Federal Bureau of Investigation

In this Jan. 21, 2011 file photo, Gulet Mohamed, 19, of Alexandria, Va., left, speaks to the media after returning from Kuwait, at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va. At right is his attorney Gadeir Abbas. A federal judge on Jan. 22 allowed Mohamed's challenge to his placement on the no-fly list to go forward, three years after he was stranded in Kuwait.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Many Longhorns will take this summer break as an opportunity to study or travel abroad. Most students will board their planes without a second thought. However, some students will have to worry about possible discrimination based on appearance or religious affiliation by which they could be unfairly chosen for frisking or even denied boarding on a plane. As a Muslim, I often fear that I will be discriminated against when traveling. As a productive, law-abiding citizen, I have no reason to be denied boarding. But even a squeaky clean background cannot prevent racial profiling. 

Imagine going through all of the extensive security measures that have been implemented at airports in the United States only to be denied the ability to board a plane because you are on the no-fly list. This list is compiled by the Terrorist Screening Center, an entity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is maintained by the Transportation Security Administration. In addition to the technical problems that lead to individuals’ being placed on the list without warrant, the process by which someone is placed on the no-fly list is not-so-subtly discriminatory toward Muslim travelers. 

Neurobiology graduate Taha Ahmed is a perfect example of a good citizen who has been placed on a pre-boarding screening list. A Houston native, Ahmed is an active participant at his local mosque. As charity is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam, he has volunteered with the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, and Ahmed has no criminal record. Yet, he has been ‘randomly selected’ for invasive and extra searches at the airport almost every time he has traveled. He has often received a “Secondary Security Screening Selection” stamp on his boarding pass, which signifies that the flyer is on the selectee list. The selectee list is not as severe as the no-fly list, but still requires additional and invasive search procedures. The selection process for this list is obscure and has been criticized for being ineffective, discriminatory, profiling and having false positives

In June 2010, a group of American citizens — four were veterans — and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal challenge to their placement on the no-fly list in the case of Latif v. Holder. They had been put on the list without any knowledge as to why, and were not given a fair opportunity to be removed from the list. The court ordered the FBI to declassify documents concerning the no-fly list per the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. Of the 325 pages that were reviewed only 94 pages were released, yet still many of these pages had information redacted. Thus we still know very little of how these lists are compiled and the qualifications necessary to be placed on the list. 

Nina Kraut, general counsel for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Foundation, highlighted the organization’s position and concerns with the no-fly list and the selectee list. The first problem is discrimination. CAIR believes that these lists are created based on profiling. People who have names that sound "Arab" or who wear traditional Muslim dress are often placed on the list without any valid reason. 

Although it may sound like something out of a James Bond movie, the FBI recruits Muslim informants at local mosques who then relay to the bureau people who should placed on the list in exchange for protection against being unfairly placed on the no-fly list. Failure to comply with the FBI’s request, however, can have serious consequences. Naveed Shinwair, an American citizen with no criminal background, has not been able to see his wife who lives in Afghanistan in 26 months. He suspects it’s because he refused to become an informant for the FBI. He and three other men are bringing suit against the FBI and Homeland Security in what is a part of a broad wave of cases challenging these secretive lists. His case would not be the first. In the case of Ibrahim v. Department of Homeland Security, a California appellate court found that Rahinah Ibrahim had been wrongly placed on the no-fly list by an FBI agent who acted without scrutiny. Shinwair explains in an interview with National Public Radio how, on his way back from marrying his wife in Afghanistan, an FBI agent asked if he had met any “bad guys” and then told him that if he became an informant for the FBI, they would remove him from the no-fly list. He refused and was subsequently punished by being put on the list. 

The second major problem articulated by Kraut is a lack of awareness. CAIR receives numerous calls and reports on the issue of being wrongfully placed on the no-fly list, but many people do not even know how to report it. That is why having statistics on this issue is near impossible — no one knows who is on the list, meaning you can be on the list without knowing it until you try to board a plane.

Too many students have been caught up in the dragnet of the no-fly list and the selectee list. If we are serious about ending discrimination against Muslims, we must protect them from being subjected to humiliating screening processes when they've done nothing wrong.

Rizvi is a government senior from Chicago.

Cold War thriller "The Americans"could be FX's next flagship show

A lot of shows spend their first season figuring out what they do well, but when “The Americans” debuted last year, it was more or less fully-formed, and if not for “Orange is the New Black,” it would have easily been the best new show of the year. In its second season, which premiered Wednesday night, “The Americans” irons out the few kinks it has, continues to spotlight complex, unexpectedly sympathetic characters, and returns with remarkable confidence and intensity.

The 80’s-set drama takes place in the throes of the Cold War, and Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, respectively) are walking justifications to American paranoia, a pair of KGB sleeper cell agents who’ve built a life as an American family. Last season found the couple struggling to determine just how real their arranged marriage had become, while trying to keep their identity under wraps from Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), the FBI agent across the street. This year, Phillip and Elizabeth have to confront brutally heightened stakes after some of their colleagues are eliminated, while trying to throw their increasingly inquisitive daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), off the scent of their illicit activities.

The increased focus on Paige gives Taylor an opportunity to shine in a role that was previously thankless, and the young actress makes her early stages of rebellion sing with authenticity, selling her curiosity as she begins to wrack up a few secrets of her own. Russell and Rhys continue to impress as they try to find the balance between their all-American image and their all-Russian allegiance. While the show isn’t afraid to paint the characters as ruthless killers (and does, often), Phillip and Elizabeth’s horrific actions are always filtered through an unflappable determination, making these complex, ostensibly villainous characters sympathetic and even admirable. Rhys in particular does a great job finding the small complexities in his character, his seething rage as he hands out a little parental discipline contrasting with the cool efficiency he displays as he kills a restaurant full of people – including a teen not much older than his daughter.

Perhaps the best performer in the cast, however, is Noah Emmerich, whose FBI agent is currently embroiled in an affair with Nina (Annet Mahendru), a Russian asset who’s milking him for information. Beeman is the show’s most conflicted figure, the weight of his job slowly disintegrating his personal life, and Emmerich brings tinges of regret and resignation to every bad choice his character makes. Though Nina is trained to hide all emotion, Mahendru makes the smallest gestures and moments count with her marvelously restrained performance.

It’s impressive that “The Americans” is able to root itself in the 1980’s without pointing to the obvious aesthetic signposts, and the show’s soundtrack choices are often inspired, using off-the-beaten-path choices to underline character moments and emotional beats. This season also finds the show brutally upping the stakes, a twist towards the end of the first episode adding a welcome urgency and sense of danger to the Jennings’ adventures. “The Americans” has always been great at using its period and characters to build suspense, and even lingering threads like Beeman and Phillip’s budding friendship have moments of tension based in the inevitable discoveries to come.

“The Americans” debuted last season as one of the year’s most exceptional shows, and teetered on the edge of greatness throughout its freshman year. With tonight’s second season premiere and the impressive episodes that follow, “The Americans” follows through on that promise, telling stories that beautifully use the dueling lives the Jennings lead to add tension to every scene and giving its strong roster of performers plenty of dramatically taut notes to play. If the rest of the season continues on such a strong note, viewers may be looking at FX’s next flagship show.

Creator: Joe Weisberg
Network: FX
Airtime: 9PM, Wednesdays

Horns Up: Cigarroa bans cigarettes in UT System buildings

On Wednesday, the Daily Texan reported that all UT System administrative buildings, parking lots and outdoor areas will be smoke and tobacco free starting March 15. The announcement came from system Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, who said employee concerns prompted the new health-conscious policy. Although this comes a year after the Austin campus became smoke and tobacco-free, we appreciate the effort to enforce guidelines for keeping system property smoke-free. Horns up to the system employees that pushed for the change and horns up to the administration for listening to those concerns. 

Horns Up: FBI opens investigation into Cedar Creek High 

On Thursday, the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV confirmed that the FBI is opening an investigation into an incident at Cedar Creek High School last fall where Bastrop County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy McMillan used a Taser on 17-year-old Noe Nino de Rivera. After McMillan fired the weapon, Rivera fell to the ground, hit his head on the floor and has sustained permanent brain damage. In an editorial last week, we condemned the use of Tasers in schools on children, and we support the FBI’s decision to look further into the incident to determine if McMillian used excessive force or abused his power. We hope that the inquiry will help discourage other school resource officers from using potentially deadly force on students in our schools — after all, Tasers can kill.

Horns Up: Austin City Council approves incentives

On Thursday, the Austin City Council voted 5-2 to approve incentive packages for two technology firms, Websense and Dropbox. Combined, the companies said they planned to add 640 jobs in the city, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Websense is moving its headquarters from San Diego to Austin and plans to create at least 470 jobs with an average annual salary of $82,000 as a result of the move. Dropbox, which already has a small office in downtown Austin, will create 170 jobs and make a capital investment of $5.5 million. The state-operated Texas Enterprise Fund has also committed money to both firms and other similar incentive deals are in the pipeline. Though some question the city council’s move to take an active role in Austin’s economic development, we believe the council’s decision is both sensible and farsighted. It’s also one that will benefit UT students. Dropbox has already started to recruit at the University, and we presume that Websense will follow their lead as well.

Close to 40 people gathered at the Texas Student Union Theater Wednesday for the FBI Academic Biosecurity Workshop, where speakers discussed the current issues regarding biosecurity and the steps taken among law enforcement to prevent security threats at both a local and federal level.

The audience, which included campus police, graduate and undergraduate students, had the opportunity to listen to speakers such as Jim Runkel, assistant weapons of mass destruction coordinator for the Austin FBI, and William So, weapons of mass destruction directorate for the FBI Headquarters. So gave a 90 minute “biosecurity overview presentation.” 

The ultimate objective of the workshop is to foster a cooperative relationship between law enforcement officials and research institutions to reduce biosecurity issues — such as terrorism, cyber security and sensitive research — that could potentially harm the public. So further discussed the ideal result of these workshops.

“Our intent is to hear from local communities — like UT Austin, UT-El Paso and Texas Tech — what’s working at a local level to ensure security and how each one has developed different protocols,” So said. “What works at UC Davis may not work at UT Austin, but we can bring together the most generally successful techniques and share them among the universities.” 

The FBI works daily to prevent the possible offenders from obtaining the materials, technology or expertise needed to attack U.S. citizens using biological weapons. The workshop outlined several biosecurity measures and regulations that can be implemented without inhibiting scientific advancement in independent and nongovernmental research.

Meredith Bessellieu, international relations and global studies freshman, said she found the topic interesting because of the way that it relates to issues with personal cyber-security.

“I decided to come because I figured the workshop could help me see which fields I could be joining in the future, especially in relation to international security,” Bessellieu said.

The workshop was sponsored by UT’s international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team, which functions mainly in the field of biological engineering, but also reaches out to the public to expose the impact of the technology in which they specialize. Marco Howard, chemistry senior and iGEM team member, described the goal of his team’s sponsorship. 

“We attempt to let everyone know of the regulations that are in place to prevent the occurrence of terroristic biosecurity threats such as anthrax or the use of weapons of mass destruction post 9/11,” Howard said. “We want people to know that they are safe.”

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With every phone call they make and every Web excursion they take, people are leaving a digital trail of revealing data that can be tracked by profit-seeking companies and terrorist-hunting government officials.

The revelations that the National Security Agency is perusing millions of U.S. customer phone records at Verizon Communications and snooping on the digital communications stored by nine major Internet services illustrate how aggressively personal data is being collected and analyzed.

Verizon is handing over so-called metadata, excerpts from millions of U.S. customer records, to the NSA under an order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian. The report was confirmed Thursday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Former NSA employee William Binney told The Associated Press that he estimates the agency collects records on 3 billion phone calls each day.

The NSA and FBI appear to be looking even wider under a clandestine program code-named "PRISM" that was revealed in a story posted late Thursday by The Washington Post. PRISM gives the U.S. government access to email, documents, audio, video, photographs and other data belonging to foreigners on foreign soil who are under investigation, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper said it reviewed a confidential roster of companies and services participating in PRISM. The companies included AOL Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., Skype, YouTube and Paltalk.

In statements, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo said they only provide the government with user data required under the law. (Google runs YouTube and Microsoft owns Skype.) AOL and Paltalk didn't immediately respond to inquiries from The Associated Press.

The NSA isn't getting customer names or the content of phone conversations under the Verizon court order, but that doesn't mean the information can't be tied to other data coming in through the PRISM program to look into people's lives, according to experts.

Like pieces of a puzzle, the bits and bytes left behind from people's electronic interactions can be cobbled together to draw conclusions about their habits, friendships and preferences using data-mining formulas and increasingly powerful computers.

It's all part of a phenomenon known as "Big Data," a catchphrase increasingly used to describe the science of analyzing the vast amount of information collected through mobile devices, Web browsers and check-out stands. Analysts use powerful computers to detect trends and create digital dossiers about people.

The Obama administration and lawmakers privy to the NSA's surveillance aren't saying anything about the collection of the Verizon customers' records beyond that it's in the interest of national security. The sweeping court order covers the Verizon records of every mobile and landline phone call from April 25 through July 19, according to The Guardian.

It's likely the Verizon phone records are being matched with an even broader set of data, said Forrester Research analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo.

"My sense is they are looking for network patterns," she said. "They are looking for who is connected to whom and whether they can put any timelines together. They are also probably trying to identify locations where people are calling from."

Under the court order, the Verizon records include the duration of every call but not the locations of mobile calls.

The location information is particularly valuable for cloak-and-dagger operations like the one the NSA is running, said Cindy Cohn, a legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group that has been fighting the government's collection of personal phone records since 2006. The foundation is currently suing over the government's collection of U.S. citizens' communications in a case that dates back to the administration of President George W. Bush.

"It's incredibly invasive," Cohn said. "This is a consequence of the fact that we have so many third parties that have accumulated significant information about our everyday lives."

It's such a rich vein of information that U.S. companies and other organizations now spend more than $2 billion each year to obtain third-party data about individuals, according to Forrester Research. The data helps businesses target potential customers. Much of this information is sold by so-called data brokers such as Acxiom Corp., a Little Rock, Ark., company that maintains extensive files about the online and offline activities of more than 500 million consumers worldwide.

The digital floodgates have opened during the past decade as the convenience and allure of the Internet —and sleek smartphones— have made it easier and more enjoyable for people to stay connected wherever they go.

"I don't think there has been a sea change in analytical methods as much as there has been a change in the volume, velocity and variety of information and the computing power to process it all," said Gartner analyst Douglas Laney.

In a sign of the NSA's determination to vacuum up as much data as possible, the agency has built a data center in Bluffdale, Utah that is five times larger than the U.S. Capitol —all to sift through Big Data. The $2 billion center has fed perceptions that some factions of the U.S. government are determined to build a database of all phone calls, Internet searches and emails under the guise of national security. The Washington Post's disclosure that both the NSA and FBI have the ability to burrow into computers of major Internet services will likely heighten fears that U.S. government's Big Data is creating something akin to the ever-watchful Big Brother in George Orwell's "1984" novel.

"The fact that the government can tell all the phone carriers and Internet service providers to hand over all this data sort of gives them carte blanche to build profiles of people they are targeting in a very different way than any company can," Khatibloo said.

In most instances, Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo are taking what they learn from search requests, clicks on "like" buttons, Web surfing activity and location tracking on mobile devices to figure out what their users like and divine where they are. It's all in aid of showing users ads about products likely to pique their interest at the right time. The companies defend this kind of data mining as a consumer benefit.

Google is trying to take things a step further. It is honing its data analysis and search formulas in an attempt to anticipate what an individual might be wondering about or wanting.

Other Internet companies also use Big Data to improve their services. Video subscription service Netflix takes what it learns from each viewer's preferences to recommend movies and TV shows. Amazon.com Inc. does something similar when it highlights specific products to different shoppers visiting its site.

The federal government has the potential to know even more about people because it controls the world's biggest data bank, said David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor who recently stepped down as the Federal Trade Commission's consumer protection director.

Before leaving the FTC last year, Vladeck opened an inquiry into the practices of Acxiom and other data brokers because he feared that information was being misinterpreted in ways that unfairly stereotyped people. For instance, someone might be classified as a potential health risk just because he or she bought products linked to increased chance of heart attack. The FTC inquiry into data brokers is still open.

"We had real concerns about the reliability of the data and unfair treatment by algorithm," Vladeck said.

Vladeck stressed he had no reason to believe that the NSA is misinterpreting the data it collects about people. He finds some comfort in The Guardian report that said the Verizon order had been signed by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Ronald Vinson.

The NSA "differs from a commercial enterprise in the sense that there are checks in the judicial system and in Congress," Vladeck said. "If you believe in the way our government is supposed to work, then you should have some faith that those checks are meaningful. If you are skeptical about government, then you probably don't think that kind of oversight means anything."

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The FBI director met with top Libyan officials on Thursday to discuss the probe into last year’s killing of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi where authorities are planning a curfew following an upsurge in violence, Libyan officials said.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2012 in an attack that Washington officials suspect was carried out by militants linked to the al-Qaida terrorist group. There has been little news of progress in the investigation, and U.S. officials have complained about poor cooperation with governments in the region.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the visit, said FBI Director Robert Mueller discussed the case in Tripoli with senior officials, including the prime minister, justice minister and intelligence chief.

It is unclear when authorities plan to impose a curfew following a string of deadly attacks, assassinations of top security officials and other unrest in recent months. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan said on Wednesday that 18,000 new police recruits would be dispatched to the city to enforce the curfew.

Interior Minister Ashour Shaweil told reporters that when it starts, it will be enforced for five hours every night beginning at midnight. Several check points will be installed around the city, he said.

Authorities in Libya have been struggling to form unified army and police force since 2011 when former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted and killed in a mass uprising that turned to armed conflict when citizens raised arms against Gadhafi’s forces.

In recent months, there has been a series of assassinations of top security officials and bombings of security headquarters in the northeastern city of Benghazi. Some blame Islamist extremists, but residents suspect more than one group is involved and that some of the violence is being carried out by those who have personal vendettas against officials who once served in Gadhafi’s police force.

Chad Womack, one of the owners of Bourbon Girl, prepares to open the bar on 6th Street Thursday afternoon. The Bourbon Girl opened Wednesday after waiting months for Yassine Enterprises’ TABC permit to be cancelled so they could obtain one of their own.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Several downtown Austin establishments were given new permits to sell alcohol after their previous tenants were evicted following a high-profile FBI raid and money laundering scandal last year.

The new permits from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which became effective Jan. 9, were given out to the establishments that took the places of bars owned by Yassine Enterprises. Hussein Ali “Mike” Yassine, Yassine Enterprises co-owner and permit holder, was convicted of money laundering in October 2012. 

The new establishments receiving permits from TABC are Bourbon Girl, 413 Bar, Chicago House and Castro’s Warehouse, according to a statement from TABC. These new bars will replace Spill, Treasure Island Pirate Bar, Fuel and Hyde, respectively, and are not affiliated with Yassine Enterprises.

Carmack Concepts, which owns Bourbon Girl in addition to bars including the Chuggin’ Monkey and the Dizzy Rooster, obtained the lease for Bourbon Girl in April 2012 but was forced to wait for Yassine’s permit to be canceled before receiving their own, Jason Carrier, owner of Carmack Concepts, said. Carrier said this delay significantly hampered the opening of their business.

“We could have opened in December,” Carrier said. “But we were at a complete standstill until we finally opened Wednesday night.”

Carrier said there should be new legislation regarding the number of TABC licenses that can be attached to a single address. Currently, only one license may be tied to each address, which can create administrative problems when original tenants have been evicted, Carrier said.

“The license becomes worthless if there’s not a valid lease attached to it,” Carrier said. “If a bar loses its lease, it should make the license null.”

Carolyn Beck, a TABC spokeswoman, said a temporary order was initially filed in March 2012 against eight of the bars owned by Yassine, prohibiting them from buying or selling alcohol on the premises until further action could be taken.

“In February or March, the FBI raided the Yassine locations, and that’s when it started,” Beck said. “It was March 22 when we filed the temporary order.”

Yassine also owned a restaurant, Stack Burger, which was placed under a similar order March 28, Beck stated in a statement. Additional suspensions were placed on the eight bars because of failure to pay taxes to the Office of the Comptroller, the statement read. 

Beck said once Yassine was found guilty of money laundering, it was easier for TABC to successfully have his permits removed.

“Yassine was convicted of crimes in court, so we used that felony conviction as evidence that he could no longer maintain control of those establishments,” Beck said. “By that time, he had already been evicted for nonpayment.”

Music junior Austin Ferguson said bars that closed, such as Kiss & Fly, will be greatly missed by patrons. Ferguson said the news of last year’s money laundering scandal was surprising.

“No matter what had gone on the day/week before, we could always go downtown to Kiss and just have fun without anybody caring our judging us,” Ferguson said. “I always knew the place was a little seedy — what downtown club isn’t? But the extent of what was going on during the day shocked me.”

Printed on Friday, January 18, 2013 as: Former Yassine bars receive permits 

The U.S. Senate will soon vote on a law that would gravely undermine Americans’ privacy and give expanded, unbridled surveillance authority over people’s emails to more than 22 government agencies.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has capitulated to law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Justice Department, and is sponsoring a bill that authorizes widespread warrantless access to Americans’ emails, as well as files on Google Docs, direct messages on Twitter and so on, without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge. 

Leahy’s bill would only require the federal agencies to issue a subpoena, not obtain a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause. It also would permit state and local law enforcement to access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered to the public, including university networks, without warrants.

Even in situations that would still require a search warrant, the proposed law would excuse law enforcement officers from obtaining a warrant (and being challenged later in court) if they claim an “emergency” situation.

Not only that, but a provider would have to notify law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell its customers they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena. The agency then could order the provider to delay notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3-10 business days or, in some cases, up to 360 days.

Agencies that would receive civil subpoena authority for electronic communications include the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission. There is no good legal reason why agencies like these need blanket access to people’s personal information with a mere subpoena, rather than a warrant.

One might expect better of Leahy given his liberal credentials, but his performance has been quite disappointing.  In fact, he had a hand in making the USA PATRIOT Act bill less protective of civil liberties. Nor has the Obama administration been helpful in this regard — quite to the contrary. Expectations of  law enforcement types might not be as high in terms of protecting civil liberties, but they should not be as unsatisfactory as they are with proponents of constitutional freedoms.  

The revelations about how the FBI perused former CIA Director David Petraeus’ emails without a warrant should alarm us all as people who have less power and prestige than he did.

If the Fourth Amendment is to have any meaning, it is that police must obtain a search warrant, backed by probable cause, before reading Americans’ emails or other communications. If we are to preserve our constitutional protection from warrantless searches that are not reviewed by the courts, we need to let our U.S. senators from Texas hear from us immediately and resoundingly.

We cannot allow the government to undermine our rights bit by bit, even in the name of national security, which too often is the justification the government so casually uses.  As Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Ramirez is Chairman and CEO of the International Bank of Commerce-Zapata and Harrington serves as director of the Texas Civil Rights Project and an adjunct professor at the UT School of Law.

In this June 29, 2012 file photo, Gen. David Petraeus testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress said Sunday they want to know more details about the FBI investigation that revealed an extramarital affair between ex-CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer, questioning when the retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they weren’t told sooner.

“We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The FBI was investigating harassing emails sent by Petraeus biographer and girlfriend Paula Broadwell to a second woman. That probe of Broadwell’s emails revealed the affair between Broadwell and Petraeus. The FBI contacted Petraeus and other intelligence officials, and director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked Petraeus to resign.

A senior U.S. military official identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as a social liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. A U.S. official said the coalition countries represented at the military’s Central Command in Tampa gave Kelley an appreciation certificate on which she was referred to as an “honorary ambassador” to the coalition, but she has no official status.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kelley is known to drop the “honorary” part and refer to herself as an ambassador.

The military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, said Kelley had received harassing emails from Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Petraeus.

A former associate of Petraeus confirmed the target of the emails was Kelley, but said there was no affair between the two, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the retired general’s private life. The associate, who has been in touch with Petraeus since his resignation, says Kelley and her husband were longtime friends of Petraeus and wife, Holly.

Petraeus resigned while lawmakers still had questions about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA base in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Lawmakers said it’s possible that Petraeus will still be asked to appear on Capitol Hill to testify about what he knew about the U.S. response to that incident.

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the circumstances of the FBI probe smacked of a cover-up by the White House.

“It seems this (the investigation) has been going on for several months and, yet, now it appears that they’re saying that the FBI didn’t realize until Election Day that General Petraeus was involved. It just doesn’t add up,” said King, R-N.Y.

Petraeus, 60, quit Friday after acknowledging an extramarital relationship. He has been married 38 years to Holly Petraeus, with whom he has two adult children, including a son who led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan as an Army lieutenant.

Broadwell, a 40-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and an Army Reserve officer, is married with two young sons.

Attempts to reach Kelleyand Broadwell were not immediately successful.

Petraeus’ affair with Broadwell will be the subject of meetings Wednesday involving congressional intelligence committee leaders, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

Petraeus had been scheduled to appear before the committees on Thursday to testify on what the CIA knew and what the agency told the White House before, during and after the attack in Benghazi. Republicans and some Democrats have questioned the U.S. response and protection of diplomats stationed overseas.

Morell was expected to testify in place of Petraeus, and lawmakers said he should have the answers to their questions. But Feinstein and others didn’t rule out the possibility that Congress will compel Petraeus to testify about Benghazi at a later date, even though he’s relinquished his job.“I don’t see how in the world you can find out what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the attack if General Petraeus doesn’t testify,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants to create a joint congressional committee to investigate the U.S. response to that attack.

Feinstein said she first learned of Petraeus’ affair from the media late last week, and confirmed it in a phone call Friday with Petraeus. She eventually was briefed by the FBI and said so far there was no indication that national security was breached.

Still, Feinstein called the news “a heartbreak” for her personally and U.S. intelligence operations, and said she didn’t understand why the FBI didn’t give her a heads up as soon as Petraeus’ name emerged in the investigation.

“We are very much able to keep things in a classified setting,” she said. “At least if you know, you can begin to think and then to plan. And, of course, we have not had that opportunity.”

Clapper was told by the Justice Department of the Petraeus investigation at about 5 p.m. on Election Day, and then called Petraeus and urged him to resign, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

FBI officials say the committees weren’t informed until Friday, one official said, because the matter started as a criminal investigation into harassing emails sent by Broadwell to another woman.

Concerned that the emails he exchanged with Broadwell raised the possibility of a security breach, the FBI brought the matter up with Petraeus directly, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

Petraeus decided to quit, though he was breaking no laws by having an affair, officials said.

Feinstein said she has not been told the precise relationship between Petraeus and the woman who reported the harassing emails to the FBI.

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, called Petraeus “a great leader” who did right by stepping down and still deserves the nation’s gratitude. He also didn’t rule out calling Petraeus to testify on Benghazi at some point.

“He’s trying to put his life back together right now and that’s what he needs to focus on,” Chambliss said.

King appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Feinstein was on “Fox News Sunday,” Graham spoke on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Chambliss was interviewed on ABC’s “This Week.”

Austin now has the third lowest violent crime rate of all U.S. cities with more than 500,000 people, according to 2011 FBI crime statistics released Tuesday by the Austin Police Department.

According to the statistics, 430 violent crime incidents per 100,000 people occurred in Austin in 2011. This puts Austin behind San Diego and San Jose for the least violent crime per capita. 

Violent crime is defined by the report as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Austin had the seventh highest property crime rate out of the 33 cities ranked, with 5,235 incidents of property crime per 100,000 people. In Texas, only San Antonio has a higher property crime rate, with 5,967 incidents per 100,000 people.

Property crime is defined by the report as burglary, theft and auto theft.

Austin’s crime rate per capita improved from last year in both categories.

In 2010 Austin saw 475.9 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 people and 5,754.8 incidents of property crime per 100,000 people.

The rate of violent and property crime also decreased between 2009 and 2010.