May 4th, 2012

Explainer: How Guantanamo’s ‘war court’ differs from federal system

Tomorrow, five men accused of planning the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11 will be arraigned in a military courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The high-profile case will shine an international spotlight on a “war court” system that, despite legal reforms, is derided as inherently unjust by critics and lauded by proponents as the most secure, efficient forum to try detainees suspected of terrorism. A trial could offer an intimate look at the events leading up to the 2001 terrorist attacks and also could raise the issues of torture and inmate abuse that became synonymous with the infamous prison.

We break down how the Guantanamo ‘war court’ will differ from the federal system. Check out our Explainer for more.

Image: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is shown in this file photograph during his arrest March 1, 2003. The accused 9/11 mastermind and four suspected co-conspirators are facing trial in a Guantanamo war crimes tribunal on charges that could carry the death penalty. Credit: Courtesy of U.S. News & World Report/Reuters

January 24th, 2012

Counterterror, disaster response centers not sharing information

Dozens of high-tech command centers built or beefed up throughout the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to promote better information sharing and disaster preparation have struggled to do just that.

A decade later, federal auditors found that two networks – one heavily focused on law enforcement and the other on emergency management – are often unaware of what the other is doing and in the process might be missing critical opportunities to improve efficiency.

Investigations after the hijackings revealed that critical information about what the attackers were planning had not been pieced together, in part because local, state and federal agencies frequently failed to communicate with one another. Hurricane Katrina, meanwhile, exposed weaknesses in how those same bureaucracies responded to both manmade and natural catastrophes. Read more.

Photo via fpra/Flickr: An emergency operations center in Florida

September 11th, 2011

Photo of the National September 11 Memorial via The New York Times.

September 8th, 2011

Listen to the continuation of an investigation by NPR News and the Center for Investigative Reporting on private counterterrorism programs, like the one at the Mall of America.

Programs aimed at keeping a lookout for potential terrorists are not about profiling, government officials stress. But an analysis of suspicious activity reports of incidents at the Mall of America near Minneapolis, by NPR News Investigations and the Center for Investigative Reporting, suggests that the Mall of America may be questioning people based partly on their appearance.

From the more than 1,000 pages of suspicious activity reports examined, the documents suggest almost two-thirds of the “suspicious” people whom the Mall reported to local police were minorities. Compare that with the U.S. population, which is more than 70 percent white. And whites account for 85 percent of the population in Minnesota. Read more of this story.

September 7th, 2011

The Mall of America, one of the nation’s largest shopping and entertainment venues, is also home to its own counterterrorism unit. Listen to the joint NPR/CIR investigation Under Suspicion At The Mall Of America and find more information on our website.

September 7th, 2011

From our new homeland security investigation: Mall of America visitors unknowingly end up in counterterrorism reports

Brad Kleinerman lives on a quiet 2-acre lot in the Connecticut countryside with his family. An American flag hangs near the front door.

During a trip to the Twin Cities in January 2008, Kleinerman stopped at the Mall of America to return shoes and buy a SpongeBob SquarePants watch for one of his kids.

Two security officers reported that Kleinerman, a human resources director for the health services giant CIGNA, based in Bloomfield, Conn., “intently observed” them as they answered an unrelated call and then “observed both of us very closely” as the three traveled in opposite directions. The guards considered this “very odd.” Read documents from his report here.

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