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Coalition Against Illegal Aliens Round-up

The Secure Borders First Act from: Steve Hampton

Newt’s Immigration Ad from: freedomofphiladelphia

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The History Channel is looking for Military Videos

The Military Channel is seeking personal videos from members of the U.S. Military to let soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines tell their story directly to viewers.  Real-life moments captured on film by service members will be broadcast on the Military Channel as part of an on-air programming initiative.  Servicemen and women anywhere in the world who brought back footage from a recent deployment, or those who currently have a camera with them on the frontlines, can submit their videos directly to the Military Channel. 

 

We have videos and assets from the first phase of this initiative, which occurred in February and March, which we are happy to provide to share with your readers. We appreciate your support in sharing this message with fellow members of the military, friends and colleagues.  There are three ways in which you can submit the videos:

 

 

 

MILITARY VIDEOS

Discovery Productions

8045 Kennett Street

Silver Spring, MD 20910

·         Via Email:  Forward an email containing a video link to mywardiary@Discovery.com.  You can also email the same address with questions.

Deployed service personnel may also be able to send footage via DVIDS satellite transmission. To find out how, please contact your PAO.

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Twenty Dishonorable Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill

Cross posted from Maggie’s Notebook

Immigration Bill


Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is one of the strongest Senate warriors against the Senate Immigration Reform bill. He has published twenty loopholes that place this bill in the category of a scheme (italicised – my words – my opinion).
When you call your Senator this week, be ready to battle. You may be told: We changed the bill to address your concerns. It’s a “new” bill with a “new” number assigned to it. Don’t buy it! Ask direct questions that require a “yes” or “no answer.” Yesterday, on The Sean Hannity radio show, Sessions said that the only thing different in this bill is the additional adding of $4.4 billion.

In a press release June 19th, Senator Jeff Sessions said:

If we assume that the Administration and the bill’s drafters were serious about their commitment to enforcement, the recent promises of guaranteed funding are unnecessary.

The only significance of the promised funding is to effectively say ‘we’re going to fund what we already promised to fund.’ The $4.4 billion will not build additional miles of fencing, provide any new technology, hire additional agents or acquire more detention beds than already promised by the President and included in the bill’s provisions that trigger amnesty.

“Let me emphasize that this money will do nothing more than fund the enforcement trigger in the bill, which was already a solemn promise to the American people….

“Most significantly, the $4.4 billion will do nothing to change CBO’s conclusion that the bill will only reduce illegal immigration by 13 percent. CBO assumed the bill’s enforcement items would be funded when it published its June 4th cost estimate. If the Senate bill is enacted, CBO projects an additional 8.7 million new illegal immigrants will be in the U.S. in 20 years. These new promises do nothing to prevent that.”

Here’s a short summary of Sessions’ comments on the 20 loopholes, with the full list of twenty (20) following:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) released a list of 20 loopholes in the comprehensive immigration bill today which reveals that the bill is fatally flawed and will not establish a functioning immigration system in the future.

The list of loopholes includes flaws effecting border security, chain-migration and assimilation policies. The list exposes the lack of serious attention given to ensuring that the legislation fixes America’s failed immigration system.

“I am deeply concerned about the numerous loopholes we have found in this legislation. They are more than technical errors, but rather symptoms of a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation that stands no chance of actually fixing our broken immigration system,” Sessions said. “Many of the loopholes are indicative of a desire not to have the system work.”

For example, one loophole in the “enforcement trigger” fails to require the U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system established by Congress in 1996, but never implemented – to be fully functioning before new worker or amnesty programs begin. Without the system in place, the U.S. has no method of ensuring that workers and their families do not overstay their visas.

Another flaw in the legislation prevents the benefits of merit-based immigration from taking full effect until 2016. Until then, chain migration into the U.S. will actually triple, compared to a disproportionately low increase in skill-based immigration. As a result, the merit-based system in the bill is only a shell of what it should have been.

A third loophole in the bill allows immigrants to avoid demonstrating a proficiency in English for more than a decade. Illegal aliens are not required to learn English to receive full “probationary benefits” of citizenship. Passing a basic English test is only required for the third Z-visa renewal, twelve years after amnesty is granted.

The 20 Loopholes

* Loophole 1 – Legal Status Before Enforcement:
Amnesty benefits do not wait for the “enforcement trigger.” After filing an application and waiting 24 hours, illegal aliens will receive full “probationary benefits,” complete with the ability to legally live and work in the U.S., travel outside of the U.S. and return, and their own social security card. Astonishingly, if the trigger is never met and amnesty applications are therefore never “approved,” the probationary benefits granted to the illegal alien population never expire, and the new social security cards issued to the illegal alien population are not revoked. [See pp. 1, 290-291, & 315].

* Loophole 2 – U.S. VISIT Exit Not In Trigger:
The “enforcement trigger,” required to be met before the new temporary worker program begins, does not require that the exit portion of U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system first required by Congress in 1996 that is already well past its already postponed 2005 implementation due date – to be in place before new worker or amnesty programs begin. Without the U.S. VISIT exit portion, the U.S. has no method to ensure that workers (or their visiting families) do not overstay their visas. Our current illegal population contains 4 to 5.5 million visa overstays, therefore, we know that the U.S. VISIT exit component is key to a successful new temporary worker program. [See pp. 1-2].

* Loophole 3 – Trigger Requires No More Agents, Beds, or Fencing Than Current Law:
The “enforcement trigger” does not require the Department of Homeland Security to have detention space sufficient to end “catch and release” at the border and in the interior. Even after the adoption of amendment 1172, the trigger merely requires the addition of 4,000 detention beds, bringing DHS to a 31,500 bed capacity. This is far short of the 43,000 beds required under current law to be in place by the end of 2007, or the additional 20,000 beds required later in the bill. Additionally, the bill establishes a “catch, pay, and release” program. This policy will benefit illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico that are caught at the border, then can post a $5,000 bond, be released and never show up for deportation hearings. Annual failure to appear rates for 2005 and 2006, caused in part by lack of detention space, doubled the 2004 rate (106,000 – 110,000 compared with 54,000). Claims that the bill “expands fencing” are inaccurate. The bill only requires 370 miles of fencing to be completed, while current law already mandates that more than 700 miles be constructed [See pp. 1-2, & 10-11, and EOIR’s FY2006 Statistical Yearbook, p. H2, and The Secure Fence Act of 2004].

* Loophole 4 — Three Additional Years Worth of Illegal Aliens Granted Status, Treated Preferentially To Legal Filers:
Aliens who broke into the country illegally a mere 5 months ago, are treated better than foreign nationals who legally applied to come to the U.S. more than two years ago. Aliens who can prove they were illegally in the U.S. on January 1, 2007, are immediately eligible to apply from inside the U.S. for amnesty benefits, while foreign nationals that filed applications to come to the U.S. after May 1, 2005 must start the application process over again from their home countries. Last year’s bill required illegal aliens to have been here before January 7, 2004 to qualify for permanent legal status. [See pp. 263, 282, & 306].

* Loophole 5 – Completion of Background Checks Not Required For Probationary Legal Status:
Legal status must be granted to illegal aliens 24 hours after they file an application, even if the aliens have not yet “passed all appropriate background checks.” (Last year’s bill gave DHS 90 days to check an alien’s background before any status was granted). No legal status should be given to any illegal alien until all appropriate background checks are complete. [See pp. 290].

* Loophole 6 – Some Child Molesters Are Still Eligible:
Some aggravated felons – those who have sexually abused a minor – are eligible for amnesty. A child molester who committed the crime before the bill is enacted is not barred from getting amnesty if their conviction document omitted the age of the victim. The bill corrects this loophole for future child molesters, but does not close the loophole for current or past convictions. [See p. 47: 30-33, & p. 48: 1-2]

* Loophole 7 – Terrorism Connections Allowed, Good Moral Character Not Required:
Illegal aliens with terrorism connections are not barred from getting amnesty. An illegal alien seeking most immigration benefits must show “good moral character.” Last year’s bill specifically barred aliens with terrorism connections from having “good moral character” and being eligible for amnesty. This year’s bill does neither. Additionally, bill drafters ignored the Administration’s request that changes be made to the asylum, cancellation of removal, and withholding of removal statutes in order to prevent aliens with terrorist connections from receiving relief. [Compare §204 in S. 2611 from the 109th Congress with missing §204 on p. 48 of S.A. 1150, & see missing subsection (5) on p. 287 of S.A. 1150].

* Loophole 8 – Gang Members Are Eligible:
Instead of ensuring that members of violent gangs such as MS 13 are deported after coming out of the shadows to apply for amnesty, the bill will allow violent gang members to get amnesty as long as they “renounce” their gang membership on their application. [See p. 289: 34-36].

* Loophole 9 – Absconders Are Eligible:
Aliens who have already had their day in court – those subject to final orders of removal, voluntary departure orders, or reinstatement of their final orders of removal – are eligible for amnesty under the bill. The same is true for aliens who have made a false claim to citizenship or engaged in document fraud. More than 636,000 alien fugitives could be covered by this loophole. [See p. 285:19-22 which waives the following inadmissibility grounds: failure to attend a removal proceeding; final orders of removal for alien smuggling; aliens unlawfully present after previous immigration violations or deportation orders; and aliens previously removed. This appears to conflict with language on p. 283:40-41. When a direct conflict appears in a statute, the statue is interpreted by the courts to the benefit of the alien.].

* Loophole 10 – Learning English Not Required For A Decade:
Illegal aliens are not required to demonstrate any proficiency in English for more than a decade after they are granted amnesty. Learning English is not required for an illegal alien to receive probationary benefits, the first 4-year Z visa, or the second 4-year Z visa. The first Z visa renewal (the second 4-year Z visa) requires only that the alien demonstrate an “attempt” to learn English by being “on a waiting list for English classes.” Passing a basic English test is required only for a second Z visa renewal (the third 4-year Z visa), and even then the alien only has to pass the test “prior to the expiration of the second extension of Z status” (12 years down the road). [See pp. 295-296].

* Loophole 11 – Earned Income Tax Credit Will Cost Taxpayers Billions In Just 10 Years:
Current illegal aliens and new guest workers will be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit designed to encourage American citizens and legal permanent residents to work. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this loophole will cost the U.S. taxpayer up to $20 billion dollars in just the first 10 years after the bill’s enactment. To be consistent with the intent of the 1996 welfare reforms – which limited new immigrants from receiving public benefits until they had been legal permanent residents for five years – the bill should withhold EITC eligibility from amnestied aliens until they become legal permanent residents. Closing this loophole will save the taxpayers billions of dollars. [See p. 293 after S.A. 1190 was adopted, p. 307, p. 315, §606. All that is required for EITC eligibility is a social security number and resident alien status. Nothing in the bill’s tax provisions limit EITC eligibility. The issuance of social security numbers to aliens as soon as they apply for amnesty will ensure they are able to qualify for the EITC.]

* Loophole 12 – Affidavits From Friends Accepted As Evidence:
Records from day-labor centers, labor unions, and “sworn declarations” from any non-relative (acquaintances, friends, coworkers, etc) are to be accepted as evidence that the illegal alien has satisfied the bill’s amnesty requirements. This low burden of proof will invite fraud and more illegal immigration – even aliens who are not yet in the U.S. will likely meet this burden of proof. DHS will not have the resources to examine whether the claims contained in the “sworn declarations” of the alien’s friends (that the alien was here prior to January 1, 2007 and is currently employed) are actually valid. [See p. 293: 13-16].

* Loophole 13 – Taxpayer Funded Legal Counsel and Arbitration:
Free legal counsel and the fees and expenses of arbitrators will be provided to aliens that have been working illegally in agriculture. The U.S. taxpayer will fund the attorneys that help these individuals fill out their amnesty applications. Additionally, if these individuals have a dispute with their employer over whether they were fired for “just cause,” DHS will “pay the fee and expenses of the arbitrator.” [See p. 339:37-41, & p. 332: 37-38.]

* Loophole 14 – In-State Tuition and Student Loans:
In-state tuition and other higher education benefits, such as Stafford Loans, will be made available to current illegal aliens that are granted initial “probationary” status, even if the same in-state tuition rates are not offered to all U.S. citizens. This would normally violate current law (8 U.S.C. §1623) which mandates that educational institutions give citizens the same postsecondary education benefits they offer to illegal aliens. [See p. 321: 8-31].

* Loophole 15 – Inadequacy of the Merit System:
The “merit system,” designed to shift the U.S. green card distribution system to attract higher skilled workers that benefit the national interest, is only a shell of what it should have been. Though the merit system begins immediately, it will not increase the percentage of high skilled immigrants coming to the United States until 2016, 8 years after enactment. Of the 247,000 green cards dedicated to the merit based system each year for the first 5 years, 100,000 green cards will be reserved for low-skilled guest workers (10,000) and for clearing the current employment based green card backlog (90,000). From 2013 to 2015, the number of merit based green cards drops to 140,000, and of that number, 100,000 green cards are still reserved each year for low-skilled guest workers (10,000) and for clearing the current employment based green card backlog (90,000). Even after 2015, when the merit system really begins (in 2016) by having 380,000 green cards annually, 10,00 green cards will be reserved specifically for low skilled workers, and points will be given for many characteristics that are not considered “high-skilled.” For example, 16 points will be given for aliens in “high demand occupations” which includes janitors, maids, food preparation workers, and groundskeepers. [See p.260: 25 – p. 261: 20, p. 262, & The Department of Labor’s list of “occupations with the largest job growth” available at http://www.bls.gov/emp/emptab3.htm%5D.

* Loophole 16 – Visas For Individuals That Plan To Overstay:
The new “parent” visa contained in the bill which allows parents of citizens, and the spouses and children of new temporary workers, to visit a worker in the United States is not only a misnomer, but also an invitation for high rates of visa overstays. This new visa specifically allows the spouse and children of new temporary workers who intend to abandon their residence in a foreign country, to qualify to come to the U.S. to “visit.” The visa requires only a $1,000 bond, which will be forfeited when, not if, family members of new temporary workers decide to overstay their 30 day visit. Workers should travel to their home countries to visit their families, not the other way around. [See p. 277:1 – 33, and p. 276: 38-43].

* Loophole 17 – Chain Migration Tippled Before Being Eliminated:
Though the bill will eventually eliminate chain migration (relatives other than spouses and children of citizens and legal permanent residents), it will not have full effect until 2016. Until then, chain migration into the U.S. will actually triple, from approximately 138,000 chain migrants a year (equal to 14% of the 1 million green cards the U.S. currently distributes on an annual basis) to approximately 440,000 chain migrants a year (equal to 45% of the 1 million green cards the U.S. currently distributes on an annual basis). [See pp. 260:13, p. 270: 29 – pp. 271: 17]

* Loophole 18 – Back Taxes Not Required:
Last year’s bill required illegal aliens to prove they had paid three of their last five years of taxes to get amnesty. This year, payment of back taxes is not required for amnesty. The bill requires taxes to be paid at the time of application for a green card, but at that time, only proof of payment of Federal taxes (not state and local) is required for the years the alien worked on a Z visa, not the years the alien has already worked illegally in the United States. Though Senator McCain’s S.A. 1190, adopted by voice vote, claimed to “require undocumented immigrants receiving legal status to pay owed back taxes,” the amendment actually only required proof of payment of taxes for “any year during the period of employment required by subparagraph (D)(i).” Since the bill does not contain a subparagraph (D)(i), nor require any past years of employment as a prerequisite for amnesty, the amendment essentially only requires proof of payment of taxes for future work in the U.S., not payment of “back taxes.” [See p. 307, and p. 293 as altered by S.A. 1190, amendment p. 2: 19-20.]

* Loophole 19 – Social Security Credits Allowed For Some Illegal Work Histories:
Aliens who came to the U.S. on legal visas, but overstayed their visas and have been working in the U.S. for years, as well as illegal aliens who apply for Z visa status but do not qualify, will be able to collect social security credits for the years they worked illegally. Under the bill, if an alien was ever issued a social security account number – all work-authorized aliens who originally came on legal visas receive these – the alien will receive Social Security credits for any “quarters of coverage” the alien worked after receiving their social security account number. Because the bill requires social security account numbers to be issued “promptly” to illegal aliens as soon as they are granted “any probationary benefits based upon application [for Z status]” (these benefits are granted 24 hours after the application is filed), an illegal alien who is denied Z visa status but continues to work illegally in the U.S. will accumulate Social Security credits. [See pp. 316:8 – 16, and pp. 315: 32-39]

* Loophole 20 – Criminal Fines Not Proportional To Conduct:
The criminal fines an illegal alien is required to pay to receive amnesty are less than the bill’s criminal fines for paperwork violations committed by U.S. citizens, and can be paid by installment. Under the bill, an illegal alien must pay a $1,000 criminal fine to apply for a Z visa, and a $4,000 fine to apply for a green card. Eighty percent of those fines can be paid on an installment plan. Under the bill’s confidentiality provisions, someone who improperly handles or uses information on an alien’s amnesty application can be fined $10,000. Administration officials suggest that the bill’s “criminal fines are proportionate to the criminal conduct.” Why, then, is the fine for illegally entering, using false documents to work, and live one-tenth the fine for a paperwork violation committed by a government official? [See p. 287: 34, p. 317: 9, p. 315:6-8, & remarks made by Secretary Gutierrez on Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4:00 May 31, 2007]

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email stiknstein-at-gmail-dot-com and let us know at what level you would like to participate.

Other Coalition members’ commentary, research and thoughts on the matter of illegal immigration:

Dirty deals, clay pigeons, and snakes in the grass – take action now from Debbie at Right Truth. Excerpt: Think Progress has an article, The Right Wing Domination Of Talk Radio And How To End It. That’s right, you read it correctly … How to END
conservative talk radio. (hat tip Rachel)

“Shut Up” Lindsay…or um….”We’ll shut you up” Trent… from stikNstein has no mercy…. Excerpt: The need for the left to stifle free speech (except when it agrees with their world view) is now focused on talk radio. Democratic Strategist Lindsay Graham started by calling us Bigots. Now,Trent Lott, newly emerging spokesman for the left Progressives, noted that relative to opinions of the Amnesty bill… “Talk radio is running America,” he said. “We have to deal with that problem.”

Greed is a powerfull inducement to be a traitor… from James Foley at Bloggin on down the Rogue. Excerpt: Q: Why are so many Republican Senators openly championing illegal immigration, that is anathema to the conservative base of the party?

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Congress Leads Bush in Race for Illegal Immigration Infamy

Cross posted from The Peoples Patriot

Bush strives for perfection with a 0% approval rating.A UPI/Zogby poll conducted June 20th, among 8,300 adults nationwide, reveals that only 3% have a favorable view of how Congress is handling illegal immigration. Naturally this has Bush furious as his favorable rating, in the context of illegal immigration, is at 9%. He, of course, wants to be at a 0% favorable rating. How else could anyone explain his treasonous actions if a 0% approval rating isn’t his goal?

The traitors in Washington, who we pay dearly for the privilege of destroying our nation while they pad their pockets with political and financial capital, won’t be satisfied until they piss off each and every American.

Like well disciplined athletes training for the triathlon, they repeat their exercises in treason in their quest for dubious perfection. Despite the will of the people, Bush insisted on bringing back S.1348 for another go round and Harry the traitor Reid brought the bill back again in it’s reincarnation as S.1639. A different number with the same old treasonous crap.

The poll numbers prove the old saying that “practice makes perfect” as Reid and his anti-American cronies have an immigration approval rating of just 3% while the traitor in the White House stands at 9%. Congress is currently beating Bush in the race to illegal immigration infamy.

Bush shouldn’t despair however. He has just surpassed Jimmy Carter for the second lowest overall approval rating in the nation’s history. He has Nixon in his crosshairs and no doubt will catch him for the dubious honor of having the lowest Presidential approval rating in the history of the United States.

Bush is at a paltry 26% overall approval rating as Carter bottomed out at 28%. He only needs to drop four more percent to be the all time chumpion of lowest Presidential approval ratings. A feat that I would not bet against, not even with his money.

Ordinary people would be so ashamed of these numbers that they would resign and go off quietly, hoping not to bring attention to their utterly perfect incompetence. Not these guys though. The pay day is too large and the work to easy. To them, betrayal, treason and shame are but a small price to pay for political and financial power. The task of keeping their corporate masters satisfied with cheap illegal labor means easy money and perpetual power. They are standing pat until we remove them.

Our situation in Connecticut is exemplary of government not working for the people. Our Senators Dodd and Lieberman, are supporting the illegal alien amnesty bill. So is my Congressman Chris Murphy. As stated earlier, only 3% polled approve the handling of illegal immigration by Congress. You don’t have to be Einstein to realize you at least have similar sentiment in our state and district. Yet they refuse our will and will continue to do so until we remove them from office. There is no doubt, we MUST remove them.

Join NumberUSA and hold your elected official responsible for their actions and inactions.

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Important Illegal Immigration Posts from Coalition Members

Bigot and Racist apply only to anti-illegal alien supporters
from the Bear Creek Ledger

Some Senators have the self-preservation sense kick in from Freedom of Philadelphia

Senator Durbin’s slippery argument for amnesty
from The Conservative Common Man

Twenty Dishonorable Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill
from Maggie’s Notebook

Dirty deals, clay pigeons, and snakes in the grass – take action now from Right Truth

“Shut Up” Lindsay…or um….”We’ll shut you up” Trent… from StikNstein…has no mercy

Who is the under educated here? from JC Cordray

CAII
This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email stiknstein-at-gmail-dot-com and let us know at what level you would like to participate.

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U.S. airstrikes in Iraq kill 17 fighters

Just a bit of good news in a dreary world…

From the AP:

American attack helicopters fired on al-Qaida militants trying to slip past an Iraqi checkpoint on Friday, killing 17 of them in the fourth day of an offensive to oust the fighters entrenched in this city an hour’s drive north of Baghdad.

More than three-quarters of the city’s al-Qaida leadership fled before the Americans moved in to Baqouba this week, U.S. officials said Friday, but not before drone planes spotted fighters planting dozens of roadside bombs on the main highway into the city, capital of volatile and extremely dangerous Diyala province.

Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, assistant commander for operations with the 25th Infantry Division, estimated that several hundred low-level al-Qaida fighters remain.

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The Uncooperative Radio Show! June 22, 23 and 24, 2007

MicrophoneLive, Independent, Conservative Talk Radio! We are rocking over on Talkshoe Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8pm to 10pm Eastern Time.

I will be talking about important issues facing this country, Some things you will not find anywhere else, even on my blog. We also do one segment every Friday on Gun Politics and every Saturday a segment on Illegal Immigration. So, tune in, or wait for the podcast. The podcasts automatically appear in the left sidebar, I hope you enjoy that feature.

They are also paying us based on the amount of listeners, interactive listeners and downloads from their site. So if you have the time or inclination, listen live from my talkshoe page, listen to the podcasts from the left sidebar or download the podcasts from the shows homepage.

Friday, Saturday and Sundays!

8pm Eastern
7pm Central
6pm Mountain
5pm Pacific

Anyone can listen, but to call you must have an account. If you download the software you can also interact with the show and others logged in, with live chat.

This is also The Weekend Open Trackback Party!

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Thousands remember 9 South Carolina firefighters

I don’t have anything to say about this, I just thought it was inportant to cover…

From the AP:

Nine caskets lined the front of a coliseum Friday as thousands of firefighters from across the nation, their hats in their hands, honored nine colleagues killed in a furniture store blaze.With an orchestra playing, uniformed escorts walked the men’s wives, siblings and children to their seats in a long procession of red carnations, tears and hugs.

The fire Monday night created the single largest loss of firefighters’ lives since the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Beside the caskets, the faces of its victims looked out proudly from large photos: Capt. William “Billy” Hutchinson, 48; Capt. Mike Benke, 49; Capt. Louis Mulkey, 34; Mark Kelsey, 40; Bradford “Brad” Baity, 37; Michael French, 27; James “Earl” Drayton, 56; Brandon Thompson, 27; and Melvin Champaign, 46.

Fire Chief Rusty Thomas, the son of a firefighter, told personal stories about his men, pausing to say each name before launching into tales that often drew burst of laughter from the crowd as he imitated their voices and mannerisms.

He recalled one fire call with Drayton in 1977. It was about 3 a.m.

“He’s hollering, ‘Rusty, get this thing going! … That’s my house!'” the chief said to laughter.

Kelsey, he recalled, had the energy of the “Energizer Bunny.” Hutchinson was nicknamed “Lightning.”

“It’s not because he moved so fast,” Thomas said. “My dad said, ‘Lightning would have to strike around him, to get him to move.'”

Thomas also issued a challenge to the remainder of his department. “The challenge is that we’ll never forget,” he said. “When we go to work, we will never forget these nine great heroes that worked for the City of Charleston Fire Department and served this community like no one else has ever served.”

A firehouse bell was struck 15 times and bagpipers played taps.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. told the crowd that the men were heroes.

“It was their calling, it was their training, it was their duty and, unflinchingly, without hesitation, with extreme courage, they did it,” he said. “They are public servants of the highest order. They want to serve. They want to help. They want to save. And they want to protect.”[snip]

The investigation into the cause of the warehouse fire and the men’s deaths was still under way Friday. Federal, state and local agencies involved in the investigation planned a news conference Saturday.

Officials on Thursday released tapes of several 911 calls about the fire. While federal investigators have not confirmed where the blaze broke out, some of the 10 recordings bolster the assertion several city fire officials have made that it likely started at the back of the store in a covered space between the showroom and a warehouse crammed with furniture.

A store employee told The Associated Press that workers frequently smoked cigarettes in that area and were strongly cautioned to carefully throw them away.

Federal investigators have not discussed possible causes for the fire, and have not revealed if they are considering whether a cigarette could have started the blaze.

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