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Tags: Obama | Hides | Rush | Golfs | Times Square Bomber | Murtha | Drug-Related Kidnappings

Obama Hides; Rush Golfs; Bush to Go Public

By    |   Sunday, 16 May 2010 12:24 AM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Times Square Bomber Exploited ‘Openings’ in US Security
2. Obama Hides From Murtha Race
3. Justice Dept.: Drug-Related Kidnappings Rampant in Arizona
4. Kagan Got Drunk After Reagan’s 1980 Win
5. George W. Bush Will Tour to Promote His Book
6. Bush Kept His Entertaining Private
7. Obama Won’t Play Ball With Rush Limbaugh
8. We Heard: Kelsey Grammer, Newsweek

1. Times Square Bomber Exploited ‘Openings’ in US Security

The history of accused Times Square bomb plotter Faisal Shahzad “reveals a familiar pattern of a terrorist easily taking advantage of weak spots in America’s immigration system,” the Center for Immigration Studies asserts.

“Shahzad was admitted long before 9/11, but the openings he exploited are still in place today,” according to the CIS.

Born in Pakistan in 1979, Shahzad was issued a student visa in Islamabad in December 1998, CIS’s Jessica Vaughan reports using information provided by a New York Times chronology.

But Shahzad “certainly failed to demonstrate that he had ‘sufficient academic preparation to pursue the intended course of study,’ as the regulations require, or at least they did in the 1990s when I was issuing (and refusing) student visas,” Vaughan writes.

Shahzad was applying as a transfer student, and his transcript from his correspondence studies with Southeastern University, “a now defunct fourth-rate academic program,” showed several Ds and an F, Vaughan notes in the CIS article headlined “Faisal Shahzad: So Easy, Anyone Can Do It.”

Shahzad also did not disclose how he planned to pay for his education, which is required. Yet he received the visa.

“What on earth was this consular officer thinking?” Vaughan asks. “Probably about how annoyed the embassy senior staff might be if Shahzad’s father, supposedly a prominent military officer, complained about a visa refusal.”

In 2000, Shahzad graduated from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut with a degree in computer science and engineering. He reportedly had received a grant of $6,700 from the school to help cover his tuition.

In 2001, he began working for a temporary staffing agency, even though he had only a student visa, which does not include permission to work.

Shahzad was issued an H-1B visa for skilled workers in April 2002, and began working for the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics company in a low-level accounting job.

In 2004, he married Huma Anif Mian, a U.S. citizen. Her neighbors told reporters that Shahzad visited her in Colorado only once before she married him.

That same year, he came under scrutiny from the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which investigates cases related to national security. But no information has been released explaining why the agency was interested in Shahzad, according to Vaughan.

Shahzad received permanent resident status — a green card — in January 2006 because he had wed an American citizen.

“Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the easiest and most popular ways for illegal aliens (and terrorists) to obtain a green card,” Vaughan writes.

Shahzad applied for U.S. citizenship in October 2008, and despite the JTTF probe, he was sworn in on April 1, 2009 — although he did not give up his Pakistani passport.

He left for Pakistan in June 2009, and has said he visited the tribal regions of the country where he received training at a terrorist camp.

Shahzad returned to the U.S. in February of this year, and on May 1, attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square.

Vaughan concludes that unless policymakers move to close the openings that Shahzad exploited, “they offer a sobering guarantee of job security for counter-terrorism and security personnel for the foreseeable future.”

Editor's Note:

2. Obama Hides From Murtha Race

President Barack Obama has steered clear of the crucial race to fill John Murtha’s House seat in Pennsylvania — and Democratic candidate Mark Critz won’t say if he has even asked for Obama’s endorsement.

Critz, a former aide to Murtha — who died on Feb. 8 — is in a tight race with Republican businessman Tim Burns as the May 18 special election approaches.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen asserted that Obama has been “very supportive of Critz.”

But when asked if Critz wants Obama’s formal backing, campaign spokeswoman Holly Shulman said in an e-mail to The Hill newspaper only that “we’re proud of all the support we’ve received from Democrats and Republicans.”

That Obama is a no-show in the western Pennsylvania district is not surprising considering that the president’s approval rating there is just 38 percent, while his unfavorable rating stands at 55 percent, according to a recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll.

Also, Critz “has made his policy differences with the president clear, saying he opposes abortion rights, supports gun rights and would have voted against the healthcare reform bill Obama signed into law,” The Hill reports.

The results of the Critz-Burns battle could provide important signals about the outcome of the November elections.

"If a Republican takes Murtha's seat in a district with a 2-to-1 Democratic edge, I would say that is a serious message to Democrats in moderate to conservative districts," Joseph DiSarro, chairman of the political science department at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., told The Wall Street Journal.

But if Critz wins, the Democrats could claim they stopped the Republicans’ momentum, which has been building for months.

Editor's Note:

3. Justice Dept.: Drug-Related Kidnappings Rampant in Arizona

The violence associated with drug smuggling has spilled across the Mexican border to such an extent that last year there was a drug-related kidnapping every 33 hours in the city of Phoenix alone.

That’s one of the eye-opening disclosures from the National Drug Threat Assessment for 2010, published by the National Drug Intelligence Center, a division of the U.S. Justice Department.

“Although much of the violence attributed to conflict over control of smuggling routes has been confined to Mexico, some has occurred in the United States,” according to the Justice Department report, issued shortly before Arizona passed a tough new immigration law targeting illegal aliens in the state.

“Violence in the United States has been limited primarily to attacks against alien smuggling organization members and their families — some of whom have sought refuge from the violence in Mexico by moving to U.S. border communities such as Phoenix.

“For example, in recent years, kidnappings in Phoenix have numbered in the hundreds, with 260 in 2007, 299 in 2008, and 267 in 2009.”

The 267 kidnappings in Phoenix last year equal one kidnapping every 1.4 days, or every 33 hours.

The kidnapping victims often have a connection to drug trafficking activities or are innocent relatives of traffickers, the report states.

“An individual or individuals may be kidnapping because of a lost drug load or failure to pay a drug debt.

“The number of U.S kidnapping incidents is most likely underreported because many victims’ families are unwilling to report the crime for fear that the victim will be killed, the kidnappers will retaliate against the family, or law enforcement will discover the family’s drug trafficking activities or illegal alien status.”

Other disclosures of the threat assessment:

  • On average, three Border Patrol agents are assaulted each day at or near the Mexican border.
  • Last year, mid-level and retail drug distribution in the U.S. was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members, representing approximately 20,000 gangs in more than 2,500 cities.
  • In addition to vehicles, Mexico drug smugglers use “cross-border tunnels, subterranean passageways, and low-flying or ultralight aircraft to move drugs from Mexico into the United States.”
  • Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) smuggled tens of billions of dollars from the U.S. through the Southwest border into Mexico in 2009.
  • Mexican DTO members or associates acquire thousands of weapons each year in Arizona, California, and Texas and smuggle them into Mexico.

The outlook, according to the report: “Without a significant increase in drug interdictions, seizures, arrests, and investigations that apply sustained pressure on major DTOs, availability of most drugs will increase in 2010, primarily because drug production in Mexico is increasing.”

Editor's Note:

4. Kagan Got Drunk After Reagan’s 1980 Win

Elena Kagan, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, admitted that she got drunk after hearing the results of the 1980 elections that swept Ronald Reagan and conservative Republican legislators into office.

At the time, Kagan was a student at Princeton and editorial committee chairwoman for the Daily Princetonian student newspaper.

In a Nov. 10, 1980 editorial for the paper, Kagan wrote that “a lot of people” got “kind of drunk” after the election, and called “Moral Majority-backed” Republican winners “avengers of ‘innocent life’ and the B-1 Bomber, these beneficiaries of a general turn to the right and a profound disorganization on the left.”

She also disclosed that she “sat down and cried” over the election defeat of ultra-liberal New York Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who was seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.

And she expressed hope that “a new, revitalized, perhaps more leftist left will once again come to the fore.”

The Princetonian reprinted the editorial after Kagan was nominated for the Supreme Court.

Editor's Note:

5. George W. Bush Will Tour to Promote His Book

Former President George W. Bush will embark on a national book tour to promote his memoir, “Decision Points,” which is set to be published on Nov. 9.

The book will focus on the 14 most critical and historic decisions in Bush’s life and public service.

The cover features a photo of then-President Bush standing in the Rose Garden Colonnade, wearing a dark suit and holding a briefing book.

According to Crown Publishers, "Decision Points" will offer "gripping, never-before-heard detail" on such historic events as the 9/11 attacks, the 2000 presidential election, Hurricane Katrina, and the war in Iraq, along with Bush's relationship with his family and other personal details.

"Since leaving the Oval Office, President Bush has given virtually no interviews or public speeches about his presidency," Crown said in a statement. "Instead, he has spent almost every day writing 'Decision Points,' a strikingly personal and candid account revealing how and why he made the defining decisions in his consequential presidency and personal life."

Crown said that Bush "writes honestly and directly about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his historic achievements.”

“Decision Points” will carry a suggested retail price of $35. A cloth-bound, signed and numbered limited edition of 1,000 copies is also planned, priced at $350.

Details of the former president’s book tour have yet to be announced.

Editor's Note:

6. Bush Kept His Entertaining Private

What’s well known to Washington insiders is that President George W. Bush and his wife Laura hosted few state dinners at the White House — just eight, the fewest of any postwar president.

What’s not well known is that the Bushes in fact entertained frequently outside the White House — in part because their state dinner invitations were often declined.

“The Bushes did a great deal of entertaining, but they never publicized it,” Lea Berman, their second social secretary, told Vanity Fair writer Bob Colacello.

“In 2002 and 2003, they had over 100 private visits with heads of state. What was happening at that time, according to people at the National Security Council, was that foreign leaders were not asking for state visits.”

Instead, they were asking to go to Camp David, or to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, because it was considered “more of an intimate thing, and it was building more of a personal friendship,” according to Colacello.

“I’ve told many reporters this, and no one has ever reported it — it doesn’t fit the story of them not entertaining.”

Insiders told Colacello that as the Iraq war heated up, about 1 in 3 people asked to Bush state dinners declined the invitation.

The one gala that everyone did want to attend was the May 2007 dinner for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

But Colacello noted that old-line Washingtonians “poked fun at the guest list, for although it included such Republican stars as Nancy Reagan and Henry Kissinger, it was otherwise a predictable Bush group, light on culturati and heavy on rich Texans and sports figures” including Arnold Palmer and Peyton Manning.

Editor's Note:

7. Obama Won’t Play Ball With Rush Limbaugh

Don’t expect to see President Barack Obama and his talk-show nemesis Rush Limbaugh together on a golf course anytime soon.

When the White House was asked if Obama would play a round of golf with Limbaugh, the response was: “Limbaugh can play with himself.”

That’s one of the disclosures in the new book “Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One” by Zev Chafets, due out on May 25.

Chafets says he encouraged Limbaugh to reach out to the president — who recently called the views of Rush and Glenn Beck “troublesome” — and asked if he would play golf with the president “to show the country that there are no hard feelings,” the New York Post reports.

Limbaugh told Chafets: “If any president asked me to meet him, or play golf with him, I’d do it. But I promise you that will never happen” because his base on the left would be infuriated.

Chafets writes that he spoke with a “very senior Democratic activist” who promised to convey the message.

The activist responded a day or two later: “Limbaugh can play with himself.” But Chafets wouldn’t say whether the quote was directly from Obama.

Editor's Note:

8. We Heard . . .

THAT actor Kelsey Grammer has launched an effort to help develop combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan into political leaders at home.

In a letter to prospective contributors, the “Frasier” and “Cheers” star writes: “I believe there are no better people to serve in leadership roles than our combat veterans. This is about a dream I have. I believe in them and I’m asking for you to believe in them too.

“This is what I have done: I have organized a dynamic group, The Kelsey Grammer Leadership Fellows, that in conjunction with The Institute of World Politics in DC, will provide our country with new, high level, truly prepared leadership.

“I have started this program with The LOOC [Lives Out of Combat] Foundation, but I need your assistance.

“We truly suffer a leadership vacuum now. However, our bright, photogenic, selfless, and unapologetic warriors will advance from the battlefield of fire to the realm of politics as leaders here at home.”

Click here for Kelsey Grammer's site.

I am inviting you to help us develop tomorrow’s leaders today.

THAT several big media players are taking a look at Newsweek magazine less than two weeks after the it was put up for sale.

New York-based Thomson Reuters, which bought the Reuters news service in 2008, and Allbritton Communications, the Washington, D.C.-area media company that owns Politico, have both expressed interest, according to a report in the New York Observer.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has also taken a look, the Observer noted, although a spokesman said the company is not on the short list of potential buyers.

Allen & Co., an investment banking firm, has been hired to broker the sale.

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider Report Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Times Square Bomber Exploited Openings in US Security2. Obama Hides From Murtha Race3. Justice Dept.: Drug-Related Kidnappings Rampant in Arizona4. Kagan Got Drunk After Reagan s 1980 Win5. George W. Bush...
Obama,Hides,Rush,Golfs,Times Square Bomber,Murtha,Drug-Related Kidnappings,Arizona,Elena Kagan,George W. Bush,Rush Limbaugh,Kelsey Grammer
Sunday, 16 May 2010 12:24 AM
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