Archive for July 24th, 2009
July 25, 2009
Bush Weighed Using Military in U.S. Arrests
By MARK MAZZETTI and DAVID JOHNSTON
WASHINGTON — Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.
Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants.
Mr. Bush ultimately decided against the proposal to use military force.
A decision to dispatch troops into the streets to make arrests has few precedents in American history, as both the Constitution and subsequent laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.
The Fourth Amendment bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures without probable cause. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from acting in a law enforcement capacity.
In the discussions, Mr. Cheney and others cited an Oct. 23, 2001, memorandum from the Justice Department that, using a broad interpretation of presidential authority, argued that the domestic use of the military against Al Qaeda would be legal because it served a national security, rather than a law enforcement, purpose.
“The president has ample constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States,” the memorandum said.
The memorandum — written by the lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty — was directed to Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, who had asked the department about a president’s authority to use the military to combat terrorist activities in the United States.
The memorandum was declassified in March. But the White House debate about the Lackawanna group is the first evidence that top American officials, after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, actually considered using the document to justify deploying the military into an American town to make arrests.
Most former officials interviewed for this article spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations about the case involved classified information. They agreed to talk about the internal discussions only after the memorandum was released earlier this year.
New information has recently emerged about the deliberations and divisions in the administration over some of the most controversial policies after the Sept. 11 attacks, like the decision to use brutal interrogation methods on Qaeda detainees.
Former officials in the administration said this debate was not as bitter as others during Mr. Bush’s first term. The discussions did not proceed far enough to put military units on alert.
Still, at least one high-level meeting was convened to debate the issue, at which several top Bush aides argued firmly against the proposal to use the military, advanced by Mr. Cheney, his legal adviser David S. Addington and some senior Defense Department officials.
Among those in opposition were Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; John B. Bellinger III, the top lawyer at the National Security Council; Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Michael Chertoff, then the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.
“Frankly, it was a bit of a turf war,” said one former senior administration official. “For a number of people, crossing the line of having intelligence or military activities inside the United States was not worth the risk.”
Mr. Bush ended up ordering the F.B.I. to make the arrests in Lackawanna, near Buffalo, where the agency had been monitoring a group of Yemeni Americans with suspected Qaeda ties. The five men arrested there in September 2002, and a sixth arrested nearly simultaneously in Bahrain, pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges.
Scott L. Silliman, a Duke University law professor specializing in national security law, said an American president had not deployed the active-duty military on domestic soil in a law enforcement capacity, without specific statutory authority, since the Civil War.
Senior military officials were never consulted, former officials said. Richard B. Myers, a retired general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent interview that he was unaware of the discussion.
Former officials said the 2002 debate arose partly from Justice Department concerns that there might not be enough evidence to arrest and successfully prosecute the suspects in Lackawanna. Mr. Cheney, the officials said, had argued that the administration would need a lower threshold of evidence to declare them enemy combatants and keep them in military custody.
Earlier that summer, the administration designated Jose Padilla an enemy combatant and sent him to a military brig in South Carolina. Mr. Padilla was arrested by civilian agencies on suspicion of plotting an attack using a radioactive bomb.
Those who advocated using the military to arrest the Lackawanna group had legal ammunition: the memorandum by Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty.
The lawyers, in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, wrote that the Constitution, the courts and Congress had recognized a president’s authority “to take military actions, domestic as well as foreign, if he determines such actions to be necessary to respond to the terrorist attacks upon the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and before.”
The document added that the neither the Posse Comitatus Act nor the Fourth Amendment tied a president’s hands.
Despite this guidance, some Bush aides bristled at the prospect of troops descending on an American suburb to arrest terrorism suspects.
“What would it look like to have the American military go into an American town and knock on people’s door?” said a second former official in the debate.
Chief James L. Michel of the Lackawanna police agreed. “If we had tanks rolling down the streets of our city,” Chief Michel said, “we would have had pandemonium down here.”
The Lackawanna case was the first after the Sept. 11 attacks in which American intelligence and law enforcement operatives believed they had dismantled a Qaeda cell in the United States.
In the months before the arrests, Mr. Bush was regularly briefed on the case by Mr. Mueller of the F.B.I. and George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence. The C.I.A. had been tracking the overseas contacts of the Lackawanna group.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed article in March, Mr. Yoo defended his 2001 memorandum and its reasoning, saying that after Sept. 11 the Bush administration faced the real prospect of Qaeda cells undertaking attacks on American soil. “The possibility of such attacks raised difficult, fundamental questions of constitutional law,” he wrote, “because they might require domestic military operations against an enemy for the first time since the Civil War.”
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.
Report: Bush mulled sending troops into Buffalo (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration in 2002 considered sending U.S. troops into a Buffalo, N.Y., suburb to arrest a group of terror suspects in what would have been a nearly unprecedented use of military power, The New York Times reported.
Vice President Dick Cheney and several other Bush advisers at the time strongly urged that the military be used to apprehend men who were suspected of plotting with al Qaida, who later became known as the Lackawanna Six, the Times reported on its Web site Friday night. It cited former administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The proposal advanced to at least one-high level administration meeting, before President George W. Bush decided against it.
Dispatching troops into the streets is virtually unheard of. The Constitution and various laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.
According to the Times, Cheney and other Bush aides said an Oct. 23, 2001, Justice Department memo gave broad presidential authority that allowed Bush to use the domestic use of the military against al-Qaida if it was justified on the grounds of national security, rather than law enforcement.
Among those arguing for the military use besides Cheney were his legal adviser David S. Addington and some senior Defense Department officials, the Times reported.
Opposing the idea were Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; John B. Bellinger III, the top lawyer at the National Security Council; FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III; and Michael Chertoff, then the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.
Bush ultimately nixed the proposal and ordered the FBI to make the arrests in Lackawanna. The men were subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges.
Scott L. Silliman, a Duke University law professor specializing in national security law, told the Times that a U.S. president had not deployed the active-duty military on domestic soil in a law enforcement capacity, without specific statutory authority, since the Civil War.
Britons opposing Afghan war: polls
Congress passes $106 billion to continue the wars for Israel in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Mullen cannot see end of Afghan war:
“Operation in Afghanistan is rooted in Israel”:
US invaded Iraq in accordance with the ‘A Clean Break’/war for Israel agenda of the JINSA/PNAC/AEI Neocons Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser via JINSA/PNAC/AEI Neocon associated Dick Cheney (access the ‘A Clean Break’ link at the upper right of http://NEOCONZIONISTTHREAT.COM )
The US was tragically attacked at the World Trade Center in 1993 and on 9/11 because of US support for Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians (look up ‘Israel as a terrorist’s motivation’ in the index of James Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book and take a look at the ‘What Motivated the 9/11 Hijackers?’ youtube linked on the upper right of http://NEOCONZIONISTTHREAT.COM ) with the US then invading Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of such!:
Israeli sources funneled US laundering team
How the FBI used a rabbi’s son to crack massive U.S. corruption case
Haaretz report on connection of Money laundering to Israeli religious leaders
Two-Track Investigation of Political Corruption and International Money Laundering Rings Net 44 Individuals
Rabbis among 44 indicted over NJ corruption case
U.S. rabbis suspected of brokering sale of human kidneys
Officials lambast NJ corruption after 44 arrested
NEWARK, N.J. – Officials are decrying political corruption in New Jersey after more than 40 people, among them rabbis and elected officeholders, were arrested in an investigation in which some were accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars and of black-market trafficking of kidneys and fake Gucci handbags.
The 44 arrests Thursday were a remarkable number even for New Jersey, where more than 130 public officials have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of corruption since 2001.
“New Jersey’s corruption problem is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the nation,” said Ed Kahrer, who heads the FBI‘s white-collar and public corruption division. “Corruption is a cancer that is destroying the core values of this state.”
Gov. Jon Corzine said: “The scale of corruption we’re seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated.”
The arrests were headline news in Israel on Friday morning, with the front pages of all three of the country’s mass-circulation dailies featuring pictures of bearded ultra-Orthodox Jews being led away by law enforcement officials.
Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Israel’s national police force, said Friday that Israeli police were not involved in the investigation. He would not comment further.
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. said the investigation focused on a money laundering network that operated between Brooklyn, N.Y.; Deal, N.J.; and Israel. The network is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars through Jewish charities controlled by rabbis in New York and New Jersey.
Prosecutors then used an informant in that investigation to help them go after corrupt politicians. The informant — a real estate developer charged with bank fraud three years ago — posed as a crooked businessman and paid a string of public officials tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to get approvals for buildings and other projects in New Jersey, authorities said.
Among the 44 people arrested were the mayors of Hoboken, Ridgefield and Secaucus, Jersey City‘s deputy mayor, and two state assemblymen. A member of the governor’s cabinet resigned after agents searched his home, though he was not arrested. All but one of the officeholders are Democrats.
Also, five rabbis from New York and New Jersey — two of whom lead congregations in Deal — were accused of laundering millions of dollars, some of it from the sale of counterfeit goods and bankruptcy fraud, authorities said.
Others arrested included building and fire inspectors, city planning officials and utilities officials, all of them accused of using their positions to further the corruption.
The politicians arrested were not accused of any involvement in the money laundering or the trafficking in human organs and counterfeit handbags.
Hours after FBI agents seized documents from his home and office, New Jersey Community Affairs Commissioner Joseph Doria resigned. Federal officials would not say whether he would be charged. Doria did not return calls for comment.
Authorities did not identify the informant, described in court papers as a person “charged in a federal criminal complaint with bank fraud in or about May 2006.” But the date matches up with an investigation that led to charges against Solomon Dwek, the son of a Deal rabbi.
The younger Dwek was charged at the time in connection with a bounced $25 million check he deposited in a bank’s drive-through window. He has denied the charges. Dwek’s lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.
Most of the defendants facing corruption charges were released on bail. The money laundering defendants faced bail between $300,000 and $3 million, and most were ordered to submit to electronic monitoring.
Among those ensnared by the informant was Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III, prosecutors said. The 32-year-old Cammarano, who won a runoff election last month, was accused of accepting money from the developer at a Hoboken diner.
“There’s the people who were with us, and that’s you guys,” the complaint quotes Cammarano saying. “There’s the people who climbed on board in the runoff. They can get in line. … And then there are the people who were against us the whole way. … They get ground into powder.”
Cammarano was accused of accepting $25,000 in cash bribes. His attorney Joseph Hayden said his client is “innocent of these charges. He intends to fight them with all his strength until he proves his innocence.”
Associated Press Writers Angela Delli Santi and Beth DeFalco in Trenton, N.J.; Wayne Parry in Deal, N.J.; Samantha Henry and Victor Epstein in Newark, N.J.; Larry Neumeister in New York and Matti Friedman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.