Monday, January 17, 2011

Department of Homeland Security sued for storing full body scanner images


 We’ve all been told that the whole body scanners are being implemented for our own good. We’ve been assured that our misapprehensions were unfounded. Body scanners penetrate clothing to provide a highly detailed image so accurate that it has been likened it to a virtual strip search. Technologies vary, with millimeter wave systems capturing fuzzier images, and backscatter X-ray machines able to show precise anatomical detail.
During Department of Homeland Security hearings, Janet Napolitano assured the Congress (and this writer who was present at the hearing) that all images collected by the full body scanners are not stored, cannot be stored and are discarded as soon as they're viewed. Just last summer the Transportation Security Administration claimed that "scanned images cannot be stored or recorded." Privacy advocates (including yours truly) cried foul. Turns out, they were right. Yet again we’ve been lied to by the government. Of course, as usual, the official take is that we were bamboozled for our own good. Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the United States Marshals Service to obtain information about the agency's use of full body scanners for courthouse security. EPIC pursued the case in federal court, EPIC v. Department of Justice, Case No. 10-1157.


In the course of that litigation, EPIC has obtained an admission by the agency that a single machine has stored "approximately 35,314 images" of the full body scans of courthouse visitors over a six month period. It turns out that the U.S. Marshals Service had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse. EPIC also obtained a representative sample of the images stored by the devices.

PIC v. DOJ (USMS) – Complaint

EPIC is also pursuing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, pertaining to the use of body scanners in US airports. The DHS is currently withholding more than 2,000 images of individuals who have been subject to the airport body scanners.

Additionally, EPIC has filed a separate suit against the DHS, urging a federal court to suspend the airport body scanner program. EPIC said that the program is "unlawful, invasive, and ineffective." EPIC argued that the federal agency has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC cited the invasive nature of the devices, the TSA's disregard of public opinion, and the impact on religious freedom.

In an open government lawsuit against the United States Marshals Service, EPIC has obtained more than one 100 images of undressed individuals entering federal courthouses. These routinely obtained images prove that body scanning devices store and record images of individuals stripped naked. The 100 images are a small sample of more than 35,000 such images at issue in the EPIC lawsuit.

Feds admit storing checkpoint body scan images

This privacy debate, which has been simmering since the days of the Bush administration, has reached a boiling point when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that scanners would soon be installed at virtually every major airport. The updated list includes airports in New York City, Dallas, Washington, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Philadelphia. These "devices are designed and deployed in a way that allows the images to be routinely stored and recorded, which is exactly what the Marshals Service is doing," EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg told CNET. "We think it's significant."
The Gen 2 machine, manufactured by Brijot of Lake Mary, Fla., uses a millimeter wave radiometer and accompanying video camera. It has the capability to store up to 40,000 images and records. Brijot boasts that the machine can be operated remotely: "The Gen 2 detection engine capability eliminates the need for constant user observation and local operation for effective monitoring. Using our APIs, instantly connect to your units from a remote location via the Brijot Client interface." A 70-page document showing the TSA's procurement specifications, classified as "sensitive security information," says that in some modes the scanner must "allow exporting of image data in real time" and provide a mechanism for "high-speed transfer of image data" over the network.

"TSA is not being straightforward with the public about the capabilities of these devices," Rotenberg said. "This is the Department of Homeland Security subjecting every U.S. traveler to an intrusive search that can be recorded without any suspicion--I think it's outrageous." EPIC's lawsuit says that the TSA should have announced formal regulations, and argues that the body scanners violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable" searches.

Epic Press Release: Documents Reveal That Body Scanners Routinely Store And Record Images

The Department of Homeland Security has heard our pleas and concerns – and "in response", decided to give us even more of what we didn't want, by dramatically expanding the full body scanner program. On July 20, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security announced a substantial change in the deployment of body scanners in US airports. According to Napolitano, the devices will now be deployed in 28 additional airports. They are designed to capture and store photographic images of naked air travelers. EPIC has filed an emergency motion in federal court, urging the suspension of the program and citing violations of several federal statutes and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC said that the program is "unlawful, invasive, and ineffective." EPIC argued that the federal agency has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment. Public opposition to the program is also growing. EPIC's initial brief will be due November 1, 2010.

Subsequent briefs from DHS and EPIC will be due by December 15, 2010.

Of course, it’s no longer a secret why the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff has been the most active cheerleader for the installation of the full body scanners in all American airports. Chertoff is clearly motivated by his lucrative business relationship with the machine’s manufacturer. He failed to publicly disclose this paramount conflict of interest in promoting the installation of the full body scanners, from which he stands to benefit financially.

Kate Hanni, President of FlyersRights.org, said: “Michael Chertoff has marginalized himself in the worst way possible by 'selling' the flying public on claims that these Rapiscan full body scanners are a panacea. While these body scanners detect 'anomalies' that are between the skin and clothing, they will NOT detect anything in a body cavity that is deeper than 1/10th of an inch, which experts warn will likely be a part of future attacks. This just adds insult to injury, as Mr. Chertoff shamelessly peddles his wares using the nation's airwaves and a near-national tragedy."

Michael Chertoff Pitchman for Full Body Scanners

As of October 1st, 2009, 150 of these units were ordered by the Transportation Security Administration costing the American taxpayer $25 million in stimulus funds, with another 300 on order at a cost of $51 million. As Hanni's sees it, "half measures get us nothing. It's time to hit the pause button and do a wholesale review of what we have today so we can implement policies that will offer the flying public the most secure and efficient travel process possible under the current circumstances."

Following field tests at international airports in Rome, Milan, Palermo, and Venice, the Italian civil aviation authority has determined that airport body scanners are inaccurate and inconvenient. Earlier this year the European Commission found that body scanners have “raised several serious fundamental rights and health concerns,” and recommending less intrusive measures. The European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has announced a hearing on the Body Scanner program for October 6, 2010.

In letters to Senator Lieberman and Senator Collins, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg and consumer advocate Ralph Nader urged the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to "convene a public hearing to review the government's deployment of whole-body scanners at passenger security checkpoints in US airports." The Nader/Rotenberg letter states that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration have "disregarded serious questions concerning the devices' effectiveness, privacy safeguards, and potential health impacts." In a letter to the US Marshal Service, Senators Lieberman and Collins earlier expressed concern about the ability of these devices to store and retain images. These concerns are now coming to the forefront of the public’s attention. In the mean time, the Department of Homeland Security is requesting $72 million to invest in detection systems, which includes funding for the backscatter machines, which cost between $100,000 and $200,000 each.

The backscatter machines use high-energy X-rays that are more likely to scatter than penetrate materials as compared to lower-energy X-rays used in medical applications. Although this type of X-ray is said to be harmless, it can move through other materials, such as clothing. When being screened, a passenger is scanned by high-energy X-ray beam moving rapidly over her body. The signal strength of detected backscattered X-rays from a known position then allows a highly realistic image to be reconstructed. In the case of airline-passenger screening, the image is of the traveler's nude form. The image resolution of the technology is high, so the picture of the body presented to screeners is detailed enough to show genitalia.

Sreeners can save these nude body images to the system's hard disk or floppy disk for subsequent viewing on either "the system monitor or on any IBM compatible personal computer with color graphics."

Airports Currently Using Whole Body Imaging Technology
  • Albuquerque International Sunport Airport
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
  • Denver International Airport
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Detroit Metro Airport
  • Indianapolis International Airport
  • Jacksonville International Airport
  • McCarran International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Miami International Airport
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Richmond International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Salt Lake City International Airport
  • Tampa International Airport
  • Tulsa International Airport
Until these most serious concerns are resolved – when traveling by air, you would be well advised to leave your privacy and modesty at home.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jordanian tourist who overstayed his visa involved in a terror plot


The Justice Department announced that aspiring terrorist Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was sentenced to 24 years in prison for trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper in 2009. He pleaded guilty on May 26, 2010, to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Smadi, who was 19 years old at the time, came to the attention of the FBI through his writings on a radical Islamic website. Special Agent Tom Petrowski, who oversaw the investigation out of the FBI’s Dallas office, said that Smadi “was on a very extreme website, where people were saying a lot of unspeakable things, endorsing and celebrating acts of violence against U.S. citizens and our allies.” Petrowski added, “What made Smadi’s postings stand out from the other rhetoric was that he was saying, ‘I want to act.’ That’s what really got our attention. Smadi wanted to imitate 9/11 and bring down a skyscraper and kill thousands of people. And he was already in the country. He said he just needed the tools—essentially he was online asking for someone to help him build a bomb.”

Smadi espoused loyalty and shared radical beliefs of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. He entered the U.S. on a tourist visa in 2007. Smadi overstayed his visa. “Based on that expired visa, law enforcement could have immediately arrested and deported him,” Petrowski said, “and that would have been the easiest thing to do.”

Once Smadi advocated violence on an Islamic website, ICE could have deported him, barring his re-entry to the U.S. in perpetuity and enrolling his biometric data in appropriate databases. The loose-goose immigration enforcement allowed Smadi to be admitted into the country. He didn’t meet the requirements for a tourist visa, because he had a criminal record in Jordan. This case also re-confirmed the resounding failure of e-Verify, since Smadi was able to get a job and stay in the U.S. long after his visa had expired.

Here are some fun facts about terrorism in relation to non-enforcement of our immigration laws:
  • Four of the 9/11 terrorists (Zacarias Moussaoui, Satam al Suqami, Nawaf al Hamzi, and Hani Hanjour) had overstayed their visas at the time of the attack. A review of their visa applications by experts deemed that none of them should have received a visa to begin with;
  • Two conspirators in the first World Trade Center attack (Mohammed Salameh and Eyad Ismoil), were in the U.S. illegally, having overstayed their visas;
  • New York subway bomb plot terrorist Lafi Khalil was in the U.S. on an expired visa;
  • Fadil Abdelghani, who took part in the plot to bomb New York landmarks, had overstayed a tourist visa;
  • The murderer of two CIA employees in 1993, Mir Aimal Kansi, overstayed a business visa;
When a terrorist is admitted into the U.S. on a tourist visa, there is a significant likelihood he will overstay his welcome – simply because of the time involved in organizing and preparing for any significant terrorist attack. That is yet another important reason for getting a handle on millions of overstays currently in our country.

In this case, instead of having Smadi deported, the FBI set up a sting, using Arabic-speaking agents who began to talk with Smadi, first online and later in person. FBI Agents led Smadi to believe that “he had found an al Qaeda sleeper cell in the U.S. and that he was now planning the next 9/11 attack,” Petrowski said. FBI conducted 10 months of around-the-clock surveillance, up to the point when they supplied Smadi with the truck that he believed to contain a weapon of mass destruction, which in reality was a fake bomb built by the FBI. It was reportedly fashioned to appear similar to the one used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The Dallas case comes in the wake of several recent high-profile terrorism arrests in Denver and New York and in a strikingly similar scheme in Illinois, involving undercover agents providing an extremist with a fake bomb.

According to the case files, Smadi drove the truck containing what he believed to be an explosive device to Fountain Place, a 60-story office building located at 1445 Ross Avenue in Dallas, and parked it in the public parking garage. After walking out of the garage, Smadi got in a car with an undercover FBI Agent and drove away. Smadi then dialed a cell phone number that he was told would remotely detonate the bomb. At that point, he was arrested.

One big takeaway from this case,” Petrowski said, “is the question of how many other potential violent extremists are out there, being exposed to terrorist ideologies online and contemplating an attack.”

In Jordan, Smadi's father told Agence France-Presse, that his son was innocent and the accusations against him were "fabricated." Maher Hussein Smadi said, "We as a family never believed in terrorism and we never believed in violence." He added: "The FBI fabricated the entire thing to embarrass Obama because of his good relations with Muslims." Smadi added that his other son, 18 year old Hussein Smadi, is in California and had also been arrested. The younger Smadi brother was reportedly charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance.

This case involved a lot of work by many people throughout the FBI and our partner agencies,” Petrowski said. The case involved undercover agents, surveillance teams, and behavioral analysts, bomb experts, the multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task Force, attorneys in the U.S. Department of Justice, and members of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division in Washington, D.C.

Much effort and many resources, from not only the FBI but other law enforcement agencies, were expended in investigating, tracking and ultimately arresting Hosam Maher Husein Smadi while at all times ensuring the public’s safety,” said Special Agent In Charge Robert E. Casey Jr.

After footing the bill for the building of a fake bomb, 10 months of surveillance and the enormous costs of investigating and prosecuting this case, American taxpayers will now have the privilege of paying for Smadi’s room and board for 24 years to come. A timely deportation and a one way ticket to Jordan would have made a lot more sense, fiscally and legally speaking.

Man Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for Attempting to Use a Weapon of Mass Destruction to Bomb Skyscraper in Downtown Dallas

Terror Plot Foiled: Inside the Smadi Case

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Bin Laden aide sentenced to life in prison for blinding and handicapping a Corrections Officer


On August 31, 2010 in Manhattan federal court, 52 year old Mahmoud Mamduh Salim was sentenced to life in prison for his brutal assault on Corrections Officer Louis Pepe. Salim was previously indicted in the Embassy Bombings case for attacks that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Salim is charged to have participated in a global conspiracy to kill Americans in connection with the operations of Al Qaeda. Salim was specifically identified as a trusted aide of Osama Bin Laden.

Salim was incarcerated in the Metropolitan Correctional Center ("MCC"), awaiting trial in the case of United States v. Bin Laden, (the "Embassy Bombings Case"). Ten years ago, on November 1, 2000, Salim led a horrific attack on Corrections Officer Pepe. It took over 10 years for Salim to be finally sentenced in this matter.

According to the documents filed by the prosecutors, Salim carefully prepared and launched an assault on Officer Pepe, with the assistance of his cellmate Khalfan Khamis Mohammed. In preparation for the barbaric attack, Salim fashioned knives out of a comb and hairbrush that he ordered from the MCC commissary. He made ropes out of cloth and saran wrap and filled honey-bear bottles with hot sauce.

On the day of the assault, Salim lured Officer Pepe into his cell, where Salim and his cellmate Mohammed attacked him in the most inhumane manner imaginable. Salim knocked Officer Pepe to the ground and attempted to blind him by spraying hot sauce into his eyes. While Officer Pepe continued to fight back against Salim and Mohammed, Salim took out one of the knives he had made and brutally shoved it into Officer Pepe’s left eye.

Salim’s assault caused horrific injuries to Officer Pepe, who is now handicapped, has a difficulty speaking and requires nearly constant home health assistance. As the result of an attack, Pepe is blind in one eye, partially blind in the other and is confined to a wheelchair.

Salim’s attack against Officer Pepe was the first step of a larger plan to commit other violent criminal acts. U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts found that Salim had initially planned to take hostages in an effort to free himself and his co-defendants in the Embassy Bombings Case.

Mahmoud Mamduh Salim pled guilty to two charges related to the November 1, 2000 assault, specifically to attempting to murder Officer Pepe and conspiracy to do so. Following the 8-day sentencing hearing, Judge Batts sentenced Salim to 32 years in prison. She declined to impose an enhancement under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for conduct that involves terrorism. Based on Batts’ undue leniency and failure to impose an enhancement based on Salim’s terrorist activities, the government appealed his sentence. In December 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated Salim’s sentence and remanded the case for re-sentencing with the application of the terrorism enhancement.

In re-sentencing Salim, Judge Batts referred to an Order filed on July 8, 2010, in which she described some of the aggravating characteristics of Salim’s assault against Officer Pepe. Judge Batts noted that a life sentence was appropriate because of Salim’s actions in plunging “the sharpened weapon deeply into the eye of the downed but struggling man,” which was “appalling” and the grievous nature of the injury suffered by Officer Pepe. The victim’s brain was damaged in the attack, impacting his ability to speak or engage in any day-to-day activities. Batts also referenced the fact that Salim intended to commit additional violent acts against his attorneys after the completion of his attack against Pepe.

Judge Batts also referred to Salim’s use of “religious and psychological coercion” in convincing Mohammed to participate in an assault. In addition to the sentence of life in prison, Batts also sentenced him to a lifetime term of supervised release. 10 years after the attack, Salim was ordered to pay $4,722,820 in restitution to his victim, to reimburse Pepe for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost income.

Judge Batts called the crime "unusually cruel, brutal and gratuitious." She could have saved the victim additional years of agony, if she had originally imposed an appropriate sentence.

Wheelchair-bound, blind in one eye Pepe faced his attacker in court, via closed-circuit television. "You want to be (a) martyr?" Pepe asked Salim. "Guess what, Salim? You're not going (to be a) martyr. You're going to hell - that's where you’re going."

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “By all accounts, Officer Louis Pepe’s heroic efforts on November 1, 2000, helped prevent Mahmoud Mamduh Salim from shedding even more blood than he did. As a result of Salim's vicious, premeditated attack, Officer Pepe has suffered terrible injuries and years of pain. Today's life sentence, which comes almost 10 years after the assault, provides at least a small measure of vindication for Officer Pepe and his family.”

Alleged Bin Laden Aide Re-Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to Life in Prison for Brutal Attack on Prison Guard and Attempt to Attack His Lawyers

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WikiLeaks scandal grows, U.S. Congressman wants WikiLeaks whistleblower dead

It’s no longer a secret that our government doesn’t like whistleblowers. Since the days of the Nixon administration, they have been persecuted, maliciously prosecuted, fired, transferred and severely harassed. These weren’t the random acts of retaliation – to the contrary, they followed the protocol outlined in the infamous Malek Manual.

Office of Special Counsel (OSC) - the dark legacy

The very agencies entrusted with protecting the rights of whistleblowers have been oppressing those who sought their protection. Like the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing, the OSC, the MSPB, the Federal Circuit and federal courts have long been used as the far-reaching tentacles of the government.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange discovered for himself just how far the U.S. government is willing to go in order to silence whistleblowers and anyone who gives them a voice. An arrest warrant was issued for Assange, then abruptly withdrawn once it received media attention. On August 22, 2010 Assange told a Swedish newspaper of his belief that the Pentagon could be behind a rape allegation brought forth by Swedish prosecutors.

Julian told the Aftonbladet Daily "I don't know who's behind this but we have been warned that, for example, the Pentagon plans to use dirty tricks to spoil things for us." “I have also been warned about sex traps," continued Assange. Even though the warrant has been withdrawn, Julian Assange believes it has already damaged his reputation. "There have been headlines all over the world saying I'm suspected of rape," he told Aftonbladet. "They will not disappear. And I know from experience that WikiLeaks enemies will continue to trumpet these allegations even after they've been denied."

The Pentagon remained silent about its alleged involvement in the case. Since its launch in 2006, WikiLeaks has published thousands of whistleblowing disclosures about the activities of American and allied forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The website is currently preparing to put 15,000 more classified military documents online in coming weeks. U.S. administration is opposing future disclosures, claiming they could place the lives of Afghan civilians and U.S. soldiers at risk.

During the week prior to the issuance of a warrant, Assange has been in Sweden, working to boost legal protection for WikiLeaks and other whistleblower websites.

Whistleblowers in the U.S. can count on vehement opposition and tireless persecution by the very people elected to represent their interests. U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers went so far as to advocate the execution of WikiLeaks whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning. Rogers thinks Manning should die for his whistleblowing disclosures.

Congressman Rogers sits on the House Intelligence Committee. He said that Private Bradley Manning appears to be guilty of treason in time of war, which is a capital crime. If Manning isn’t charged with treason, Rogers believes he ought to be charged with murder. In either case scenario, Congressman wants the whistleblower to be put to death. "I would support it 100 percent," Rogers said.

US congressman says Bradley Manning should be executed

Rogers told his local radio station that Mannings' actions have condemned to death many Afghans who assisted the U.S. It is hard to see how the video in question, dubbed the “Collateral Murder”, could have done that, since none of such collaborators were mentioned. So far only the U.S. government made the claim that lives have been placed at risk by Manning’s alleged disclosure. They don’t seem as concerned with the numbers of people that were accidentally killed by US assassination squad cock-ups, reportedly exposed by Manning. He also allegedly revealed that Pakistan "allies" had built safe havens for the terrorists who are killing Americans.

The U.S. government labeled WikiLeaks a “potential force protection, counterintelligence, operational security (OPSEC), and information security (INFOSEC) threat to the US Army.”

Congressman Rogers criticized what he called a “culture of disclosure” for encouraging whistleblowers to think that the release of sensitive information is a good thing. Our elected officials are much more used to the “culture of corruption”, where government wrongdoing is covered up and perpetrators are usually transferred and promoted. The clash of these two cultures is brought to the forefront of public attention by the WikiLeaks scandal.

As Mark Twain wisely put it, “In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a brave and scarce man, hated and scorned. When the cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”

Manning is being held in solitary confinement in Virginia. He may face a court martial or federal prosecution as the investigation continues.

Early Struggles of Soldier Charged in Leak Case

It should be noted that none of our elected officials have called for the execution of law enforcement officers or public officials convicted of serious crimes against our country. For example, high-ranking border officials are never charged with treason for allowing illegal aliens, narcotics and uninspected vehicles into the U.S. To the contrary, such offenses that undermine the sovereignty of our country are usually accompanied by slap-on-the-wrist sentences (often, only probation).

Badge for sale - the tales of MICE and men

Like prominent whistleblowers who endured the “Enemy of the State” existence, Assange leads a nomadic lifestyle and rarely sleeps in the same place two nights in a row. It’s a wise decision, since the trouble for Assange may not be over anytime soon.

Read more stories by Julia Davis, Los Angeles Homeland Security Examiner

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Badge for sale - the tales of MICE and men

Mexican drug cartels and smuggling organizations use the old Soviet principles, summarized by the cold war acronym MICE (Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego) in their approach to recruiting border agents. Oftentimes, the smugglers don’t have to swim, run or climb a fence. All they need is a corrupt border official on the take – and the numbers of crooked law enforcement officials are simply staggering.

On August 12, 2010 Congress passed the Border Security Appropriations Bill, providing $196 million for the Department of Justice to surge federal law enforcement efforts in high crime areas in the Southwest Border region.

New Congressional Funding to Enhance Department of Justice Southwest Border Strategy

Devoting more funds to enforcement efforts is not enough to curtail internal corruption that permeates ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Border Patrol and CBP (Customs and Border Protection). The changes must come from within.

The first priority should be the change in the hiring policies of the agencies within the Department of Homeland Security. They rightfully devote enormous time and manpower investigating job applicants with family ties and connections to foreign countries. That is, all countries except for Mexico – the primary source for the flood of illegal aliens, smuggled drugs and weapons into the United States. This counter-intuitive approach allows individuals with ties to Mexican cartels and smuggling organizations to be hired to protect our borders – the proverbial fox in the henhouse. In at least one instance, an illegal alien was hired to serve as the Border Patrol agent, in turn smuggling hundreds of other illegals into the U.S.

“Plata y sexo”

While money continues to be the most commonly-used incentive, the runner-up is sex, also referred to as setting a “honey trap.” The common expression used by smugglers is “plata o sexo” – bribe or sex. In some cases, it’s both. Sex can be used to entice or to blackmail a law enforcement official into performing required tasks. Once caught, corrupt border officials face very light prison sentences (or mere probation). Therefore, the temptation of sex and money is not adequately counteracted by the threat of punishment. Here are some disturbing examples:

On August 4, 2010, Rudy Trace Soliz III, 44, pleaded guilty to alien smuggling and bribery, admitting that while serving as a CBP Officer with the Department of Homeland Security he knowingly allowed his 28-year-old lover Erika Cespedes to bring in aliens and merchandise through his vehicle inspection lane in return for sexual favors. Soliz is scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2010 and is currently free on bond.

CBP Officer Pleads Guilty to Alien Smuggling and Bribery

Soliz is likely to receive a lighter sentence than his co-conspirator Erika Cespedes, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison on August 11, 2010.

Smuggling for Sex: Woman who seduced CBP officer sentenced to five years in prison

Richard Elizalda, a 10-year veteran of U.S. Customs and Border Protection was convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for allowing illegal aliens to enter the United States. Working at the world's busiest border crossing, the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Elizalda sent text messages to smugglers, informing them which inspection lane to go to. Then he simply waved them in, sending dozens of illegal aliens into our country without proper documentation.

Elizalda was involved in a sexual relationship with the principal smuggler, Raquel Arin. Elizalda was driving luxury cars, giving his lover and co-conspirator expensive jewelry, going on extravagant trips and otherwise burning through a lot of money. A search of Elizalda’s house turned up approximately $30,000 in cash. For his crimes, Richard Elizalda was sentenced to serve less than 6 years in prison.

"Border Inspector Gets Nearly 6 Years" Washington Post

Border Agent Only Gets 6 Years for Allowing Illegals into the Country in Exchange for Cash, Cars

Illegal alien, smuggler hired by Border Patrol

In 2005, Border Patrol agent Oscar Antonio Ortiz pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle over 100 people into the country. Surprise-surprise – this Border Patrol agent was an illegal alien himself. He used a counterfeit U.S. birth certificate to get hired as a Border Patrol agent. Not as surprising was a lax sentence of only 5 years in prison.

Border Patrol Agent Gets 5 Years in Prison for Immigrant Smuggling

Miguel Angel Avina, a trainee at the Border Patrol academy, was arrested on fraud and conspiracy charges related to his participation in a ring that smuggled at least 110 weapons.

Port Director kept on payroll, receives probation for federal crimes

On October 31, 2005, a high-ranking Customs official was sentenced for her felony crimes. Daphiney Caganap served as the head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) intelligence unit and anti-smuggling operations at the San Ysidro Port of Entry (the largest and busiest land border country in the United States and in the world). She received bribes in exchange for covering up an illegal alien and drug smuggling operation, allowing it to continue for years. When questioned by the FBI, Caganap lied under oath.

Even though the government was well aware of Caganap’s bribery by 2001, she continued to receive promotions and was appointed as the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Port Director at the Metro Detroit Airport. After being indicted, Daphiney Caganap was placed on administrative leave (which means that she continued to receive her exorbitant salary, courtesy of American taxpayers).

One of the 8 co-conspirators working with Caganap included the head of a smuggling ring. Corrupt inspectors, whose activities were covered-up by Caganap, were making $15,000 to $20,000 a week from smugglers for allowing illegal aliens and hundreds of pounds of marijuana to enter the U.S.

Caganap was indicted for all of the above-mentioned crimes and was facing 36 years in prison. She was sentenced to mere probation. Caganap wasn’t ordered to return any of the bribes she received in the commission of her crimes.

Ex-border official takes plea bargain in smuggling probe

A fish rots from the head down

Historically, Customs has always been the most corrupt federal agency. This dubious lead continues to be maintained through the stream of convictions of Customs agents, officers and even the agency’s Chief Counsel.

On April 21, 2010, the assistant chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Constantine Peter Kallas was found guilty of conspiracy, 6 counts of bribery, 2 counts of obstruction of justice, 7 counts of fraud and misuse of entry documents, 3 counts of aggravated identity theft, 9 counts of making false statements to the Department of Labor, 4 counts of making false statements to obtain federal employee compensation and 4 counts of tax evasion. His wife, Maria, was also arrested and pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Kallas set up two phantom companies (Botno, Inc. and Mississippi Valley Consulting, Inc) and filed false employment petitions with the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for dozens of illegal immigrants in exchange for hefty bribes.

Kallas' attorney, H. Dean Steward of San Clemente, said that his client did favors for immigrants “out of the kindness of his heart" and was set up by "opportunistic" aliens. In a search at Kallas' Alta Loma home, agents reportedly found a hidden floor safe with more than $177,000 in cash and 24 official immigration files. Agents also found a ledger with the names of more than 60 immigrants and amounts of money they had paid. Bank accounts showed that in addition to Kallas' salary, nearly $1 million had been deposited in the couple's accounts since 2000.

In one instance, Constantine Kallas took a $7,000 bribe from his housekeeper and used his position to obtain a dismissal of a smuggling case against her daughter. Kallas appeared in Immigration Court on behalf of the federal government and succeeded in getting the smuggling case dropped.

Even after he was indicted on 75counts and convicted of three dozen corruption-related charges, Kallas was not fired by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He remained on “unpaid leave” since January 2007. Only after his conviction ICE announced that they were “moving forward” with dismissing Kallas from government service. Paul Layman, associate special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in Los Angeles said, "ICE holds its employees to the highest standards of professional and personal integrity.” What does one have to do to get fired from ICE?

Immigration Agency Attorney Convicted of Federal Corruption Charges for Taking Thousands of Dollars in Bribes from Immigrants Seeking Status in U.S.

The sentencing was originally scheduled for August 9, 2010, but has now been postponed to November 8, 2010. The judge ordered a mental health evaluation for Kallas, since he claims to suffer from depression and a gambling addiction. Incidentally, Kallas and his wife were arrested while taking their last bribe at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino.

Government attorney in L.A. is convicted of taking bribes from illegal immigrants

Then there is former Assistant Director of the Detroit office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Roy M. Bailey. In September of 2008, he pleaded guilty and was convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to defraud the United States and misprision of felony. The offenses took place between 2000 and 2004, when Bailey held the position of INS District Director and, thereafter, Field Office Director for the Department of Homeland Security—Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention and Removal Operations division. In those positions, Roy Bailey was responsible for the detention of all immigration aliens in that district, pending the completion of their deportation proceedings.

Bailey admitted accepting cash, casino chips, construction services, free meals and other things of value from numerous aliens seeking immigration benefits for themselves, their relatives and others. In return, Bailey allowed selected detainees to be released from INS/ICE custody, to avoid deportation from the United States and to fraudulently obtain immigration benefits to which they were not entitled. In addition, Bailey covered up the crimes of one of his employees, former INS/ICE Detention Officer Patrick Wynne, who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from immigration detainees over the 4-year time period.

Bailey’s pitifully low sentence will hardly serve as a deterrent to any who would misuse public power for personal gain. He was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of $30,000 for receiving bribes and defrauding the United States. Even after his indictment, Bailey was placed on paid administrative leave, continuing to receive the salary of $139,900 per year. After 4 years of receiving income without doing any work (a multi-annual paid vacation, courtesy of American taxpayers), he was granted a $100,000 pension and full healthcare for life.

Former Assistant Director of U.S. Immigration Sentenced for Bribery and Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

CBP spokesman and his brother indicted for alien smuggling

Two corrupt Border Patrol agents, brothers Raul and Fidel Villarreal, have disappeared after being tipped off about an investigation against them. They were later found and extradited back to the U.S. from Mexico. On October 20, 2008, indictments against them were unsealed, charging them with smuggling conspiracy, money laundering and witness tampering. Villareal brothers were charged with allowing illegal aliens from Brazil and Mexico to be smuggled into the U.S., allegedly using Border Patrol vehicles to do so. On March 13, 2009, they pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.

Ironically, Raul Villarreal was the spokesman for the Border Patrol's San Diego sector. He made frequent appearances on Spanish-language television newscasts and played the part of a cold-hearted Mexican smuggler in a public service announcement. Fidel Villarreal, 40, was a supervisory Border Patrol agent who worked in the San Diego area.

Two Former Border Patrol Agents Charged With Smuggling Aliens Are Arrested In Mexico

Big crimes, small sentences

Instead of serving as a deterrent, light sentences do nothing to dissuade the downfall from law enforcement to law breakers. Here are a few additional examples of serious crimes, followed by disproportionately puny sentences:

Richard Cramer, high-ranking ICE agent, was charged with obstruction of justice and multiple counts of drug smuggling. Cramer is one of the highest-ranking border officials charged in border corruption cases. He once served as the head of ICE in Nogales, worked as an Internal Affairs agent and served as the highly coveted post of Mexican attaché. In that position Cramer started to work with smugglers.

Cramer was providing drug traffickers with confidential law-enforcement background checks that helped them to avoid capture. Cramer was also charged with investing up to $25,000 of his own money in a shipment of 300 kilograms of cocaine from Panama to Spain through the U.S., but the prosecutors dropped those charges in exchange for a guilty plea. Cramer was facing 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Paul Huck said the case was mitigated by Cramer's “unblemished” military and law-enforcement career and sentenced him to only 2 years in prison.

Ex-ICE agent sentenced for helping smugglers

Jose Carmelo Magana, 46, a Customs and Border Protection officer at the San Luis, Arizona border crossing was sentenced on January 21, 2010 by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg. He was facing a possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000.00 dollar fine. After pleading guilty to alien smuggling and acceptance of a bribe by a public official, Magana was ordered to pay a $4,000.00 dollar fine and sentenced to the lowest sentence allowed by law - 37 months in prison.

Customs Officer Bribed to Let Immigrants into United States Illegally Gets Minimum Prison Time

Jose Olivas Jr., a former Border Patrol agent, helped smuggle more than 100 people into the United States and shared internal documents with leaders of the smuggling ring. Olivas worked as a Border Patrol agent for 10 years and served as a liaison between the agency and the United States Attorney’s office. For his crimes, Olivas was sentenced to only 3 years in prison.

Jose Ramiro Arredondo, a former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer, pleaded guilty to bringing in undocumented aliens for private financial gain. For at least two years, Arredondo has been personally escorting undocumented aliens into the pedestrian walkway of the port of entry, bypassing primary immigration inspection and allowing them to enter the U.S. illegally. He was sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in prison.

Former CBP Officer Sentenced To Prison For Smuggling Undocumented Aliens

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer with 16 years of experience, Michael Gilliland was knowingly allowing illegal aliens across the border, earning the equivalent of his annual salary in a day. For example, depending on the size of the vehicle, you could have 10 - 12 people in the car, 4 or more smugglers’ vehicles coming across per each shift - 48 aliens at $1,000 a head would earn Gilliland over $48,000 in one day. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Yet another case of border corruption was exposed with the arrest of Luis Francisco Alarid, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. Alarid, who worked at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens and more than 260 kilograms of marijuana into the United States. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Border Officer Who Allowed Illegal Aliens, Marijuana To Be Smuggled Into U.S. Sentenced To 7 Years In Prison

Bribery At Border Worries Officials

Make money, don’t make waves

U.S. Customs Inspector Guy Henry Kmett is another clear example of what’s wrong with the system. His case was described as a textbook example of smuggling as organized crime. Authorities said that Kmett spent about $100,000 in cash in one year on a swimming pool, computers, televisions and other items. The alleged renegade inspector had been arrested and fired in 1989 for his participation in smuggling illegals across the border. He was also charged with stealing confiscated steroids and selling them.

If you don’t know the outcome of this case, have a seat before you read the rest of this paragraph. Guy Henry Kmett was arrested and fired, but he won reinstatement on appeal. This outcome is especially outrageous, since whistleblowers who expose such corruption routinely lose their jobs and have less than 2% chance of winning on appeal. Apparently, criminals are more welcome in federal service than those who expose their crimes.

Tough Border Policies a Boon for Smugglers

Historically, American authorities have been more interested in hiding the evidence of border corruption, rather than exposing and curtailing it. For example, on August 21, 1996, The Border Corruption Task Force closed its investigation and claimed that they found no credible evidence of widespread corruption (Associated Press, "Customs Corruption Probe Closed," Washington Post, August 23, 1996, p. A19). U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin said, "We are satisfied there has been a complete, fair and impartial review of the allegations by seasoned professionals."

The allegations centered on an October 3, 1990 incident in which a supervisor attempted to let a Mexican gas tanker, packed with 8,000 pounds of cocaine, cross the border into the U.S. After inspectors challenged the supervisor's decision, the tanker was stopped. The tanker's driver escaped to Mexico and was later found dead in the trunk of a car.

President of the National Border Patrol Council, T.J. Bonner, said that contrary to the official statistics, corruption is increasing among the rank and file, but the agency does not welcome whistleblowers. He said, "People are told to shut up and not make waves.” Bonner continued to say, "Morale is the lowest I've ever seen, and I've been around for 28 years." While the manpower and resources of Internal Affairs/Office of Professional Responsibility are notoriously being abused to conduct retaliatory investigations against whistleblowers, the agency is a breeding ground for waste, fraud and corruption.

The beat goes on

FBI is currently handling more than 400 public corruption cases in the Southwest region alone. They have 12 border corruption task forces in that area, which are comprised of many state and local law enforcement agencies. In the fiscal year 2009, there have been more than 100 arrests and prosecutions in about 130 state and federal cases related to border corruption.

FBI: On The Southwest Border - Public Corruption: A Few Bad Apples

Since 2004, 84 officers have been arrested and 62 were convicted, says James Tomsheck, assistant commissioner for internal affairs at CBP, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Tomsheck says, "We're deeply concerned. The numbers are disturbing."

Arrests of border agents on the rise

An internal CBP website features a page devoted to rogue agents and officers convicted of corruption-related charges. This information should be readily available to all concerned citizens, as greater openness would lead to increased government accountability.

Instead of throwing more money and manpower at this problem, the government should re-examine the Department of Homeland Security’s questionable hiring methods, ensure that corruption is deterred by appropriate sentences and reward (not punish) whistleblowers who point out corruption, fraud and abuse. Then and only then will the U.S. finally be able to take back the control of its own borders.

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Indictments unsealed for numerous male and female terror suspects with links to al Shabaab/Al Qaeda

The Justice Department announced that four separate indictments were unsealed in the Southern District of California, the District of Minnesota and the Southern District of Alabama, charging 14 individuals with terrorism for providing money, personnel, and services to the foreign terrorist organization al Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab (aka the Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahidin, al-Shabab, Al-Shabaab, the Youth, Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement, Mujahideen Youth Movement, Mujahidin Youth Movement), is an Islamic organization that controls much of southern Somalia, excluding the capital, Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab leaders have claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda since 2007.

In what marked the group's first major attack outside of Somalia, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for twin bombings that killed more than seventy people in Kampala, Uganda during the World Cup final on July 11, 2010.

Jehad Mostafa – Southern District of California

Prosecutors in the Southern District of California unsealed an October 2009 indictment charging Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 28, aka “Ahmed,” “Emir Anwar,” “Awar,” a U.S. citizen and former resident of San Diego, California. Mostafa was charged with providing material support to al Shabaab.

The indictment charged Mostafa with the following:
  1. Conspiracy to provide material support, including himself as personnel, to terrorists;
  2. Conspiracy to provide material support to al Shabaab;
  3. Providing material support to the terrorist organization.
Mostafa faces a potential 15 years in prison for each of the three counts of the indictment. Jehad Serwan Mostafa is still at large, considered to be armed and dangerous and is currently believed to be in Somalia.

Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan – two female terror suspects – District of Minnesota

On August 5, 2010, FBI agents arrested Amina Farah Ali, 33, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 63, both naturalized U.S. citizens from Somalia and residents of Rochester, Minnesota. Both women stand charged in an indictment with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to al Shabaab from September 17, 2008 through July 19, 2010. Ali is also charged in the indictment with 12 substantive counts of providing material support to al Shabaab. Additionally, Hassan is charged with three counts of making false statements.

The indictment alleges that, as part of the conspiracy, Ali communicated by telephone with terror affiliates in Somalia who requested financial assistance for al Shabaab. It is alleged in the indictments that Ali, Hassan, and others raised money for al Shabaab by soliciting funds door-to-door in Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and other locations in the United States and Canada. In addition, the defendants allegedly raised money by participating in teleconferences that featured speakers who encouraged donations to support al Shabaab. Ali also allegedly raised funds under the false pretense that such funds were for the poor and needy.

The indictment alleges that Ali and others transferred funds to al Shabaab through the hawala money remittance system. Ali and others allegedly used false names to identify the recipients of the funds to conceal that the funds were being provided to al Shabaab. The indictment lists 12 money transfers allegedly directed to al Shabaab by Ali.

The indictment alleges several overt acts to carry out the fund-raising conspiracy. For example, on Oct. 26, 2008, Ali hosted a teleconference in which an unindicted co-conspirator told listeners that it was not the time to help the poor and needy in Somalia; rather the priority was to give to the mujahidin. Ali and Hassan allegedly recorded $2,100 in pledges at the conclusion of the teleconference.

On Feb. 10, 2009, Ali conducted another fundraising teleconference in which she told listeners to “forget about the other charities” and focus on “the jihad.”

On July 14, 2009, the day after the FBI executed a search warrant at her home, Ali allegedly contacted an unindicted co-conspirator and said, “I was questioned by the enemy here...they took all my stuff and are investigating it...do not accept calls from anyone.” The indictment further alleges that when Hassan was questioned by agents in an investigation involving international terrorism, she made false statements.

If convicted, both women face a potential 15 years in prison on the conspiracy count. Ali also faces a potential 15 years in prison on each material support count, and Hassan also faces a potential 8 years in prison on each false statement count.

Third Superseding Indictment – District of Minnesota

In addition to the above-mentioned arrests of two females indicted for terrorist activities, prosecutors in the District of Minnesota also unsealed a July 2010 third superseding indictment that charges the following individuals:

  • Abdikadir Ali Abdi, 19, a U.S. citizen;
  • Abdisalan Hussein Ali, 21, a U.S. citizen;
  • Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, 33, a U.S. citizen;
  • Farah Mohamed Beledi, 26;
  • Abdiweli Yassin Isse, 26.
They stand charged with the following crimes:

  1. Providing material support to al Shabaab;
  2. Conspiracy to kill, maim, and injure persons abroad;
  3. Other terrorism-related offenses.
Faarax and Isse have been previously charged in a criminal complaint.

Five other defendants who had been previously indicted are named in the third superseding indictment. They are:
  • Ahmed Ali Omar, 27;
  • Khalid Mohamud Abshir, 27;
  • Zakaria Maruf, 31;
  • Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, 22;
  • Mustafa Ali Salat, 20.
These individuals are charged with the following crimes:
  1. Conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations;
  2. Conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, and injure persons abroad;
  3. Possessing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence;
  4. Solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
The unsealed indictment alleges that the 10 defendants provided financial support and personnel, including themselves as fighters, both to a conspiracy to kill abroad and to the foreign terrorist organization al Shabaab. Specifically, the indictment alleges that the five newly-added defendants traveled to Somalia in 2008 and 2009.

Indicted terror co-conspirators have traveled unnoticed, apparently exploiting Department of Homeland Security’s shortcomings in the processing of certain applicants for admission from Special Interest Countries (SIC). For example, on 4th of July, 2004, 23 persons from Special Interest Countries (SIC) entered the United States via the San Ysidro Port Of Entry (SYS POE), without being enrolled in the NSEERS. As of 2010, they remain unaccounted for and there has been no investigation into their whereabouts. DHS officials attempted to justify this security failure by stating that NSEERS enrollment was “discretionary” and applied only to non-immigrants. This deeply flawed approach fails to take into account the fact that numerous green card holders and naturalized U.S. citizens have been involved in terror conspiracies, as the above-mentioned indictments clearly demonstrate.

In addition, the charges allege that Faarax solicited Salah Osman Ahmed, Shirwa Ahmed (now deceased), and Kamal Said Hassan to provide support to al Shabaab, and that Faraax made false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international terrorism.

The indictment also alleges that, in October 2009, Farah Mohamed Beledi committed passport fraud. In the fall of 2007, Faarax and others allegedly met at a Minneapolis mosque and telephoned co-conspirators in Somalia to discuss the need for Minnesota-based co-conspirators to travel to Somalia to fight for the jihad. It is further alleged that Faarax attended a subsequent meeting in Minneapolis where he encouraged others to fight in Somalia, telling them how he had experienced true brotherhood while fighting jihad in Somalia. When interviewed by authorities, U.S. Citizen Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax denied all charges.

The affidavit filed in the case also alleges that Abdiweli Yassin Isse encouraged others to travel to Somalia to wage “jihad” against Ethiopians. Isse later raised money to purchase airline tickets for others to travel to Somalia for the same purpose. In raising this money, Isse allegedly misled community members into thinking they were contributing money to send young men to Saudi Arabia to study the Koran. The 10 defendants charged in the third superseding indictment are not in custody and are believed to be overseas.

The charges against all the defendants in Minnesota stem from an ongoing, two-year investigation into the recruitment of persons from the United States to train with or fight for al Shabaab. To date, a total of 19 persons have been charged in the District of Minnesota in indictments or criminal complaints that have been unsealed. Of these Minnesota defendants, 9 have been arrested in the United States or overseas and 5 of them pleaded guilty. The remaining defendants are wanted by the FBI and believed to be abroad.

Omar Hammami – Southern District of Alabama

On August 5, 2010 in the Southern District of Alabama, prosecutors unsealed a September 2009 superseding indictment against Omar Hammami, 26, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Daphne, Alabama, also known as “Abu Mansour al-Amriki,” or “Farouk.”

The three-count indictment alleges that Hammami engaged in the following activities:
  • Providing material support (including himself as personnel) to terrorists;
  • Conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al Shabaab;
  • Providing material support to al Shabaab.
Omar Shafik Hammami, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, faces a potential 15 years in prison for each of the three counts of the indictment. He is wanted by the FBI and is currently believed to be in Somalia.

Separately, prosecutors unsealed a third superseding indictment charging 10 men with terrorism offenses for leaving the United States to join al Shabaab. Seven of these defendants had been previously charged by either indictment or criminal complaint. The remaining three defendants had not been charged before.

The arrests and charges were announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, as well as David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; B. Todd Jones, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota; Kenyen R. Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama; and Laura E. Duffy, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.

Attorney General Holder said, “The indictments unsealed today shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to the al Shabaab terror organization from cities across the United States…While our investigations are ongoing around the country, these arrests and charges should serve as an unmistakable warning to others considering joining terrorist groups like al Shabaab—if you choose this route you can expect to find yourself in a U.S. jail cell or a casualty on the battlefield in Somalia.”

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III added, “For those who would become terrorists, these cases send a strong message. They underscore the need for continued vigilance against those who may seek to harm us and our way of life. Our agents and analysts will continue to confront this threat with a strong and coordinated effort as we work to protect all Americans.”

The case in the Southern District of California is being investigated by the FBI’s San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William P. Cole and Shane P. Harrigan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and Trial Attorney Sharon Lever of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The cases in the District of Minnesota are being investigated by the FBI’s Minneapolis Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), with the assistance of the Dutch KLPD; the Dutch Ministry of Justice; the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs; the State Department, including U.S. Embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Yemen; the Hague in the Netherlands; and the Department of Defense. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys W. Anders Folk and Jeffrey S. Paulsen, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, and Trial Attorneys William M. Narus and Steven Ward of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The case in the Southern District of Alabama is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Mobile, Alabama, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama, and Trial Attorney Sharon Lever of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Fourteen Charged with Providing Material Support to Somalia-Based Terrorist Organization al Shabaab, Two Arrested in Minnesota in Connection with the Charges

Photographs of wanted terror suspects

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

American and Guyanese citizens convicted of conspiracy in a JFK Airport terror plot


Following a 6-week jury trial in the Eastern District of New York, a 67-year old naturalized American citizen Russell Defreitas (aka “Mohammed”) and a 58-year old Guyanese citizen Abdul Kadir (aka “Aubrey Michael Seaforth”) were convicted of conspiring to attack the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Queens, New York. Defreitas and Kadir have conspired to explode fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the airport with the intent to cause extensive damage to the airport and to the New York economy, as well as the loss of numerous lives. Both co-conspirators are facing possible life imprisonment. Sentencing is currently scheduled for December 15, 2010.

This terror plot was thwarted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in New York. Evidence presented at the trial has shown that Defreitas, a naturalized United States citizen from Guyana, previously worked as a cargo handler at the airport. He came up with the idea to cause an explosion at the JFK. During his multiple trips to Guyana and Trinidad in 2006, Defreitas recruited Abdul Kadir (a one-time member of the Parliament in Guyana) and a 60-year old Abdel Nur (also known as “Compton Eversley”) to join the conspiracy.

Defreitas traveled unnoticed, apparently exploiting Department of Homeland Security’s shortcomings in the processing of certain applicants for admission from Special Interest Countries (SIC). For example, on 4th of July, 2004, 23 persons from Special Interest Countries (SIC) entered the United States via the San Ysidro Port Of Entry (SYS POE), without being enrolled in the NSEERS. As of 2010, they remain unaccounted for and there has been no investigation into their whereabouts. DHS officials attempted to justify this security failure by stating that NSEERS enrollment was “discretionary” and applied only to non-immigrants. This deeply flawed approach fails to take into account the fact that numerous green card holders and naturalized US citizens have been involved in terror conspiracies.

Special Registration Procedures

Between his many trips abroad, Russell Defreitas engaged in video surveillance of the JFK Airport. He transported the footage back to Guyana to review it with his co-conspirators. During the trial, Kadir complained of the amateur quality of the video shot by Defreitas and admitted suggesting that the group use Google Earth to get better images of the airport.

According to the evidence presented at trial, members of the terror conspiracy also attempted to enlist support from prominent international terrorist groups and leaders, as well as the government of Iran, including Abu Bakr, leader of the Trinidadian militant group Jamaat Al Muslimeen, and an Al Qaeda leader Adnan El Shukrijumah.

Defreitas reportedly recruited Kadir to join the plot because he was an engineer and had connections with militant groups in Iran and Venezuela. During the trial, Kadir admitted that he regularly passed information to Iranian authorities and believed himself bound to follow Islamic Fatwas from Iranian religious leaders. Kadir arrogantly took the stand, attempting to convince the jury that he was innocent. He claimed that his motive for participating in the terror plot was to get money from wealthy Muslims in New York to build a mosque in Guyana.

Prosecutors shocked the jury by showing them a photograph of Kadir, in which he was shirtless and armed with 5 handguns. Kadir tried to explain away the picture by stating that he was just having fun at Christmas.

During cross-examination, Kadir was forced to acknowledge his affiliation with Mohsen Rabbani and other Iranian diplomats. Rabbani operated in the 1980s and '90s under cover as a cultural attache at Tehran's embassies in South America. He is wanted by Interpol for masterminding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

Defreitas was arrested in New York on June 2, 2007. Kadir was arrested in Trinidad on his way to Iran, aboard a plane headed to Venezuela. Ibrahim and Nur were also arrested in Trinidad. Kadir, Ibrahim and Nur were subsequently extradited to the United States.

Defreitas reportedly planned to release a large number of rats at the airport to use them as a diversion. Government informant Steven Francis recorded Defreitas discussing his plans to distract security at the airport by creating chaos. After the public and airport security was to have been frightened by rats, the co-conspirators planned to detonate targeted areas of the JFK airport.

Defreitas and Kadir were convicted of the following crimes:
  1. Conspiracy to Attack a Public Transportation System, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f;
  2. Conspiracy to Destroy a Building by Fire or Explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(n);
  3. Conspiracy to Attack Aircraft and Aircraft Materials, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 32;
  4. Conspiracy to Destroy International Airport Facilities, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 37; and
  5. Conspiracy to Attack a Mass Transportation Facility, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1992(a)(10).
Defreitas was also convicted of Surveillance of a Mass Transportation Facility, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1992(a)(8).

Abdel Nur pleaded guilty before trial and faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. A fourth member of the plot, Kareem Ibrahim, faces trial on the same charges as Defreitas and Kadir.

American and Guyanese Citizens Convicted of Conspiracy to Launch Attack at JFK Airport - Defendants Plotted to Explode Fuel Tanks at Airport

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Scott Bloch wants your money

Disgraced former head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) Scott Bloch is seeking donations from the American public to help with his legal bills. His shameless audacity is simply mind-boggling.

On April 27, 2010 Scott J. Bloch, pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of Congress. Under his leadership, the historically inept OSC reached new lows. Bloch was accused of the following:
  • Knowingly and willfully ignoring whistleblower disclosures;
  • Dismissing and closing hundreds of whistleblowing complaints without investigation;
  • Deleting hundreds of files pertaining to whistleblowing disclosures and complaints of retaliation and reprisal;
  • Rolling back protections for federal employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation;
  • Staffing key OSC positions with cronies who shared his discriminatory views;
  • Engaging in retaliatory activities against OSC staffers who opposed his wrongdoing;
  • Assigning interns to issue closure letters in hundreds of whistleblower complaints without investigation;
  • Intimidating OSC employees from cooperating with government investigators;
  • Misusing prosecutorial power for political purposes;
  • Reducing the backlog of cases pending at the OSC by 56% percent by closing cases without an investigation and destroying electronic files;
  • During the fiscal year of 2008, the OSC filed 0 corrective action petitions with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB);
  • During the fiscal year of 2008, the OSC obtained 0 stays from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB);
  • Bloch reassigned his perceived critics within the OSC to field offices across the country – giving them 10 days to accept, or else they'd be fired;
  • Bloch imposed retaliatory transfers upon OSC staffers he perceived as having a "homosexual agenda";
  • OSC under Bloch rarely recognized legitimate whistleblowers, typically only when the whistleblower has already prevailed elsewhere.
Bloch’s defense attorney, William Sullivan Jr., a Winston & Strawn partner in Washington, DC had the audacity to state in court papers that Bloch has “served with distinction” as the head of the OSC. "Glad this matter is behind us, and Mr. Bloch is looking forward to getting on with his life," Sullivan said as he walked with Scott Bloch to the probation office.

Bloch’s victims don’t have the same luxury of moving on with their lives, as they have been continually oppressed with no recourse throughout the OSC’s existence. Many of them have lost their jobs and life savings, defending themselves from retaliatory investigations, malicious prosecutions, baseless transfers, unwarranted demotions, suspensions, unjustified firings and other reprisals by their respective government agencies. Whistlebowers suffer irreparable emotional damage, often losing families and relationships in the process of fighting for their lives. At the same time, the OSC - the very agency purportedly created to protect whistleblowers - was tutoring agency managers on how to get rid of inconvenient, outspoken employees.

Office of Special Counsel (OSC) – the dark legacy

Office of Special Counsel's War On Whistleblowers

United States Office of Special Counsel

Under Bloch’s leadership, employment rights attorneys were advising their clients to submit their complaints to the OSC simply “to obtain the pro forma closure letter” as it was guaranteed that the OSC would not investigate or take action in any complaints. The only time the OSC jumped on board is when the matter at issue was already investigated by another entity and received attention from the media.

Even after his guilty plea and conviction, Bloch is facing mere probation. He is currently working as an employment attorney at the Tarone & McLaughlin LLP law firm in Washington, DC.

After leaving whistleblowers high and dry throughout his tenure at the OSC, now Bloch would like his victims to pitch in and help pay his criminal defense bills. Visit the website aptly entitled “Scott Bloch Legal Defense Trust,” encouraging donations from the American public to help Bloch with his legal defense fees.

Scott Bloch Legal Defense Trust

The website describes Bloch as a “trustworthy”, “honorable” “man of integrity who is suffering as the result of standing up to various special interests groups and powerful government authorities.” Sounds familiar? It seems that Mr. Bloch now fancies himself to be a whistleblower who “must rely on the generosity of citizens to support and defend him in this very difficult time.”

The website continues to explain that “Experienced criminal law attorneys are necessary to deal with the crushing legal burden of government investigators, prosecutors, Congressional investigators, and inspectors general. The cumulative effect of all of this is far too expensive for an ordinary citizen like Mr. Bloch to handle financially on his own.” Of course, all whistleblowers understand what a crushing burden that is – especially that neither Mr. Bloch, nor the OSC helped any of them, while the OSC destroyed their complaints or callously closed them without an investigation.

Scott Bloch donation website exclaims, “Every amount helps. Whether it's ten dollars or five hundred (or more), whatever you can afford sends a positive message of your support for Scott Bloch and the importance of doing what is right despite the cost.”

Gil Bailie, Founder of the Cornerstone Forum wants us all to be grateful to Mr. Bloch. He writes, "I know Scott to be a man of high principle and great courage. He deserves gratitude from all who pine for more people in government service who understand the nature of the cultural challenges we are now enduring."

To add insult to injury, Bloch is currently working as a practicing employment attorney at the Tarone & McLaughlin LLP law firm in DC. The areas of his specialty are: “Employment discrimination, federal rights, personnel law, whistleblower retaliation, public policy retaliation.”

Tarone & McLaughlin LLP

The law firm’s website boasts that Bloch and his team “recently obtained settlement of a national consumer class action against General Motors (in re Dex Cool) that was valued at $300 million”. Bloch professes to believe “in aggressive pursuit of justice on behalf of those whose rights have been denied, economically, personally, and constitutionally.”

Bloch’s criminal attorney, William Sullivan of Winston & Strawn in Washington, said, "Now it is time for Scott to move forward and to pursue the best interests of his private clients with the same vigor he displayed in promoting the welfare of the citizens of the United States." Bloch exclaims, “My whole career has been dedicated to bringing expeditious justice to those who have been denied justice." This is especially ironic, since justice to whistleblowers Bloch was appointed to protect was denied by Bloch himself and through his criminal doings.

Now Scott Bloch wants you to pay for his legal defense against criminal charges, after he pleaded guilty to having violated your rights. He must be joking.

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Office of Special Counsel (OSC) - the dark legacy

Whistleblowers and federal government workers rejoiced on April 27, 2010, when former head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Scott J. Bloch, pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of Congress. The justice continues to be delayed, as Scott Bloch’s sentencing has been rescheduled for the second time and is now set for September 8, 2010. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said that she wants prosecutors and Bloch’s attorney to clarify the applicable guidelines for Bloch’s sentence and fine. Robinson is also apparently planning to “adjust” the sentence based on Bloch’s guilty plea. She stated that the lawyers failed to clearly define the sentencing guidelines in this matter.

Prosecutors said they would not oppose probation without any imprisonment for Bloch. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with our courts. While the Department of Justice relentlessly pursues, prosecutes and imprisons inconvenient whistleblowers, high-ranking bureaucrats who violate their rights are usually coddled by the system. The crooked wheel of justice crushes those at the lower levels of the government and pushes up criminals in high places. This bad egg is being cooked over-easy, with obvious disregard for hundreds of whistleblowers whose careers have been destroyed due to the OSC’s failure to investigate their complaints.

The legacy of failure

Here is an abbreviated list of Scott Bloch’s dubious “accomplishments” as the former head of the OSC:
  • Knowingly and willfully ignoring whistleblower disclosures;
  • Dismissing and closing hundreds of whistleblowing complaints without investigation;
  • Deleting hundreds of files pertaining to whistleblowing disclosures and complaints of retaliation and reprisal;
  • Rolling back protections for federal employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation;
  • Staffing key OSC positions with cronies who shared his discriminatory views;
  • Engaging in retaliatory activities against OSC staffers who opposed his wrongdoing;
  • Assigning interns to issue closure letters in hundreds of whistleblower complaints without investigation;
  • Intimidating OSC employees from cooperating with government investigators;
  • Misusing prosecutorial power for political purposes;Reducing the backlog of cases pending at the OSC by 56% percent by closing cases without an investigation and destroying electronic files;
  • During the fiscal year of 2008, the OSC filed 0 corrective action petitions with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB);
  • During the fiscal year of 2008, the OSC obtained 0 stays from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB);
  • Bloch reassigned his perceived critics within the OSC to field offices across the country – giving them 10 days to accept, or else they'd be fired;
  • Bloch imposed retaliatory transfers upon OSC staffers he perceived as having a "homosexual agenda";
  • OSC under Bloch rarely recognized legitimate whistleblowers, typically only when the whistleblower has already prevailed elsewhere;
In an ironic twist that shocked his own staffers, in 2007 Bloch initiated a large-scale investigation against Karl Rove. He decided to probe the disappearance of an untold number of emails related to the firing of the New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney, David Iglesias. Bloch assembled a task force to create the impression that the OSC was investigating the White House, while Bloch himself was under investigation for mass-destruction of inconvenient documents. One year earlier, in December of 2006, Bloch hired private technicians with a firm called “Geeks On Call” to delete whistleblower complaints and related computer files by conducting the 7-level memory wipe of the computers at the OSC’s office. Bloch was also investigated by the FBI for obstruction of a Hatch Act inquiry for improperly mixing his political and official activities.

Bloch wasn’t charged with obstruction of justice, evidence tampering, destruction of official files, impeding an official federal investigation, civil right violations and violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). Instead, he was charged only with criminal contempt. While this charge carried a possible prison sentence, Department of Justice prosecutors said they would not oppose probation for Bloch, who is currently working as (don’t fall down laughing) an employment attorney at the Tarone & McLaughlin law firm in Washington.

Bloch’s defense attorney, William Sullivan Jr., a Winston & Strawn partner in Washington, had the audacity to state in court papers that Bloch has “served with distinction” as the head of the OSC. Sullivan wrote, “This case marks an unfortunate aberration for Mr. Bloch,” submitting 35 pages of letters to Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson, who is scheduled to preside over the sentencing. These letters include notes from Bloch’s wife, his friends and former co-workers.

"Glad this matter is behind us, and Mr. Bloch is looking forward to getting on with his life," Sullivan said as he walked with Scott Bloch to the probation office. Bloch’s victims don’t have the same luxury, as whistleblowers have been continually oppressed with no recourse throughout OSC’s existence.

OSC’s dark history

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was created in the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act to protect whistleblowers from reprisal and hold responsible agency managers accountable. Under President Carter, OSC languished without permanent leadership or funding. When President Reagan came to power, he quickly appointed Alex Kozinski as the Special Counsel and gutted the OSC. Nearly 50% of the OSC personnel and 70% of attorneys and investigators at the OSC headquarters were fired or had resigned. This was unprecedented for any government agency.

Since that time, over 7,000 federal employees have filed complaints with the OSC. Out of those thousands of cases, OSC requested a hearing to restore jobs in only 2 instances.

The dog-gone mind behind the plan

To understand why the OSC never worked according to its stated purpose, one must go back in history. The Watergate investigation revealed a plan by the Nixon administration to replace the non-partisan civil service system with a politically loyal government workforce. Every government agency had a ghost “political hiring czar”, whose authority covertly trumped that of personnel offices.

A special manual was prepared by the former White House Personnel Office Chief Fred Malek. This encyclopedia-like guide was dubbed the Malek Manual and provided information on how to harass career employees out of the government by exploiting loopholes in civil service laws. Unpopular federal employees would be replaced by hand-picked applicants.

The Malek Manual emphasized a telling message: “You cannot achieve management, policy or program control unless you have established political control.” The manual went on to describe underhanded techniques designed to “skirt around the adverse action proceedings” (such as the EEOC and the MSPB), “to remove undesirable employees from their positions." (The President and the Executive Branch, by Joel D. Aberbach. UCLA Center for American Politics and Public Policy Occasional Paper Series 9 1-9.)

A telling memorandum written by Fred Malek to President Nixon’s Chief of Staff stated in relevant part, "We garnered from reliable sources in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the Commission was preparing to sue the University of Texas for discrimination in the hiring of faculty. This could be disastrous for Texas. When queried, Bill Brown, Chairman of the EEOC, agreed not to pursue it. I will continue to follow this situation closely."

The sobriquet most often used to describe Fred Malek was "hatchet man", because of his ruthlessness in ousting those deemed to be disloyal. Malek’s techniques included mandatory transfers and investigations against whistleblowers and outspoken critics of the establishment. For example, Malek reportedly ordered the FBI to conduct an investigation of then-veteran CBS correspondent and Nixon critic Daniel Schorr, who was placed on the “Enemy List”. Sadly, Daniel Schorr died today, on the day of Scott Bloch’s scheduled sentencing that has now been delayed.

Fred Malek was infamously ordered by Nixon to count the Jews in high-ranking government positions. Malek admittedly completed this blatantly anti-Semitic order and compiled a list of government employees whom he believed to be Jewish. Shortly thereafter, these senior officials were transferred to other locations and less prominent, dead-end positions.

In spite of his prior activities, after leaving the White House, Fred Malek became the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In 1982 Fred Malek was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to head the U.S. Postal Service. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee refused to act on his nomination because Senators reportedly felt that Malek had made conflicting statements under oath regarding his role in the “program”. Outraged committee didn’t hold back its disgust. Then-Senator John Danforth (R-Mo.) said, in relevant part, "… whether it was legal or illegal . . . it was wrong, just plain wrong... you admit that it was true, you admit that it was wrong . . . you regret it and you will never do it again. . . . Am I wrong or right?" Fred Malek responded, “You are absolutely right, senator.” Senator David Pryor (D-Ark.) asked, “Did it ever occur to you that what you were doing was wrong or immoral?” Malek replied, “Yes, sir, it did.”

Under questioning by Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Malek admitted authoring a memo that suggested punishing politically incorrect people. Senator Levin described Malek’s role as "Unethical, immoral and improper". Malek lost his bid for the head of the Postal Service and a few years later the same disclosures cost him his job as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Fred Malek, Then and Now

Another disgusting vignette of Malek’s character was revealed when police arrested five men after locating a blood-spattered car near the park entrance in Peoria, Illinois. After giving conflicting stories, the men finally admitted that they "caught a dog and were barbecuing it." The perpetrators caught, skinned and gutted a dog and barbecued it on a spit. One of them was Fred Malek.

Fred Malek, a Dog and the SEC

Fred Malek’s legacy continued with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) action against him in 2004. The SEC instituted administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings against Malek, his company, Thayer Capital Partners and their affiliates. The SEC charged that pension investments in Malek’s company were used to reward a political supporter, William DiBella, former majority leader of the Connecticut Senate. Malek's company was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $150,000, and Fred Malek was personally made to pay a civil penalty of $100,000. Apparently, a leopard doesn’t change its Jew-counting, whistleblower-retaliating, critic-investigating, dog-barbequing, securities laws-violating spots.

Fred Malek’s career in government and politics didn’t end after his activities were exposed. He is the former President of Marriott Hotels and Northwest Airlines and former assistant to United States Presidents Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush. Malek has formed seven institutional private equity funds, including three corporate acquisition funds with approximately $1.5 billion in committed capital and four funds that target hotel investments with over $500 million in committed capital. He recently served as a National Finance Committee co-chair of John McCain's presidential campaign. In 2010, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) called Malek "a man of high principle" who "has proved many times over the years his loyalty to the highest principles of freedom, human rights and international tolerance."

Should we be surprised that our leaders and government officials are not interested in pushing forth effective whistleblower protection measures? Malek did not respond to this reporter’s request for comments.

The Ink Commission, later created to explore the Watergate Committee’s public record of the abuses, participated in studies and issued recommendations that became the foundation for the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

In spite of the exposure, the ugly Malek Manual continued its destructive influence in government service.

Alex Kozinski and the Malek Manual

The next attack on the OSC and the merit system came from within the Office of Special Counsel itself. It was waged by President Reagan’s appointee, the former head of the OSC, Special Counsel Alex Kozinski, who kept a copy of the Malek Manual on his desk. Kozinski reportedly used its techniques (such as transfers, investigations and harassment) to purge the professional civil service experts from the OSC staff. They were replaced with obedient minions who viewed whistleblowers as crazy, disloyal troublemakers.

While serving as the head of the OSC, Alex Kozinski taught courses to federal managers on how to fire whistleblowers without getting caught by OSC investigators. For example, Alex Kozinski tutored Secretary Watt on how to purge a whistleblowing coal mine inspector from the Department of Interior. He used the OSC Investigations Manual as a handout in these morbid lectures. Senior Supervisors still serving in various government agencies quite possibly received such training on how to get rid of “inconvenient” employees and whistleblowers. These techniques are still being implemented within federal agencies today, with virtual impunity.

Alex Kozinski’s abuses were the major catalyst for passage of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) of 1989, and he was forced to resign.

A few years later, 43 Senators voted against his confirmation for a seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, after Senator Levin’s intensive investigation of Kozinski’s tenure as the OSC’s Special Counsel. In spite of the controversy surrounding his dubious OSC performance, Kozinski became the Chief Judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Curiously enough, OSC fiasco was not the last time Alex Kozinski would bring shame to the public office. In June of 2008, Los Angeles Times reported that Kozinski was caught operating a website that featured photos of naked women on all fours, painted to look like cows. Judge Kozinski’s website reportedly contained suggestive images of bestiality, pictured women shaving their pubic hair, themes of masturbation, public sex, contortionist sex, defecation and urination.

Ironically, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski was set to preside over an obscenity trial (the Issacs trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles), from which Kozinski later recused himself.

Porn trial in L.A. is halted - Judge grants a stay after conceding he maintained his own website with sexually explicit images

With respect to his publicly accessible website, the panel of judges declared that Kozinski was "careless" and "judicially imprudent". He was reprimanded but not disciplined. In spite of his OSC abuses, reprehensible anti-whistleblower stance and an obscene behavior, Alex Kozinski still sits as the Chief Judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

As the head of the OSC, Bloch continued Kozinski’s legacy of shame and disgrace, by destroying careers of countless whistleblowers he was appointed to protect.

Office of Special Counsel's War On Whistleblowers

United States Office of Special Counsel

Watchdog groups and ethics advocates are appalled at the lackadaisical approach towards Bloch’s crimes. The proposed sentence of probation is not commensurate with the scope and longstanding impact of Bloch’s abuse of office and serious violations against federal whistleblowers.

Uncertain future

The OSC has operated without permanent leadership since 2008, leaving federal employees in the dark ages and without recourse. Legal professionals are now advising federal employees against coming forward. "When people call me and ask about blowing the whistle, I always tell them, 'Don't do it, because your life will be destroyed,'" says William Weaver, a professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso and a senior adviser to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. "You'll lose your career; you're probably going to lose your family if you have one; you're probably going to lose all your friends because they're associated through work; you'll wind up squandering your life savings on attorneys; and you'll come out the other end of this process working at McDonald's."

Yes, that is the way things are. But that is not the way they ought to be.

Read more stories by Julia Davis, Los Angeles Homeland Security Examiner

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