The real face of terrorism in America


Gavin Wright, 49, Curtis Allen, 49, and Patrick Stein, 47

Three Kansas men from a militia cell called “the Crusaders” plotted to bomb a mosque and apartment complex home to Somali immigrants…

Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 49, and Patrick Stein, 47, were charged Friday with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, according to the Department of Justice’s national security division. The Crusaders call Muslims “cockroaches,” and they had discussed attacks brutal attacks on Muslims for months, federal prosecutors said.

FBI agents working on tips from an undercover informant said the three men planned to blow up four car bombs at the Garden City apartments. Allen, Wright and Stein hoped the attack on the 120-resident complex would “wake people up,” the feds said.

The arrests followed an eight-month investigation that took the agents “deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” said acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”…

If you read more than the TV Guide, watch more than Fox Noise, you shouldn’t be surprised.

…Allen, Wright and Stein had stockpiled guns, ammunition and explosive components, prosecutors said. They also spied on possible targets and planned to issue a manifesto, according to the feds.

They decided on the apartment complex in Garden City, a meatpacking town of 26,000 people in southwestern Kansas. Many Somali refugees who work at a Tyson Foods beef slaughterhouse live there, and the complex includes a mosque where they worship together.

“They chose the target location based on their hatred of these groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up,'” the complaint said…

They talked about attacking targets such as city or county meetings, landlords who rent to Muslim refugees, organizations that assist Muslim refugees, a mall frequented by Muslims and Garden City’s African Community Center, investigators said. They decided on the W. Mary St. apartment complex in August, according to the complaint.

…Police in Liberal arrested Allen on Tuesday night after his girlfriend said he beat her, the charging documents showed. His car had ammo for an AR-15, an AK-47 and a Glock handgun, according to investigators.

Liberal police later found nearly a metric ton of ammo at Allen’s house, investigators said. FBI agents who searched G&G, where Allen worked for Wright, said they uncovered a detonator believed to be a homemade explosive and other bomb components…

Federal agents took custody of all three of them Friday morning. Allen, Wright and Stein face up to life in federal prison without parole if they’re convicted.

Throw away the key!

Guilty verdict revoked for BC “terror” couple — “It was the police who were the leaders of the plot”


Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

A British Columbia couple convicted of terrorism charges have had their verdicts tossed out in a scathing court decision that flays the RCMP for its “egregious” conduct in manipulating naive suspects into carrying out a police-manufactured crime…

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce said the Mounties used trickery, deceit and veiled threats to engineer the terrorist acts for which John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested on Canada Day three years ago.

❝ “The world has enough terrorists. We do not need the police to create more,” Bruce said in a landmark ruling Friday as she characterized the RCMP’s methods as “multi-faceted and systematic manipulation.”

“There is clearly a need to curtail the actions of police … to ensure that future undercover investigations do not follow the same path.”…

She described the pair as marginalized, socially isolated, former heroin addicts dependent on methadone and welfare to subsist and said they were “all talk and no action.”…

Without the heavy-handed involvement of undercover officers, it would have been impossible for Nuttall and Korody to articulate, craft and execute a terrorist bomb plot, Bruce said.

“Ultimately, their role in carrying out the plan was minuscule compared to what the police had to do,” Bruce said. “It was the police who were the leaders of the plot.”

Three previous attempts at entrapment defenses failed in Canadian courts. This is the first that succeeded. I think our batting average in the US isn’t that good. I believe there have been successful uses of the argument a few times. But, mostly, arrogant coppers and prosecutors have a pretty good success rate with agents provocateurs.

For decades.

I’d rather drive cross-country in my ancient pickup truck than try flying with Homeland Insecurity setting standards


Guido Menzio

On Thursday evening, a 40-year-old man — with dark, curly hair, olive skin and an exotic foreign accent — boarded a plane. It was a regional jet making a short, uneventful hop from Philadelphia to nearby Syracuse.

Or so dozens of unsuspecting passengers thought.

The curly-haired man tried to keep to himself, intently if inscrutably scribbling on a notepad he’d brought aboard. His seatmate…looked him over…something about him didn’t seem right to her…

Is Syracuse home? She asked.

No, he replied curtly.

He similarly deflected further questions. He appeared laser-focused — perhaps too laser-focused — on the task at hand, those strange scribblings.

Rebuffed, the woman began reading her book. Or pretending to read, anyway. Shortly after boarding had finished, she flagged down a flight attendant and handed that crew-member a note…

Then the passengers waited, and waited, and waited for the flight to take off. After they’d sat on the tarmac for about half an hour, the flight attendant approached the female passenger again and asked if she now felt okay to fly, or if she was “too sick.”…American Airlines flight 3950 remained grounded.

Then, for unknown reasons, the plane turned around and headed back to the gate. The woman was soon escorted off the plane…The wait continued.

Finally the pilot came by, and approached the real culprit behind the delay: that darkly-complected foreign man. He was now escorted off the plane, too, and taken to meet some sort of agent…

And then the big reveal: The woman wasn’t really sick at all! Instead this quick-thinking traveler had Seen Something, and so she had Said Something.

That Something she’d seen had been her seatmate’s cryptic notes, scrawled in a script she didn’t recognize. Maybe it was code, or some foreign lettering…The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism.

The curly-haired man laughed.

He laughed because those scribbles weren’t Arabic, or another foreign language, or even some special secret terrorist code. They were math…A differential equation, to be exact…

Guido Menzio showed the authorities his calculations and was allowed to return to his seat, he told me by email. He said the pilot seemed embarrassed. Soon after, the flight finally took off, more than two hours after its scheduled departure time for what would be just a 41-minute trip in the air, according to flight-tracking data.

The woman never reboarded to the flight.

Menzio for his part says he was “treated respectfully throughout,” though he remains baffled and frustrated by a “broken system that does not collect information efficiently.” He is troubled by the ignorance of his fellow passenger, as well as “A security protocol that is too rigid – in the sense that once the whistle is blown everything stops without checks – and relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless.”

I wonder what would have happened if the young economist constructing exactly the same equations was of Middle Eastern ethnicity and perhaps (gasp) a Muslim? Would American Airlines have shown as much reason over a 2-hour delay? Would he have been allowed to return to his flight?

The two questions we get to examine most often about American politics are (1) are people simply ignorant or (2) are they stupid?

Or both?

Apple’s message to you and me

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us…

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal…

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession…

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control…

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority…

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

Tim Cook

RTFA for a wee bit more detail. Well meaning folks who accept the FBI premise that somehow Apple already has a secret way to shutdown the “10-trial-and-wipe” feature enabled on a terrorist’s iPhone is a conclusion easy for an American to reach. A well-meaning and ignorant American. One of the best ways to design a warranty is to guarantee a product will self-destruct if tampered with. Turn it into a brick.

There is no need for a backdoor to get in and fiddle with the code. Make the attempt to do so cause an irretrievable act of destruction and you’ve fulfilled the guaranty of privacy. It was a revelation the first time I encountered that concept – over 60 years ago. I imagine it wasn’t new, then.

Equally important to my personal view is that this case is an excellent illustration of how little difference there is between the two old parties. When push comes to shove, both will come down on the side of political rule over individual liberty, personal privacy. The head of the FBI was appointed by a liberal Democrat, Barack Obama. The judge in the case, a Democrat, was appointed by a liberal Democrat, Barack Obama.

War or peace, individual liberty versus conformity defined from the top down, I have seen no reason to cast my lot with either of the two mediocrities we get to choose from to staff and guide our government. Unlike libertarians I absolutely endorse the premise of republican government – and democratic guidance by the people. That simply works better over time than the alternatives. The deliberate imposition of narrow, foot-dragging ideology by the liberal and conservative wings of class-based politicians is something I’ve had to confront since the first time I sat down at a drugstore counter with a Black friend of mine and ordered soft drinks for both of us…thereby breaking a law as “sacred” to the cops of America at the time as the crap abuse of a law from 1789 now is to the FBI and the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

#standwithapple

How far will a Republican bend over to kiss NRA butt? Ask Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday nixed a bill that would have barred carjackers or anyone convicted of gang activity or terroristic threats from owning or purchasing a firearm.

Christie, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for president, failed to act on the bill (A4182) by its end-of-legislative session deadline, effectively killing a measure that received overwhelming bipartisan support in the state Legislature…

That’s called a pocket veto. He has more than bills in his pants, obviously.

Under current law, people convicted of certain serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, arson, burglary, homicide, extortion, endangering the welfare of a child, stalking and burglary, are not allowed to own or purchase a firearm in the state.

The bill sought to add people convicted of “carjacking, gang criminality, racketeering and terroristic threats” to that list.

The bill passed the State Assembly 68 to 0, the State Senate 37 to 0.

Christie’s office declined to offer insight into the reason for the veto…

Some people choose intelligent allies. Some pick friends for favors. Some kiss butt because they’re opportunists and cowards. Which one is Christie?

Homeland Security chose to ignore anti-government movement, militias


Daryl Johnson + whistle blowing = office shutdown by Homeland Security

Daryl Johnson once worked in the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that studied the threats posed by antigovernment groups. His former office was shut down more than five years ago.

But when members of an armed group took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon last week, Mr. Johnson was not surprised.

In 2009, the former analyst wrote a report that warned of a growing antigovernment movement and the possible recruitment of returning military veterans that could “lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone-wolf extremists.

His words drew fierce criticism from Republican lawmakers and conservative news media, labeling the report an unfair assessment of legitimate criticisms of the government. The document was retracted after Janet Napolitano, who was then the Homeland Security secretary, apologized to veterans, and the Extremism and Radicalization Branch was quietly dismantled.

Now, as the takeover of the remote federal wildlife preserve enters its second week, a renewed focus is being placed on the so-called militia movement and on the efforts of the federal government, particularly the Department of Homeland Security, to identify and combat potential threats.

First, RTFA. It describes the abandonment of any consideration of right-wing domestic terrorism once the furor over Timothy McVeigh’s mass murder in Oklahoma City had died down. This was followed by Bush’s bright, shiny new Department of Homeland Security – cowed by the Republican Party, cringing in the corner they painted themselves into through fear of right-wing mobs like the Tea Party created by creeps like the two Dicks, Armey and Cheney.

The rebirth of proto-fascist militias was inevitable. Between a racist base, redemption-seeking religious fundamentalists and the lineage of conservative anarchists who reject republican government, American history is always ready to reap what was sown by the Confederacy.

The cowardice of Establishment Liberals from the time of Bill Clinton through Barack Obama parallels their distant kin before the Civil War. Importing slaves was made illegal in 1808. The law was never enforced. The market for slave-produced profits was too great for Union liberals to confront. Peace at any price is always acceptable to both liberals and conservatives if the profits are dispersed sufficiently.

So, we can expect studies, panels, reports, press conferences and more tiptoeing around the fact that American-born right-wing extremists kill a helluva lot more Americans than any Islamist nutballs.

Idjits with guns continue occupation of Wildlife Refuge building

Law enforcement agencies are remaining mum about plans to end militiamen’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

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What would coppers do if this militia was Black or Hispanic or – gasp – Muslim?

A splinter group of militia in town to support a local ranching family took over the federal office Saturday afternoon in a development that stunned the community and visiting militia.

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said in a statement late Saturday that “a collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution.”

Here’s a summary of key elements of this unfolding story:

The backdrop: Militiamen from several states came to Burns to protest the impending imprisonment of two Harney County ranchers. They participated in several community meetings and organized a rally and protest march that occurred without controversy on Saturday. The march lasted about an hour and involved about 300 people – a mix of militia and local residents…

The occupation: Some time after the rally, key militia leaders broke off and drove across the high desert basin south of Burns to the wildlife refuge. They said they took over the refuge headquarters, which was unoccupied for the holiday weekend. They also have blocked the access road. Indications are that this has been planned for some time. Accounts of how many militia are at the refuge range from their own claims of up to 150 to accounts from reporters at the scene that there may be no more than 15…

Who’s involved: Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, is acting as the leader, conducting a steady stream of media interviews. Other key militia leaders have joined him, including Ryan Payne, an Army veteran from Montana involved in last year’s armed standoff in Nevada with federal agents; Blaine Cooper, an Arizona militiaman who also participated in the Nevada standoff, and Jon Ritzheimer, who made headlines last year for anti-Muslim rhetoric…

Law enforcement response: During Saturday’s rally, not a police officer was visible. And so far law enforcement agencies have not approached the refuge or blocked access to the territory. The FBI is in charge because the refuge is federal property. The Harney County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police are engaged as well…

What’s next: Because the refuge is so remote and no government employees are at risk, law enforcement isn’t likely to immediately confront the militia. But law enforcement will be under great pressure to act because of the Bundys’ confrontation in Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management retreated from that confrontation and has yet to publicly act against the Bundys to collect $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. That retreat has emboldened militia members as they now face the prospect of another standoff.

And as I said up top – not likely this would be the case if armed militia composed of Black Americans, Hispanic Americans or Muslim Americans attempted occupation of a federal building. Rightwing nutballs from Trump to Cruz would have been screaming for the Air Force to nuke the wildlife refuge. Tea Party superpatriots would have enlisted in the nearest militia or Klavern to put down such an “insurrection”.

Because these are good old white boys rolling out the usual NRA blather about 2nd amendment rights — local, state and federal coppers will tippytoe around until the militia initiates whatever they choose to be the end of the confrontation. Some will want a glorious Waco conflagration. No doubt. Not especially distinct from any other jihad. I’m not certain if the rest will be satisfied with the level of free publicity our Trump-tamed Free Press is accustomed to providing.

I’d suggest staying in touch with the Oregonian or the Guardian who actually have folks on the scene.

Thanks, Ursarodinia and many others

I especially appreciate Ursa’s “We don’t have enough weirdos here in Oregon; we have to import them from Nevada?”