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Silicon Valley’s role in US government surveillance has triggered public anxiety about the internet, but it turns out there is at least one tech company you can trust with your data.

Xmission, Utah’s first independent and oldest internet service provider, has spent the past 15 years resolutely shielding customers’ privacy from government snoops in a way that larger rivals appear to have not.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation called it a model for the industry….

And speaking of the EFF, yesterday a Federal judge allows the case Jewel Vrs NSA to go forward into a real court. There is nothing secret about the Constitution the judge said. Either this practice is legal or it isn’t. A court will decided.

Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. The case is supported by declarations from three NSA whistleblowers along with a mountain of other evidence. The recent blockbuster revelations about the extent of the NSA spying on telecommunications and Internet activities also bolster EFF’s case.

It appears Edward Snowden tipped the balance. This has been held up 5 years because it supposedly was too secret for trial.

It is clearer now that the biggest benefactors for the NSA spying were commercial enterprises. The Obama administration went along with the Bush plan and accelerated it, primarily to give American companies a heads up, and keep jobs here.  It worked too.

One can’t argue with success. But one can find how American businesses were co-opted to assist the NSA.  From the Guardian, the following, allegedly from Snowden himself.

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a “team sport”.

it is revealing that the beneficiaries of the Patriot Act and probably one of the reasons it has been intact long after terrorism faded offshore, are the exact same who are suing each other left and right, using the anti-piracy laws as their barrage.  It appears that laws are not for people anymore; they are for corporations.  It is corporations who want the US to fund listening posts for every American word and sentence.

The only way to fix that, is to divide the corporations Teddy-Roosevelt-style, thereby giving We, the People a little more clout.  …

In today’s New York Times some of the big questions get answered.. Who is looking at all that data? It’s not the government as we were led to believe…

“I’m very concerned that we have government contractors doing what are essentially governmental jobs,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week.

“Maybe we should bring some of that more in-house,” the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, mused.

It’s a little late for that. Seventy percent of America’s intelligence budget now flows to private contractors. Going by this year’s estimated budget of about $80 billion, that makes private intelligence a $56 billion-a-year industry.

For decades, the N.S.A. relied on its own computer scientists, cryptographers and mathematicians to tap, decode and analyze communications .. Then came Al Gore’s internet. The NSA could not keep up. In 2000, James R. Clapper Jr., now the director of national intelligence, decided to shift away from its in-house development strategy and outsource on a huge scale.

It does. Here’s why. First, it is dangerous to have half a million people — the number of private contractors holding top-secret security clearances — peering into the lives of their fellow citizens. Contractors aren’t part of the chain of command at the N.S.A. or other agencies and aren’t subject to Congressional oversight. Officially, their only loyalty is to their company and its shareholders.

With billions of dollars of government money sloshing around, and with contractors providing advice on how to spend it, conflicts of interest and corruption are inevitable…

Third, we’ve allowed contractors to conduct our most secret and sensitive operations with virtually no oversight. This is true not only at the N.S.A. Contractors now work alongside the C.I.A. in covert operations (two of the Americans killed in Benghazi were C.I.A. contractors; we still don’t know who their employer was). Contractors were involved in secret and highly sensitive operations that by law are reserved for government operatives.

Whereas you privacy was originally thought between you and the government which was scary in itself… now we understand it was between you, your government and 500,000 private citizens just trying to make a buck anyway they can… Checked your bank balances lately?

(We told you to vote NO for the Patriot Act and its subsequent renewals… What were you all thinking?)

Like a zombie it may rise again.  But around 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, members of the Senate confided to US News that in the way as the CISPA  House Bill was passed, “that” bill is dead.  Pieces of it may be pushed through the Senate in an effort to preserve the parts that protect our cyber-structure,  but  those pieces designed  to protect sitting politicians…  consider them tossed.

Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), CISPA’s sponsor, has been pushing for such a bill for years, and has repeatedly insisted this will be the year it becomes law. President Obama vowed to veto it if it passed in an answer given to over 100,000 signings of a White House petition… 300,000 people petitioned Congress to scrap it.

Cybersecurity lobbying has doubled in 2012 alone, outspending privacy groups by a factor of 14 to one. …$55 million to $4 million.

Essentually CISPA was supposed to help with cyber attacks.  If we were attacked by a Stuxnet virus, CISPA would drop all privacy issue restraints and allow anyone connected to security to roam through any and all accounts with impunity….

Like credit card numbers.  Like patient information.  Like pictures of you in the nude. Like your contacts and business associates. Once compromised and if anything were to happen to you, say, information was leaked to your boss, or your spouse, or put inside a newspaper for everyone to read, you could not sue, you would have no recourse and most likely, you would be completely unaware this was going on until a friend happened to see it and let you know….

The sponsor of the bill, wrongly says this is absolutely necessary to protect us from threats.  However, not being able to sue because you were fired because you boss saw a medical file showing you were being treated for cancer,  does little to protect us from Chinese hackers.

And that is the problem.  Furthermore,  so much stuff flows on the internet, that asking providers for specific data, is like asking someone to retrieve a certain molecule of water from a flowing river.  If CISPA passed, the internet would grind to a halt, as every search engine, every server, struggled to filter and organize all their data so if asked, they could legally provide.

It is a bad bill. Yet it’s sponsor keeps bringing it back. and back. and back.  Here is the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.  The one CISPA violates.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This is the anti-phishing amendment.  If you don’t have any charges to press, and don’t know of any particular evidence in a person’s possession, it is illegal to go to their house when they are not there, and look around for something to pin on them….  yet that is exactly what  CISPA sponsor Mike Rogers bill will do….

It allows Senator Joesph McCarthy hearings to take place without the hearing.

But more odd is how one private company is all over Mr. Roger’s CISPA, there at its inception, its creation, its Reichstag moment, and it’s demise. That private company is the  cybersecurity consulting firm Mandiant…. who is owned and run by Kevin Mandia out of Alexandria  Virginia.  Kevin Mandia was brought in by Mark Rogers to testify as to the dangers our computer system faced.

“China’s economic espionage has reached an intolerable level,” he said at a congressional hearing in October 2011.  As head of the House Intelligence committee  he held a hearing on “Chinese hacking”  and one of those creating the report, was Kevin Mandia who was thanked by Rogers at the hearing’s end.

At the hearing, cyber security groups were in force to testify, but no privacy groups were allowed inside.  The Conversation was one way with the cyber security groups insisting they would only share anonymous information with each other…  Unfortuately that assertion could not be challenged.

But outside the closed hearing, privacy groups are saying  it would let “companies hand over large swaths” of individuals’ private information “to the government, without a warrant.”  Credit card numbers, bank papers, phone contacts….

Rogers argues that is a consequence, not an intent.  No matter the reasoning behind it, CISPA allows it to happen.  Quite possibly thousands or tens of thousands can be looking over your data because you  happen to bank at Bank of America, or shop at Caldor… or Wal*Mart…. when they came under attack….

Then last year’s version was shot down, Rogers was undeterred.

There “appears to be a new level of threat that would target networks from—I’ve got to be careful here—an unusual source,” he said. He joked about how he wanted to share what he knew but couldn’t, because it was classified.  “I look really bad in those orange jumpsuits with the numbers on the back,” he told his audience…..

Then, almost as if on cue for this spring legislative session, in February 2013. the New York Times announced it had been hit by Chinese hackers, followed shortly by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Then Twitter, Facebook, and Microsoft. Their stories differed, as did the severity of the attacks, but everybody agreed: These hacks were sophisticated, and they all seemed to come from China…..

You probably remember the headline, just before the House vote on CISPA….

A cybersecurity firm had found the source of those attacks. In no uncertain terms, the firm claimed to have traced the hacking operation to a single, 12-story building outside of Shanghai: People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398. Hiding in plain sight, the report said, was a dedicated hacking operation run by the Chinese government…..

And the firm that released it? Mandiant, whose CEO advised Rogers that day.

Mandiant’s report, backed by pages of data and years of research, relies on a few simple pieces of evidence. A loose coalition of similarly styled hacks all stem from the same source, codenamed APT1 (short for “Advanced Persistent Threat”). Mandiant traced the vast majority of the attacks to China—Shanghai, specifically—and noted that Unit 61398 was uniquely capable of sustaining such a sophisticated operation.

What was just said, was that these hack were traced to Shanghai and in Shanghai there is this building so they had to come from there…

Not so fast, says the head of another cyber-security agency. Jeff Carr, CEO of a different cybersecurity firm, Taia Global. He has a different explanation.

“Mandiant provided lots of facts about the PLA, and they provided a lot of facts about how APT1 works, I’m not disputing those.What I’m disputing is the conclusion that they drew. They created a table: In one column was characteristics of the PLA, the other was APT1, and they seemed to believe that the only possible conclusion was that the PLA is APT1. Well, that’s not the only possible conclusion.”   Those other possibilities include Russia, Israel, and France, which the U.S. has acknowledged engages in cyber-espionage. It could also include Ukraine, Taiwan, or Germany. Or “APT1 could just be a group of professional hackers that are stealing information and selling it,” Carr said. “In fact, that makes more sense to me because of the lack of operation security that’s been exhibited by these guys.”

The fact that most hackers’ Internet protocol (IP) addresses trace back to China doesn’t mean much. Those are easy to fake—heck, moderately sophisticated Internet pirates fake theirs all the time to avoid getting caught. China, indignant, countered the Mandiant report, partially on those lines.   “As we all know, hacker attacks almost always steal IP addresses. It is common practice online,” China’s Department of Defense announced after Mandiant’s report, though it also said it traced a million hacks on its own network to the U.S., via those attackers’ IP addresses.

What that says in plain language was that a million hacks came from the US into the Chinese system and then went back to the US.  A million hacks came from the US … just before CISPA was to be voted upon.    And you have this very cozy relationship with the sponsor of the CISPA bill and a cyber security firm which announced earlier that China was one day going to do massive hacks into the United States….

It worked.  It fooled Democrat John Carney.  He voted for CISPA.

“China is like the boogeyman to promote [CISPA],” cyber security specialist Carr added. “If you increase the fear around China, and then you wave CISPA, hopefully you will attract more movement to simply pass that—some blind attempt to heighten security.”

Bottom line is that CISPA would allow private companies (like Facebook, or your Internet service provider) to share your emails, text messages, or stored files with the government for “cybersecurity purposes,” and it would trump the existing laws that allow you to sue those companies for privacy violations.

All you know is that you got fired without cause and escorted out of your building…..

Sharing information is a flawed concept….   It is absolutely the wrong way to thwart an attack.  Such that it appears the main thrust of the bill is to access information, NOT thwart a cyber attack…

To thwart a cyber attack, one must take this approach….

“The solution is to assume your network is going to be breached, and you need to be able to identify what’s of value on that network, and segregate it and monitor it in real time. If somebody does gain access, and they’re accessing it from an IP address you don’t recognize or at a time of day where they shouldn’t be, you can immediately lock down that file. It’s known as data protection.    “It’s like the TSA. You tried to bring a bomb aboard in your shoe, so from now on we’ll just have everybody take off their shoes. 

But, as for now these details are all for naught ….

CISPA’s gone, one more round, CISPA’s gone…..

  • In case you are waking up, you won’t get this story until noon.

The Daily Mail London just opened a can of worms on Benghazi….

Breaking News: The Daily Mail is reporting from inside sources that General Petreaus and the Ambassador Stevens were not informed that parts of the CIA had one day before, attacked the very same group of Libyan insurgents who returned the next day to attack at Benghazi. Furthermore, the Petreaus scandal was orchestrated by a rogue element of the CIA itself(7th floor) who were the ones behind the pushing of the FBI into investigating General Petreaus bedside manners.. (remember that fishiness of how the rogue FBI agent kept pushing his superiors? It makes sense now.)

Now get this. The same John Brennan who just testified to become the next CIA director, was who ordered the clandestine attacks the night before and who did not brief Petreaus, or the official side of the CIA, that they had done so.

So not only are Republicans completely wrong on Benghazi, they are now laughingstocks for every single word they said about it….

  • We did know about the security threat.
  • We did do something about it.
  • We didn’t tell Obama, Clinton, Panetta, or Petreaus.
  • All were in the dark, not to propagate deceit, but because they had no idea….

Every Republican needs to apologize to every Democrat starting now by getting down on their knees, and bowing their head to the ground in supplication… :)(Dick Morris can lick our toes).

One always fails if they bluster against competent people when all they have is their own hot air.  That’s why good Democrats always win over bad Republicans.

I’m really sick today.. You see, when I was growing up, I was a history buff. I read childhood biographies of famous people, usually with the book behind the textbook while the teachers droned on and on, but once as a tyke, who upon seeing the obligatory National Park Film in the Williamsburg Visitors Center, after Patrick Henry sat down, I swore, I would always fight to protect the Constitution…. At that moment, even little as I was, I think I understood that I was temporary… But the Constitution like God, needed to be around forever…

With childish enthusiasm I imagined myself at times on the bridges of Lexington and Concord, roaming the swamps of South Carolina, and firing my muskets at King’s Mountain, and most importantly, crossing that line in the dirt on December 31, 1776 when no one else wanted to, to enlist till the end of the war.. . When it made the real difference, I said, I would step up at my own peril..

Today, I feel as George Washington must have, perched upon his horse on the New Jersey banks of the Hudson, watching the British inhabit New York and knowing there was nothing he or anyone else could do about it… Overmatched, the cause of freedom had taken a body slam.

Perhaps it is more like going back 2000 some years though. And being full of great optimism and hope for a burgeoning empire, a group of city states destined to prosper and rise, one whose morals would be impeccable, and suddenly without warning, ones best friend pulls out a knife and shoves it into your flesh and others pull out theirs, opening wounds where they can.

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution states that …. oh damn, here it is in it’s entirety.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Granted there have been times, particularly at war, when protecting Americans meant going against the grain of this… If someone is about to shoot you, I mean, it certainly would help if you know about it first…..

The problem with too much accumulation of information, is that once you have it, it can be used. Assurances along the lines of “I’ll never do that”… always down the line get replace with platitudes of…. ” I did it because I could…” or… ” I needed to.”

So having every thing you’ve ever done electronically in a file instantly accessed by simply typing in your name, can be a bit disconcerting… It’s a catch 22. If you have not a single demerit because you lead such a bland life, you get castigated for being a wallflower and uninteresting. On the other hand, if you take risks to live life fully, you get castigated for the errors you made… Either way, those with the power will use it to castigate you for something…. And though disguised as their trying to put you in your place, it is really their effective attempt to prove to others they wield power…

Today’s Senate voted overwhelmingly to continue the FISA Admendments Act. Like ACTA or CISPA or any other internet freedom restricting acts, had opposition been organized, it may have demanded another outcome. But today’s bill arose out of nowhere, and leadership demanded it pass, and pass it did….

Numb today, I understand the implications. It is like we chose to keep Japanese interned in concentration camps after the war was over. It is that bad.. If we are doing it for the Japanese, eventually someone argues, why not anyone else? And really, how else can one answer such an argument except to expand the offense to a greater scale?

I didn’t find about the attempted coup until waking up 3 am today. I did see outrage that Zuckerman’s picture was Twittered off a private feed! The silence over government taking our freedom, and the outrage over the release of privacy, is a stunning comparison. It begs the question: what is wrong with all of us? Shouldn’t the outrage be the other way around?

For the first time that I can find, we as a nation, have chosen to continue a war-powers act, on into peace-time. 9/11 is gone. Bin Laden is dead. We’ve preditor’d out Al Qaieda’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, in command. We are out of Iraq. We will soon be out of Afghanistan. We are not in a war for our nation’s survival. So why does the government need access into every American’s email, facebook account, twitter, photo’s? Why does the FBI need to show up at your facebook friends home, with a letter stating that you are under surveillance and then asking questions of their relationship with you, then forcing their silence by telling them that they can be prosecuted themselves if they even reveal to you that they’d had contact with government officials? Gee, did you ever had a friend get weird on you suddenly, like for no reason?

Should our government be allowed to do that?

According to the text of the Fourth Amendment listed above…. Absolutely Not.

And it was over before the child in me could even get his powder cartridge out of his gunnysack…

The House of Representatives passed CISPA late last night.   It passed 248 – 168.  Delaware’s John Carney voted for it…

Most of you know it is bad, but don’t know why…

CISPA is a bill to create better collusion between giant businesses and government.  The idea came about that if China staged an attack,  on banks, water towers, and the Pentagon, with the sharing of information, we would be aware it was a large scale attack in real time, and not, after each department had reported they were down.

The main force behind the bill is that it protects private companies from being sued for turning over information that was so private, it could not have been turned over under previous laws, such as the National Security Act of 1947.   It also removes the protections inside the Wiretap Act and Electronic Communications Privacy Act, that helped keep our private matters private.

The fear is that without lawsuits, there will be no protection with how ones privacy issues get flung around.

Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Netflix  (many of which are supporting CISPA) are facing dozens of privacy-related lawsuits — CISPA might be a way to sidestep some of these.

Furthermore, the government could utilize CISPA to remove all civil liberties.

So we have all these negatives, with no positives.

The bill, as most actions passed by Congress these days, falls short in what it is supposed to do…

Obviously if we have less threats and less vulnerabilities, we have a safer Internet.  So far the system has worked where if a worm appears, a patch is created to patch that hole.  The vulnerabilities continue to exist, but once a patch is created,  their effectivness is over.

CISPA takes a different approach.  If the current system is defensive, the CISPA takes the offensive approach.   The  CISPA acts like our CIA,  looking through every file, trying to find out as much as it can, and thereby have the patch in advance of the problem…

CISPA allows a knucklehead like me, who thinks he knows everything, to say, you know, Dave Burris has been quiet for a while.  He must be up to something.  And just on that flimsy pretext alone, everything of Dave’s is captured, stored, and analyzed.   In todays corrupt society, all it takes is a dollar of the correct dimension, and Dave’s secrets are now the property of someone else.  Dave gets mad, sues, and finds he can’t.  Because of CISPA.

Just to be fair, let’s say Jason and Deldem, are both writing less.  Both has said incendary things about Republicans… Suddenly, dirt, long buried, long fogotten is getting flung around.  Whisper campaigns start and pretty soon, Jason and Deldem are feeling like pariahs.  They have no idea why.  When they find out, turns out it was over a typo.  They didn’t say what they where secretly blamed.  They try to sue, and sorry, can’t… it’s CISPA.

The current insurance commissioner has bad feelings about Mitch Crane.  She tells the large insurers and they pull pictures out of Mitch’s file from college.  Those get published and Mitch spends all his time defending his actions, he never gets to say what a crook the current insurance commissioner is…

Furthermore, as EFF point out, CISPA doesn’t help us average Americans. If a potential threat is discovered,  it’s defense, is only good as long as the enemy, doesn’t know we know how to defeat it.  Therefore, a patch is made, but, it must be kept secret.  Just like when we cracked the code of Hitler,  a lot of security went into keeping that fact secret so the code would continue…

What CISPA does, is if it finds a potential threat, it creates a patch and gives it to only a very select few.   The rest of us are hung out in the wind, our computers crash, and only those, who have the secret, are up and running.

I’m sure as I’m explaining these implications, you can begin to see why the Obama Administration says it will veto this.

It shifts more power away from us to the corporate and privileged class.

In a nutshell, the principal of this bill is this:  China and Russia have been protecting their cyber security for years.   The communist establishment moved seamlessly into controlling the Internet of the private sector.  We just started.  This bill makes us more like China and Russia….

The gut felt antagonism against this bill, ….  is that WE don’t want to live like Chinese of Russians….

We’re Americans… This bill will change that….

Contact John Carney here.   Let him know that he needs to update himself on cyber-security and not take what he gets told for granted…. He made a mistake.  A big one.  If you are a Republican reading this, here is your issue.  You got him.

If this bill passes, nothing of your’s, mine, or his life, is private anymore.

Comparisons to Vietnam may come up.

But Afghanistan is not Vietnam. There is no giant wall of communism that will progress if we walk.

We have to remember our mission.

Our mission was not to defeat the Taliban. Our mission may have appeared that way for a while, when the Taliban and Al Qaida were in cahoots together…. but the Taliban, kooky as they are, are Afghanistan’s equivalent to our conservative wing over here… There is no reason they and moderates cannot work together….. In retrospect, their views and those of Santorum, mimic each other perfectly.

No, our mission was to protect the Afghans…. and remove Al Qaida. The second half was accomplished last May.

So then, what is the biggest problem in Afghanistan?

It is: that a majority of its citizens don’t want us to be there…
Now if we were occupiers, that would be their tough luck. Just like the Russians, we’d throw down the gauntlet and say… “chase us out then.” and at some future point, we’d eventually leave…

So since we will leave anyway, and they don’t want us there anymore, pulling out is a win-win situation. We have a time-table to pull out and we might as well stick with it considering that all the expense, the lives laid down, the infrastructure built… are not appreciated…

Just like in Vietnam….

So expect the Republicans to capitalize on the impending collapse of Afghanistan, and say they would have stayed and fought it out.
…. Just like in Vietnam…

So, recognize that President Obama is taking the right path. If Afghans wanted to live together in peace, they could have figured it out by now… If they want to fight for the hell of it, putting American troops between the two antagonists… will make no difference in the outcome….

It is what it is….

I’m not the only one comparing Egypt with Iran (79).. Both were populist revolts against dictators, both were lifting off oppressive regimes.

As the people poured into Tehran, Carter did not give them support. We were too tied to the Shah. Thereby when he left, there was a period where the population looked around, saying “what do we do now?”

Khomeini, was in France. He quickly packed and moved back to Iran, and the mullahs, who were the only structure left in that nation, by default, became the government. One that was quite hostile to the US; and considering we supported their oppressor, one would expect they should be…

But for a moment, there was hopefullness. Perhaps here was a new American revolution, where a government was ruled by its citizens, and not … vice versa. There was jubilation, hope, and joy.

Then Khomeini set up shop, and the mullahs—and a roving army of “spiritual enforcers” known as the Revolutionary Guards—ended up substituting one autocratic regime for another. In doing so, they dashed the hopes of millions of middle class Iranians who thought the revolution would bring more freedom, not less.

Women lost the social gains they had made under the Shah, and were forced to wear head coverings and full-body cloaks called chadors. Opponents were imprisoned and tortured as ruthlessly as under the Shah. A parliamentary democracy existed mostly on paper, with true authority residing with the mullahs. With the Shah in exile, Khomeini identified the U.S. as “the Great Satan” and an “enemy of Islam.”

We seemed to be on the same track in Egypt. The Obama administration was proceeding too cautiously, voicing support for Mubarak to finish his term. That made Egyptians view us suspiciously. Was the United States unwilling to see just how hated Mubarak really was? Could they not gauge the hatred which average Egyptians felt towards this man?

Obama was pulling a Carter… Fortunately for the world, instead of a Walter Mondale, he has a Joe Biden (he’s from Delaware, you know) who steps up and speaks from the heart, as would Jackson, Lincoln, Cleveland, Truman, other leaders also cut from the common cloth…

“He stressed that the Egyptian government is responsible for ensuring that peaceful demonstrations don’t lead to violence and intimidation and for allowing journalists and human rights advocates to conduct their important work, including immediately releasing those who have been detained,

Joe Biden is needed in Egypt. The Obama team is too blind. Their backing Suleiman will backfire. He is known as “The CIA’s Man in Cairo.” for his his ardent anti-Islamism, his willingness to talk and act tough on Iran -

Mubarak knew that Suleiman would command an instant lobby of supporters at Langley and among ‘Iran nexters’ in Washington – not to mention among other authoritarian mukhabarat-dependent regimes in the region. Suleiman is a favourite of Israel too; he held the Israel dossier and directed Egypt’s efforts to crush Hamas by demolishing the tunnels that have functioned as a smuggling conduit for both weapons and foodstuffs into Gaza.

Obviously this is not what the Egyptians, those sleeping out in the cold to protest another day, crowds who stop rioting to bow their heads, ex-patriots who are abandoning their European jobs to fight for their homeland against tyranny and oppression, want…

No! America needs to be like France was to us during our similar Revolution. “What do you need?” “I have it if you can deliver?” ” can put our fleet off Yorktown for a week, can you be there?

Only then, if we support the people, … it won’t matter who becomes the ruler. Whoever it is, will be beholden to the people, a people who will love the United States of America.. … Instead of the Great Satan, we become the Great Angel…..

We can do this: and Delaware’s own Joe Biden has taken the lead. His words rippled through Tahrir square like wildfire……

On the other hand the person to whom Obama seems to be willing to throw his support, figured predominantly as Egypt’s torturer-in-chief, during the days of rendition by the US of terror suspects to extract information. At least one person extraordinarily rendered by the CIA to Egypt — Egyptian-born Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib — was reportedly tortured by Suleiman himself.

Equally embarrassing for the Obama administration, is Suleiman’s involvement in the famous torture evidence erroneously proving a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. It was later refuted. His whereabouts were, in fact, a secret for years, until April 2009 when Human Rights Watch researchers investigating the treatment of Libyan prisoners encountered him in the courtyard of a prison. Two weeks later, on May 10, al-Libi was dead, and the Gaddafi regime claimed it was a suicide.

According to Evan Kohlmann, who enjoys favored status among US officials as an ‘al-Qaeda expert’, citing a classified source: ‘Al-Libi’s death coincided with the first visit by Egypt’s spymaster Omar Suleiman to Tripoli.

Are we putting in another Shah? Another spymaster who will torture and use fear to exert control? We’re doomed if we do…

Better to let the middle class do whatever it is they want, elect whoever it is they want…. Forget the ruler… support the people…

Joe Biden knows this….

Duffy is God’s answer to a prayer.. I miss the old days of blogging when we were debating principals instead of people… Duffy has stuck to the old line of debating principals with facts, and that is what makes him special in the eyes of bloggers everywhere…

Since the passing of Steve Newton, he has been the only one to challenge me in any argument, and usually some pretty good stuff comes out of both sides during the exchange… I have respected that.. Cause once again, opinions mean dick. Facts are what we steer by.. It is my hope that in responding to his challenge that an answer may make itself apparent.. Who knows? It may not come from me… But if I’m the catalyst for bringing it out in the open, then… none of this was in vain..

Why I like to debate Duffy is simple.. Neither side, he or I, is concretely set in their opinions… We accept it when the other side makes sense… I usually go into such debates having no idea where they’ll end up… I hope the rest of you enjoy the ride as welI….

That said..

Duffy leads: Wall Street’s problems were caused by Fannie and Freddie loaning money to people they knew couldn’t pay and moreover, forcing banks to lend money to people who couldn’t pay. That was not deregulation but misregulation

kavips rebutt’s:Uh… Mr. President. That’s not entirely accurate.

First off, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was developed for, and locked in on, urban developmental areas and had no part of the subprime boom, which primarily occurred out in western desert regions where owning 4 to 5 investment homes was normal… Those homes were overwhelmingly funded by loan originators NOT SUBJECT to the act… We all know the crises was not because people couldn’t afford a payment on their house. It came about, because with no occupants, people could not afford the payments of 4 to 5 houses….. Instead of one loan per borrower turning up in default; four to five were.
Investment Homes lead forclosures not inner city Residences

Second off, The housing bubble reached its point of maximum inflation in 2005.
The Housing Bubble Starts to Dive in 2005
Courtesy of NYT

Third off, During those exact same years, Fannie and Freddie were sidelined by Congressional pressure, and saw a sharp drop in their share of loans secured by the Feds… Follow the dotted line on the very bottom of the graph…
Freddie and Fannie on the lowest line
Courtesy of NYT

Fourth off; During those exact same years, private secures, like Delaware’s own AIG, grabbed the lions share of the market.
Private, not Public Insurers Caused the Crash
Courtesy of NYT

Remember these graphs for later on when I discuss the results of deregulation, versus regulation… But like it or not, these graphs conclusively show that private insurers, who thanks to Marie Evans, we now know were deregulated by Phil Gramm in the 2000 Omnibus Bill, were the primary cause of the worlds financial collapse.. Probably put best by these words of AIG’s spokesperson, who when asked why they didn’t have sufficient funds to cover losses, said point blank, “We were deregulated. We were no laws requiring us to keep any funds, ..so we spent it…”

Duffy leads: The loosely regulated hedge funds escaped this mess largely unscathed. Why? They can’t count on a bailout like the big banks. The Too Big To Fail banks were counting on a bailout (not unlike the S&L bailouts which started on the Republican’s watch) and they got them.

kavips rebutt’s:Uh… Mr. President. That’s not entirely accurate. I agree that the hedge funds did survive better than the banks. Not because of bailouts, but because they sold short during the crises and made billions while firms closed and people got thrown out of work. There is nothing wrong with that; I did the same. In fact close readers may remember my warnings that the crises was impending almost a year earlier. Very close readers may remember my telling them exactly when to sell, and at what point the stock market would rebound… I must say: I called it rather well. :)

“Hedge funds were not in my understanding, at fault in the credit crisis,” said David Ruder, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “At the most what they did was to sell securities when some of their investments were declining and they needed to have liquid funds. They were not the architects of these problems.”

De regulated hedge funds are not the issue… De-regulated, excessively leveraged, mortgage securities, are a different story however… They, not the banks that held them, are the cause of the crises…Years from now, when academics search for causes of the stock market crash of 2008, they will focus on the pivotal role of mortgage-backed securities. These exotic financial instruments allowed a downturn in U.S. home prices to morph into a contagion that brought down Bear Stearns a year ago this month – and more recently have brought the global banking system to its knees.

Where you err is when you state that banks too big to fail, assumed they would be bailed out… By implication, you say imply they failed from squandering money, and wanted the bailouts.. But your tax dollars didn’t flow directly to the bottom line.

The roughly $200 billion the Treasury Department has handed out to battered banks was swapped for a special class of stock that pays a 5 percent dividend (rising to 9 percent after five years.) As of April 15, the Treasury had collected about $2.5 billion in dividend payments on its investment.

So in that sense, the bailout money represents an expense for banks. That’s one reason a number of banks have said they want to give the money back as soon as possible.

You say big banks were counting on a bailout, and they got them? That didn’t happen to these banks. New Mexico, Georgia, and Florida each lost a bank just last Friday. That brings to 8, the number of banks failed in June. Unfortunately if a bank is failing, it can’t bet on itself to fail, as can a hedge fund.

Duffy leads: Banks have successfully lobbied to get their losses absorbed by taxpayers and gains are kept private. How nice for them. They felt comfortable making insane gambles because they knew they’d be bailed out. Most of them were right. Also remember that it was Bill Clinton who tore down the wall between retail and investment banking. The idea was to give banks more stability as they typically perform as exact opposites in bull and bear markets. (FWIW, I think that was a good idea and I can tell you first hand that two of the Fortune 100 banks I worked for were carried by retail banking in bear years. They may not have had bonuses those years but they didn’t have layoffs either)

kavips rebutt’s:Uh… Mr. President. That’s not entirely accurate. The idea is that the banks made bad decisions knowing taxpayers would bail them out is the issue that is inaccurate. For the record, I have no qualms that it was the Clinton legacy who tore down the wall between banks and investment banking. Like you, I feel it was a good idea to do so… Again the problem was not primarily with banks making loans to people who could not pay.. Although, it was as late as October 2009, when I was made aware of one private Bank in Denver still exaggerating income to make loans look good enough on paper to get approval of securitization. What caused the collapse was the leveraging of those loans as securities, so that as the housing market became overextended, and the ARM jumped past the low cost opening years, the damage was 100 times worse because of leveraging. What made the collapse criminal, was that the insurance most financial institutions had bought from AIG, to cover such an improbable event, had already spent by that companies executives, out on bonuses to themselves. What made it doubly criminal, was that when they received government dollars through a taxpayer bailout, those same executives assumed it was to first go towards paying their bonuses again. However, very recent events may give some cover to the argument that some collusion was implicit in the bailing out of Goldman Sacs and AIG… Basically, once bailed out, AIG paid Goldman Sacs for shares twice as much as they were worth. The documents also indicate that regulators ignored recommendations from their own advisers to force the banks to accept losses on their A.I.G. deals and instead paid the banks in full for the contracts.

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