No Comments »
Sorry, but I couldn’t think of a better title. Law abiding American citizens are threatened with illegal search and seizure while the Kingdom of Terrorists get to the fast track. Think about that the next time you hear about LASP, or the kinder gentler version.
And especially think about that all you NBAA, et al, members who are being told by your organization that you should work with the morons at the DHS and TSA — the same people that come up with crap like that below, to mitigate and “improve” GA security.
Call your Senator and Congressman, I think it’s time to save the US a BUNCH of money and disband the DHS.
Special Travel Benefit for Saudis a “Slap in the Face”
IPT News March 20, 2013
Posted: March 21st, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
Saudi Arabia, the nation which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks, is about to become one of a handful of countries whose travelers can bypass normal passport controls at major U.S. airports. Sources tell the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) that this will mark the first time that the Saudi government will have a direct role in vetting who is eligible for getting fast-tracked for entry into the United States.
An agreement to accept Saudi Arabian applicants into the Global Entry trusted traveler program drew little notice when it was announced in January. Now, some officials question why the country merits such a benefit – which is similar to a theme park “fast pass” to avoid long lines – when other allies like Germany and France are not yet included. A program for Israeli travelers was reached last May but has not been implemented.
Travelers approved for the program can skip the normal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lines starting next year and enter the country after providing their passports and fingerprints at a kiosk. Only Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands currently enjoy the benefit, although pilot programs could expand it to a handful of others.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the agreement in January after meeting with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. It “marks another major step forward in our partnership,” Napolitano said at the time. “By enhancing collaboration with the Government of Saudi Arabia, we reaffirm our commitment to more effectively secure our two countries against evolving threats while facilitating legitimate trade and travel.”
Details about how the plan will work with the Saudis have not been released. Nayef’s ministry, however, will be responsible for screening which applicants will be considered when the pilot program begins next year. It’s not known whether the Saudi ministry will share its raw intelligence about applicants with its American counterparts. What is known, based on information provided by a Homeland Security source, is that each individual who makes it into the program will have been vetted by both the CPB and by the Saudi Interior Ministry against various databases.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to make anyone available to answer questions about Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the Global Entry program after repeated requests throughout last week, and after indicating someone would provide more details.
That is cause for concern, given lingering questions about possible Saudi support for some of the 9/11 hijackers and given the Ministry of Interior (MOI)’s inconsistent record on sharing its intelligence on suspected terrorists and terror financiers. Additionally, recent studies by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified significant problems in the way DHS components use computer systems and process intelligence for posting watch list lookouts and overseas screening of foreign nationals.
Once accepted into Global Entry, travelers can enjoy the faster border entry for five years.
A memo obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism said Saudi applicants “must meet the individual vetting criteria of both CBP and the MOI, and successfully complete vetting by each side against information available in various law enforcement, customs, immigration, criminal, intelligence, and terrorist databases.”
That doesn’t bring confidence to those who have investigated Saudi Arabian connections to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., whose district lost more than 70 people during the attack on the Pentagon, called the pact a bad idea. He also stated that he had not previously heard about the deal.
“I think you have radical Wahhabism in certain elements in Saudi Arabia, and I think to be more lenient there than in other places would be a mistake,” Wolf said. “There were 15 [hijackers] from that country, and there is a lot taking place in that region.
“Some of the people who went back to Saudi Arabia through Guantanamo – we find that they are in battlefields in Afghanistan or some other place, so I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Saudis have long been known for withholding information from their American counterparts. Wolf recalls that the Saudis obstructed former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s effort to investigate the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing by refusing to share information.
“I think there has been a history of not cooperating,” Wolf said.
The Saudis paved the way for 9/11 by funding the madrassas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which adds to Wolf’s concern.
Unseen Information, Unanswered Questions
“Adding KSA to the program before a full vetting of the Kingdom’s involvement in 9/11 is very unwise,” said Sharon Premoli, a 9/11 survivor who has sued the Saudis for allegedly helping finance the attacks.
“We don’t know if what they tell us is correct. Why should we trust them?” she said in an interview Thursday. She points to a 1998 agreement Saudi Arabia struck with bin Laden and the Taliban prior to 9/11. A 2011 Vanity Fair article described it this way:
In sworn statements after 9/11, former Taliban intelligence chief Mohammed Khaksar said that in 1998 Prince Turki, chief of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Department (G.I.D.), sealed a deal under which bin Laden agreed not to attack Saudi targets. In return, Saudi Arabia would provide funds and material assistance to the Taliban, not demand bin Laden’s extradition, and not bring pressure to close down al-Qaeda training camps. Saudi businesses, meanwhile, would ensure that money also flowed directly to bin Laden.
“They didn’t tell us that,” Premoli said in the interview. “They haven’t been forthcoming on anything.”
Saudi officials deny that deal existed. The only way to find out is to continue investigating, Premoli said. She’s perplexed that the brutal murder of 3,000 Americans even requires an effort to trigger additional investigation.
“Let’s vet them properly. Let’s really declassify. Let’s look at all of it. Until it is done, it’s an open wound. It’s an unanswered question.”
The Global Entry deal comes three years after U.S. officials briefly placed Saudi Arabia on a list of 14 countries whose travelers would face enhanced scrutiny when entering the United States. It followed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab‘s failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
A cable sent from the American embassy to the State Department that was published by Wikileaks reported that Saudi government officials expressed “shock to be included on the list” and threatened to “to re-evaluate areas of cooperation, including counter-terrorism cooperation” if it was not rescinded.
The policy was dropped three months later, replaced with a new program designed to use threat assessments and intelligence of traveler’s behavioral traits and travel patterns.
To Premoli, who is pushing legislation to strip sovereign immunity protection from governments tied to terrorist acts, both the removal of Saudi Arabia from that list and its addition to Global Entry show the country enjoys “favored nation status. It’s so extraordinary that they are so protected.”
She was critical of the Bush administration for its warm relations with the Saudi royal family and is equally critical of the Obama administration for being “a continuation of the Bush administration.” When the plaintiffs suing Saudi Arabia sought to appeal a decision absolving the Saudis to the Supreme Court, then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed an amicus brief siding with the Saudis.
Saudi Arabian officials say all the investigations into the 9/11 attacks exonerated them of any involvement. But two former U.S. senators who led inquiries into the attacks say that’s just not so.
In affidavits submitted last year for plaintiffs suing the Saudis – including Premoli – former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Florida Sen. Bob Graham wrote that the book on Saudi Arabia’s 9/11 connections should not be closed.
The 9/11 Commission on which he served lacked the time and resources “to pursue all potentially relevant evidence” involving Saudi Arabia, Kerrey wrote.
“Significant questions remain unanswered concerning the possible involvement of Saudi government institutions and actors in the financing and sponsorship of al Qaeda, and evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th Attacks has never been fully pursued,” Kerrey wrote.
Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time of the attacks, was co-chairman of a joint congressional inquiry. He has spent years arguing that a 28-page chapter from that inquiry would cast things in a different light if it ever is declassified.
“Based on my experiences as the Co-Chair of the Joint Inquiry, and the evidence collected by the Joint Inquiry during the course of its investigation into the events of September 11, 2001, the information contained in the Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, and reports and published material I have reviewed, I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” Graham wrote in his affidavit.
Hijackers and Their Helpers
That line may have come in the form of Omar al Bayoumi, a Saudi who befriended hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar. While the 9/11 Commission Report describes Bayoumi as “an unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement with Islamist extremists,” Graham believes he was a Saudi government agent.
Al-Bayoumi first met the hijackers in 2000, helped them find an apartment and “fronted the initial payments for that apartment” along with other financial help, Graham noted.
“During the period that he assisted the hijackers, al-Bayoumi’s allowances from a ghost job with a Saudi private firm and contractor with ties to the Saudi government increased eightfold. During that same period, Al-Bayoumi had an unusual number of telephone conversations with Saudi government officials in both Los Angeles and Washington.”
All this convinces him al-Bayoumi was a Saudi agent. “To this date, this evidence has not been fully explored and pursued, to the considerable detriment of the American public.”
In a column co-written with Premoli last fall, Graham said the classified chapter from the congressional inquiry focuses on the hijacker’s financial support while they were in the United States. “Sadly,” Graham and Premoli wrote, “those 28 pages represent only a fraction of the evidence of Saudi complicity that our government continues to shield from the public, under a flawed classification program which appears to be part of a systematic effort to protect Saudi Arabia from any real accountability for its actions.”
Abdulaziz al-Hijji, an executive with the Saudi government oil company Aramco, lived in Sarasota until just before the 9/11 attacks when he is reported to have suddenly left the U.S. Al-Hijji now lives in London. Recent media reports indicate al-Hijji met with 9/11 terror leader Mohamed Atta and current al-Qaida fugitive Adnan el-Shukrijumah while he lived in Sarasota. Graham has also looked into the al-Hijji matter and reportedly met with the FBI deputy director in November of 2011 and the deputy director refused to discuss the al-Hijji matter. Graham said, “I think that in the period immediately after 9/11 the FBI was under instructions from the Bush White House not to discuss anything that could be embarrassing to the Saudis.”
Saudi Arabia sends thousands of travelers into the United States each month, and more than 92 percent of Saudis who seek entry visas receive them, Asharq al-Awsat reported. In 2012, 20,677 student visas were granted to Saudi citizens.
The United States and Saudi Arabia do about $60 billion in business each year, most of which is Saudi oil exports.
The ambiguity of Saudi Ministry of Interior’s role is of particular concern, especially when it comes to who qualifies as a “low-risk traveler.” Although individuals with defined al-Qaida ties likely would not get a pass, worries arise particularly when it comes to those who support Hamas or Hizballah.
“I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them,” Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation, said regarding the Saudi Interior Ministry.
Although the Saudi Interior Ministry has largely decimated al-Qaida’s infrastructure in the kingdom since 2003 in the wake of a series of bombings and killings of Westerners in the kingdom, Phillips says the ministry’s reliability as a partner remains an open question.
In an interview Tuesday, Graham reserved judgment on the program until more details are released on its implementation. He noted that the United States “went out of its way to placate the Saudis” after 9/11, arranging flights out of the country for Saudi nationals when all other air traffic was grounded, and waging “an effort to keep from public view the role of Saudis” in the 9/11 attacks.
Including Saudi travelers in Global Entry may be “a continuation” of an American policy of deference toward Saudi Arabia. “The question is what was the first step in approving a country to be involved in this? What are the requirements?” Graham asked. “This is not a theoretical. This really happened that 15 Saudis came into the country, I think all by aviation … It would seem there would be some red flags.”
Wolf suggested that the House Homeland Security Committee should examine the terms of the agreement to learn how it happened and it will work.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Premoli said. “Whatever they ask for, they get. There’s nothing they can’t have.”
No Comments »
By Jeff Plungis – Mar 5, 2013
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will let people carry small pocketknives onto passenger planes for the first time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, along with golf clubs, hockey sticks and plastic Wiffle Ball-style bats. The agency will permit knives with retractable blades shorter than 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) and narrower than 1/2 inch at the widest point, TSA Administrator John Pistole said today at an aviation security conference in Brooklyn.
The change, to conform with international rules, will take effect April 25.
Pistole, the former No. 2 official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has stressed the use of intelligence and “risk- based” security during his tenure leading TSA. The agency is moving away from uniform procedures that apply to every passenger and toward efforts to perform background checks on passengers before they arrive at an airport. Overseas passengers will no longer have to check the qualifying knives as they pass through the U.S. The agency will still prohibit some knives, including those with locking blades or molded handles, Pistole said. Box cutters, like those used by the Sept. 11 terrorists, and razor blades will still be banned.
The agency will relax its prohibited-item list in other ways, Pistole said. Passengers will be allowed to carry on sticks used to play lacrosse, billiards and hockey, ski poles and as many as two golf clubs, he said. The agency is also carving out two exceptions to its ban on most baseball and softball bats. It will allow souvenir, novelty baseball bats less than 24 inches long and will permit lightweight plastic bats even if they’re more than 2 feet long (61 centimeters).
The sporting goods have been deemed acceptable based on recommendations from a TSA working group that’s trying to weed out commonly confiscated items that don’t present a security threat, agency spokesman David Castelveter said. “These are popular items we see regularly,” Castelveter said. “They don’t present a risk to transportation security.”
But they are still lining up to search my hangar and my family on MY airplane. And just to prove that Franklin was right (about those that give up freedom for security deserving neither); the NBAA has OK’ed new security regs, because the four separate documents they operate under now just weren’t enough.
People, you are doing it to yourselves.
For those with more brains than that, keep your eye on the target and call your representatives.
Posted: March 5th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
No Comments »
By JOSHUA FREED | Associated Press – 5 hrs ago
Those airport scanners with their all-too revealing body images will soon be going away.
The Transportation Security Administration says the scanners that used a low-dose X-ray will be gone by June because the company that makes them can’t fix the privacy issues. The other airport body scanners, which produce a generic outline instead of a naked image, are staying.
The government rapidly stepped up its use of body scanners after a man snuck explosives onto a flight bound for Detroit on Christmas day in 2009.
At first, both types of scanners showed travelers naked. The idea was that security workers could spot both metallic objects like guns as well as non-metallic items such as plastic explosives. The scanners also showed every other detail of the passenger’s body, too.
The TSA defended the scanners, saying the images couldn’t be stored and were seen only by a security worker who didn’t interact with the passenger. But the scans still raised privacy concerns. Congress ordered that the scanners either produce a more generic image or be removed by June.
On Thursday Rapiscan, the maker of the X-ray, or backscatter, scanner, acknowledged that it wouldn’t be able to meet the June deadline. The TSA said Friday that it ended its contract for the software with Rapiscan.
The agency’s statement also said the remaining scanners will move travelers through more quickly, meaning faster lanes at the airport. Those scanners, made by L-3 Communications, used millimeter waves to make an image. The company was able to come up with software that no longer produced a naked image of a traveler’s body.
The TSA will remove all 174 backscatter scanners from the 30 airports they’re used in now. Another 76 are in storage. It has 669 of the millimeter wave machines it is keeping, plus options for 60 more, TSA spokesman David Castelveter said.
Not all of the machines will be replaced. Castelveter said that some airports that now have backscatter scanners will go back to having metal detectors. That’s what most airports used before scanners were introduced.
The Rapiscan scanners have been on their way out for months, in slow motion.
The government hadn’t bought any since 2011. It quietly removed them from seven major airports in October, including New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Los Angeles International. The TSA moved a handful of the X-ray scanners to very small airports. At the time, the agency said the switch was being made because millimeter-wave scanners moved passengers through faster.
Rapiscan parent company OSI Systems Inc. said it will help the TSA move the scanners to other government agencies. It hasn’t yet been decided where they will go, said Alan Edrick, OSI’s chief financial officer, in an interview.
Scanners are often used in prisons or on military bases where privacy is not a concern.
“There’s quite a few agencies which will have a great deal of interest” in the scanners, Edrick said.
OSI is taking a one-time charge of $2.7 million to cover the money spent trying to develop software to blur the image, and to move the machines out of airports, Edrick said.
The contract to change the software on the scanners came under scrutiny in November when the TSA delivered a “show cause” letter to the company looking into allegations that it falsified test data, which the company denied. On Thursday it said final resolution of that issue needs approval by the Department of Homeland Security.
The agreement with the TSA is an indication that OSI Systems will be cleared of the issues raised by the agency, Roth Capital Partners analyst Jeff Martin wrote on Friday. OSI shares soared $2.37, or 3.5 percent, to close at $70.02.
Besides the scanners being dropped by TSA, Hawthorne, Calif.-based OSI Systems makes other passenger scanners used in other countries, as well as luggage scanners and medical scanners.
And how many of my tax dollars went ot the former DHS/TSA Administrator for this lost cause?
Posted: January 19th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
No Comments »
Sorry for taking so long to post, but when you’re running out of money (the US Government) you don’t go stepping on it (the DHS/TSA). Until now….
This is from http://www.aopa.org/aircraft/articles/2013/130110secret-no-fly-zone.html?WT.mc_id=130111epilot&WT.mc_sect=gan and if you have the time, you should listen to the video of the post-arrest questioning by the FBI and DHS…
Secret No-Fly Zones
Pilots returned, one by one, to Bermuda High Soaring in Jefferson, S.C. By about 5 p.m. on July 26, 2012, the lift had died and everyone had returned to the gliderport—everyone except Robin Fleming. No one remembered hearing from Fleming since 1:30 or 2 p.m., and Jayne Ewing Reid, co-owner and chief tow pilot of the glider club and commercial operation, was worried.
She called pilots who lived in the region and asked them to try to contact Fleming on their handheld radios. She flew the club’s Piper Pawnee in the direction of Fleming’s last known radio call, but found no evidence of the missing glider or its pilot.
“This is when you get that feeling that something’s not right,” she said. Fleming always called if he landed out. Worried that something had happened to Fleming, an avid glider pilot and instructor at Bermuda High, Jayne Ewing Reid and business partner Frank Reid decided to file a missing airplane report. Neither suspected that Fleming was in trouble with the law.
Fleming, 70, had been arrested for breach of peace after flying his Rolladen-Schneider LS8-18 sailplane noiselessly over the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station at an altitude of 1,518 feet msl—by his estimates, about 1,000 feet over the power plant’s dome—on his way to search for lift at nearby Lake Robinson.
No airspace restrictions were printed on sectional charts; no notam marked the area off-limits. When a woman at Hartsville Regional Airport relayed over the Unicom that law enforcement wanted him to land, he had flown to that airport and landed, greeted by a swarm of law enforcement vehicles.
Nonetheless, Fleming spent the night awake in a cell with 11 other inmates. The next afternoon, still in custody, he discovered the details of the charges: “flying very close to the nuclear plant dome in a ‘no fly zone,’” “escalated a multi-jurisdictional call out to a homeland security situation,” “ordered several times to land,” “causing the disturbance throughout the community.”
He finally left the detention center 24 hours after his arrest, exhausted and eager to clear his name. The charges were dropped the next month, but now Fleming wants to make sure no other pilots are subjected to a similar ordeal.
Fleming took off from Bermuda High Soaring in Jefferson, S.C., at 12:41 p.m. that day, towed to 2,000 feet agl by one of the private airfield’s Piper Pawnees. He had intended to fly to Asheboro, N.C.; Dillon, S.C..; and Winnsboro, S.C., to complete a 500-kilometer course, but in soaring one goes where the lift is. A flight recorder installed in the aircraft for record attempts and competitions shows Fleming’s circling course as he searched for thermals to the east. He had looped down to Bennettsville, S.C., he said, when he decided to head home. The path back to Jefferson, traveling from one small airport to the next in case the lift died down, would take him near Hartsville Regional Airport—and the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station, two nautical miles away.
He approached Hartsville from the north at 3,100 feet msl, flying southwest toward Lake Robinson to look for lift. He had been up to 5,000 feet earlier in the flight, and knew that it went up that high if he could find it. He just had to get high enough to glide back to Bermuda High.
On the Charlotte sectional chart, the nuclear power plant is marked with nothing more than a group obstruction symbol. Fleming was familiar with the post-9/11 notam that advises pilots to avoid flying near facilities such as power plants “to the extent practicable,” but he thought nothing of a single pass over the Robinson facility on the west side of the lake as he headed toward where he thought there would be lift at the lake. If he couldn’t find a thermal there, he thought, he might have to land at Hartsville.
At Hartsville Regional Airport, Wendy Griffin was monitoring the Unicom. Griffin said the people at the power plant sometimes call her if they see an aircraft flying nearby to ask her who’s flying and why the aircraft is there. (One time, she said, she got a call about a helicopter lingering in the area and found out from the pilots that they were working for the power plant.) Sometimes she calls the pilots on the frequency to find out their intentions, but on July 26 she saw that it was a glider and didn’t think much of it, she said.
“I said, ‘Well, I really don’t think it’s a threat,’” she said. “’I wouldn’t worry about it.’”
Someone did worry about it. A little before 5 p.m., Griffin said, a couple of police cars rolled up. When the officers came in, she added, she said she’d try to reach the aircraft on the radio.
Looking for lift over Lake Robinson, Fleming was switching between the Bermuda High frequency and Hartsville Unicom to monitor local traffic. He later recalled that during one switch to Hartsville, he heard the end of a transmission mentioning a glider over the nuclear plant. He responded that he was circling and moving away from the plant, he said. He found a thermal, he said, and began climbing to return to Bermuda High.
Fleming recalls that at some point someone requested he land at Hartsville, but then he was told he could continue. He climbed to 3,100 feet msl, circling to the northeast away from the lake, and planned to head back to Bermuda High Soaring; but he lost lift and descended to 1,900 feet msl. He turned toward Hartsville again, but found a thermal and climbed to 2,740 feet. “All I needed was another few hundred feet” to return to Bermuda High, he said. But he received a radio transmission for Hartsville telling him to land.
At the airport, Griffin said the officers on the scene told her to demand the glider land at Hartsville, but that an FAA official on the phone said the FAA was not demanding he land. So, she said, she gave Fleming a choice: “Police officers here are asking you to land, but the FAA says you do not have to land. I’m leaving this up to you.” Fleming said to tell the officers he’d be there in a minute, she recalled.
These accounts seem consistent with the Darlington County Sheriff Department’s incident report. Capt. Joyce C. Everett wrote that the suspect was “advised” to land at Hartsville, and that he had advised he was going to land elsewhere because he didn’t want to have his airplane towed. When he was instructed again to land in Hartsville, Everett wrote, he did. In a supplementary report, Sgt. Christopher J. Pittman wrote, “It is unclear as to exactly how that radio conversation went, but the pilot initially stated that he intended to land at Bermuda High landing strip in Jefferson, SC. After it was made clear that law enforcement expected him to land in Hartsville the pilot stated that he would comply.”
The arrest report, however, paints a different picture, alleging that Fleming “had to be ordered several times to land” before he complied. Griffin strongly contests this version of events: “I was the only one on the unicom with him,” she said. “I never demanded him to land.”
As Fleming landed, Griffin said, about four police cars chased the nonpowered craft down the runway, lights flashing. The glider came to a full stop at 5:11 p.m.
Officers approached the aircraft and requested Fleming’s identification and pilot certificate, searched his pockets, subjected him to a pat-down, and took his wallet, cellphone, glasses, and sunglasses, according to Fleming’s account. He asked to call the people waiting for him at Bermuda High to tell them where he was, he said, but was denied. He was told he should consider himself under arrest, he recalled.
“’Haven’t you heard about 9/11?’—that’s what they said to me.”
‘No I’m not kidding’
Later that evening, Jayne Ewing Reid emailed the pilots she had asked for help in the search for Fleming, with news from the FAA: “9:02 pm – Robins plane is reported to be at Hartsville Airport.” There was still no word of its pilot.
Frank Reid called Hartsville Regional Airport and got the surprising news. Jayne Ewing Reid said she was relieved to know Fleming wasn’t in a field somewhere, but still in disbelief.
“Robin is OK !!” she wrote at 9:17 p.m. in an email to the pilots she had updated earlier. “He is in jail. No I’m not kidding.”
Jayne Ewing Reid spoke with Fleming a little later when he was able to make a collect call from his cell, and Frank Reid looked for a lawyer. Fleming’s friends were baffled that the mild-mannered pilot could arrive at such a fate.
“That boy has never had a ticket,” Frank Reid said. “… He is the most laid back and gentle person I have ever seen in my life.”
Breach of peace
The arrest warrant referred to a “no fly zone.” The incident report said that “a glider or drone had infiltrated the restricted airspace over the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Power Plant.” But Fleming knew nothing on the FAA sectional charts prohibited him from flying there.
From flying competitions in the area, he knew that the Savannah River Site, a 310-square-mile Department of Energy industrial complex that handles nuclear materials in support of national defense, is marked on sectionals with a notice requesting—not requiring—that pilots avoid flight at and below 2,000 feet msl in the area. If a nuclear site as large as Savannah River didn’t prohibit overflight, how could the area around the Robinson plant be restricted—especially if nothing said so on the charts?
Facilities such as the Robinson plant are addressed in an FDC notam issued following 9/11: “In the interest of national security and to the extent practicable, pilots are strongly advised to avoid the airspace above, or in proximity to such sites as power plants … . Pilots should not circle as to loiter in the vicinity over these types of facilities.” Because gliders routinely circle to gain altitude in thermals, the Soaring Society of America sought a clarification from the FAA, posting on its website on March 7, 2002, that the FAA did not consider this behavior loitering. “The key is to spend only as much time as needed to gain lift and move on beyond the facility,” the association wrote.
Fleming had made a single pass over the plant, and his circling had been mostly on the opposite side of the lake. The FAA looked into the overflight and later confirmed to AOPA that it found no violation of the federal aviation regulations—but Fleming was transported to the Darlington County Detention Center. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security would interview him the next day, and Fleming said an officer read the arrest warrant to him around 3:30 p.m. July 27.
It’s unclear exactly how the concept of a no-fly zone was introduced, and a spokesman for the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office did not return phone messages requesting comment. Charles Ellison, site communications specialist at the nuclear plant, said that as he understands it, there is no no-fly zone around the facility. He said security staff had estimated that the glider flew about 400 feet above the plant, and so they contacted local law enforcement. “Any time an aircraft is flying that close, we consider it a perceived threat to security.”
Fleming said he understands the nuclear site’s initial concern, but thinks the ordeal could have stopped right there when security personnel who came to question him at the airport saw him in the police car and it became evident he wasn’t a threat. Ellison said it’s the plant’s policy to turn the matter over to local law enforcement. “Once we’ve neutralized the threat, we step back and we remove ourselves from the issue,” Ellison said.
How close was Fleming to the plant? His flight recorder, which logged his position every four seconds, gave the glider’s altitude when it passed over the site as 1,518 feet msl; the highest charted obstruction there is 577 feet msl. The incident report cited security staff as estimating it “within only a few hundred yards of critical structures.” Griffin said she heard security people saying Fleming had flown 100 feet over the dome.
“That just wasn’t true,” she said. “There’s just no way he ever did that.”
Freedom to fly
Fleming estimated he had been awake for almost 30 hours when he entered a room where a special agent from the FBI, an aviation security inspector from DHS, and a woman whose affiliation he can’t remember waited to question him July 27. He recalled that someone told him there was no intention to charge him with any federal offenses related to the incident, and that he was asked to explain the intent of his flight. He explained how he navigated by VFR charts, and that no restrictions were charted or published by notam in the area of the plant.
About 5:30 p.m., Fleming collected his pilot certificate and other belongings. Pilots from Bermuda High met him at the detention center and drove him to Hartsville to retrieve his glider.
Fleming was unable to stow his aircraft safely in its trailer while he was in custody for 24 hours.
The attorney Frank Reid had found represented Fleming for the breach of peace charge, but Fleming sought additional assistance from an attorney familiar with aviation through AOPA’s Legal Services Plan/Pilot Protection Services. John Hodge, an attorney and 17,000-hour pilot who has flown gliders, provided aviation-related information under the plan’s 20 hours allotted for local law enforcement issues. From the FAA’s perspective, Fleming’s flight was legal and legitimate: No restricted or prohibited areas were charted. Plus, local law enforcement does not have the authority to order an aircraft to land, Hodge said. And any argument that Fleming delayed in complying with the request to land must take into account the nature of a sailplane: Just like a sailboat, it can’t simply go directly from Point A to Point B.
A better knowledge of aviation issues among law enforcement officials may have produced a better result for Fleming. Griffin said she had to tell the officers on the scene to clear out the runway, and one officer talked about commandeering the airport. “He was running around, the one guy that was commandeering everything, saying, ‘We were going to shoot him down,’” she said.
On the other hand, Griffin said that pilots from the Chesterfield County Sheriff flew the department’s helicopter to the airport, but left when they found out what was going on. “They pulled out a chart and they said, ‘Look here, … nothing in this chart says you cannot fly over the nuclear plant,’” she said. “’Nothing.’”
Fleming waited outside the courtroom Aug. 21 as his case went before the judge. When his attorney returned and said the case would be dismissed if he agreed not to take any legal action against Darlington County law enforcement, he said, he reluctantly agreed. But he wouldn’t be satisfied until he could be sure a pilot can rely on the sectional for direction and not go through a similar ordeal.
In a post-9/11 environment, pilots must be sensitive to security concerns, but that doesn’t mean they must give up their freedom to fly. In its communication to members about the rules for flying near power plants and other infrastructure, the Soaring Society of America called on glider pilots to reach out to on-site security at local power plants and laboratories: “Open a dialogue and tell them who you are and when you may be in their area.” In addition, airports often encourage pilots to “fly friendly” in sensitive areas; the Hartsville airport has a right traffic pattern for Runway 3, keeping pilots on the far side of the airport as much as possible and minimizing overflight of the nuclear plant. But no law prohibits pilots from flying over it, and AOPA is working to ensure that law enforcement agencies and security at critical infrastructure understand how to respond appropriately when they have a concern about an aircraft.
AOPA routinely works with federal agencies on security issues, and the association reached out to staff at the TSA and National Protection and Programs Directorate to inform them of the issue. The association requested action formally in a letter to DHS, the organizations’ parent agency.
“This incident raises several disturbing issues that demand the immediate attention of the Department of Homeland Security to prevent unnecessarily detaining United States Citizens, or even worse, needlessly causing injuries or fatalities that would have resulted from a ‘shoot down’ of the aircraft,” wrote AOPA Senior Vice President Melissa Rudinger in the letter. She urged the department to “immediately conduct a thorough review of all security programs for similar types of facilities to ensure that it is clear on what constitutes a violation and what is the appropriate action to be taken.” She also requested that DHS make it clear that no one may shoot down an aircraft outside of the existing command structure.
The TSA responded in a letter that it takes these matters seriously—“Both in context of aircraft loitering in airspace around critical infrastructure as well as appropriateness of responses by various organizations at the Federal, State, and Local levels.” The agency said it would continue to work with organizations at all levels “by providing them with education on airspace matters via the local TSA Federal Security Directors and headquarters engagement. This will allow them to make informed and effective decisions on when and how best to execute a response based on their specific statutory and/or legal authorities.” AOPA continues to press the agency, along with the National Protection and Programs Directorate which deals with infrastructure protection, to explain what these education efforts entail; the association also has offered to assist in developing guidance and resources on general aviation-related issues.
AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead emphasized the importance of continued advocacy, explaining that it is “outrageous under these circumstances to be confined in jail without charges being filed for this length of time.” He added, “We should be persistent in demanding corrective action as well as better educational efforts of law enforcement authorities. Although the breach of peace arrest warrant that was ultimately filed refers to a ‘No Fly Zone’ neither the federal nor local authorities could cite a federal violation because this was not a ‘No Fly Zone.’”
Well, there it is. Andy’s gone to Mount Pilot and Barney’s running the show. 17 cops to arrest a glider pilot who wasn’t breaking any rules or laws. 24 hours in jail for false charges and why this guy agreed to not sue the county is beyond me, they screwed up BIG TIME and should pay a little pain for it.
I particularlly like the “shoot him down” comment, now Barney’s an expert of Airspace and AAA.
So, you remember this and keep calling and faxing your representation, might as well throw in the State guys too.
Speaking of which, on a good note the infamous Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) has announced he’s not running for reelection in 2014 — and there was great rejoicing! So, anybody in West-by God-Virginia, vote for the guy that understands General Aviation and the freedom of flight.
Posted: January 12th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
No Comments »
Coming Next: TSA Electric Shock Bracelets?
DHS seriously explored idea of forcing travelers to wear torture compliance device
Paul Joseph Watson
October 10, 2012
The TSA’s security policies are getting more and more bizarre, from testing people’s drinks for explosives to ordering all travelers to freeze on command, but could a frightening policy that was seriously explored by the DHS be resurrected – forcing people to wear shock bracelets that would deliver an electric shock if they got out of line? The story sounds like it belongs in a South Park episode or on an urban myths website – but it was actually true.
In 2008, the Washington Times reported on how DHS official Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, wrote to Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. indicating that the Department of Homeland Security was ready to purchase devices from the company that would be used to deliver incapacitating shock s to airline passengers, all of whom would be mandated to wear the shock bracelet once they checked in for their flight.
The so-called “safety bracelet,” also known as the Electronic ID Bracelet, was designed to replace a boarding pass and be capable of tracking the passenger through the airport by means of GPS technology. The device would also contain details about the passenger and their flight plans.
The primary function of the device was to allow airport officials and flight crews to deliver an incapacitating electric shock to travelers by means of Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD), completely immobilizing the individual for minutes. The bracelet would be worn by all travelers until they disembarked at their location. The patent for the device admits that all passengers could be incapacitated if the devices are activated.
“Upon activation of the electric shock device, through receipt of an activating signal from the selectively operable remote control means, the passenger wearing that particular bracelet receives the disabling electrical shock from the electric shock device. Accordingly, the passenger becomes incapacitated for a few seconds or perhaps a few minutes, during which time the passenger can be fully subdued and handcuffed, if necessary. Depending on the type of transmission medium used to send the activating signal, other passengers may also become temporarily incapacitated, which is undesirable and unfortunate, but may be unavoidable,” reads the patent for the device.
In his letter to Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc., DHS official Ruwaldt also noted how the bracelet could be used as a “method of interrogation,” in other words a torture device. He also raised the prospect of using the device against protesters to allow the temporary “restraint of large numbers of individuals in open area environments by a small number of agents or Law Enforcement Officers.”
The letter stated that the DHS was “interested in…. the immobilizing security bracelet” and that it was “conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes.” Other letters made it clear that the DOD, the CDC, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture Forestry service, as well as unnamed law enforcement agencies were also keen on acquiring the device.
Following a wave of negative publicity, the DHS pulled the plug on its interest in the torture bracelet, and Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. set about removing the letters from Ruwaldt it had previously proudly displayed on its website.
However, given that the TSA is already doling out punishments for people who do not display the proper level of obedience, by either preventing them from flying, stealing their cash, or simply punching them in the balls, how far away are we from the hideous idea of the shock bracelet being resurrected? Especially given the heights of absurdity the TSA has already scaled by introducing its ludicrous “all stop” policy and its testing of drinks purchased inside the secure area of the airport?
The fact that the torture bracelet was ever seriously considered at all should send chills down the spine of every American who values their dignity, especially given the endless train of TSA abuse stories that pour in on a weekly basis.
Imagine a TSA goon not only having the power to squeeze your junk if you so much as look at them the wrong way, but also having the capability to deliver an electric shock to anyone who speaks out of turn. It’s a nightmare scenario, and another clear indication that the TSA is an odious insult to the very notion of America as a free country and needs to be defunded and ultimately abolished.
Given a recent survey which found that a majority of travelers were happy with the TSA’s performance and also In the interests of discovering exactly what level of indignity Americans will tolerate, Infowars is set to commission a poll to find out what passengers will tolerate when going through TSA checkpoints.
One of the questions will ask if Americans, given the apparent threat posed by terrorists who implant bombs in their own bodies, are willing to submit to an anal cavity search in order to fly. Although this sounds bizarre, we feel confident that a sizeable number would agree to it. Likewise, the idea of forcing travelers to wear a shock bracelet capable of delivering an electric shock is another question that will be included in the poll – which will be conducted by a professional polling agency.
So, if this is “OK” to the paying passenger, think of what could be “OK” to the private citizen in his hangar or his private airplane?
George Orwell was right, it’s here. The DHS is not about secure borders, secure transportation, illegal importation of goods; it’s about crowd control. And we are the crowd.
Posted: October 11th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
No Comments »
I’m posting the link, because you have to hear the video. And no, it’s not as garbled as they say it is. The TSA agent, paragon of security, enforcer of the law, resposible for your safety and mine quite clearly says they are detaining the woman because of a bad attitude.
So, here’s what Senator Rockefeller is so upset about, he has to watch his “attitude” while you and me can just waltz out to our airplanes in our hangars.
See the world’s not fair, a US Senator shouldn’t be treated like that.
Got news for you moron, nobody should be treated like that. These idiots in the TSA have no respect for anyone passing through, and no concept of security; if they did we’d be PROFILING in a heart beat.
But, remember when they come to your hangar that it’s all about the ‘tude.
Posted: September 28th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
No Comments »
By Edwin Mora
July 30, 2012
(CNSNews.com) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress last week that terrorists intending to harm the American people enter the U.S. from Mexico “from time to time.”
At a July 25 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) asked Napolitano: “As you know, Madam Secretary, there have been anecdotal reports about material evidence of the presence of terrorists along our southern border. My question is, is there any credible evidence that these reports are accurate and that terrorists are, in fact, crossing our southern border with the intent to do harm to the American people?”
Napolitano answered: “With respect, there have been–and the Ababziar matter would be one I would refer to that’s currently being adjudicated in the criminal courts–from time to time, and we are constantly working against different and evolving threats involving various terrorist groups and various ways they may seek to enter the country.”
“What I can tell you, however, is that that southern border–the U.S.-Mexico border–is heavily, heavily staffed at record amounts of manpower, materiel, infrastructure and the like, and we are constantly making sure we’re doing all we can to make that border as safe as possible,” she said.
An August 2009 audit by the Government Accountability Office that focused on Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoints said that in fiscal 2008 CBP reported “there were three individuals encountered by the Border Patrol at southwest border checkpoints who were identified as persons linked to terrorism.”
In April 2010, CNSNews.com reported that FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “In Detroit, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani was indicted in the Eastern District of Michigan on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to Hezbollah. … Kourani was already in custody for entering the country illegally through Mexico and was involved in fundraising activities on behalf of Hezbollah.”
Five years ago, in an August 2007 interview with the El Paso Times, then-Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell echoed what Napolitano told Congress last week about terrorist coming into the U.S. across the Mexican border.
“So, are terrorists coming across the Southwest border?” McConnell said in that interview. “Not in great numbers.”
“There are some cases?” asked the El Paso Times.
“There are some. And would they use it as a path, given it was available to them? In time they will,” said McConnell.
“If they’re successful at it, then they’ll probably repeat it,” asked the reporter.
“Sure,” said McConnell. “There were a significant number of Iraqis who came across last year. Smuggled across illegally.”
“Where was that?” asked the reporter.
“Across the Southwest border,” said McConnell.
Yet, more time will be wasted patrolling your airport and searching your private property than adding to the border protection. And apparently, once you make the swim, you can stay anyway so what’s the point?
America needs to protect itself, not only from the outside threat. To Janet, you are the enemy; it’s obviously not illegal terrorists crossing the border.
Posted: July 31st, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
14 Comments »
Confirmed: The TSA Is Ordering Travelers to “Freeze” On Command
“Obedience training” is part of TSA’s Code Bravo security drill
Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, July 9, 2012
The TSA has failed to respond to the now confirmed fact that the federal agency has introduced a bizarre new policy in which travelers are ordered to “freeze” on command by TSA screeners while passing through security, a policy described as “obedience training” by critics.
In our article on Friday, we featured the story of a man who was passing through airport security when he heard a commotion.
“We heard a “freeze, freeze” or something like this coming from the output side of (false) security (where my wife was), followed by further barking of commands. From where I was, I couldn’t see much.”
“It turns out they were doing a new drill. They want all passengers to freeze on command. My wife told me later that she didn’t follow this order fast enough, so the subsequent barks I heard were directed at her.”
We have since received numerous emails and other correspondence from other people traveling through U.S. airports who have experienced the same situation where they were commanded to “freeze” by TSA workers.
“This happened to me last year in Atlanta,” one traveler told us via email.
“It’s not new. They’ve been playing “freeze tag” with naive sheeple for at least a year. They call it a “Code Bravo.” People who have experienced it call it a “Code Bravo Sierra,” added another.
The story was also covered by Gather.com’s Jim Kane, who asked, “This anecdote has not been confirmed by the safety agency, so it should remain in the rumor zone at this point. But, considering all the crazy TSA rules, would anyone be surprised if it were true?”
However, the policy is no mere anecdote, it’s a confirmed fact. The TSA is ordering travelers to “freeze” on command as part of a security drill named ‘Code Bravo’. This is documented in a New York Times article written by Joe Sharkey in which Sharkey explains how he was caught up in the fiasco on two separate occasions in both Atlanta and Los Angeles.
When Sharkey failed to obey a TSA screener who shouted “freeze,” he was assailed by another traveler who “growled” at him, “You’re supposed to freeze!” as other passengers complied with the bizarre demand.
Sharkey later discovered that the TSA had no power to force travelers to comply with the command.
“Passengers are not required to ‘freeze’ in place like statues,” TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee admitted.
However, in every case where the “freeze” command has been witnessed, the behavior of TSA agents has made it clear to travelers that if they don’t do precisely that, they will face the consequences.
“It was clear to me that travelers believed they were required to stop and stand motionless — even those who had cleared security and were merely within shouting distance of the checkpoint. Officers seemed to reinforce that impression, too,” writes Sharkey.
“As we were going through the security checkpoint, one of the supervisors suddenly yelled ‘freeze!’ Everyone was forced to just stand there for about a minute. We were not allowed to move, fidget, look around, speak, nothing,” commented another woman who had traveled through Atlanta Airport.
Treating passengers like naughty children or prisoners on a whim as part of a “drill’ that has no purpose whatsoever is par for the course when it comes to the TSA’s twilight zone approach to airport security.
As WeWontFly.com’s James Babb describes, this is nothing more than “obedience training.” The American people and travelers in general are being ‘broken in’ to accept their subservience in what represents the human equivalent of horse training.
Just last week the TSA admitted that it had introduced the equally ludicrous new policy of testing travelers’ drinks purchased in the airport after they had already passed through security.
Infowars contacted the TSA on Friday morning regarding the ‘freeze on command’ policy but has not received a response. In addition, no explanation or denial of the policy appears on the TSA Blog website. The federal agency presumably doesn’t want to draw media attention to the insane policy in order to protect its already savaged public image.
Not only because they are doing it but because the sheeple are going along with it. Last time I heard of anything like this was in the first or second grade. TSA Agents are NOT POST qualified and therefore DO NOT have the power of arrest (hint: if they did, they wouldn’t bring a cop with them when they show up).
Think about this reference LASP, are they going to yell “freeze” when they enter your hangar (without a warrant in violation of the 4th Amendment)? When they want to search your private property (without a warrent in violation of the 4th Amendment)? When they want to search your friends and family that may be boarding your aircraft (without a warrent in violation of the 4th Amendment)?
Are you going to let them?
Posted: July 26th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
1 Comment »
Feel safer yet?
By Edwin Mora
July 19, 2012
(CNSNews.com) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that the Obama administration finally “took steps” in 2010 to vet foreign students applying to U.S. flight schools.
Napolitano’s testimony came one day after CNSNews.com reported that in 2010 local police in Massachusetts made a traffic stop on a person who they determined to be an illegal alien. The illegal alien it turned out owned a flight school, which, it turned out, had been attended by another 25 illegal aliens, three of whom had been awarded pilots licenses.
This was all 9 years after the 9/11 hijackers–some of whom had also attended flight schools in the United States–flew commercial airliners into the World Trade towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
In her testimony on Thursday, Napolitano added that even to this day DHS has not issued a written directive confirming that it is doing the screening of foreign nationals learning to fly aircraft in the United States.
The 9/11 airline-terrorist attacks occurred nearly 11 years ago and the rule set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to have DHS screen foreign nationals who want flight training was authorized in 2004.
In questioning Napolitano about the issue, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) cited a July 18 news story by CNSNews.com, based on a Government Accountability Office report, which showed that the TSA had allowed 25 illegal aliens to attend a Boston-area flight school that was owned by an illegal alien.
For the 25 unauthorized aliens, 8 had entered the country illegally and 17 had overstayed their allowed period of admission into the United States. The GAO also found that a portion of the 25,599 who had applied for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot licenses from January 2006 through September 2011 had not been vetted properly before taking flight training or receiving an FAA certificate.
After outlining those facts, Rep. Sensenbrenner asked Secretary Napolitano, “This sounds like a 9/11 déjà vu and I’m wondering what the Department of Homeland Security is going to do to make sure that everybody who is in a flight school is properly vetted if they’re a foreign national?”
Napolitano said, “Yes, I think that report referred to a several year old matter, which obviously is of concern. But we took steps in 2010 to make sure that all foreign students who are in this country applying to flight school are vetted — and that has been in place and we intend to confirm that we’ve been doing it for two years.”
“I think what the GAO said [was], well, you don’t have a written thing that says ‘we agreed we’ve been doing it,’ but you need a written MOA [memorandum of agreement],” said Napolitano. “So we’re going to put that together.”
Sensenbrenner then asked, “And how long will that take?”
“Oh we’ll do it very quickly,” said Napolitano. “I think the flight schools we want to make sure we’re very tight there for obvious reasons.”
Rep. Sensenbrenner then asked, “Okay, the story also said that the GAO did not provide the full number of individuals who were not properly vetted. Do you have numbers on how many of these folks were not properly vetted?”
Napolitano did not provide those numbers but said, “Well, all I can say is that foreign students are vetted and they have been being vetted for several years. If they apply to the FAA for a license there is a re-vetting that goes on and then the FAA database is routinely pinned against our national security and criminal databases.”
Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Ala.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, questioned the author of the GAO report, Stephen Lord, about vetting foreign nationals before they attend U.S. flight schools during a July 18 hearing. (Lord is director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the GAO and his report is entitled, General Aviation Security: TSA’s Process for Ensuring Foreign Flight Students Do Not Pose a Security Risk Has Weaknesses.)
“We have cancer patients, Iraq War veterans and Nobel Prize winners all forced to undergo rigorous security checks before getting on an airplane,” said Rogers, “and at the same time, ten years after 9/11, there are foreign nationals in the United States trained to fly just like Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 hijackers did, and not all of them are necessarily getting a security background check.”
Rogers then asked Lord, “Isn’t it true that, based on your report, the Transportation Security Administration cannot assure the American people that foreign terrorists are not in this country learning how to fly airplanes, yes or no?”
“At this time, no,” said Lord.
According to the 911 Commission Report, four of the Sept. 11 hijackers who entered the United States with legal visas had overstayed their authorized period of admission. The terrorists involved learned how to pilot the aircrafts that were used as weapons that day at U.S. flight schools.
Pay attention folks, it’s coming. Call, fax, VOTE.
Posted: July 20th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized
7 Comments »
What is there to say. Please read the whole article and watch the subtly of the government punt of responsibility. Yet, when it comes to feeling up 4 year olds or grandma, the TSA is johnny-on-the-spot. Same when it comes time to prevent your use of your property in LASP. Keep calling and VOTE come November.
By Edwin Mora
July 18, 2012
(CNSNews.com) — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved flight training for 25 illegal aliens at a Boston-area flight school that was owned by yet another illegal alien, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The illegal-alien flight-school attendees included eight who had entered the country illegally and 17 who had overstayed their allowed period of admission into the United States, according to an audit by the GAO.
Three of the illegal aliens were actually able to get pilot’s licenses.
Discovery of the trouble at the flight school began when local police–not federal authorities–pulled over the owner of the school on a traffic violation and were able to determine that he was an illegal alien.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Ala.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said he found the GAO’s findings “amazing.”
“We have cancer patients, Iraq War veterans and Nobel Prize winners all forced to undergo rigorous security checks before getting on an airplane,” said Rogers, “and at the same time, ten years after 9/11, there are foreign nationals in the United States trained to fly just like Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 hijackers did, and not all of them are necessarily getting a security background check.”
Editor – not to mention flight crew
Stephen Lord, who is the GAO’s director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues, testified about the matter Wednesday in Rogers’ subcommittee. Rogers asked him: “Isn’t it true that, based on your report, the Transportation Security Administration cannot assure the American people that foreign terrorists are not in this country learning how to fly airplanes, yes or no?”
Lord responded: “At this time, no.”
Although the illegal alien who owned the Massachusetts flight school had not undergone a required TSA security threat assessment and had not been approved for flight training by the agency, he nonetheless held two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot licenses, also known as FAA certificates.
The GAO report, released today, is entitled General Aviation Security: TSA’s Process for Ensuring Foreign Flight Students Do Not Pose a Security Risk Has Weaknesses.
In response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. homeland perpetrated by terrorists who learned how to pilot aircraft at flight schools in Florida, Arizona, and Minnesota, the TSA, a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), developed the “Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP) to help determine whether foreign students enrolling at flight schools pose a security threat,” said the GAO’s Stephen Lord in written testimony prepared for Wednesday’s hearing in the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security.
According to the 911 Commission Report, four of the Sept. 11 hijackers who entered the United States with legal visas had overstayed their authorized period of admission.
Under the Alien Flight Student Program, foreign nationals are supposed to be subjected to a TSA security threat assessment prior to receiving flight training to determine whether they pose a security threat to the United States.
“According to TSA regulations, an individual poses a security threat when the individual is suspected of posing, or is known to pose, a threat to transportation or national security, a threat of air piracy or terrorism, a threat to airline or passenger security, or a threat to civil aviation security,” Lord said in his written testimony.
“According to TSA officials, when a foreign national applies to AFSP to obtain flight training, TSA uses information submitted by the foreign national–such as name, date of birth, and passport information–to conduct a criminal history records check, a review of the Terrorist Screening Database, and a review of the Department of Homeland Security’s TECS [anti-terrorism] system,” Lord testified.
However, a “weakness” in TSA’s Alien Flight Student Program, noted by GAO, is that it does not check for immigration status.
“AFSP is not designed to determine whether a foreign flight student entered the country legally; thus, a foreign national can be approved for training through AFSP after entering the country illegally,” stated the GAO in its report. “In March 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigated a Boston-area flight school after local police stopped the flight school owner for a traffic violation and discovered that he was in the country illegally. In response to this incident, ICE launched a broader investigation of the students enrolled at the flight school.”
“ICE found that 25 of the foreign nationals at this flight school had applied to AFSP and had been approved by TSA to begin flight training after their security threat assessment had been completed; however,” reads the GAO report, “the ICE investigation and our subsequent inquiries revealed the following issues, among other things:
–“Eight of the 25 foreign nationals who received approval by TSA to begin flight training were in ‘entry without inspection’ status, meaning they had entered the country illegally. Three of these had obtained FAA airman certificates [pilot’s license]: 2 held FAA private pilot certificates and 1 held an FAA commercial pilot certificate.
–“Seventeen of the 25 foreign nationals who received approval by the TSA to begin flight training were in ‘overstay’ status, meaning they had overstayed their authorized period of admission into the United States.
–“In addition, the flight school owner held two FAA airman certificates. Specifically, he was a certified Airline Transport Pilot (cargo pilot) and a Certified Flight Instructor. However, he had never received a TSA security threat assessment or been approved by TSA to obtain flight training. He had registered with TSA as a flight training provider under AFSP.”
A GAO official told CNSNews.com that, based on their names, none of the 25 illegal aliens who attended the flight school appeared to be from Muslim countries. Instead, they had Latin American names.
The GAO found that, “From January 2006 through September 2011, 25,599 foreign nationals had applied for FAA airman certificates, indicating they had completed flight training.” That information is placed on the FAA airmen registry.
The GAO provided information from the FAA’s airmen registry to TSA “so that the agency could conduct a matching process to determine whether the foreign nationals in the FAA airmen registry were in TSA’s AFSP database and the extent to which they had been successfully vetted through the AFSP database.”
The GAO found that not everyone in the FAA registry had been vetted properly.
“TSA’s analysis indicated that some of the 25,599 foreign nationals in the FAA airmen registry were not in the TSA AFSP database, indicating that these individuals had not applied to the AFSP or been vetted by TSA before taking flight training and receiving an FAA airman certificate,” stated the GAO.
The GAO continued, “TSA’s analysis indicated that an additional number of the 25,599 foreign nationals in the FAA airmen registry were also in the TSA AFSP database but had not been successfully vetted, meaning that they had received an FAA airman certificate but had not been successfully vetted or received permission from TSA to begin flight training.”
The GAO did not provide the full number of individuals who were not properly vetted.
The GAO’s Stephen Lord, in his prepared remarks, told lawmakers that the TSA does not screen new and existing FAA pilot license holders against the Terrorist Screening Database until after the foreign national has completed flight training.
Editor – but the 9/11 terrorist never got licenses, they only wanted to learn how to takeoff, not land. So after thousands of hours of dual instruction, the Thousands Standing Around that claim to keep us safe while destroying our freedoms still wouldn’t know about them.
“Thus, foreign nationals obtaining flight training with the intent to do harm, such as three of the pilots and leaders of the September 11 terrorist attacks, could have already obtained the training needed to operate an aircraft before they received any type of vetting,” warned the GAO.
The TSA and ICE are working on a pilot program for vetting the names of foreign nationals against immigration databases.
However, the GAO noted that the two agencies “have not specified desired outcomes and time frames, or assigned individuals with responsibility for fully instituting the program.”
The GAO further stated, “We recommended that TSA and ICE develop a plan, with time frames, and assign individuals with responsibility and accountability for assessing the results of their pilot program to check TSA AFSP data against information DHS has on applicants’ admissibility status to help detect and identify violations, such as overstays and entries without inspection, by foreign flight students, and institute that pilot program if it is found to be effective.”
“DHS concurred with this recommendation and stated that TSA will prepare a plan by December 2012 to assess the results of the pilot program with ICE to determine the lawful status of the active AFSP population,” said the GAO.
Posted: July 20th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized