November 2006


In the work of corporate espionage, they say that the best way to steal information is to infiltrate the office building cleaning crew. Usually a company will provide all sorts of sophisticated techniques to safeguard their information, but then a crew comes into their office space, accessing all parts of the office, usually alone and off-hours, and has access to anything that’s around.

So when we think of our airports, we can see the visible protection measures… including confiscating liquids and making everyone run around with their shoes off, as measures to protect us.

And I’m sure that those measures provide some chance of warding off trouble. But here we are with airport workers in a drywall crew with access to secure areas… including the tarmac.

And just yesterday, the ICE nabbed 6 workers at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport who had security credentials that were obtained so that their crew could do work. One problem - the six happened to be illegal immigrants. Now there’s no indication that any of these people had any malicious intent. But it shows just how much screening is done on work crews before issuing permissions to access secure areas.

From the updated AP report:

Federal authorities say six illegal immigrants arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport posed no specific security threat. But officials are concerned that the undocumented dry-wall workers from Mexico had badges giving them access to a secure area, including the tramac.

U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Marc Raimondi says the men are all from Mexico and all employed by T.C. Drywall, based in Alpharetta. Raimondi says they were arrested as they arrived to work at the airport.

Officials say the men had been hired recently to install drywall inside the airport’s secure area. They will appear before an immigration judge and face deportation to Mexico.

Kenneth Smith, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Atlanta, says that while immigration officials don’t believe the men posed a specific threat, the concern is that undocumented immigrants had obtained badges to a secure area.

Smith said the agency is aggressively pursing illegal aliens at the places where they work. Smith says “areas of critical infrastructure, such as airports, are especially important to national security.'’

Since March 2003, immigration agents have conducted operations at 196 U-S airports and audited nearly six-thousand businesses. Raimondi says the effort has identified more than 58-hundred unauthorized airport workers and prompted the arrests of 11-hundred illegal workers.

This is not really an illegal immigration problem so much as a security issue. How easy would it be for someone who had malicious intents from getting onto a work crew like this? The answer seems to be… pretty easy.

The company, T.C. Drywall, seems to have pulled down their website. But a couple documents stiull exist (for now) like http://www.tcdrywallinc.com/TCDrywallInc.pdf. It seems that the company has had several contracts to do work at Hartsfield over the last three years. How many other workers have come in without being detected?

Doesn’t give a lot of confidence in the security process for airport workers!

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Some have blamed the Republican congressional election defeat on their ‘position’ on immigration. Interesting to see it pop up as a “Presidential” topic… from the Democratic side.

Of course, Senator Biden has an interesting voting history on immigration issues - votes both for and against the border fence, etc. But it’s interesting to hear it come into play already this early as a ‘campaign issue’.

Biden blames illegal immigration on Mexico’s ‘corrupt system’:

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Senator Joe Biden says the government should get tough with Mexico, blaming what he calls its “corrupt system'’ for illegal immigration and drug problems in the U.S.

The Delaware Democrat is the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is considering a presidential run in 2008. He spoke Monday in South Carolina, scheduled to be the first southern state to hold a primary.

In a question and answer session in Columbia, Biden described Mexico as an “erstwhile democracy'’ and criticized the country’s “disparity of wealth.'’ He said unless political dynamics change in Mexico and U-S employers who hire illegal immigrants are punished, the problem won’t stop.

He called illegal drugs entering the country from Mexico an even bigger problem, and again blamed Mexican corruption.

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I have refrained on commenting on last week’s shooting death of Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta, because there just didn’t seem to be enough information released to the public in order to make an informed opinion. Yes, it was clear that the police were not targeting a 92 year old woman in their drug sting. And it certainly it made sense that after she opened fire on the officers after they burst through her front door, that they would return fire.

Did they have the wrong house? Was she just an innocent victim, but caught in the middle of events?

The whole story is still not clear… and I wonder if it will ever be sorted out completely, since it appears to take both GBI and FBI to now step in and try to unwind the mess. The Atlanta police appear to have been telling lies when the truth would serve them better.

If mistakes were made - even tragic mistakes - it would be better to admit to them and work through them. If it was not clear what the truth was… it would be better to say nothing than tell a story.

The day after the raid, the Atlanta police sent out Assistant Atlanta Police Chief Alan James Dreher to give a press conference. He confirmed that the correct house was entered. He stated that undercover officers bought illegal drugs earlier in the day from a man at house, and then returned that evening after securing a warrant to search the residence. He was also quick to point out that narcotics were found in the home after the shooting.

We subsequently heard about the mysterious man named “Sam”, the suspect in his early-to-mid-30s, and is described as a large man — 6 feet tall, and 250-to-260 pounds. A warrant was issued for his arrest. It was his drug sales, after all, that sparked the raid in the first place.

Atlanta’s Police Chief, Richard Pennington, was out of town for Thanksgiving, and could not return.

Then over the weekend, the public story started to change. Suddenly it was an “informant” who told the police about buying drugs at the house, not undercover officers themselves. Why hold a press conference earlier and say something that was obviously wrong?

Next, it was confirmed that a small amount of marijuana that was recovered - not a stash of drugs to be distributed.

Today the bombshell: the “informant”, now in protective custody, says that he didn’t buy drugs at the house and was told by police that he needed to affirm the whole “Sam” story in order to cover for them.

Now I have no idea who’s telling the truth. But it’s clear that when the police rushed out with their initial story, even they really did not have the facts. And in so doing, they have destroyed any credibility that they might have had.

Many questions remain, and hopefully the GBI and FBI will be more successful in collecting the answers. Why was this house targeted at all? Were the facts presented to get the warrant twisted as well?

But a terrible mistake is made even worse if they attempted to cover it up.

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When the feds did a crackdown in Stillmore, GA, we heard a lot about the people leaving town to avoid the sweep. If you remember, the raid was centered around illegal workers at the local chicken processing plant.

But what’s the real follow-on to the illegal workers leaving the area. today’s AJC reports that while the overall workforce is not up to pre-raid numbers yet, there are workers willing to work at the Crider Poultry plant in Stillmore, GA. (That’s not to mention that wages have been increased as well!).

It seems that some of the workers are felons on probation and homeless men who have now found gainful employment at the plant. I guess that there are some Americans willing to do those jobs.

And what’s happened to those who fled the immigration raids?:

Pastor Ariel Rodriguez drives around Stillmore, explaining what happened to each of the Mexican families that used to live in trailers and apartments.

“The majority of people have gone to Kentucky,” he said. They knew a priest who used to live in the area and followed him up there, Rodriguez said. Other residents have gone back to Mexico.

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An old piece that’s still very relevant:

I am thankful for . . .
. . . . . the mess to clean after a party, because it means I have been surrounded by friends;
. . . . . the taxes I pay, because it means I have resources;
. . . . . the clothes that fit a little too snugly, because it means I have enough to eat;
. . . . . a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home;
. . . . . my shadow who watches me work, because it means I am out in the sunshine;
. . . . . the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking;
. . . . . all the complaining about our government, because it means we have freedom of speech;
. . . . . my large heating bill, because it means I am warm;
. . . . . the person behind me in worship who sings off key, because it means I can hear;
. . . . . the alarm that goes off early in the morning, because it means I am alive;
. . . . . the piles of laundry and ironing, because it means my loved ones are near;
. . . . . weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, because it means I have been productive.

As we take time to count our blessings today, don’t forget that sometimes there are many blessings in disguise.

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The public hearing into proposed Cherokee County ordinance requiring landlords to verify that renters are not illegal immigrants seems to have mostly proceeded without incident last night. The board took no additional action at the meeting. However, the report in the AJC includes one of the most strange quotes that I have heard surrounding immigration:

Aquíles E. Martínez, a professor of religion at Reinhardt College, said commissioners should follow the example of Jesus.

“The present ordinance is a clear violation of Jesus’ example,” Martínez said. “The people who welcome foreigners welcome Jesus. The people who reject foreigners reject Jesus.”

Well, there you have it!

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Now that didn’t take long. Yet another metro-Atlanta drug bust involving illegal immigrants is reported today by the AJC. $9 million in cocaine and crystal meth was seized.

According to their report:

Agents arrested four men in the raid, all illegal aliens, said Sherri Strange, Atlanta DEA Special Agent in Charge. One woman who was a drug courier was arrested by Gwinnett police , Stange said.

The men arrested were identified as Miguel Angel Gonzalez, 30; Rafael Garcia-Nunez,33; Arnulfo Nunez-Villanueva, 26 and Mauricio Medina-Mojica, 26. The woman was identified as Susana Maribel Cordoba-Galino, 23.

Federal agents allege that the suspects were part of a “highly sophisicated” multi-state drug dealing organization that stretched from Gwinnett County to Kentucky, Illionois and Indiana.

The suspects brought in the drugs to stash houses in Gwinnett County and the drugs were to be distrubuted to other places, Strange said.

The investigation into the drug dealing was dubbed by agents Operation Kentucky Thunder.

After a three month investigation an survelliance agents arrested supsect at homes Park Forest Drive in Lilburn, Cruse Road in Lawrenceville and Johns Way in Lilburn on Nov. 21, authorities said.

At the homes agents found 63 kilograms of cocaine, 58 pounds of crystal meth and $85,000 in cash. Agents confiscated eight cars , some of the vehicles with elaborate hidden compartments used to hide drugs. Agents also confiscated three guns including a fully automatic AR-15 assault rifles., Strange said.

Previously:

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As I mentioned before, the only way to untangle is to have an amendment to the state constitution in order to specifically spell out the acceptable forms of ID. That seemed to be the crux of the counter-arguments to the last attempt to enforce the Voter ID laws.

According to the AJC, that’s now exactly what State Senator Cecil Stanton is proposing. Of course, the proposal would have to first be passed by the legislature (no easy feat) before it could reach the state voters by ballot.

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It might not be a half-million dollar haul like last week, but yet another illegal immigrant has been arrested in North Georgia for trafficking cocaine.

According to the Associated Press:

According to Lt. Scott Ware of MANS, Gozalo [Carillo] along with two other suspects, abandoned the vehicle they were traveling in following a short pursuit and fled on foot into a wooded area off Pine Circle. Gonzalo was arrested and charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, and obstruction of an officer.

The street value of the cocaine which was seized was place at about $29,600. The investigation continues into the two remaining suspects who are not believed to have been armed.

Ware adds that Carillo is believed to be in the United States illegally.

Just doing the jobs that Americans don’t want to do.

Previously:

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Straight from the Truth is Stranger Than Fiction Department: Hans Blix to serve on ski ethics panel. Yeah, this is the guy you want looking for evidence of doping in your ski program.

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