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Was Homeland Security
Behind Attack on
9/11 Investigative Journalist?

by Christopher Bollyn
31 August 2006

The "undercover tactical unit" involved in the assault and TASERing of a 9/11 investigative journalist at his Chicago-area home was most likely an operation ordered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to a former high-ranking police official.

Since the bizarre and brutal attack against me by three heavily-armed agents at my family home in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a number of people have commented on the seemingly odd use of an "undercover tactical unit" to respond to a non-emergency 911 call. 

(Information on the arrest is here.

Some of the most insightful comments have come from a former senior police official from Illinois, who spoke to a source close to AFP.  The former police chief was familiar with the details of the incident when he made his comments.

The former police chief said the deployment of an armed tactical unit wearing body-armor on a "gang suppression" exercise in a neighborhood in which there are no gangs or history of gang activity was itself "highly unusual." 

Although the Hoffman Estates Police Department (HEPD) C.O.P. Clint Herdegen told AFP that the tactical unit was on a normal patrol, this unit of heavily-armed men had never been seen before in the neighborhood prior to the night before the incident.

That this undercover unit of three agents, supposedly on a mission of "gang suppression," wearing tactical gear and ready to "do battle," would "blow their cover" by responding to a non-emergency 911 call from a concerned citizen about their presence in his neighborhood is one of the many anomalies of the incident.

The Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) has released a video entitled "Homeland Security Begins at Home: 7 Signs of Terrorism."  Patty Thompson, spokesman for the task force, told AFP that calling 911 to report unidentified armed men is exactly what the ITTF would expect a citizen to do.

Why did a covert "gang suppression" unit leave their so-called "patrol" and respond to a non-emergency 911 call?  Did these three unidentified heavily-armed agents have any right to respond to a 911 call and did they have any right to come onto my property without a warrant or probable cause, legal experts ask.

The Chicago Police Department has guidelines, specifically adopted "to ensure that the anti-gang loitering is not enforced in an arbitrary or discriminatory way."  Under the CPD guidelines, the Ordinance may be enforced only by trained officers in "areas frequented by members of criminal street gangs."  Such gangs do not exist in my neighborhood, and never have.

In the opinion of the former police chief, the operation appears to have been ordered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under the leadership of the Israeli-American dual national Michael Chertoff.  Chertoff, who has been the subject of several of my articles about 9/11 and the failure of his department to respond to Hurricane Katrina, is the son of Livia Eisen, one of the first agents of Israel's military intelligence agency, the Mossad.

The purpose of the heavily-armed "gang suppression" squad in a neighborhood in which there has never been any gang activity was meant to "intimidate, scare, and harass" me, according to the former police chief.  The "gang" that was being monitored was, in fact, me, he said, but the tactical unit and the local police chief were probably not aware of the political nature of the target.  The tactical unit had probably only been told that I was a "very dangerous person."

The reason for the conspicuous presence of the heavily-armed agents around my house was to create a provocation and confrontation, according to the former police chief, in which I would be arrested and humiliated.

The local chief-of-police would probably have been the only local official who had direct connection with DHS, according to the former chief.  DHS maintains contacts with local police departments and is able to give orders to local officials, according to its mandate.

"More than 87,000 different governmental jurisdictions at the federal, state, and local level have homeland security responsibilities," according to the DHS "organization" webpage dedicated to "Department Subcomponents and Agencies."

Experts have "come to expect" that DHS will involve local police playing "a large role in many aspects of homeland security," according to a September 2005 article by David Thacher, "The Local Role in Homeland Security," in Law & Society Review

A recent analysis, cited by Thacher, indicated that local police would be "developing new areas of investigative expertise, cooperating much more with federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, working more closely with the military, [and] increasing their levels of surveillance over their communities."

An inquiry to DHS asking about the precise nature of its interaction with local police departments went unanswered.  Lt. Richard Russo, spokesman for the HEPD, however, told AFP that senior officers had gone through "command post" training with DHS and a private New York-based contractor called BowMac.

Lt. Dennis Carroll of the neighboring Schaumburg P.D. told AFP that DHS and the Schaumburg police "work very well together."  Asked who handles the communication with the federal agency, Carroll said there is a liaison at the police department.

Russo did not know if local police are required to act on orders given by DHS, but said they probably would, in the spirit of mutual co-operation with the federal agency.

A former Swedish marine and public safety expert who works in France commented on the odd use of a "gang suppression team" to respond to a 911 call.  The decision by the HEPD to send the undercover unit to explain their presence was "illogical," according to the European public safety expert.

"This was provocative, threatening, and very unusual," he said.  "This is not the way to handle a 911 call.  The gang suppression team should have been instructed not to get out of the car.  There was no need to get out of the car, but if there were, the proper thing would have been to send only one man to the house without a gun.  Or better, wait for an official, marked police car with a uniformed officer to explain the situation.

"Police teams of any kind always operate in pairs," he said. "Police teams never operate in formations of three for obvious reasons." 

"Gangs are local juveniles with some strange ways," the France-based public safety expert wrote, "Easily handled by social workers, not undercover agents in body armor.  So the statement by the HEPD that undercover agents were on a gang suppression mission seems to be an outrageous lie." In France, gang suppression units always have a person videotaping their actions.  In my case, there was no filming by the police and my wife was physically prevented from taking photographs.

The police have offered two explanations about why the "gang suppression" unit was sent, both of which seem illogical.  The first is that this was the nearest unit, although the 911 call was not an emergency call, but rather a request for an explanation more than 30 minutes after I had observed the heavily-armed unit near my house.  However, after the arrival of the tactical unit, a half-dozen squad cars and two emergency vehicles immediately appeared on the scene to support the action.

The uniformed police, however, clearly had orders not to intervene and stayed back until after the assault and arrest had been completed.  This raises the question, what were the orders given to the tactical unit and to the uniformed police?

An AFP supporter contacted the Palo Alto Police Department (Calif.) to ask if citizens, believing that armed federal agents are spying on their home without probable cause, are entitled to call 911 and report the apparent threat to their safety?

"Yes, one can call 911," the Palo Alto police spokesperson said. "But," she added, "if federal agents are watching a home, in most cases, the local law enforcement is notified, and they are in contact with the federal agents, but local police are not to reveal which agency is involved or why."  Nor are the local police allowed to intervene in any action taken by the federal agents.

Chief Herdegen of the HEPD subsequently told AFP that the tactical unit had returned to my house to identify themselves and explain their purpose.  However, despite repeated requests, the three men refused to do either.  Why would the HEPD send a unit who could not, or would not, identify themselves?  The refusal by the armed agents to identify themselves as legitimate police officers prevented them from resolving the 911 call, and allowed them to exacerbate the situation leading to the violent assault.