Wednesday, May 02, 2007

WND: Only drug cartels' greed has prevented bombing

Only drug cartels' greed has prevented bombing'
Former Customs agent to warn Congress of border dangers
Posted: May 2, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2007

A former U.S. Customs agent who once snagged 8,000 pounds of marijuana and 34 pounds of cocaine being smuggled in a rail tanker car, an issue on which WND as reported before, says it is only the greed of the drug cartels that has prevented another major terrorist bombing in the United States.

Darlene Fitzgerald, the author of Bordergate, is preparing to testify before Congress on May 14 in support of H.R. 985, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which already has been approved by the U.S. House.

It would put into the law various protections for whistleblowers such as drug or customs agents who see illegal activity, including the "protection" of drug routes, and report that activity.

(Story continues below)

In testimony prepared for presentation to Congress, a copy of which was provided to WND, Fitzgerald notes that her work tracking down smuggled drugs also exposed "the horrendous national security terrorist threat that these tanker cars pose to our nation."

"Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Murrah Building in Oklahoma City with about one ton of ammonium nitrate in an unsealed-cargo truck. This cowardly attack killed scores of people and resulted in over 11 damaged buildings being torn down," she said.

"Yet a terrorist can put 40 times this amount of ammonium nitrate in a railroad tanker car and pressurize it. This would create what is essentially the world's largest 'pipe bomb,'" she said.

"If I were a terrorist, this is what I would do. I could load hundreds of these [rail tanker cars] with ammonium nitrate," she said. They then would be routed around the country via Internet instructions and positioned next to government buildings, athletic stadiums and other locations – including nuclear power plants – before being detonated.

Experts have told WND previously about the access to rail cars that terrorists enjoy.

Fitzgerald said she is convinced that the only reason this hasn't already happened is that the major drug cartels that bring tons of drugs into the United States like the option of packing their products in a tanker car and hauling it across the border.

"The cartels are protecting their pipeline," she told WND. "It's not anything that the U.S. is doing to protect us. But for the cartels, this is their No. 1 pipeline."

The proposed law would for the first time give federal agents the right to have their claims heard in federal court, protect federal workers who expose fraud and corruption, and give help to federal contractors who expose fraud and corruption, according to the National Whistleblower Center.

"For the first time in 18 years, Congress is getting serious about protecting federal employee-whistleblowers," said Stephen Kohn, president of the group. "The House has taken the first step … it is now up to the Senate to get the job done."

"These tanker cars are the perfect instruments for a terrorist attack against the U.S. As our narcotics smuggling investigation has revealed, anyone with cash and phony identification can lease or sublease these cars using a front company…" Fitzgerald said. "Knowing the relationship that the terrorists have with the Narco-smuggling cartels, it is not a quantum leap to think that terrorists could easily copy the same modus operandi…"

In her remarks prepared for the May 14 hearing at which the whistleblower protections are to be discussed, she said the fact that she resigned and other agents have been drummed out of the federal agencies – allegedly because they've raised such issues – should be a concern, too.

She already had seized the 8,000 pounds of marijuana and 34 pounds of cocaine from a single car when five more cars were dispatched across the border into the U.S. from the same Mexican company, which her investigation showed was a shell.

"I had in my grasp five cars imported from Mexico that were improperly manifested as 'empty,' yet contained 25 to 40 tons of suspect contraband," she said.

But she was ordered off the case and "Assistant Special Agent in Charge … Gary Pinkava … admitted without elaboration that he would not allow me or my supervisor to pressure test, at no charge to the government, these highly suspect tanker cars," she said.

"It is important to note that there have been no other rail tanker car seizures since that done by my task force in 1998," she said. "Have the drug smugglers and terrorists simply quit trying to enter the U.S., or have they been operating freely with the assistance of corrupt managers…"

She said the treatment given border agents and others is just wrong, and the legislation can address that. But she said while the drugs are bad enough, the unchecked flow of tanker cars across the border with Mexico "places our country at risk."

"[A terrorist could] put 40 times [the Oklahoma City bomb] in one of these tanker cars. I can put it under pressure, and there are rail spurs right up to the Capitol," she told WND.

She said people should realize what could happen just by looking at the California overpass, where a burning truck recently knocked down entire sections of roadway.

"It could be a lot worse than a melted freeway," she said, pointing to nuclear power plants in California at Tennessee where rail lines are present, the rail lines in the shadows of large event stadiums and rail lines leading through the hearts of many major metropolitan areas.


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