You don’t have to like Michael Moore to concede that there are problems in the government’s approach to homeland security. Rather than try to score political points, as Moore attempts to do, we need serious stories on a serious issue. A good example is the report by Salon’s Washington correspondent, Mary Jacoby, that one of the Homeland Security Department’s top intelligence officials was briefly removed from his job after a curious omission was discovered on his resum?. He neglected to note that he was associated with an American Muslim leader under indictment on terrorism-related charges.
The department official is Faisal Gill, and the alleged terrorist moneyman is Abdurahman Alamoudi, who has now confessed to being involved in a plot by Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Gill was a spokesman for the American Muslim Council when Alamoudi was its president. After being briefly removed, Gill was returned to his job after a series of interagency meetings on the matter. Salon has since reported that the inspector general of the department will launch an inquiry into how Gill received a security clearance despite failing to reveal his past association with Alamoudi.
In another scandal broken by Government Computer News, a high-ranking career official in the Homeland Security department, Laura Callahan, was placed on administrative leave and later resigned when she was accused of having bogus college degrees. Congressman Tom Davis says that the General Accounting Office found that it was easy for individuals to obtain fraudulent degrees and that counterfeit academic transcripts can even be produced.
ABC News reporters Brian Ross and Vic Walter have done a story about how the United States Navy awarded security contracts valued at $66 million to a man with fraudulent credentials. The money went to Surgical Shooting Inc., a company run by a former Marine, Sgt. Gary Lakis. He claimed extensive combat experience and a chest full of impressive medals. ABC News reported that, “He and his company were featured several times on San Diego’s local television news broadcasts in stories about special military operations.” But all of the military decorations were fake. Under investigation, he has now fled the United States and his contracts with the Navy have been cancelled.
Meantime, in another security matter with ominous implications, the FBI is still not any closer to solving the matter of the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. What’s more, the Bureau is trying to prevent a legitimate lawsuit in the case from being heard by a jury. The suit was filed against the FBI by former U.S. Government scientist Steven Hatfill.
Hatfill was labeled a “person of interest” in the case but never charged, and steadfastly maintains his innocence. No evidence has been produced against him. This is a security problem that the media have no interest in pursuing, probably because major news organizations such as the New York Times joined the smear campaign against Hatfill and could be next in line for a lawsuit after Hatfill is done with the FBI.