Fox News : Feds: Al Qaeda Suspect May Not Be Threat at All

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Feds: Al Qaeda Suspect May Not Be Threat at All

AP | February 16, 2006

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Two months ago, a federal prosecutor accused Michael Reynolds, a 47-year-old transient who lived with his elderly mother in Wilkes-Barre, of trying to work with Al Qaeda to blow up fuel facilities in at least three states.

Now officials say that Reynolds, who was snared in an FBI sting, may not have been as much of a terrorist as the prosecutor made him out to be.

An FBI official in Washington said that the agency has since concluded that Reynolds might be mentally ill and not as serious a threat as originally believed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because much of the information in the case has been sealed by a federal judge.

Reynolds offered to seek outpatient mental health counseling as a condition of his release pending trial, according to a bail request filed by his lawyer.

The FBI arrested Reynolds in December after he tried to meet a purported Al Qaeda contact about 25 miles from a hotel in Pocatello, Idaho, where he had been staying. At the meeting he expected to receive $40,000 to finance an alleged plot to blow up pipelines and refineries.

Reynolds' Al Qaeda contact, whom he had met online, turned out to be a Montana judge who was working for the FBI.

Reynolds, who was convicted in the 1970s of trying to blow up his parents' house in New York state, is being held without bail in Lackawanna County jail on unrelated charges of illegally possessing hand grenades. He foiled crimes in three states. He also wrote that he had worked as a first-grade teacher in Thailand over the past year.

The two-page typewritten letter could not be authenticated, but the envelope it came in was marked with a prison stamp.

Reynolds has a lengthy rap sheet that includes convictions for attempted arson, disorderly conduct and breach of the peace.

The 1978 arson conviction stemmed from an attempt to blow up his parents' house in Purdys, N.Y., using gasoline, open cans of paint, a disconnected propane gas line and a timing device. The house caught on fire but the propane failed to ignite, and his parents escaped unharmed, said Drew Outhouse, a fire chief who responded to the blaze.

"Mike came up the driveway screaming, 'My mother and father are dead, my mother and father are dead.' They weren't dead," Outhouse said Wednesday.

New America Media : Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps

Peter Dale Scott | February 08, 2006

Editor's Note: A little-known $385 million contract for Halliburton subsidiary KBR to build detention facilities for "an emergency influx of immigrants" is another step down the Bush administration's road toward martial law, the writer says.

BERKELEY, Calif.--A Halliburton subsidiary has just received a $385 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to provide "temporary detention and processing capabilities."

kbrThe contract -- announced Jan. 24 by the engineering and construction firm KBR -- calls for preparing for "an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs" in the event of other emergencies, such as "a natural disaster." The release offered no details about where Halliburton was to build these facilities, or when.

To date, some newspapers have worried that open-ended provisions in the contract could lead to cost overruns, such as have occurred with KBR in Iraq. A Homeland Security spokesperson has responded that this is a "contingency contract" and that conceivably no centers might be built. But almost no paper so far has discussed the possibility that detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law.

For those who follow covert government operations abroad and at home, the contract evoked ominous memories of Oliver North's controversial Rex-84 "readiness exercise" in 1984. This called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to round up and detain 400,000 imaginary "refugees," in the context of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States. North's activities raised civil liberties concerns in both Congress and the Justice Department. The concerns persist.

"Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters," says Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. military's account of its activities in Vietnam. "They've already done this on a smaller scale, with the 'special registration' detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo."

Plans for detention facilities or camps have a long history, going back to fears in the 1970s of a national uprising by black militants. As Alonzo Chardy reported in the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987, an executive order for continuity of government (COG) had been drafted in 1982 by FEMA head Louis Giuffrida. The order called for "suspension of the Constitution" and "declaration of martial law." The martial law portions of the plan were outlined in a memo by Giuffrida's deputy, John Brinkerhoff.

In 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 188, one of a series of directives that authorized continued planning for COG by a private parallel government.

Two books, James Mann's "Rise of the Vulcans" and James Bamford's "A Pretext for War," have revealed that in the 1980s this parallel structure, operating outside normal government channels, included the then-head of G. D. Searle and Co., Donald Rumsfeld, and then-Congressman from Wyoming Dick Cheney.

After 9/11, new martial law plans began to surface similar to those of FEMA in the 1980s. In January 2002 the Pentagon submitted a proposal for deploying troops on American streets. One month later John Brinkerhoff, the author of the 1982 FEMA memo, published an article arguing for the legality of using U.S. troops for purposes of domestic security.

Then in April 2002, Defense Dept. officials implemented a plan for domestic U.S. military operations by creating a new U.S. Northern Command (CINC-NORTHCOM) for the continental United States. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called this "the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command system was set up in 1946."

The NORTHCOM commander, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced, is responsible for "homeland defense and also serves as head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).... He will command U.S. forces that operate within the United States in support of civil authorities. The command will provide civil support not only in response to attacks, but for natural disasters."

John Brinkerhoff later commented on PBS that, "The United States itself is now for the first time since the War of 1812 a theater of war. That means that we should apply, in my view, the same kind of command structure in the United States that we apply in other theaters of war."

Then in response to Hurricane Katrina in Sept. 2005, according to the Washington Post, White House senior adviser Karl Rove told the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, that she should explore legal options to impose martial law "or as close as we can get." The White House tried vigorously, but ultimately failed, to compel Gov. Blanco to yield control of the state National Guard.

Also in September, NORTHCOM conducted its highly classified Granite Shadow exercise in Washington. As William Arkin reported in the Washington Post, "Granite Shadow is yet another new Top Secret and compartmented operation related to the military's extra-legal powers regarding weapons of mass destruction. It allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control."

It is clear that the Bush administration is thinking seriously about martial law.
Many critics have alleged that FEMA's spectacular failure to respond to Katrina followed from a deliberate White House policy: of paring back FEMA, and instead strengthening the military for responses to disasters.

A multimillion program for detention facilities will greatly increase NORTHCOM's ability to respond to any domestic disorders.

Scott is author of "Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). He is completing a book on "The Road to 9/11." Visit his Web site .