Archive for the ‘Homeland Security’ Category

Open Microphone Insult? Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell: Obama Cabinet Pick Has “No Life”

December 4, 2008

A note to all politicians: if you’re speaking next to a microphone, be careful what you say. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell may wish he thought about that while he was having a conversation near the lectern at the National Governors Conference in Philadelphia Tuesday.

AOL

In video obtained by CNN, Rendell was discussing Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano — President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Homeland Security Department — and said she has excellent qualifications for the job since she “has no family.”

Ed Rendell
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“Janet’s perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it,” said Rendell, whose comments were picked up by the open mic.
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Rendell apologized for the comments Wednesday and said, “What I meant is that Janet is a person who works 24/7, just like me.” But in a commentary the night….

Read the rest  (Plus see the video and hear the Gov’s remark):

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For U.S., Pragmatic Pair Chosen to Confront Terrorism Threat

December 2, 2008

Justice, Homeland Security picks have excellent credentials but not much direct experience.

By Carrie Johnson and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 2, 2008; Page A11

In nominating former federal prosecutors to lead the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, President-elect Barack Obama yesterday selected two Democrats with sterling law-and-order credentials but less experience in detecting threats and gathering intelligence in the age of international terrorism.

Eric H. Holder Jr., the candidate to lead the Justice Department, served as the law enforcement agency’s second in command during the waning years of the Clinton administration, overseeing pursuits of violent crime, drug cartels and public corruption offenses. Janet Napolitano, who will run the sprawling Homeland Security bureaucracy, has served since 2003 as governor of Arizona, a border state at the forefront of the nation’s immigration debate.

U.S. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder listens as U.S. President-elect ... 
.S. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder listens as U.S. President-elect Barack Obama announces the nominees to staff his national security team, including Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) as his nominee for Secretary of State and Robert Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense during a news conference in Chicago December 1, 2008.REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)

Yet neither nominee boasts much direct experience with the most significant and pressing counterterrorism matters that will cross their desks if they are confirmed by the Senate and take office after the January inauguration.

Among them: how to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and assess the danger of detainees; how to reorient a domestic wiretapping program once branded as unlawful even by some Bush administration insiders; whether to expend scarce resources prosecuting the intelligence officers and lawyers who developed the framework for policies that Democrats have roundly criticized; and how to prioritize and allocate resources toward the top domestic threats.

At a news conference in Chicago yesterday, Holder played down the tension between protecting American citizens and respecting civil liberties, signaling that he would work to achieve bipartisan consensus in Congress for policies to attack national security threats.

Napolitano promised that the new Obama team will coordinate across all levels of government to ensure a “fast, sound, level-headed and effective” response to natural as well as terrorist-inflicted disasters.

President-elect Barack Obama (L) listens as Arizona Governor ... 
President-elect Barack Obama (L) listens as Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, his choice for homeland security chief, speaks at a press conference in Chicago, Illinois. The Department of Homeland Security was born in the US government’s greatest reorganization since World War II after the September 11 attacks of 2001 made the threat of terrorism very real.(AFP/Getty Images/Scott Olson)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/12/01
/AR2008120102892.html?hpid=topnews

Latinos unhappy with Obama picks

November 30, 2008

If there is one message President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team has broadcast about Cabinet picks, it is that ethnicity and gender will not be the first considerations when filling the slots.

Credentials over tokenism, after all, was a fundamental principle of Obama’s presidential campaign that highlighted his ideas and community values over his African-American background. Still, if all goes as planned, Cabinet members with hefty résumés will present a picture of diversity.

Hispanic political leaders agree. Their expectations for seats at the president’s top policy table are not about meeting quotas but about advancing the reality that within this fastest-growing ethnic group are seasoned policy experts who understand the economic, foreign and domestic policy concerns shared by everyone.

Obama promised hope and change, and Hispanics hoped for the usual two Latinos in the Cabinet. And heck, why not three or four? Now that would be a change.

Gebe Martinez, Politico

But at this early stage in the appointments process, there is a trickle of disappointment running through the Latino community.

First, the most prominent Hispanic leader, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, lost the plum secretary of state assignment to New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Last spring, Richardson angered the Clintonistas by backing Obama over Clinton during the heated Democratic Primary contest, only to now see her being offered the top diplomatic post.

“There’s nobody more prepared and experienced” for the job than Richardson, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Richardson was energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration, and he helped free hostages in North Korea, Iraq and Cuba.

Second, grass-roots immigrant rights activists have mixed feelings about Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano being the likely nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security.

President-elect Barack Obama listens to Democratic governor ... 
President-elect Barack Obama listens to Democratic governor Janet Napolitano (L) of Arziona during a economic discussion in June 2008 at the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Napolitano is a breast cancer survivor, mountaineer and Monty Python buff who has been on the front lines of the battle against illegal immigration.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Jeff Haynes)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20
081130/pl_politico/15967;_ylt=At
k3r5UkmUacGrtgejl8jUes0NUE

Ariz Gov Janet Napolitano Rumored for Homeland Security Post; Progress on other Cabinet Slots

November 20, 2008

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, an early Barack Obama supporter from the southwestern part of the country, is a leading contender for the job of secretary of homeland security, Democratic officials said Thursday.

These officials caution that no final decision has been made on the position, which involves directing the massive department created by the Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer

In this Nov. 13, 2008 file photo, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano ... 
In this Nov. 13, 2008 file photo, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Napolitano is President-elect Barack Obama’s primary choice to be secretary of the Homeland Security Department, several news organizations reported Thursday Nov. 20, 2008.(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The officials agreed to discuss the situation only on grounds of anonymity because of the private nature of the screening process for Obama’s Cabinet. Napolitano, who once was Arizona’s attorney general, was among the first of the Democratic governors to commit to him.

Several news organizations reported Thursday that Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker, who was Obama’s national campaign finance chairman, is his leading choice to become secretary of commerce.

Among the names being bandied about as the Obama transition team sets up the new government are several people with long careers as Washington insiders, notwithstanding Obama’s clarion call in his campaign for change in the nation’s capital.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081120/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama_
cabinet;_ylt=AtY.xNyz4wMX96GZZNZjM3Os0NUE

U.S. Intelligence Chief Says Terror Threat Going Up

February 17, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 17, 2008

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said today, “Now, when the terrorist threat is increasing because they’ve achieved — Al Qaeda’s achieved de facto safe haven in the border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan — the threat is going up.”

DNI McConnell appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell speaks ... 
 When asked by Mr. Wallace to reflect on recent comments by President Bush, DNI McConnell said, “President Bush is repeating advice that I’m giving him. As you know, I am not a political figure. I am a professional. I’ve been doing this for 40 years.”

President Bush had said following recent Congressional action to limit U.S. intelligence evesdropping “The United States is now more in danger of attack.”

Earlier this week House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says, “The president’s comments are wrong, divisive and nothing but fear-mongering.”

Senator Ted Kennedy said, “The DNI’s latest comments show yet again the shamelessness of the administration’s tactics.”

McConnell said the terrorists have, “New information, new personalities, new methods of communicating.”

 The DNI said we are in a period of “Increased danger, and it will increase more and more as time goes on. And the key is the — if you think about the private sector global communications, many people think the government operates that.”

The congressional action would limit a governments ability to solicit and obtain communications intercepts and information from what are called “private carriers.”  Private carriers are usually telephone companies.

“Ninety-eight percent of it [telephone communications] is owned and operated by the private sector,” said McConnell.  “We cannot do this mission without help and support from the private sector. And the private sector, although willingly helped us in the past, are now saying, ‘You can’t protect me. Why should I help you?'”

About the terror threat McConnell said, “We have not located an Al Qaeda cell inside the United States that is directly associated with Al Qaeda.

“There are other groups that we watch closely, but the attempt on the part of Al Qaeda — they have safe haven,” said the DNI. “They have leadership. They have the middle-grade trainers. And they’re recruiting.”

“They have been successful in recruiting any number, and they’ve trained them in Pakistan and then sent them back to their home country,” he said.

“Often, they will try to recruit in a country that does not require a visa to get inside the United States,” McConnell said. “So you can see these are very sophisticated people, and they’re looking for any means to come back into the United States.”

“Casualties greater than 9/11 — that’s their objective,” said the DNI.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, right, looks ... 
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, right, looks on as President Bush makes a statement regarding the Protect America Act, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington.
(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Citizenship on hold for many immigrants

February 9, 2008
By Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – President Bush is asking Congress to spend money to help businesses root out illegal workers but he did not request additional funds to help legal immigrants become American citizens more quickly.

In his budget proposal issued this week, Bush asked for $100 million to expand E-Verify, the system employers use to check whether they are hiring documented workers. He didn’t ask Congress to allocate money to chip away at millions of citizenship and other immigration applications that flooded the government last summer, before an increase in the agency’s filing fees.

Instead, Citizenship and Immigration Services will rely on $468 million in fees to pay for reducing the backlog by 2010. Those funds are a portion of the total fees that came in with the applications this summer.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080209/ap_on_go_
pr_wh/immigration_backlogs;_ylt=Av2WSou
AB3Plepg8RdZvctKs0NUE

Adopting Children From Vietnam Becomes Struggle

February 8, 2008

Sharon Chin, Reporting
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ALAMEDA (CBS 5) ― Cheers and tears for George and Monica DiGioacchino and their nine-month-old son adopted from Vietnam. They arrived at San Francisco International Airport this week. At times they wondered if they would ever bring Patrick home.

“I’m very happy to come back with the rest of my family and start our life here,” George DiGioacchino said.

The Alameda couple legally adopted Patrick in Vietnam last October. But the American government refused to grant him a visa to come home.

“You’re panicking. And at that point, he’s very much your son,” Monica DiGioacchino said.

The couple got help from an immigration attorney and Senator Barbara Boxer’s office.

Immigration attorney Lynda Zengerle said, “Our adoption parents were told ‘If you just take your baby back to the orphanage and relinquish it there, give it up, kind of like taking a sweater back…'”

Read the rest:
http://cbs5.com/local/vietnam.orphan.adoption.
2.649012.html

“Cyber Storm” War Game

January 31, 2008
By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – It’s the government’s idea of a really bad day: Washington’s Metro trains shut down. Seaport computers in New York go dark. Bloggers reveal locations of railcars with hazardous materials. Airport control towers are disrupted in Philadelphia and Chicago. Overseas, a mysterious liquid is found on London‘s subway.
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And that’s just for starters.

Those incidents were among dozens of detailed, mock disasters confronting officials rapid-fire in the U.S. government’s biggest-ever “Cyber Storm” war game, according to hundreds of pages of heavily censored files obtained by The Associated Press. The Homeland Security Department ran the exercise to test….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080131/ap_on_go_ca_
st_pe/cyber_storm;_ylt=Ar36RRsLXZApCh
QdbtcqAHGs0NUE

Key Setbacks Dim Luster of Democrats’ Year

December 20, 2007

 By Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 20, 2007; Page A01

The first Democratic-led Congress in a dozen years limped out of Washington last night with a lengthy list of accomplishments, from the first increase in fuel-efficiency standards in a generation to the first minimum-wage hike in a decade.

But Democrats’ failure to address the central issues that swept them to power left even the most partisan of them dissatisfied and Congress mired at a historic low in public esteem.

Handed control of Congress last year after making promises to end the war in Iraq, restore fiscal discipline in Washington and check President Bush’s powers, Democrats instead closed the first session of the 110th Congress yesterday with House votes that sent Bush $70 billion in war funding, with no strings attached, and a $50 billion alternative-minimum-tax measure that shattered their pledge not to add to the federal budget deficit.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/19/AR2007121902643.html?hpid=topnews

US force not ruled out in Pakistan

July 22, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. would consider military force if necessary to stem al-Qaida‘s growing ability to use its hideout in Pakistan to launch terrorist attacks, a White House aide said Sunday.

The president’s homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, said the U.S. was committed first and foremost to working with Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, in his efforts to control militants in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. But she indicated the U.S. was ready to take additional measures.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070722/ap_
on_go_pr_wh/us_pakistan_1

Related:
Muhammad Reports from Tribal Areas, Pakistan