NYC subways adding dogs, armed officers

Why now 6 years after the attacks?

Teams of police officers armed with submachine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs will soon be patrolling the busiest parts of New York City subways as part of a major increase in regional security funding.

The subway initiative is one use of the $151.2 million in new grant money from the Department of Homeland Security to transit systems in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Last year, they received $98 million.

Explaining the increase, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said law enforcement officials in the three states “have to deal with vulnerabilities and threats in this region that are really second to none.”

New York’s subways have long been considered a potential terror target; police already randomly check riders’ bags, and the tunnels and ventilation systems are searched for explosives. Hidden cameras register any suspicious action.

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Blackwater probe stifled by conflicts

WASHINGTON – The State Department’s acerbic top auditor wasn’t happy when Justice Department officials told one of his aides to leave the room so they could discuss a criminal investigation of Blackwater Worldwide, the contractor protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.The episode reveals the badly strained relationship between Bush administration officials over the probe into whether Blackwater smuggled weapons into Iraq that could have gotten into insurgents’ hands.

As a result of the bureaucratic crosscurrents between State’s top auditor and Justice, the investigation has been bogged down for months.

A key date was July 11, when Howard Krongard, State’s inspector general, sent an e-mail to one of his assistant inspector generals, telling him to “IMMEDIATELY” stop work on the Blackwater investigation. That lead to criticisms by Democrats that Krongard has tried to protect Blackwater and block investigations into contractor-related wrongdoing in Iraq.

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Did Blackwater sneak silencers into Iraq?

Blackwater employee with a silenced weapon.A Blackwater employee shows off a silencer-equipped rifle in Iraq in a photo obtained by NBC News. The picture has been digitally altered to protect the identity of the subject.

WASHINGTON – Federal agents are investigating allegations that the Blackwater USA security firm illegally exported dozens of firearms sound suppressors — commonly known as silencers — to Iraq and other countries for use by company operatives, sources close to the investigation tell NBC News.

Investigators from various federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the State Department and the Commerce Department, are digging into the allegations that the company exported the silencers without getting necessary export approval, according to law enforcement sources, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity. The sources said the investigation is part of a broader examination of potential firearms and export violations.

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The fog of work: What happened to Fremont mechanic Hamid Sayadi after 9/11?

In the beginning, 9/11 was a local story — it was the intimate grief and shock and incomprehension that so profoundly shook us those first days and weeks. Over time it morphed into something political, and we came to see the tragedy through the wide-angle lenses of foreign policy and law and the other spasms of governance it inspired.

But even as the specific event blurred into unspecific politics and symbolism over the years, it continued to affect individuals in concrete ways — ways that Fremont resident Hamid Sayadi claims he paid a price for.

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The world of private ‘security': Unleashed: the fat cats of war

The US is finally facing up to its failures to supervise the private armies operating on its behalf in Iraq. But the problem may be worse than it admits. Kim Sengupta reports on a booming industry

Published: 26 October 2007

 

The killings by Blackwater’s private security guards on Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday were brutal and unprovoked. Terrified men, women and children were mowed down as they tried to flee from the ferocious gunfire, cars were set on fire incinerating those inside.

I was in Nisour Square, in Mansour district, on the afternoon of 17 September when the massacre took place, and saw the outpouring of anger that followed from Iraqis vociferously demanding that Western, private armies acting violently, but immune from scrutiny or prosecution, should face justice.

But there was always the underlying feeling that this was, after all, Iraq, where violent deaths are hardly unusual. The scapegoat for America’s dependence on private armies appears to be a mid-ranking official who yesterday resigned as the State Department overseer of security contractors.

Richard Griffin made no mention of the Mansour killings or their aftermath in his resignation letter but it came just one day after a study commissioned by Condoleezza Rice found serious lapses in the department’s oversight of private guards. At the same time Congress is moving to put under military control all armed contractors operating in combat zones, an effort the State Department is strongly resisting.

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Terror watch list swells to more than 755,000

WASHINGTON — The government’s terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names, according to a new government report that has raised worries about the list’s effectiveness.

The size of the list, typically used to check people entering the country through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004. Some lawmakers, security experts and civil rights advocates warn that it will become useless if it includes too many people.

“It undermines the authority of the list,” says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. “There’s just no rational, reasonable estimate that there’s anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists.”

The exact number of people on the list, compiled after 9/11 to help government agents keep terrorists out of the country, is unclear, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Some people may be on the list more than once because they are listed under multiple spellings.

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The Bill Maher Real Time Meltdown – Comments from a Long Time Bill Maher Fan

Bill Maher has been the white shining knight for the anti-war movement for years now, when he was canned from network TV, and eventually found a place on HBO.  He’s weekly insulted viciously those on the right who disagreed with him.  I personally actually was a fan of Bill’s standup long before, back when he was the fashion photographer on an episode of Roseanne.

About a year ago, a right wing pundit was on Real Time, and made a statement that actually resonated with me.  I remember it so well, because I rarely agree with right wing pundits.  He made the point that when Bill Maher caustically insults those who have a spiritual faith, and makes fun of all people living in the heartland of America . . . he drives people away from opening their minds to the issues he purports to care about.

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