Friday, April 30, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, April 30, 2010

U.S. unlikely to respond to biological threat with nuclear strike, experts say
“The United States is not likely to use nuclear force to respond to a biological weapons threat, even though the Obama administration left open that option in its recent update to the nation’s nuclear weapons policy, experts say. ‘The notion that we are in imminent danger of confronting a scenario in which hundreds of thousands of people are dying in the streets of New York as a consequence of a biological weapons attack is fanciful,’ said Michael Moodie, a consultant who served as assistant director for multilateral affairs in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the George H.W. Bush administration. Scenarios in which the United States suffers mass casualties as a result of such an event seem ‘to be taking the discussion out of the realm of reality and into one that is hypothetical and that has no meaning in the real world where this kind of exchange is just not going to happen,’ Moodie said this week in a telephone interview. ‘There are a lot of threat mongers who talk about devastating biological attacks that could kill tens of thousands, if not millions of Americans,’ according to Jonathan Tucker, a senior fellow with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. ‘But in fact, no country out there today has anything close to what the Soviet Union had in terms of mass-casualty biological warfare capability. Advances in biotechnology are unlikely to change that situation, at least for the foreseeable future.’ No terrorist group would be capable of pulling off a massive biological attack, nor would it be deterred by the threat of nuclear retaliation, he added.” (Global Security Newswire; 29Apr10; Martin Matishak)

Foes question public stake in BU [Boston University] lab
“Opponents of the Boston University biolab project say the school should develop vaccines on the site for illnesses plaguing the community, such as cancer and AIDS, instead of agents for diseases that they say pose no public health threat to the area. Activists gathered before last night’s public meeting on the project, which was held at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, and spoke out against the facility, where scientists plan to hunt for vaccines for illnesses such as Ebola and to combat a plague. They said such research would put residents of the South End and Roxbury at risk without offering any benefits. ‘We don’t get anything out of it,’’ said Klare Allen of Roxbury Safety Net, a group opposing the lab. She added that federal officials have also not made residents aware of the risks surrounding the $192 million National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory, located on Albany Street. ‘They just aren’t doing their jobs,’’ she said. Representatives from the school and the National Institutes of Health, which is providing most of the funding for the lab, said they would have no immediate comment on the activists’ proposal to develop certain vaccines. Activist Lynn Klotz, a biotechnology consultant and former Harvard professor, said that lab workers are planning to pursue a ‘one bug, one vaccine strategy’’ that will have a limited scope. ‘For example, a drug designed to cure anthrax would only cure anthrax; a drug designed to cure plague would only cure plague,’’ he said, reading from a prepared statement. ‘None of the [targeted] agents [are] a public health threat, so in the US, whatever they develop will have almost no public health value,’’ he added.” (Boston Globe; 29Apr10; Travis Andersen)

Two arrests made in contaminated food case [FL]
“According to the allegations of the complaint, Francisca Josefina Lopez and Jorge Alexis Ochoa Lopez imported four shipments of cheese from Nicaragua between December 2009 and March 2010, with a declared value of more than $322,000. According to testing conducted by U.S. Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) district laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia, three of the four shipments were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus [...] All four shipments, totaling in excess of 170,000 pounds, were refused entry into the commerce of the United States, and were subsequently ordered destroyed or re-exported [...] a search warrant was executed at the Lacteos Factory, which revealed that the three other shipments of the cheese product had been sold to over thirty customers, despite still being on hold. It was also determined that one customer conducted independent testing of the cheese, found it to be contaminated with S. aureus and returned the product. Despite that, the cheese was repackaged and sold to other customers.” (Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; 23Apr10)

Las Vegas [NV] a natural fit for conducting epidemic study
“A multimillion-dollar research project involving UNLV [University of Nevada, Las Vegas] is aimed primarily at better protecting U.S. troops, but it is also expected to shore up the Las Vegas Valley’s defenses against epidemics and bioterrorism. UNLV Associate Professor Chris Cochran is helping lead the effort and hopes it will help hospitals and public health officials do a better job of quickly identifying the sources and pathways of influenza, E. coli and other contagious pathogens that can quickly spread through a population. Suppose Clark County health officials learned that a group of tourists who came down with the flu in Las Vegas arrived by plane the previous day from Anytown, USA. Because symptoms don’t usually appear until two or three days after infection, it’s likely the tourists contracted the virus back home. Health officials could then issue flu alerts to authorities in Anytown and to the airlines that brought the visitors to Las Vegas to help prevent a more widespread outbreak in Southern Nevada.” (Las Vegas Sun; 23Apr10; Steve Kanigher)

Illnesses at Afghan girls’ schools prompt poisoning fears
“Seventeen-year-old Nadia considers herself lucky. She bolted when she saw three classmates at her all-girls school pass out on the afternoon of April 24. Forty-seven schoolgirls either fell unconscious or complained of nausea and dizziness that day at Khadijatul Kubra High School in Konduz. The illnesses are the latest in a series of suspected poisoning incidents at girls’ schools in the northeastern Afghan city. On April 21, 23 girls at Fatimatul Zohra High School mysteriously fell ill. On April 25, another 13 at the Sahe Darra Middle School for Girls became sick. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the outbreaks, and local authorities are still investigating their exact cause. But the Taliban’s well-known opposition to girls’ education has prompted many to accuse the group of waging a poisoning campaign. [...] Konduz Province government spokesman Mohibullah Sayedi tells RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that local authorities are investigating the incidents, and have sent blood samples of the affected girls to Kabul to determine the cause of their sickness. He says that when the investigation was launched after girls first became sick on April 21 at Fatimatul Zohra school, pesticide poisoning was suspected.” (Radio Free Afghanistan; 26Apr10; Noor Mohammad Sahim)

Citizens group: new weapon plan ‘flawed’ [CO]
“The regular meeting of the panel monitoring weapons destruction here started out to be part two of the ongoing discussion started Tuesday night, questioning a new Pentagon plan to use explosive technologies to destroy some of the weapons. The Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program, the Defense Department agency assigned to destroy Pueblo’s mustard agent stockpile, has been asked to come up with a way to start destruction early by bringing in devices that will use explosive technology to destroy the weapons before and maybe while the $3.6 billion water neutralization plant is in operation. Currently, water neutralization may not start until 2015 but the explosive units could be in operation by 2012. Irene Kornelly, chairwoman of the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Committee delivered a letter to Kevin Flamm, the manager of the ACWA program, outlining the commission’s concerns and criticisms of an environmental assessment. The assessment found there would be no significant impact from the additional process. The commission’s questions center around cost, how much land will be needed and pollution concerns.” (Pueblo Chieftain ; 28Apr10; John Norton)

NY man splashed bleach at laundromat worker
“Police say a New York man was so enraged at a Laundromat employee who he believed had lost some of his clothes that he hit her in the face with an open bottle of bleach. Randy Stith of Hempstead was charged Wednesday with assault and possession of a dangerous weapon.” (Find Law; 29Apr10; Source: AP)

Local group preparing to take over 7,100 acres as Army shuts down W. Ind. chemical depot site [Newport, IN]
“A local group that hopes to attract businesses to the Army’s Newport Chemical Depot expects to take possession of the western Indiana site by the end of this year. The depot that for decades produced and stored the deadly VX nerve agent is scheduled to close this summer. Newport reuse authority president Jack Fenoglio says its first projects will be to update the 70-year-old water system and convert the electrical system for use by commercial and industrial companies. The group plans to open about half the depot’s 7,100 acres to potential business development. The rest will remain as open land or for agriculture use.” (Fox News WXIN; 29Apr10),0,6342336.story

Troops fine tune disaster skills at Rockingham Speedway [NC]
“North Carolina National Guard troops were tested Wednesday on how they would respond to the release of a chemical nerve agent during drill at Rockingham Speedway. ‘It’s like a novel that I hope never comes true,’ Track General Manager Robert Ingram said during a walk-through of the exercise. The scenario was a track employee was drawn to a generator outside a storage building on the backstretch, where recreational vehicles park to watch the race. During an investigation of the inside of the building, a rudimentary laboratory was found, and law enforcement was called, which in turn contacted the North Carolina National Guard for support. The 22-member Greenville-based 42nd Civil Support Team had no notice of the drill, and received a call at 4 a.m. to respond to The Rock. They brought millions of dollars worth of vehicles and equipment. The team specializes in mitigating chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats, and had been staged in Scotland County for the past several days. At the track, U.S. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Tim Murphy oversaw the exercise for the Guard, and explained the hypothetical situation: race day is tomorrow, the governor is attending functions in Southern Pines and evidence of a domestic terrorist group plot has been uncovered ‘They will be going into the suspect building to take samples and pictures - primarily to figure out what the components are, and then advise the local authorities on what steps to take,’ Murphy said. He explained there are other factors the team would consider, such as the direction and strength of the wind to determine when and where people should be evacuated.” (Richmond County Daily Journal; 29Apr10; Philip D. Brown)

Chem[ical] weapon monitoring suit settled [CO]
“State and Defense Department agencies reportedly have settled a lawsuit over how the Army monitors its stockpile of chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. Details were not available Monday because the Army had not sent back a copy of the settlement but a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that one provision calls for the Army to close the vents on the igloos where the weapons are stored to prevent uncontrolled chemical releases to the environment and to put charcoal filters on the igloos in the near future. Previously, the Army had checked igloos on a quarterly rotation but state officials said that was not often enough and sued to require tougher rules. As an example of the cooperation between the Army and Colorado officials, state health department representatives were on hand Monday for what was a major trash day at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.” (Pueblo Chieftain ; 27Apr10; John Norton)

FDNY, Marines train for chemical attack [NY]
“The New York City Fire Department and the Marines’ Chemical Biological Incident Response Force responded to a simulated exploded bus, a subway chemical attack, a building collapse and two IED attacks, April 22. The all-day exercise was the culmination of a weeklong training evolution at FDNY Fire Academy on Randall’s Island pairing Marines and firefighters. The Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), based in Indian Head, Md., has a history with the FDNY going back to the unit’s founding in 1996. Deputy Chief and Marine veteran Raymond Downey helped develop the original training for the unit. After he died in the World Trade Center rescue effort, their training facility was named after Downey. CBIRF is never in command of an incident, instead they respond and augment at the request of local, state or federal agencies, said Col. John Pollock, CBIRF commanding officer. The Marines go to large-scale events, such as presidential visits and sporting events, so they can respond quickly in case of emergency.” (U.S. Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs; 23Apr10; Sgt. Randall A. Clinton)

Govt to install radiation monitoring portals at ports
“The government has decided to install Radiation Monitor Portals (RMP) at all ports and entry points in the country amid reports that the recent radiation leak in West Delhi could have happened due to scrap brought in from outside. The decision to purchase the RMPs was taken at a high-level meeting held recently in Mumbai which was called to discuss Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for scanning and disposing of junk materials carrying radioactive waste, official sources said. The meeting was attended by officials of the department of atomic energy, prime minister’s office, home and health ministries besides representatives from various intelligence agencies and came close on the heels of radioactive leaks detected in Mayapuri industrial area of West Delhi earlier this month. In the meeting, the SOPs that were finalised on checking the junk, which is also imported at times from different countries before being sold off to scrap dealers, including installation of RMP which can monitor and detect if any radiation material is brought from outside. RMPs are designed to detect ionizing radiation penetrating out of a container. In most cases gamma radiation is detected, while in some cases neutron detection when sensitivity for nuclear material is desired.” (Daily News and Analysis; 25Apr10)

Raytheon awarded contract for integrated standoff inspection system
“The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has awarded Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) a $20.5 million contract to research and develop an automated system for the standoff detection and identification of shielded special nuclear material. The Integrated Standoff Inspection System, or ISIS, is an active interrogation nuclear radiation detection system that will provide the government with an accurate and reliable inspection system that is fully integrated and automated. ‘The need to effectively detect and track the movement of nuclear material increases every day,’ said Michael Del Checcolo, vice president of Engineering for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. ‘ISIS will enable our government to more effectively identify and classify nuclear materials to help prevent their unauthorized entry into this country.’“ (PR Newswire; 30Apr10)

MU reactor to ditch weapons grade uranium [MO]
“The MU Research Reactor Center is laying the groundwork to switch from using weapons-grade uranium to a safer fuel as part of a national push to minimize security threats. Civilian reactors such as the one at MU have become the focus of federal security strategists working to minimize the likelihood that terrorists could attack a reactor or steal highly enriched uranium that can be used to make atomic bombs. MU is anticipating the switch to low-enriched uranium, and officials are keen on preserving its efficiency as a scientific research and pharmacy drug production facility after the fuel change. In a three-step conversion process that is likely to be replicated in other civilian reactors in the U.S., the Idaho National Lab Advanced Test Reactor is leading federal efforts to test a lower grade fuel that can provide an alternative source of power for research reactors. If test results are positive, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will certify the fuel for use by the five research reactors in the U.S., including the one at MU, that still use enriched, weapons-grade uranium. The long-term goal is to convert all 130 civilian reactors around the globe to run on the safer fuel.” (Columbia Missourian; 29Apr10; Washington Gikunju)

Feds extend pact with Cleveland biolabs
“Cleveland BioLabs is continuing a project for the federal government that explores therapies for conditions resulting from acute radiation exposure. The company announced April 29 that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the Department of Health and Human Services has exercised the second and third milestone-based options on its $15.6 million, three-year contract with Cleveland BioLabs, awarded last fall. The project deals with select tasks in the advanced development of Protectan CBLB502. According to a prepared release, option two includes $1.47 million to support additional manufacturing and release of a new lot of CBLB502, as well as additional animal studies. Option three includes $460,000 to support additional good laboratory practice efficacy studies in non-human primates. All are activities necessary for completion of a biologic license application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” (Buffalo Business First; 29Apr10; Tracey Drury)

Dirty-bomb test for terror[ism] may aid cancer research
“With a few drops of blood, scientists are creating a way to tell who’s absorbed dangerous radiation levels, part of the government’s preparations against a terrorist attack -- and research that just might point toward new cancer care, too. Duke University’s work aims to allow rapid triage in wake of a dirty bomb explosion or other radiological emergency, to sort out who among potentially thousands of panicked people need treatment for radioactive fallout and who can go home. At the same time, it illustrates an evolving new approach to developing so-called ‘medical countermeasures’ for defense: They ought to have an everyday use, too. ‘There has to be a return on investment from this program in peacetime,’ Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness at the Health and Human Services Department, told the Associated Press. At issue: The nation’s stockpile of treatments, vaccines and tests against bioterrorism and chemical or radiological threats. Saying the arsenal isn’t growing fast enough, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ordered a major review of how to jumpstart the development of countermeasures. That process now is spurred by contracts from the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, that help fund research of promising products, often with guaranteed purchase of a certain amount if the work pans out.” (Associated Press; 26Apr10; Lauran Neergaard)

Antiterror[ism] security ring encircles New York
“New York City’s neighboring municipalities have received equipment intended to help safeguard the area against radiological ‘dirty bomb’ attacks, Newsday reported today. Since 2007, the federal Securing the Cities program has provided 5,000 radiation sensors and other gear to counties around New York City. Other protective measures in the area include Coast Guard countermeasures, port security equipment and monitoring of local transit routes. ‘We depend on partners,’ said New York City Police Department Capt. Michael Reggio, who heads the chemical, biological and nuclear services unit within the department’s counterterrorism division. A ‘dirty bomb’ attack would use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material over a wide area. ‘It can range from anywhere to a nuisance bomb spreading weakly radioactive stuff like uranium ... at the upper end you can imagine a scenario where you are dispersing things like cesium 137,’ said Federation of American Scientists expert Charles Ferguson. ‘If we didn’t have radiation detectors, you could drive a dirty bomb right into New York City and you wouldn’t even see it,’ said Inspector Stuart Cameron, who heads the office in charge of the Suffolk County Police Department’s radiation detection program. County officers are equipped with 400 sensor devices.” (Global Security Newswire; 26Apr10)

Liberty RadEx drill to test national clean-up and recovery efforts after mock ‘dirty bomb’ attack [Philadelphia, PA]
“More than 700 personnel from federal, state and local agencies and the private sector are participating in a 5-day homeland security exercise that began today in Philadelphia. The exercise, called Liberty RadEx, is the largest drill of its kind sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to test the country’s capability to clean up and help communities recover from a dirty bomb terrorist attack. [...] ‘The LibertyRAD exercise marks another milestone in Philadelphia’s preparedness efforts by evaluating how federal, state and local governments will work collaboratively following a disaster with the long-term devastating consequences a dirty-bomb attack causes,’ said MaryAnn E. Tierney, deputy managing director for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management. ‘Conducting the exercise in a densely populated urban area that is home to some of our nation’s most treasured historic sites and critical infrastructure will be a valuable learning experience for all involved.’“ (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 26Apr10)

Gimme shelter: the need for a contemporary civil defense program
“Of the 15 terrorism and natural disaster scenarios used by the Department of Homeland Security for planning purposes, the first scenario is the most feared: Terrorists detonate a 10-kiloton improvised nuclear device at ground level in the National Mall in Washington at 10 a.m. on a weekday morning. In an attempt to understand what can be done to mitigate the consequences of such an attack, I, along with Stanford graduate students Sylvie Denuit and Youngsoo Choi, constructed a detailed mathematical model of this scenario that includes the initial effects of the detonation, the radiation fallout in subsequent days, the traffic flow of vehicles exiting the city, and the behavioral responses with respect to shelter versus evacuation. (Our full study will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Risk Analysis.) [...] Our analysis suggests that there is only a tiny fraction of people who would be better off by evacuating. And we should note that these people won’t know who they are when the decision about evacuation needs to be made. Accurate plume information--the cloud can be irregularly shaped due to different wind directions at different altitudes--and travel-time estimates won’t be available, and the ability for the government to communicate to those impacted by the attack will be extremely limited, perhaps restricted to battery-powered radios. And even if the information and communication were perfect, historical data suggests that citizen compliance to a government-managed evacuation would be far from perfect. [...] Moreover, our traffic-flow calculations suggest that even if a small percentage of those who aren’t supposed to evacuate do so anyway, all of the evacuees will be stuck in traffic jams and therefore, exposed to much more radiation, especially because vehicles provide almost no protection from fallout. Thus, the only robust strategy is to advise everyone to shelter.” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 28Apr10; Lawrence M. Wein)

Ex-guard says Bin Laden wants to use nukes
“Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin laden has sought and wanted to use nuclear arms, former bodyguard Nasser al-Bahri said in an interview with an Arab newspaper published today. ‘Sheikh Osama used to dream of possessing nuclear weapons, and I am sure that if he were to get his hands on a nuclear weapon, he would not have hesitated to use it,’ the Yemeni guard told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The United States warned earlier this month that al-Qaeda’s interest in nuclear weapons was still strong and said the risk of nuclear terrorism was serious. ‘Al-Qaeda has been engaged in the effort to acquire a nuclear weapon for over 15 years, and its interest remains strong today,’ said John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top anti-terrorism and Homeland Security adviser. But Mr Brennan said he had ‘no indication that al-Qaeda has a nuclear weapons capability’. Bahri, who now lives in Yemen with two wives and five children, said he was ‘proud to have worked as a guard for a great personality’, saying he was instructed to kill Bin Laden if that was the only way to avoid his capture.” (News Limited; 29Apr10; Source: AFP)

U.S. military develops non-toxic cleaners for terrorist attacks
“The U.S. military has developed non-toxic, ultra-strength cleaners that could be used in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. The peroxide-based ‘green’ decontaminants are tough enough to get rid of nerve gas, mustard gas, radioactive isotopes and anthrax [spores], report U.S. military scientists in the American Chemistry Society’s Industrial Engineering and Chemistry Research, a bimonthly journal. The scientists say they developed ‘Decon Green’ cleaners because chlorine- and lye-based agents are potentially hazardous and can react with chemical weapons and other materials in the environment to form new toxic substances. The main ingredients in each formula are peroxides, used in household cleaners and whitening toothpaste. To bolster their efficacy, they’re mixed with bicarbonates and other non-toxic bases.” (USA Today; 29Apr10)

Phila. unveals new emergency operations center in a box [Philadelphia, PA]
“As the federal government conducts an emergency simulation in town this week, the city of Philadelphia is showcasing its new emergency operations center in a box. [...] Deputy managing director for Emergency Management MaryAnn Tierney says the EOC in a box has everything one would need: ‘Laptops, so people can work, an AV system, an audio system, so people will be able to hear discussions that occur, a projector and screen so that people will be able to display either maps or other information.’ The EOC in a box was funded by a $559,000 grant from [H]omeland [S]ecurity.” (KYW Newsradio 1060 Philadelphia; 28Apr10; Karin Phillips)

CBS always on’ digital newsstand network to conduct first street-level emergency alert test Wednesday, April 28th -- 10am - 2pm
“CBS Always On, Philadelphia’s Digital Newsstand Network, will conduct the City’s first street-level emergency alert test tomorrow, Wednesday, April 28th beginning at 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. in cooperation with Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management. An emergency test tone and message will appear on the newsstands’ news ticker and High Definition TV screens for 30 seconds at the top of each hour that day. The emergency test is being conducted in conjunction with a Homeland Security exercise called Liberty RadEx taking place in Philadelphia April 26th through 30th. In the event of a city-wide emergency, center city residents and the workforce would be able to get up-to-the-minute details and information through the CBS Always On network. The system has already been used since its installation -- to alert people to move their cars from snow emergency routes during this past winter’s record snow storm.” (Marketwire; 27Apr10)

CNS ChemBio-WMD Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

Anthrax-Hoax Letters Sent to White House and Social Security Administration Offices

April 30, 2010 - SACRAMENTO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that a federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment charging Timothy Cloud, 62, a transient generally from Roseville and San Francisco, with four counts of hoax mailings, four counts of mailing threatening communications, one count of threatening the President, and one count of crossing state lines after failing to register as a sex offender.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Stegman is prosecuting the case.

According to court documents, on January 30, 2010, Cloud sent envelopes addressed to Social Security Administration (SSA) offices in New York, Kansas City, Mo., and Baltimore. Each contained a white powdery substance and an index card with the words “you stole my money” and “die.” Police, fire, and hazardous material teams responded to emergency calls at each location, and employees had to be quarantined and affected areas decontaminated.

The indictment alleges that a similar envelope was mailed the same day to the White House with the words, “You are just another lying politision,” [sic] with cross hairs between “not this time” and “maybe next time,” and a newspaper photo of President Obama with cross hairs hand drawn over his face.

The indictment also alleges that Cloud failed to register in California as a sex offender by reason of a conviction in Texas.

Cloud was arrested in San Francisco on April 22, 2010. He is scheduled to appear for arraignment on May 7, 2010.

If convicted, Cloud faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of count of sending the hoax mailings and the threats to the President. He faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of sending threatening communications. He faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the count of crossing state lines after failing to register as a sex-offender. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables and any applicable statutory sentencing factors.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Brooklyn Men Conspiring to Provide Support to al Qaeda

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Two Brooklyn Men with Conspiring to Provide Material Support to al Qaeda

April 30, 2010 - PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, announced the indictment of U.S. citizens WESAM EL-HANAFI and SABIRHAN HASANOFF for allegedly conspiring to provide material support, including computer advice and assistance, to al Qaeda.

EL-HANAFI and HASANOFF are expected to be presented before United States Magistrate Judge T. RAWLES JONES, JR., of the Eastern District of Virginia at 3:00 p.m. today. The case is assigned to United States District Judge KIMBA M. WOOD of the Southern District of New York, and the defendants are expected to appear in Manhattan federal court at a later date.

According to the Indictment unsealed today:

In February 2008, EL-HANAFI traveled to Yemen, where he met with two members of al Qaeda. While in Yemen, EL-HANAFI swore an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda, received instructions from al Qaeda on operational security measures, and received assignments to perform for al Qaeda. Three months later, in May 2008, EL-HANAFI met with another individual ("CC-1") in Brooklyn to discuss CC-1 also joining al Qaeda. HASANOFF—who had previously received $50,000 from CC-1—and EL-HANAFI had additional discussions with CC-1 about joining al Qaeda, and EL-HANAFI later accepted an oath of allegiance on behalf of al Qaeda from CC-1. During about the same time period, EL-HANAFI purchased a subscription for a software program that enabled him to communicate securely with others over the internet.

In June 2008, EL-HANAFI directed CC-1 to perform various tasks for al Qaeda. And at that time, HASANOFF instructed CC-1 not to use his U.S. passport when traveling because a U.S. passport with fewer immigration stamps would be more valuable to al Qaeda.

Additionally, in August 2008, HASANOFF traveled to New York City where he performed assignments for al Qaeda. The following year, in April 2009, EL-HANAFI purchased seven Casio digital watches over the internet on behalf of al Qaeda and had them delivered to his residence in Brooklyn, New York.

EL-HANAFI, 33, is a U.S. citizen who was born and lived in Brooklyn, New York. HASANOFF, 34, is a dual citizen of the United States and Australia, who also resided in Brooklyn, New York.

The defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: "As alleged in the Indictment, Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff conspired to modernize al Qaeda by providing computer systems expertise and other goods and services. El-Hanafi is also alleged to have traveled to Yemen to meet with al Qaeda members face-to-face. These two New Yorkers, who allegedly pledged allegiance to al Qaeda, will now be held to account for their actions. This case confirms our commitment to work with the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force to protect our citizens against the clear and present danger posed by terrorists and those who provide them material support."

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge GEORGE VENIZELOS stated: "The safety and security of everyone depends on the commitment of law enforcement and intelligence agencies everywhere. Here, two U.S. citizens are charged with conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda, and with taking actions to that end. Given the global aims of this enemy of the rule of law, the work of the FBI and our partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force is essential not just to the safety of New York, but internationally."

New York City Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY stated: "The case's nexus to New York City serves as another reminder that we remain vigilant to the possibility of supporters of al Qaeda returning to New York. This important Indictment was the result of the hard work and professionalism of the Federal prosecutors, FBI agents, and the NYPD detectives involved."

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force—which principally consists of agents and detectives of the FBI and the New York Police Department. Mr. BHARARA thanked the Department of Justice's National Security Division and Office of International Affairs, and the Department of State for their assistance in this matter.

Mr. BHARARA added that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office's Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys BRENDAN R. McGUIRE, JOHN P. CRONAN, and AIMEE HECTOR are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Nathan P. Kennedy, 24, of Claysville, Pa., died April 27, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire near Quarando Village, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For more information media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at 719- 526-7525; after hours 719-526-5500.

Coalition Troops Respond to Afghan Market Bombing

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2010 - Afghan and coalition forces responded to a bombing attack at a bazaar in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province today, military officials reported.

Initial reports indicate eight Afghan civilians were wounded when a homemade bomb detonated as the bazaar was opening.

Afghan and International Security Assistance Force troops provided initial medical care to the injured and later evacuated them to a medical facility for additional treatment.

In other operations in Afghanistan:

-- A combined team of Afghan and international forces captured a Taliban bomb maker and two other militants last night in northwestern Kandahar City.

-- Also in Kandahar City yesterday, ISAF forces discovered a weapons cache containing six 102 mm artillery shells, six mortars and a rocket-propelled grenade.

-- While patrolling in Helmand's Nad-e Ali district yesterday, ISAF forces saw a yellow jug protruding from the ground, which turned out to be packed with 40 pounds of explosives. The bomb was destroyed.

-- An ISAF patrol met with Afghan police in the Kandahar province's Spin Boldak district yesterday to retrieve 42 mines, two receiver/transmitters and a bag full of miscellaneous bomb electronics police had secured at a checkpoint.

-- In Helmand's Now Zad district yesterday, an ISAF patrol found a rocket and some homemade explosives in an open field.

-- In the Bala Morghab area of Badghis province, an Afghan civilian turned in an anti-tank mine to an ISAF patrol.

No shots were fired, and no Afghan civilians were harmed during the operations, officials said.

In other news from Afghanistan, an Afghan-international security force recently captured a Taliban cell leader who had planted bombs in and around a school in Kandahar, officials reported yesterday.

The combined force had received intelligence that a Taliban bombing cell was operating around Kuhak in Kandahar province. During the subsequent operation, the security force captured the Taliban leader and several other cell members.

A search of the area uncovered command detonation wires in a field across the road from a Kuhak school. The combined patrol followed the command wires and discovered nine buried bombs. Four were buried on the side of the road running beside the school, two were buried outside the school's gate, and three were uncovered in the courtyard where the school's students congregate.

ISAF explosive experts said numerous casualties would likely have occurred if the bombs had been detonated while school was in session.

ISAF forces dug up and safely removed the bombs that were planted around the school and in the courtyard. The bombs that were planted along the roadside were determined to be too dangerous to move and were blown up in place.

U.N. reports have noted that the vast majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan are the result of insurgent bombs, ISAF officials said.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knowing what is at stake all the way to the strategic level

by Chief Master Sergeant Rob Brooks, USAF

“An Advisor’s success may involve knowing what is at stake all the way to the strategic level and being able to estimate how military force applied at specific times and places will effect, or interact with, host nation political, economic, and informational initiatives.”

-- Jerome Klingaman

When I arrived in Kabul 11 months ago, I had only a fleeting idea of what my responsibilities as an ‘air advisor’ might be. My title as Command Chief for the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing had implications I understood, as did my ‘second hat’ as Senior Enlisted Leader for the Combined Air Power Transition Force (CAPTF), which includes our joint and coalition partners. Furthermore, I had no doubt my pre-departure training was sufficient to prepare me for deployment. If I lacked anything in preparation, it was a simple understanding of the role and of the legacy of the air advisor.

When asked to describe the advisor wing to those unfamiliar with advisor duty, I simply say this: the USAF in consort with joint and coalition partners have set up a wing similar to any other wing in the Air Force…except our work centers are one-deep, though spanning virtually every AFSC and area of expertise. We then take each of those one-deep advisors and pair them with an Afghan charged with similar duty. The two work ‘shohna-ba-shohna’ (shoulder to shoulder) until the Afghan soldier becomes proficient and autonomous, at which point the advisor disappears. When all advisors have disappeared, what remains is a proficient and autonomous Afghan Air Wing…indeed a proficient and autonomous Afghan Air Force.

Although there are only two Air Force ‘Advisor Wings’, the 438 Air Expeditionary Wing (OEF) and the 321 AEW (OIF), we are hardly the founding fathers of this skill set. Air advisor lineage goes back to 1932 when the U.S. sent eight pilots to Hangchow, China to organize a flying school. This was the first known air advisor initiative and evolved exponentially through the 1990s on the coat-tails of Lt Col (Ret) Jerry Klingaman (AKA “Mr. K”) under whom a new genre of war fighting was born. A genre removed from force-on-force kinetic engagement, rather steeped in Foreign Internal Defense (FID), building partnership capacity and Counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy, perhaps before they became mainstream mindset. Notably, air advisors today owe much blood, sweat and tears (literally) to our brothers and sisters in the 6th Special Operations Squadron who have perfected the art of air combat aviation advising and who do it as a primary duty; our advisor wings are supported in Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP), and in physical presence by our special operations partners. However, CAPTF warriors are largely ‘general purpose’ warriors doing the job without the benefit of it being their primary duty. A testament to the quality of our force, but perhaps a skill that could, indeed should, be included formally in the professional development of all Airmen?

My prior post as Command Chief for the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis AFB left me only peripherally aware of the air advisor role. Fortunately, air advisors must attend a 23-day course at Fort Dix devoted to language and cultural training specific to their country of assignment as well as advanced weapons tactics, defensive driving and combat lifesaver. Additionally, advisors attend survival/evasion training at Fairchild AFB prior to deployment. While in Pre-D preparation I had a lot of fun, but frankly, the training seemed over-the-top for what I expected to be doing in Afghanistan. Then came June 2009 and my arrival in country…

Upon arrival in Kabul I discovered that USAF advisors truly are paired with their Afghan counterparts; we go where they go, to the extent of being imbedded with them, outside the wire. In a country at war, our mission is two-fold: to enable their success in winning their current war and to enable their success in future wars. Relative to the former, advisors must become proficient on current Afghan weapon systems. To that end, many operators and maintainers receive additional pre-deployment training devoted to former Soviet Union platforms; primarily Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters as well as An-32 fixed-wing transport airplanes.

My counterpart is the Afghan National Army Air Corps Command Sergeant Major. In short, my task as a wing level Command Chief is to turn my counterpart into their Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force! That’s not overstated in the least and is indicative of the level of responsibility for all air advisors. We have E-6 and O-3 advisors, mentoring 0-5 (and above) Afghans as well as dictating advice at the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior. Our ‘junior Airmen’ have responsibilities we might associate with MAJCOM and HAF level positions in the states and it is positively remarkable how adept they have become at it. Our wings are largely comprised of more experienced/mature joint Airmen, of whom the bulk, are on 365-day tours. This is almost exclusively for the purpose of cross-cultural relationship building.

I mentioned our mission is two-fold. In preparing our friends for future wars, we must assist them in equipping and training with more advanced weapon systems. In Afghanistan, we are on the leading edge of this initiative with the on-set of the C-27 program. The C-27 marks the arrival of the first ‘Western’ style aircraft in Afghanistan and enables organic, theater, troop movement as well as casualty/medical evacuation. Very soon on the horizon, our ANA counterparts will transition to a more advanced Close Air Support (CAS) platform and will grow in size and equipment dramatically. We like to use the metaphor; we are building an airplane while we are flying it!

My year is nearly complete and in that time, I have seen amazing advancement on the part of the Afghan ‘Air Force’ at the hand of US and Coalition advisors. Last summer brought the first live-fire from an Mi-35 attack helicopter in nearly 9 years. This validated organic offensive and defensive capability from the air. Our flight medic track has developed formal training for flight medics and a process by which casualties can be moved from point of injury to the medical treatment facility. Ultimately returning to their home forward operating base where they are received by their family. This process reactively addresses battlefield injuries, arguably more importantly, it proactively puts soldiers on the battle field; those who once feared being left in battle now know they will not be left behind. CAPTF advisors enabled Afghan air support for drug interdiction, Presidential elections and humanitarian operations; ultimately saving hundreds of lives during a recent flood and avalanche thus furthering the COIN cause exponentially. The Air Corps doubled their number of wings and perhaps the crowning glory has been the birth of an Afghan “Air University.” This campus is devoted to providing technical, upgrade and developmental training to Afghan ‘Airmen’ including Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership training. This is compelling in my view, because a professional Enlisted Corps is the silver-bullet in a successful Afghan Air Force. T.E. Lawrence, in his “Twenty-Seven Articles” emphasized, “Success (of the advisor) will be proportioned to the amount of mental effort devoted to it”. USAF Air Advisors have planted that seed and are seeing the proverbial fruits of their labor.

As I reflect on the last 11 months, I take pride in what this wing has accomplished relative to standing up an Afghan ‘Air Force.’ We know that the Afghan Army must be successful before U.S. and Coalition forces withdrawal. We also know that for the Afghan Army to be successful they must have viable air capability. Viable ‘air’ lends itself to viable ‘ground’ and consequently an organic security capability for a nation. U.S. advisors, in one-deep roles, are having an impact on combat and U.S. strategy in Afghanistan perhaps more than others, on an individual basis. It is a tremendous opportunity and daunting responsibility and I for one, am incredibly proud to have contributed to a legacy and to have worn the title of Air Advisor.

CMSgt Rob Brooks is the 438 AEW (CAPTF) Command Chief Master Sergeant. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and may not reflect the policies of the US Air Force or Department of Defense.

U.S. Must Help Pakistan Beat Insurgency, Officials Say

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2010 - Calling relations with Pakistan vital to U.S. national security, senior Defense Department officials testified on Capitol Hill today in support of long-term funding for Pakistan's counterinsurgency operations.

Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., director of operations for the Joint Staff, said continued funding of both military and civilian operations in Pakistan is critical to sustain the coalition's counterinsurgency gains in Afghanistan.

"This is a partnership that is absolutely vital to U.S. interests, but it's also complex," Flournoy told the House Armed Services Committee.

The Obama administration has been consistent in its goal of dismantling al-Qaida and other violent extremists in the region, Flournoy said, and Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in ways that extend beyond terrorism.

U.S. operations in Afghanistan "are bearing fruit" in reducing violent extremism, and Pakistan is increasingly helpful in the effort, Flournoy said. Pakistani security forces have made significant gains since fighting terrorists in the Swat Valley in March 2009, persevering in the face of more than 4,000 casualties, she said.

Since then, terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities have caused more Pakistani citizens to support counterinsurgency efforts, Flournoy said. "It galvanized the population to see this as more than just a U.S. fight," she told the committee, "but one in which they have a vital interest."

U.S. support for Pakistan extends beyond security to matters such as energy and water, Flournoy said.

"Their assessment of our staying power is changing," she added. "We've been extremely responsive to their needs in funding and other support. I think they are starting to believe that we are committed to the greater security of the region and that extends their willingness to work with us."

Despite the gains, Pakistani officials recently noted a "trickling in" of Taliban to previously cleared areas, Paxton said. The only way to prevent insurgents from regaining strength in such areas is to support the Pakistani government with military support and civilian projects, he said, adding that the Pakistani people must see government control as enduring.

Funding for Pakistan's counterinsurgency campaign has allowed the U.S. military to supply helicopters and other equipment to the Pakistanis, train their security forces and enhance coordination and intelligence sharing between Pakistan and coalition forces, Flournoy said.

However, Pakistan remains "fraught with challenges," Flournoy said. Three of Pakistan's current challenges, she said, include:

-- Its ability to hold and build areas that have been cleared of insurgents.

-- Its longstanding perception that India, rather than terrorists, is its biggest threat.

-- Its legacy of mistrust toward the United States.

"It is imperative that we support Pakistan," Paxton said. "Their fight is directly aligned with our goals in the region. We must remain steadfast in developing their abilities."

Violent extremist networks in the region threaten not only Pakistan, but "the entire globe, including the U.S. homeland," he said.

The Defense Department shifted control of funding for Pakistan's counterinsurgency effort to the State Department, beginning with a $1.2 billion request in the fiscal 2011 budget, State and Defense officials said. State will transfer $10 million of the fund for the U.S. military to hold cleared areas and respond to acute humanitarian needs in those areas, they said.

As part of U.S.-Pakistan military relations, Flournoy said, it is "absolutely critical" for the U.S. military to resume its training-assistance program for Pakistani military officers. A congressionally imposed stoppage of that program in the 1990s resulted in Pakistan's current mid-level officers having little understanding of the U.S. military.

"We did lose a generation, and we now are scrambling to find other ways to engage them and build that trust," she said. "We will spend a long time recovering from that."

Also, Flournoy said, U.S. military officials are working hard to provide the Pakistani military with helicopters and related maintenance and training programs. To expedite their capabilities, the United States refurbished the Pakistani military's Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters and also has provided some U.S.-made Bell 412s.

Flournoy explained why the United States would refurbish Pakistan's older, Russian-made helicopters. "They have them today, and they know how to fly them," she said. "In matter of weeks, we can have them in the air and return them to flight." Officials are discussing a long-term plan for new Pakistani helicopters, she said.

As the United States continues its involvement in the region, Paxton said, a "whole of government" approach is important.

"Don't lose sight of other side of the border," he said. "Just as we have built an enduring relationship with Pakistan, we need to do that with Afghanistan and make sure they build relations with each other."

Flournoy said there is a clear understanding within the administration "of where we need to go" with Pakistan, and it includes about a 50-50 match of military and civilian support.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Keith A. Coe, 30, of Auburndale, Fla., died April 27 in Khalis, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an explosive device. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

For more information media may contact the Joint Base Lewis-McChord public affairs office at 253-967-0147 or 253-967-0152

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Grant A. Wichmann, 27, of Golden, Colo., died April 24 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., of wounds sustained March 12 when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire at Out Post Bari Alai, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For more information media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at 719- 526-7525; after hours 719-526-5500.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Thomas E. Rivers Jr., 22, of Birmingham, Ala., died April 28 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the II Marine Division public affairs office at 910-450-6575.

Forces in Afghanistan Kill, Capture Enemy Fighters

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

April 29, 2010 - Afghan and international forces killed or captured numerous enemy fighters and seized stockpiles of drugs and illegal weapons in recent Afghanistan operations, military officials reported.

-- Two Haqqani terrorist network facilitators and two other militants were captured by an Afghan-international security force in the Terayzai district of Khost province this morning. The detained suspects are believed to be responsible for the movement of weapons and for planting roadside bombs. The Afghan-international security force found shotguns, an automatic rifle and a grenade at the scene.

-- In the Khash Rod district of Nimroz province this morning, a combined force detained a few suspected insurgents for questioning.

-- In Kunduz province's Ghor Tepa district last night, a combined force saw an insurgent leave a compound and try to maneuver around the security team. After being ordered to surrender, the insurgent pulled out a concealed pistol and was shot and killed. The security force detained several suspected insurgents for questioning.

-- Yesterday in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province, a combined force captured a Taliban subcommander who is known to direct the production, strategy, tactical coordination and emplacement of roadside bombs and ambushes against coalition forces. Several other suspected insurgents also were detained for questioning.

-- In the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province yesterday, a combined patrol received a tip about a weapons cache in a mosque. International Security Assistance Force patrols cordoned off the area while Afghan forces searched the mosque, where they found 32 82 mm mortar rounds, six grenades, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a machine gun, an assault rifle, 50 blasting caps, hundreds of rounds of small-arms ammunition, 20 feet of detonation cord and 11 mine fuses. The cache was moved to a safe location and destroyed.

-- Also in Helmand's Nad-e Ali district yesterday, a combined patrol found and confiscated a grenade, a rifle, four magazines, 80 rounds of ammunition and bomb-making materials buried along a compound wall.

-- While patrolling in Helmand's Musa Qalah district yesterday, ISAF forces received a tip from an Afghan civilian about a cache in a local compound. They found and confiscated three 155 mm artillery shells, a large number of small-arms shell casings, syringes and medical supplies buried with empty bags of a fertilizer banned by the Afghan government because it can be used to make explosives.

-- An Afghan-international security force killed an armed man while pursuing a Taliban facilitator in Nangarhar province the night of April 28. During an operation in response to intelligence reports of militant activity, members of the combined force observed a man with a weapon near one of the buildings. The security force repeatedly attempted to persuade the man to lower his weapon by using hand signals and verbal commands through their Afghan interpreter. The man ignored the repeated commands, and was shot and killed when he aimed his weapon at the combined force. ISAF and Afghan forces officials will conduct a joint assessment to review this operation, officials said.

-- An Afghan-international patrol confiscated a large drug cache in Helmand's Reg-e Khan Heshin district April 28. As the patrol approached several moving vehicles, the drivers attempted to flee. One of the vehicles became stuck in the sand and was secured by Afghan border police who were part of the patrol. The patrol then discovered the vehicle contained 4,600 pounds of raw opium and about 24 pounds of a substance believed to be heroin. A satellite phone and a two-way radio also were recovered. Two men were detained for possessing the drugs. The narcotics trade directly funds insurgents, officials said.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

DOD Releases Manual for Military Commissions

The 2010 edition of the Manual for Military Commissions (M.M.C.) has been published. It is available at

Report Notes Afghanistan Developments, Challenges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2010 - Stability in Afghanistan is no longer on the decline, and most Afghans believe that despite increased violence, security actually has improved since this time last year, according to a new report Pentagon officials sent to Congress today.

The congressionally mandated Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan attributes the 87 percent increase in violence from February 2009 to March 2010 largely to increased U.S., coalition and Afghan national security force activity, particularly into areas where they previously had not operated.

The report, which covers the situation on the ground from Oct. 1 to March 31, cites progress in President Barack Obama's strategy aimed at disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it offers what a senior defense official speaking on b ackground called a sobering assessment of the conditions on the ground, and a recognition of the importance of what happens within the next six months in determining the direction the operation ultimately will take.

Despite increased violence, the report notes that the downward trend in stability appears to have stemmed, along with Taliban momentum. But it's far too soon to say the corner has been turned, the official told reporters.

"We are on the cusp," he said. "We are no longer moving in the wrong direction." He cited signs that he said indicate "we are moving in the right direction."

U.S., coalition and Afghan forces activity has played a major role in changing that dynamic as they extend their reach into more Afghanistan districts, the official said. He expressed hope that their population-centric tactics will help to sway more Afghans toward supporting the democratically elected Afghan government. That, in turn, could serve as a fulcrum that could "change the dynamic of the whole country," he added.

As of March 31, about 87,000 U.S. forces were on the ground in Afghanistan, with additional forces to bring that number to 98,000 by August. In addition, 46,500 international forces are serving in Afghanistan, with 38 countries pledging about 9,000 more troops to support operations, tactics and training. As of March 31, 40 percent of those additional troops had arrived in the country.

The report cites requirements that international partners have not filled – primarily for trainers and mentors to support development of Afghan security forces, particularly the police force, which lags behind the Afghan army.

The defense official cited additional international troop commitments since the report closed March 31, including 20 to 30 percent more institutional trainers.

But while NATO allies and partners are "cautiously optimistic" about success of the International Security Assistance Force mission, many national leaders express concerns about dwindling popular support for the mission within their countries, the report noted.

As of March 31, the Afghans had fielded about 113,000 army troops and 102,000 national police officers. They are broadly on track to meet targeted growth figures of 134,000 for the army and 109,000 for the police by October, the report said, and 171,600 soldiers and 134,000 police officers by October 2011.

Another report the Defense Department sent Congress today -- the U.S. Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces -- cites continued improvements in building capacity as well as end strength in these forces. It notes new initiatives during the past year designed to speed up this process, including organizational changes to the NATO command structure to improve unity of command and embedding international forces with Afghan security forces at all levels to promote mentorship and leadership development.

The report recognizes that for Afghan forces to be prepared to take the security lead, other elements also must be in place -- governance, courts, judges, prosecutors and correctional capacity, among them.

The Afghanistan security and stability report also acknowledges that Obama's Afghanistan strategy requires increased civilian as well as military capacity. The State Department has tripled its civilians on the ground since January 2009, to 339, to support the governance and development goals in Afghanistan that are critical to sustaining improvements in the security situation, the report said.

"It's not all about security," the defense official told reporters. "It's about what security enables."

Air Force officials activate rescue squadron at Camp Bastion

by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2010 - Camp Bastion, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- The 79th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron was officially activated during a ceremony April 22 at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Mike Hinsch assumed command of the unit from Col. John Cherrey, 451st Expeditionary Operations Group commander, who officiated the ceremony. The search and rescue mission unit is assigned to the 451st EOG, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Colonel Hinsch is deployed to the unit from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz..

"We are here to show Afghanistan America's genuine attempt to try to help them as a nation," said Colonel Hinsch.

The unit arrived March 29 and began operations April 8.

The mission of the 79th ERQS is to save lives by moving patients to a high level of care the fastest way possible, said Colonel Hinsch. "Helmand Province is the busiest spot right now in Afghanistan. Being here puts us right where they need us," he said.

The 79th ERQS is home of the HC-130P King aircraft. More than 80 aircrew members, maintainers and pararescuemen are assigned to the unit along with two aircraft as a fixed wing platform, the aircraft is used for personnel recovery, medical evacuation, casualty evacuation and aero-medical evacuation when rotary wing assets are unable to respond.

Since March 29, the unit has garnered five saves and 11 more assists.

Delta Flight 273 Passenger Charged with Interfering with Flight Crew and Making False Bomb Threats on Aircraft

April 28, 2010 - BANGOR, ME—Derek Michael Stansberry, a U.S. citizen and resident of Riverview, Fla., was charged today in a criminal complaint in the District of Maine with interfering with flight crew members and willfully making false threats about an explosive device on an aircraft, U.S. Attorney Paula D. Silsby announced.

Stansberry, 27, a passenger on Delta flight 273 from Paris to Atlanta on April 27, 2010, was arrested yesterday after the flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine, in connection with his alleged illegal activities. Stansberry is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Bangor, but a time for the hearing has not yet been set. He faces a potential sentence of 20 years in prison for interfering with flight crew members and five years in prison for making false threats about an explosive device on an aircraft.

“Making false bomb threats on an aircraft and interfering with the flight crew are serious crimes that have serious consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Silsby. “Today’s charges should serve as a reminder that the federal government will not tolerate this activity. This case also highlights the extensive resources required to address threats that prove to be false -- resources that could be better utilized addressing real threats.”

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, during the course of the flight, Stansberry passed a note to the flight attendant stating, among other things, that he was not an American citizen, that his passports and identity were fake, that he would leave his wallet and passport on the aircraft and “Please let my family know the truth…”

The flight attendant provided the note to a Federal Air Marshal on the plane. Stansberry was then moved to the back of the plane and taken into custody by the air marshals without incident. According to the affidavit, Stansberry told the air marshals that he had dynamite in his boots, which were located in his backpack, and that a pressure plate switch would detonate the dynamite. Stansberry also allegedly stated that there were explosives in his laptop.

According to the affidavit, the air marshals took custody of the laptop and the boots, placed them at the rear of the plane and built a bunker around these items to dampen the effects of any potential explosion. Stansberry remained in custody as the flight was diverted to Bangor.

Upon arrival in Bangor at approximately 3:30 p.m., Stansberry was removed from the aircraft and taken into FBI custody. Passenger and crew were also removed from the aircraft. The Bangor Police Department bomb squad searched the entire plane and all carry-on and checked luggage. Preliminary field tests indicated traces of explosives on Stansberry’s boots and checked luggage. No explosive devices were located on the plane or in the luggage.

The affidavit alleges that, after being searched and brought to the holding area at the airport, Stansberry stated that he held high-level government clearances and was in possession of classified documents. He also allegedly stated that he believed people on the plane were following him, ridiculing him and using interrogation techniques on him, although these people never spoke directly to him or asked him any questions.

According to the affidavit, Stansberry said he decided to claim he had a bomb in order to divert attention from himself and the fact that he had classified information. He said he did not actually possess any explosive device and that he did not have the ability to make one. During the interview, Stansberry indicated that he had taken one Ambien earlier in the day. A report by the Federal Air Marshals indicated that Stansberry had stated to an air marshal that he had taken eight Ambien and had previously used Valium but not on this flight.

This investigation is being conducted by the FBI, Federal Air Marshals, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Transportation and Security Administration and the Bangor Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint contains mere allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Airman Advances Afghan Women's Cause

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Personnel Center

April 28, 2010 - Recent efforts by airmen and their coalition partners have led to opportunities for women in Afghanistan to serve as commissioned officers in the Afghan army. Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Pike, assigned to the Air Force's manpower, services and personnel directorate, contributed to standing up the first course for female Afghan officer candidates during her recent deployment to Afghanistan.

Pike served as the chief of staff for the Combined Training Advisory Group Army, a subordinate command of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and the U.S. military's Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Her mission focused on helping to train, advise, coach and monitor the Afghanistan National Army Training Center in establishing a doctrine and education and training system capable of supporting the Afghan army's development.

Creating the first women's officer candidate course included working with potential students to discuss the course and outline the commitments they'd have to make to participate.

"I counseled our Afghan counterparts on the program and met with women currently in the [Afghan army]," Pike said. "I discussed with them the fact that they are the first for all of these initiatives, and their success is very important not only to women in Afghanistan, but to the future of their country and its army."

In addition to opportunities available through the officer candidate course, National Military Academy of Afghanistan officials noted that the academy admits 10 women per year. Women attending the academy make long-term commitments that involve studying at the academy for one year, attending medical school for six years and committing to the army for 20 years.

"I am very proud of all these women for stepping forward and taking a chance on making a difference," Pike said. "I think it is important to have representation of an entire nation when building for the future, and it is essential for all people of a nation to be educated. Education is the key to success."

Pike said she used these opportunities not only to tell Afghan women about the education and training programs available to them, but also to serve as a role model and to provide mentorship.

"I, along with other coalition women, have provided a positive example of what women can contribute, when given the chance, to the leaders of the training center and army," she said.

Pike's dedication and professionalism played a critical role in the Afghan army's development, said British Brig. Gen. Simon Levey, Combined Training Advisory Group Army's commanding general.

"I have no doubt that it was due to her endeavors as a female role model that the commander of [the training center] decided to run the first female officer candidate course," Levey said. "She was his inspiration, as she was for the coalition staff."

The creation of regional military training centers has doubled the training center's capacity, Pike said. During the majority of her tour, she added, the focus was on growing the army. That focus recently changed to developing the army.

"With that comes the creation and implementation of branch-specific schools in order to train and educate a more balanced force for the future," she said.

Pike said she learned a lot during her deployment and developed many relationships with her coalition co-workers and Afghan counterparts that were mutually beneficial to the success of their training mission and to the future of the Afghan people.

"The relationships we have built with our Afghan counterparts and the work they and our team have done to increase both the quantity and quality of training for the Afghan National Army has been exceptional," she said. "I think I contributed to the senior [training center] leadership's ability to see that women can be professional and competent officers, and that women can participate in their army and in the development of their country."

Forces Detain Suspects, Seize Drugs, Weapons

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

April 28, 2010 - Afghan and international forces detained numerous suspected insurgents and seized illegal drugs and weapons in recent operations in Afghanistan, military officials reported.

A combined Afghan-international security force pursuing a Taliban commander in Helmand province last night detained several suspects west of Marja after intelligence information indicated militant activity in a rural area. During a search of two compounds, the security force uncovered multiple rifles, a shotgun and about 200 pounds of heroin.

Also in Helmand last night, a combined force searching a compound in a rural area north of Marja captured a Taliban leader believed to be responsible for a local intimidation campaign and ordering attacks on coalition forces. Several other suspected insurgents also were detained, and the security force also found more than 200 pounds of heroin.

The narcotics trade funds and supports the insurgency and constitutes a direct threat to Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force officials said.

In Ghazni province last night, an Afghan-international force detained two suspected insurgents for further questioning after investigating intelligence reports of militant activity.

A combined patrol in Helmand's Now Zad district searched a compound after being fired upon and found 300 to 400 spent small-arms casings and four bags of opium weighing 15 to 20 pounds each. A few suspected insurgents were detained for questioning.

In Helmand's Garm Ser district yesterday, an Afghan-international patrol found 80 pounds of ammonium nitrate in an abandoned building. The Afghan government has banned use of the fertilizer because it can be used to make explosives.

In Badghis province's Murgab district yesterday, an ISAF patrol found a homemade bomb consisting of 30 40 mm grenades.

Afghan forces in Kabul yesterday found four 107 mm rockets. Also in Kabul, workers digging the foundation for a new mosque found two rockets and air defense ammunition.

Kabul police found a cache containing 61 rocket-propelled grenades April 26.

No shots were fired and no Afghan civilians were harmed during these operations, officials said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

EODMU-12 Sailors receive Bronze Stars

By Mass Communication Specialist (SCW) Paul D. Williams, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

April 27, 2010 - VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Two Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12 received Bronze Stars during a ceremony held April 23, for their performance during combat operations while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lt. j.g Michael Haytasingh and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class (EWS/PJ) Dewayne Cheatham were both awarded the Bronze Star Medal by Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

"It's not an award that I take lightly," Cheatham said. "A lot of people who work real hard don't have a chance to get it."

While Cheatham served as the team leader for EODMU-12 Platoon Two in Iraq, the team conducted 12 post-blast analyses, where the technicians gathered forensic and biometric intelligence needed to prosecute suspected bombers as well as develop intelligence against enemy tactics. Cheatham personally responded to 72 emergency EOD response missions, resulting in the safe disposal of 2,550 hazardous ordnance items and depriving the enemy of 9,954 pounds of explosive material.

"I had a really good time working with my team members," said Cheatham. "Being a team member is a real hard position, you have to be very knowledgeable."

EODMU-12 will present a total of 32 Bronze Stars, six Meritorious Service Medals and 46 Army Commendation Medals for its Sailors' actions while deployed to Iraq. Cmdr. Christopher Merwin, commanding officer of EODMU-12, attributes his command's success to the high level of professionalism displayed by each Sailor in the unit.

"It's incredibly humbling and incredibly rewarding," said Merwin. "I am immensely proud to be a part of, and in command of, a unit that is having such a strategic effect with these highly trained technicians."

Sacramento Man Sentenced to 51 Months in Prison for Sending Anthrax Hoax Letters

April 27, 2010 - SACRAMENTO—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Marc M. Keyser, 66, of Sacramento, was sentenced today to 51 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, by U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. in Sacramento. Calling him a danger to the community, Judge Damrell ordered Keyser remanded into custody to commence serving his prison sentence. A further hearing is set to determine the restitution owed by Keyser for the costs of responding to the hoax letter.

Keyser was convicted by a jury on September 17, 2009 of three counts of committing an anthrax hoax and two counts of mailing threatening communications. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Wagner and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean Hobler.

Evidence presented at trial established that in January 2007, Keyser mailed a package to the Sacramento News & Review, promoting a book that he had written about potential anthrax attacks in the United States by terrorists. The package included a copy of the book on CD, a note offering to discuss publication of excerpts of the book, and a cylindrical aerosol canister labeled “Anthrax.” The mailing resulted in the evacuation of the building and a full law enforcement and hazmat response. An investigating FBI special agent interviewed Keyser at that time, informed him of the consequences of the mailing, and specifically admonished him that he risked prosecution under the hoax mailings statute if he sent any similar mailings in the future.

According to court documents, including Keyser’s own testimony at trial, in late October 2008 Keyser mailed over 100 packages that contained a CD with excerpts of a new book on terrorism that was labeled in large print “Anthrax Shock and Awe Terror” and a small sugar packet that had been re-labeled with a bio-hazard symbol and the words “Anthrax sample.” Most of the packages had no information indicating that the CD contained a book. The mailings were sent to various newspapers and other media companies, officials, and retail outlets nationwide, causing police, fire, and hazmat teams to respond to emergency calls in many states.

The counts on which Keyser was convicted relate to a mailing received by Congressman George Radanovich’s office in Modesto, California and mailings received at McDonald’s and Starbucks restaurants in Sacramento. An employee of Congressman Radanovich’s office testified during the trial that following receipt of Keyser’s mailing, police, fire department, and hazmat personnel responded to the scene, and two employees were transported to the hospital for medical screening.

Keyser stated to investigating agents that he intended the mailings to be “provocative” and that he hoped the controversy and “buzz” generated by news reports about the mailings would heighten awareness of anthrax vulnerability and spur sales of his book. The jury acquitted Keyser on eight other counts in the indictment.

In sentencing Keyser, Judge Damrell told Keyser that “you want attention more than anything, you crave it. The attention you get is more important than the effect you have on others.”

U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner stated, “Hoaxes like these hurt our national security, draining critical resources from investigation of and preparation for real threats against our homeland. Today’s sentence sends a strong message to anyone considering imitating Mr. Keyser’s fake anthrax packages—there are real consequences for those who behave like terrorists.”

Parole has been abolished in the federal system, and Keyser will be required to serve at least 85 percent of the prison time imposed today.

Airmen build facilities for warfighters

by Tech. Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson
USAFCENT Combat Camera Team

4/27/2010 - CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- As 30,000 servicemembers continue to pour into the region as part of the troop surge in Afghanistan, a 15-man team of Airmen with the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group here is building structures for warfighters.

"Our mission here is to construct the facilities that directly support the joint-coalition warfighter," said Capt. Nick Anderson, the 1st ERED HORSE Group officer in charge, deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. "We have a young and energetic team; we're small but we are making a big impact."

Although the team has been in country less than a month, it's working on six projects worth about $2 million. The projects include a new RED HORSE compound, a metal building for the Army's inbound 502nd Bridge Maintenance Brigade, and the foundation for a new fire station. 1st ERED HORSE Airmen also are grading a burn pit, constructing an evaporation pond to collect waste water and building a river bed extension to prevent flooding; all to be completed by mid July.

"As soon as we arrived we saw an immediate push for us to get started on our projects," said Tech. Sgt. Alfredo Perez, the 1st ERED HORSE Group river bed project manager deployed from Nellis AFB. "As Air Force engineers, we are playing a big role in preparing our camp for the troops coming in. I feel like every project we are working on is making a difference and adding something useful to the fight."

While a regular RED HORSE squadron has between 70 to 130 Airmen; the team of total force Airmen have made adjustments with their limited recourses and personnel. Normal decisions that may take a month, now can take two days.

"When we do surveys, we normally have an officer and an engineering assistant survey a site and put it into a system to calculate the exact dimensions of a work site," said Master Sgt. David Hughes , the 1st ERED HORSE Group site supervisor. "Our guys have to do it with their equipment and draw plans by hand in a couple of days. With the troop buildup we don't have time to sit around to make a decision. We have to trust our guys and make a decision. It speaks volumes about the quality of Airmen we have out here doing what they've got to do to get the job done."

As the team works from sun up to sun down to get projects completed, the 14 pieces of construction equipment and three trucks the RED HORSE team uses have to continue running in peak condition.

"If there is daylight outside we are working," said Staff Sgt. Terry Broshious, a 1st ERED HORSE Group vehicle maintainer. "We cannot afford to have one vehicle out of order. We have a small team so we have to stay on top of all of our projects and as long as we are working, my team is going keep them running."

RED HORSE Airmen may be building the facilities to improve quality of life for coalition forces here, but they credit Prime BEEF Airmen stationed at the camp for having a plan in place for the camp before the RED HORSE Airmen arrived.

"It's great that Air Force RED HORSE and Prime BEEF engineers have the opportunity to team up at Camp Leatherneck," said Capt. Anderson, a native of Charlotte, N.C. "The outstanding infrastructure and contract management that they provide the Marine leadership here has enabled the camp growth to happen smoothly."

As RED HORSE Airmen continue to support joint and coalition forces, they're paving the way for a successful troop surge.

"I love getting the chance to show people what we got," said Tech. Sgt. Bill Walter, a 1st ERED HORSE Group vehicle maintainer. "The Air Force is here doing our part in Afghanistan and as the facilities go up, people will see the big impact a small team of Airmen can have."

Wounded Warriors Get Custom Prosthetics Cases

By Judith Snyderman
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

April 27, 2010 - The maker of rugged Pelican cases, widely used in the military to protect weapons and computer gear, has launched a program to give custom cases for prosthetics to wounded warriors who have lost limbs. Retired Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented the first cases at a ceremony today at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.

Pace, who serves as chairman of the board for Pelican Products, said the Pelican for Patriots program comes with no strings attached.

"We just want to be able to give to these great heroes," he said. "It's a small way of saying 'thank you' that will protect prosthetic arms and legs and make their lives a little better."

It is common for those who use prosthetics to have several, either as back-ups or for specific uses. Marine Corps 1st Lt. David Borden said he carries a number of activity-specific legs, and he's looking forward to using the case. Borden was injured in a suicide bomb-attack in Ramadi, Iraq. He has spent two years recovering at Walter Reed and plans to return to active duty within the next few months.

Retired Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Jones, who lost both legs in Iraq in 2005, also received a case. Jones heads the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, which trains disabled veterans for jobs in the financial industry. He said his job makes him a frequent traveler, and he worries about breakage when checking his bags at airports.

Lyndon Faulkner, president and CEO of Pelican Products, said his main concern is getting the word out to eligible servicemembers and veterans. Anyone who sacrificed an arm or a leg since Sept. 11, 2001, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom qualifies to receive a free case. That includes nearly 1,000 people now, as well as "anyone, unfortunately who will become eligible in the future," Pace said.

Each case will be custom-fitted with protective foam.

"When we get the individual's prosthetic need," Pace explained, "we can design the inside of the case precisely to those measurements."

U.S. Citizen Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Provide Material Support to Al Qaeda

April 27, 2010 - Syed Hashmi, aka “Fahad,” pleaded guilty today in Manhattan federal court to conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda, announced Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Hashmi, 30, was arrested on June 6, 2006 at Heathrow Airport in London, shortly before he was to board a flight to Pakistan. He was later extradited to the United States; Hashmi is the first individual to be extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States on terrorism charges.

According to the superseding indictment filed in Manhattan, New York federal court and statements made during the guilty plea proceeding:

From January 2004 through May 2006, Hashmi provided material support or resources to al Qaeda by helping to provide equipment to others who then transported the equipment to al Qaeda associates in South Waziristan, Pakistan. Hashmi provided the equipment with knowledge that it would be used by al Qaeda to fight against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Hashmi also provided money to a co-conspirator who planned to transport the equipment to al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Hashmi pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Hashmi is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska on June 7, 2010.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the investigative work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of special agents and detectives of the FBI and the New York City Police Department. Bharara thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs. Bharara also expressed his gratitude to the British authorities and law enforcement community, including New Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service, for their cooperation in the investigation.

U.S. Attorney Bharara said: “This afternoon, Syed Hashmi admitted that he knowingly provided material support to al Qaeda. Having admitted his guilt, he will now face justice for giving aid to terrorists he knew full-well were dedicated to harming Americans.”

This case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brendan R. McGuire and John M. Hillebrecht are in charge of the prosecution.

DoD Agrees to Submit Some Fort Hood Documents to Senate

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2010 - The Defense Department today agreed to provide access to some of the documents subpoenaed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week related to the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shooting investigation.

A letter sent to the committee today agrees to allow the committee access to the personnel file of Maj. Nidal Hasan's personnel file, the Army psychiatrist charged with the shootings. Pentagon officials also agreed to allow the committee access to a restricted annex to the report stemming from the initial investigation by former Army Secretary Togo D. West Jr. and retired Navy Adm. Vern E. Clark, a former chief of naval operations.

The department previously had objected to giving the committee access to these documents on the grounds that doing so could endanger Hasan's prosecution. Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.

"We believe we have made a very good-faith effort to try to find a middle ground ... to satisfy their request," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.

"We are prepared to bend over backwards at least on two of the four issues that were the subject of the subpoena," he added.

Morrell said that the department has been in "constant communication" with the committee even before last week's Senate subpoenas.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III had a "lengthy" phone conversation April 23 with Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Morrell said.

The department declined, however, to provide access to its witnesses or to the investigative summaries of the event.

"We have made movement on some of the areas that we had originally objected to," Morrell said. "But we have held the line on those that we feel could potentially jeopardize the prosecution of Major Hasan.

"That, in the judgment of the general counsel and our career prosecutors here, is a bridge too far," he continued. "They really feel as though that could potentially jeopardize the prosecution of Major Hasan, and that's the risk that they, and now the secretary, are not willing to take."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had directed the department to be as accommodating to the committee as possible without potentially jeopardizing Hasan's prosecution. Gates recently denied hiding any documents from the committee.

"We have no interest in hiding anything," Gates said while on a recent trip to South America.

"We will cooperate with the committee in every way with that single caveat -- that whatever we provide does not impact the prosecution. That is the only thing in which we have an interest," he said. "Our priority is in ensuring we don't do anything that would potentially impact the prosecution of Major Hasan."

Morrell said the committee will not be allowed to keep the documents, but will have the chance to review them. This comes even as the Army's review is still under way, he said, and the documents contain "highly sensitive material" involving the careers of several military personnel.

Morrell characterized the agreement as "breaking new ground" in terms of how the department traditionally has cooperated with committees that do not have direct oversight of its personnel matters.

"We feel as though we have leaned very far forward, and we have made what we believe to be a considerable accommodation of the committee's request," he said.

Morrell emphasized that this is an accommodation made based solely on this request and does not signal a change in department policy.

"We do not view [this] as precedent setting," he said. "This is a unique circumstance, and based upon this particular situation, we are willing to do it in this instance, but it should not be viewed in any way as the new norm."