Friday, November 19, 2010



Port Authority Police Officers on duty
at NYC's JFK Airport.

(Nov. 19, 2010 – Queens, NY) While stories of passengers discontent with the recently implemented screening techniques at our nation's airports have dominated press and Internet coverage, there is a more important story playing out beneath the inane headlines and viral videos on YouTube. Security experts throughout the government intelligence apparatus and the private sector have concluded that terrorist cells have been conducting “tests” by sending packages, some capable of exploding, via air freight since late October. Thus far authorities believe they have “intercepted” all the suspicious parcels but there is some doubt as to whether or not some “dummy packages” have made it through multiple security checks at different airports and, ultimately, to terrorists operatives here in the United States. Most of these packages have originated in Yemen or Sudan; both North African countries have become favored havens for al-Qaeda and other like-minded groups.

Just as during the months prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the intelligence community has been reporting a significant increase in “chatter” among known terrorist groups from the towering mountains of the Afghanistan – Pakistan border all the way across Central Asia and into North Africa. The notoriously tight lipped National Security Agency (NSA) as well as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DCI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have each made off the record statement confirming their shared belief that the “terrorists are probing, planning, and plotting. We have not seen this level of chatter since August 2001 and we all know what happened after that”, said one DIA analyst speaking not for attribution. She continued, “We now know that Mohammed Atta and his crews took many cross country flights to observe the in-flight security procedures on the types of planes they were planning to hijack. They meticulously collected their own intelligence and, as a result of their preparations, were able to pull off the fatal hijackings of that God awful day. We had all better take notice of this chatter now and begin to act accordingly.”

The “enhanced” screening procedures causing so much outcry from travelers, some pilots and civil libertarians have been implemented to interdict nonmetallic objects, including plastic explosives, that could be used in-flight to cause damage to an aircraft or actually “blast it out of the sky.” Some major airports are now equipped with full body scanners, an imaging technique that travelers can refuse for health or personal reasons. The frisk method or “pat down” as it has been called in the media, is similar to the techniques law enforcement officers have employed on the streets of America for decades. Some of the loudest opponents to the pat downs claim that TSA officers are not as well trained as most police officers and that some of the pat downs have turned into “humiliating public gropings.” Administrators at both the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claim the new techniques have been developed with privacy, decorum, and professionalism in mind. One senior manager at TSA speaking anonymously commented, “Sure, some folks are upset, some see it as a waste of time and a hassle. Obviously these folks have lost sight of the real threats we confront and have short memories. 9 – 11 was not even ten years ago and already the national mood seems to have turned against security measures in all aspects of our lives. The fact of the matter is that it is just a matter of time until some terrorist group or splinter cell manages to launch a successful attack against some vulnerable aspect in our infrastructure or transportation systems. After that, people will be complaining that we (TSA & DHS) did not do enough. You can't win in this climate of impatience.”

Airports and air passenger carriers around the world have been on a higher alert level since the initial parcel bombs were discovered on planes in Germany and Britain on October 29th, just 3 weeks ago. A timely “tip” from the Saudi Intelligence service and fast action on the ground resulted in the bombs being rendered harmless and thus subject to detailed analysis and testing by intelligence agencies from Scotland yard, to our CIA and FBI. Two of the original bombs were addressed to synagogues in Chicago and, after extensive testing that took several days, the British Intelligence Ministry revealed that those two bombs were “sophisticated” and ‘intended to blow up in the skies over Chicago.” the bombs were far more powerful than first indicated but also bore some of the hallmarks of other recent al-Qaeda manufactured explosive devices. “The use of cell phones as trigger or detonation mechanisms pointed to al-Qaeda on the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP), a terrorist group based in Yemen with related suspected sects or cells in Sudan, Kenya and possibly Libya.

Under orders from President Barak Obama the United States military has increased the number of un-manned flying vehicles (known as drones) patroling the skies above remote sectors of the Yemeni desert. These drones are capable of firing guided missles and are often armed with other classified ordnance. The government in Yemen, although weak, has pledged to assist in counter-terrorism efforts and step up their own persuit of al-Qaeda members known to be at large in their country.
Late today the Pilot’s Union was able to secure a deal with the TSA that would exempt their members from the enhanced screening procedures that have been the source of thousands of complaints. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also looking into taking some legal action against the TSA and some of their personnel at specific airports where the highest number of complaints have been logged.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owner and operator of the 3 major metroploitan New York City airports who also have their own police force said the complaints in their 3 airports have not been overwhelming. Captain Terrance Flynn who commands the counter terrorism unit at JFK here in Queens said, “At first we had a lot of angry travelers. there was a good deal of anger and simple bitching. But, when people realized that everything is done with their safety in mind, most travelers just accept it. We could be saving lives, but, hopefully, we will never know. I pray every night that we do not get hit again.”

TAGS: TSA, Parcel Bombs, Pat Down Screening, CIA, NYPD, PAPD, al-Qaeda, Aviation - Airport Security, Yemen, Terrorism Risk, Threat Level, ACLU, Pilot’s Association,


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(Nov.19, 2010 – Harlem, NYC) Standing on the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue one finds themselves in the figurative if not geographic center of the New York's 15th Congressional District represented for the last 40 years by the Democrat Charlie Rangel. The 15th is geographically the smallest Congressional Dstrict in the nation as well as one of the poorest. It is comprised of famous neighborhoods such as Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, as well as a slice of Astoria Queens. From this corner one can walk in any direction and find themselves on streets named after icons of the Civil rights Movement such as Malcolm X, Percy Sutton, and Martin Luther King. Hollowed halls such as the Apollo Theater and The Audubon played key rolls in the tumultuous history of Black New York in the sixties and seventies.

Charlie Rangel's political career was shaped as much by the issues that resonated with the residents of these communities as it was by his own opportunism, greed, hubris and blatant exploitation of his own constituents. After years of rumors and innuendo the House Ethics Committee began an investigation into allegations related to Rangel's income, taxes, and political influence peddling in 2008. Just today, after being found guilty of 12 out of 13 charges, the Ethics Committee voted to have the 80 year old Congressman censured. This action would basically be a slap on the wrist. Rangel made a tearful plea to the Committee asking for leniency. What the ultimate outcome will be remains to be seen. One thing is certain, though; finally, after a 50 year run in politics, the gravel-voiced Puerto Rican's legacy will forever be tarnished. And rightfully so.

If one were to plot the course of Rangel's political ascendency, it would become clear that his career has been defined by crass opportunism. At every step of the way he was able to launch forward on the backs and ideology of other far more gifted, noble men.

While it is true that Rangel performed with valor in the Korean War, was wounded in combat and received decorations for his meritorious service, so did tens of thousands of other men. The overwhelming majority of them returned home after the war and went about the rest of their lives in obscurity; toiling to raise their families and provide a better future for their children. Rangel took advantage of the GI Bill to attend college and law school and worked as an Assistant Federal Prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. He ran for Assemblyman and quickly threw his hat into the ring running for Congress against the very popular Harlem icon Percy Sutton. Rangel was victorious and has never looked back. The story of how he managed to become a multimillionaire on a Congressional salary of 40 years is one that largely played out in the shadows of the NYC Democratic Machine. Representing Harlem, an iconic neighborhood to African Americans for over 100 years, Rangel leveraged that position into one of power, influence, and wealth. That he exploited his own constituents and African Americans at large, never seemed to give him pause.

Rangel is Puerto Rican, albeit dark skinned. His appearance in Congress in 1971 coincided with the first true representation of “people of color” in the House of Representatives. His complexion was “close enough”, as one long time Democratic operative recently noted. Rangel immediately aligned himself with the Civil Rights movement and the brutal struggles that played out across our Country in the sixties, particularly, in the South, despite the fact that he never participated in it. His ambition and egotism was unbounded and he stood on the shoulders of true Civil Rights heroes such as John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and so many others who sacrificed in the Jim Crow South promoting himself as a “Black Leader”. He was a charter member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was “tolerated” by the other members simply because “...they needed numbers. They needed all the help they could get in those days”, said former Washington DC Mayor, Marion Barry.

If there was one talent that Charlie always demonstrated, it was his true gift for “talking a good game.” Rangel could schmooze, bullshit, back-slap, intimidate, threaten, and simply produce such an avalanche of boilerplate rhetoric, race baiting incendiary, and trash talk, that he became a favorite of the press always ready to grab one of his sound bites. Gabe Pressmen, the legendary newsman at New York City's NBC Flagship Station WNBC, who covered NYC politics for over 50 years once said, “Charlie has never found a camera or microphone he didn't like. I remember when he first ran for Sutton's seat in Congress. He was ruthless in his attacks and with money from who knew where, he was able to win. Throughout his years in Washington he became so far removed from the people and issues of his District that it was quickly apparent he was in it (Congress) for himself. Journalist's in town (NYC) knew decades ago that he was a crook. A real smooth talker with a true mean streak. He used his 'race' as camouflage and to accuse his detractors as racists. He was always basically a scum bag.”

The specifics of Charlie's guilty charges are not unique; he is but the latest hack politician to be caught with his grubby dirty hands in various cookie jars. The one charge New Yorker's are most sensitive to and angered by is his blatant abuse of the Holy Grail of your average New Yorker's life – rent controlled apartments. If not for NYC's strict “rent stabilization” rules there would be no working class, blue collar people living in the fFive Boroughs. The people who keep that City afloat and running only live there by the grace of rent control. Rangel used several rent controlled apartments as offices and for nepotistic gain while his declared residence is in Washington, DC. “The income and property tax structure in the District of Columbia is far more favorable to a bum like Rangel than it is in New York City”, commented Filbertto de Leone, a prominent tax attorney in The Bronx.

African American's in New York City have always been protective of and loyal to the politicians who look like them. This is only natural. It was always easy for Charlie to go back home and bemoan how all the “redneck White Republican's” in Congress “have it out fore.” But, ask the man or woman on the street here in this neighborhood about Rangel's rent controlled hijinks and a truer picture emerges about hos they feel about “Our Charlie.” DeShawn Thigpen, a 42 year old father of two , an unemployed carpet layer and a self described “Old time Democrat and lifelong supporter of Charlie Rangel”, said “This deal of his with the apartments. That is a slap in the face to all of us who live up in here. He oughtta be punished for that if nothing else.”

TAGS: Current Events, News Commentary, Opinion, New York City Politics, Charles Rangel, Charlie Rangel Scandal, Charlie Rangel Censure, Charlie Rangel Ethics Violations, Editorial, Sarcastic Commentary, Political Satire


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