Foxman said American attitudes, for the most part, are better than those in European nations.
“In Europe, the numbers are higher and more serious,” he said. “But while America’s different and better, it’s not immune.”
A convicted terrorist with links to al-Qaida told the FBI he used a television news report on air marshal training to assemble a theoretical strike plan, demonstrating that would-be hijackers with similar information could use it to overpower marshals. In a March 28 cable, obtained by Federal Times, the FBI informed the Homeland Security Department about the terrorist’s warnings.Read the whole thing. Also totally insane: Marshals are always seated before any other passengers on a flight. Is that nuts or what?
Air marshals interviewed by Federal Times said their tactics and positions on aircraft have been compromised and many are livid that their management apparently allowed their training to be filmed.
“This completely exposes our positions,” said one air marshal, who spoke to Federal Times anonymously because marshals are not allowed to talk to the press. “Our element of surprise has been taken away and given to the enemy.”
The terrorist, who has been in U.S. custody for several years and is described in the FBI cable as a reliable informant, evidently gave his plan only to the FBI and not to other terrorists. He told the FBI that active terrorists could have easily assembled a similar plan based on what was broadcast.
How the terrorist came about this information is unclear because one important detail of the terrorist’s claim — the network that aired the program — is in dispute. The cable, which the Federal Air Marshal Service said it received the morning of March 28, said the terrorist claimed to have viewed a Jan. 7 report on air marshals on the Fox News Channel. But FAMS spokesman David Adams said the service has never done a story with Fox and said no Fox camera crew has ever filmed marshals training.
FAMS has let other news organizations, including NBC Nightly News, film aspects of marshals’ operations and training, prompting outcries from marshals and the law enforcement organization representing them that management was ruining their cover and exposing their methods.
The last media report showing air marshal training aired in February 2005 on CNN, Adams said.[...]
Air marshals and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), which represents more than 1,300 marshals, have complained for more than two years that FAMS was releasing classified information to the media about the methods air marshals use.
An April 2004 letter to Congress from Jon Adler, then-national secretary of FLEOA, warned that an NBC Nightly News report aired two months earlier revealed how many marshals fly on each mission, where they sit, what they look for, the type and model of personal data assistant, or PDA, they use to communicate with each other during a mission, and the type and model weapon marshals use.
Adler also said a November 2003 report aired on a local Miami station showed the step-by-step methods marshals would use during a hijacking. This included how they take a dominant position over hijackers and how they contact the pilot and use the crew during emergencies.
Adams said media coverage of air marshals builds the public’s confidence in airline security and deters terrorists from trying to hijack planes, and said the strategy is succeeding.
But he said FAMS is careful not to reveal sensitive information in its statements and media reports. Some marshals and FLEOA disagree.
Though FAMS allowed training and methods to be filmed, it is notoriously tight-lipped about other aspects of the marshals program. For example, it refuses to say how many marshals it employs. Some marshals have estimated there are 3,000 in their ranks. Others say the actual number is much smaller due to morale problems that have driven some marshals away.
SEATTLE — After spending 15 days inside a cargo container shipped from Shanghai, 18 men and four women were discovered early Wednesday at the Port of Seattle. The stowaways made the arduous journey in the hopes of finding work here, officials said.
All 22 people, said to be in their 20s and 30s, were apparently in relatively good health after surviving the trip in the 40-foot container stacked on the cargo ship Rotterdam.
The container was equipped with water bottles, food, blankets, battery-operated lights and a makeshift toilet, said Michael Milne, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Milne said the Chinese citizens were part of a smuggling operation.
"There is no terrorism suspicion at all," he said.
All were arrested and will probably undergo deportation hearings, though some could remain in the country pending a criminal investigation into the operation, officials said.
The incident is the first large-scale smuggling attempt involving a cargo container to be detected in Seattle since several such incidents along the western coasts of the U.S. and Canada drew attention to the smuggling method in 2000 and 2001.
In January 2000, three of 18 people in a shipping container on the freighter NYK Cape May were discovered dead when the ship arrived in Seattle.
In a form of indentured servitude, such immigrants smuggled into the United States typically pay thousands of dollars for the privilege — some of the money is paid upfront, but much of it comes later, after the immigrants begin working in factories, restaurants or elsewhere.
As Congress debates both port security and immigration reform, the Seattle incident underscores a potential major vulnerability in the system: Only a small fraction of cargo containers are fully inspected.
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium. [...]For once, I hope Seymour Hersh is telling the truth (he is, of course, against the developments that he's reporting, as you can tell from his sneering tone throughout).
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”