War Inquiry Met Second-Tier Bush Officials

The British official inquiry team examining the origins and conduct of the Iraq War met with some relatively senior former officials of the George W. Bush administration on a weeklong visit earlier in May. But, as the Brits admitted today, none of the administration's heavy hitters would talk.

Another Push to Close Guantánamo

Apparently seeking to breathe new life into the bogged-down effort to close the terrorist-detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, national-security adviser Gen. James Jones sent a letter to Congress reaffirming the administration\'s desire to transfer detainees to a prison in Thomson, Ill.

Key Congressman: Clapper Wrong Man for Intel Czar

A key Capitol Hill Republican says retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, the Defense Department's top intelligence official, would be the wrong person to replace outgoing National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the panel's ranking minority member, tells Declassified that in his experience, Clapper is "not forthcoming, open, or transparent" in his dealings with congressional oversight committees.

Airline Flight Crews Expelled From Gun-in-Cockpit Program

Approximately 50 airline pilots and other cockpit crew members have been thrown out of a post-9/11 federal program that allowed them to carry loaded guns in flight, according to information provided to Declassified by a Homeland Security spokesperson. The spokesperson did not disclose the specific reasons that the pilots were ejected from the armed-pilot corps, officially called the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program, beyond saying they had committed "violations" of the...

Finding New Intel Czar Will Be Tricky for Obama

By most accounts, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair was blindsided last week when President Obama agreed to accept his resignation. According to one former senior U.S. official who recently talked to Blair about his tenure in the "Intelligence Czar" post, Blair spoke about his plan to stay in the job until the end of Obama's first presidential term. But Blair also acknowledged that in order to succeed as the nation\'s spy supremo, he had to demonstrate that his office had some...

Why Did North Korea Sink the South Korean Ship?

"The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that [a] torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine. There is no other plausible explanation," said the inquiry team, which included experts from United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Sweden.

Guessing Game Begins Over Intel Czar's Replacement

Serving as director of national intelligence may be a mission impossible, but President Obama's effort to find a successor to the outgoing Dennis Blair may not be much easier.   In the wake of Blair's abrupt decision on Thursday to resign—a move that had been rumored for months but surprised some of his own staff—the "intelligence community" has already begun the latest round of one of Washington's favorite parlor games: guessing the replacement. Declassified has heard speculation...

Intelligence Czar Dennis Blair to Leave

update: Dennis Blair's resignation as Director of National Intelligence was announced shortly after the item below was posted. "It is with deep regret that I informed the President today that I will step down as Director of National Intelligence effective Friday, May 28th," Blair wrote in a statement, which can be read in full here.While his own spokespeople were unreachable late Thursday afternoon, two U.S. intelligence officials confirmed to Declassified that Dennis Blair, the retired...

Jones and Panetta Gave Pakistani Leaders Details on Shahzad's Relationship with Pakistani Taliban, Pressed for Crackdown in Waziristan

During a two-day visit to Pakistan, White House National Security Adviser James Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta gave senior Pakistani officials a "thorough debriefing" on what the U.S. government has learned about what is now believed to be a highly significant connection between the Pakistani Taliban movement, known as the TTP, and Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American now under arrest for attempting to attack New York's Times Square, according to two Obama administration officials who...

NSA Accused of Fumbling Intelligence on Underpants Suspect

The Senate Intelligence Committee is publicly criticizing the ultrasecret National Security Agency for fumbling intelligence that might have kept would-be airplane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding the Christmas Day transatlantic flight he allegedly tried to blow up with a bomb hidden in his underpants. An NSA spokesperson said the agency declined to comment. In  a declassified report released on Tuesday recounting a number of supposed intelligence-handling "failures"...

Times Square Suspect Finally Expected to Get Lawyer

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American charged with attempting to attack New York's Times Square on May 1 with a dud car bomb, is expected to meet with a lawyer for the first time since his arrest some time after an anticipated federal-court hearing in Manhattan late Tuesday. Two law-enforcement officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing the case, told Declassified that during the hearing, a federal magistrate is expected to assign Shahzad a lawyer as well as formally notify the suspect...

Few High-Level Former Bush Officials Likely to Meet With British Iraq Panel

Members of a British government inquiry tribunal assigned to investigate the conduct leading up to the Iraq War are visiting the U.S. this week to meet with Americans who they hope "have insights" into Britain's involvement in the conflict. But it is unclear how many Americans who were deeply involved in the policy deliberations and governmental machinations that led both the U.S. and U.K. into the war will be willing to cooperate with the British inquiry team.Declassified has identified at...

Special Interrogation Unit Plays Limited Role in Times Square Investigation

A special counterterrorism unit created by the Obama administration to replace the Bush administration's controversial CIA detention and interrogation program is playing only a limited role in the investigation of the attempted May 1 car bombing of New York's Times Square, according to four U.S. law-enforcement and intelligence officials who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information. The limited role of the interagency High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) in...

French Government Denies Secret Deal for Release of Teaching Assistant Held by Iran

The French government is denying that a decision by its courts to release an accused Iranian technology smuggler wanted by the U.S. was linked to Iran's release of a French teaching assistant who had been held by Iranian authorities on suspicion of spying. Another French court ruling, expected Tuesday, could free a man imprisoned for life by French authorities for murdering a former Iranian prime minister who had taken refuge in France after falling out with...

Multiple Witnesses in Pakistan Are Cooperating in Times Square Probe

More than one presumed associate of Faisal Shahzad is cooperating with investigators in Pakistan, say two U.S. counterterrorism officials who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information. Pakistani authorities, working in partnership with investigators from the United States, have taken multiple witnesses into custody and are questioning them about Shahzad's alleged plot to set off a car bomb in New York's Times Square on May 1, and about the role played in it by the...

Despite Conspiracy Theories, No Evidence U.S. Agencies 'Watchlisted' Accused Times Square Attacker Before May 1

Conservative Web sites have become transfixed by a journalistic red herring that implies, though it doesn\'t prove, that U.S. agencies had placed Faisal Shahzad on a terrorism \"watchlist\" before he attempted to plant a car bomb in Times Square earlier this month. But inquiries by Declassified suggest that reports pointing to U.S. authorities watch listing Shahzad before May 1 are grossly distorted and that, for the moment, all they add up to is fodder for conspiracy theories.The speculation...

NYPD Developing CCTV Camera System That Will Be Better Than London\'s

New York Police Department is building a closed-circuit TV surveillance system which it hopes will eventually be more sophisticated and effective than the closed-circuit TV (CCTV) system used by police in London and other British cities. The widespread use of CCTV monitoring in Britain has been touted by UK authorities as a critical tool for solving crimes and maintaining public order but has been criticized by civil libertarians as a Big Brother–like widespread invasion of personal...

Feds Carry Out Raids Probing Times Square Suspect's Finances

Armed with criminal search warrants, federal authorities led a series of raids in three Northeastern states on Thursday in an effort to uncover evidence as to how and where Faisal Shahzad got the financing to proceed with his unsuccessful attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York\'s Times Square on May 1.In an official statement, the Justice Department confirmed the raids and indicated it was following up on information developed in the investigation to date, which has included extensive...

Intel Paper Says Al Qaeda's Yemeni Affiliate More Determined Than Ever to Attack Inside U.S.

An intelligence analysis prepared by an interagency "fusion center" in California says that recent on-line postings by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia are "actively promoting" attacks against targets inside the U.S. The "official use only" bulletin, produced by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies originally set up to deal with drug trafficking, is entitled "Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's...

Times Square Suspect Originally Wanted to Fight Americans in South Asia

When Faisal Shahzad set out from Connecticut for his Pakistani homeland late last year, he had no thought of planting a car bomb in Times Square. Instead, a top New York police intelligence analyst says, Shahzad\'s plan was to join the insurgents fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. But according to Deputy Inspector John Nicholson of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau, the naturalized U.S. citizen apparently met with militants in the Waziristan tribal region who persuaded him to turn...

FBI Asked Homeland Security to Refrain From Notifying All Airlines About Shahzad 'No Fly' Listing

The FBI asked officials at the Homeland Security Department to limit the number of airlines which were given special emergency warning that the name of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad had been added to the U.S.  government's "no fly" list in the early afternoon on May 3, 2010, Declassified has learned. The FBI asked Homeland officials to limit special notifications about Shahzad's fresh no-fly listing because it feared that telling too many airlines about it might lead to news...

Feds Claim Corroborating Evidence of Times Square Bomber's Dealings with Pakistani Taliban

Federal investigators are not just taking Faisal Shahzad's word for it that Pakistani Taliban elements were involved in his failed Times Square car-bombing attempt. The naturalized U.S. citizen has confirmed under interrogation that the Pakistani Taliban helped prep him for the plot, according to three U.S. counterterrorism officials who asked not to be named discussing sensitive information—and the three officials add that U.S. agencies have evidence to corroborate his contacts with the...

The Times Square Bomb Scares and the Perils of False Alarms

In the days since the failed Times Square bombing last Saturday night, New York has faced several additional brief, but fraught, alarms. Late Wednesday night, the city\'s RFK (formerly Triboro) Bridge was swarmed by police and shut down after a man ran away from a rental van which smelled of gasoline fumes. False alarm. On Thursday morning, an Emirates airways flight for Dubai was temporarily grounded at JFK airport shortly before takeoff because of a possible match between the name of a...

Obama Officials on Shahzad Case: We Did It Right

Obama administration officials are touting what they say is the continuing cooperation of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad as evidence that nonaggressive interrogation techniques and procedures that were used in his case can be at least as effective as more controversial—and violent—Bush administration counterterrorism tactics.  A preliminary official account of events following Shahzad\'s arrest has been provided to Declassified by a government official who asked for...

FBI Surveillance of Times Square Suspect \'Broke Down\'

Accused Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad spent more than three hours at New York's JFK airport unwatched by authorities while he waited to board a plane out of the country because FBI surveillance of him "broke down," says an administration official familiar with the matter. The FBI is not denying that the surveillance encountered problems.According to a timeline made available to Declassified by the administration official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive...

Taliban Claim About Times Square Now Considered \'Plausible,\' Officials Say

After it first surfaced on a newly created YouTube channel shortly after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first press conference about the discovery of a car bomb in Times Square, U.S. counterterrorism officials dismissed as empty propaganda a Pakistani Taliban message in which Qari Hussain Mehsud, allegedly the group's chief, said he takes "fully responsibility for the recent attack in the USA." But experts inside the government acknowledge that a Pakistani Taliban...

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