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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Should US Consider A Major Wall Across The Southern Border?

Wait Until You See What the Saudis Are Doing to Keep ISIS Out…

saudi-arabia-Throughout history, countries have built walls to protect themselves. Americans, however, have been ambivalent about committing 100 percent to building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants and terrorists who try to breach our southernborders. We might learn from one of our allies, which is completely clear about the need for a wall and going forward full speed.
Last week, a Saudi general was killed in a skirmish with ISIS at the border with Iraq, along which Saudi Arabia is constructing a 600-mile-long wall:
The prospect of this wall separating Iraq from Saudi Arabia is not a welcome one for ISIS, whose goals include capturing Saudi Arabia – home to the Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina.
Saudi Arabia’s oil fields are another key strategic goal for the terror group intent on creating a Sharia-run caliphate.
Construction began on the wall last September and, according to Jane’s,
“…consists of 78 monitoring towers, eight command centers, 10 mobile surveillance vehicles, 32 rapid-response centers, and three rapid intervention squads, all linked by a fiber-optic communications network.”
The Kingdom is also creating a 1,000 mile wall along its border with Yemen to the south.
If the Saudis believe a wall is the answer to security threats from beyond their borders, why do some Americans doubt it would work for us? There are some major differences.
First, the U.S.-Mexican border “wall” is actually just a fence rather than a wall with fully integrated security. Second, the Saudi wall is being built across the desert, while the American border involves a river with abundant wildlife. Finally, many property owners on the border oppose building a physical barrier across their land.
Because Saudi Arabia is a kingdom that is ruled with an iron hand, and the United States is a democracy, security decisions are made very differently. Here, major decisions, whether they are implemented through legislation or administratively, are subject to public scrutiny and public input.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

TSA Pre-Check Gathers Information On Travellers Which You Might Not Want The Government To Know.

The Dollar  Vigilante
Thursday,February 12, 2015
TSA: New Sheriff, New Rules?
[The following post is by TDV Contributor, Wendy McElroy]

Changes within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should  prompt you to reconsider the wisdom of crossing into or out of the United States. The TSA is slowly turning from counter-terrorism to criminal law enforcement, which will include the pursuit of tax violaters. And you may not be able to rely on the agency's notorious incompetence for much longer. 

Meet the New Sheriff. Not Quite like the Old

John Pistole stepped down as head of the TSA on December 31, leaving an acting administrator to keep the seat warm. On February 3, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus,NY) conducted his first hearing as chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security. News reports glowed about his 'performance', saying “Katko looked as if he's done this before.”  All signs point to Katko becoming a new power player behind the TSA.

The man is a hard-liner with a mandate. The freshly-elected Katko is an award-winning federal prosecutor who secured his Congressional seat by a staggering 20 percentage points of the vote even though his democratic opponent overspent him by millions. After his first subcommittee hearing, Katko explained that his training in the US Attorney General's Office made heading the subcommittee “a very easy transition.” 

Having been a prosecutor also defines his vision of the TSA and whom its agents should target. Pistole had publicly stressed the need to control terrorists. Katko now publicly calls for the detection and detention of anyone suspected or guilty of committing a crime...any crime. Only one month into his stint at the House of Representatives, Katko has introduced two bipartisan bills aimed at reforming the TSA. 
One of them, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act (HR 719) would require TSA law enforcement officers to “spend on average at least 50 percent of their time investigating, apprehending, or detaining individuals suspected or convicted of offenses against the criminal laws of the United States.” Katko accuses the current TSA of relying “primarily” on the “criminal         investigations conducted by other agencies.” He wants its agents to conduct their own investigations.

There is no indication of which crimes would absorb 50% of the focus of TSA agents.  The category “crime” is so broad that it includes everything from prostitution to drunk driving, murder to rape, insider trading to bribery, domestic violence to child support arrears. Tax violations, money laundering and other financial 'crimes' are likely to be among the most hotly pursued 'crimes' because they invite the confiscation of goods and bank accounts; they would be profitable. And, since individuals only need to be “suspected” of a crime, almost anyone crossing the US Border could be summarily detained aka arrested.

“Show me the man, and I'll show you the crime.” - Lavrentiy Beria, head of Joseph Stalin's secret police

HR 719 (and Katko) would convert the TSA into an explicit frontline for the enforcement of criminal law in America.

Don't Rely on the TSA's Incompetence

In an article entitled “New Bill Turns TSA Into Tax Police,” InfoWars (Feb. 6) observed, “The TSA already delves into a treasure trove of private information about all Americans in the name of security before they even arrive at the airport, including tax identification numbers, vehicle and job history, and property ownership records.”
But the TSA confronts two problems in gathering information about travellers. First, it is an incompetent bureaucracy. Second, few people have signed up for its PreCheck program through which the TSA hoped to reap a bonanza of sensitive information.

The PreCheck program allows a traveller to be approved for quick TSA processing at airports; for example, the traveller will never need to remove his shoes or to endure secondary screening. The cost to the PreChecked traveller is $85 and the surrender of personal data on everything from financial transactions to interactions with family.

TechDirt (Jan. 23) listed the type of “commercial data” that enrollment opens to TSA eyes. It includes: “public record data, such as criminal history and real estate records produced by federal, state, and local governments; other publicly available information, such as directories, press reports, location data and information that individuals post on blogs and social media sites; and wide ranging data such as purchase information, customer lists from registration websites, and self-reported information provided by consumers that is obtained by commercial data sources such as data brokers.”
But not enough travellers were willing to turn their data over to the TSA in exchange for keeping their shoes on. Of course, the TSA views the low enrollment as a marketing problem rather than the result of their offering a bad product. The official solution? The TSA quietly announced its plans to hire huge data mining companies to woo Americans into the PreCheck program.  Those who fly should expect solicitations and promotions from the quasi-private sector – also known as crony capitalists – over 2015.
Before you sign up, however, read the small print because the data companies want more than your enrollment. They will want permission to access your credit card accounts, your grocery receipts, your Facebook and twitter posts...and to do so on a continuing basis.

The information has clear commercial value to any company that possesses it. But the data will also be used to provide the TSA with an assessment of a traveller as a terror risk. The TSA is confident enough about this method of assessment that it is considering a reduction in airport screeners for whom the massive outsourced data mining would substitute.  (It is not clear whether the information will be used by other government agencies. But private companies have the 'advantage' of not being subject to constitutional restraints on their behavior.)

If HR 719 and Katko are successful, then the TSA will undoubtedly receive an assessment of a traveller's criminal status as well. Even if HR 719 is not successful, criminal evaluations are likely to occur. In soliciting bids for “multiple vendors” of PreCheck, for example, the TSA was clear that it  explicitly wanted data correlations between terrorism, criminal behavior and commercial conduct. Moreover, the bid solicitation reads,

“Contractors may use commercial data to conduct an eligibility evaluation (also known as pre-screening) of potential applicants. The eligibility evaluation shall include, at a minimum, validating identity and performing a criminal history records check to ensure that applicants do not have disqualifying convictions in conjunction with the TSA Pre✓® disqualifying offenses…” 
[Note: the actual bid solicitation seems to have disappeared from online.]

Of course, the evaluations may (and probably will) occur whether or not you enroll in PreCheck; but they will be more difficult to generate and, perhaps, less thorough.

In a sad irony, travellers who eschew PreCheck for privacy reasons may receive enhanced scrutiny. The Federal Register describes the PreCheck program as “a risk-based approach to aviation screening that allows TSA to focus its limited resources on unknown and perhaps high-risk travelers.” This means greater suspicion and TSA time-hours will fall upon those who have opted not to be pre-cleared as a terrorist risk or as a criminal. Such people can expect longer lines, greater inspection and more indignities.

Two facts seem clear about the TSA in the coming year. First, the agency will focus increasingly upon criminal screening, including (and, perhaps, with special emphasis) upon financial and tax 'crimes'. Arrests, fines and confiscations at the border will almost certainly increase. Second, travellers will be evaluated with more competence by semi-private data companies than they were by low-level civil servants. Any information culled – even from unrelated parties such as Facebook – may be a larger factor in your ability to cross the border... or for the process to move forward smoothly.


Stop travelling to or from the United States. If you live within American territory, consider other options. If you choose to stay, be aware that the borders are closing, and it may happen more quickly than you expect.
[Editor's Note: TDV Passports and TDV Offshore are both equipped to help you get out of the US]
Wendy McElroy is a regular contributor to the Dollar Vigilante, and a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of twelve books, the latest of which is "The Art of Being Free". Follow her work

ISIS Is Far From Getting Weaker. New Recruits Are On The Way!

Thousands of Foreign Fighters Join ISIS from Around the World

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
Over 150 US citizens made their way to Syria to join the ranks of ISIS, US intelligence officials confirmed. The American citizens joined another 3,400 westerners as part of a total 20,000 foreigners who sought out becoming part of the Islamist terror group.
The US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) said that foreigners from over 90 countries have taken up ranks with ISIS. This estimated number rose by over 2,000 foreign volunteer fighters from the previously estimated number of 18,000 made in January, AFP reported.
While precise numbers were unavailable, NCTC Director Nicholas Rasmussen stated that “the trend lines are clear and concerning.” The statement was part of remarks prepared for a Congressional hearing which took place on Wednesday.
NCTC Director Nicholas Rasmussen
Rasmussen said that the current “rate of foreign fighter travel to Syria is unprecedented.” He explained that foreigners journeying to meet up with ISIS “exceeds the rate of travelers who went to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any point in the last 20 years.”
Rasmussen iterated that these “fighters” do not fit one type of mold. They “come from a variety of background and do not fit any one stereotype,” leading to a very scary conclusion that the message of ISIS is hitting home with a broad range of people.
Even more worrisome, as Rasmussen pointed out, is that “the battlefields in Iraq and Syria provide foreign fighters with combat experience, weapons and explosives training, and access to terrorist networks that may be planning attacks which target the West.”
Rasmussen alluded to the success of the ISIS PR campaign targeting people all over the world via social media in a variety of languages. The group specifically targets troubled youth by portraying an ideal life inside their territory. Additionally the group has created special branding using techniques and slogans that mirror successful Western products or ideologies.
One of the recent MEMEs sent out by the group reads: “YODO: You Only Die Once, so why not make it martyrdom.” In a stark contrast to Al-Qaeda, which has never displayed such strategies, ISIS is continuing to succeed at bringing in young thrill seekers, and alarming governments, primarily in the west.
Other theories as to why ISIS is so successful at recruiting foreigners is that they do not discriminate against foreigners, and even have foreigners as high ranking officials and officers. “They show themselves as the sexiest jihadi group on the block,” said Matthew Levitt, the director of counterterrorism and intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an interview last year with Time Magazine.
Rasmussen’s report also noted that while there is no one path that foreign volunteers take to get to Syria and join ISIS, the majority of them travel through Turkey at some point due to the countries proximity to ISIS controlled areas. They are also taking advantage of the fact the Turkey has no visa requirements for 69 different countries, including many from the European Union, making it easier to gain entrance to Turkey.
Turkey, for its part, has attempted to stem the flow and ban potential jihadists from reaching ISIS. Over 10,000 people have been banned from travel once inside Turkey on suspicion of trying to join ISIS. Earlier this week on Tuesday, Turkey detained 14 people attempting to cross the border to join ISIS.
The current belief in the US is that the foreign volunteers will return with more skills and training and begin to launch domestic lone-wolf terror attacks. This concern is shared by other countries as well, and some have refused return entry to any citizen who has gone to fight or volunteer with ISIS.
The three suspects belonging to the ISIS terror cell in Hebron: Ahmmad Shehadah (L), Qusai Meswadeh (C) and Muhammad Zerrue (R). (Photo: Shin Bet)
The three suspects belonging to the ISIS terror cell in Hebron: Ahmmad Shehadah (L), Qusai Meswadeh (C) and Muhammad Zerrue (R). (Photo: Shin Bet)
In Israel, the government is facing a similar but yet more daunting problem. Within the country itself intelligence and counter-terrorism units have already busted several ISIS affiliated terror networks popping up across Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem.
Israel has already passed laws making it illegal for Israeli citizens to establish ISIS terror networks in Israel and to travel abroad to become an ISIS jihadist.
In January, a gag-order was lifted on information pertaining to an ISIS terror network operating out of Hebron. Three men were arrested and admitted under interrogation that they were in the midst of establishing an armed wing of ISIS in Palestinian territories.
Along the Israel-Syria border, a report from September confirmed that ISIS was secretly planting sleeper cells near the Israeli border as part of a larger plan to attack Israel in the future.
In Gaza, Hamas is fighting a losing battle against ISIS as the jihadist group is gaining in popularity and attracting a large following. While Hamas has denied that ISIS is operating in the Strip, Palestinian and Israeli security sources say otherwise.
Recently, ISIS networks operating in Israel called for a coup on Hamas and Palestinian Authority leaders in order to seize control of Palestinian territories and expand their reach.
In response to the growing domestic threat of ISIS in Israel’s border, the defense establishment has established a new intelligence unit within the IDF tasked with tracking ISIS’s attempts to recruit Palestinians to their cause.


Loretta lynch Is Great Follow Up For Holder. Two Birds Of A Feather!

Loretta Lynch testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 28.
Loretta Lynch testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 28.
WASHINGTON – A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has opened an investigation he believes could threaten the confirmation of Obama’s nominee to replace Eric Holder as attorney general, Loretta Lynch.
After his staff quizzed a whistleblower provided by WND, the office of Sen. David Vitter, R-La., announced it is investigating why Lynch, in her capacity as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, allowed banking giant HSBC to avoid criminal prosecution of bank officers and other employees. HSBC paid a hefty fine, instead, for laundering uncounted billions of dollars of illegal drug and terrorist money through its U.S. bank in the service of Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists.
Vitter’s staff examined allegations made since 2009 by John Cruz, a former HSBC manager armed with 1,000 pages of bank account records and recordings of employees and numerous state and federal law enforcement agents who labeled him as “crazy” rather than seriously look into his claims.
Vitter’s Washington staff spoke to Cruz in an hour-long teleconference that WND attended in the senator’s office.
The meeting left Vitter’s staff asking, “How can we allow Loretta Lynch to be the nation’s top federal law-enforcement officer when the HSBC money-laundering scandal raises questions about a cover-up that may be continuing even today?”
Read more WND coverage of the scandal: Senators ripped for bungling Obama’s AG pick
Cruz’s allegations were first reported in a series of WND stories that began with a February 2012 reportCruz called the $1.92 billion fine the U.S. government imposed on HSBC “a joke” and filed a $10 million lawsuit for “retaliation and wrongful termination.” Whistleblowers in India and London joined Cruz in charging the HSBC settlement amounted to a massive cover-up.
In response to WND’s reporting of Cruz’s evidence, HSBC lodged a complaint that blocked Internet access to one of the WND stories, and senior reporter Jerome Corsi was fired by the New York City investment firm he had worked with for two years as a senior managing director, Gilford Securities.
WND also reported evidence Holder’s Justice Department did not investigate money-laundering charges in deference to bank clients of his Washington-based law firm, where he was a partner prior to joining the Obama administration. In addition, WND reported HSBC was engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud citizens of India who live abroad out of billions of dollars in investment accounts.
Formal investigation
At the conclusion of the meeting Wednesday, Vitter’s staff authorized WND to announce the senator has decided to open a formal investigation into Cruz’s allegations against HSBC.
Vitter’s staff explained that at the center of the investigation will be the question of whether Lynch, acting in her capacity as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, had engineered or knowingly participated in a government settlement in 2012 that allowed HSBC senior management to avoid criminal prosecution.
HSBC was allowed to admit only deficiencies in administrating anti-terrorism, money laundering statutes while bank employees down to the branch level who laundered billions of dollars in Mexican drug cartel and Middle Eastern terrorist money were let off the hook, with many remaining as employees of the bank even today.
A Department of Justice press release Dec. 11, 2012, named Lynch, representing the Justice Department, in its civil settlement with HSBC.
The bank agreed to pay a fine of $1.256 billion and an additional $665 million in civil penalties in exchange for “deferred prosecution.” The DOJ agreed not to pursue any criminal prosecutions of HSBC officers or employees after a probe in which DOJ criminal investigators were joined by investigators from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, the New York County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Treasury.
The investigation found HSBC had violated numerous anti-money laundering statutes, processing billions of dollars of transactions for Mexican drug cartels and Middle East terrorist organizations.
“I was told in 2009 that HSBC had reserved $2 billion to pay government fines as a cost of doing business to avoid criminal prosecutions in the money-laundering case,” Cruz told WND.
“It’s a travesty of justice that no one at HSBC got prosecuted when HSBC laundered billions of dollars of drug for Mexican drug cartels and laundered billions more for Middle Eastern terrorists, in a massive bank fraud scheme I can prove HSBC bank officials knew was going on from the highest executives in the bank to branch managers and employees throughout the HSBC bank,” he said.
In 2012, Cruz turned over to WND some 1,000 pages of customer account records he pulled from the HSBC computer system before he was fired by HSBC senior management uninterested in investigating his claims. He also recorded hours of conversations with HSBC bank managers and compliance officers, and various law enforcement officers, none of whom took his allegations seriously.
“I tried for years, starting in 2009, to bring this to the attention of law enforcement agencies in New York State and the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS, that HSBC was engaged in a massive multi-billion dollar international scheme of laundering drug and terrorist money, and nobody was interested,” Cruz said.
“What I got for my efforts was bank officers, including bank compliance officers, told me to forget about it. And when I didn’t forget about it, HSBC fired me in February 2010, after give me a bad performance review,” he said.
Cruz began working at HSBC on Jan. 14, 2008, and was terminated for “poor job performance” on Feb. 17, 2010.
“When I heard about the DOJ settlement, I was shocked,” Cruz said. “I couldn’t believe the federal government settled with HSBC, with the federal government allowing all of the many HSBC employees I could prove were involved in perpetrating this massive illegal money-laundering to go free.
“I lost my job, and the criminals in HSBC laundering drug and terrorist money, while engaging in massive tax evasion defrauding the federal government out of billions in tax revenue, got to keep their jobs,” he said, and “many are still employed by the bank today.”
Bogus accounts
Cruz told WND that as a relationship manager for HSBC, it was his responsibility to look up various accounts in the computer system and go to visit the account holders in person and offer them additional products and services.
“I pulled these documents because I thought they were evidence of suspicious activity taking place,” Cruz affirmed when presented by WND with various HSBC computer ledgers of customer accounts. “These same documents I brought to bank security and my managers in the bank.”
To his surprise, HSBC management and bank security did not welcome his reports of suspicious activity.
“My managers told me I was crazy and I didn’t know what I was talking about,” he said. “They told me it was none of my business what goes on in transactions; but that’s my job.”
WND showed Cruz the HSBC account ledger for a business named “United Express.”
“It was supposed to be a shipping company that does over $2 million a year in transactions,” Cruz said, recognizing the HSBC computer-generated account ledger. “But the ledger shows millions and millions of dollars in transactions, but the transactions are all through PayPal and American Express.”
Cruz also described his visit to see the company in person.
“There were two employees on site that didn’t speak English,” he recalled. “The only evidence of any packaging being done was a couple of small boxes in the corner.”
Suspicious activity
Cruz showed WND a redacted HSBC account ledger for a company indicating more than $1.34 million in deposits and $1.23 million in withdrawals in a one-month period from July 21, 2009, to Aug. 20, 2009.
“The account does not say where the money comes from or where it is going to,” Cruz noted. “It’s just a transaction. But the money gets transferred out of the account. Where does it go? The bank won’t explain it, but they know exactly where it goes. If it goes from here down to Malaysia, Brazil, Columbia, Hong Kong – the bank knows exactly where it’s going, because the bank owns the branches in those countries.”
Money, he said, “comes in daily, thousands of dollars, always in even amounts.”
“You look at a statement and it says ‘transfer,’ but where did it go? There’s no account number or tracking number that documents where the transaction went,” he pointed out.
Cruz contends HSBC was running what amounted to a “shell game.”
“So many of these businesses are conducted out of a person’s home,” he said. “I would walk into these homes. There’s a couch, there’s a chair, a desk, but the house is empty – a couple of Mercedes sitting out front. But where is the business? It’s only online transactions of money in and money out.”
Identity theft
Cruz said his 1,000 pages of customer accounts show that to implement the money-laundering scheme, HSBC relied on identity theft. Social Security numbers were stolen to create the bogus retail and commercial bank accounts through which HSBC employees systematically deposited and withdrew hundreds of millions of dollars on a daily basis, apparently without the knowledge of the identity-theft victims.
“When an individual finds out they got a loan they never knew about, 5 percent of that loan went to the accounting firm that made up the phony tax returns and the other 95 percent of that loan went to the manager,” he charged.
“One manager was involved in the transaction, another manager was involved in notarizing the transaction, and senior management was involved where they signed off permission to give the loans even when the loans get rejected by underwriting.”
‘Criminal enterprise’
Cruz told WND he recorded hundreds of hours of meetings he conducted with HSBC management and bank security personnel, during which, he charged, various bank managers were engaging in criminal acts.
“I have hours of hours of recordings, ranging from bank tellers, to business representatives, to branch managers, to executives,” he said. “The whole system is designed to be a culture of fraud to make it look like it’s a legal system. But it’s not.”
Cruz explained that even when he let bank managers know he was taping the conversation, the managers were not interested in what he was saying.
“HSBC is a criminal organization,” he said. “It is a culture of crime.”