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El Chapo's new home: a jail that held mobsters, terrorists

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:53:18 GMT

In the heart of bustling lower Manhattan sits one of the country's most secure federal lockups -- and the new home of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Guzman, who pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges he ran one of the world's biggest drug-trafficking operations, can expect to be kept in a special unit inside the drab 12-story Metropolitan Correctional Center, where such other high-profile, high-risk inmates as Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and several former close associates of Osama bin Laden awaited trial.

"It's got extra security above and beyond what you would have in a restricted housing area," second only to the super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, said Catherine Linaweaver, who served as the lockup's warden for 15 months before retiring in 2014. "There is no other unit in the Bureau of Prisons like the high-security unit in New York."

To authorities, it's a setting befitting a man who twice escaped from maximum-security Mexican prisons. Federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing that "it is difficult to imagine another person with a greater risk of fleeing prosecution" than Guzman.

The jail is sandwiched between federal prosecutors' offices and two federal courthouses and is protected by steel barricades that can stop a 7 1/2-ton truck. Cameras capable of reading a newspaper a block away are trained on the area.

Inmates can be transported to court through corridors linked to both courthouses, though Guzman will be ferried to and from court in Brooklyn, a potentially risky job for the U.S. Marshals Service.

In the 10th-floor Special Housing Unit, known by its acronym, the SHU, pronounced like "the shoe," around a dozen prisoners spend 23 hours a day in 20-by-12-foot cells, prohibited from communicating with one another. Meals are eaten in cells, and exercise is in a recreation area specifically for these inmates.

To reduce the risk that a wealthy inmate such as Guzman might try to corrupt jail staff, the number of jailers who have access to him will likely be limited and each will undergo extra screenings by top jail officials, Linaweaver said.

The special unit's strict confinement drew criticism in 2011 from the human rights group Amnesty International, which expressed concern that the sparse cells, exercise restrictions and isolation "amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

The jail saw an audacious escape attempt in 1982, when two armed people in a hijacked sightseeing helicopter tried to pluck an inmate off a roof. Four years earlier, three prisoners broke out by cutting through window bars.

Security there was tightened significantly after Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, described as a right-hand man to bin Laden and awaiting trial in a terrorism case, used a sharpened comb to stab a guard on Nov. 1, 2000. Salim, who later apologized for the stabbing, is serving a life sentence.

Guzman's case doesn't mark the first time federal authorities have grappled with how to hang onto a member of his Sinaloa drug cartel.

Authorities expressed concern that the cartel might attempt to break a son of one of Guzman's cartel partners out of a federal lockup in Chicago in 2011. Of particular concern in that case: A fenced rooftop recreation center officials feared could make a defendant susceptible to sniper fire.

The son was moved to a more secure facility.


Trump praises the CIA, bristles over inaugural crowd counts

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 01:18:02 GMT

By JULIE PACE and JILL COLVIN
Associated Press

LANGLEY, Va. (AP) -- On his first full day in office President Donald Trump on Saturday berated the media over its coverage of his inauguration, and turned a bridge-building first visit to CIA headquarters into an airing of grievances about "dishonest" journalists. But it was Trump who spread inaccuracies about the size of the crowds at his swearing in.

Standing in front of a memorial for fallen CIA agents, Trump assured intelligence officials, "I am so behind you." He made no mention of his repeated criticism of the intelligence agencies following the election, including his public challenges of their high-confidence assessment that Russia meddled in the White House race to help him win.

"There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and CIA than Donald Trump," he said, blaming any suggestion of a "feud" on the media.

Trump's decision to travel to CIA headquarters so quickly after taking office was seen as an attempt at a fresh start with the intelligence agencies he will now rely on for guidance as he makes weighty national security decisions. Following his private meeting with top CIA leaders, Trump said the U.S. had been "restrained" in its efforts to combat terrorism, calling the threat "a level of evil we haven't seen."

But in unscripted, steam-of-consciousness remarks, Trump appeared more focused on settling scores with the media.

He defensively touted the crowd size for his swearing-in ceremony, wrongly claiming that the throngs on the National Mall stretched "all the way back to the Washington Monument." Photos and video clearly showed the crowd stopping well short of the landmark.

Trump's visit took place as throngs of women, many of them wearing bright pink, pointy-eared hats, descended on the nation's capital and other cities around the world for marches organized to push back against the new president. Hundreds of protesters lined the motorcade route as Trump sped back to the White House, many screaming and chanting at the president.

The Washington rally alone attracted more than 500,000 people by the unofficial estimate of city officials. It appeared to be more people than attended Trump's inauguration on Friday, but there were no comparable numbers. The city did not release an estimate for the inauguration. The National Park Service does not provide crowd counts.

During his remarks at the CIA, the president claimed the inaugural crowds topped 1 million people, offering no evidence.

Suggestions that weak enthusiasm clearly irked the new president. Shortly after this remarks, he dispatched his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to the briefing room to aggressively reinforce the message.

"There's been a lot of talk in the media about holding Donald Trump accountable. And I'm here to tell you that it goes two ways. We're going to hold the press accountable as well," Spicer said in his first appearance in the White House briefing room.

Trump, and later Spicer, also slammed a Time magazine reporter for incorrectly reporting Friday that Trump had moved a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. out of the Oval Office. But Trump followed with a misstatement of his own, saying the reporter had not corrected the mistake. In fact, the item was quickly retracted.

High-level CIA brass stood largely silent during Trump's remarks, though some of the roughly 400 other officers in attendance cheered on the president during his remarks.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, slammed Trump for using his CIA visit to squabble over media coverage.

"He will need to do more than use the agency memorial as a backdrop if he wants to earn the respect of the men and women who provide the best intelligence in the world,' Schiff said.

The inaugural celebrations have been shadowed by reports that the CIA and other federal agencies are investigating Russian interference in the presidential election on behalf of Trump. McClatchy reported that the investigation included whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided Trump. The New York Times said agencies were examining intercepted communications and financial transactions between Russian officials and Trump's associates.

FBI Director James Comey has declined to confirm or describe the nature of the government's investigation, both during a congressional hearing and in closed-door meetings with members of Congress.

Saturday marked the end of three days of inaugural celebrations, with Trump and his family attending a national prayer service traditionally held for the new president. The president and his wife, Melania, and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, sat in a front pew at Washington National Cathedral for the morning service.

The interfaith service is a tradition for new presidents and is hosted by the Episcopal parish. But the decision to hold a prayer session for Trump sparked debate among Episcopalians opposed to his policies.

Bishop Mariann Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington wrote in a blog post that while she shared "a sense of outrage at some of the president-elect's words and actions," she felt an obligation to welcome all people without qualification, especially those who disagree and need to find a way to work together.

Trump arrived at the cathedral mid-morning. The service included readings and prayers from Protestant, Jewish, Sikh, Mormon, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Baha'i, Episcopal, Hindu and Native American leaders. But the program was remarkable for the large number of evangelicals participating, including two former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest evangelical denomination. Several speakers had served as Trump advisers and supporters who spoke at the Republican National Convention.

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AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll in New York and Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Jill Colvin at http://twitter.com/colvinj


Though champion of gun rights, President Trump could jam firearm sales

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 20:57:48 GMT

In his second term as president, gun-control proponent Barack Obama inadvertently became the No. 1 moneymaker for the firearms industry. The past 18 months, in particular, have seen record-breaking gun sales.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

But with Donald Trump now at the national helm, and the immediate threat of new federal gun restrictions fizzling, the industry is facing a threat of a different kind: an uncertain economic future and a sudden jam in purchases.

"We don't expect a collapse, we expect organic growth that isn't all fear-driven," Lawrence Keane, senior vice president, government and public affairs, for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told FoxNews.com. "We are likely to see the market normalize, which is better for the industry long term. It is hard to respond to constant spikes. Slow and steady wins the race."

The biggest players in the firearms industry convened in Las Vegas this week for the world's largest trade show of its kind, the NSSF-helmed annual Shot Show, where much of the focus was - quite calmly - on what will happen next.

Read the full report at FOXNews.com.

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