious report. “My view is that the whole matter of the department's response in this case was a disaster.” Part of Justice’s cover-up strategy was to blame ATF’s Phoenix office and label the gunwalking program as nothing more than a “rogue” operation. However, Holder was forced to reveal at a previous hearing that his office’s premier Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDEF) committee approved the flawed program. By admitting that OCDEF played a role in Fast and Furious, Holder essentially turned the spotlight back on his office as the highly coveted program includes a representative from most federal law enforcement agencies, oversees millions of dollars and approves arrests worthy of national headlines. ATF agents have admitted time and time again that supervisors in the Phoenix office were extremely interested in bringing down the “bad guys” and making “headlines.” They did. In fact, the new report confirms that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) played a significant role in Fast and Furious, and ICE agents wanted to catch the drug cartels’ “big fish.” The flawed gunwalking program failed to deliver a high-profile arrest, but ICE has escaped Congressional scrutiny? The scathing report cites many flaws with Fast and Furious and said the program “was marred by missteps, poor judgments and (using) an inherently reckless strategy.” The report also concludes that ATF agents in Phoenix received little guidance from supervisors who seemed content to “rubber stamp” a deeply suspect program that sent more than 2,000 guns directly to drug cartels in Mexico. The Democrats see things differently. Publically, the Democrat leadership has called the GOP investigation a “witch hunt” and politically motivated. Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even says the Republican investigation lacks merit, is only partisan and hopes to win back the White House by disgracing Attorney General Holder. Yet several Democrats crossed party lines and voted to hold the Attorney General in contempt. Moving forward, House members will push for a contempt (civil lawsuit) proceeding, but said the legal issue will take place after the November elections. Nevertheless, law enforcement agencies across the country knew the consequences of a program like Fast and Furious were predictable- someone would die. That’s what happens when guns “walk” into the hands of ruthless cartels- they have the propensity to kill people. Regrettably, Operation Fast and Furious successfully did exactly what it was designed to do- make headlines with multiple murders. And to this day no federal workers have been held accountable and fired for the murders of Agents Terry or Zapata, as well as the November 2010 death of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, then Attorney General for the state of Chihuahua. Two of the 16 firearms recovered at the police shootout scene in Mexico were later traced to the ill-fated Fast and Furious program. Previous Fast and Furious story: http://www.examiner.com/article/2-dead-federal-agents-confers-no-privilege-executive-or-otherwise-1 For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
In a press conference today, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said that President Obama’s DREAM Act policy attempt to streamline and legalize those in the country under 30, without any proof, is a form of executive amnesty. Two members that spoke to major concerns ICE agents face in the field told cameras the program was nothing more than a free pass. (See press conference here) The press conference revealed that the DREAMer policy, under Department of Homeland Security and ICE was nothing more than a get out of jail free card. Two members that represent thousands of agents, Chris Crane, the president of the National Immigration and Customs Council who represents 7,200 ICE agents and George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council who represents 17,000 agents described a lawless agency. One example used focused on last week’s El Paso, Texas incident where an illegal alien was arrested after he physically assaulted a family member, tried to keep that person from calling police and was subsequently arrested by an ICE agent who was then assaulted by the illegal alien himself before trying to flee arresting officers. Under the new DREAM Act, this man was released without charge because he was under 30 and said he went to high school in the U.S. McCubbin and Crane further illustrate that agents do not need any proof that illegal aliens went to high school or received a GED- their word is good enough under President Obama’s new DREAMer policy. Agents are said to be furious at the prosecutorial discretion policy. However, the Latino community couldn’t be happier with the President’s new amnesty program and some said it would get him votes in the upcoming 2012 election. “My first thought is, how wonderful for the people whose lives this affects,” says Justin Gross, an assistant professor of political science at UNC-Chapel Hill and chief statistician for the polling firm Latino Decisions in a Daily Beast story. “My second thought is Arizona is definitely in play.” For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
A recent spat of cannibalism cases tied to the increased use of synthetic drugs led the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on a nationwide sting to remove the “designer” chemicals from the marketplace. The new “designer” drugs are marketed for America’s youth as an alternative to traditional illegal drugs like cocaine or crystal meth. Operation Log Jam nabbed more than 90 individuals related to the synthetic drug business, collected five million packets of the “designer” drugs and seized $36 million in cash nationwide. DEA agents said five million packets of synthetic cannabinoids (K2, Spice, incense or plant food) and the products required to produce nearly 14 million more, as well as 167,000 packets of synthetic cathinones (bath salts), and the products to produce an additional 392,000 were seized throughout the 100 city coordinated DEA sting. “Although tremendous progress has been made in legislating and scheduling these dangerous substances, this enforcement action has disrupted the entire illegal industry, from manufacturers to retailers,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. The recent cannibalistic attack in Florida, where a man literally ate the face off a homeless person, garnered nationwide attention and prompted legislative action as well as the nationwide DEA sting. “Today, we struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry. The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits,” said James Chaparro, Acting Director of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring this industry to its knees.” The DEA also depended on the U.S. Post Office to report and curtail suspicious packages passing through the mail system. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service aggressively investigates the use of the U.S. mail system for the distribution of illegal controlled substances and its proceeds. Our agency uses a multi-tiered approach to these crimes: protection against the use of the mail for illegal purposes and enforcement of laws against drug trafficking and money laundering. This includes collaboration with other agencies,” said Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell. Law enforcement agencies across the country have detected an increase in the sales of synthetic drugs. Many of the designer drugs use, synthetic cathinones (stimulants/hallucinogens) and are marketed as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky” or “Bliss.” Agents explain that these drugs attempt to mimic cocaine, LSD, MDMA, and methamphetamine. However, the side effects of synthetic drugs can be significantly worse and include, impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia, and violent episodes. Researchers have not concluded the long-term physical and psychological effects of prolonged use because the drugs are new to the marketplace. Experts say the new drugs have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults, because they mistakenly believe the chemicals can bypass drug-testing protocols that have been set up by employers and government agencies to protect public safety. Smokable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high have also grown in popularity because they are easily obtained, however it’s the DEA’s contention that these particular products are more potent and dangerous than “street” marijuana. “These products consist of plant material that has been coated with dangerous psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana,” they said. “Just as with the synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. Brands such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” are labeled as incense to mask their intended purpose.” Agents want users to know that these dangerous chemicals do not have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The DEA used its emergency scheduling authority to combat both synthetic cathinones (the so-called bath salts like Ivory Wave, etc.) and synthetic cannabinoids (the so-called incense products like K2, Spice, etc.), by temporarily placing several of these dangerous chemicals into Schedule I of the CSA. In a rare bipartisan effort, Congress acted to permanently place the 26 substances on the Schedule I of the CSA list. In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to synthetic “Spice” and “bath salts.” In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls. Sixty percent of the cases involved patients 25 and younger. Operation Log Jam was conducted jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as countless state and local law enforcement members in more than 109 U.S. cities and targeted every level of the synthetic designer drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
A relatively new Afghan War phenomenon “green on blue” attacks claimed two more American lives. The “green on blue” violence involves U.S. trained Afghan Security Forces who turn their weapons onto NATO allies responsible for training the Afghan forces and killing western allies without warning. This time the “green on blue” violence claimed the lives of two Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, one British worker as well as injuring another Border Patrol agent working with NATO-led forces to train the Afghanis. "It is with great sadness that I learned this weekend of the fatal shooting of three contractors stationed at the Herat Training Center in Herat, Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of former U.S. Border Patrol Agent and retired ICE Agent Benjamin Monsivais, retired CBP Port Director Joseph Perez, and retired Her Majesty’s United Kingdom Revenue and Customs Officer David Chamberlain,” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. Napolitano said all three individuals were supporting Afghan Border Police training efforts when they came under attack. “Their tragic deaths remind us of the dangers facing our men and women overseas, and the many sacrifices they make on our behalf every day,” she said. DHS also released the name of the individual that was shot three times by an Afghani. “We pray for the swift recovery and continued safety of former Border Patrol Agent Dana Hampton and language assistant Aimal Formully. We also applaud the tremendous bravery and heroism of the CBP Border Patrol Agent who responded to the attack and prevented the gunman from causing further harm and injury to others,” according to Napolitano’s statement. Officials said Border Patrol Agent Hampton made it through surgery and is expected to survive. Unconfirmed reports describe the situation as a surprise attack. “Hampton and the others were in a break area on some down time at a Border Police training site in Herat when an Afghani in police uniform walked in and started shooting... A PA named Eric Goff (YUM-Borstar) walked in when the shooting started and killed the shooter. Goff is being credited for saving the lives of 20 men.” For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/article/we-ve-been-droned-are-kill-lists-lawful-and-prudent-1 © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed a lawsuit against senior U.S. government officials for the targeted killing of three Americans using armed drones outside a declared warzone. The complaint contends President Obama’s top military team, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director General David Petraeus, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Admiral William McRaven and current Commander of JSOC, Lieutenant General Joseph Votel carried out drone strikes that deprived three U.S. citizens of due process rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, were killed in September 2011 by a drone strikes in Yemen. And in an October 2011 drone strike, Abdulrahman al- Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of al-Awlaki, was killed in Yemen while eating dinner at a café along with a large group of patrons including his teenage cousin. According to several published reports and U.S. government intelligence agencies, al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and was considered a radical Islamist cleric and alleged leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The ACLU’s legal complaint states, “the killings violated the right to due process under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the prohibition on unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment, and, with respect to Anwar Al-Awlaki, the ban on extrajudicial death warrants imposed by the Constitution’s Bill of Attainder Clause. The killings also violated international law, which is incorporated through the Constitution.” The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions said the targeted drone strike constituted “a clear case of extrajudicial killing” that sets an “alarming precedent.” The now commonplace drone strike slayings were part of the “war on terror” agenda that called for “targeted killings” by the U.S. officials outside a declared warzone. The basis of using vague legal standards to kill American citizens via a closed Presidential executive process outside the legal confines of a courtroom highlights inherent flaws with the Patriot Act passed after 9-11 under former President Bush. Constitutional and international law both prohibit killing outside a declared conflict zone without providing due process; “except as a last resort to avert a concrete, specific, and imminent threat of death or serious physical injury,” according to the ACLU. “Even in the context of an armed conflict against an armed group (which did not exist in Yemen at the time of these killings), the government may use lethal force only against individuals who are directly participating in hostilities against the United States. Regardless of the context, whenever the government uses lethal force, it must take all possible steps to avoid harming civilian bystanders.” The ACLU argues that the senior CIA and military officials who “authorized and directed” the drone strikes violated U.S. standards. The plaintiffs seek undetermined compensatory damages for the violations of their civil rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments as well as the Constitution’s Bill of Attainder Clause. Perhaps America’s foreign adventurism and lawlessness have infiltrated all branches of government. Consider the following statement from Judge Andrew Napolitano; “We live in perilous times. The president acts above the Rule of Law and fights his own wars. Congress acts below the Rule of Law by letting the president do whatever he can get away with.” The president’s continued gravitas towards foreign adventurism only highlights the fact that he has effectively neutered Congress, so that even the targeted killings of Americans without charges and trials has become as mundane as playing "Call Of Duty®." Link to previous drone story: http://www.examiner.com/article/we-ve-been-droned-are-kill-lists-lawful-and-prudent-1 For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
After a lengthy investigation by ICE and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a federal grand jury handed down an indictment accusing Chinese and Iranian nationals of trying to illegally purchase and export materials used to enrich uranium. The superseding indictment charges Parviz Khaki, an Iranian, and Zongcheng Yi, a Chinese national, for trying to export U.S.-origin materials used to construct, operate and maintain gas centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium for Iranian officials. In addition, Khaki is accused of conspiring to purchase radioactive source materials from the U.S. Court papers charge Khaki, age 43, aka Martin, and Yi, aka Yi Cheng, aka Kohler, with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by conspiring with others to illegally export U.S. goods to Iran. Both defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States; two counts of smuggling; two counts of illegally exporting U.S. goods to Iran in violation of IEEPA; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Khaki was arrested May 24, 2012, by authorities in the Philippines, however Yi Cheng remains at large. Authorities believe the fugitive may be hiding in Guangzhou City, China. “By dismantling this complex conspiracy to deliver nuclear-related materials from the United States to Iran, we have disrupted a significant threat to national security,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton. “Homeland Security Investigations will continue to pursue those who exploit U.S. businesses to illegally supply foreign governments with sensitive materials and technology that pose a serious risk to America and its allies.” With tension’s running high in the Middle East the superseding indictment represents the constant threat foreign nationals can pose to U.S. companies who manufacture products used for enriching uranium and other atomic sensitive products. “The indictment sheds light on the reach of Iran's illegal procurement networks and the importance of keeping U.S. nuclear-related materials from being exploited by Iran,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “Iranian procurement networks continue to target U.S. and Western companies for technology acquisition by using fraud, front companies and middlemen in nations around the globe.” According to the indictment, from 2008 through 2011, Khaki, Yi and others conspired to export goods from the United States to Iran in violation of the embargo. Materials used for gas centrifuges to enrich uranium The government’s case asserts that Khaki began communicating with an undercover U.S. federal agent who was posing as an U.S. exporter in March of 2009. The agent explained to Khaki that under U.S. law his company could not legally sell maraging steel, but the undercover officer explained he could be convinced to bend the rules if the price was right. The government also said Khaki asked about the price and payment options. Federal agents explained that the intricate negotiations unfolded over several months and Khaki never wavered throughout their investigation. Khaki even told federal agents that “you know and I know this material are [sic] limited material and danger goods…” Not only did Khaki try to dupe American companies, but the indictment alleges in late 2008, he tried to involve a Chinese individual by getting 20 tons of 7075-O aluminum alloy 80mm rods and 20 tons of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy 150 mm rods smuggled through the United States or Europe. According to the court documents, Khaki also sought to obtain mass spectrometers from the United States. One 2009 email request specified Khaki was after a magnetic mass spectrometer to be used for isotopic analysis of gaseous uranium hexafluoride. Uranium hexafluoride is the key chemical compound used for the enrichment of uranium. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Within days of the Supreme Court's Arizona SB1070 ruling the Department of Homeland Security began to unravel the Grand Canyon State’s strong illegal immigration enforcement measures and unleashed a new brouhaha with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. “Within hours of United States Supreme Court justices upholding the main portion of Arizona’s SB1070 law, President Obama and Janet Napolitano (DHS) with a wave of their hands have made what was illegal one day, legal the next. They can't pass their dream act, so they change enforcement policies, which undermines the rule of law,” the Sheriff said today. He specifically referred to Justice Antonin Scalia’s written decision. “Arizona bears the brunt of the country’s illegal immigration problem. Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so.” The Sheriff charges that on June 27 the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office witnessed the first of many examples of lawlessness that leaves deputies without assistance from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano revoked the 287g agreements with Arizona law enforcement on the very day of the SB1070 decision. Additionally, President Obama decided to stop deporting illegals 30 years of age or younger if they can prove they have been continuously living in the U.S. for five years,” said Tim Gaffney, director of Communications for Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. “At 4:45 p.m. one of our deputies stopped a vehicle on a traffic stop after he observed it speeding 85 mph in a 35 mph zone near Merrill Ranch Parkway. The vehicle also unsafely passed another vehicle while using the two-way left turn lane. The driver of the vehicle was a 17-year-old Hispanic male who verbally identified himself and told the deputy he was driving in such a reckless manner because he was ‘late for work.’ The driver told the deputy he did not have a driver’s license and could not obtain any identification since he lacked proper documentation required to qualify. He also said that his parents are also in the United States illegally. He told the deputy he was born in Mexico. When asked where he lived he stated, ‘Little Mexico.’ The driver said that he could not remember his exact home address,” Gaffney reported. After hearing the story, the deputy notified his supervisor as well as ICE, he explained the situation to both and was told by an ICE representative new policy meant they were no longer interested in the 17-year old Mexican national or his illegal parents. The driver was cited by the Pinal Sheriff deputy and released to his mother at the scene. Officials said the vehicle was impounded for 30 days because the driver was unlicensed. “The President fails to understand the follow on impact created by his decision to not enforce immigration laws. Some people will argue that individual states must now issue driver’s licenses to illegals, since the President made it perfectly legal for them to remain and work here and therefore, it would be discriminatory to deny them a driver’s license,” Sheriff Babeu said. “(Equally) as troubling, President Obama established a toll free hot line to report law enforcement for suspected racial profiling. How have we arrived at this point in America, where our own President decides what laws don’t apply to illegals and then establishes a hot line for them to report our heroes in law enforcement for suspected racial profiling? Where is the hot line for me to call to demand that all the laws are enforced and for the President to stop portraying law enforcement as the bad guys? President Obama and Secretary Napolitano obviously feel it’s more important to try and get votes this election year rather than to follow the rule of law,” Babeu concluded. Nevertheless a defiant Arizona continues to argue their case with voters while the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues their onslaught of lawsuits against the Grand Canyon State. (Sheriff Babeu is also running for Congress in his home state of Arizona.) For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Eerily reminiscent of an event that occurred nearly 50 years ago in the Gulf of Tonkin, an incident that drew America into the Vietnam War, a U.S. Navy 5th Fleet ship patrolling waters in the Persian Gulf fired on a small vessel, killing at least one. “The U.S. crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel’s operations to turn away from their deliberate approach. When the efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a 50. Caliber machine gun,” according to a statement from the Navy. Defense officials describe the attack on the vessel that killed one and injured three others as a pleasure-like boat. So far, the U.S. Navy has not been able to locate the vessel or the country of origin, but call the response in line with Navy protocol. History buffs may remember it was during a questionable Gulf of Tonkin military intelligence gathering operation where the USS Maddox crew says they were fired upon by the North Vietnamese, which prompted a bold U.S. response. President Johnson gave orders to return fire and the Navy responded by firing 14.5-millimeter machine guns at North Vietnamese vessels 28-miles offshore. A short time later and a questionable second attack ensnared Lyndon B. Johnson and the U.S. into the highly controversial Vietnam War. However, naysayers should remember it was October of 2000 when the USS Cole, while docked in Yemen was attacked by terrorists traveling in a small vessel that ultimately claimed 17 American sailors lives when the explosive-laden vessel crashed into the Navy ship. It’s also worth noting that the increasing hostilities in Syria and rising tensions with Iran, has prompted the Obama administration to begin a naval build up in the Persian Gulf. The USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier, has been sent to the region four months early to join the USS Eisenhower currently on station in the war torn Middle East. Nevertheless the incident continues to rattle nerves and spark rising tensions about Israeli and Iranian nuclear weapons. But a Navy official said earlier today, “I can’t emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with Iran.” Could the Gulf States recent increased purchasing of bonds to hedge their oil wealth, small vessel hostilities, Israeli pressure and the Syrian civil war be a harbinger that a Persian gulf war is imminent? For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Eleven years, trillions of dollars, 6,527 dead U.S. warriors and the Middle East is still embroiled in an endless war. Americans and its warriors are tired and broke. With all the U.S. blood and treasure expended, one would think the folks in the Middle East would be grateful, thankful, America has dedicated precious resources to “give” the Middle East democracy and freedom. They’re not. According to a new Pew Research Center poll, 74 percent of Pakistanis think America is the enemy, a sentiment that has increased the last few years from 69 and 64 percent respectively. This shocking poll reverberates throughout the Middle East region. But why do countries hate America more now than under the Bush Administration? Drones, targeted killings and corruption have garnered ill will with tribal leaders as well as those attending wedding parties. “Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea, Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, ‘When the drones hit, they don’t see children,’” a New York Times stated. Leading world news organizations, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have estimated the U.S. drone program has killed more than 4,000 people including a large number of civilian women and children since Obama became president. Not helping matters is the White House bragging about “Terror Tuesdays” and the delight President Obama takes when he orders the death of an alleged al Qaeda operative, even if it’s an American citizen. The Constitutional scholar and purveyor of “fairness” has become the sole dispenser of justice. No Miranda rights, no judge and no jury --the presumption of innocence has effectively been tossed in the wastebasket of yesteryear under the guise of national security. “Something that is being debated in UN hallways and committee rooms cannot apparently be talked about in U.S. courtrooms, according to the government,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's national security project. “Whether the CIA is involved in targeted lethal operation is now classified. It's an absurd fiction.” Once transparent candidate Obama became president, tactics in the “war on terror” shifted. The New York Times described Obama as “the man who placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.” Christof Heyns, a UN expert in targeted killings and arbitrary executions, said U.S. drone strikes are dangerously close to “war crimes,” something of which former President George W. Bush was accused and something that now hinders his foreign travel. However, the rookie president not only accepted former-President Bush’s covert war tactics he enhanced them. “The secret ‘nominations’ process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia,” the New York Times reports. This policy doesn’t bode well with Pakistan's ambassador to the UN, Zamir Akram, who called for international legal intervention to cease the U.S.’s “totally counterproductive attacks.” Heyns addressed the UN conference and added: "(Countries) may find targeted killings immensely attractive. Others may do so in (the) future … Current targeting practices weaken the rule of law. Killings may be lawful in an armed conflict [such as Afghanistan] but many targeted killings take place far from areas where it's recognized as being an armed conflict." He further derided the use of unmanned vehicle attacks outside the war theater as unacceptable. “It's difficult to see how any killings carried out in 2012 can be justified as in response to (9/11 attacks) in 2001. Some states seem to want to invent new laws to justify new practices.” While the UN throws out phrases like “conspiracy of silence” and “shine the light on independent investigation,” only time will tell if other nation’s risk Mr. Obama’s scorn to end the practice of targeted-killings. So far, the president’s national security advisor, Thomas Donilon, says Obama is determined to move forward with a kill list and act as the executioner. “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States,” Donilon quipped. Even American citizens are not safe from aggressive shadow war tactics. “The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step (of assassinating U.S. citizens), asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch,” the New York Times reported. “Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011, along with a fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but was traveling with him.” Nevertheless the President took it in stride and told his former chief of staff, William Daley, “This is an easy one.” This action eventually led many in DC to demand the legal opinion memo that Obama used to deny an American citizen justice, however, like former President Bush, he decided to keep his decision secret. “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that’s not sustainable,” said Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA. “I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret OLC. memos, and it ain’t a good life. Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a DOJ. safe.” On the other hand the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) warned that “immense damage was being done to the fabric of international law” when it comes to innocuous drone attacks and corruption. Ian Seiderman, ICJ director said Americans were relying on surveillance video rather than actual intelligence to prompt drone attacks on suspected al Qaeda terrorists. So far more than 1,000 people have been killed in Pakistan by drone attacks, the Pakistani ambassador concluded. “We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms of succeeding in the war against terror. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them.” Where’s the outrage? The outrage simmers in the European Union. American targeted killing or drone attacks presents an enormous challenge to rule of law philosophies that dominated U.S. policy for years. After 9/11, the CIA, Special Ops personnel and defense contractors have teamed up to fight a shadowy war, outside the lines, and outside the traditional warzones. Countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have been the beneficiaries of targeted killing using undetected, high-tech, armed drones. An FYI to Americans, the U.S. Congress has not declared war with any of those countries. As commander of the United States Central Command in September 2009, General David Petraeus signed a classified order authorizing “American Special Operations troops to collect intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and other places outside of traditional war zones. The result is that American military and (civilian) intelligence operatives are at times virtually indistinguishable from each other as they carry out classified operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some members of Congress have complained that this new way of war allows for scant debate about the scope and scale of military operations. In fact, the American spy and military agencies operate in such secrecy now that it is often hard to come by specific information about the American role in major missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen,” according to a New York Times story. During the President’s 2008 bid, Mr. Obama spoke openly about following the letter of the law and promised Americans he would end the wars. "I opposed this war in 2002 precisely because I feared it would lead us to the open-ended occupation in which we find ourselves today. We should not give the president a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path." It’s been more than three years and the Obama Administration has committed undisclosed amount of American support and resources to corrupt Afghan leaders through 2024. Is the wink-and-a-nod policy good for the American taxpayer or is it good for Afghan President Hamid Karzai whose legendary corruption has forwarded U.S. dollars into private accounts outside his tribal nation? The droning business goes global Notwithstanding the obvious --what’s preventing U.S.-made drones from ending up in enemy hands? Currently money drives the American defense contractors who continue to lobby the government for the right to export drones to foreign countries like China and Israel. American companies point to the Congressional Research Service and claimed foreign entities are beating U.S. defense contractors to the punch. "Export restrictions are hurting this industry in America without making us any safer," said Wesley Bush, Chief Executive of Northrop. "The U.S. is struggling to sell unmanned aircraft to our allies while other nations prepare to jump into the marketplace with both feet." Democrat Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee told the LA Times he is working with the Obama Administration to ease exporting policies. "It's crazy for us to shut off sales in this area while other countries push ahead," Berman said. "A very significant part of this economic recovery depends on exports. We need to take advantage of where our strengths lie." While opening up the “commercial” drone market may be “good” for business others worry the technology will do more harm than good. "The proliferation of this technology will mark a major shift in the way wars are waged," said Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association. "We're talking about very sophisticated war machines here. We need to be very careful about who gets this technology. It could come back to hurt us." Companies like General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. that builds the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer drones used by the military, are also looking to break into a growing UAV marketplace by building unarmed Predator drones. All told the U.S. drone market will make an estimated $11 billion over the next decade. Conclusion Looking into the future, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that foreign countries will arm and use drones to benefit their ideologies based on their law and order. Imagine that a target from the Mexican president’s “kill list” was discovered at a wedding in San Diego… For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
As reported in this column in March 2011 and by other fellow Examiners, confidential sources indicated U.S. Border Patrol’s agents’ primary weapons while on duty were non-lethal bean bags when they operated in notorious trafficking corridors along the U.S./Mexican border. Seventeen months later, that report has been confirmed by DOJ’s unsealed indictment. The same confidential sources have made unconfirmed reports that the non-lethal force (bean bags) directive came in a memo from none other than Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security to appease the Mexican government. In other words, Napolitano could have made a decision to place U.S. agents in a position of being out-gunned by cartel members that entered the U.S. illegally to traffic in humans and drugs to protect heavily armed cartel members from U.S. law enforcement. The Guardian, a British paper said Mexican officials are also furious about the recent spate of border shootings. “… The Mexican government has reiterated that the disproportionate use of lethal force in immigration control is unacceptable under any circumstances," Mexico's foreign relations ministry said in a news release. The same officials also called on the U.S. for more transparency and thorough investigations. Backing up Mexico’s cries was, Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), a member of the Hispanic Caucus and a 26-year veteran of the border patrol, who wrote a letter in May to Attorney General Eric Holder, noting that high-profile deaths on the border, such as those of Hernández-Rojas and Hernandez Guereca, have "left many doubts about the judicial process in the communities where these deaths have occurred." Curiously, a criminal case currently before the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Defendant Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, a high-ranking Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel leader in U.S. custody, claims he is an informant for the U.S. government. Zambada-Niebla told a number of attorneys that he would provide detailed information on the ruthless Los Zetas cartel in return for immunity. He further contends the U.S. government allowed 747 planes filled with drugs to fly into America unfettered. His lawyer also alleges the cartel leader may have information about the Fast and Furious gun-walking program that could be damning for federal law enforcement agencies. Ironically, a number of high-ranking cartel leaders continue to claim they are getting military-grade weaponry from the U.S. government, but it’s worth pointing out they are facing trial for serious crimes including multiple murders. These same cartel henchmen claim to be working with multiple federal law enforcement agencies to out their competition. This claim is consistent with DOJ Attorney General, Eric Holder’s testimony under oath that Main Justice approved Fast and Furious under OCDETF. The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is a highly secretive interagency oversight committee run by DOJ and is responsible for coordination of high-profile operations. Andrew McCarthy, a National Review writer and former DOJ employee explains, “To carry such (DOJ) cases off demands mega manpower. Besides developing and exploiting informants, the agencies infiltrate criminal conspiracies with undercover agents, use the information gathered as the basis for wiretaps, and coordinate this eavesdropping with physical surveillance. It takes scores of agents to monitor bugs, conduct sometimes 24/7 spying on multiple subjects, and manage informants, who tend to be very high-maintenance. This costs money, lots of money.” In another poignant truism about cartel informants Rusty Fleming, the Border Wars filmmaker, said he recently talked to one such ATF informer and found some startling news. “When I met with him to talk about the Fast and Furious Operation, he told me that he would not be crossing over back into the U.S. When we did finally met outside of Juarez, he explained to me that his involvement with the Fast and Furious Operation had put his life and the lives of family in danger. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the cartel he’s afraid of. He’s more afraid of what the U.S. government will do to him because of the information he has. Nearly one half of the weapons that were allowed to walk came thru (sic) the El Paso corridor, and he was instrumental in that process. But now he’s on the run from the same people that paid him to do what he did. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where all of this is going.” As compelling as all this information might be, the questions that still have not been asked are why multiple federal agencies, including ICE (previous ICE article here) participated in a program so convoluted it was destined to fail? For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Monday, July 9, 2012
After 18 months of stonewalling, him-hawing, national headlines and a contempt charge for Attorney General Eric Holder, the U.S. government finally unsealed its grand jury indictment case against those involved with the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry today. Little new information was revealed, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) provided media with confirmation that Border Patrol agents, using guns that fired bean-bags, not bullets, were used stop a dangerous, well-armed rip crew outfitted with U.S. Operation “Fast and Furious” AK-47s. The botched Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) gunwalking program allowed more than 2,000 firearms to “walk” across the U.S./Mexican border into the hands of ruthless drug cartels. Not only did a Fast and Furious gun kill agent Terry, but also there have been numerous reports that tie the failed ATF program to murdered ICE Agent Jamie Zapata. Also, Mexican law enforcement officials have said hundreds of their citizens have been murdered with Fast and Furious guns. The unsealed indictment charged five other individuals for the December 14, 2010 murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. According to the indictment, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza are charged with crimes including first degree murder, second degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, use and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. A sixth defendant, Rito Osorio-Arellanes, is charged only with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and remains in custody. The government’s indictment alleges the defendants illegally entered America from Mexico with the intent to rob drug traffickers of their illicit drugs and cash. “The indictment unsealed today reflects the progress our dedicated law enforcement team has made piecing together this complex murder case,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy. “But there is more work to be done and we will not rest until we bring justice to the family of Brian Terry.” The U.S. government also said they are working with their Mexican counterparts to apprehend four other Mexican nationals wanted for the murder of Agent Terry. In additional news, the FBI revealed they are offering a $1 million reward for any information resulting in the apprehension of the remaining suspects. The Terry family, who remain critical of the Obama Administration’s handling of their son’s murder investigation, released a statement regarding today’s news. “It has been a difficult 18 months for the family since Brian Terry was murdered in December of 2010 and today’s announcement provides hope that justice will eventually be served,” said Robert Heyer, Chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation and cousin to Brian Terry. “The Terry family would like to thank U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy and her team of prosecutors along with the special agents of the FBI’s Tucson Office and the Mexico City Legal Attaché who have continued to pursue leads in the murder case that ultimately led to the additional indictments of the four fugitive defendants. The Terry family would also like to thank the government of Mexico for their assistance in the investigation. It is the family’s hope that the unsealing of details in the case, the identification of the four fugitives and the issuance of reward monies will lead to the eventual capture of all individuals responsible for the murder of Agent Terry.” “Today’s developments certainly mean that the criminal prosecution of Brian Terry’s killers is moving forward,” said Patrick McGroder, the Terry family attorney. “However, the accountability aspect of Operation Fast and Furious, the flawed ATF/DOJ gun trafficking investigation that put weapons into the hands of the men that killed Brian Terry, remains stalled. The Terry family once again asks that the Attorney General and the Department of Justice comply with the request for documents made by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee so that all Americans can know who approved of the operation in order that those individuals can be held accountable for their decisions. Agent Terry died as a hero protecting this country; he and his family rightly deserve a full and thorough explanation of how Operation Fast and Furious came to be.” Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of the fugitives should contact the FBI's Phoenix field office at (623) 466-1999 or any local FBI, American Embassy or Consulate. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
California’s “anti-Arizona” bill or the TRUST Act passed the state Senate today. Tom Ammiano, a Democrat, said he authored AB1081 to reform California's participation in the “Secure Communities” program. The hot-button immigration law continues to face severe criticism from liberals in large cities who say deportations of illegal immigrants is unfair and primarily targets the Latino community. If signed into law by the governor, the bill will prohibit local law enforcement departments from referring a detainee to Immigration, Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials from deportation unless that person has been convicted of a violent or serious felony. “The vote (to move forward) recognizes that S-Communities is sabotaging our public safety,” Ammiano said. “The TRUST Act is the solution we need to begin rebuilding the confidence that our local law enforcement worked so hard to build, but that ICE has shattered." The progressive TRUST Act legislation from California Democrats has been nicknamed “the anti-Arizona” law. California State lawmakers took exception to Arizona's tough illegal immigration stance in the form of SB1070. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court weighed in and struck down key SB1070 provisions. However, the Court upheld Arizona law enforcement officers' ability to curtail the illegal immigration issues in their state. Which meant Arizona’s law enforcement officers could request legal papers if the illegals were detained for different infractions. Advocates of Secure Communities and SB1070 insist that shrinking state revenues and deficit-laden budgets are directly related to illegal immigration costs that are burdening states’ to pay for education, health care and skyrocketing prison populations. However, California’s $15 billion deficit problems were of little concern and Democrats in Sacramento insisted on disentangling local and federal law enforcement provisions set by the federal government to deport criminal illegals. If the Trust Act garners the signature of the Golden State’s governor, Jerry Brown, local police and Sheriff’s Departments would no longer have permission to work with ICE unless the suspected illegal immigrant has committed a serious felony. This contentious sticking point flies in the face of Police Departments like Escondido PD, who not only work directly with ICE, but agents have offices located at the Escondido Police Department. “It works,” Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher said. The city’s successful relationship with ICE has even garnered the department national recognition. Nevertheless, liberal California’s overwhelming Democratic legislature is hell bent on an open arms policy when it comes to illegal immigrants looking to call California home. The legislation would create a clear line between local police and ICE by setting “a minimum standard for local governments not to submit to ICE’s requests to detain people for deportation unless the individual has a serious or violent felony conviction. Guard against profiling and wrongful detention of citizens and crime victims and witnesses,” according to the bill. The bill also stipulates that localities that detain individuals with serious convictions inline for deportation would have to develop common-sense plans to prevent profiling and wrongful detentions The TRUST Act’s sponsor Ammiano said: “California cannot afford to become another Arizona." The often-controversial Secure Communities (S-Comm) program was set up under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to partner federal (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies to deport illegal immigrants and protect the country’s borders from criminal or possible terrorists seeking illegal entry into the United States. The S-Comm program allows police departments to send arrestee fingerprint data to ICE, which in turn uses the information to prioritize deportations. The program successfully deported 400,000 illegal immigrants last year. But that high number comes with passionate disapproval from Latino organizations and Democrat lawmakers in California. "(Secure Communities) has burdened our local governments and put even victims and witnesses of crime at risk of deportation, making us all less safe," Ammiano said on his website. "It has even mistakenly trapped U.S. citizens in our local jails for immigration purposes." The California State Sheriff's Association couldn’t disagree more. They said state and local agencies cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce and says S-Comm only focuses on serious felony and repeat offenders. "Now all of a sudden the sheriff has to make a decision based on this legislation, if it passes, on who [he] is and is not going to keep," Curtis Hill, legislative representative for the association, said to the Los Angeles Times. "So is he following federal law? Or is he applying the California law?" "The reality is we don't see this bill being slowed down in any way, shape or form," Hill told the newspaper. "We anticipate it will ultimately end up at the governor's desk and we'll see where it goes from there. Bill AB1081 passed the state Assembly by a 47-26 vote; the Senate passed the legislation on a 21-13 party line vote. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Held captive on a British warship in Baltimore harbor, Francis Scott Keyes watched anxiously as British naval forces bombarded Fort McHenry, which guarded the City of Baltimore. It was 1814, and the unseasoned, new country was under attack from the British Empire, again. As Keyes watched the battle unfold, he knew American’s future was uncertain. Like anxious Americans today, Mr. Keyes, the author of the Star Spangle Banner, concerns were well founded based on his personal observation of the battle. Like Mr. Keyes in 1814, Americans today wonder if the Republic will survive the extreme polarization of the government along political lines. Even though national polls across the country describe Americans’ extreme displeasure with politicians, the U.S. government continues to ignore the purpose of the government is - to govern all the people. The Constitution clearly enumerates the powers of each of the three branches of government and safeguards a degree of overlap to prevent the dominance of one branch while not marginalizing the others. To work, the U.S. republic requires a degree of cooperation, as well as respect between the branches, something that has been missing for quite some time. As Mr. Keyes would attest, the American defenders of Fort McHenry, mostly volunteer militia members, rallied to resist the British attack. The extraordinary resilience his countrymen exhibited and the relief that the American flag whipped proudly in the morning breeze inspired Mr. Keyes to pen the song that would become America’s national anthem. Some 200 years after America was last invaded, the U.S’s legacy is in jeopardy. Yes, the Japanese Empire attacked America on her soil at Pearl Harbor and al Qaeda on 9/11, but the natural protections afforded by vast oceans and friendly neighbors to the north and south, really means America has no natural enemies and a remote prospect of foreign invasion. Yet the country remains embroiled in a perpetual state of warfare. Since the end of World War II, whether “police actions” in the Caribbean to large-scale wars in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the U.S. government keeps U.S. troops engaged in worldwide battle. What’s the motive that drives America, the bastion of political freedom and personal liberty, to engage in such hostile global conduct? Prior to the World Wars the U.S. flexed its economic muscle by competing and trading on every continent. The American economic powerhouse defeated democratic threats in Europe and rebuilt the shattered economies as the so called “arsenal of democracy.” In fact, many scholars attribute the American democratic and economic models as the ultimate cause of the downfall of the Soviet Empire. It was breadlines, not frontlines that ultimately collapsed the Marxist-Leninist model. Perhaps, “exporting democracy” through force of arms is not such a good idea and American political/military leaders should strive to return to the basics of economic competition through free enterprise to restore the world’s confidence in America as a tireless friend, and staunch advocate of individual liberties and personal freedom. For 200 years Americans have enjoyed unparalleled success in the economic competitions between governments and societies. Americans are tough, fearless, and driven to succeed because America appreciates the great gifts and rights God has given all people, regardless of race or religion. Americans are proud to be Americans. As for Fort McHenry, Americans seized the day because they believed in a set of values and understood the responsibilities incumbent upon Americans to preserve the “great democratic experiment.” Maybe, just maybe, this 236th celebration of American Independence provides us with an opportunity to rededicate the focus of American interests that have made Americans’ prosper as a people and a nation. And just maybe, it’s time to end the ceaseless adventurism in foreign lands and rebuild a little American goodwill. Happy Fourth of July… For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
ndustry advocates and users agree, targeting air gun or Airsoft users in SB1315 is still a bad idea, especially when California’s economy is in tatters, deficits remain in the billions and double-digit unemployment plague’s the Golden State. They say existing law already provides the State Legislature with regulations for the manufacture, sale, or possession of imitation firearms commonly know as air guns or Airsofts. The proposed law would also define imitation firearms as any BB device, toy gun, replica, or other device that looks similar in color and appearance to firearms that could lead a judicious person to believe that the device is a real weapon. This bill (failed last year under SB798) would provide an exception to current law provisions and allow the County of Los Angeles, and any city within the county, to enforce the ordinance that is much more restrictive than state law. As it is written, the new law would affect 11 airsoft companies currently in the county of Los Angeles that already provide the state critical tax revenue from their $110 million a year businesses. These companies also directly employ more than 250 people. Industry experts are particularly concerned about the possibility of lawsuits local companies and government face due to the language of the bill. Furthermore, many consumers that enjoy Airsoft products recreationally could face criminal penalties just for driving through LA County. “Since BB devices may be transported through several jurisdictions while traveling from a person’s home to a place where they may be used, such as a recreational shooting facility, statewide uniformity of laws is necessary. If each local jurisdiction had its own laws, a person could easily and unknowingly be in and out of compliance while en route (This currently happens in NYC airports story here),” said Peter Ho, President of the Airsoft Safety Foundation. “The Airsoft Safety Foundation is comprised of sixteen California Airsoft companies representing more than $175 million in annual revenue and directly employs more than 250 people. 80 percent of these companies reside within the County of Los Angeles.” He also contends that the language of the bill specifically states that paintball markers, which are greater than 16mm in projectile caliber, are exempt from this bill. “As you can see, SB1315 blatantly protects paintball guns, but seeks to target air guns and Airsoft guns. This bill clearly gives unfair market advantage to the paintball industry, and does not serve public safety at all.” Many Democrat lawmakers suggest that the proposed legislation will save lives on the streets of Los Angeles. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Kevin de Leòn (D-Los Angeles) spokesperson, Greg Hayes said: “The senator is looking to assist Los Angeles law enforcement that is frequently challenged by Airsoft users.” However, written reports from experts in the field disagree with Senator de Leòn’s assumption. “In every case where officers used deadly force in a toy gun confrontation, the ‘triggering element’ in the officer’s decision to shoot was the action of the person,” according to a report from Police Executive Research Forum, Bureau of Justice Statistics written by David L. Carter Ph.D., Allen D. Sapp Ph.D., Darrel W. Stephens. “Nearly all of the officers expressed the concern that the blaze orange markings could easily be painted by a criminal in order to make the gun appear real for purposes of using it in a robbery… officers are trained that anyone can pose a threat with a gun regardless of age or sex. Thus, officers are told that even when encountering a youth with a gun, it should be treated as a life threatening circumstance.” The bill is set for a floor vote today. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Monday, July 2, 2012
A number of U.S. Embassies located just south of the border require workers to commute on Mexico’s dangerous streets. Two years ago an embassy employee, her husband and another man were gunned down in their car in Juarez, Mexico, and finally one alleged killer will face justice in a Texas federal courtroom. Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, aka “Benny,” arrived in the U.S. and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Castaneda in El Paso, Texas and was charged with a 12-count third superseding indictment that was unsealed in March 2011. “We allege that Gallegos Castrellon participated in the U.S. Consulate shootings in March 2010,” said Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. “His extradition to the United States is an important step forward in our pursuit of justice for the victims of those tragic murders in Juarez, Mexico. Innocent men and women on both sides of our border with Mexico should not have to live in fear of Barrio Azteca and other violent criminal gangs.” The U.S. government alleges Gallegos Castrellon participated in racketeering, narcotics distribution, and retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and murder. According to court documents, “Gallegos Castrellon allegedly participated in Barrio Azteca (BA) gang activities, including narcotics trafficking and acts of violence by BA members, both in Mexico and the United States. Gallegos Castrellon allegedly participated in the March 2010 murders in Juarez, Mexico, of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton; her husband Arthur Redelfs; and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee.” Gallegos Castrellon’s extradition in the high-profile case was made possible by the cooperation between U.S. law enforcement and the Mexican government. If convicted, Gallegos Castrellon faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.