NEW LEADER ‘REQUIRED’ Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. President Obama “concluded new leadership of that agency was required,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. 

Johnson said: “Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that Johnson told Pierson the resignation would be effective immediately, after she offered. 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

Pierson’s departure, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite her rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether Obama had confidence in the director, Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept. 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaffetz welcomed the decision to step down and urged the president to fill the post with “new leadership from outside the Secret Service for a fresh start.” 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19. The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

Enemy or Asset? Awlaki in contact with FBI agent in ’03, docs show

Anwar Al Awlaki

This Oct. 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. (AP)

Newly released documents further support the conclusion that the FBI was working with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after the 9/11 attacks – in the years before he became the first American targeted for death by a U.S. drone strike.

As part of an ongoing investigation of the cleric that began after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre, Fox News was first to report that in 2002, al-Awlaki was released from custody at JFK International Airport — despite an active warrant for his arrest — with the okay of FBI Agent Wade Ammerman.

Watchdog group Judicial Watch has since obtained more than 900 pages of new documents in the course of its federal lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the cleric was emailing and leaving voice messages with an FBI agent in 2003, a year after Ammerman told customs agents at JFK airport to bypass an outstanding warrant for the cleric’s arrest.

The documents further support claims that Awlaki, who eventually went overseas and linked up with an Al Qaeda affiliate, worked with the FBI and was likely a U.S. government asset.

“I have little doubt that President Obama assassinated a terrorist that was an asset of the U.S. government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

He added: “There have been so many missed opportunities in getting the bad guys, but it’s one thing to have a bad guy working with you and for you and actually in your custody and then letting them go.” 

Fitton questioned whether Obama was even aware of al-Awlaki’s connections to federal law enforcement. “These unanswered questions cast President Obama’s decision to assassinate [al-Awlaki] in a disturbingly different light,” he said.   

In one Oct. 2, 2003 email, an FBI agent whose name is redacted writes to a colleague regarding a voicemail: “Holy crap, [redacted] isn’t this your guy? The aman (imam) with the prostitutes.”

Three weeks later, after leaving another voicemail, the cleric uses his personal Yahoo account to write directly to an FBI agent, now stationed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to complain about news reports linking al-Awlaki to the 9/11 hijackers.

“I was astonished by some of the talk circulating in the media about me. … I am amazed at how absurd the media could be and I hope that the US authorities know better and realize that what was mentioned about me was nothing but lies,” al-Awlaki writes, appearing to scold the FBI agent.

In another email, an FBI agent bristles at attempts by the 9/11 Commission to locate al-Awlaki and interview him independently, describing the requests as “numerous and unrelenting.” The email says the 9/11 Commission wanted to talk to the cleric after it learned he had been phoning and emailing with FBI agents.

Significantly, the email traffic shows that while the 9/11 Commission was trying to find al-Awlaki, an FBI agent was in direct contact with the cleric and set up a meeting with him in March 2004.

“SA [redacted] has had a conversation with Aulaqi and has tentatively set up an interview for mid-March in London. With the VA. Jihad trial scheduled for early Feb. this will be the earliest SA (redacted) can meet Aulaqi … If the 9/11 commission needs to meet with Aulaqi, we will provide the contact information so they can set up their own interview.”

Previously obtained records show that in 2002, within days of al-Awlaki’s re-entry to the U.S., he showed up in Ammerman’s counterterrorism investigation in Virginia into Ali al-Timimi, who is now serving a life sentence on non-terrorism charges. On Oct. 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return, another FBI memo obtained through the Judicial Watch federal lawsuit (marked “Secret”) includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.” The existence of the customs entry records was first documented by author Paul Sperry. 

Asked about the FBI’s involvement in al-Awlaki’s release and whether the FBI tried to recruit the cleric, in a September 2013 interview with Fox News, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller did not deny it.

“I am not personally familiar with any effort to recruit Anwar al-Awlaki as an asset — that does not mean to say there was not an effort at some level of the Bureau (FBI) or another agency to do so,” Mueller said.

Mueller did not elaborate on a memo he personally sent then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on Oct. 3, 2002 — seven days before the imam suddenly re-entered the U.S., was detained and then released at JFK Airport, by the order of Mueller’s agent — that is marked “Secret” and titled “Anwar Aulaqi: IT-UBL/AL-QAEDA.”

It is not public whether al-Awlaki’s contact information was provided by the FBI to the commission, but in the 9/11 report into the 2001 terrorist attacks, it states efforts to locate al-Awlaki were unsuccessful.

Fitton claims federal law enforcement had al-Awlaki in their custody, until the FBI let him walk — and in the years before he was killed by a CIA drone in 2011, al-Awlaki pioneered the digital jihad, now being capitalized upon by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“ISIS took that and ran with it —  who knows, maybe if we had gotten al-Awlaki and kept him off the streets and in jail or in prison where he belonged that there would have been a much more slower development of the Internet jihad that we’re all facing worldwide.”

Catherine Herridge is the author of “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/enemy-or-asset-fbi-documents-show-radical-cleric-awlaki-communicated-with/

Questions surround Ebola patient’s first hospital visit

DALLAS – A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was in Dallas Wednesday investigating why a hospital sent an Ebola patient home, potentially exposing others to the deadly virus.

This is the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S.

The patient, identified as Thomas Eric Duncan by CBS Dallas station KTVT, was visiting family from his home in Liberia. He is in serious condition and has been in a specialized isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since Sunday.

There are questions about why he wasn’t admitted two days earlier, on Sept. 26, when he first came to the hospital with a fever and abdominal pains.

A nurse, using a checklist, asked whether he traveled from Africa. He answered yes but was released.

“Regretfully that information was not fully communicated throughout the full team,” the hospital’s Dr. Mark Lester told reporters.

Lester wouldn’t say if there was a breakdown over whether he should have been admitted that day based on the information that Duncan had traveled from Africa.

“I can’t answer that question because that’s one piece of information that would be factored into the entire clinical picture,” he said.

The miscommunication put more people at risk of exposure.

Texas health officials are monitoring 12 to 18 people who may have had direct contact with the patient, who was staying with relatives at a Dallas apartment complex.

That includes five children. They have not shown symptoms but will not return to school until doctors clear them.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought to calm fears.

“This case is serious,” he told reporters. “Rest assured that our system is working as it should.”

The three paramedics who brought the patient to the hospital Sunday have tested negative for Ebola. Still, they are being isolated and monitored for symptoms. The ambulance that was used has been quarantined for decontamination.

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports that while the CDC remains confident that this Ebola infection can be stopped in its tracks, the agency has concerns about why protocol was apparently fumbled in Dallas.

“After all, for the last month or two, they’ve been sending out all sorts of e-blasts and communications – I’ve gotten them – saying be on the lookout for Ebola,” LaPook said. “And that means that symptoms like fever or nausea or headache, minor ones that can seem like a virus, think of Ebola and always ask a travel history.”

LaPook held a Facebook chat on Ebola Wednesday, and the top question was about the transmission of the disease, specifically if it was spread by coughing or sneezing.

Ebola is not spread through the air. People would need to have direct contact with fluids, and in addition to that, there has to be some kind of break in the skin or the disease would need to make contact through mucus membranes in the mouth or the nose.

Viewers with questions about Ebola can send them to Dr. Jon LaPook at facebook.com/cbseveningnews.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/7q-NijyRmC8/

NEW LEADER ‘REQUIRED’ Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. President Obama “concluded new leadership of that agency was required,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. 

Johnson said: “Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that Johnson told Pierson the resignation would be effective immediately, after she offered. 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

Pierson’s departure, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite her rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether Obama had confidence in the director, Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept. 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaffetz welcomed the decision to step down and urged the president to fill the post with “new leadership from outside the Secret Service for a fresh start.” 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19. The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

NEW LEADER ‘REQUIRED’ Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. President Obama “concluded new leadership of that agency was required,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. 

Johnson said: “Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that Johnson told Pierson the resignation would be effective immediately, after she offered. 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

Pierson’s departure, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite her rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether Obama had confidence in the director, Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept. 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaffetz welcomed the decision to step down and urged the president to fill the post with “new leadership from outside the Secret Service for a fresh start.” 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19. The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

Enemy or Asset? Awlaki in contact with FBI agent in ’03, docs show

Anwar Al Awlaki

This Oct. 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. (AP)

Newly released documents further support the conclusion that the FBI was working with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after the 9/11 attacks – in the years before he became the first American targeted for death by a U.S. drone strike.

As part of an ongoing investigation of the cleric that began after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre, Fox News was first to report that in 2002, al-Awlaki was released from custody at JFK International Airport — despite an active warrant for his arrest — with the okay of FBI Agent Wade Ammerman.

Watchdog group Judicial Watch has since obtained more than 900 pages of new documents in the course of its federal lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the cleric was emailing and leaving voice messages with an FBI agent in 2003, a year after Ammerman told customs agents at JFK airport to bypass an outstanding warrant for the cleric’s arrest.

The documents further support claims that Awlaki, who eventually went overseas and linked up with an Al Qaeda affiliate, worked with the FBI and was likely a U.S. government asset.

“I have little doubt that President Obama assassinated a terrorist that was an asset of the U.S. government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

He added: “There have been so many missed opportunities in getting the bad guys, but it’s one thing to have a bad guy working with you and for you and actually in your custody and then letting them go.” 

Fitton questioned whether Obama was even aware of al-Awlaki’s connections to federal law enforcement. “These unanswered questions cast President Obama’s decision to assassinate [al-Awlaki] in a disturbingly different light,” he said.   

In one Oct. 2, 2003 email, an FBI agent whose name is redacted writes to a colleague regarding a voicemail: “Holy crap, [redacted] isn’t this your guy? The aman (imam) with the prostitutes.”

Three weeks later, after leaving another voicemail, the cleric uses his personal Yahoo account to write directly to an FBI agent, now stationed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to complain about news reports linking al-Awlaki to the 9/11 hijackers.

“I was astonished by some of the talk circulating in the media about me. … I am amazed at how absurd the media could be and I hope that the US authorities know better and realize that what was mentioned about me was nothing but lies,” al-Awlaki writes, appearing to scold the FBI agent.

In another email, an FBI agent bristles at attempts by the 9/11 Commission to locate al-Awlaki and interview him independently, describing the requests as “numerous and unrelenting.” The email says the 9/11 Commission wanted to talk to the cleric after it learned he had been phoning and emailing with FBI agents.

Significantly, the email traffic shows that while the 9/11 Commission was trying to find al-Awlaki, an FBI agent was in direct contact with the cleric and set up a meeting with him in March 2004.

“SA [redacted] has had a conversation with Aulaqi and has tentatively set up an interview for mid-March in London. With the VA. Jihad trial scheduled for early Feb. this will be the earliest SA (redacted) can meet Aulaqi … If the 9/11 commission needs to meet with Aulaqi, we will provide the contact information so they can set up their own interview.”

Previously obtained records show that in 2002, within days of al-Awlaki’s re-entry to the U.S., he showed up in Ammerman’s counterterrorism investigation in Virginia into Ali al-Timimi, who is now serving a life sentence on non-terrorism charges. On Oct. 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return, another FBI memo obtained through the Judicial Watch federal lawsuit (marked “Secret”) includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.” The existence of the customs entry records was first documented by author Paul Sperry. 

Asked about the FBI’s involvement in al-Awlaki’s release and whether the FBI tried to recruit the cleric, in a September 2013 interview with Fox News, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller did not deny it.

“I am not personally familiar with any effort to recruit Anwar al-Awlaki as an asset — that does not mean to say there was not an effort at some level of the Bureau (FBI) or another agency to do so,” Mueller said.

Mueller did not elaborate on a memo he personally sent then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on Oct. 3, 2002 — seven days before the imam suddenly re-entered the U.S., was detained and then released at JFK Airport, by the order of Mueller’s agent — that is marked “Secret” and titled “Anwar Aulaqi: IT-UBL/AL-QAEDA.”

It is not public whether al-Awlaki’s contact information was provided by the FBI to the commission, but in the 9/11 report into the 2001 terrorist attacks, it states efforts to locate al-Awlaki were unsuccessful.

Fitton claims federal law enforcement had al-Awlaki in their custody, until the FBI let him walk — and in the years before he was killed by a CIA drone in 2011, al-Awlaki pioneered the digital jihad, now being capitalized upon by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“ISIS took that and ran with it —  who knows, maybe if we had gotten al-Awlaki and kept him off the streets and in jail or in prison where he belonged that there would have been a much more slower development of the Internet jihad that we’re all facing worldwide.”

Catherine Herridge is the author of “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/enemy-or-asset-fbi-documents-show-radical-cleric-awlaki-communicated-with/

Enemy or Asset? Awlaki in contact with FBI agent in ’03, docs show

Anwar Al Awlaki

This Oct. 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. (AP)

Newly released documents further support the conclusion that the FBI was working with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after the 9/11 attacks – in the years before he became the first American targeted for death by a U.S. drone strike.

As part of an ongoing investigation of the cleric that began after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre, Fox News was first to report that in 2002, al-Awlaki was released from custody at JFK International Airport — despite an active warrant for his arrest — with the okay of FBI Agent Wade Ammerman.

Watchdog group Judicial Watch has since obtained more than 900 pages of new documents in the course of its federal lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the cleric was emailing and leaving voice messages with an FBI agent in 2003, a year after Ammerman told customs agents at JFK airport to bypass an outstanding warrant for the cleric’s arrest.

The documents further support claims that Awlaki, who eventually went overseas and linked up with an Al Qaeda affiliate, worked with the FBI and was likely a U.S. government asset.

“I have little doubt that President Obama assassinated a terrorist that was an asset of the U.S. government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

He added: “There have been so many missed opportunities in getting the bad guys, but it’s one thing to have a bad guy working with you and for you and actually in your custody and then letting them go.” 

Fitton questioned whether Obama was even aware of al-Awlaki’s connections to federal law enforcement. “These unanswered questions cast President Obama’s decision to assassinate [al-Awlaki] in a disturbingly different light,” he said.   

In one Oct. 2, 2003 email, an FBI agent whose name is redacted writes to a colleague regarding a voicemail: “Holy crap, [redacted] isn’t this your guy? The aman (imam) with the prostitutes.”

Three weeks later, after leaving another voicemail, the cleric uses his personal Yahoo account to write directly to an FBI agent, now stationed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to complain about news reports linking al-Awlaki to the 9/11 hijackers.

“I was astonished by some of the talk circulating in the media about me. … I am amazed at how absurd the media could be and I hope that the US authorities know better and realize that what was mentioned about me was nothing but lies,” al-Awlaki writes, appearing to scold the FBI agent.

In another email, an FBI agent bristles at attempts by the 9/11 Commission to locate al-Awlaki and interview him independently, describing the requests as “numerous and unrelenting.” The email says the 9/11 Commission wanted to talk to the cleric after it learned he had been phoning and emailing with FBI agents.

Significantly, the email traffic shows that while the 9/11 Commission was trying to find al-Awlaki, an FBI agent was in direct contact with the cleric and set up a meeting with him in March 2004.

“SA [redacted] has had a conversation with Aulaqi and has tentatively set up an interview for mid-March in London. With the VA. Jihad trial scheduled for early Feb. this will be the earliest SA (redacted) can meet Aulaqi … If the 9/11 commission needs to meet with Aulaqi, we will provide the contact information so they can set up their own interview.”

Previously obtained records show that in 2002, within days of al-Awlaki’s re-entry to the U.S., he showed up in Ammerman’s counterterrorism investigation in Virginia into Ali al-Timimi, who is now serving a life sentence on non-terrorism charges. On Oct. 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return, another FBI memo obtained through the Judicial Watch federal lawsuit (marked “Secret”) includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.” The existence of the customs entry records was first documented by author Paul Sperry. 

Asked about the FBI’s involvement in al-Awlaki’s release and whether the FBI tried to recruit the cleric, in a September 2013 interview with Fox News, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller did not deny it.

“I am not personally familiar with any effort to recruit Anwar al-Awlaki as an asset — that does not mean to say there was not an effort at some level of the Bureau (FBI) or another agency to do so,” Mueller said.

Mueller did not elaborate on a memo he personally sent then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on Oct. 3, 2002 — seven days before the imam suddenly re-entered the U.S., was detained and then released at JFK Airport, by the order of Mueller’s agent — that is marked “Secret” and titled “Anwar Aulaqi: IT-UBL/AL-QAEDA.”

It is not public whether al-Awlaki’s contact information was provided by the FBI to the commission, but in the 9/11 report into the 2001 terrorist attacks, it states efforts to locate al-Awlaki were unsuccessful.

Fitton claims federal law enforcement had al-Awlaki in their custody, until the FBI let him walk — and in the years before he was killed by a CIA drone in 2011, al-Awlaki pioneered the digital jihad, now being capitalized upon by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“ISIS took that and ran with it —  who knows, maybe if we had gotten al-Awlaki and kept him off the streets and in jail or in prison where he belonged that there would have been a much more slower development of the Internet jihad that we’re all facing worldwide.”

Catherine Herridge is the author of “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/enemy-or-asset-fbi-documents-show-radical-cleric-awlaki-communicated-with/

NEW LEADER ‘REQUIRED’ Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. President Obama “concluded new leadership of that agency was required,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. 

Johnson said: “Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that Johnson told Pierson the resignation would be effective immediately, after she offered. 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

Pierson’s departure, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite her rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether Obama had confidence in the director, Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept. 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaffetz welcomed the decision to step down and urged the president to fill the post with “new leadership from outside the Secret Service for a fresh start.” 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19. The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

‘RATTY, TORN PAJAMAS’ Vets go without basics as hospital spends on solar

valouisiana.jpg

The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport. (VA)

Veterans at the Shreveport, La., Veterans Affairs hospital have been going without toothbrushes, toothpaste, pajamas, sheets and blankets while department officials spend money on new Canadian-made furniture, televisions to run public service announcements and solar panels, a Watchdog investigation has revealed.

Sources inside the hospital told Watchdog.org that patients also have had to contend with substandard care, as many nurses spend less time on work than on cell phones, iPods or accessing personal data on hospital computers.

“It shouldn’t be like this. These are our veterans,” one employee said. “When I saw those solar panels out there and they waste money on things like new TVs that just play (public service) announcements, it really made me angry.”

According to the VA, the department spent $74,412 on 24 flat screen TVs for “patient/employee information” — one 50 inches wide and the others 42 inches. The furniture cost $134,082 and the solar project was approximately $3 million.

Shreveport’s Overton Brooks VA Medical Center was built in 1950 and its linens look like they’ve been around just as long. Sheets and blankets often have holes or are threadbare. Pajamas are missing buttons or snaps and are ripped. But patients who get even these items are the lucky ones.

By the weekend, the hospital runs out while waiting for its supply of laundry to arrive from 125 miles away, where it was cleaned at another VA hospital in Pineville, La.

The VA said it doesn’t contract with a local vendor because the employees in Pineville are veterans, but it did not address why it would spend $3 million on solar panels to help the environment yet condone burning millions of gallons of gasoline.

“The patients don’t complain, they are wonderful,” the employee said regarding the lack of resources. “They are so appreciative of the care. That’s the least of their problems, these ratty, torn pajamas.”

Click for more from watchdog.org.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/louisiana-va-hospital-lacks-pajamas-and-sheets-but-spends-millions-on-new/

Enemy or Asset? Awlaki in contact with FBI agent in ’03, docs show

Anwar Al Awlaki

This Oct. 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. (AP)

Newly released documents further support the conclusion that the FBI was working with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after the 9/11 attacks – in the years before he became the first American targeted for death by a U.S. drone strike.

As part of an ongoing investigation of the cleric that began after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre, Fox News was first to report that in 2002, al-Awlaki was released from custody at JFK International Airport — despite an active warrant for his arrest — with the okay of FBI Agent Wade Ammerman.

Watchdog group Judicial Watch has since obtained more than 900 pages of new documents in the course of its federal lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the cleric was emailing and leaving voice messages with an FBI agent in 2003, a year after Ammerman told customs agents at JFK airport to bypass an outstanding warrant for the cleric’s arrest.

The documents further support claims that Awlaki, who eventually went overseas and linked up with an Al Qaeda affiliate, worked with the FBI and was likely a U.S. government asset.

“I have little doubt that President Obama assassinated a terrorist that was an asset of the U.S. government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

He added: “There have been so many missed opportunities in getting the bad guys, but it’s one thing to have a bad guy working with you and for you and actually in your custody and then letting them go.” 

Fitton questioned whether Obama was even aware of al-Awlaki’s connections to federal law enforcement. “These unanswered questions cast President Obama’s decision to assassinate [al-Awlaki] in a disturbingly different light,” he said.   

In one Oct. 2, 2003 email, an FBI agent whose name is redacted writes to a colleague regarding a voicemail: “Holy crap, [redacted] isn’t this your guy? The aman (imam) with the prostitutes.”

Three weeks later, after leaving another voicemail, the cleric uses his personal Yahoo account to write directly to an FBI agent, now stationed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to complain about news reports linking al-Awlaki to the 9/11 hijackers.

“I was astonished by some of the talk circulating in the media about me. … I am amazed at how absurd the media could be and I hope that the US authorities know better and realize that what was mentioned about me was nothing but lies,” al-Awlaki writes, appearing to scold the FBI agent.

In another email, an FBI agent bristles at attempts by the 9/11 Commission to locate al-Awlaki and interview him independently, describing the requests as “numerous and unrelenting.” The email says the 9/11 Commission wanted to talk to the cleric after it learned he had been phoning and emailing with FBI agents.

Significantly, the email traffic shows that while the 9/11 Commission was trying to find al-Awlaki, an FBI agent was in direct contact with the cleric and set up a meeting with him in March 2004.

“SA [redacted] has had a conversation with Aulaqi and has tentatively set up an interview for mid-March in London. With the VA. Jihad trial scheduled for early Feb. this will be the earliest SA (redacted) can meet Aulaqi … If the 9/11 commission needs to meet with Aulaqi, we will provide the contact information so they can set up their own interview.”

Previously obtained records show that in 2002, within days of al-Awlaki’s re-entry to the U.S., he showed up in Ammerman’s counterterrorism investigation in Virginia into Ali al-Timimi, who is now serving a life sentence on non-terrorism charges. On Oct. 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return, another FBI memo obtained through the Judicial Watch federal lawsuit (marked “Secret”) includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.” The existence of the customs entry records was first documented by author Paul Sperry. 

Asked about the FBI’s involvement in al-Awlaki’s release and whether the FBI tried to recruit the cleric, in a September 2013 interview with Fox News, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller did not deny it.

“I am not personally familiar with any effort to recruit Anwar al-Awlaki as an asset — that does not mean to say there was not an effort at some level of the Bureau (FBI) or another agency to do so,” Mueller said.

Mueller did not elaborate on a memo he personally sent then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on Oct. 3, 2002 — seven days before the imam suddenly re-entered the U.S., was detained and then released at JFK Airport, by the order of Mueller’s agent — that is marked “Secret” and titled “Anwar Aulaqi: IT-UBL/AL-QAEDA.”

It is not public whether al-Awlaki’s contact information was provided by the FBI to the commission, but in the 9/11 report into the 2001 terrorist attacks, it states efforts to locate al-Awlaki were unsuccessful.

Fitton claims federal law enforcement had al-Awlaki in their custody, until the FBI let him walk — and in the years before he was killed by a CIA drone in 2011, al-Awlaki pioneered the digital jihad, now being capitalized upon by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“ISIS took that and ran with it —  who knows, maybe if we had gotten al-Awlaki and kept him off the streets and in jail or in prison where he belonged that there would have been a much more slower development of the Internet jihad that we’re all facing worldwide.”

Catherine Herridge is the author of “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/enemy-or-asset-fbi-documents-show-radical-cleric-awlaki-communicated-with/

MONEY WELL SPENT? Battle to ban bracelets costs Pa. taxpayers $400G

bracelets.jpg

The bracelets were deemed offensive by the Easton, Pa., school district, but two court rulings found they were protected speech. (AP)

Taxpayers in an eastern Pennsylvania community are out nearly $400,000 after the school district lost a four-year legal battle over breast cancer awareness bracelets officials deemed offensive.

The Easton Area School District was assessed the full legal bill for the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union’s First Amendment battle, waged on behalf of students who got in trouble for wearing wristbands inscribed with “I (heart) boobies.”

“I am happy we won this case because it’s important that students have the right to stand up for a cause and try to make a difference,” Brianna Hawk, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement released by the  ACLU. “We just wanted to raise awareness about breast cancer.”

Brianna, who was 12 at the time, and Kayla Martinez, who was 13, were in middle school when they challenged their school’s ban on the bracelets in October, 2010. With the ACLU representing them, the girls claimed their First Amendment rights to free speech and sued the district in federal court in Philadelphia.

U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin ruled in their favor, but the school district appealed, calling the bracelets’ messages “vulgar” and subject to regulation. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals found in a 9-5 opinion that the breast cancer awareness message was protected by the First Amendment, notwithstanding its potential to offend, because it is a social or political statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal sought by the district, leaving in place the lower court’s August decision. 

The girls did not seek damages and the $385,000 settlement was negotiated to cover the ACLU’s legal fees and court costs. Under the federal Civil Rights Act, anyone who wins a lawsuit challenging a violation of a civil right such as freedom of expression can seek attorney fees and court costs.

Easton was one of several school districts around the country to ban the bracelets, which are distributed by the nonprofit Keep A Breast Foundation, of Carlsbad, Calif. 

A security guard saw the girls wearing the bracelets on Breast Cancer Awareness day in 2010 and asked them to remove them, according to the Express-Times of Lehigh Valley. The girls refused, and were suspended for “disrespect, defiance and disruption” and barred from a school dance.

FoxNews.com’s Kristen Sullivan contributed to this report

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/02/battle-against-boobies-bracelets-costs-pa-taxpayers-nearly-400g/

Enemy or Asset? Awlaki in contact with FBI agent in ’03, docs show

Anwar Al Awlaki

This Oct. 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. (AP)

Newly released documents further support the conclusion that the FBI was working with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after the 9/11 attacks – in the years before he became the first American targeted for death by a U.S. drone strike.

As part of an ongoing investigation of the cleric that began after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre, Fox News was first to report that in 2002, al-Awlaki was released from custody at JFK International Airport — despite an active warrant for his arrest — with the okay of FBI Agent Wade Ammerman.

Watchdog group Judicial Watch has since obtained more than 900 pages of new documents in the course of its federal lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the cleric was emailing and leaving voice messages with an FBI agent in 2003, a year after Ammerman told customs agents at JFK airport to bypass an outstanding warrant for the cleric’s arrest.

The documents further support claims that Awlaki, who eventually went overseas and linked up with an Al Qaeda affiliate, worked with the FBI and was likely a U.S. government asset.

“I have little doubt that President Obama assassinated a terrorist that was an asset of the U.S. government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

He added: “There have been so many missed opportunities in getting the bad guys, but it’s one thing to have a bad guy working with you and for you and actually in your custody and then letting them go.” 

Fitton questioned whether Obama was even aware of al-Awlaki’s connections to federal law enforcement. “These unanswered questions cast President Obama’s decision to assassinate [al-Awlaki] in a disturbingly different light,” he said.   

In one Oct. 2, 2003 email, an FBI agent whose name is redacted writes to a colleague regarding a voicemail: “Holy crap, [redacted] isn’t this your guy? The aman (imam) with the prostitutes.”

Three weeks later, after leaving another voicemail, the cleric uses his personal Yahoo account to write directly to an FBI agent, now stationed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to complain about news reports linking al-Awlaki to the 9/11 hijackers.

“I was astonished by some of the talk circulating in the media about me. … I am amazed at how absurd the media could be and I hope that the US authorities know better and realize that what was mentioned about me was nothing but lies,” al-Awlaki writes, appearing to scold the FBI agent.

In another email, an FBI agent bristles at attempts by the 9/11 Commission to locate al-Awlaki and interview him independently, describing the requests as “numerous and unrelenting.” The email says the 9/11 Commission wanted to talk to the cleric after it learned he had been phoning and emailing with FBI agents.

Significantly, the email traffic shows that while the 9/11 Commission was trying to find al-Awlaki, an FBI agent was in direct contact with the cleric and set up a meeting with him in March 2004.

“SA [redacted] has had a conversation with Aulaqi and has tentatively set up an interview for mid-March in London. With the VA. Jihad trial scheduled for early Feb. this will be the earliest SA (redacted) can meet Aulaqi … If the 9/11 commission needs to meet with Aulaqi, we will provide the contact information so they can set up their own interview.”

Previously obtained records show that in 2002, within days of al-Awlaki’s re-entry to the U.S., he showed up in Ammerman’s counterterrorism investigation in Virginia into Ali al-Timimi, who is now serving a life sentence on non-terrorism charges. On Oct. 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return, another FBI memo obtained through the Judicial Watch federal lawsuit (marked “Secret”) includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.” The existence of the customs entry records was first documented by author Paul Sperry. 

Asked about the FBI’s involvement in al-Awlaki’s release and whether the FBI tried to recruit the cleric, in a September 2013 interview with Fox News, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller did not deny it.

“I am not personally familiar with any effort to recruit Anwar al-Awlaki as an asset — that does not mean to say there was not an effort at some level of the Bureau (FBI) or another agency to do so,” Mueller said.

Mueller did not elaborate on a memo he personally sent then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on Oct. 3, 2002 — seven days before the imam suddenly re-entered the U.S., was detained and then released at JFK Airport, by the order of Mueller’s agent — that is marked “Secret” and titled “Anwar Aulaqi: IT-UBL/AL-QAEDA.”

It is not public whether al-Awlaki’s contact information was provided by the FBI to the commission, but in the 9/11 report into the 2001 terrorist attacks, it states efforts to locate al-Awlaki were unsuccessful.

Fitton claims federal law enforcement had al-Awlaki in their custody, until the FBI let him walk — and in the years before he was killed by a CIA drone in 2011, al-Awlaki pioneered the digital jihad, now being capitalized upon by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“ISIS took that and ran with it —  who knows, maybe if we had gotten al-Awlaki and kept him off the streets and in jail or in prison where he belonged that there would have been a much more slower development of the Internet jihad that we’re all facing worldwide.”

Catherine Herridge is the author of “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/enemy-or-asset-fbi-documents-show-radical-cleric-awlaki-communicated-with/

NEW LEADER ‘REQUIRED’ Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. President Obama “concluded new leadership of that agency was required,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. 

Johnson said: “Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that Johnson told Pierson the resignation would be effective immediately, after she offered. 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

Pierson’s departure, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite her rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether Obama had confidence in the director, Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept. 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaffetz welcomed the decision to step down and urged the president to fill the post with “new leadership from outside the Secret Service for a fresh start.” 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19. The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

THEY DON’T BITE Quirky ad campaign says Republicans ‘people too’

republicans_people.jpg

Shown here is an image from the ‘Republicans are people, too’ website.

Republicans drive Priuses.

Republicans recycle.

Republicans have tattoos.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t shocking news to hear. But a former Mitt Romney ad guru has made little reminders like this the centerpiece of a strange new social media campaign aimed at softening the public image of his Republican Party.

The campaign is called “Republicans Are People, Too.” Right now, it’s a low-budget endeavor, with an online and social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

The man behind the push, Vinny Minchillo, told FoxNews.com he’s trying to “catch a wave” of interest by launching “Republicans Are People, Too” shortly before the midterm elections – though he’s not advocating for any particular candidates.

Rather, he said he’s trying to “encourage and embolden” Republicans to get more involved, easing them out of the stigma he says is associated with being a conservative.

“In a perfect world, we’d like to make it safe for Republicans to admit they’re Republicans. …  We want to make the world a safe place for Republicans,” he said.

His web video posted on Republicansarepeopletoo.com shows” Republicans” doing various everyday things – taking selfies, posing with tattoos and so on.

The campaign has endured its share of mocking on the Internet and in the media (“unintentionally hilarious” and “epic failure” are just a couple of the online comments deriding the push).

It also recycles a phrase once used by a pro-Republican drive in the wake of Nixon’s resignation, and bears a striking resemblance to the 2011-2012 “I’m a Mormon” ads, which stressed the ordinary-ness of Mormons — Minchillo said he never noticed the similarities.

The Glasshouse Strategy ad man — and, according to his Twitter, bon vivant – says he couldn’t be happier with the responses, of all stripes. He retweets both favorable and critical reactions to the video.

He tweeted, “Response to republicansarepeopletoo.com has been interesting. A little snark, but really pretty positive. #ImARepublican”

As for whether he’ll take the campaign to the airwaves, he said: “It’ll be the next step in the conversation.”

“I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re going to have a little fun with it … We’re going to stay positive,” he said.

The ads, which Minchillo says are a “100 percent grassroots deal,” have gotten all of their funding from within the Glasshouse Strategy organization.

“There’s probably about $60,000 worth of put into the whole ad,” he said of the web video.

The website itself, a minimally designed, frill-less blue-on-blue (on blue) single page, describes the point of the advert as being a way to end online bullying of Republicans.

It says: “Here’s the deal: before you post another bullying comment, think about this: Republicans are people, too.”

While not everybody is convinced by the intentions of the ad, as The Washington Post points out, Republicans and Democrats both have it pretty rough when it comes to public opinion, especially on the Internet. It noted a Pew Research Center study that shows that people often feel that the group they are most closely aligned with faces the most backlash.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/republicans-are-people-too-romney-ad-guru-has-message-for-america/

‘RATTY, TORN PAJAMAS’ Vets go without basics as hospital spends on solar

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The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport. (VA)

Veterans at the Shreveport, La., Veterans Affairs hospital have been going without toothbrushes, toothpaste, pajamas, sheets and blankets while department officials spend money on new Canadian-made furniture, televisions to run public service announcements and solar panels, a Watchdog investigation has revealed.

Sources inside the hospital told Watchdog.org that patients also have had to contend with substandard care, as many nurses spend less time on work than on cell phones, iPods or accessing personal data on hospital computers.

“It shouldn’t be like this. These are our veterans,” one employee said. “When I saw those solar panels out there and they waste money on things like new TVs that just play (public service) announcements, it really made me angry.”

According to the VA, the department spent $74,412 on 24 flat screen TVs for “patient/employee information” — one 50 inches wide and the others 42 inches. The furniture cost $134,082 and the solar project was approximately $3 million.

Shreveport’s Overton Brooks VA Medical Center was built in 1950 and its linens look like they’ve been around just as long. Sheets and blankets often have holes or are threadbare. Pajamas are missing buttons or snaps and are ripped. But patients who get even these items are the lucky ones.

By the weekend, the hospital runs out while waiting for its supply of laundry to arrive from 125 miles away, where it was cleaned at another VA hospital in Pineville, La.

The VA said it doesn’t contract with a local vendor because the employees in Pineville are veterans, but it did not address why it would spend $3 million on solar panels to help the environment yet condone burning millions of gallons of gasoline.

“The patients don’t complain, they are wonderful,” the employee said regarding the lack of resources. “They are so appreciative of the care. That’s the least of their problems, these ratty, torn pajamas.”

Click for more from watchdog.org.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/louisiana-va-hospital-lacks-pajamas-and-sheets-but-spends-millions-on-new/

‘Khorasan Group’ is new name coined by Obama for old foe, critics claim

The Obama administration is being accused of coining a new name for an old nemesis by dubbing an Al Qaeda offshoot “The Khorasan Group.”

From Rush Limbaugh to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, critics are dubious of the corporate-sounding name rooted in an old term that describes an area on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and are charging that it may have been introduced last month as a way to avoid invoking the name Al Qaeda, the terror group President Obama once claimed had been “decimated.”

Middle East experts were long familiar with the term “Khorasan,” but its use as part of a terrorist organization’s formal name does not appear in recent online searches prior to Sept. 13, when The Associated Press characterized the militants as a “cadre of veteran Al Qaeda fighters” from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to connect with the Al Qaeda affiliate there, the Nusra Front.

Ten days later, in a Sept. 23 article, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Aron Lund also questioned the term’s legitimacy, saying the term “gained currency only” within the past two weeks.

“The sudden flurry of revelations about the ‘Khorasan Group’ in the past two weeks smacks of strategic leaks and political spin,” Lund wrote. “Even if the information provided is entirely correct, which it may well be, the timing can hardly be coincidental — within two weeks of the first press reports, attacks had started against [Khorasan Group leader Muhsin] Fadhli and his allies in Syria.”

“Most of them are non-Syrian Al Qaeda members who have a history in Pakistan and Afghanistan and are now present inside Syria under the banner of Jabhat Al Nusra.”

- Jenan Moussa, al-Alan TV, on The Khorasan Group

Four days later, former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy followed with a column in the National Review Online titled, “The Khorasan Group Does Not Exist,” alleging it was a term crafted by the administration. 

“You haven’t heard of the Khorasan Group because there isn’t one,” he wrote. “It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorasan — the Iranian-Afghan border region — had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”

Since the controversy erupted, the White House has issued an array of mixed messages over exactly who the group is and where its name originates, but has now readily acknowledged that the terrorist sect it refers to as The Khorasan Group is made up of Al Qaeda stalwarts.

McCarthy reiterated his point Wednesday in a new column, saying the doubts were further solidified due to a corroborating report from al-Alan TV’s Jenan Moussa, who was granted access to the headquarters of Al Qaeda in Syria.

“The bombing of the so-called Khorasan-group in Syria is a mystery to the world,” said Moussa, according to an English translation. “The only thing we know is the location and that at least two main Al Qaeda operatives, top sniper Abu Yousef Al Turki and Abu Hajar Al Masri, were killed.”

With exclusive access, Moussa said she was able to photograph the decimated buildings. Amid the rubble, she found a list with 14 names on it who were described as members of the “Wolf Unit, Jabhat al Nusra.”

The document, according to Moussa, indicated that the wolf unit was led by Abu Yusuf al Turki, a notorious sniper who was killed during recent American airstrikes.

“Based on the pictures and documents, we can conclude the following: What the Americans call Khorasan is, in fact, the Wolf Unit and other groups of foreign fighters within Jabhat al Nusra,” Moussa reports. “ … Most of them are non-Syrian Al Qaeda members who have a history in Pakistan and Afghanistan and are now present inside Syria under the banner of Jabhat Al Nusra.”

The network of militants in Syria was targeted by the U.S. military during the first wave of strikes last week. While few had heard of the group until recently, Obama administration officials, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, said U.S. authorities had been tracking Khorasan for two years.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the Khorasan Group is merely an “affiliate” with “ties to core Al Qaeda, but is not a part of core Al Qaeda.”

Psaki’s comments followed a State Department written clarification on the relationship on Monday. In that statement, the department said: “The ‘Khorasan Group’ is a term sometimes used to refer to a network of al-Nusrah Front and Al Qaeda core violent extremists who share a history of training operatives, facilitating fighters and money, and planning attacks against U.S. and Western targets.”

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Tuesday referred to The Khorasan Group as “a small offshoot of Al Qaeda,” and bristled when asked about accusations that the threat from Khorasan was overblown or fabricated for the purpose of creating a pretext to strike inside Syria. Kirby called those allegations “absolutely false” and “ridiculous,” but said there is no difference between Khorasan and Al Qaeda.

“We consider these groups one and the same,” he said.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/obama-administration-coins-new-name-for-old-terror-foe-critics-claim/

THEY DON’T BITE Quirky ad campaign says Republicans ‘people too’

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Shown here is an image from the ‘Republicans are people, too’ website.

Republicans drive Priuses.

Republicans recycle.

Republicans have tattoos.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t shocking news to hear. But a former Mitt Romney ad guru has made little reminders like this the centerpiece of a strange new social media campaign aimed at softening the public image of his Republican Party.

The campaign is called “Republicans Are People, Too.” Right now, it’s a low-budget endeavor, with an online and social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

The man behind the push, Vinny Minchillo, told FoxNews.com he’s trying to “catch a wave” of interest by launching “Republicans Are People, Too” shortly before the midterm elections – though he’s not advocating for any particular candidates.

Rather, he said he’s trying to “encourage and embolden” Republicans to get more involved, easing them out of the stigma he says is associated with being a conservative.

“In a perfect world, we’d like to make it safe for Republicans to admit they’re Republicans. …  We want to make the world a safe place for Republicans,” he said.

His web video posted on Republicansarepeopletoo.com shows” Republicans” doing various everyday things – taking selfies, posing with tattoos and so on.

The campaign has endured its share of mocking on the Internet and in the media (“unintentionally hilarious” and “epic failure” are just a couple of the online comments deriding the push).

It also recycles a phrase once used by a pro-Republican drive in the wake of Nixon’s resignation, and bears a striking resemblance to the 2011-2012 “I’m a Mormon” ads, which stressed the ordinary-ness of Mormons — Minchillo said he never noticed the similarities.

The Glasshouse Strategy ad man — and, according to his Twitter, bon vivant – says he couldn’t be happier with the responses, of all stripes. He retweets both favorable and critical reactions to the video.

He tweeted, “Response to republicansarepeopletoo.com has been interesting. A little snark, but really pretty positive. #ImARepublican”

As for whether he’ll take the campaign to the airwaves, he said: “It’ll be the next step in the conversation.”

“I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re going to have a little fun with it … We’re going to stay positive,” he said.

The ads, which Minchillo says are a “100 percent grassroots deal,” have gotten all of their funding from within the Glasshouse Strategy organization.

“There’s probably about $60,000 worth of put into the whole ad,” he said of the web video.

The website itself, a minimally designed, frill-less blue-on-blue (on blue) single page, describes the point of the advert as being a way to end online bullying of Republicans.

It says: “Here’s the deal: before you post another bullying comment, think about this: Republicans are people, too.”

While not everybody is convinced by the intentions of the ad, as The Washington Post points out, Republicans and Democrats both have it pretty rough when it comes to public opinion, especially on the Internet. It noted a Pew Research Center study that shows that people often feel that the group they are most closely aligned with faces the most backlash.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/republicans-are-people-too-romney-ad-guru-has-message-for-america/

NEW LEADER ‘REQUIRED’ Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. President Obama “concluded new leadership of that agency was required,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. 

Johnson said: “Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that Johnson told Pierson the resignation would be effective immediately, after she offered. 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

Pierson’s departure, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite her rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether Obama had confidence in the director, Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept. 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaffetz welcomed the decision to step down and urged the president to fill the post with “new leadership from outside the Secret Service for a fresh start.” 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19. The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

FATAL FALL Student plunges to death watching sunrise on cruise

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Kendall Wernet, 20, receives an award aboard the cruise back in 2013. (Student Painters)

The Clemson University student who died Monday after falling two stories to his death onboard a Carnival cruise climbed the front mast to watch the early morning sunrise, WYFF4.com reported.

Kendall Wernet, 20, who was originally from South Carolina, was with a group of about five who climbed the mast on the ship, The Ecstasy, and sat there for about 45 minutes talking about life and their future. One person in the group said no drinking had been involved.

Wernet was standing when a radar dish on the restricted platform started to rotate, Steve Acorn, a mentor who was with the group, told the station. The student was knocked over to the runner’s track below.

He was treated by the ship’s medical team and later died at a trauma center, the report said. He had suffered serious head injuries.

“Everything points to it being an accident,” Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told The Miami Herald.

The group of friends reportedly observed others taking advantage of the views during the 3-day trip to the Bahamas from the same area the night before.

“He was the kind of guy, that if you had a daughter, you’d want him to marry her,” Acorn said. Wernet’s father told The Citizen-Times, he had “a heart of gold and loved to do the right thing.”

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/01/college-student-who-plunged-to-death-on-cruise-was-watching-miami-sunrise/

Questions surround Ebola patient’s first hospital visit

DALLAS – A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was in Dallas Wednesday investigating why a hospital sent an Ebola patient home, potentially exposing others to the deadly virus.

This is the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S.

The patient, identified as Thomas Eric Duncan by CBS Dallas station KTVT, was visiting family from his home in Liberia. He is in serious condition and has been in a specialized isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since Sunday.

There are questions about why he wasn’t admitted two days earlier, on Sept. 26, when he first came to the hospital with a fever and abdominal pains.

A nurse, using a checklist, asked whether he traveled from Africa. He answered yes but was released.

“Regretfully that information was not fully communicated throughout the full team,” the hospital’s Dr. Mark Lester told reporters.

Lester wouldn’t say if there was a breakdown over whether he should have been admitted that day based on the information that Duncan had traveled from Africa.

“I can’t answer that question because that’s one piece of information that would be factored into the entire clinical picture,” he said.

The miscommunication put more people at risk of exposure.

Texas health officials are monitoring 12 to 18 people who may have had direct contact with the patient, who was staying with relatives at a Dallas apartment complex.

That includes five children. They have not shown symptoms but will not return to school until doctors clear them.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought to calm fears.

“This case is serious,” he told reporters. “Rest assured that our system is working as it should.”

The three paramedics who brought the patient to the hospital Sunday have tested negative for Ebola. Still, they are being isolated and monitored for symptoms. The ambulance that was used has been quarantined for decontamination.

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports that while the CDC remains confident that this Ebola infection can be stopped in its tracks, the agency has concerns about why protocol was apparently fumbled in Dallas.

“After all, for the last month or two, they’ve been sending out all sorts of e-blasts and communications – I’ve gotten them – saying be on the lookout for Ebola,” LaPook said. “And that means that symptoms like fever or nausea or headache, minor ones that can seem like a virus, think of Ebola and always ask a travel history.”

LaPook held a Facebook chat on Ebola Wednesday, and the top question was about the transmission of the disease, specifically if it was spread by coughing or sneezing.

Ebola is not spread through the air. People would need to have direct contact with fluids, and in addition to that, there has to be some kind of break in the skin or the disease would need to make contact through mucus membranes in the mouth or the nose.

Viewers with questions about Ebola can send them to Dr. Jon LaPook at facebook.com/cbseveningnews.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/7q-NijyRmC8/

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson steps down

Last Updated Oct 1, 2014 6:00 PM EDT

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson offered her resignation Wednesday after several security breaches affecting the White House and President Obama became public, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Wednesday.

“Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation,” Johnson said in a statement.

“As an interim Acting Director of the Secret Service, I am appointing Joseph Clancy, formerly Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protective Division of the Secret Service. Mr. Clancy retired from the Secret Service in 2011. I appreciate his willingness to leave his position in the private sector on very short notice and return to public service for a period.”

“I think it’s in the best interest of the Secret Service and the American public if I step down,” Pierson said in an interview with Bloomberg News after the announcement. “Congress has lost confidence in my ability to run the agency. The media has made it clear that this is what they expected.”

“I can be pretty stoic about it, but not really,” she said. “It’s painful to leave as the agency is reeling from a signifcant security breach.”

Johnson said he has asked Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and the agency’s general counsel to take charge of the ongoing Secret Service inquiry into the Sept. 19 fence-jumping incident in which a man entered the White House. The review should be completed by Nov. 1.

Additionally, Johnson plans to appoint a panel of independent experts to to review the incident. The panelists will be named shortly and will deliver an assessment and recommendations for the security of the White House compound by Dec. 15, as well as recommendations for a new director.

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” Johnson said.

Pierson’s resignation comes after she faced blistering criticism Tuesday at a congressional hearing called after a 42-year-old Texas man, Omar J. Gonzalez, was able to scale the White House fence, enter the unlocked front doors of the building, and run all the way into the East Room before he was apprehended by an off-duty Secret Service agent.

White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest said that President Obama called Pierson Wednesday afternoon to “express his appreciation for her service to the agency and to the country.”

Asked why the president accepted her resignation after showing support for the past several days, Earnest said Pierson “believed that it was in the best interests of the agency to which she had dedicated her career. [Secretary Johnson] agreed with that assessment. The president did as well.”

When she testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday, Pierson said, “It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly. I take full responsibility; what happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again,”

But the apology was not enough for lawmakers, who expressed concern over both the basic competence of the agency charged with protecting the president and the fact that the Secret Service seemed to offer misleading information, or simply withhold it from the public entirely.

The day before Pierson’s appearance, CBS News learned that Gonzalez made it much farther inside the White House than just inside the front doors, as the agency previously said – a “false report,” as House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, called it. On Sunday, a Washington Post report revealed that it took the Secret Service took four days to realize a gunman had fired at and hit the White House in 2011, despite the fact that some agents on duty believed the building had sustained fire.

Just after the hearing, there were more revelations: during Mr. Obama’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control, a security contractor for the CDC, who had been previously arrested, rode in an elevator with the president while carrying a gun.

Pierson took over as the agency’s chief in March 2013 after the retirement of former director Mark Sullivan, who struggled with a prostitution scandal among agents traveling with the president and a pair of gate-crashers at a state dinner. Prior to taking over, Pierson had served as the Secret Service Chief of Staff since 2008.

“I’m disappointed that I didn’t have an opportunity to implement structural and operational changes in the agency,” she told Bloomberg. “I had a vision for the future. It’s 31 years of service and a firm understanding of the organization.”

Members of Congress at first indicated they wanted to hear Pierson out before demanding further action. But her testimony Tuesday ultimately failed to restore their confidence in her ability to lead the agency.

“I want her to go if she cannot restore trust in the agency, and if she cannot get the culture back in order,” the House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, told CNN Wednesday. “I told her that she’s got a tall order there.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who has been deeply involved in investigating the Secret Service, told Bloomberg News earlier Wednesday, “The president should fire her or at least she should resign.”

Pierson’s resignation will not be the end of the scrutiny for the Secret Service, however. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, announced Tuesday he was creating a blue ribbon commission of outside experts to conduct an independent and comprehensive review of the Secret Service.

And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Wednesday that Congress needed answers regardless of whether Pierson remained at the helm of the agency.

“Whether she does [resign] or not I think we need an independent investigation. Her leaving doesn’t end the need for us to know a lot more about what is happening,” Pelosi said.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/MW-8rB_IMAY/

Obama will let Central American kids apply for refugee status: report

The Obama administration will begin allowing children from Central American countries apply for refugee status in the United States, according to the New York Times.

The program, which was approved by President Obama, would allow several thousand children to legally come to the U.S. to join family members living here and is aimed at stopping a dangerous journey through Mexico that can involve violence, extortion and dangerous rides atop a train.

The rise in unaccompanied children crossing the border reached crisis level earlier this year as tens of thousands of kids from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador came to the southern border seeking refuge from violence and poverty in their home countries. Many were hoping to join relatives living legally or illegally in the U.S., driven in part by a belief that they would be allowed to stay.

The number of children peaked at 10,622 in the month of June, but dropped to 3,141 in August. Officials say the numbers could rise again as temperatures cool, although the governments of the U.S., Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have been conducting messaging campaigns to spread the word that those who come to the U.S. will not be allowed to stay.

By creating an application process within Central America, the administration hopes fewer people will attempt the journey.

“We are establishing in-country refugee processing to provide a safe, legal and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that children are currently undertaking to join relatives in the United States,” Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the White House, told the Times. “These programs will not be a pathway for children to join undocumented relatives in the United States.”

There are no plans to increase the overall number of refugee visas approved, although Mr. Obama said in a Tuesday State Department memorandum that 4,000 of the 70,000 overall visas should be allocated to those from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Refugees are required to prove that they are fleeing their home countries based on persecution aimed at their race, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership in a particular social group. Experts told the Times children would have to be classified as a “social group” that is endangered by the crime and violence they face at home. The exact parameters of the program are still being established.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/pAcpF0ZCIaY/

NEW LEADER ‘REQUIRED’ Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. President Obama “concluded new leadership of that agency was required,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. 

Johnson said: “Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that Johnson told Pierson the resignation would be effective immediately, after she offered. 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

Pierson’s departure, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite her rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether Obama had confidence in the director, Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept. 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaffetz welcomed the decision to step down and urged the president to fill the post with “new leadership from outside the Secret Service for a fresh start.” 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19. The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

SECRET MISSION Girl kidnapped 12 years ago recovered in Mexico

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Greg Allen, released a statement praising the work of law enforcement and the Mexican government and said he looks forward to being reunited with his daughter, Sabrina.

A Texas girl abducted 12 years ago was rescued Tuesday during a secret, multi-agency mission in Mexico, MyFoxAustin.com reported.

Sabrina Allen, now 17, was located in a town southeast of Mexico City with her mother Dana Llorens, who has been taken into custody. The mom, who was reportedly last seen with the girl on April 19, 2002, was extradited to Texas and charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The secret mission to find the girl involved operatives with the FBI, U.S. Marshals and Mexican Authorities.

KHOU.com reported that one of the Mexican federal police was injured in the struggle to arrest the mom.
Allen is undergoing a medical evaluation.

For the past 12 years, Dana Llorens has eluded capture and even changed Sabrina’s hair color in order to hinder efforts to track the two down, MyFoxAustin.com reported.

Her father, Greg Allen, released a statement praising the work of law enforcement and the Mexican government and said he looks forward to being reunited with his daughter.

In 2013, Allen’s father told MyFoxAustin.com that he was continuing the search, despite the years.

“I want to find her. I want to see her again. She needs to know she has a family that loves her. I can’t just give up on her,” he said.

He still keeps a room ready for his missing daughter at their home near Avery Ranch. Her bed is made with several stuff animals placed against pillows that have never been used. The doorway leading to it is always open — a door in the form of a website called findsabrina.org. 

A few years ago, the site provided a brief link with his daughter. It could again.

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/01/texas-girl-kidnapped-12-years-ago-rescued-during-secret-raid-in-mexico/?intcmp=latestnews

THEY DON’T BITE Quirky ad campaign says Republicans ‘people too’

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Shown here is an image from the ‘Republicans are people, too’ website.

Republicans drive Priuses.

Republicans recycle.

Republicans have tattoos.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t shocking news to hear. But a former Mitt Romney ad guru has made little reminders like this the centerpiece of a strange new social media campaign aimed at softening the public image of his Republican Party.

The campaign is called “Republicans Are People, Too.” Right now, it’s a low-budget endeavor, with an online and social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

The man behind the push, Vinny Minchillo, told FoxNews.com he’s trying to “catch a wave” of interest by launching “Republicans Are People, Too” shortly before the midterm elections – though he’s not advocating for any particular candidates.

Rather, he said he’s trying to “encourage and embolden” Republicans to get more involved, easing them out of the stigma he says is associated with being a conservative.

“In a perfect world, we’d like to make it safe for Republicans to admit they’re Republicans. …  We want to make the world a safe place for Republicans,” he said.

His web video posted on Republicansarepeopletoo.com shows” Republicans” doing various everyday things – taking selfies, posing with tattoos and so on.

The campaign has endured its share of mocking on the Internet and in the media (“unintentionally hilarious” and “epic failure” are just a couple of the online comments deriding the push).

It also recycles a phrase once used by a pro-Republican drive in the wake of Nixon’s resignation, and bears a striking resemblance to the 2011-2012 “I’m a Mormon” ads, which stressed the ordinary-ness of Mormons — Minchillo said he never noticed the similarities.

The Glasshouse Strategy ad man — and, according to his Twitter, bon vivant – says he couldn’t be happier with the responses, of all stripes. He retweets both favorable and critical reactions to the video.

He tweeted, “Response to republicansarepeopletoo.com has been interesting. A little snark, but really pretty positive. #ImARepublican”

As for whether he’ll take the campaign to the airwaves, he said: “It’ll be the next step in the conversation.”

“I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re going to have a little fun with it … We’re going to stay positive,” he said.

The ads, which Minchillo says are a “100 percent grassroots deal,” have gotten all of their funding from within the Glasshouse Strategy organization.

“There’s probably about $60,000 worth of put into the whole ad,” he said of the web video.

The website itself, a minimally designed, frill-less blue-on-blue (on blue) single page, describes the point of the advert as being a way to end online bullying of Republicans.

It says: “Here’s the deal: before you post another bullying comment, think about this: Republicans are people, too.”

While not everybody is convinced by the intentions of the ad, as The Washington Post points out, Republicans and Democrats both have it pretty rough when it comes to public opinion, especially on the Internet. It noted a Pew Research Center study that shows that people often feel that the group they are most closely aligned with faces the most backlash.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/republicans-are-people-too-romney-ad-guru-has-message-for-america/

#MarineHeldinMexico Mom pleads with pols for ‘despondent’ son’s freedom

The mother of the U.S. Marine imprisoned in Mexico after mistakenly crossing the border with three legally-registered guns told lawmakers Wednesday her son is rapidly deteriorating and pleaded with them to press for his return.

Jill Tahmooressi, whose 26-year-old son, Andrew, served two tours in Afghanistan, appeared before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee to push her case for the U.S. to pressure Mexico to release him. The condition of Tahmooressi, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service, has deteriorated since he was locked up March 31 on gun charges.

“My son is despondent, without treatment, and he needs to be home,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

The longtime nurse, who lives in Weston, Fla., recounted several emotional calls from her son, including one from Afghanistan, where he told her about blacking out after an IED exploded near him. Upon returning home, Andrew Tahmooressi abandoned his dream of becoming a commercial pilot because, he told his mother, “I can’t concentrate on the academic work.”

Then, on March 31, he called her from a Mexican border checkpoint to say he was in trouble.

“Mom, I got lost; I made a wrong turn,” Jill Tahmooressi recounted her son saying. “I’m at the Mexican border. You need to know this because I’m surrounded by Mexican military.”

Hours later, in another call, he told her, “Mom, I’ve been arrested, please secure me an attorney.”

Appearing with the distraught mother before the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee were television personality and former Navy Lt. Commander Montel Williams, who is also a former Marine, and Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and a Fox News contributor.

“We know for a fact that A’s time in this prison has been worse than his time in both tours of combat,” Williams said. “How dare we, how dare we as a nation, hesitate to get that young man back?”

The hearing took place just hours after Tahmooressi’s attorney, Fernando Benitez, told Fox News he plans to rest his case today, possibly opening the door for Tahmooressi’s release within a matter of weeks.

“We have more than enough for an acquittal,” Benitez said. He said a crucial development in the case came within recent days, when the prosecution acknowledged that Tahmooressi’s PTSD may have played a role in the immediate aftermath of his detention. That stipulation could pave the way to Tahmooressi’s release on humanitarian grounds, he said.

Lawmakers said it is outrageous for a U.S. ally to hold an ailing American on gun charges that clearly stem from an honest mistake. Tahmooressi was in the San Diego area to get PTSD treatment, and living out of his pickup truck when he mistakenly crossed the border at a poorly marked checkpoint. He immediately declared that the guns were among all of his possessions in the truck, according to Benitez.

“As a direct result of his honorable service in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi now suffers from combat-related PTSD,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R- Ariz. “Tragically, instead of receiving the treatment he needs, he is being held in a Mexican prison.

“Our war hero needs to come home,” he added.

Hegseth, a former infantry officer in the Army National Guard who served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, said the administration needs to do more to bring Tahmooressi home.

“Shame on anyone, at home or abroad, who does not move heaven and Earth to ensure that those who given so much, receive the care they deserve,” Hegseth said.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., noted that the Obama administration traded five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, accused of desertion by several men who served with him.

“Sgt. Tahmooressi is an American hero, whose wrong turn at the Mexican border has had the devastating effect of delaying his much-needed PTSD treatment for too long,” Royce said.

Royce said he and Salmon have been in contact with Mexico’s attorney general, who has the power to release Tahmooressi on humanitarian grounds. They said they impressed upon Jesus Karam that Tahmooressi had been diagnosed with PTSD by the VA San Diego Healthcare System just five days before his arrest.

“I am confident the humanitarian release of Andrew Tahmooressi will occur very soon,” Royce said.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the Obama administration to demand Tahmooressi’s release, prompting White House officials earlier this summer to ask Mexican authorities to quickly process the Marine’s case.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/mom-marine-held-in-mexico-pleads-with-lawmakers-as-attorney-says-release-could/

‘Khorasan Group’ is new name coined by Obama for old foe, critics claim

The Obama administration is being accused of coining a new name for an old nemesis by dubbing an Al Qaeda offshoot “The Khorasan Group.”

From Rush Limbaugh to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, critics are dubious of the corporate-sounding name rooted in an old term that describes an area on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and are charging that it may have been introduced last month as a way to avoid invoking the name Al Qaeda, the terror group President Obama once claimed had been “decimated.”

Middle East experts were long familiar with the term “Khorasan,” but its use as part of a terrorist organization’s formal name does not appear in recent online searches prior to Sept. 13, when The Associated Press characterized the militants as a “cadre of veteran Al Qaeda fighters” from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to connect with the Al Qaeda affiliate there, the Nusra Front.

Ten days later, in a Sept. 23 article, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Aron Lund also questioned the term’s legitimacy, saying the term “gained currency only” within the past two weeks.

“The sudden flurry of revelations about the ‘Khorasan Group’ in the past two weeks smacks of strategic leaks and political spin,” Lund wrote. “Even if the information provided is entirely correct, which it may well be, the timing can hardly be coincidental — within two weeks of the first press reports, attacks had started against [Khorasan Group leader Muhsin] Fadhli and his allies in Syria.”

“Most of them are non-Syrian Al Qaeda members who have a history in Pakistan and Afghanistan and are now present inside Syria under the banner of Jabhat Al Nusra.”

- Jenan Moussa, al-Alan TV, on The Khorasan Group

Four days later, former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy followed with a column in the National Review Online titled, “The Khorasan Group Does Not Exist,” alleging it was a term crafted by the administration. 

“You haven’t heard of the Khorasan Group because there isn’t one,” he wrote. “It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorasan — the Iranian-Afghan border region — had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”

Since the controversy erupted, the White House has issued an array of mixed messages over exactly who the group is and where its name originates, but has now readily acknowledged that the terrorist sect it refers to as The Khorasan Group is made up of Al Qaeda stalwarts.

McCarthy reiterated his point Wednesday in a new column, saying the doubts were further solidified due to a corroborating report from al-Alan TV’s Jenan Moussa, who was granted access to the headquarters of Al Qaeda in Syria.

“The bombing of the so-called Khorasan-group in Syria is a mystery to the world,” said Moussa, according to an English translation. “The only thing we know is the location and that at least two main Al Qaeda operatives, top sniper Abu Yousef Al Turki and Abu Hajar Al Masri, were killed.”

With exclusive access, Moussa said she was able to photograph the decimated buildings. Amid the rubble, she found a list with 14 names on it who were described as members of the “Wolf Unit, Jabhat al Nusra.”

The document, according to Moussa, indicated that the wolf unit was led by Abu Yusuf al Turki, a notorious sniper who was killed during recent American airstrikes.

“Based on the pictures and documents, we can conclude the following: What the Americans call Khorasan is, in fact, the Wolf Unit and other groups of foreign fighters within Jabhat al Nusra,” Moussa reports. “ … Most of them are non-Syrian Al Qaeda members who have a history in Pakistan and Afghanistan and are now present inside Syria under the banner of Jabhat Al Nusra.”

The network of militants in Syria was targeted by the U.S. military during the first wave of strikes last week. While few had heard of the group until recently, Obama administration officials, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, said U.S. authorities had been tracking Khorasan for two years.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the Khorasan Group is merely an “affiliate” with “ties to core Al Qaeda, but is not a part of core Al Qaeda.”

Psaki’s comments followed a State Department written clarification on the relationship on Monday. In that statement, the department said: “The ‘Khorasan Group’ is a term sometimes used to refer to a network of al-Nusrah Front and Al Qaeda core violent extremists who share a history of training operatives, facilitating fighters and money, and planning attacks against U.S. and Western targets.”

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Tuesday referred to The Khorasan Group as “a small offshoot of Al Qaeda,” and bristled when asked about accusations that the threat from Khorasan was overblown or fabricated for the purpose of creating a pretext to strike inside Syria. Kirby called those allegations “absolutely false” and “ridiculous,” but said there is no difference between Khorasan and Al Qaeda.

“We consider these groups one and the same,” he said.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/obama-administration-coins-new-name-for-old-terror-foe-critics-claim/

#MarineHeldinMexico Mom pleads with pols for ‘despondent’ son’s freedom

The mother of the U.S. Marine imprisoned in Mexico after mistakenly crossing the border with three legally-registered guns told lawmakers Wednesday her son is rapidly deteriorating and pleaded with them to press for his return.

Jill Tahmooressi, whose 26-year-old son, Andrew, served two tours in Afghanistan, appeared before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee to push her case for the U.S. to pressure Mexico to release him. The condition of Tahmooressi, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service, has deteriorated since he was locked up March 31 on gun charges.

“My son is despondent, without treatment, and he needs to be home,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

The longtime nurse, who lives in Weston, Fla., recounted several emotional calls from her son, including one from Afghanistan, where he told her about blacking out after an IED exploded near him. Upon returning home, Andrew Tahmooressi abandoned his dream of becoming a commercial pilot because, he told his mother, “I can’t concentrate on the academic work.”

Then, on March 31, he called her from a Mexican border checkpoint to say he was in trouble.

“Mom, I got lost; I made a wrong turn,” Jill Tahmooressi recounted her son saying. “I’m at the Mexican border. You need to know this because I’m surrounded by Mexican military.”

Hours later, in another call, he told her, “Mom, I’ve been arrested, please secure me an attorney.”

Appearing with the distraught mother before the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee were television personality and former Navy Lt. Commander Montel Williams, who is also a former Marine, and Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and a Fox News contributor.

“We know for a fact that A’s time in this prison has been worse than his time in both tours of combat,” Williams said. “How dare we, how dare we as a nation, hesitate to get that young man back?”

The hearing took place just hours after Tahmooressi’s attorney, Fernando Benitez, told Fox News he plans to rest his case today, possibly opening the door for Tahmooressi’s release within a matter of weeks.

“We have more than enough for an acquittal,” Benitez said. He said a crucial development in the case came within recent days, when the prosecution acknowledged that Tahmooressi’s PTSD may have played a role in the immediate aftermath of his detention. That stipulation could pave the way to Tahmooressi’s release on humanitarian grounds, he said.

Lawmakers said it is outrageous for a U.S. ally to hold an ailing American on gun charges that clearly stem from an honest mistake. Tahmooressi was in the San Diego area to get PTSD treatment, and living out of his pickup truck when he mistakenly crossed the border at a poorly marked checkpoint. He immediately declared that the guns were among all of his possessions in the truck, according to Benitez.

“As a direct result of his honorable service in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi now suffers from combat-related PTSD,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R- Ariz. “Tragically, instead of receiving the treatment he needs, he is being held in a Mexican prison.

“Our war hero needs to come home,” he added.

Hegseth, a former infantry officer in the Army National Guard who served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, said the administration needs to do more to bring Tahmooressi home.

“Shame on anyone, at home or abroad, who does not move heaven and Earth to ensure that those who given so much, receive the care they deserve,” Hegseth said.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., noted that the Obama administration traded five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, accused of desertion by several men who served with him.

“Sgt. Tahmooressi is an American hero, whose wrong turn at the Mexican border has had the devastating effect of delaying his much-needed PTSD treatment for too long,” Royce said.

Royce said he and Salmon have been in contact with Mexico’s attorney general, who has the power to release Tahmooressi on humanitarian grounds. They said they impressed upon Jesus Karam that Tahmooressi had been diagnosed with PTSD by the VA San Diego Healthcare System just five days before his arrest.

“I am confident the humanitarian release of Andrew Tahmooressi will occur very soon,” Royce said.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the Obama administration to demand Tahmooressi’s release, prompting White House officials earlier this summer to ask Mexican authorities to quickly process the Marine’s case.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/mom-marine-held-in-mexico-pleads-with-lawmakers-as-attorney-says-release-could/

Secret Service chief quits amid scandal

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned on Wednesday, after a security breach at the White House and other high-profile incidents raised widespread concerns about the safety of the president and his family. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a written statement, and the White House confirmed her decision shortly afterward. 

“Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it,” Johnson said. “I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.” 

The resignation comes just days after the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder jumped over the White House fence and darted past several layers of security to enter the White House itself. He was able to make it to the East Room before being apprehended. 

The decision, though, marked a sharp turnaround from a day earlier, when despite Pierson’s rocky performance during congressional testimony the White House voiced support for her leadership. Asked Tuesday whether President Obama had confidence in the director, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said “absolutely.” 

But on Wednesday, the director was facing bipartisan calls to step down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the committee that grilled Pierson, notably told NPR she is “not the person to lead that agency” — though he later clarified he thinks she should go if she can’t restore public trust. 

Asked what had changed to lead to her resignation, Earnest said foremost that Pierson had offered her resignation. 

But he also said Wednesday that “recent and accumulating reports” raised “legitimate questions” about the agency. Earnest said Obama agrees that Pierson’s resignation is in the best interest of the agency. 

Among those reports was the revelation that on Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. Earnest said the president only learned about that incident on Tuesday. 

New and alarming details also emerged — seemingly by the day — about the multiple security failures in the Sept. 19 intrusion. Not until late Monday was it reported that he made it into the East Room, a detail that was confirmed by Pierson during her testimony. 

Johnson said that he now agrees that a “panel of independent experts” should review the Sept. 19 incident — something that had been called for by lawmakers. He said such a panel will submit its assessment and recommendations by Dec. 15. 

“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority,” he said. 

He said a separate internal review will be completed by Nov. 1. 

Johnson said he’s appointing Joseph Clancy, a former special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division who retired in 2011, as interim director. 

The Sept 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. 

Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention the incident in Atlanta. Her failure to do so prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call for Pierson’s resignation — or firing — in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night.  

At the hearing, Pierson said she was the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors. 

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Post on Sunday. 

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19 when the intruder sprinted across the White House North Lawn and through the unlocked front door of the mansion, knocking over a Secret Service officer and then running past the staircase that leads to the first family’s residential quarters. He ran through the East Room before being tackled by a Secret Service agent near the entrance to the Green Room. 

The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Washington Post first reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department. 

The Sept. 19 breach was the latest black eye for the agency. Pierson was originally brought in early last year after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. 

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and was scheduled to appear Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-resigns/

Heads to roll over security scandal? Secret Service chief urged to resign

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson is facing bipartisan pressure to consider resigning, on the heels of her Capitol Hill testimony on major security failures that have thrown into doubt the safety of the president and his family.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who aggressively questioned Pierson at the House hearing, told Fox News that Pierson should either be fired or resign.

Afterward, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., appeared to call for the same. He told MSNBC that he did “not feel comfortable with her in that position,” and that his confidence and trust in her had “eroded.”

Asked about Cummings’ remarks, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi concurred: “If Mr. Cummings thinks she should go, I subscribe to his recommendation,” she said.

The Maryland lawmaker, though, later clarified on Twitter that “I have not decided about Pierson, but I’m not comfortable about the safety of the President of the United States of America.”

Nevertheless, Cummings said he would speak Wednesday with Pierson about his concerns.

The comments from him and Pelosi in particular put considerable pressure on Pierson, who only took over last year – appointed to assume the helm of the troubled agency after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia.

On Tuesday, Pierson took responsibility for the highest-profile breach, the Sept. 19 incident where an intruder carrying a knife jumped the White House fence and made it all the way to the East Room of the building before being apprehended.

But she insisted: “The president is safe today.”

The White House has backed her, citing in part her decision to take responsibility.

Asked if the president has confidence in the director, Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters “absolutely.”

“She is somebody who took responsibility for the incident that occurred about 10 days ago. She also took responsibility for ensuring that the necessary reforms were implemented to ensure it never happens again. That is a sign of leadership,” Earnest said. 

In a written statement on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner said the president “must make a swift determination on whether the agency is being well-served by its current leadership.” 

Chaffetz called for Pierson to resign after she neglected to mention another security breach that occurred just days before.

On Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol.

“I think it’s time that [Pierson] be fired by the president of the United States or that she resign,” Chaffetz told Fox News.  

Pierson on Tuesday had won a vote of low confidence from the lawmakers, who called at that time for additional reviews into the agency’s incidents. The chairman of the House committee with oversight responsibilities for the Secret Service called for an independent commission to do a “top-to-bottom” review of the agency.

“I am deeply concerned with the lack of transparency from the Secret Service regarding the recent security breach at the White House,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said of the Sept. 19 incident. “This latest episode adds to the growing list of failures from an agency plagued by operational challenges, cultural problems and reporting difficulties.”

Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Washington Post on Sunday.

Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19 when the intruder sprinted across the White House North Lawn and through the unlocked front door of the mansion, knocking over a Secret Service officer and then running past the staircase that leads to the first family’s residential quarters. He ran through the East Room before being tackled by a Secret Service agent near the entrance to the Green Room.

The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Post reported that suspect Omar Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department.

Three days after the breach, Johnson described it as “events on the North Lawn of the White House.”

No one has been fired or demoted since the Sept. 19 White House intrusion.

Pierson said she was conducting an internal review to determine the facts. Wednesday marks day 12 of that review. Pierson did not say when it was expected to be completed, but said the results would guide any security adjustments and personnel actions “that are necessary to properly ensure the safety and security of the president and first family and the White House.”

Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and was scheduled to appear Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/01/secret-service-director-facing-calls-to-resign-after-presidential-security/