Special Access

The ramblings and ruminations of suspense-thriller novelist, Mark A. Hewitt

Month: April 2016

April 2016 Book Signing at the International Spy Museum

I had another successful book signing at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. I was surprised how many copies of Special Access were picked up–along with one of my very special bookmarks.

Those that went through the museum and stopped at my table were a great bunch of people–I visited with folks from across America, England, France and Australia. The Shoot Down cover was a favorite among men; some of the women thought I had been an astronaut from the helmet. “Nope, that’s just a fighter pilot’s helmet with my spyplane imaged in the visor.” The nice people who picked up and bought No Need to Know were buying them for Father’s Day gifts. I provided special dedications and autographed each book, and even had my picture taken with several youngsters.

Met a number of military men and women, some Navy Cadets from the Navy League out of New Jersey if I recall correctly, and I met some of the spouses and parents of our guys and ladies in uniform. No police officers or Boy Scouts but I did spend some time with the former Skipper of the USS Ticonderoga. he said he looked like Bill Clinton. I didn’t see it. All in all, some very good young people and old patriots, and all fine Americans.

As always a hat tip to the Museum employees who helped make it all possible. They were always professional and helpful, and took great care of me. I never ran out of water and we didn’t run out of books–but it was a very good day. Again, thank you and I hope to be back in a month!

More to follow.

More Headlines and the Duncan Hunter Books–“Catch and Release” Policy Fuels Illegal Immigration

Yesterday, the headline on the Drudge Report read: U.S. Border Patrol Council says ‘catch and release’ policy continues fueling illegal immigration. This is a true statement and is indicative of the political left’s success in doing whatever it can to negate the effectiveness of the Border Patrol. In the Duncan Hunter books, Hunter understands and even discusses the effect that democratic administrations ignore the laws on the books and embark on programs to emasculate the immigration laws, the Border patrol, and the Agents in the field.

From Special Access:
“When you leave here please head north about 20 miles past the dam and see how the mighty Rio Grande has carved its way through 500 feet of solid granite. We have this amazing moat that is three-four hundred feet across with walls that are 400 feet of smooth granite. If someone can cross there, a little fence is not going to slow him down. Politicians who think the answer is a fence are idiots. They don’t come out here and talk to Border Patrol agents who know what is needed to secure the border, and a fence is not it. Go out to the Tucson and Yuma Sectors and look at the desert. It is another natural fence. The Rio Grande is a moat. The strategic fencing from Otay Mesa to the Pacific to separate Tijuana and San Diego is the right answer. Fencing two thousand miles of open country and private property is pure stupidity.”

“That makes sense,” said Yoder.

“You can see what is wrong with liberalism here on the border—liberals go out of their way and purposely prevent law enforcement from enforcing the law all the while facilitating other illegal activity. Republicans are in a constant state of war with the Democrats; one side wants to secure the border and the other side undermines the law and the efforts of law enforcement. Pick any topic, it is the same. Out here it is the trenches and you see it all; up front and personal. If you talk to a Border Patrol Agent, they are exasperated. To a man they will not say they need fences but surveillance aircraft and definitely more ground agents. It is real simple, when they come over the fence, you need to have an agent there to apprehend them. I wish there was a video of the Iranian students pouring over the US Embassy fence—maybe that visual would drive the point home a fence is only as good as the ladder you need to scale it. A fence doesn’t even slow them down. You have to have a law enforcement officer on the other side to arrest them.”

The mention of ‘Iranian students’ changed the demeanor of the man called Yoder for a moment. Hunter momentarily wondered if he had said something out of line or if his comment somehow resonated with the man with the flattop.

Yoder replied, “Duncan, that is the most common sensical—is that a word?—thing I have ever heard on the topic.”

“Thank you Sir. The rest of the story is in 1995 there were only 5,000 people in the whole Border Patrol; more emphasis is coming our way, and what are needed are more airplanes and more agents. I think quiet airplanes are the ticket for the areas that don’t need fences. Ground agents and aviators get it. Strategic fences are needed in the metropolitan areas—Laredo, El Paso, Tijuana—and guess what—that is exactly where they are. 14 miles of fence in San Diego—from Otay Mesa to the Pacific Ocean works well—not because there is a fence but because when someone climbs over, there is a boot on the ground, an agent right there to apprehend Juan Valdez and his buddy. Without an agent to apprehend, a fence barely slows them down—so why bother unless you have the manpower to apprehend? The real problem is illegal documents in the hands of illegal aliens and there is a whole industry on the other side of the border that makes counterfeit docs. Fixing that problem is a whole different story. That is the issue no one in politics wants to talk about.”

“What do you mean?”

“Illegal or bogus documents fuel two different parts of the political process—those on the right that produces jobs, like the building of those fuel tanks, benefits greatly from low-cost labor and they can make money and grow the business. On the left, it is a little different. One part is the democrats don’t believe in border control and view anyone coming over is a potential voter via amnesty. The other part is related to bogus documents. The dirty secret in law enforcement, here on the border at least, is when the police or Border Patrol pull over illegal aliens and—let’s just call them the poor—they all have a fistful of bogus documents. It is not a surprise when one of these guys gets pulled over they flash a Michigan driver’s license or a Social Security Card issued from Connecticut. And they get free stuff—be it health care or food stamps—under multiple names, and they sell everything extra they have; it is another form of welfare. And the other thing they do with those bogus documents—they vote. What is that Chicago saying, “vote early and often?” These folks have it down to an art form.”

More to follow.

50 ISIS Sympathizers working at Brussels Airport, Duncan Hunter not shocked

Yesterday, the headline read: 50 ISIS sympathizers working at Brussels Airport, warns Police Union. Why is this news?

In my American Thinker article, You Think Privatizing the TSA is a Good Idea? I recounted the day in April 1994 when over twenty Muslim men in kufis and women in hijabs arrived at our airport office to fill out applications to work as contracted pre-board screeners, the people who work the airport checkpoints, guide you through the magnetometer, X-ray your baggage, and approve your passage to the “sterile side” of the airport. This “event” occurred within days after the April 1994 bombing of the Hadera bus station in Israel. At the time, I was unaware of any terrorist event in Israel.

In addition to providing screening services for Cleveland Hopkins’ three concourses, my company also provided enhanced screening and security services for a weekly Trans World Airlines flight to Tel Aviv. The TWA managers were aware of the Hadera bombing and TWA ticketing personnel adopted the Israeli airports’ enhanced screening protocols. All baggage destined for Israel were subject to enhanced screening, X-ray, and bomb sniffing dogs.

While Islamist terrorism wasn’t too far from the hearts and minds of the TWA personnel and their passengers, twenty Muslim men and women seeking employment in a minimum wage airport environment didn’t immediately ring any alarm bells at my office. What set me off was that several of the Muslim men who had applied for a pre-board screener position, returned to the airport and complained bitterly that they were not given employment. The hostility and vitriol for not attaining minimum wage employment just struck me as weird. What did I witness, if anything?
This was seven years before September 11, 2001 when we were all told, If you see something, say something. During the course of the following days and weeks, I did talk to the airport police and the airport police chief who dismissed my thoughts and observations as irrelevant, as no one from that group was hired.

Nineteen Muslim men walked into two American airports on September 11, 2001 and changed everything in and around airports. The most incredible and significant change was the federalization of the airport screening process. Ever wonder why?

The unclassified 9-11 Commission Report was largely silent on the role the contracted pre-board screeners played that day. It focused on screening processes and not the failure of any screener or X-ray machine operator. We have no way of knowing what the classified volume of the 9-11 Commission Report had to say on the subject.

From the 9-11 Commission Report: “Checkpoint screening was considered the most important and obvious layer of security. Walk-through metal detectors and X-ray machines operated by trained screeners were employed to stop prohibited items. Numerous government reports indicated that checkpoints performed poorly, often failing to identify even obvious FAA test items. Many deadly and dangerous items did not set off metal detectors, or were hard to distinguish in an X-ray machine from innocent everyday items.”

Air-to-ground telephones aboard the jets were used to report the news. “They used knives,” reported two passengers. Another reported, “A flight attendant has been stabbed.” On another flight, “A man in first class had his throat slashed, two flight attendants had been stabbed.” And “Both pilots had been killed,” as reported by a flight attendant. “They used knives.” The press and the government attempted to “shape” what had actually happened at the screening checkpoint. Passengers aboard those aircraft that became flying bombs said, emphatically, “They used knives,” and not “box cutters.

Nineteen Muslim men walked through the airport security checkpoints at Boston (Flights 11 and 175–WTC), Newark (Flight 77—Pentagon), and Dulles (Flight 93–Shanksville). Somehow they were able to acquire weapons either already on board the aircraft or they were able to hide weapons in their baggage and those weapons were not detected. According to the 9-11 Commission Report, “They had defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation security system then had in place to prevent a hijacking.” That “security layer” was contracted screening services. Lowest cost, technically acceptable airport screening.

Like the checkpoints in Boston, Newark lacked closed-circuit surveillance so there was no documentary evidence when the hijackers passed through the checkpoint, what alarms were triggered, or what security procedures were administered. This is incredible and largely unbelievable. Even in 1994, at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, there was closed circuit surveillance on all three concourses. One camera showed what was being x-rayed. A second camera showed the passenger putting their baggage on the X-ray machine. Camera three showed a frontal view of the passenger passing through the magnetometer to show if any warnings of where the passenger had metal on their body. And a fourth camera showed the x-ray operator doing their work at the machine. The 9-11 Commission Report indicated the “FAA interviewed the screeners later, none recalled anything unusual or suspicious.” Of course not. There’s no video! Did anyone think that nineteen Muslim men passing through security checkpoints in three airports that didn’t have closed-circuit surveillance might be considered unusual or suspicious? Maybe that information is in the classified volume of the 9-11 Commission Report. Or maybe not.

What about the screeners? A half-dozen GAO reports from January 1994 to May 2001 highlighted the slow progress the Federal Aviation Administration had achieved in addressing and rectifying long-standing contracted screener performance problems. There is no mention of Muslim men or women manning the security checkpoint or being at the X-ray machines when the 19 hijackers passed through the airport. The absence of any comment is noteworthy. Political correctness and politics appear to be at play.

In my novels, I often reference September 11th and the pre- airport screening process, where a couple of dozen Muslim men and women find jobs with a contracted airport screening company and a Muslim woman in a hijab sits in the seat of the X-ray machine, and allows weapons to pass through her machine. What are the chances Mohammad Atta and his friends relied on the incompetence of random screeners to smuggle weapons aboard four aircraft? Or was it an inside job? When the Police Union warns that there are 50 ISIS sympathizers working at Brussels Airport, IT’s AN INSIDE JOB!

Two jihadis succeeded in detonating bombs inside the Brussels airport terminal. I’ve been through that terminal on my trips to and from Africa, via Brussels Airways of course. It was a nice terminal, and the Brussels Airways lounge was top notch. Courteous. Shower, food, drinks. Contracted security makes me nervous anywhere I go. It is so easily breeched and corrupted. I understand investigators were surprised to learn the chief culprits were “workers at the airport.” I’m not surprised Islamic terrorists were working at the airport. I’m surprised the inspectors were surprised! This is a case of willful blindness, and political correctness. If the Police union is squawking, politics are at play.

The 9-11 Commission Report recommended: “We advocate a system for screening, not a categorical profiling. A screening system looks for particular, identifiable subjects or indicators of risks. It does not involve guesswork about who might be dangerous. It requires frontline border officials who have the tools and resources to establish that people are who they say they are, intercept identifiable suspects, and disrupt terrorist operations.”

And so the United States federalized the “lowest cost, technically acceptable” passenger screening process. Since September 11th, all airports now have closed-circuit surveillance on the concourses and terminals, the TSA has vetted employees, trained them and pay them a decent wage. We know they are not perfect. They are still working in a politically correct environment where everyone is harassed and inconvenienced equally.

March 22nd may have the catalyst to change contracted airport screening, from “lowest cost, technically acceptable” passenger screening process that accepts “50 ISIS sympathizers working at Brussels Airport.” The experience may have some effect on “improving” airport security in Europe, but I doubt it. To paraphrase an American talk show host, “They have a Muslim problem.” Europe has not demonstrated they can deal with this problem because of its politically correct and sensitive nature. Prepare for more Brussels Airports. Good luck. I’m not visiting Europe; it’s not worth the effort.

American airports are about to learn the latest threat to aviation—-Brussels proved the airport itself is also a target for radical Islam which has an infatuation with aviation and aircraft. Another subject for my blog and a favorite subject of my protagonist, Duncan Hunter.

Tel Aviv and Baghdad International Airports have developed the best airport security and implemented effective protection systems from indiscriminate murderers like the Brothers Jihadi of Brussels. Their bombs would have been detected and blown up miles away from the airport. Their idea of airport security is different than ours and it works. The absolute one thing that it is not is that it isn’t politically correct.

Jewish Tel Aviv and Islamic Baghdad (and soon Islamic Amman) understand the threat, that they are in a life-or-death struggle and are in a continuous battle with local jihadi cells, of whatever name they go by this week. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the list goes on.

Please know, Muslim men and women working in Islamic airports are an absolute pleasure to meet and to be around; they are there to serve and to make your flying experience a thoroughly enjoyable one—like the good old days of PanAm and TWA, crisscrossing the globe in the newest airplanes and going to exotic locations—those days before terrorism and bombs helped kill off those airlines. The government ensures the bomb makers like the Brussels Brothers Jihadi are stopped well before the curb at the departure terminal. Multiple checkpoints along the road with bomb-sniffing dogs make it hard for the murderous Muslims to blow up the airport or an aircraft.

Not all but some Muslim men and women, working in Western airports, are a problem. Some are not there to serve and to make your flying experience a thoroughly enjoyable one—no, they have an agenda and if history is any yardstick, it usually involves murder and mayhem. Political Correctness only goes so far, and when there is an event, such as the bombing of the Brussels airport, only then is PC thrown out the window and the hunt for the jihadis and their friends takes precedence.

Brussels investigators shouldn’t ever be surprised their murderous jihadis were workers at the airport, they should have expected it. The Police Union knew ISIS sympathizers were working at Brussels Airport and are likely in other major European airports as well. Politicians are incapable of blowing the whistle on what is obvious.

More to follow.

More Headlines and the Duncan Hunter Books–Jihadist Sleeper Cells in Europe

Raids uncover evidence of Europe-wide jihadist cell. In the wake of the bombings in Belgium this week — and increasing criticism of officials for their inability to thwart those attacks — police in the last 24 hours have made at least four arrests in a series of raids in Belgium and four other countries across Europe. New evidence shows disturbing evidence of just how big the terror network is across Europe.

The raids have uncovered what is being described as “alarming” evidence of a Europe-wide jihadist cell connected to the attacks in Belgium as well as those in Paris in November.

Throughout the Duncan Hunter series, some of the characters in the books discover and comment on how widespread the terrorist network is and how frightening it is that the FBI is not doing a damn thing about them. Elections have consequences.

From No Need to Know:
“Thank you for joining us tonight, I’m Dory Eastwood. When we last visited, we asked a question, ‘Is Your Neighborhood Mosque a Sleeper Cell?’ We provided a forensic case, with many examples of circumstantial evidence, which suggested your neighborhood mosque might not be a place of worship but rather a fortress and possibly even an extremist training center. We reported the unpublicized failures of FBI sting operations at a few dozen mosques around the country. Those operations were shut down. When those programs were active the FBI disrupted jihadist terror plots which were percolating within every one of those neighborhood mosques. These mosques are now completely ‘hands off’ to any FBI surveillance or undercover sting operation. As extremists were led into courtrooms across the country, civil liberties groups sued the FBI for entrapment and for violating the civil rights of these homegrown terrorists. Under withering pressure from Muslim groups, the media, and certain members of Congress—all claiming the innocence of those charged, the FBI surveillance program was terminated.”

Eastwood began an easy walk toward the camera until he received the signal to stop; that his headshot had filled the director’s monitor.
With penetrating eyes and a tilt of the head, Eastwood began anew, “Imams across the country shouted that it was peace-loving Muslims that were being unfairly charged or they were entrapped; that all these men were somehow innocent and were illegally set up or surveilled by the FBI. Tonight we’re going to visit with an FBI agent as well as with a group of imams. Actually, imams that…defected. Imams that have left Islam.” He paused for effect and with a distinct Mephistophelean and ominous quality, said, “And, they have an interesting story to tell you.”

No Need to Know Cover bmp

More to follow.

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