Stop whining and get with The Progromme

Stop whining and get with The Progromme

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spies for Hire by Tim Shorrock

This book is next on my list.

In Spies for Hire, investigative reporter Tim Shorrock lifts the veil off a major story the government doesn't want us to know about -- the massive outsourcing of top secret intelligence activities to private-sector contractors.

Running spy networks overseas. Tracking down terrorists in the Middle East. Interrogating enemy prisoners. Analyzing data from spy satellites and intercepted phone calls. All of these are vital intelligence tasks that traditionally have been performed by government officials accountable to Congress and the American people. But that is no longer the case.

Starting during the Clinton administration, when intelligence budgets were cut drastically and privatization of government services became national policy, and expanding dramatically in the wake of 9/11, when the CIA and other agencies were frantically looking to hire analysts and linguists, the Intelligence Community has been relying more and more on corporations to perform sensitive tasks heretofore considered to be exclusively the work of federal employees. This outsourcing of intelligence activities is now a $50 billion-a-year business that consumes up to 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget. And it's a business that the government has tried hard to keep under wraps.

Drawing on interviews with key players in the Intelligence-Industrial Complex, contractors' annual reports and public filings with the government, and on-the-spot reporting from intelligence industry conferences and investor briefings, Spies for Hire provides the first behind-the-scenes look at this new way of spying. Shorrock shows how corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, CACI International, and IBM have become full partners with the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Pentagon in their most sensitive foreign and domestic operations. He explores how this partnership has led to wasteful spending and threatens to erode the privacy protections and congressional oversight so important to American democracy.

Shorrock exposes the kinds of spy work the private sector is doing, such as interrogating prisoners in Iraq, managing covert operations, and collaborating with the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans' overseas phone calls and e-mails. And he casts light on a "shadow Intelligence Community" made up of former top intelligence officials who are now employed by companies that do this spy work, such as former CIA directors George Tenet and James Woolsey. Shorrock also traces the rise of Michael McConnell from his days as head of the NSA to being a top executive at Booz Allen Hamilton to returning to government as the nation's chief spymaster.

From CIA covert actions to NSA eavesdropping, from Abu Ghraib to Guantánamo, from the Pentagon's techno-driven war in Iraq to the coming global battles over information dominance and control of cyberspace, contractors are doing it all. Spies for Hire goes behind today's headlines to highlight how private corporations are aiding the growth of a new and frightening national surveillance state

articles written by Tim Shorrock;

Parents question why Ozark police used stun gun on injured son

How can they justify tasing a boy with a broken back 19 friggin times?!
Must be one of those things only a cop can understand.

by Sara Sheffield, KY3 News

OZARK, Mo. -- A family from Branson wants answers about what happened to their son that left him hospitalized. Early Saturday morning, police found Mace Hutchinson, 16, underneath the Highway F overpass over U.S. 65.
Mace ended up in intensive care at a hospital. His parents believe the actions of Ozark police officers contributed to his injuries and slowed doctors’ abilities to speed his recovery.

“We called the police. My wife was afraid he was going to get ran over or hit,” said witness Doug Messersmith.

Messersmith and his wife were the last known people to see 16-year-old boy walking, shortly before their phone call to 911.

“He looked a little agitated but, other than that, he didn't look to be falling down drunk or anything like that,” he said.

By the time officers arrived, the teen was off the 30-foot overpass, lying on the shoulder below along U.S. 65, with no good explanation as to how he got there.

“According to the doctors, all injuries are consistent with a fall,” said his aunt, Samantha.

Mace's dad believes it was just that, a fall, not a jump. The question is why.

“They tested his system. He was clean of drugs and alcohol. We don't know why unless just being in shock and the whole thing in itself caused him to forget everything,” said Hutchinson.

His aunt says he is undergoing major surgery for a broken back and broken heel. While he was lying on the ground, she wonders why Ozark police used an electric stun gun on him up to 19 times.

“I'm not an officer, but i don't see the reason for ‘Tasering’ somebody laying there with a broken back. I don't consider that a threat,”

His dad says the use of the stun gun delayed what would have been immediate surgery by two days.

“The ‘Tasering’ increased his white blood cell count and caused him to have a temperature so they could not go into the operation.”

“He refused to comply with the officers and so the officers had to deploy their Tasers in order to subdue him. He is making incoherent statements; he's also making statements such as, ‘Shoot cops, kill cops,’ things like that. So there was cause for concern to the officers,” said Ozark Police Capt. Thomas Rousset.

Police say although there are several unanswered questions; the reason for the use of a stun gun is not one of them.

“It's a big concern for the officers to keep this guy out of traffic, to keep him from getting hurt,” said Rousset.

Mace was still in intensive care on Wednesday night, listed in fair condition. He was scheduled for surgery again on Thursday. The family, along with the Ozark Police Department, hopes someone will see this report and come forward with some information. You can call (417) 699-4789 with information or call the Ozark Police Department.

Centers Tap Into Personal Databases

State Groups Were Formed After 9/11

By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 2, 2008; A01

Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.

One center also has access to top-secret data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it's not clear what information those systems contain.

Dozens of the organizations known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to identify potential threats and improve the way information is shared. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies. They are expected to play important roles in national information-sharing networks that link local, state and federal authorities and enable them to automatically sift their storehouses of records for patterns and clues.

Though officials have publicly discussed the fusion centers' importance to national security, they have generally declined to elaborate on the centers' activities. But a document that lists resources used by the fusion centers shows how a dozen of the organizations in the northeastern United States rely far more on access to commercial and government databases than had previously been disclosed.

Those details have come to light at a time of debate about domestic intelligence efforts, including eavesdropping and data-aggregation programs at the National Security Agency, and whether the government has enough protections in place to prevent abuses.

The list of information resources was part of a survey conducted last year, officials familiar with the effort said. It shows that, like most police agencies, the fusion centers have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans' locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.

Centers serving New York and other states also tap into a Federal Trade Commission database with information about hundreds of thousands of identity-theft reports, the document and police interviews show.

Pennsylvania buys credit reports and uses face-recognition software to examine driver's license photos, while analysts in Rhode Island have access to car-rental databases. In Maryland, authorities rely on a little-known data broker called Entersect, which claims it maintains 12 billion records about 98 percent of Americans.

In its online promotional material, Entersect calls itself "the silent partner to municipal, county, state, and federal justice agencies who access our databases every day to locate subjects, develop background information, secure information from a cellular or unlisted number, and much more."

Police officials said fusion center analysts are trained to use the information responsibly, legally and only on authorized criminal and counterterrorism cases. They stressed the importance of secret and public data in rooting out obscure threats. [. . . ]

Monday, July 28, 2008

I'll bet he is so proud.

On January 21, 2005, Officer Carlos Artson saved himself and his fellow officer from being shot. Officer Artson was confronted by a woman pointing a loaded handgun at him, during the service of a high risk, ‘no knock’ search warrant for an ongoing narcotics investigation."

Cheryl Lynn Noel
• Cheryl Lynn Noel, a church-going mother: Shot and killed after grabbing her legal handgun when masked intruders—a SWAT team—stormed into her bedroom in Baltimore. The justification for the assault? Police investigators had found marijuana seeds in the family’s trash bin.

William N. Grigg writes;
In January 2005, Baltimore resident Cheryl Lynn Noel, whose son had been assaulted by gang-bangers on the way home from school and whose step-daughter had been murdered several years earlier, was startled awake by an armed assault on her home. Lying in bed with her husband Charles, Cheryl – who ran Bible studies in her home – reached for her legal, registered handgun. When armed intruders violated the sanctity of her bedroom, Cheryl was armed, but according to Charles, she didn't point the gun directly at the intruders.

The marauders were, of course, SWAT operators representing Baltimore's “finest.”
Tactical Officer Carlos Artson – protected with a helmet, mask, ballistic shield, and bullet-resistant body armor – shot Cheryl twice. She was clad in a nightgown.

Cheryl's grasp on her handgun slackened – not surprisingly, since she was probably dead already. Artson continued his approach, yelling at Cheryl to move further away from the gun; not surprisingly, his victim couldn't comply. So this paladin of the public weal capped her a third time, administering the coup de grace from point-blank range.

The “justification” for this 4:30 a.m. Paramiltary raid was this: Someone found marijuana seeds in the family trash.

Which means that someone was looking for a pretext to conduct a raid of the type that has become alarmingly common in the American Reich.

On October 2, Officer Carlos Artson, who murdered Cheryl Lynn Noel, was awarded the Silver Star, the department's second-highest award for valor. The citation claims that Artson “saved himself and his fellow officers from being shot” after being “confronted by a woman pointing a loaded handgun at him, during the service of a high risk, `no knock' search warrant for an ongoing narcotics investigation.”

Artson was “confronted” by Mrs. Noel in exactly the same sense that any other armed robber could make that claim. Of course, armed robbers don't give each other puerile little baubles to celebrate their “valor.”

When the State's agents can violate our homes at will, gun down women without consequence, and -- pay attention, please! -- give each other combat citations after such engagements, only one rational interpretation is possible: The Regime is literally at war with the American people.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Cryptogon

“Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

-Winston Churchill

These are the words of Winston Churchill aptly applied to the current situation we face as freedom-loving Americans. I was reminded of it by the Kevin, an American ex-pat (or refugee)living in New Zealand. He is the author of a blog called The Cryptogon. He has a perspective that is worth pondering. Peruse The Cryptogon here;

Lex Sentry

YES! Bush can Detain US Civilains Indefinitely

It seems like there is no final answer to questions of authority claimed by the Bush led Executive. They will just keep going to court until they get the answer they want. So there you have it. I suppode if you have unlimited stolen wealth and rally don't care about the law anyways-why not? These cases are just busy blocks to keep the courts occupied.

This reminds me of how Pharma just runs many trials (of a drug) keeps the ones that look good and discards the one that do not suit its porposes.

Lex Sentry

Working hard to earn my spot on the government's Red List.
July 16th, 2008

Via: New York Times:

President Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision.

But a second, overlapping 5-to-4 majority of the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, ruled that Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar now in military custody in Charleston, S.C., must be given an additional opportunity to challenge his detention in federal court there. An earlier court proceeding, in which the government had presented only a sworn statement from a defense intelligence official, was inadequate, the second majority ruled.

The decision was a victory for the Bush administration, which had maintained that a 2001 Congressional authorization to use military force after the Sept. 11 attacks granted the president the power to detain people living in the United States.

The court effectively reversed a divided three-judge panel of its own members, which ruled last year that the government lacked the power to detain civilians legally in the United States as enemy combatants. That panel ordered the government either to charge Mr. Marri or to release him. The case is likely to reach the Supreme Court.

Research Credit: ltcolonelnemo

In depth-Alternet;

Friday, July 25, 2008

DNA evidence-The Truth

Forget about CSI and all of those other shows that make DNA evidence appear to be practically infaliable. The potential for human error, misrepresentaion of statistics, falsifying eveidence as well as the actual reliability of DNA evidence can send an innocent person to death row. As amazing of a breakthrough as genetic technology is the limitations it bears must be understood. There is a strong and steady movement to find increasing opportunities to collect our DNA.

Here are some important facts;

First-a PubMed abstract.

Errors in sample handling or test interpretation may cause false positives in forensic DNA testing. This article uses a Bayesian model to show how the potential for a false positive affects the evidentiary value of DNA evidence and the sufficiency of DNA evidence to meet traditional legal standards for conviction. The Bayesian analysis is contrasted with the "false positive fallacy," an intuitively appealing but erroneous alternative interpretation. The findings show the importance of having accurate information about both the random match probability and the false positive probability when evaluating DNA evidence. It is argued that ignoring or underestimating the potential for a false positive can lead to serious errors of interpretation, particularly when the suspect is identified through a "DNA dragnet" or database search, and that ignorance of the true rate of error creates an important element of uncertainty about the value of DNA evidence.

PMID: 12570198 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

For more than three decades, Sylvester's slaying went unsolved. Then, in 2004, a search of California's DNA database of criminal offenders yielded an apparent breakthrough: Badly deteriorated DNA from the assailant's sperm was linked to John Puckett, an obese, wheelchair-bound 70-year-old with a history of rape.

The DNA "match" was based on fewer than half of the genetic markers typically used to connect someone to a crime, and there was no other physical evidence.

Puckett insisted he was innocent, saying that although DNA at the crime scene happened to match his, it belonged to someone else.

At Puckett's trial earlier this year, the prosecutor told the jury that the chance of such a coincidence was 1 in 1.1 million.

Jurors were not told, however, the statistic that leading scientists consider the most significant: the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person.

In Puckett's case, it was 1 in 3.

The case is emblematic of a national problem, The Times has found.

Prosecutors and crime labs across the country routinely use numbers that exaggerate the significance of DNA matches in "cold hit" cases, in which a suspect is identified through a database search.

Jurors are often told that the odds of a coincidental match are hundreds of thousands of times more remote than they actually are, according to a review of scientific literature and interviews with leading authorities in the field.

Two national scientific committees, including the FBI's DNA advisory board, have recommended portraying the odds more conservatively. But interviews with expert witnesses and DNA analysts from crime labs across the country show that few if any have adopted that approach.

The FBI lab, which oversees the nation's offender databases, has disregarded the recommendation of its own advisory board, bureau officials acknowledged. So far, the courts have ruled in law enforcement's favor on this issue.

As a result, some experts fear, a technology best known for freeing the innocent could be causing its own miscarriages of justice.

"It is only a matter of time until someone is wrongfully convicted because of this," said Keith Devlin, a Stanford mathematician who has studied the problem.

DNA profiles are widely perceived as a unique genetic fingerprint. In fact, they are slivers of the human genome -- up to 13 markers that contain about a millionth of the information on all the chromosomes. Relatives often share many markers, and even unrelated people on average share two or three.

So DNA "matches" by themselves can never definitively link someone to a crime.

The best science can do is to estimate the likelihood that a match has occurred by sheer chance. These statistics are easily distorted or misunderstood by lawyers, judges, juries and even expert witnesses.

Judge frees Oklahoma man facing execution

Police misconduct tainted the case against a convict who did 22 years.
By Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer

May 12, 2007

A judge in Oklahoma City on Friday dismissed murder charges against a man who was sentenced to death three times in the 1982 slaying of a teenager, convictions that were based largely on testimony from a police department chemist who was fired for fraud and misconduct in 2001.

Curtis McCarty

Oklahoma District Court Judge Twyla Mason Gray ruled that the case against Curtis E. McCarty was tainted by the actions of former Oklahoma City police chemist Joyce Gilchrist, whose work has been called into question in a host of other death penalty cases.

Citing the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona vs. Youngblood, Gray said she was dismissing the charges because Gilchrist had acted in "bad faith," and "most likely did destroy or intentionally lose" hair that was crucial evidence in McCarty's trial in the 1982 stabbing and strangling of Pamela Kaye Willis.

According to several people at Friday's hearing, Gray said she still thought that McCarty may have been involved in the murder but that the law required her to throw the case out.

Innocence Project attorney Colin Starger, who has represented McCarty since 2003, said, "Every piece of evidence in this case, including evidence [that] was used improperly to secure convictions, now shows Curtis McCarty's innocence."

Free after nearly 22 years behind bars, McCarty said Friday that he had been out for "only a few hours" and had not "had time to digest" everything that occurred: "I am happy not just for myself but for my family and all the people who worked so hard" for his release.

"But for the Innocence Project, Judge Gray would not have done what she did today. I don't think she had cause to take a dig at me, but I join her in her condemnation of Gilchrist," McCarty said in an interview.

McCarty was first convicted of the murder and sentenced to death in 1986. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the verdicts, saying that Dist. Atty. Robert H. Macy Sr. had acted deplorably during the trial, and that Gilchrist had omitted key information from her forensic reports.

McCarty was convicted and sentenced to death again in 1989. That conviction was upheld on appeal but the death sentence was reversed. A new penalty phase trial was conducted in 1996, and McCarty was sentenced to death a third time.

Five years later, serious questions surfaced about Gilchrist's conduct in many cases, including that of Jeffrey T. Pierce. In May 2001, Pierce was freed from an Oklahoma prison after serving 15 years for a rape that DNA tests ultimately showed he did not commit.

A federal appeals court overturned the death sentence of a man convicted of rape and murder in August 2001, concluding that jurors might have relied on Gilchrist's testimony.

Gilchrist was fired in September 2001 for allegedly performing shoddy work and giving false or misleading testimony, including 23 cases in which she helped send men to death row. Eleven of those defendants have been executed, according to the Innocence Project.

State and federal investigations of Gilchrist's work in more than 1,100 cases unearthed more problems, including her performance in McCarty's case.

Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, said McCarty's was "one of the worst examples of law enforcement misconduct" in his experience.
Robert H. Macy, who was the Oklahoma County District Attorney for 21 years, prosecuted McCarty in both of his trials. Macy sent 73 people to death row – more than any other prosecutor in the nation – and 20 of them have been executed. Macy has said publicly that he believes executing an innocent person is a sacrifice worth making in order to keep the death penalty in the United States.

Macy committed misconduct in the manner that he prosecuted McCarty and presented the case to the jury. His misconduct was compounded when he relied on Joyce Gilchrist, a police lab analyst who falsified test results and hid or destroyed evidence in order to help secure McCarty’s convictions. Gilchrist was the lead forensic analyst in 23 cases that ended in death sentences (11 of the defendants in those cases have been executed).

“This is by far one of the worst cases of law enforcement misconduct in the history of the American criminal justice system,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. “Bob Macy has said that executing an innocent person is a risk worth taking – and he came very close to doing just that with Curtis McCarty.”

On Friday, Oklahoma County Dist. Atty. David Prater said he thought Gray's dismissal of charges against McCarty "was the correct decision," even though he is not convinced that McCarty is innocent.

"Because of the checks and balances in the justice system, the judge has the duty to make sure a person is afforded a fair trial…. With her ruling that potentially exculpatory evidence had been destroyed by Gilchrist, Judge Gray said he could never get a fair trial," Prater said.

The Times could not reach Gilchrist on Friday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What Happens When a School Board of Religious Zealots Will 'Lie for Jesus'?

By Onnesha Roychoudhuri, AlterNet
Posted on June 20, 2008, Printed on July 20, 2008
The intelligent design case in Dover, Penn., was the stuff of tabloid dreams: a community divided when a school board led by religious fundamentalists tried to bring creationism into the local biology curriculum. But look beneath the surface, and it was hardly the two-dimensional "science versus religion" narrative favored by the press. As Lauri Lebo, a local reporter who covered the trial, writes, the "'Darwinism'-spouting teachers were preachers' kids; the 'atheist' plaintiffs taught Sunday school; the 'activist' judge was a Bush-appointed Republican; and the journalists labeled 'liars' were willing to go to jail for the truth."

In her new book, The Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, Lebo writes of her journey through a familiar town made alien by a handful of school board members willing to, as Lebo puts it, "lie for Jesus." Lebo closely follows the story of how a handful of fundamentalists, pushing to include the teaching of creationism in school biology courses change their tack when the conservative Christian Thomas More Law Center gets involved. School board members suddenly stop talking about Jesus and creationism, denying statements they made to local reporters, and saying instead they were advocating the teaching of the so-called science of intelligent design. The lies were outright enough to make the presiding judge flush with anger, who subsequently cited the school board's "breathtaking inanity," in his decision against them.

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?"

James Madison, in "Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

Saturday, July 19, 2008

State Police Spy on Law Abiding Political Acivists

Maryland State Police officers spent hundred of hours infilterating and recording peace activists and anti-death penalty protesters in 2005 and 2006 the ACLU revealed yesterday. Although there is no mention of any illegal activity by any of these people, some of their names were entered into a Law Enforcement databse along with suspected terrorists ann other dangerous criminals. (No more "Friendly Skies" for them)

Nearly 300 man hours and 14 months of time was invested in this garbage. I wonder how much the tax-payers were looted for?

The Superintendant of Maryland State Police said "does not inappropriately curtail the expression or demonstration of the civil liberties of protesters or organizations acting lawfully."


These were pacifists who held open meeting and publicsised meeting times and dates.
Why would Maryland State Police be wasting their time with this?

According to the ACLU;

The MSP's Homeland Security and Intelligence Division also appears to have been working to specially track the activities of at least one individual activist, Max Obuszewski, who was entered into the "Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area" (HIDTA) database. That database, which is funded by the federal government, was intended to facilitate information sharing among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies engaged in drug interdiction. In December 2006, Congress modified the federal law to allow HIDTA funds to be used to assist in terrorism investigations as well. The entry for Mr. Obuszewski indicates that the "Primary Crime" linked to him in the database is "Terrorism-Anti Govern[ment], and the "Secondary Crime" is "Terrorism – Anti-War Protestors" – which are outlandish and blatantly false accusations.

So, even though Mr.Obuszewski has broken no laws and there is no evidence that he intends to he now has his name in a federal database labeled an anti-government terrorist?! They are building themselves a mighty big list and in the process transforming lawful dissent into boiling resentments.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Gop Whistleblower Names Carl Rove in Ohio '04 Election Theft

Ohio Attorney Files Motion to Lift Stay in Ohio Case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v Blackwell
At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election."

Arnebeck will also "be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S .Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House."
This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for "a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote."

"This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.

The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and me, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.
One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."

According to Arnebeck, his expert witness, Stephen Spoonamore, "works for credit card companies chasing data thieves, identity thieves around the globe, and also consults with government agencies including the Secret Service, the Pentagon, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in criminal matters. [He's] really one of the top, and in fact the top private cop in the world on the subject of data security.

"First, some background. The King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case was filed on August 31, 2006. At issue was "whether the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to Plaintiffs by the Civil Rights Act, and the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been violated by the past and ongoing conduct of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in connection with past elections in Ohio."

A stay was previously entered into on joint motion of the parties, Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the plaintiffs, to support settlement discussions in the case. "At one point," Arnebeck noted this morning, "this was interrupted when the Secretary wanted to bring all the ballots that had been ordered preserved by Judge Marbley, bring them in to one location. When the ballots came in, there was significant omissions and reports of the destruction of some of the ballots."
The BRAD BLOG reporter previously on some of some of the ballots missing from 56 of Ohio's 88 counties, despite the federal court order.

Arnebeck explained that part of the reason for the stay, at the time, was to allow the Ohio Attorney General to proceed first, as provided in Ohio House Bill 3 which states, in part:
...the attorney general may initiate criminal proceedings for election fraud under section 3599.42 of the Revised Code which results from a violation of any provision of Title XXXV of the Revised Code, other than Chapter 3517. of the Revised Code, involving voting, an initiative or referendum petition process, or the conducting of an election, by presenting evidence of criminal violations in question to the prosecuting attorney of any county in which the violations may be prosecuted. If the prosecuting attorney does not prosecute the violations within a reasonable time or requests the attorney general to do so, the attorney general may proceed with the prosecution of the violations with all of the rights, privileges, and powers conferred by law on a prosecuting attorney, including, but not limited to, the power to appear before a grand jury and to interrogate witnesses before a grand jury.
Arnebeck said that the Attorney General's office said they were ready to begin the investigation of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, and Arnebeck said he submitted a great deal of material to them, including "Bob's [Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman's] book on what happened in Ohio, documentation of the exit poll discrepancy, [and] John Conyers' report to the Congress which was the factual basis for the challenge to the electoral votes of the Ohio vote in January of 2005."
About a month later, the Attorney General's office contacted Arnebeck and asked him, "Who do you want to indict?"
Arnebeck explained that the AG's "concept of looking at this from a criminal standpoint was not to convene a grand jury and cast the net broadly and use the grand jury process to investigate and narrow the focus into the question of who may have tampered with those votes. But rather they wanted us to come to them with a more focused case."

. . . More from op ed news;

Electrical Risks at Bases in Iraq Worse Than Previously Said

This story has been developing for some time now. KBR is contracted by the government to provide basic services including housing and electrical for our troops in Iraq. They are making money hand over fist but are unable to keep up with the workload. KBR has resorted to subcontracting with unskilled Iraqi workers, payig them only a few dollars a day. There is ample evidence that KBR was aware of the electrical problems at Radwaniya Palace Complex, near Baghdad’s airport, where Sergeant Maseth died. On January 2, 2008, Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth was electrocuted while taking a shower in his living quarters. The system was not properly grounded. 12 other soldiers have also been electrocuted since 2003.

Maseth's mother says she pressed the military for answers, eventually uncovering more details about her son's electrocution. The surging current left burn marks across his body, even singeing his hair. Army reports show that he probably suffered a long, painful death.
Fellow soldiers had to break down the door to help, said Patrick Cavanaugh, an attorney for Maseth's parents.
"When they kicked down the door, they smelled burning hair, and they rushed over, saw Sgt. Maseth lying there unconscious, and one of the rescuers himself was shocked electrically and sustained a fairly good jolt because the water and the pipes were still electrified," Cavanaugh said.


Who is KBR anyways. Kellog, Brown and Root. They are also a subsidiary of the infamous Halliburton.

The New York Times

July 18, 2008

WASHINGTON — Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.
During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.
And while the Pentagon has previously reported that 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq, many more have been injured, some seriously, by shocks, according to the documents. A log compiled earlier this year at one building complex in Baghdad disclosed that soldiers complained of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From Glenn Greenwald at

Al-Marri and the power to imprison U.S. citizens without charges
. . . the President can order anyone in the U.S. imprisoned in a military brig as an "enemy combatant" -- even if they have never fought on a battlefield or with a foreign power against the U.S. Rather, mere accusations by the President of "terrorism" are sufficient to justify the indefinite incarceration of such an individual as an "enemy combatant," who is then denied basic Constitutional guarantees.
To say that such individuals can be held "for the duration of relevant hostilities" means, of course, that such individuals can be imprisoned by the President in a military brig not just for years but for decades [Dec. at 62]:

. . . -- this decision applies every bit as much, and to exactly the same extent, to U.S. citizens on U.S. soil as it does to non-citizens (such as al-Marri) who are in the U.S. legally. From Judge Traxler's opinion [Dec. at 98]:

dictatorial - characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty;

1. of or pertaining to a dictator
2. tyrannical; overbearing

Know and understand.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Last Roundup

For decades the federal government has been developing a highly classified plan that would override the Constitution in the event of a terrorist attack. Is it also compiling a secret enemies list of citizens who could face detention under martial law?

By Christopher Ketcham

05/05/08 "Radar Magazine" -- - 28/04/08 --- -In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president's henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.
The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft's second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush's first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration's various domestic surveillance and spying programs. Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn't allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush's men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.
Comey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program's authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey's words, "to take advantage of a very sick man," sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft's sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and "literally ran" up the hospital stairs to beat them there.
Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. "I'm not the attorney general," Ashcroft told Bush's men. "There"—he pointed weakly to Comey—"is the attorney general." Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey's presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—"without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," he testified.
What was the mysterious program that had so alarmed Comey? Political blogs buzzed for weeks with speculation. Though Comey testified that the program was subsequently readjusted to satisfy his concerns, one can't help wondering whether the unspecified alteration would satisfy constitutional experts, or even average citizens. Faced with push-back from his bosses at the White House, did he simply relent and accept a token concession? Two months after Comey's testimony to Congress, the New York Times reported a tantalizing detail: The program that prompted him "to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases." The larger mystery remained intact, however. "It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate," the article conceded.
Another clue came from a rather unexpected source: President Bush himself. Addressing the nation from the Oval Office in 2005 after the first disclosures of the NSA's warrantless electronic surveillance became public, Bush insisted that the spying program in question was reviewed "every 45 days" as part of planning to assess threats to "the continuity of our government."
Few Americans—professional journalists included—know anything about so-called Continuity of Government (COG) programs, so it's no surprise that the president's passing reference received almost no attention. COG resides in a nebulous legal realm, encompassing national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces—and effectively suspend the republic. In short, it's a road map for martial law.
While Comey, who left the Department of Justice in 2005, has steadfastly refused to comment further on the matter, a number of former government employees and intelligence sources with independent knowledge of domestic surveillance operations claim the program that caused the flap between Comey and the White House was related to a database of Americans who might be considered potential threats in the event of a national emergency. Sources familiar with the program say that the government's data gathering has been overzealous and probably conducted in violation of federal law and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.
According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, "There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously." He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.
Of course, federal law is somewhat vague as to what might constitute a "national emergency." Executive orders issued over the last three decades define it as a "natural disaster, military attack, [or] technological or other emergency," while Department of Defense documents include eventualities like "riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, [and] disorder prejudicial to public law and order." According to one news report, even "national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad" could be a trigger.
Let's imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blast—say, a suitcase nuke—in New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and have been aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a "parallel government" that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.
Interestingly, plans drawn up during the Reagan administration suggest this parallel government would be ruling under authority given by law to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, home of the same hapless bunch that recently proved themselves unable to distribute water to desperate hurricane victims. The agency's incompetence in tackling natural disasters is less surprising when one considers that, since its inception in the 1970s, much of its focus has been on planning for the survival of the federal government in the wake of a decapitating nuclear strike.
Under law, during a national emergency, FEMA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, would be empowered to seize private and public property, all forms of transport, and all food supplies. The agency could dispatch military commanders to run state and local governments, and it could order the arrest of citizens without a warrant, holding them without trial for as long as the acting government deems necessary. From the comfortable perspective of peaceful times, such behavior by the government may seem farfetched. But it was not so very long ago that FDR ordered 120,000 Japanese-Americans—everyone from infants to the elderly—be held in detention camps for the duration of World War II. This is widely regarded as a shameful moment in U.S. history, a lesson learned. But a long trail of federal documents indicates that the possibility of large-scale detention has never quite been abandoned by federal authorities. Around the time of the 1968 race riots, for instance, a paper drawn up at the U.S. Army War College detailed plans for rounding up millions of "militants" and "American negroes" who were to be held at "assembly centers or relocation camps." In the late 1980s, the Austin American-Statesman and other publications reported the existence of 10 detention camp sites on military facilities nationwide, where hundreds of thousands of people could be held in the event of domestic political upheaval. More such facilities were commissioned in 2006, when Kellogg Brown & Root—then a subsidiary of Halliburton—was handed a $385 million contract to establish "temporary detention and processing capabilities" for the Department of Homeland Security. The contract is short on details, stating only that the facilities would be used for "an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs." Just what those "new programs" might be is not specified.
In the days after our hypothetical terror attack, events might play out like this: With the population gripped by fear and anger, authorities undertake unprecedented actions in the name of public safety. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security begin actively scrutinizing people who—for a tremendously broad set of reasons—have been flagged in Main Core as potential domestic threats. Some of these individuals might receive a letter or a phone call, others a request to register with local authorities. Still others might hear a knock on the door and find police or armed soldiers outside. In some instances, the authorities might just ask a few questions. Other suspects might be arrested and escorted to federal holding facilities, where they could be detained without counsel until the state of emergency is no longer in effect.
It is, of course, appropriate for any government to plan for the worst. But when COG plans are shrouded in extreme secrecy, effectively unregulated by Congress or the courts, and married to an overreaching surveillance state—as seems to be the case with Main Core—even sober observers must weigh whether the protections put in place by the federal government are becoming more dangerous to America than any outside threat.
Another well-informed source—a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community—says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets' behavior and tracks their circle of associations with "social network analysis" and artificial intelligence modeling tools.
"The more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help," he says. "Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets." An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Security confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that "it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time."
A host of publicly disclosed programs, sources say, now supply data to Main Core. Most notable are the NSA domestic surveillance programs, initiated in the wake of 9/11, typically referred to in press reports as "warrantless wiretapping." In March, a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal shed further light onto the extraordinarily invasive scope of the NSA efforts: According to the Journal, the government can now electronically monitor "huge volumes of records of domestic e-mails and Internet searches, as well as bank transfers, credit card transactions, travel, and telephone records." Authorities employ "sophisticated software programs" to sift through the data, searching for "suspicious patterns." In effect, the program is a mass catalog of the private lives of Americans. And it's notable that the article hints at the possibility of programs like Main Core. "The [NSA] effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called black programs whose existence is undisclosed," the Journal reported, quoting unnamed officials. "Many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach."
The following information seems to be fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards. All of this information is archived on government supercomputers and, according to sources, also fed into the Main Core database.
Main Core also allegedly draws on four smaller databases that, in turn, cull from federal, state, and local "intelligence" reports; print and broadcast media; financial records; "commercial databases"; and unidentified "private sector entities." Additional information comes from a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, which generates watch lists from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for use by airlines, law enforcement, and border posts. According to the Washington Post, the Terrorist Identities list has quadrupled in size between 2003 and 2007 to include about 435,000 names. The FBI's Terrorist Screening Center border crossing list, which listed 755,000 persons as of fall 2007, grows by 200,000 names a year. A former NSA officer tells Radar that the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, using an electronic-funds transfer surveillance program, also contributes data to Main Core, as does a Pentagon program that was created in 2002 to monitor anti-war protestors and environmental activists such as Greenpeace.
If previous FEMA and FBI lists are any indication, the Main Core database includes dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protestors, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.
A veteran CIA intelligence analyst who maintains active high-level clearances and serves as an advisor to the Department of Defense in the field of emerging technology tells Radar that during the 2004 hospital room drama, James Comey expressed concern over how this secret database was being used "to accumulate otherwise private data on non-targeted U.S. citizens for use at a future time." Though not specifically familiar with the name Main Core, he adds, "What was being requested of Comey for legal approval was exactly what a Main Core story would be." A source regularly briefed by people inside the intelligence community adds: "Comey had discovered that President Bush had authorized NSA to use a highly classified and compartmentalized Continuity of Government database on Americans in computerized searches of its domestic intercepts. [Comey] had concluded that the use of that 'Main Core' database compromised the legality of the overall NSA domestic surveillance project."
If Main Core does exist, says Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism officer and an outspoken critic of the agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its likely home. "If a master list is being compiled, it would have to be in a place where there are no legal issues"—the CIA and FBI would be restricted by oversight and accountability laws—"so I suspect it is at DHS, which as far as I know operates with no such restraints." Giraldi notes that DHS already maintains a central list of suspected terrorists and has been freely adding people who pose no reasonable threat to domestic security. "It's clear that DHS has the mandate for controlling and owning master lists. The process is not transparent, and the criteria for getting on the list are not clear." Giraldi continues, "I am certain that the content of such a master list [as Main Core] would not be carefully vetted, and there would be many names on it for many reasons—quite likely, including the two of us."
Would Main Core in fact be legal? According to constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who served as associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan, the question of legality is murky: "In the event of a national emergency, the executive branch simply assumes these powers"—the powers to collect domestic intelligence and draw up detention lists, for example—" if Congress doesn't explicitly prohibit it. It's really up to Congress to put these things to rest, and Congress has not done so." Fein adds that it is virtually impossible to contest the legality of these kinds of data collection and spy programs in court "when there are no criminal prosecutions and [there is] no notice to persons on the president's 'enemies list.' That means if Congress remains invertebrate, the law will be whatever the president says it is—even in secret. He will be the judge on his own powers and invariably rule in his own favor."
The veteran CIA intelligence analyst notes that Comey's suggestion that the offending elements of the program were dropped could be misleading: "Bush [may have gone ahead and] signed it as a National Intelligence Finding anyway."
But even if we never face a national emergency, the mere existence of the database is a matter of concern. "The capacity for future use of this information against the American people is so great as to be virtually unfathomable," the senior government official says.
In any case, mass watch lists of domestic citizens may do nothing to make us safer from terrorism. Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM, a world renowned expert in data mining, contends that such efforts won't prevent terrorist conspiracies. "Because there is so little historical terrorist event data," Jonas tells Radar, "there is not enough volume to create precise predictions."
The overzealous compilation of a domestic watch list is not unique in post-war American history. In 1950, the FBI, under the notoriously paranoid J. Edgar Hoover, began to "accumulate the names, identities, and activities" of suspect American citizens in a rapidly expanding "security index," according to declassified documents. In a letter to the Truman White House, Hoover stated that in the event of certain emergency situations, suspect individuals would be held in detention camps overseen by "the National Military Establishment." By 1960, a congressional investigation later revealed, the FBI list of suspicious persons included "professors, teachers, and educators; labor-union organizers and leaders; writers, lecturers, newsmen, and others in the mass-media field; lawyers, doctors, and scientists; other potentially influential persons on a local or national level; [and] individuals who could potentially furnish financial or material aid" to unnamed "subversive elements." This same FBI "security index" was allegedly maintained and updated into the 1980s, when it was reportedly transferred to the control of none other than FEMA (though the FBI denied this at the time).
FEMA, however—then known as the Federal Preparedness Agency—already had its own domestic surveillance system in place, according to a 1975 investigation by Senator John V. Tunney of California. Tunney, the son of heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney and the inspiration for Robert Redford's character in the film The Candidate, found that the agency maintained electronic dossiers on at least 100,000 Americans, which contained information gleaned from wideranging computerized surveillance. The database was located in the agency's secret underground city at Mount Weather, near the town of Bluemont, Virginia. The senator's findings were confirmed in a 1976 investigation by the Progressive magazine, which found that the Mount Weather computers "can obtain millions of pieces [of] information on the personal lives of American citizens by tapping the data stored at any of the 96 Federal Relocation Centers"—a reference to other classified facilities. According to the Progressive, Mount Weather's databases were run "without any set of stated rules or regulations. Its surveillance program remains secret even from the leaders of the House and the Senate."
Ten years later, a new round of government martial law plans came to light. A report in the Miami Herald contended that Reagan loyalist and Iran-Contra conspirator Colonel Oliver North had spearheaded the development of a "secret contingency plan,"—code named REX 84—which called "for suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to FEMA, [and the] appointment of military commanders to runstate and local governments." The North plan also reportedly called for the detention of upwards of 400,000 illegal aliens and an undisclosed number of American citizens in at least 10 military facilities maintained as potential holding camps.
North's program was so sensitive in nature that when Texas Congressman Jack Brooks attempted to question North about it during the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings, he was rebuffed even by his fellow legislators. "I read in Miami papers and several others that there had been a plan by that same agency [FEMA] that would suspend the American Constitution," Brooks said. "I was deeply concerned about that and wondered if that was the area in which he [North] had worked." Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Iran, immediately cut off his colleague, saying, "That question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area, so may I request that you not touch upon that, sir." Though Brooks pushed for an answer, the line of questioning was not allowed to proceed.
Wired magazine turned up additional damaging information, revealing in 1993 that North, operating from a secure White House site, allegedly employed a software database program called PROMIS (ostensibly as part of the REX 84 plan). PROMIS, which has a strange and controversial history, was designed to track individuals—prisoners, for example—by pulling together information from disparate databases into a single record. According to Wired, "Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential troublemakers within the United States. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon's enemies list or Senator Joe McCarthy's blacklist looks downright crude." Sources have suggested to Radar that government databases tracking Americans today, including Main Core, could still have PROMIS based legacy code from the days when North was running his programs.
In the wake of 9/11, domestic surveillance programs of all sorts expanded dramatically. As one well-placed source in the intelligence community puts it, "The gloves seemed to come off." What is not yet clear is what sort of still-undisclosed programs may have been authorized by the Bush White House. Marty Lederman, a high-level official at the Department of Justice under Clinton, writing on a law blog last year, wondered, "How extreme were the programs they implemented [after 9/11]? How egregious was the lawbreaking?" Congress has tried, and mostly failed, to find out.
In July 2007 and again last August, Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon and a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, sought access to the "classified annexes" of the Bush administration's Continuity of Government program. DeFazio's interest was prompted by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (also known as NSPD-51), issued in May 2007, which reserves for the executive branch the sole authority to decide what constitutes a national emergency and to determine when the emergency is over. DeFazio found this unnerving.
But he and other leaders of the Homeland Security Committee, including Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, were denied a review of the Continuity of Government classified annexes. To this day, their calls for disclosure have been ignored by the White House. In a press release issued last August, DeFazio went public with his concerns that the NSPD-51 Continuity of Government plans are "extra-constitutional or unconstitutional." Around the same time, he told the Oregonian, "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right."
Congress itself has recently widened the path for both extra-constitutional detentions by the White House and the domestic use of military force during a national emergency. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively suspended habeas corpus and freed up the executive branch to designate any American citizen an "enemy combatant" forfeiting all privileges accorded under the Bill of Rights. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act, also passed in 2006, included a last-minute rider titled "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," which allowed the deployment of U.S. military units not just to put down domestic insurrections—as permitted under posse comitatus and the Insurrection Act of 1807—but also to deal with a wide range of calamities, including "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or incident."
More troubling, in 2002, Congress authorized funding for the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which, according to Washington Post military intelligenceexpert William Arkin, "allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control."
"We are at the edge of a cliff and we're about to fall off," says constitutional lawyer and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein. "To a national emergency planner, everybody looks like a danger to stability. There's no doubt that Congress would have the authority to denounce all this—for example, to refuse to appropriate money for the preparation of a list of U.S. citizens to be detained in the event of martial law. But Congress is the invertebrate branch. They say, 'We have to be cautious.' The same old crap you associate with cowards. None of this will change under a Democratic administration, unless you have exceptional statesmanship and the courage to stand up and say, 'You know, democracies accept certain risks that tyrannies do not.' "
As of this writing, DeFazio, Thompson, and the other 433 members of the House are debating the so-called Protect America Act, after a similar bill passed in the Senate. Despite its name, the act offers no protection for U.S. citizens; instead, it would immunize from litigation U.S. telecom giants for colluding with the government in the surveillance of Americans to feed the hungry maw of databases like Main Core. The Protect America Act would legalize programs that appear to be unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the mystery of James Comey's testimony has disappeared in the morass of election year coverage. None of the leading presidential candidates have been asked the questions that are so profoundly pertinent to the future of the country: As president, will you continue aggressive domestic surveillance programs in the vein of the Bush administration? Will you release the COG blueprints that Representatives DeFazio and Thompson were not allowed to read? What does it suggest about the state of the nation that the U.S. is now ranked by worldwide civil liberties groups as an "endemic surveillance society," alongside repressive regimes such as China and Russia? How can a democracy thrive with a massive apparatus of spying technology deployed against every act of political expression, private or public? (Radar put these questions to spokespeople for the McCain, Obama, and Clinton campaigns, but at press time had yet to receive any responses.)
These days, it's rare to hear a voice like that of Senator Frank Church, who in the 1970s led the explosive investigations into U.S. domestic intelligence crimes that prompted the very reforms now being eroded. "The technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny," Church pointed out in 1975. "And there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know."

Nighty-night Bad Guy

Just one example of Paramedics being used as a tool by Law Enforcement.
This is the sort of thing that nipped my Paramedic training in the bud.
Lex Sentry

I-Team: Injection Used To Subdue Prisoners

updated 10:13 a.m. ET, Fri., July. 11, 2008
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - While the Metro police had banned the use of Tasers for a time, they still used a controversial method to subdue unruly people, according to an I-Team report.
Related Links: Contact the I-Team Watch Story Scroll Below To Comment
The city's policy to use the method, which calls for the injection of a drug into a person, came as a "total surprise" to people most would expect to know all about it.
For almost two years, Metro police have had the option of calling for a needle loaded with a strong sedative to control the most unruly people they encounter on the street.

One of the doctors who came up with the protocol said it's the safest option out there and that it is used all over the country.
But many people said that the injection was news to them, and a top medical ethicist said it's a troubling precedent.
The drug is called Midazolam, which is better known as Versed. People who have had a colonoscopy have probably had a shot of the drug for the procedure.
"The drug has an amnesia effect, and we use that therapeutically because one of the nice ways to take care of the discomfort is to make people forget that they've had it," said biomedical ethics and law enforcement expert Dr. Steven Miles.
But the shots have also been used on the streets on people police said were out of control.
One of the first to get the shot administered to them was Dameon Beasley.
"Well, that night, I hadn't been properly taking my meds, you know, like I'm supposed to. I got so depressed that when I was up on the bridge running into traffic back and forth, cars dodging me, swerving, I ended up with two sharp objects in my hands. By that time, the police had arrived. I was charging them with these sharp objects trying to make them shoot me, actually yelling at them to shoot me," he said.
When a Taser didn't work on Beasley, police turned to a brand new protocol -- an injection of Versed. Officers called emergency medical personnel for the injection.
"I remember they were holding me down. There was maybe four or five on each side, and I remember they were calling for something, you know. Some guy came up on the left side and hit me with it," he said.
"I do know that whatever it was works immediately. I mean, you ain't got a chance if you are 300 pounds. It's like a horse tranquilizer. I don't care. You're gone. It's a wrap," he said.
Beasley said he had no idea what happened after he was injected.
"I woke up -- I don't know how much time had passed -- with a sergeant standing over me telling me to sign here. I didn't know what I was signing Ms. (Channel 4 I-Team reporter Demetria) Kalodimos. I just signed a piece of paper and was immediately right back out," he said.
Kalodimos reported that Beasley ended up at Metro General Hospital and was then put in psychiatric care. He was not charged in the incident on the bridge.
But Beasley's lawyer, a public defender, had no idea that Versed had been used to subdue him until Kalodimos told him about it.
Very few people seem to know about the almost 2-year-old policy, Kalodimos said.
The state's largest mental health advocacy group, Nashville's mental health judge, the Nashville Rescue Mission, the American Civil Liberties Union all said they had no knowledge of the use of the drug by police.
"I've talked to my colleagues around the country, and none of the people from the south to the north to the east to the west have ever heard about this kind of program, this kind of use where they basically force an injection upon an individual knowing nothing about his or her medical condition," said ACLU Director Hedy Weinberg.
"I can't tell you why those individuals don't know about it," said Dr. Corey Slovis, Nashville?s emergency medical director.
Along with medical examiner Dr. Bruce Levy, Slovis customized a Versed policy for Nashville that is endorsed by a group of emergency medical experts called the Eagles.
"It's something that in the medical community and in the EMS medical community is very common. It's a given. When I surveyed the major metropolitan areas around the country, I think only two cities were not actively using it," Slovis said.
Some have asked the question about potential problems.
Miles said he also had never heard of Versed being used in this way.
"There is no research guideline. There is no validated protocol for this. There's not even a clear set of indications for when this is to be used except when people are agitated. By saying that it's done by the emergency medical personnel, they basically are trying to have it both ways. That is, they?re trying to use a medical protocol that is not validated, not for a police function, arrest and detention," Miles said.
"The decision to administer Versed is based purely on a paramedic decision, not a police decision," Slovis said.
It's up to the officer to call an ambulance and determine if a person is in a condition called excited delirium.
"I don't know if I would use the word diagnosing, but they are assessing the situation and saying, 'This person is not acting rationally. This is something I've been trained to recognize, this seems like excited delirium.' I don't view delirium in the field as a police function. It is a medical emergency. We're giving the drug Versed that's routinely used in thousands of health care settings across the country in the field by trained paramedics. I view what we're doing as the best possible medical practice to a medical emergency," Slovis said.
Metro Government would not release the names of the eight other people who got Versed injections after police calls. A representative from Metro said that the information was protected in the way a medical record would be.
The representative said that only one person out of the nine had shown no improvement after the injection.
Versed was most recently used on a female in early June.
Three women of child bearing age have apparently gotten shots without consent, even though the package insert for Versed suggests that, "the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus."
"A single administration to calm a wildly delirious patient down even if she's pregnant is much safer to the woman and her unborn child than being allowed to be delirious, hypothermic, hyperventilating and perhaps hypoxic," Slovis said.
"I would think that with enough people being able to tackle the person to inject them, there should be another way to try to subdue someone without putting an injection in their vein," Weinberg said.
The biggest side effect that is seen in more than 80 percent of those who are injected with Versed is amnesia.
The side effect raises the question of a person being able to defend themselves in court if they can't remember what happened.
"If they would've said I'd done anything after that shot, hey, I couldn't have argued that fact. I don't remember," Beasley said.
Kalodimos reported that while doing research for this report, she found a post on a paramedics Internet chat site that said, "One good thing about Versed is that the patient won't remember how he got that footprint on his chest."
"We're very careful in Nashville," Slovis said. "Every instance of Versed use is reviewed by the both medical director, myself, our head of EMS quality assurance. We make sure that our paramedics treat patients right."
Miles said it would have been appropriate to put the idea of using Versed before what's called an Institutional Review Board for study to anticipate problems before they pop up.
"It may well be that a protocol could be designed to test the use of Versed in handling agitated persons at the time of detention. I'm not going to say that's not possible, but at any rate, you do it under a condition where you collect data rather than simply just going ahead and doing the drug and waiting to see if problems to develop," he said.
Miles added that, "Doing medicine by the seat of your pants is not the way to develop new therapies."
Slovis said the shots are given as a medical treatment, not a police function, even though ultimately they aid in an arrest.
Little Brother
by Cory Dotorow

Here is a lucky find. Well, FOR YOU its a lucky find. I just payed $18 bucks for the book and so far it is worth every penny.

I was searching for a review to post and discovered that the author Cory Doctorow (Canadian journalist, blogger and co-editor of Boing Boing is offering this newly released book as a download for FREE!

I am only 1/4 into it and I am hooked! Here is a review and a link to the download. If you can afford it-buy the book. The man deserves to be paid for this entertaining and important work.

Blog: Dangerous Beauty

Little Brother review;

When I was in my early twenties, sometimes I got tickets to previews of movies. From this, I developed the test for a movie's worth: would I have still been as thrilled if I'd paid full price? ($6.50 in the mid-1980's), or did I want my two hours back if it was dreadful? (Aliens passed the full-price test, LadyHawke failed with flying colors.)As I said, my copy was a review copy. I got it for free, via FedEx. Little Brother will be about $13.00 on Amazon when it comes out on April 29th of this year. Even if I'd bought it at list ($17.95), it'd be worth every penny to be scared shitless and stagger around as paranoid as if I'd bonged a six-pack of Red Bull.I read Little Brother in one go this morning. I got into my favorite chair and read until the end, ignoring that I had to pee and my coffee was long gone. I couldn't be bothered to walk ten feet to start a DVD I'd ignore. The story is about a self-assured and smart-assed hacker named Marcus. Marcus runs on a combination of the arrogance and ignorance of the young Kevin Mitnick and the nothin'-but-good-times exhuberance of Ferris Bueller. Marcus' near-future San Francisco is a logical progression of our current state of cameras and metal detectors and intentionally humiliating airport stripteases. School-assigned laptops push ads as they spy on students. (I love this filip of shackling minds so that made-up needs can be shoveled into them, it's a fantastic bit of foreshadowing.) Schools have cameras that identify students by how they walk (after facial recognition was barely ousted), and students end up in the principal's office just for being suspicious.

This book is sold in the Young Adult section of the bookstore which put me off for a moment. Upon reflection I think Mr. Doctorow is brilliant. Kids growing up in this climate of fear and surveillance desperately need deprogramming avenues and this book is certainly one of them.
Definitely read it and pass it on to your kid or anyone else who fantasizes about thwarting the NSA, Homeland Security or just retaining a little anonymity in today's surveillance society.

Download free


Lex Sentry

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

AT&T Whistleblower and The Big Brother Machine

AT&T whistleblower: I was forced to connect 'big brother machine'

11/07/2007 @ 9:17 pmFiled by David Edwards and Jason Rhyne

A former technician at AT&T, who alleges that the telecom forwards virtually all of its internet traffic into a "secret room" to facilitate government spying, says the whole operation reminds him of something out of Orwell's 1984.
Appearing on MSNBC's Countdown program, whistleblower Mark Klein told Keith Olbermann that a copy of all internet traffic passing over AT&T lines was copied into a locked room at the company's San Francisco office -- to which only employees with National Security Agency clearance had access -- via a cable splitting device.
"My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard-wired to the secret room," said Klein. "And effectively, the splitter copied the entire data stream of those internet cables into the secret room -- and we're talking about phone conversations, email web browsing, everything that goes across the internet."
Asked by Olbermann how he knew what was being sent along those particular lines, Klein said it was all part of his former job:
"As a technician, I had the engineering wiring documents, which told me how the splitter was wired to the secret room," Klein continued. "And so I know that whatever went across those cables was copied and the entire data stream was copied..."
According to Klein, that information included internet activity about Americans.
"We're talking about domestic traffic as well as international traffic," Klein said. " And that's what got me upset to begin with."
Previous Bush administration claims that only international communications were being intercepted aren't accurate, Klein says.
"I know the physical equipment, and I know that statement is not true," he added. "It involves millions of communications, a lot of it domestic communications that they're copying wholesale, sweeping up into that secret room."
When Olbermann asked Klein if being involved in the process reminded him of a scene in the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the former technician said he had another movie in mind.
"Actually, I'm a little older so my thought was George Orwell's 1984 and here I am forced to connect the big brother machine," he said. "And I felt I was in a funny position, but I needed my job, so I didn't want to make a fuss a the time. But after I retired, I thought about it some more." According to ABC News, Klein believes AT&T has similar operations in place in as many as 20 other sites.
He is in Washington to lobby Congress not to pass a proposed telecom immunity bill, which would provide legal immunity to companies who secretly participated in NSA warrantless eavesdropping programs. Some of the nation's largest telecommunications companies are currently facing an array of class-action lawsuits related to the matter.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm speechless. . .

Washington Times
July 8th, 2008

Want some torture with your peanuts?

Aviation Security
By Jeffrey DenningJust when you thought you’ve heard it all...A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.
This bracelet would:
• take the place of an airline boarding pass
• contain personal information about the traveler
• be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage
• shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it’s referred to as, would be worn by every traveler “until they disembark the flight at their destination.” Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and that it would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if he/she got out of line?Clearly the Electronic ID Bracelet is an euphuism for the EMD Safety Bracelet, or at least it has a nefarious hidden ability, thus the term ID Bracelet is ambiguous at best. EMD stands for Electro-Musclar Disruption. Again, according to the promotional video the bracelet can completely immobilize the wearer for several minutes.So is the government really that interested in this bracelet? Yes!According to a letter from DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, to the inventor whom he had previously met with, he wrote, “To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in…the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal.” The letterhead, in case you were wondering, came from the DHS office at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City International Airport, or the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters.In another part of the letter, Mr. Ruwaldt confirmed, “It is conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes.”Would every paying airline passenger flying on a commercial airplane be mandated to wear one of these devices? I cringe at the thought. Not only could it be used as a physical restraining device, but also as a method of interrogation, according to the same aforementioned letter from Mr. Ruwaldt. Would you let them put one of those on your wrist? Would you allow the airline employees, which would be mandated by the government, to place such a bracelet on any member of your family?Why are tax dollars being spent on something like this? Is this a police state or is it America?
* * * * * *UPDATE: Lamperd Less Lethal Inc., the company that designed the EMD Safety Bracelet, has responded to the controversy as follows.
We wish to clear up any misconceptions regarding the EMD Safety Bracelet for Airline Security. The bracelets remain inactive until a hijacking situation has been identified. At such time a designated crew member will activate the bracelets making them capable of delivering the punitive measure - but only to those that need to be restrained. We believe that all passengers will welcome deliverance from a hijacking, as will the families, carriers, insurance providers etc. The F-16 on the wingtip is not to reassure the passengers during a hijacking but rather to shoot them down. Besides activation using the grid screen, the steward / stewardess will have a laser activator that can activate any bracelet as needed by simply pointing the laser at the bracelet - that laser dot only needs to be within 10 inches of the bracelet to activate it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Believe Me, It’s Torture

What more can be added to the debate over U.S. interrogation methods, and whether waterboarding is torture? Try firsthand experience. The author undergoes the controversial drowning technique, at the hands of men who once trained American soldiers to resist—not inflict—it.
by Christopher Hitchens August 2008

Here is the most chilling way I can find of stating the matter. Until recently, “waterboarding” was something that Americans did to other Americans. It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave men and women were introduced to the sorts of barbarism that they might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions. But it was something that Americans were being trained to resist, not to inflict.
Exploring this narrow but deep distinction, on a gorgeous day last May I found myself deep in the hill country of western North Carolina, preparing to be surprised by a team of extremely hardened veterans who had confronted their country’s enemies in highly arduous terrain all over the world. They knew about everything from unarmed combat to enhanced interrogation and, in exchange for anonymity, were going to show me as nearly as possible what real waterboarding might be like.

View a video of Hitchens’s waterboarding experience.
It goes without saying that I knew I could stop the process at any time, and that when it was all over I would be released into happy daylight rather than returned to a darkened cell. But it’s been well said that cowards die many times before their deaths, and it was difficult for me to completely forget the clause in the contract of indemnification that I had signed. This document (written by one who knew) stated revealingly:
“Water boarding” is a potentially dangerous activity in which the participant can receive serious and permanent (physical, emotional and psychological) injuries and even death, including injuries and death due to the respiratory and neurological systems of the body.
As the agreement went on to say, there would be safeguards provided “during the ‘water boarding’ process, however, these measures may fail and even if they work properly they may not prevent Hitchens from experiencing serious injury or death.”
On the night before the encounter I got to sleep with what I thought was creditable ease, but woke early and knew at once that I wasn’t going back to any sort of doze or snooze. The first specialist I had approached with the scheme had asked my age on the telephone and when told what it was (I am 59) had laughed out loud and told me to forget it. Waterboarding is for Green Berets in training, or wiry young jihadists whose teeth can bite through the gristle of an old goat. It’s not for wheezing, paunchy scribblers. For my current “handlers” I had had to produce a doctor’s certificate assuring them that I did not have asthma, but I wondered whether I should tell them about the 15,000 cigarettes I had inhaled every year for the last several decades. I was feeling apprehensive, in other words, and beginning to wish I hadn’t given myself so long to think about it.
I have to be opaque about exactly where I was later that day, but there came a moment when, sitting on a porch outside a remote house at the end of a winding country road, I was very gently yet firmly grabbed from behind, pulled to my feet, pinioned by my wrists (which were then cuffed to a belt), and cut off from the sunlight by having a black hood pulled over my face. I was then turned around a few times, I presume to assist in disorienting me, and led over some crunchy gravel into a darkened room. Well, mainly darkened: there were some oddly spaced bright lights that came as pinpoints through my hood. And some weird music assaulted my ears. (I’m no judge of these things, but I wouldn’t have expected former Special Forces types to be so fond of New Age techno-disco.) The outside world seemed very suddenly very distant indeed.
Arms already lost to me, I wasn’t able to flail as I was pushed onto a sloping board and positioned with my head lower than my heart. (That’s the main point: the angle can be slight or steep.) Then my legs were lashed together so that the board and I were one single and trussed unit. Not to bore you with my phobias, but if I don’t have at least two pillows I wake up with acid reflux and mild sleep apnea, so even a merely supine position makes me uneasy. And, to tell you something I had been keeping from myself as well as from my new experimental friends, I do have a fear of drowning that comes from a bad childhood moment on the Isle of Wight, when I got out of my depth. As a boy reading the climactic torture scene of 1984, where what is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world, I realize that somewhere in my version of that hideous chamber comes the moment when the wave washes over me. Not that that makes me special: I don’t know anyone who likes the idea of drowning. As mammals we may have originated in the ocean, but water has many ways of reminding us that when we are in it we are out of our element. In brief, when it comes to breathing, give me good old air every time.
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.
This is because I had read that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, invariably referred to as the “mastermind” of the atrocities of September 11, 2001, had impressed his interrogators by holding out for upwards of two minutes before cracking. (By the way, this story is not confirmed. My North Carolina friends jeered at it. “Hell,” said one, “from what I heard they only washed his damn face before he babbled.”) But, hell, I thought in my turn, no Hitchens is going to do worse than that. Well, O.K., I admit I didn’t outdo him. And so then I said, with slightly more bravado than was justified, that I’d like to try it one more time. There was a paramedic present who checked my racing pulse and warned me about adrenaline rush. An interval was ordered, and then I felt the mask come down again. Steeling myself to remember what it had been like last time, and to learn from the previous panic attack, I fought down the first, and some of the second, wave of nausea and terror but soon found that I was an abject prisoner of my gag reflex. The interrogators would hardly have had time to ask me any questions, and I knew that I would quite readily have agreed to supply any answer. I still feel ashamed when I think about it. Also, in case it’s of interest, I have since woken up trying to push the bedcovers off my face, and if I do anything that makes me short of breath I find myself clawing at the air with a horrible sensation of smothering and claustrophobia. No doubt this will pass. As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

I am somewhat proud of my ability to “keep my head,” as the saying goes, and to maintain presence of mind under trying circumstances. I was completely convinced that, when the water pressure had become intolerable, I had firmly uttered the pre-determined code word that would cause it to cease. But my interrogator told me that, rather to his surprise, I had not spoken a word. I had activated the “dead man’s handle” that signaled the onset of unconsciousness. So now I have to wonder about the role of false memory and delusion. What I do recall clearly, though, is a hard finger feeling for my solar plexus as the water was being poured. What was that for? “That’s to find out if you are trying to cheat, and timing your breathing to the doses. If you try that, we can outsmart you. We have all kinds of enhancements.” I was briefly embarrassed that I hadn’t earned or warranted these refinements, but it hit me yet again that this is certainly the language of torture.
Maybe I am being premature in phrasing it thus. Among the veterans there are at least two views on all this, which means in practice that there are two opinions on whether or not “waterboarding” constitutes torture. I have had some extremely serious conversations on the topic, with two groups of highly decent and serious men, and I think that both cases have to be stated at their strongest.
The team who agreed to give me a hard time in the woods of North Carolina belong to a highly honorable group. This group regards itself as out on the front line in defense of a society that is too spoiled and too ungrateful to appreciate those solid, underpaid volunteers who guard us while we sleep. These heroes stay on the ramparts at all hours and in all weather, and if they make a mistake they may be arraigned in order to scratch some domestic political itch. Faced with appalling enemies who make horror videos of torture and beheadings, they feel that they are the ones who confront denunciation in our press, and possible prosecution. As they have just tried to demonstrate to me, a man who has been waterboarded may well emerge from the experience a bit shaky, but he is in a mood to surrender the relevant information and is unmarked and undamaged and indeed ready for another bout in quite a short time. When contrasted to actual torture, waterboarding is more like foreplay. No thumbscrew, no pincers, no electrodes, no rack. Can one say this of those who have been captured by the tormentors and murderers of (say) Daniel Pearl? On this analysis, any call to indict the United States for torture is therefore a lame and diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down. I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint.
Against it, however, I call as my main witness Mr. Malcolm Nance. Mr. Nance is not what you call a bleeding heart. In fact, speaking of the coronary area, he has said that, in battlefield conditions, he “would personally cut bin Laden’s heart out with a plastic M.R.E. spoon.” He was to the fore on September 11, 2001, dealing with the burning nightmare in the debris of the Pentagon. He has been involved with the sere program since 1997. He speaks Arabic and has been on al-Qaeda’s tail since the early 1990s. His most recent book, The Terrorists of Iraq, is a highly potent analysis both of the jihadist threat in Mesopotamia and of the ways in which we have made its life easier. I passed one of the most dramatic evenings of my life listening to his cold but enraged denunciation of the adoption of waterboarding by the United States. The argument goes like this:
1. Waterboarding is a deliberate torture technique and has been prosecuted as such by our judicial arm when perpetrated by others.
2. If we allow it and justify it, we cannot complain if it is employed in the future by other regimes on captive U.S. citizens. It is a method of putting American prisoners in harm’s way.
3. It may be a means of extracting information, but it is also a means of extracting junk information. (Mr. Nance told me that he had heard of someone’s being compelled to confess that he was a hermaphrodite. I later had an awful twinge while wondering if I myself could have been “dunked” this far.) To put it briefly, even the C.I.A. sources for the Washington Post story on waterboarding conceded that the information they got out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was “not all of it reliable.” Just put a pencil line under that last phrase, or commit it to memory.
4. It opens a door that cannot be closed. Once you have posed the notorious “ticking bomb” question, and once you assume that you are in the right, what will you not do? Waterboarding not getting results fast enough? The terrorist’s clock still ticking? Well, then, bring on the thumbscrews and the pincers and the electrodes and the rack.
Masked by these arguments, there lurks another very penetrating point. Nance doubts very much that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed lasted that long under the water treatment (and I am pathetically pleased to hear it). It’s also quite thinkable, if he did, that he was trying to attain martyrdom at our hands. But even if he endured so long, and since the United States has in any case bragged that in fact he did, one of our worst enemies has now become one of the founders of something that will someday disturb your sleep as well as mine. To quote Nance:
Torture advocates hide behind the argument that an open discussion about specific American interrogation techniques will aid the enemy. Yet, convicted Al Qaeda members and innocent captives who were released to their host nations have already debriefed the world through hundreds of interviews, movies and documentaries on exactly what methods they were subjected to and how they endured. Our own missteps have created a cadre of highly experienced lecturers for Al Qaeda’s own virtual sere school for terrorists.
Which returns us to my starting point, about the distinction between training for something and training to resist it. One used to be told—and surely with truth—that the lethal fanatics of al-Qaeda were schooled to lie, and instructed to claim that they had been tortured and maltreated whether they had been tortured and maltreated or not. Did we notice what a frontier we had crossed when we admitted and even proclaimed that their stories might in fact be true? I had only a very slight encounter on that frontier, but I still wish that my experience were the only way in which the words “waterboard” and “American” could be mentioned in the same (gasping and sobbing) breath