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Monday, October 22, 2007

NGA moving to Fort Belvoir

Interesting presentation prepared by Eileen Preisser:

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
New Campus East
Springfield, VA

Eileen Preisser, Program Advocate
New Campus East Program Management Office
March 2007

Approved for Public Release - 07-170



•Explain why NGA must build a new campus on Ft Belvoir’s EPG in Springfield, VA

•Provide updated information on how NGA intends to create New Campus East (NCE) at Springfield, Virginia

•Describe the challenges and benefits of NGA’s move to Springfield

Here is the related press release:

9820 Flagler Road
Fort Belvoir VA 22060

RELEASE NO. 060727
July 27, 2006


FORT BELVOIR, VA. -- The U.S. Army announced today that its master planning contractor has recommended a ‘preferred site-plan’ for the realignment of Fort Belvoir. This plan as well as alternative plans will now be analyzed in an environmental impact statement (EIS). The ‘preferred site-plan,’ is intended to achieve requirements of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC).

Under the preferred site plan developed by the Army’s contractor, four major incoming functions would be located in dispersed areas of the existing post, as well as the Engineer Proving Ground (EPG) near Springfield. The functions recommended for EPG siting are the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; elements of the Washington Headquarters Service; and the National Museum of the United States Army.

An expanded DeWitt Army Community Hospital and other agencies directed by the BRAC law are recommended for siting on Fort Belvoir’s South Post.

BRAC 2005 calls for approximately 22,000 additional employees to work at Fort Belvoir by September 15, 2011. Planners estimate that this will require the construction of several million square feet of office space and millions of dollars in new infrastructure at the installation.

“We have listened closely to the concerns of the community during this early phase of the process, and we expect our community outreach will only intensify in the months ahead,” stressed Mr. Keith Eastin, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment.

“All of the planning strategies we have examined have been driven in part by concerns over transportation, the environment, and infrastructure,” said Colonel Brian Lauritzen, the installation’s commander, who emphasized that transportation has been a key factor in the Army’s work to date. “At this early stage of the process the Army has benefited enormously from the input we have received from local elected officials, particularly on the transportation question. We look forward to collaborating closely with our partners in Fairfax and Prince William Counties, as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Colonel Lauritzen added.

The Army has determined that the input is sufficient to begin the next phase of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. During this phase, the environmental impact of the alternatives submitted by the planners will be analyzed. An integral part of this analysis will be the assessment of the impacts to current and planned transportation infrastructure The Army will prepare a draft EIS and make this available to the public for comment early next year.

Visit the project web-site at For additional information contact Mr. Dave Foster, (703) 697-5344 or

Thursday, October 18, 2007

John Hamre to chair Defense Policy Board

Good news from the Pentagon:

DoD News Briefing with Press Secretary Morrell from the Pentagon

In addition today, Secretary Gates named John Hamre to chair the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. Dr. Hamre, who served as deputy secretary of Defense under President Clinton, is now president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Secretary Gates has also named the following new members to the board: former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Peter Pace -- retired General Peter Pace; former Defense Secretary William Perry; former Undersecretary of Defense Peter Rodman; former Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph; and former Deputy National Security Adviser J.D. Crouch. They, along with 18 returning members, will provide the secretary with independent, informed advice on major matters of defense policy. The board will focus primarily on long-range -- or pardon me, long-term enduring issues central to the department's strategic planning.

Hamre was one of the early supporters of LIWA and Curt Weldon's NOAH, later implemented at TTIC and now NCTC:

Mr. Speaker, this was in 1997. I briefed John Hamre. Dr. John Hamre was then the Deputy Secretary of Defense. I said, John, you have got to go down to Fort Belvoir and see this facility; it is amazing. He went down twice. He called me back and he said, Curt, it is amazing what they are doing there. This profiling worked, and they could do it because unofficially some other secret lines were running through Fort Belvoir that the Army could unofficially access. So it really was an official process.

He said, But you know, Curt, I cannot get to where you want to go because the CIA and the FBI will not cooperate and neither will the other agencies. He said, So I have a suggestion for you. Why do you not host a meeting in your office? I will come and you invite my counterparts at the FBI and the CIA....

We did not have that capability before September 11. That is why I stood up on September 11, at 12 p.m. in the afternoon and said, "Today our government failed the American people." Because, Mr. Speaker, we knew what we should have done. We knew what we could have done. And we did not do it.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I firmly believe that if we would have implemented the NOAH, which John Hamre offered to pay for with DOD dollars, back when we first recommended it, I am convinced we could have stopped or known about and prevented September 11 from ever happening.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shaffer to testify on Spitzer's license program

If you were wondering what Tony Shaffer has been up to lately, on Monday morning he will give his expert opinion to the New York State Senate as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies regarding Eliot Spitzer's program to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. If you had not guessed, he is opposed to it.

Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs
Chair: Senator Vincent L. Leibell
Senate Standing Committee on Transportation
Chair: Senator Thomas W. Libous
Public Hearing: Protecting our State’s Security: A public hearing to examine the security issues, review the impact, and investigate alternatives and legislation concerning the Governor’s proposal to remove statutorily required identity checks on drivers licence applications and issue drivers licenses to Illegal Immigrants.
Place: Hearing Room A, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Time: 10:00 a.m.

We have also obtained a copy of the written testimony he submitted:

Senator Leibell, honorable senators of the great state of New York, thank you for this opportunity to participate in the hearings on this issue of vital interest not only to the people of New York, but also for the people of the United States.

My background is on record with the state – to briefly recap of my Bona fides – I am a senior fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies who has served as an intelligence operations officer for more than 25 years. My counterterrorism career started in the mid 80s where I worked as a counterintelligence special agent with the Army Intelligence New York City Resident Office that worked with the New York City Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). This office supported events such as the Statue of Liberty re-opening during OPSAIL 86. In the late 1990s, while the chief of a Special Mission Task Force, I played a key role in operational planning for the first comprehensive mapping of Al Qaeda as a global threat in an operation called ABLE DANGER – while specific details are disputed, the bottom-line fact of ABLE DANGER is that a significant number of the 9/11 terrorists were identified a full year before the attacks. After the 9/11 attacks, I was in command of a special mission unit focused on counterterrorism operations in Sub-Saharan Africa and completed two combat tours to Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. I have worked undercover multiple times and I am familiar with how easily fraudulent documents can be made to ‘appear’ legitimate.

It is my professional judgment that Governor Spitzer’s plan to issue illegal aliens legitimate New York State driver’s licenses will result in significant security vulnerabilities for the state of New York – and these actions will result in an increased threat for additional attacks to New York state and New York City. I base this assessment on my knowledge obtained during my 25 years of working in the field of intelligence and counter terrorism. This change of policy appears to be illegal under the Federal “Real ID” statute…but if breaking the intent and letter of federal law is not sufficient, I offer the following three points.

My first point – passage of the governor’s plan to allow illegal aliens to legally obtain New York state driver’s licenses will make New York state the preferred location for an ever increasing number of illegal aliens. This will result in illegal aliens coming from all points across our nation - and the world – in effect; the new policy will be a magnet that draws illegals and will likely double or even triple the number residents in the state.

This will produce negative consequences for New York.

Foremost, will be security – while the intent of the governor’s plan is to use “legitimate” passports as the basis for issuing licenses, there are inherent and significant problems. Assuming that all passports are “legitimate” (many of which will not be legitimate), the more illegal aliens who arrive, the more administrative pressure builds for the New York law enforcement officials to verify the authenticity of their passports– which I will address as separate problems in later testimony. With the added influx of illegals, there will be no possible way, with New York’s limited resources, to do reasonable “due diligence” on every illegal immigrant wanting a drivers license. There will likely be a “creeping diminution scale” of acceptable “legitimate” passports – and a high likelihood that illegal aliens, with or without passports, will select New York as their planned domicile due to its “illegal friendly” laws…inevitably, New York State will become one large “illegal alien sanctuary state”. Even in the best circumstances eventually with this large influx of illegals will overwhelm state resources. Unless New York State is prepared to increase its law enforcement resources significantly through additional funding and re-allocation of resources, there is no foreseeable way that Governor Spitzer’s program can be deemed “secure”. If past performance is any indication of future behavior, to deal with the inevitable backlog, bureaucrats under pressure to clear their numbers will push state law enforcement officials to take shortcuts which will result in shortened or bypassed security checks. This breakdown in security will open the door for a terrorist to slip through – and any smart terrorist organization will know to “flood” their operatives into the system knowing that several will get through. The terrorist organizations we are dealing with, especially Al Qaeda, is well funded, motivated and sophisticated. They are clever adversaries who will watch, identify, and exploit the vulnerabilities of the system – and the vulnerabilities of Governor Spitzer’s plan will be obvious. It will not take them long to identify and exploit this breakdown in security.

Let us not forget that a good number of the 9/11 hijackers had legitimate Virginia State drivers licenses that allowed them to move freely within the United States and enhanced their ability to plan and conduct the attacks. The State of Virginia has fixed its laws to preclude this from happening again – it is unconscionable that the very state that suffered the worst losses from the 9/11 attacks would willingly re-open this vulnerability and willingly provide a venue for smart terrorists to penetrate our security.

Another consequence that will add to New York State’s loss of security will be an influx of the criminal element. As with any population movement, there will be a percentage of criminals imbedded in the population. This was observed recently in New York’s neighbor to the south - in the brutal murder of 3 promising high school kids in Newark, New Jersey by illegal aliens – Newark is a sanctuary city…and with that status comes the inevitable presences of gangs, such as MS-13, who preys on the immigrant population with a culture of violence. That culture of violence will inevitably creep out of the immigrant community and menace the law abiding citizens of New York as it did in Newark. With an ever greater percentage of illegal aliens coming to New York, there is a statistical inevitability of more violent crime. Add the ability for an illegal to get a driver’s license and now the flood gates are open.

New York’s tax payers need to understand all aspects of Governor Spitzer’s new policy. They need to understand that this influx of illegals will require them to pay a hefty tax bill.

Tax payers will have to pick up the tab on additional security checks and the labor cost to perform those checks – resources that must be either diverted from their current security missions or new job positions need to be created if there is to be any hope of screening the illegals for fraudulent documents and terrorists and criminals hidden within their ranks.

On top of the increased security and administrative costs are the cost of social services that will have to be provided to the illegals as they move into the state. We are talking about immigrants who are unable to provide for their own healthcare and/or social wellbeing. There is a certainty that both medical and welfare programs will be more heavily burdened by the expansion of the illegal alien population.

Lastly, looking at the trends of most states with significant illegal alien populations, the criminal justice system will be flooded by the criminal cases generated by a good number of these illegal individuals. This will increase the case loads of the courts, and with convictions, it will rapidly increase the number of inmates in the state penal system. The use of public defenders, additional crimes and cases added to already heavily burdened legal system, along with increased use of jails and prisons to house suspects and convicts will all add to the drain of the public coffers, and require the already heavily taxed citizens of New York State to pay even more in taxes.

My Second Point – the inevitability of passport fraud and the inability of the New York law enforcement community to identify all “illegitimate” passports will lead to another 9/11 type incident. While the governor’s plan calls for the need for a “verified” passport, it does not take into account the ease with which foreign passports can either be obtained through illegal means, or counterfeited outright.
Does the Governor Spitzer’s plan to ask for additional resources to do overseas, in-depth investigations to verify the origins and legitimacy of the foreign passports, and will he be able to ensure that each individual shown on the passport is a real person who is from the country he or she purports?

Implied in the Governor Spitzer’s wish to change policy is the need to build foreign passport expertise within the state’s law enforcement system. Will there be funding available to create a staff of passport experts? Will the New York State Police be able to travel to foreign countries to verify and interview people to confirm the source of an individual’s passport?

Legitimate passports of many countries, such as in Sub-Sahara Africa and some European nations, can be obtained quite easily by terrorists and criminals. It has been noted in multiple news magazines over the last few years the ease with which criminals from Nigeria obtained third country passports for the purposes of committing financial fraud against U.S. citizens. The knowledge of how to obtain a third country legitimate passports for illegal use will be an issue New York State law enforcement officials will be obligated to deal with under Governor Spitzer’s policy. I would argue that such expertise to evaluate the validity of each and every passport of every illegal alien wanting a New York state license will not be within the expertise of the New York State Police anytime in the near future. Plus – while some passport fraud may be detected by New York State law enforcement, what becomes of an illegal alien who is discovered using an fraudulent passport (in light of Governor Spitzer’s comment that he will not perform the federal government’s work regarding illegal aliens).Does the alien get released so he or she can simply try again? And how do you detect passport fraud if the passport is issued by a sovereign country in a way that is legitimate to the legal system of that country, but, in the eyes of U.S. law would be fraudulent? How do you detect the intent of an illegal alien by simply examining his or her passport?

Plus, looking at the “worst case” scenario, once an individual using a false, doctored or illegal passport obtains a New York State drivers license, has he or she has effectively achieved “legitimate” status – and de facto U.S. citizenship? By creating this policy, Governor Spitzer is opening a path for the worst law breakers in the world – terrorists and criminals – to obtain legitimate status as citizens of New York State and the United States.

With the authority to create policy comes the necessity to maintain responsibility. In this case Governor Spitzer’s intent to change the policy, without careful study and contingency planning to address and mitigate all security risks is clearly irresponsible. The implementation of the policy to provide illegal aliens driver’s licenses requires “a willing suspension of disbelief”, to quote a New York State Senator, that this policy is in the best interest of the people of New York State and of the nation.

My third point –bringing people in “from the shadows” – for what purpose? Governor Spitzer claims that by implementing this program, the New York State insurance premiums will drop 34% because more people will be “covered”. Based on what study or detailed assessment is this based? Is someone going to guarantee the people of New York this cost savings? Has there been a polling of the major insurance companies to verify this claim?

I have outlined the security issues, unintended consequences and costs so far in my testimony – but let me now examine the so called benefits of this policy. Essentially, Governor Spitzer is telling the people of New York that the creation of security vulnerabilities, added cost of infrastructure and services to support the ever expanding illegal population of New York is worth saving on car insurance. Is this a fair trade-off?

The one “security plus” that the governor and his staff proclaim to be the best reason for implementing the policy: the ability to “track” people. Yes – as the governor points out, this change will bring people out of the shadows and give them access to New York State’s vast social services (medical, schools, welfare, etc) and a fast pass to legitimate access to all the states in the union – and allow them access to move, at will, all across the country and obtain employment. But wait – how does this “help track” these people? Governor Spitzer, to justify the program has already stated that he would “not do the work of the INS (I think he meant ICE since INS has not existed for several years) – so if you are not willing to help ICE now, why would the governor be more willing to help ICE after implementation of his policy? It appears that Governor Spitzer’s appears to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

What I see here is illegals gaining access to other states and exporting the state of New York’s security problem, like a virus, to all other states of the union. The theory is, according to the governor’s staff public comments, that the illegals will be “tracked”…if so how? With whom and how will information on the illegal be shared? What state agency will be tasked and held accountable to track them? What will be the legal basis for tracking them? Will they follow federal law and deport the illegals once they are identified? Probably more ““willing suspension of disbelief”.

Each citizen of this nation has fundamental expectation of privacy and protection from unreasonable search and seizure. So how will this new group, with legitimate driver’s licenses, be legally scrutinized any more than you or me? The answer is clear – they will not – and they will be given the same access and freedoms that you and I enjoy as law abiding citizens of this country.

The bottom-line of my testimony is this:

There are predictable security consequences and unintended consequences that will result from the implementation of the governor’s policy to provide illegal immigrants with legitimate New York State driver’s licenses – none of which are being addressed by Governor Spitzer at this point as far as I can determine.
Once an illegal has a driver’s license, this makes them a threat to not only New York, but every other state in the Union.

Plus – it is important for the people of New York to have a clear understanding of the financial burden both the implementation of the minimal security requirements and new drain on social services will bring them in taxation.

Within the realm of legal immigration is a “vetting” process. Individuals and their families are examined by a process in a systematic way. While this is not a full proof system, a great deal of information is learned about them in the process of becoming a citizen. Even ICE’s green card process requires an individual wishing legal resident status to provide significant information about their background – information that is verifiable…while not the perfect system, this system is far better and more robust than that Governor Spitzer proposes in which de facto legal resident status will be bestowed on them by simply presenting a passport that may or may not be legitimate.

If this policy is implemented, it will reward criminal behavior – and encourage more of the same. My family came over from Spain on the Lusitania just prior to World War I – and worked their way through the American legal immigration system. I appear before you now as a second generation American.

I urge the New York State Senate to examine closely Governor Spitzer’s intent to modify policy as to allow for the issuance of drivers licenses to illegal aliens, and prevent implementation of this flawed policy unless all direct and indirect consequences of the policy can be identified and mitigated.

Anthony Shaffer
Senior Fellow
Center for Advanced Defense Studies

Data mining at the CIA

Interesting story I stumbled across from 2003:

By Bill Powell
October 13, 2003
FORTUNE Magazine

In the DO, Tenet eliminated old rules constraining agents from recruiting "unsavory" characters. Meanwhile, some internal walls have tumbled down. Jami Miscik now boasts about how many analysts from her directorate work in tandem with DO and sci-tech agents abroad, including several currently in Iraq. Increasingly, those analysts in the field can access data that used to be available only at headquarters. The CIA also laid so much broadband fiber in Iraq during the war, says Bobby Brady, deputy chief information officer, that videoconferencing is easier there than in Virginia.

In October the Agency will start using a data-mining program called Quantum Leap that's "so powerful it's scary," says Brady. It enables an analyst to get quick access to all the information available--classified and unclassified--about virtually anyone. Civil libertarians, not surprisingly, are unhappy, and even Brady says that in the wrong hands, "This could be Big Brother."

But Quantum Leap will be an extremely useful tool at the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center run by John Brennan, a 23-year CIA veteran. TTIC went into business just four months after President Bush announced its formation last February. It draws on personnel from the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security in the hope that next time, the government will be able to "connect the dots."

Here's another interesting story from October 2003:

According to Congressional testimony and news reports, The Matrix (which stands for ""Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange"") creates dossiers about individuals from government databases and private-sector information companies that compile files on Americans' activities for profit. It then makes those dossiers available for search by federal and state law enforcement officers. In addition, Matrix workers comb through the millions of files in a search for ""anomalies"" that may be indicative of terrorist or other criminal activity.

While company officials have refused to disclose details of the program, according to news reports the kind of information to be searched includes credit histories, driver's license photographs, marriage and divorce records, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and the names and addresses of family members, neighbors and business associates.

Raising even more issues, the Matrix is operated by a private company, Seisint Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida. Ironically, the company's founder was forced to resign after information about his own past came to light: according to Florida police, he was formerly a drug smuggler who had piloted multiple planeloads of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Video tribute to USS Cole crew members

Thanks to Vi Adkins for the link:

The heroes who died in this monstrous al-Qaeda terrorist attack are:

Monique Francis, 19
Seaman Tim Gauna, 21
Signalman Seaman Recruit: Louis Gunn, 22
Ensign Andrew Triplett, 30
Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronchester Santiago, 22
Seaman Craig Wibberley, 19
Electronics Warfare Technician First Class, Kevin Shawn Rux, 30
Seaman Recruit Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22
Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21
Engineman 2nd Class Marc Nieto, 24
Electronics Warfare Technician 3rd Class, Ronald Scott Owens, 24
Electronics Technician 1st Class, Richard Costelow, 35
Fireman Apprentice Patrick Roy, 19
Engineman Fireman Joshua Parlett, 19
Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis, 26
Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32

Seven Years Ago Today

Important post from Jane Novak over at the Jawa Report:

On October 12, 2000 two Yemeni suicide bombers rammed an explosives-laden dingy into an American destroyer, the USS Cole. Seventeen US service members were killed and forty-nine injured. The destroyer had been invited by the Yemeni government to refuel in the port of Aden.

In the light of historical perspective, several facts have become clear. Intelligence warnings generated prior to the attack were never forwarded to the commander of the Cole. The investigation afterwards was marred by turf wars within the US government, leaving links between the Cole bombing and the attacks of 9/11 unexplored. The Yemeni government worked diligently to limit the scope of the US investigation. Almost all the Yemenis involved in the Cole bombing are free today. The involvement of some Yemeni officials in the bombing is documented; however, the scope of that involvement is not.

Military commander and presidential half brother, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar recruited fighters for bin Laden in the 1980’s and set up training camps in Yemen. Thousands of Yemenis at all levels were active in the Afghan conflict. After the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, the Yemeni regime welcomed thousands of both Yemeni and non-Yemeni “Afghan Arabs” back to Yemen. Many of these hard core Islamists were militarily deployed in defense of the regime during its civil war in 1994 against Southern Socialists. As a result, many Afghan Arabs and other Islamic militants who fought in 1994 against “apostate” socialists are today ensconced in high level government positions. Others were absorbed into the military and security forces.

Through the 1990’s, both Osama bin Laden and Aiman Zawaheri traveled in and out and around Yemen on many occasions, often meeting religious leaders and prominent persons. Bin Laden delivered sermons in Yemeni mosques and purportedly held a six hour meeting with Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar in Sana’a airport in 1996.

Bin Laden made a deal with the Yemeni government in 1999, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. After Al-Qaeda operative Tawfiq (Khallad) bin Attash was arrested in Yemen, Bin Laden contacted a Yemeni official and bargained for Attash’s release. The Yemeni regime released Attash and promised not to confront al-Qaeda. In exchange, Bin Laden pledged not to attack Yemen. This pattern of negotiation continues today.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

White House denies leaking Al-Qaeda video

From the AFP:

The White House on Tuesday denied being the source of a leak involving an Osama bin Laden video that a private intelligence firm said had sabotaged its secret ability to intercept Al-Qaeda messages.

Asked if the White House was the source of the leak, spokeswoman Dana Perino said: "No, we were not ... We were very concerned to learn about it."

The SITE Intelligence Group said it lost access that it had covertly acquired to Al-Qaeda's communications network when the administration of President George W. Bush let out that the company had obtained a bin Laden video early last month ahead of its official release, the Washington Post said.

"Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless," SITE founder Rita Katz told the newspaper.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sandy Berger advising Hillary Clinton


WASHINGTON - Sandy Berger, who stole highly classified terrorism documents from the National Archives, destroyed them and lied to investigators, is now an adviser to presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Berger, who was fired from John Kerry’s presidential campaign when the scandal broke in 2004, has assumed a similar role in Clinton’s campaign, even though his security clearance has been suspended until September 2008. This is raising eyebrows even among Clinton’s admirers. “It shows poor judgment and a lack of regard for Berger’s serious misdeeds,” said law professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University, who nonetheless called Clinton “by far the most impressive candidate in the Democratic field.”

Adler told The Examiner that it is “simply incomprehensible to me that a serious contender for the presidency would rely upon him as a key foreign policy advisor.”

He added: “If Senator Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, at some point she will begin to receive national security briefings that will include sensitive information. At such a point, continuing to keep Berger on board as a key advisor, where he might have access to sensitive material, would be beyond incomprehensible.”

The Clinton campaign declined to comment.

Berger has admitted stealing documents from the National Archives in advance of the 9/11 Commission hearings in 2003. The documents, written by White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, were a “tough review” of the Clinton administration’s shortcomings in dealing with terrorism, Clarke’s lawyer told the Washington Post.


The New York Democrat's campaign downplayed the fact, saying Monday that Berger is an informal, unpaid adviser to the campaign, something ascribed to many people associated with the campaign. Berger has been a longtime friend of both Clintons.

"He has no official role in the campaign," spokesman Blake Zeff said.

Aides to the New York Democrat were unapologetic about Berger's advisory role, noting he is not a central figure but has valuable and welcome input that he is providing voluntarily.

But Hoekstra took issue with the idea of letting someone convicted in connection with that sort of crime even voluntarily advise the campaign.

"Sandy Berger had a high position within our national security apparatus once before. He abused that position. He took top secret materials. He took them home, and we still have not really discovered or know what was in the documents or why they were so important for him to take them," Hoekstra said.

"It's clearly an indication that Sandy Berger is on the way back. That even though he abused the office that he held before and the privilege that he had before that there's a way for him to get back in and become a part of the national policy-making within the United States of America," he added.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ware: Not enough evidence to convict Wuterich

From a copy of Ware's recommendations:

Finally, although I believe the Government will fail to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that SSgt Wuterich committed any offenses other than dereliction of duty, due to the serious nature of the charges, I recommend referral to a general court-martial.

Would Watergate have blown over today?

Carl Bernstein sure thinks so:

Watergate would not have played out the same way today because Congress no longer performs its oversight role, said Carl Bernstein, one of the journalists famous for uncovering the story.

“The difference with today is that the system did its job. The press did its job. The court did its job. The Senate committee did its job,” Bernstein said Saturday. “There’s been great reporting on this president. But there’s been no oversight. We have a Democratic Congress now and there’s still no oversight.”

Bernstein also said that “35 years of ideological warfare” could also change how the public would react to such a scandal.

“We live in a very different atmosphere today,” Bernstein said. “With Watergate, eventually the people of this country looked around and decided Nixon was a criminal president. I’m not sure the same chain of events would have taken place today.”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Good news for Mark Zaid's client Wuterich

Officer: Drop Marine's murder charges

SAN DIEGO - An investigating officer has recommended that the Marine at the center of the biggest prosecution of U.S. troops in the Iraq war should not stand trial on murder charges, a defense attorney said Thursday.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 27, of Meriden, Conn., is charged with the unpremeditated murder of 17 Iraqis in Haditha in 2005. The former squad leader allegedly directed his Marines in an assault that left 24 men, women and children dead.

Lt. Col. Paul Ware recommended that Wuterich should be tried for the lesser offense of negligent homicide in the deaths of five children and two women, said Neal Puckett, Wuterich's attorney.

Ware reviewed evidence against Wuterich in a preliminary hearing known as an Article 32. His recommendation is nonbinding, and the final decision about whether Wuterich should stand trial rests with Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the commanding general overseeing the case.

If Mattis accepts the recommendation for Wuterich and a similar one for one of his corporals, which appears likely based on past practice, no one will face murder charges in the biggest case involving civilian deaths in Iraq.

"We're both very pleased and also not surprised, given how the other cases have gone," Puckett said. "There has never been any inkling that any of these Marines lost control or went on a rampage."

Ware also recommended dropping charges of making a false official statement and telling a squadmate to do the same, Puckett said.

If tried and convicted of murder, Wuterich would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Puckett said negligent homicide carries a maximum sentence of three years for each count.

By my count, he's still facing a maximum sentence of 21 years.