News/Campaigns/Homeland Security

News/Campaigns/Homeland Security

Intel Committee to investivate CIA program

The House Intelligence Committee will investigate whether the CIA acted illegally by keeping Congress in the dark about plans for a secret assassination program, the committee's chairman announced today.

House leaders learned about the program in late June, when CIA Director Leon Panetta personally briefed them. Panetta had learned about the program just one day earlier.

"After careful consideration and consultation with the Ranking Minority Member and other members of the Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will conduct an investigation into possible violations of federal law, including the National Security Act of 1947," Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), the committee chairman, said in a statement.

The plan to assassinate top Al Qaeda leaders was shut down by then-CIA Director George Tenet in 2004, but re-activated by his successors. Leon Panetta once again cancelled the program the day he learned about it.

Uighurs hope to open restaurant

Four Uighurs recently released from Guantanamo Bay hope to open a restaurant in their new home, Bermuda.

According to the (London) Times Online, the four are enjoying life so far on the island--"We did not think we were going to be this happy"--and have plans to open the first Uighur restaurant:
The four former Guantanamo inmates--members of China's Muslim Turkic-speaking Uighur minority--are dreaming of opening the first Uighur restaurant, serving noodles and lamb in the millionaires' playground. "Uighur food is delicious. These kind and generous people of Bermuda, we want to do something for them. Of course, we want to have a Uighur restaurant," Mr Abdulqadir said.

Panetta: Cheney wishes for U.S. to be attacked again

Former Vice President Cheney wishes for the U.S. to suffer another terror attack so as to vindicate his arguments on national security, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview.

"I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue," Panetta told the New Yorker in an interview. "It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics."

Cheney has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration, especially on national security issues, which the former VP has said has made the country less safe.

Panetta accused Cheney of hoping for another attack for the sake of vindication.

"When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point," he said. "I think that's dangerous politics."

Lieberman to Obama: Consider keeping Gitmo open

Joe Lieberman said today that President Obama "should seriously consider" keeping Guantanamo Bay open, becoming the highest profile non-Republican to cast doubt on the administration's plan to close the controversial facility.

Lieberman made the remarks in an NPR interview that will air later today. (The Weekly Standard first reported Lieberman's comments, which Greg Sargent then confirmed from the Senator's office.)

With the Obama administration reportedly backing off its plan to bring some detainees to the United States, Lieberman's comments may increase Capitol Hill skepticism about what to do with suspected terrorists held at Gitmo.

Guantanamo video game canceled

The developers of a controversial video game about Guantanamo Bay have pulled the plug on the project after complaints from veterans group.

The game, called "Rendition: Guantanamo," would have simulated a detainee escaping the facility by fighting his way through mercenary guards. Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner, was helping the company reconstruct the prison for a virtual environment.

Vets for Freedom, a group lobbying against the game, complained that Begg was a terrorist who was released for bureaucratic reasons.

More from the Washington Times:
A statement released after T-Enterprise killed the game Wednesday, said "first and foremost, the main character was NOT Moazzam Begg," which contradicts what the BBC News reported in May after an interview with Zarrar Chishti, the director of T-Enterprise.

In the BBC report, Mr. Chishti said Mr. Begg was not only going to help with the design of the prison for the game, but also that "Moazzam will do three days of sound with us then we will 3D-render him into the game."

Mr. Hegseth said he is proud of his organization's efforts to stop "Rendition: Guantanamo," but he thinks there is a continuing "problem of perception" regarding Gitmo.

"We need to keep on guys like Moazzam Begg and what they are trying to do in rewriting history at Guantanamo: That our troops are oppressors and that the detainees are all victims," he said.

Napolitano faces lawsuit over 'right wing extremism' memo

A conservative legal group has filed suit against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder over the DHS memo warning of the threat from "right wing extremists."

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center said the policy reported this week targets certain individuals and groups for disfavored treatment based on their opinions on political issues.

The suit, filed on behalf of radio talk show host Michael Savage and the anti-abortion group Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, seeks a permanent injunction against the policies outlined in the memo, as well as attorneys' fees.

"The [policy] is a governmental attack on the reputations of Plaintiffs that is designed to marginalize them and their opposition to the policies and the practices of the federal government, particularly including their opposition to the policies and practices of the Obama administration," attorneys wrote in the filing.

The suit, seen here, was filed in southeast Michigan's federal court.

VIDEO: King: Obama gets 'a pass' on DHS memos

House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Peter King (R-N.Y.) is giving President Obama "a pass" for the memo circulated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warning of the risks posed by "right-wing extremists."

"I'm giving President Obama a pass on this for now," King said Thursday morning on MSNBC, adding that he's asked Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) to investigate the origins of the memo.

King suggested that the authors of the memo might come from the "liberal" and "biased" wing of the Democratic Party, and encouraged the administration to reject such figures.

Still, King largely made nice with the administration, encouraging Republicans to avoid demonizing the president. The cooperative talk could signal a precursor to a rumored Senate run in blue state New York by King.

"We've had now 17 years of this stuff just trying to tear down the president and demonizing," King said, praising Obama's decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan. "There was no reason to demonize Bill Clinton, no reason to demonize George Bush. And we should not be demonizing Barack Obama."

Watch a video of the interview below:


Napolitano: DHS memo based on past experience

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized to veterans and other groups who read a DHS memo characterizing them as a possible domestic security risk, but said the memo's contents drew on past experience.

Republicans have taken aim at the memo, which warns of risks from "right-wing extremists," as being a politically motivated emination from the agency.

"They're not accusations. They are assessments based on what's happened in the past," she said during an appearance on CBS. "The contents of that report are not anything that's inconsistent with what we have seen in the past."

"There are a number of things that are part of the environment that law enforcement deals with on just the situational nature," Napolitano said Thursday morning during an appearance on Fox News. "That was something we were alerting people to."

Napolitano said that she had been briefed on the memo before it was sent out to local law enforcement, and said she most regretted a footnote that characterized Americans focused on a single issue like abortion or immigration as a potential risk.

"If there's one part of that report I would rewrite, in the word-smithing, Washington-ese that goes on after the fact, it would be that footnote," she said.

Administration launches response to Mexican drug war

The Obama administration laid out its priorities to securing the Southwest U.S. border amidst a drug war in Mexico, committing to send some additional forces to the border.

Led by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano -- former governor of border state Arizona -- the U.S. government will spend $700 million to work with Mexican law enforcement to stem the drug war, and will invest in reducing the demand for drugs in the U.S. that is fueling the war in Mexico.

"The President is concerned by the increased level of violence, particularly in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, and the impact that it is having on the communities on both sides of the border," the White House said in a statement announcing the policy. "He believes that the United States must continue to monitor the situation and guard against spillover into the United States."

And, touching on the hot-button issue of illegal immigration, the White House was sure to note that the president is "firmly committed" to secure borders and reducing the flows of illegal immigration.

Feds Investigating 'Potential Threat' to Inauguration

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Tuesday morning it is investigating information it had recently received regarding a threat to the inaugural ceremonies.

"The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (including the [United States Secret Service]) and the intelligence community are coordinating with other law enforcement authorities to investigate and analyze recently received information about a potential threat on Inauguration Day," a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said. "This information is of limited specificity and uncertain credibility.

DHS said that President-elect Obama's transition team had been briefed about the nature of the threat, and had been "fully integrated into the process."

While DHS encouraged citizens attending the inauguration to go about their normal plans, they also asked those who came to be patient and vigilant.

DHS also said there was an "unprecedented level of security" at the inauguration, and said it was constantly reviewing its security measures as they receive additional information about threats.