Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Iran Launches Test of Its First Nuclear Plant

Iranian and Russian technicians are conducting a test run of Iran's first nuclear power plant, officials said Wednesday, a major step toward launching full operations at the facility, which has long raised concerns in the U.S. and its allies over Iran's nuclear ambitions......,2933,499864,00.html

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Muslim Publics Oppose Al Qaeda's Terrorism, But Agree With Its Goal of Driving U.S. Forces Out

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A study of public opinion in predominantly Muslim countries reveals that very large majorities continue to renounce the use of attacks on civilians as a means of pursuing political goals. People in majority-Muslim countries express mixed feelings about al Qaeda and other Islamist groups that use violence, however, perhaps due to a combination of support for al Qaeda's goals and disapproval of its terrorist methods.

Large majorities support allowing Islamist groups to organize parties and participate in democratic elections. In some majority-Muslim countries, Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, are forbidden from participating in elections.

Steven Kull, director of, comments, "The U.S. faces a conundrum. U.S. efforts to fight terrorism with an expanded military presence in Muslim countries appear to have elicited a backlash and to have bred some sympathy for al Qaeda, even as most reject its methods."

The survey is part of an ongoing study of Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia, with additional polling in Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Azerbaijan, and Nigeria. It was conducted July through September, 2008 by with support from the START Consortium at the University of Maryland. Margins of error range from +/- 3 to 4 percent.

In nearly all nations polled more than seven in 10 say they disapprove of attacks on American civilians. "Bombings and assassinations that are carried out to achieve political or religious goals" are rejected as "not justified at all" by large majorities ranging from 67 to 89 percent. There is a growing belief that attacks on civilians are ineffective, with approximately half now saying that such attacks are hardly ever effective.

Asked specifically about the U.S. naval forces based in the Persian Gulf, there is widespread opposition across the Muslim world. Opposition is largest in Egypt (91%) and among the Palestinians (90%), but opposition is also large in America's NATO ally Turkey (77%).

Views of al Qaeda are complex. Majorities agree with nearly all of al Qaeda's goals to change U.S. behavior in the Muslim world, to promote Islamist governance, and to preserve and affirm Islamic identity. However only minorities say they approve of al Qaeda's attacks on Americans.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Federal Grand Jury Returns 65-Count Indictment Against Man for Sending Threatening White-Powder-Laced Hoax Letters to Banks

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A federal grand jury in Amarillo, Texas, today returned an indictment charging Richard Goyette, a/k/a Michael Jurek, 47, with one count of threats and false information and 64 counts of threats and hoaxes, announced acting U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas.

Goyette has been in federal custody since his arrest on Feb. 2, 2009, on a charge outlined in a federal criminal complaint related to his mailing 65 threatening letters to financial institutions from Amarillo in October 2008.

The indictment alleges that on Oct. 18, 2008, Goyette mailed a letter to the attention of Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan Chase & Company, at 270 Park Avenue in New York, which contained threats of bombing and killing people at the JP Morgan Chase & Company's corporate headquarters within six months. The criminal complaint filed in the case stated that the language in this letter included the threat of the "McVeighing of your corporate headquarters within six months." The letter also threatened to "utilize any strategy and tactic to inflict financial damage to your company."

The indictment further alleges that Goyette mailed 64 letters to 52 locations of Chase Bank; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) offices in Arlington, Va., Washington, D.C., and Dallas; and Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) offices in Chicago, Daly City, Calif., Jersey City, N.J., Washington, D.C., and Irving, Texas. Each of these letters contained an unknown white powder and the threat that the person breathing the powder would die within 10 days.

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until proven guilty.

The threats and false information count carries a potential maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and each of the 64 threats and hoaxes counts carry a potential maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

If convicted on all counts, Goyette faces a potential maximum statutory sentence of 330 years in prison and a $16.25 million fine.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jacks praised the excellent, cooperative investigative efforts of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Drake of the Amarillo, Texas, U.S. Attorney's Office is prosecuting.

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N. Korea Says It Is Preparing to 'Launch Satellite'

North Korea said Tuesday it is preparing to shoot a satellite into orbit, its clearest reference yet to an impending launch that neighbors and the U.S. suspect will be a provocative test of a long-range missile.

The statement from the North's space technology agency comes amid growing international concern that the communist nation is gearing up to fire a version of its most advanced missile — capable of reaching the U.S. — in coming days, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.....,2933,499046,00.html

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Attorney General Appoints Executive Director to Lead New Task Force on Review of Guantanamo Bay Detainees

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the appointment of an Executive Director to lead a new interagency task force charged with continued implementation of the President's Jan. 22 Executive Order calling for an immediate review of the status of individuals currently detained at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

The Executive Director, Matthew G. Olsen, will lead the Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force, which is responsible for assembling and examining relevant information and making recommendations regarding the proper disposition of each individual currently detained at Guantanamo Bay.

In accordance with the President's Order, the Task Force will consider whether it is possible to transfer or release detained individuals consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States; evaluate whether the government should seek to prosecute detained individuals for crimes they may have committed; and, if none of those options are possible, the Task Force will recommend other lawful means for disposition of the detained individuals.

The Order provides that the Attorney General shall coordinate this review in conjunction with the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order for the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay to be closed within one year from the date of the Executive Order.

"As a leader of the Department's National Security Division and 12-year career federal prosecutor, Mr. Olsen has the experience and judgment to lead the team's evaluation of these individual cases," said Attorney General Holder. "We've established a solid framework for the administration to make the right decision on each individual detainee -- decisions that will most effectively serve the interests of justice and the national security and foreign policy objectives of the United States."

As Executive Director for the detention review process, Mr. Olsen will be responsible for managing the consideration and disposition of individual detainee cases as set forth in the President's Order. He will supervise review teams consisting of representatives from the Justice Department and the other agencies identified in the President's Order.

These multi-agency teams will conduct the specific detainee reviews and develop options and recommendations for the Executive Director to present to a Review Panel consisting of senior-level officials from each of the relevant Departments and agencies who are authorized to make decisions as to the disposition of each detainee. Review Panel members will be responsible for ensuring that each department or agency devotes the necessary resources so that the Task Force can conduct this review and enable closure of the facility within the one-year time frame required under the Executive Order.

Until his appointment today, Mr. Olsen served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, where he managed the Justice Department's National Security Division. Previously, as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, he helped establish the National Security Division in 2006 and supervised the Department's intelligence operations and oversight.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Former FBI Director, General, Diplomat, Clergy Call for Presidential Commission on Detention, Treatment and Transfer of Detainees

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leading experts, including a former FBI director, an Army general who investigated detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, and a former Under Secretary of State, today called upon President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission to fully investigate and examine the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The commission's proposed mandate would allow it to identify detainee policy failures and their causes in order to formulate recommendations to address problems identified in the report.

The group issued the following statement detailing their call to action:

"We urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of distinguished Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and actions related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for future policy in this area."

The statement was signed by: Juan E. Mendez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice; Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Judge William Sessions, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Major General Antonio M. Taguba, USA (Ret.); and Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. In addition, 18 leading human rights organizations have endorsed the statement.

"The president has a responsibility to protect and defend Americans and unfortunately, many questions remain unanswered as to whether the detention, transfer, and treatment of detainees following the September 11th attacks were in the country's best interest," said Sessions, the former FBI director. "We need to understand what happened and how to prevent any illegal actions from taking place in the future."

Pickering, the former Under Secretary of State said, "the new administration cannot be effective in looking forward without a full accounting and understanding of how American policy got to where we are today." He added, "a non-partisan commission, removed from the burdensome barriers of politics, is a well proven method of accomplishing these goals."

The organizations endorsing this effort are: Amnesty International USA; the Brennan Center for Justice; the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University, School of Law; the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, University of California, Davis; the Center for Victims of Torture; the Constitution Project; the Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley; Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch; the International Center for Transitional Justice; the International Justice Network; the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; the National Institute of Military Justice; the National Religious Campaign Against Torture; the Open Society Institute; Physicians for Human Rights; and the Rutherford Institute.

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Fox News: Al Qaeda Claims to Have Taken 2 U.N. Diplomats, 4 Tourists Hostage

Al Qaeda's North Africa branch claimed Wednesday it is holding hostage a senior U.N. peace envoy, his aide and four tourists kidnapped in the Sahara Desert in recent weeks......,2933,495525,00.html

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Georgia Man Arrested for Threats to FBI Buildings

Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Gregory Jones, FBI Atlanta, announces the arrest of 23-year old MICHAEL ROBERT DEJONG of Buford, Georgia. DeJong was arrested at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 11, 2009, by Agents of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for allegedly making false threats to destroy, via explosives, FBI buildings across the country. He has been charged via Criminal Complaint in the Northern District of Georgia with violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(e).

On February 4, 2009, the FBI received a bomb threat through its website, The threat was anonymous, but was eventually traced by Agents to a publicly available internet computer in the Auburn, Georgia public library. A search warrant was obtained to examine the contents of the computer, and further investigation led Agents to identify DeJong as the suspect. It was during that investigation the Agents discovered DeJong had been arrested by the United States Secret Service and convicted of making threats against President Bush in 2007.

DeJong was arrested without incident at the Auburn home of a friend. He had an initial appearance before a United States Magistrate the same day of his arrest, and remains in custody pending a probable cause and bond hearing scheduled for Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

The public is reminded that all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

al Qaeda & the Internet

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director
Northeast Intelligence Network

According to the most recent reliable statistics, there are over two billion web sites and approximately 28 billion images spread across the Internet. Thousands more sites and are created and tens of thousands more images are posted every day. Of the two billion web sites, several thousand involve some form of terrorist activity pertaining to terrorism, either directly or indirectly. According to federal sources recently interviewed by the Northeast Intelligence Network, about five thousand sites, mostly Arabic language Islamic terrorist sites, are under constant surveillance of some form. Additional Internet locations, not typical web sites but file sharing sites, host various other files, from images to audio and video files......

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Human Genome Sciences Begins Delivery of First-in-Class Anthrax Treatment to U.S. Strategic National Stockpile

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:HGSI) today announced that it has begun delivery of 20,000 doses of its human monoclonal antibody drug ABthrax(TM) (raxibacumab) to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile for use in the treatment of inhalation anthrax.

ABthrax is a first-in-class treatment for anthrax, and the first procurement under Project BioShield of a product discovered and developed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It specifically targets the deadly toxins released within the human body by Bacillus anthracis that are the real culprits in most anthrax-related deaths. ABthrax is being developed under a contract entered into in 2006 with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"We believe ABthrax offers a significant step forward in the treatment of inhalation anthrax and could play an important role in strengthening America's arsenal against bioterrorism," said H. Thomas Watkins, President and Chief Executive Officer, HGS. "From a business perspective, this announcement is strategically important for HGS, because it marks our Company's first product sales. We expect to receive $150 million in revenue soon after completion of our delivery to the Strategic National Stockpile. We are pleased with the progress of our partnership with the U.S. Government, which has resulted in this important milestone, and we are hopeful that fulfillment of this initial order will result in a long-term relationship involving additional deliveries of ABthrax to the Stockpile."

ABthrax represents a new way to address the anthrax threat. While antibiotics can kill the anthrax bacteria, they are not effective against the deadly toxins that the bacteria produce. ABthrax targets anthrax toxins after they are released by the bacteria into the blood and tissues. In an inhalation anthrax attack, people may not know they are infected with anthrax until the toxins already are circulating in their blood, and it may be too late for antibiotics alone to be effective.

"We are delighted to have fulfilled this important milestone under our contract with the U.S. Government and we hope we are making a significant contribution to our nation's security," said James H. Davis, Ph.D., J.D., Executive Vice President and General Counsel, HGS, and leader of the Company's ABthrax program with the U.S. Government. "We are particularly pleased with the relationship we have had with BARDA in the development of ABthrax, and we look forward to continuing to work together."

About Research Findings to Date

In December 2007, HGS announced that the results of two animal studies demonstrated the life-saving potential of ABthrax (raxibacumab). The results showed that a single dose of raxibacumab, administered without concomitant antibiotics, improved survival rates by up to 64 percent when administered after animals were symptomatic for anthrax disease as a result of inhalation exposure to massively lethal doses of anthrax spores. These dramatic and statistically significant findings demonstrated a survival benefit in two animal species, which is the requirement for establishing the efficacy of new drugs used to counter bioterrorism. These data are consistent with the results of previous studies in multiple animal models, which demonstrated that a single dose of raxibacumab given prophylactically provided up to 100% protection against death.

HGS has also completed safety studies of raxibacumab in more than 400 human volunteers. The clinical results to date suggest that raxibacumab was generally safe and well tolerated. In addition, clinical data have demonstrated that co-administration of raxibacumab with the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin) did not affect the pharmacokinetics of either Cipro or raxibacumab, and suggested that raxibacumab can be administered in combination with antibiotics. This is a key finding given the important role that antibiotics are expected to continue to play in the treatment of anthrax disease.

The Need for New Means to Fight Anthrax Infections

Two options have been available for the prevention or treatment of anthrax infections - a vaccine and antibiotics. Both are essential to dealing with anthrax, but both have limitations. The anthrax vaccine takes several weeks following the initial doses before immunity is detectable, and requires multiple injections over a period of eighteen months, in addition to annual booster vaccination, to maintain protective immunity. Antibiotics are effective in killing anthrax bacteria, but are not effective against the anthrax toxins once those toxins have been released into the blood. Antibiotics also may not be effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of anthrax.

ABthrax is a human monoclonal antibody to Bacillus anthracis protective antigen that was discovered and developed by HGS, using technology that HGS has integrated into the Company as part of its collaboration with Cambridge Antibody Technology. Research has shown that protective antigen is the key facilitator in the progression of anthrax infection at the cellular level. After protective antigen and the anthrax toxins are produced by the bacteria, protective antigen binds to the anthrax toxin receptor on cell surfaces and forms a protein-receptor complex that makes it possible for the anthrax toxins to enter the cells. ABthrax blocks the binding of protective antigen to cell surfaces and prevents the anthrax toxins from entering and killing the cells.

In contrast to the anthrax vaccine, the protection afforded by a single dose of ABthrax would be immediate following the rapid achievement of appropriate blood levels of ABthrax. In contrast to antibiotics, ABthrax acts against the deadly toxins produced by anthrax bacteria. It may also prevent and treat infections by antibiotic-resistant strains of anthrax. ABthrax was the first investigational agent against anthrax infection to be evaluated in a clinical study following the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States. In 2003, ABthrax received a Fast Track Product designation from the FDA, as well as an Orphan Drug Designation for its use in the treatment of inhalation anthrax disease.

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