Over at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder is committed to eliminating racial "disparities" in law enforcement. His anti-profiling allies at the ACLU and something called the "Rights Working Group" are working to end Bush administration counterterrorism initiatives, "including FBI surveillance and questioning, special registration programs, border stops, immigration enforcement programs and the creation of 'no fly lists.'" The ACLU and RWG have appealed to the United Nations to intervene through the "U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)" -- which they say is empowered to require sovereign governments "to review national, state and local policies and amend or repeal laws deemed to be creating or perpetuating discrimination."
Now, add anti-gun activism and stubborn union squabbling to the mix. As I reported two weeks ago, the Obama administration has quietly gutted the nation's most highly trained post-9/11 counterterrorism rail security team. According to multiple government sources who declined to be identified for fear of retribution, the Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations' East Coast and West Coast teams have not worked in a counterterrorism capacity since the summer. Their rifles were put under lock and key after Amtrak Vice President for Security Strategy and Special Operations Bill Rooney and Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold, who played an instrumental role in creating OSSSO's predecessor at Amtrak, the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU), were pushed out by Team Obama.
Amtrak confirmed to me last week that the elite members of the specialized OSSSO no longer carry long-arm weapons, which played a vital role in the unit's show-of-force patrols. Government sources blame anti-gun hostility inside Amtrak for the move. Amtrak also confirmed to me that West Coast members of the rail security unit -- most of whom come from Special Forces, counterterrorism and other military service -- have been denied police credentials. According to OSSSO sources on both coasts, the rival Amtrak Police Department, in conjunction with the local police union in California, have stymied the process over labor issues (OSSSO members are non-union).
"Amtrak fully expects to have a resolution in the near future," I was told by the rail agency's press office last week. In the meantime, according to a high-ranking homeland security source, Amtrak's unionized police chief has taken over and makes counterterrorism deployment decisions based on pay squabbles. The rail agency is still dealing with grievances filed by Amtrak police officers over compensation during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Says my rail security source: "The deciding factor is overtime, not security."
Dickering while jihadis plot. Feel safer yet?