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by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm 6,207 16 Comments

Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes had her chair “yarn bombed” at this afternoon’s Board meeting.

A group called the “Guerilla Stitch Brigade” created a colorful, monogrammed yarn cover for Hynes’ chair and presented it to her at the meeting. Hynes, whose gavel was also covered in yarn, seemed delighted.

“We have a really cool chair here today,” she said, before introducing a speaker from the stitch brigade.

Jennifer Lindsay, project member of the group, thanked county staff for allowing them to “infiltrate” the County Board office. She then used the occasion to promote a “secret” public art project the guerilla stitchers are creating in partnership with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, Artisphere and Arlington Public Library.

Lindsay said knitters will be working over the winter to create a temporary “yarn bomb” public art project that will be deployed in Rosslyn this coming spring. She was careful not to divulge details about the planned finished product, but promised “an explosion of color and fiber” around Rosslyn.

The group will meet most Wednesdays at Artisphere between now and Feb. 27, 2013 to work on the project.

“We’ll help you get started with materials, instruction and inspiration,” the Artisphere web site says. “Meet other knitters and crocheters while sharing your creativity for a top secret, guerilla-style, collaborative installation early next year! Experienced stitchers are welcome to bring their own needles and hooks.”

Lindsay said the knitters who decorated Hynes’ chair were from the Westover and Glen Carlyn libraries and from the Aurora Highlands Senior Center.

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm 7,211 41 Comments

A former CIA officer who lives in Arlington has pleaded guilty to revealing the name of a covert CIA officer to a journalist.

John Kiriakou, 48, agreed to a 30 month prison sentence for disclosing the covert officer’s name. The crime was detailed in a statement of facts entered in the case.

From a U.S. Department of Justice press release:

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, 48, of Arlington, Va., pleaded guilty today to disclosing to a journalist the name of a covert CIA officer and also admitted to disclosing information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

Kiriakou pleaded guilty today to one count of intentionally disclosing information identifying a covert agent. As part of the plea agreement, the United States and Kiriakou agree that a sentence of 30 months in prison is the appropriate disposition of this case. Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 25, 2013.

“The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”

“Disclosing classified information, including the names of CIA officers, to unauthorized individuals is a clear violation of the law,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Today’s plea would not be possible without the hard work of the prosecutors and FBI Special Agents and analysts who brought this case to justice, and who will continue to pursue those who ignore their obligations to protect national security secrets.”

According to court records, the case is a result of an investigation triggered by a classified filing in January 2009 by defense counsel for high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This filing contained classified information the defense had not been given through official government channels, including photographs of certain government employees and contractors. The investigation revealed that on multiple occasions one of the journalists to whom Kiriakou illegally disclosed classified information, in turn, disclosed that information to a defense team investigator. This information was reflected in the classified defense filing and enabled the defense team to take or obtain surveillance photographs of government personnel. The government has made no allegations of criminal activity by any members of the defense team for the detainees.

Kiriakou was a CIA intelligence officer between 1990 and 2004, serving at headquarters and in various classified overseas assignments. Upon joining the CIA in 1990 and on multiple occasions in following years, Kiriakou signed secrecy and non-disclosure agreements not to disclose classified information to unauthorized individuals. In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Kiriakou admitted that he made illegal disclosures about two CIA employees and their involvement in classified operations to two journalists (referenced as “Journalist A” and “Journalist B” in court records) on multiple occasions between 2007 and 2009.

Kiriakou admitted that, through a series of emails with Journalist A, he disclosed the full name of a CIA officer (referred to as “Officer A” in court records) whose association with the CIA had been classified for more than two decades. In addition to identifying the officer for the journalist, Kiriakou also provided information that helped the journalist link the officer to a particular classified operation.

In addition, Kiriakou admitted that he disclosed to Journalists A and B the name and contact information of a CIA analyst, identified in court records as “Officer B,” along with his association with an operation to capture terrorism subject Abu Zubaydah in 2002. Kiriakou knew that the association of Officer B with the Abu Zubaydah operation was classified. Based in part on this information, Journalist B subsequently published a June 2008 front-page story in The New York Times disclosing Officer B’s alleged role in the Abu Zubaydah operation.

Without Kiriakou’s knowledge, Journalist A passed the information he obtained from Kiriakou to an investigator assisting in the defense of high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Kiriakou also admitted that he lied to the CIA regarding the existence and use of a classified technique, referred to as a “magic box,” while seeking permission from the CIA’s Publications Review Board to include the classified technique in a book.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the CIA and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Iris Lan of the Southern District of New York, Mark E. Schneider and Ryan Fayhee of the Northern District of Illinois, and W. Neil Hammerstrom Jr. of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm 7,128 58 Comments

The long-awaited process of demolishing the Navy Annex and its surrounding parking lots is scheduled to begin within the next month or two, officials tell ARLnow.com.

The 1 million square foot military office complex, first built in 1941 and located on the eastern end of Columbia Pike, will be torn down to make way for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. The entire 42-acre Navy Annex site, which includes a large surface parking lot on the other side of Columbia Pike, will be turned into a grass field in advance of an official transfer from the Department of the Army to Arlington National Cemetery in late 2013.

Demolition on the eastern wing of the Navy Annex is scheduled to start in November or December. The process will include abatement of asbestos and other hazardous materials. Demolition, site grading and seeding is expected to be complete by August 2013.

Columbia Pike should only experience “minimal” traffic impacts from the project; Southgate Road, which runs parallel to the Pike on the other side of the Navy Annex, is expected to see the majority of traffic disruptions.

The Navy Annex site is not expected to be used for burials for at least a couple of years. First, Arlington County and the federal government must come to a land swap agreement. The entities are still working on a deal to swap the county’s 4.23 acre Southgate Road right of way, and perhaps some other land, in exchange for a portion of the Navy Annex site.

The most recent land swap agreement — which has since fallen through, according to Arlington County federal liaison Brian Stout — called for construction of an Arlington County heritage museum on the site. At least a portion of the proposed museum would be used to commemorate the Civil War-era Freedman’s Village, which was once located on the site.

The county is also working with the federal government and VDOT to reach an agreement for a realignment of Columbia Pike. Currently, the Pike curves around the Air Force Memorial — located adjacent to the Navy Annex — and toward the cemetery before the intersection with S. Joyce Street.

Stout says the county is proposing that the Pike be straightened and run through the current Navy Annex parking lot, before making an L-shaped intersection with Joyce Street. That would make for an easier drive up the Pike and would make for a contiguous burial area that’s not divided by the busy road. The project has been discussed but so far no engineering plans are in place, Stout said.

Another point of discussion deals with parking for the Air Force Memorial. Stout said the current demolition plan seems to call for the demolition of a portion of the parking lot used by memorial visitors. If that’s removed, visitors may need to park on Southgate Road.

Takis Karantonis, Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, says the demolition presents an opportunity to improve the “eastern gateway” to the Pike. He said CPRO would like to see up to five stories of mixed use development along the Columbia Pike frontage of the tiny Foxcroft Heights neighborhood, located between the Navy Annex and the Sheraton National hotel.

“This is not the sightliest of places,” he said of the aging military building and the parking lots that line that section of the Pike. “Getting this redeveloped… is for us a welcome development. We think that the neighborhood will develop very nicely with that.”

Most of Foxcroft Heights is slated to remain single family homes under the recently-approved Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan.

A neighborhood information meeting about the demolition process is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Galaxy Room of the Sheraton National (900 S. Orme Street).

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2012 at 11:15 am 5,201 82 Comments

The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office will again be holding a contest for high school students to design the county’s new annual vehicle decal, but this year’s competition will have a theme.

All designs for the 2013-2014 decal must feature an image of the USS Arlington, a new Navy ship named after the county in commemoration of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. The ship will be commissioned in Hampton Roads, Va. this coming spring.

The design contest is open to all high school students residing or attending school in Arlington. Entries are due by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21. Rules and entry instructions can be found online.

Four decal design finalists will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 13. The winning decal (chosen by popular vote) will be announced on Jan. 22, 2013. The new decals will be distributed next summer, to be displayed on the windshield of more than 155,000 vehicles in Arlington.

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2012 at 9:55 am 3,934 85 Comments

Republican County Board candidate Matt Wavro has an idea for the millions of dollars of unspent tax revenue typically left over at the end of the county’s fiscal year.

Instead of simply finding a way to spend the money or putting the money in reserve, as Arlington County does now, Wavro wants to see the “close-out funds” returned to county residential and commercial property holders in the form of a tax rebate. As the Sun Gazette reports, Wavro presented the idea at the County Board meeting on Saturday, saying that the county should provide tax relief after years of tax rate increases.

How do you think excess county tax revenue should be used?

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2012 at 8:45 am 3,481 79 Comments

Mental Evaluation for Fire Bomb Suspect — Lawyers for Leon Traille, Jr., the man accused of trying to fire bomb the Ballston Common Mall food court last week, have asked the federal judge in the case to grant a mental health evaluation. Traille is charged with arson and faces 5 to 20 years in prison if convicted. [Washington Post]

Disturbance at Arlington Screening of ‘Hating Breitbart’ — A liberal activist is accused of disrupting the Friday night showing of the documentary Hating Breitbart at the Regal theater at Ballston Common Mall. Moviegoers say the activist, Ryan Clayton, shouted at the screen and laughed loudly at inappropriate times during the film about the late conservative media icon. [The Hollywood Reporter]

D.C. Sniper’s Ex-Wife Talks at Ft. Myer — Mildred T. Muhammad, the ex-wife of executed D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, spoke earlier this month at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Muhammad, who was abused by her ex-husband, was the guest speaker at the base’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month observance. [U.S. Army]

New ‘Car Free Diet’ Video — Arlington County Commuter Services has commissioned a new series of videos for its ‘Car Free Diet’ campaign. The theme of the videos is “What’s Your One?” — and they make the case for walking, biking or taking public transit instead of driving. The videos will play on Arlington TV, the county’s cable channel, and prior to movie previews a the Regal Ballston Common and the AMC Loews Shirlington theaters. Disclosure: ACCS is an ARLnow.com advertiser. [YouTube]

Flickr pool photo by ddimick

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