Posts tagged security
Osama Bin Laden Dead: Obama, National Security Team Watched Raid In Real Time.
WASHINGTON — From halfway around the world, President Barack Obama and his national security team monitored the strike on Osama bin Laden’s compound in real time, watching and listening to the firefight that killed the terrorist leader.
Gathered in the White House Situation Room, members of the group held their breath and barely spoke as they waited to see whether a carefully crafted yet extremely risky plan would succeed, said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Obama had been playing golf but returned to the White House for the suspenseful watch Sunday.
Brennan said he would not reveal details “about what types of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there but it was – it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis.” Typically, members of the Navy SEAL team that conducted the operation wear helmet cameras that transmit sound and video to their operation centers and that data can be fed live to the White House and Pentagon.
As the SEALs lowered themselves from helicopters into bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the president and his advisers could only wait.
"It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday," Brennan told reporters. "The minutes passed like days, and the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel."
There hadn’t been unanimity among members of Obama’s team about going forward with the plan. The president had plenty of evidence to suggest bin Laden would be found in the compound – as indeed he was – but there was no ironclad certainty he was there.
Then there was the danger. Anything could happen. And indeed, something did. One of the helicopters carrying the SEALs stalled upon arrival in the compound and had to be abandoned. It was a heart-stopping moment.
"Seeing that helicopter in a place and in the condition that it wasn’t supposed to be, I think that was one of – at least for me and I know for the other people in the room – was the concern we had that now we’re having to go to the contingency plan," said Brennan.
The contingency plan of switching to a different chopper worked. In the end, so did the whole operation, and bin Laden was shot dead. But not before the president’s nerves got a serious workout.”When we finally were informed that those individuals who were able to go in that compound and found an individual that they believed was bin Laden, there was a tremendous sigh of relief,” said Brennan. “And the president was relieved once we had our people and those remains off target.”
UN Imposes Sanctions on Gadhafi, Calls for War Crimes Investigation.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted tonight to impose an arms embargo on Libya, a
And the U.N. named names: Gadhafi, five of his children and ten of his top aides were hit with the sanctions.
Council members agreed to refer the issue of the Gadhafi regime’s brutal and systematic attacks on protesters to the war crimes tribunal for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity.Diplomats hope the threat of prosecution for war crimes will cause even more of Gadhafi’s dwindling inner circle to jump ship.
"This is wonderful, this is what we were waiting for, this is great!" Mohamed Eljahmi, a Libyan-American activist, told AOL News today.
Eljahmi’s brother, Fathi, a leading Libyan dissident, died in state custody in 2009 after protesting Gadhafi’s regime for years.
"This is the best news I’ve heard for Libya in awhile," Eljahmi said. "Eventually what’s just comes to people who deserve it. Gadhafi’s bad deeds are finally coming back to him."
The resolution stated that “widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in Libya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity” and “those responsible for the attacks” must be held accountable, according to The Wall Street Journal.
All nations must also immediately freeze assets in their country held by any of the Libyan leaders named in the resolution.The 15-0 vote came after nearly eight hours of discussions and followed an impassioned plea by Libyan Ambassador Mohammed Shalgham for the U.N. to “save” his nation on Friday.
Shalgham, in an emotional speech to the Security Council yesterday, broke with the Gadhafi regime and asked that sanctions be adopted.
Council members did not consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and no U.N.-sanctioned military action was planned. N.A.T.O. also has ruled out any intervention in Libya, The Associated Press reported.
More than 1,000 protesters have been killed by government loyalists since the popular rebellion against 42-years of Col. Gadhafi autocratic rule began Feb. 17.
Journalists Attacked, Arrested in Cairo Chaos.
Foreign journalists covering the political tumult in Cairo have been roughed up by unruly mobs and detained by security forces, according to multiple reports Thursday.
The attacks near Tahrir Square, the center of the protests, came from supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, foreign journalists told the Associated Press. Demonstrators backing Mubarak have clashed with anti-government protesters as a peaceful uprising turned violent over the past 48 hours.
The New York Times said security forces and pro-government gangs were even hunting down journalists at their offices and in hotels where many had taken refuge. The Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya television networks said they couldn’t cover the scene at Tahrir Square live because their crews had been harassed on the streets and at vantage above the square where cameras had been set up.
Earlier, the Times said two reporters working for the newspaper were released Thursday after being detained overnight in Cairo. Washington Post Foreign Editor Douglas Jehl said witnesses on the street in Cairo reported that his paper’s bureau chief, Leila Fadel, and photographer Linda Davidson were among two dozen journalists arrested by the Egyptian Interior Ministry.The Greek newspaper Kathimerini said its correspondent was briefly hospitalized after being stabbed in the leg by supporters of Mubarak. A Greek newspaper photographer was also reportedly beaten.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, traveling with President Obama in Pennsylvania, told reporters that the actions are “completely and totally unacceptable” and “any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately,” the Times reported.In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley condemned the violence. “There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting,” Crowley said.
On Wednesday, ABC correspondent Christiane Amanpour had to make a quick getaway when demonstrators yelling that they “hate America” banged on her car and smashed part of its windshield.
Mubarak, who has held power for 30 years, agreed earlier this week not to seek reelection in six months, but the street demonstrations continued as his foes demanded that he step down immediately.
SA Chief Says No Change in Airport Scanners, Pat-Downs.
(Nov.17) — Faced with a barrage of questions about new airline screening procedures, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said today there would be no changes in the use of full-body scans and pat-downs for passengers.
Administrator John Pistole acknowledged at a congressional hearing that the new body imagers, along with more thorough pat-downs, are causing a public outcry. But he argued that educating the public, rather than changing the procedures, was the appropriate answer.
"Am I going to change the policies?" he said. "No."
While the pat-downs may not change, Pistole said that John Tyner, an airline passenger who attracted national attention this week when a video of him refusing the pat-down was posted on YouTube, would likely not face any fines. Tyner’s phrase, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested,” helped make the video go viral.”I do not anticipate anything coming from that,” Pistole said when asked about Tyner.
The hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee was supposed to focus on cargo security, but instead the discussion tilted heavily toward the escalating debate over TSA’s new body imagers and pat-downs, which have evoked public outcry leading up to the holidays.At issue are the rapid proliferation of Advanced Imaging Technology, an X-ray machine that uses millimeter waves to create a whole-body image to spot hidden objects. The graphic image of the human body that it creates has led many to dub the machines “naked screeners.” An online campaign urges passengers to refuse body scans in a “National Opt-Out Day” on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, one of the nation’s busiest travel days.
Travelers can elect not to go through the new scanners, but then they receive a pat -down from TSA personnel, which many feel is too intrusive.
Though not all of the senators were critical of new screening procedures — some argued for better public education — several noted public concern.
"The public outcry is huge," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, echoing comments made by other lawmakers about calls to their office from constituents complaining about the new procedures.
Pistole acknowledged that changes took place this month in the pat-down procedures, which previously involved using the back of the hand to check the groin area. He declined to specify precisely what the new procedures involved, citing the ability of terrorists to learn and adapt from this information.
Asked by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., whether he had personally experienced a pat-down, Pistole said he had, as had other senior officials in the Department of Homeland Security. “It is thorough,” he said.
Not all the senators were critical of the imaging machines. “I’m wildly crazy about walking through a machine, rather than love pats,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., referring to the pat-downs.The TSA has been rapidly expanding the use of the new machines at airports around the country. Pistole said there are 385 screeners at 70 airports, with plans to get to 490 imagers by the end of the year. By the end of next year, 1,000 will be deployed across the country.
Acknowledging concerns about the machines, Pistole said TSA is already looking at a next-generation imager that uses advanced algorithms for “automatic target recognition,” a way of spotting possible threatening objects on a person without providing an actual detailed image of the body. He compared the images from those future machines as akin to a “stick figure,” rather than the graphic images produced by the current scanners.
However, that technology is not ready for deployment yet and still has a high rate of false positives, according to Pistole. Asked how far away those machines are from being ready, he said it was hard to say, but possibly “months.”