Customs Switches Priority From Drugs to Terrorism

Customs Switches Priority From Drugs to Terrorism
Posted by FoM on October 10, 2001 at 13:54:03 PT
By Robert Pear and Philip Shenon
Source: New York Times
The new head of the United States Customs Service said today that terrorism has replaced drug smuggling as the agency's top priority, and that he has redeployed hundreds of agents to provide round-the-clock inspections at the Canadian border to prevent terrorists from entering the country.Robert C. Bonner, who was sworn in as customs commissioner just two weeks ago, said he had begun receiving daily intelligence briefings on terrorist threats as part of his agency's shifting mission.
As a result of the redeployments along the Canadian border, a preferred entryway for terrorists in the past, Mr. Bonner said the agency has had to cut the number of inspectors dedicated to special units that search for illegal drugs and for exports of high-technology products. The alert has been raised along the border with Mexico too, but the Customs Service had already increased its presence there in recent years. "Terrorism is our highest priority, bar none," said Mr. Bonner, a former federal judge who has also served as the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Ninety-eight percent of my attention as commissioner of customs has been devoted to that one issue." The terrorist attacks have brought about sharp changes at several other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Public Health Service and the Internal Revenue Service.But apart from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, few agencies have so prominent a front-line role to play as the Customs Service, which is responsible for guarding the borders and blocking the entry of terrorists and their tools.The service is given credit for thwarting a major terrorist attack on the eve of the millennium celebration in December 1999, when a customs inspector in Washington State found a trunkload of explosives in the car of an Algerian who later acknowledged having trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan run by Osama bin Laden.The attacks on Sept. 11 also physically hammered the Customs Service, since the north tower of the World Trade Center fell onto the eight-story building, 6 World Trade Center, that housed its New York office. That building was destroyed, and 760 workers were displaced.In an interview today, Mr. Bonner acknowledged that the agency's traditional role in preventing the smuggling of drugs and other contraband would be affected by the new focus on terrorism. "We are robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said, noting that inspectors had been working 12 to 16 hours a day since Sept. 11. "We are stretched thin." Since the attacks, the service has spent $5.5 million a week on overtime for inspectors, almost three times its usual outlay.Mr. Bonner said that small customs posts along the northern border, which have gone unstaffed at night and on some holidays, are now being manned every day around the clock by at least two inspectors.Customs agents, he said, are being told to be especially vigilant for any "implements of terrorism," like chemical, biological or nuclear materials that could be used as weapons. Many agents are being ordered to wear pocket-sized radiation detectors  miniature Geiger counters  as they carry out their inspections at airports and borders.The shift in focus has startled many longtime customs officers like Harold H. Zagar, the chief customs inspector at Dulles International Airport, in the Virginia suburbs of Washington."For 31 years," he said, "I've been fighting the war on drugs."Now, suddenly, drug trafficking is a distant, secondary priority. To say the change is disorienting understates the case. "Whoa!" Mr. Zagar said. "We've gone full circle." The Customs Service is the nation's oldest law enforcement agency, founded in 1789, and the change in its mission is a jolt to almost every one of its 10,600 inspectors and criminal investigators.Before Sept. 11, customs officials at Dulles and other airports had developed sophisticated profiles of likely drug smugglers and searched luggage for hidden narcotics. Now, Mr. Zagar said, inspectors are much more interested in documents  blueprints, drawings, photographs, flight manuals, chemical data  that might be carried by terrorists.The need to set new profiles for terrorists could be controversial for the service. In recent years, blacks sued the agency, saying they had been singled out for interrogation and searches because of their race. The agency promised not to engage in racial profiling.Now, though, inspectors are scrambling to develop profiles of travelers from the Middle East who might have links to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Mr. bin Laden's far- flung network. The agency said the new "targeting criteria" would focus on passengers arriving on certain flights from certain countries, especially from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.Other agencies are also telling their employees to put aside regular duties and focus on terrorist threats. The Agriculture Department is directing its inspectors to prevent attacks on crops and livestock and other types of "agroterrorism."The new administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Asa Hutchinson, said he saw a "deadly, symbiotic relationship between the illicit drug trade and international terrorism." He estimated that Afghanistan produces at least 70 percent of the world's supply of illicit opium, and he said that the Taliban leadership derive large amounts of revenue from the traffic. "The sanctuary enjoyed by bin Laden is based on the existence of the Taliban's support for the drug trade," Mr. Hutchinson said in Congressional testimony last week.Bradley A. Buckles, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said that 500 of his 2,300 agents are working with the F.B.I. to investigate the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.Similarly, the I.R.S. has ordered some of its criminal investigators to work with other agencies to determine how terrorist groups are financed. The I.R.S. is focusing on money laundering and possible currency violations.Newshawk: puff_tuffSource: New York Times (NY)Author: Robert Pear and Philip ShenonPublished: October 10, 2001Copyright: 2001 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Articles:Tight Border Security Slows Trafficking Borders are Early Casualties of War
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Comment #7 posted by qqqq on October 10, 2001 at 20:29:46 PT
Amerikan jihad
No,that smell is not brimstone,nope,that's the smell of uncle sam bin ladens ass,,as he digs in,and prevents any chance of the Goat Party,Ramming the Donkeyfunts off their bejeweled frieght train!
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on October 10, 2001 at 18:51:31 PT:
Star Chamber 'Justice" anyone?
I suggest that anyone who has any interest in how this latest 'emergency' is tempting those with closet fascistic tendencies to step over the line should read this:Following attacks, courtrooms become secret, documents sealed the article:"Among the proceedings that have been closed to the public was a hearing last week in San Diego to determine whether three college students could be held as material witnesses in the terror case. The judge cited national security, but sealed even his order justifying the secrecy. The secrecy has raised civil liberties concerns in some quarters. "One of the things that this secrecy deprives you of knowing is just how far and energetically the government is biting into constitutionally protected activity," said Terry Francke, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition. A lawyer for the three men held in San Diego likened their detention to the sweeps for communists and sympathizers during the Red Scare of the 1920s. He complained that he was not even told where his clients were being held and was not permitted to contact them. "I'm not even allowed to say whether they were in court," said lawyer Randall Hamud. But experts said the government so far remains on firm legal ground. The legal underpinning for much of the secrecy is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which allows the government to permanently seal warrants for national security reasons with a judge's consent, said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and legal scholar at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. I don't know about you, but I am catching the increasingly stronger scent of brimstone along this Road to Hell we're walking.
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Comment #5 posted by dddd on October 10, 2001 at 18:39:17 PT
Here is where I got the thing I posted........
here's where you can go to look up the exact nature of the legistlation by number.....
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Comment #4 posted by puff_tuff on October 10, 2001 at 18:10:35 PT
The War on Terrorism  2028
Terrorism War Non-issue to this Year's Candidates
    New York Times
    March 3, 2028    By Alex Byrdman    One subject that the candidates in this year's Presidential election will not be debating is the 27-year-old "war on terrorism."    Critics have long criticized the terrorism war as selective, ineffective and a waste of money and resources.    In fact few Americans realize that the "war on terrorism" is still going on. Congress routinely passes the expenditures for it in every budget with little fanfare and even less debate.    For all its flaws and failures, however, few politicians are willing to oppose it for fear of being called "soft on terrorism." Top congressional aides will say privately that everybody in D.C. knows that it is a joke but we'll never get rid of it because every pol in America knows that their next opponent would be making commercials that show those old pictures of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center back in '01. "You vote against this money and they're going to make you into some kind of turban-headed mad bomber" says one aide who requested anonymity.    "It's the goddamn war on drugs all over again," says another. "That's been going sixty years now and we have more damn drugs in the country than ever before, but we keep throwing money at it and we still have a drug czar. Just because nobody can be seen as FOR drugs. It's the same with the terrorism war. It's still in the military budget and they even get an occasional small assignment but they spend most of their time spying on domestic dissidents."    The Bureau for Domestic Tranquility, formerly the Office of Homeland Security, also still exists although it's name was changed and its mission curtailed after a group of overzealous OHS agents machine gunned to death 12 Peruvian nationals and three bystanders outside the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2011. The agents, acting on a tip, thought the Peruvians planned to use nerve gas in the enclosed Super Dome. A subsequent investigation revealed that they were Dow Chemical employees who planned on attending the game as fans.    The terrorism war began with much fanfare in 2001 in the aftermath of attacks on New York City and DC It was proclaimed as an international effort to root out terrorism and in its initial stages provided some moderate successes. Government forces claimed to have broken up much of the terror network of exiled Saudi billionaire Osama Bin Laden and killed Bin Laden himself. Soon, however, the interest faded and critics charged that the U.S. had entered into alliances with some of the worst terrorism sponsors on earth in the mad rush to avenge the attacks. Even the US claim of having eliminated Bin Laden was called into question in 2025 when a man matching his DNA choked to death on a fig in Fez, Morocco.    James Strom Thurmond Jr., Republican front runner for this year's nomination would say only that terrorism still exists in the world and we'd better be vigilant. "My father was in the Senate back in '01 when the World Trade Center was bombed," says Mr. Thurmond, "and he still talks about it to this day when he can remember who I am."    Among the wide open Democratic field, only Maryland Senator Karenna Gore will speak openly about the money spent on the terror war and she favors increasing it. "I want to show that my father would have done a better job of fighting terrorism than that bogus illiterate," says Ms. Gore, whose chances for the nomination are considered slim.    Thus far only the minor parties are willing to speak up about the terror war. "Nothing will ever change unless some people are willing to open their mouths," says longtime political firebrand and Green party candidate Monica Lewinski.
democratic underground
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 10, 2001 at 16:14:27 PT
Hi Poisoned,
There are a few papers that won't let us use their articles and the Ottawa Citizen is one of them. I really don't know much more then the list of papers that we can't use for the time being. Luckily I don't have to take care of this problem. Cannabis News is 100 percent non profit so we will see what happens. I dont know why sites that have advertiser don't seem to get hassled that post news articles but maybe they do. I just don't know or understand.
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Comment #2 posted by Poisoned1550Days on October 10, 2001 at 15:58:55 PT
DDDD, Where is sourec info on the legislation
 Where is the text of
the legislation to be found? And Hi FoM,
  Whats the storyy on the
Ottowa citizen? How can they 
prevent the reprint of their articles?
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on October 10, 2001 at 14:31:10 PT
new laws
[Key points of legislation now being considered on Capitol Hill]  1. An entire 501C3 organization or other organization, including its members, can have their assets seized for supporting "bodily acts" or international causes that the U.S. Secretary of State may deem terrorist activity. Political activities that were  legal prior to S.1510 may retroactively be deemed terrorist activity by the government. Participants and supporters may be charged with terrorist and other offenses, under this bill as now drafted. [This is a bill of attainder specifically outlawed by the Constitution] (2). S1510 retroactively abolishes the "statue of limitations" for many past offenses in which no one was injured. After passage of S.1510, any past offense that can be broadly alleged to have put someone "at risk" may be used by federal and state prosecutors to charge a citizen with a terrorist act - even 30 years after the statute of limitations period had already passed. Government will have no difficulty manufacturing evidence to prosecute citizens once constitutional safeguards against passing retroactive laws are abolished.  (3) No "innocent owner defense" will be allowed against asset forfeiture. After passage of S1510, government agencies will be able to seize assets of citizens and organizations without ever disclosing the evidence. Government need only allege that disclosing such evidence may compromise national security and/or an ongoing investigation. S1510 provides for paying "unnamed informants" huge rewards resulting from arrests and forfeited assets. dddd
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