This is part of an ongoing series on unauthorized cameras and listening devices found in the Customs area of the Guam Airport.
Regular readers will recall the unclaimed spy equipment that was found a while back in the Customs area of the Guam Airport. (See my March 3rd, Unauthorized Surveillance Cameras in Guam Airport: Who Was Watching The Customs Channel?.) There was an inquiry into just who was watching Guam Customs, and the report is now out, though it raises at least as many questions as it gives answers: KUAM: Report on Airport's listening equipment released
A collaborative investigation conducted by Pacific Security Alarm and private investigator Greg Hall answered three questions posed by the Guam International Airport Authority: Who installed the audio and video system in the Guam Customs area? When was the system installed? And who was playing Big Brother on Customs?
According to the report submitted to GIAA and Customs officials today, the investigations found answers to those questions and the answers pointed to former Airport executive manager Jerry Yingling and former acting Airport Police chief Lieutenant Pete Daga.
Seven cameras and seven microphones were found inside the Customs screening area at the Airport, purchased and installed by Sunny Electronics and general manager John Wilson. According to the investigator's interview with Daga, the equipment was purchased for two reasons - for security purposes following September 11, 2001 and because of numerous complaints about Customs officers stealing from arriving passengers.
Customs director Rick Blas doesn't buy the justification. He told KUAM News, "When you look at some of these documents submitted as review, these documents indicate they were purchased as far back as April 30, 2001. So where do they get off saying it was all done in the interest of security at the Airport?"
Also stated Blas, "They used the people's money to purchase [this] equipment. Things that weren't quite necessary as they claim to be."
The investigator points out that the camera and audio systems weren't the only things purchased. In fact, there are invoices showing monitoring equipment had also been purchased. Hall indicates in his report that through the investigation he learned the surveillance was being monitored by Yingling and Daga in their personal offices. While Yingling declined to comment on the findings, Blas maintains the cameras and microphones were all part of an ongoing turf war at the time between Customs and the Airport.
"Something done like this is an attack on law enforcement," he said. "This is why people like Pete Daga have no business in law enforcement. These people have jeopardized the lives of my officers who do go out in the general public, do surveillance work and they also do controlled buys. They must be held accountable one way or another."
The investigator also indicates that he interviewed Yingling about the equipment. Hall was told the systems were purchased around the time of the 9/11 attacks and during a time when he, as Airport manager at the time, had received death threats and threats to his staff. Yingling told the investigator the systems were to be placed throughout the Airport to prevent a repeat of the Seventh-Day Adventist Clinic shootings or any terrorist threats. Despite invoices stating otherwise, Hall concluded the audio/video system was installed in July 2002.
So who was watching and listening all Customs movement? Hall explained to GIAA officials, "It was intended for chief Daga and general manager Yingling...it is possible they did watch and listen, however there is no direct evidence that indicates they actually did."
I'm not up on the legal fine points, but it seems to me that surreptitiously monitoring inspections held by U.S. Customs in the a secured area of an airport is probably illegal. So what did they want to know bad enough that they'd want to break the law to find out? Was this information for their own consumption? Or were they monitoring for third parties?
KUAM reports that "Customs director Rick Blas plans to file criminal charges against former Guam International Airport Authority executive manager Jerry Yingling and former GIAA police chief Lieutenant Pete Daga" for "unlawfully intercepting communication of his staff and passengers."
MEANWHILE, Airport Manager Jess Torres weighs in:
Current GIAA Executive Manager Jess Torres said he has not finished reviewing the inch-thick report yesterday but expected to do so today.
"I realize the sensitivity of the report, and yes, Mr. Daga is still my employee here," he said.
"But as far as (possible disciplinary action) I don't want to jump the gun on that one. I'll review it and talk to the people that I need to talk to and then whatever action needs to be taken, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."
Recall that Torres is the guy who LOVES Manila, loves it so much that he was apparently accepting very frequent subsidized trips because he could get such deals there on personal grooming services. (While he's there, he probably gets to commiserate with the Philippine airport managers who have a few problems involving customs of their own.)
AND IN OTHER GUAM NEWS:
- The Associated Press reports that Japan wants to explain their estimate that Tokyo should pay $26 billion to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam:
Surprised by the cost, Japan will ask the United States to explain its estimate that Tokyo will pay some $26 billion for the realignment of the U.S. military here, a top government official said Thursday.
U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Richard Lawless made the estimate on Tuesday, shocking some Japanese officials.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Japan would seek a clarification from Washington. The Lawless comment came days after the two countries agreed that Japan would pay some $6 billion to help move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
"We need to ask the U.S. side which items are included," Abe said. "This amount is not the result of any agreement, and we have not received any request from the U.S. to shoulder this amount."
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday that he did not know how the Americans arrived at that estimate, and that the government would not impose a tax increase to pay for the realignment.
The number has drawn considerable attention in Japan, since it would amount to more than 60 percent of the country's entire annual defense budget of $42 billion.
- The Washington Times reported in March: Pentagon 'hedge' strategy targets China
(I dunno. This week, it looked like the biggest conflict Bush was heading for with China was whether he or Chinese President Hu Jintao were going to get to drink that last of the champagne.)
The Pentagon is moving strategic bombers to Guam and aircraft carriers and submarines to the Pacific as part of a new "hedge" strategy aimed at preparing for conflict with China, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
Peter Rodman, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, told a congressional commission that the response to the emerging military threat from China is part of the White House national security strategy made public yesterday.