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You may hear during the upcoming elections cycle that House Democrats are making America unsafe by not passing the Senate’s version of the new Wiretap Act before Congress.

Actually the News Journal ran an editorial along those lines on Saturday February 16th..

But did you know that when Democrats proposed an extension of the Protect America Act, as a stopgap between the expiration of the last bill, and passage of the next one, EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN VOTED IT DOWN?

Why?

Perhaps they know of an impending tragedy rivaling 9/11 and are praying for its arrival so they can reinforce their policies that currently are out of fashion?

Yes? Just for the fact that there is no logical explanation as to why they would first say America is in grave danger if this Act is not passed, and then ………..vote not to pass it.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. George W. Bush: January 20, 2001.

Meanwhile:

In an unusual related legal development, on October 13, 2007, The Washington Post reported that Joseph P. Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications, is appealing an April 2007 conviction on 19 counts of insider trading by alleging that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal. According to court documents unsealed in Denver in early October as part of Nacchio’s appeal, the NSA approached Qwest about participating in a warrantless surveillance program more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks which have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its efforts. Nacchio is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper. [15] According to a lawsuit filed against other telecommunications companies for violating customer privacy, AT&T began preparing facilities for the NSA to monitor “phone call information and Internet traffic” seven months before 9/11.[16] (Source)

Those of us who study history are often amazed how little things taking place miles away will ultimately cast a huge impact over all.

Imagine living in Georgia, waking up on April 19, 1775 working the farm, eating and going to bed without even remotely having a clue that over a thousand miles away, a shot fired would be heard around the world.

Honey, did you hear ‘dat noise?
“Yep, somebody must be out catchin’ ’em some food.”

And now some two hundred and thirty-three years later, after fighting first for this country, then against this country, then against opponents of that country, then against a country of opponents, and finally Georgia is where it is today.

And it all originated on a Green in the center of Lexington, Massachusetts . There, blood was spilled in defense of the truly original American notion that: I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore.

Tomorrow an event of much greater magnitude will take place and probably will go unnoticed by even WDEL. Before I go on, can anyone guess what it will be?

I refer to the revised FISA bill that goes up before a Senate vote tomorrow, February 12th, 2008. Those of you who do not follow Constitutional politics may be scratching your head, wondering why this would even be considered on the scale of the Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.

First: some background.

FISA was originally passed after Nixon had confused the concept of National Security with that of “Nixon’s security”. Thereby assuming both were synonymous, it was morally perfectly acceptable to bug the Democratic headquarters thereby enabling Nixon to stay in power by knowing in advance where Democratic “punches” would land.

FISA didn’t change much. It just said that someone else needed to look over the Executive Branch’s shoulder, and approve and insure that American values were protected. After 9/11 Cheney used the hysteria to say that no one should be looking over their shoulder. Having someone do so would endanger our safety. Although it made little sense, many went along and allowed it to happen.

To everyones surprise but mine, these new powers were not focused on terrorists. They were used predominantly on government employees, to vet out those within the State, Energy, and Defense Departments who might latter oppose ridiculous policies when they came forth. Fortunately the legislators put an end date, thereby killing this policy on a certain date. December 31, 2005.

In a hasty move, an extension was rushed through before the Congressional August holiday, extending the powers until two Friday’s ago. ( If your computer and internet connection seems to responding better today, you now know why. )

Tomorrow a vote takes place on a replacement FISA bill. Included in this bill is a blanket protection of immunity of all telephonic companies who complied with illegal searches of citizens records: searches that had no bearing on National Security. The telephone companies answer is, as expected: “Cheney made us do it.”

In a usual courtroom case of first degree murder, twelve members of the jury usually do not acquit a murderer of a spouse and innocent children, simply because he was told by someone else to do it. However it is certainly possible, that the trigger person could deal with the D/A and get a much reduced sentence by explaining the truth as it REALLY happened. There is a benefit to society in doing so. Currently there are at least seven lawsuits against these telephony companies who broke several basic privacy laws that have stood for centuries. By granting immunity to these companies there will be no way of getting them to testify, thereby enabling the American public to determine once and for all, that no wrongdoing was evident.

Since the sweat beading on the brow of this administration and the foreheads of all the telephon execs is telling, their innocence appears doubtful.

Therefore this ploy of granting immunity can be seen as an attempt to protect the “evil doers”, those very same who wish to undermine all American values.

The House has voted “No” shutting out any immunity for the telecoms. The only hope left to Cheney is for the Senate to vote Yes and then in secret negotiations with the House, re-add these immunity parts to this bill.

In the Senate, a yes vote looks likely, partly in thanks to Tom Carper. Hence, those few Senators still not compromised by Cheney, nor bought out by the telephony corporations, will attempt a last stand by use of a filibuster on the Senate floor. Chris Dodd leads the charge beginning with the procedural statement, ( Mr. President, I refuse to yield.) He will be joined by Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, and now, Patrick Leahy, each who will jump in with a question to the Senator long enough to insure that no puddles stain the Congressional carpet. These precious few will attempt to hold the floor until enough heat is put on the administration and Harry Ried by you, the public, forcing them to fold their hand.

So why is this important?

Great question. Up until this point the United States has been a nation created for the people, of the people, and by the people. If this bill goes forward, we will have switched our interpretation of the Constitution and become a nation for the corporation, of the corporation, and by the corporation. In other words, the needs of the corporation will from this point hence, take precedence over the needs of the citizen.

Some of us think that is just wrong. Corporations can’t vote. But with enough money and creative advertising, they can steer us to vote for who they want. But didn’t our ancestors fight so that we could be free and independent, and not beholden to some corporation?

Of course in a sense we are beholden to corporations most of our lives. Does one own your house? Your car? Does one cover your automobile accidents, your heath cost overruns? Does one supply your power, your fuel, our your paycheck? Stop and think for a moment just how much of your personal income is turned over to our corporations. Most if not all?

Now I don’t mine being beholden to a corporation if I am getting something that I want: a house, a car, a flat screen TV, especially if I couldn’t have any of those things without their help. But to have no recourse, and be forced to vote their way on issues, only because they know secrets of my past known to no one else, sends our country down the path to more corporatedom, than is good for the people. Essentially this bill will change Bedford Falls into Pottersville.

This bill tomorrow will help determine whether we hasten down the dark path of corporate domination, or whether we have tools at our disposal to check them and balance things when they step out of line. Will we be in charge, or will they?

This bill decides.

Right now, those corporations who chose to spy for the Bush administration are desperately trying to escape criminal prosecution. But if this precedent is allowed, any future corporations whether seeking past due amounts, or fishing to break your lease or steal your property, will always refer back to this bill to justify their further encroachment of our rights.

Little know fact: In Delaware three years ago, one jury actually took a stand, declaring by their verdict that even in the most justifiable of circumstances, even when used against the most odious, sickening elements of humanity, privacy issues were sacred and could not be touched.

There is precedent here. A jury of twelve random people has forced upon a court the decision that neither private individuals, nor corporations have any right whatsoever to release another’s private history. Tomorrow it is time our government itself become subject to the same laws as its citizens.

So while you go about your daily duties, somewhere far away, a handful of very motivated and angry Senators, are fighting for your’s and your grand children’s right to privacy. Whether they succeed or fail, their ripple in time will be felt perhaps as long as the next two hundred and thirty three years….

Allan Coffey recently sent me a link that was quite profound. In fact, if one remembers from the Matrix how a simple pill changed not just the perception of reality, but set into motion a chain of events that eventually changed reality itself, I would have to say, that this link…….is probably the equivalent of that pill. It is four pages. I could not do anything else until I finished it…

Hours latter, urged by something I do not know, but have come to respect, I am dutifully passing it on….. I am sure some will choose the other pill, but that is within their prerogative.

For some of you who wonder if I am pulling your leg……let me say honestly, it is better than a BSG episode. Serious.

Got to go, …

The former head of Central Command, John Abizaid, the retired Army general said the United States could deal with a nuclear Iran.

“There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran,” Abizaid said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. “Let’s face it, we lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we’ve lived with a nuclear China, and we’re living with (other) nuclear powers as well.”

How true. Imagine the neocoms jumping in that Iran is a special case, solely because it is Muslim. Abizaid responds to them with:

“Iran is not a suicide nation,” he said. “I mean, they may have some people in charge that don’t appear to be rational, but I doubt that the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon.”

Abizaid suggested military action to pre-empt Iran’s nuclear ambitions might not be the wisest course. Instead we could modify their behavior with our overwhelming strategic capabilities.

“I believe that we have the power to deter Iran, should it become nuclear,” he said, referring to the theory that Iran would not risk a catastrophic retaliatory strike by using a nuclear weapon against the United States”.

It is funny how all the good sense is filtering out now……..and not before Cheney led us into war after Iraq’s oil…….

I disagree with some of those who put down Petraeus as a liar, simply because they fail to agree with his assessment. It may come across to some as funny that I have thought, if not said, some to the same things against which I am now taking issue, and if so, so be it……

What changed?

What happened was this. I became more familiar with what was going on within Iraq. Of course, being of skeptic I tended to look at things hard. Very hard. To my surprise, I found out that I was seeing real signs of hope. This hope was not in the eyes of the politicos; it was the eyes of Iraqis. Since desperate souls grasp any rope tossed to them, I have waited quietly to make sure that these Iraqis were not suffering any type of delusion. I listened to all three reports expecting to see something in them dash my half submerged optimism, upon the reality of Iraqi shores.

I think my conversion may have come about when I was studying the conversion of Al Anbar province. Those Sunnis chose to back us because they like us. Of course it wasn’t much of a contest, considering who their alternative was…..But it may have also come while studying the criticism leveled at us by the British, as they packed up and split. They criticized our arrogance , heavy handedness, and unwillingness to trust: all valid complaints Each of these were addressed under the Petraeus doctrine. After reading the Petraeus Book on the suppression of Insurrections, I realized his tactics were not part of the problem. They were in direct opposition to the problem. I understood what he was trying to accomplish.

What happened under Petraeus, happened not because of the amount of troops we had at our disposal, but because of the way we used them, that made a difference.

The surge may have helped. For before the surge, we, due to our insufficient numbers, acted like Soviets, if I may be blunt. We were there to suppress and pacify. We, with our own patriotic roots, should have been more aware that by taking that stance, we directly increased our own opposition.

Once we added just a few more troops on the ground, we were able to interact with the local population, while still having enough force surrounding us to protect us. Prior to the surge, the problem was that whenever a few shots were fired, we would have to shut down our clinic, and head out across the desert. However with additional troops able to chase the insurgents, the military medical corp could continue to cure the local citizen’s ills. That was the difference. We could finish what we started.

Of course the original problem was created by republicans, Rumsfeld in particular. Had we ramped up enough ground forces from day 1, we never would have needed the surge in the first place. Yes, we know their insurrection began because they believed we wanted their oil. (That republican Cheney messed everything up). But if I understand correctly, we dropped that privatized oil plank as a “no go” and are now supporting the nationalization of oil assets. We are pursuing more of a Biden local strategy, tribal leader by tribal leader, and doing so because of the surge. Paul Bremmer’s national unification strategy was not working.

What I found, in essence, was that everything I said eight months ago that we needed to do in Iraq to win, we were now doing.

Can this late development be twisted to mean I justify this war that was fought on false pretenses? Hell no. It will always stand as a stupid war, instigated by stupid ass republicans. Nothing can ever change that. We could have achieved much better results at far less cost, had we chosen to use other means.

But we didn’t. We went in against all common dignity, history and sense. So since we did, does the resulting mess lie at our doorstep? Does we broke it, mean we own it?

Perhaps. But instead of a “oops, I broke it” moment, it is more of an “Honey, I’m pregnant” moment. Whatever happened way back then, has now changed things permanently.

Of course we can put up our hands and say, “Whoa, that’s your problem bitch…” and walk out the door. Many people do and feel no remorse about doing so. But that is not how I want my America to be perceived. I want My America to be responsible. I want My America to do the right thing. My America will be no punk. My America will be a Dad……….

So emotionally, that is how I have come around about to see how we could win in that barren land. It is nothing new. Biden has pushed it for years.

To win, these things must happen. They are in our control.

Congress must finally stand up to the President. If Iraq can finally realize that America does not equal Bush, that we too think he’s a moron, that we too can admit and correct our mistakes, our relations will improve. If the American Congress ever gets some backbone, and forces upon the president a withdrawal timetable, the Iraqis too will get some backbone and begin controlling their own affairs.

Congress must stand up to the president, and eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy 2%, and invest that money into Iraq’s infrastructure, hiring Iraqis to build their own sewers, roads, and buried electrical conduits. If Congress could do that, then the Iraqis might get some back bone and start controlling their own affairs.

Congress must stand up to the President, and force impeachment if he fails to comply with Congress’s orders. Only then will Iraq realize that America is not over there to conquer, but sincerely is over there to help. If we are decisive over here, they will be decisive over there,……. instead killing time and each other until our next inauguration day.

The long awaited Petraeus report is due today. Since the White House has admitted it will be responsible for content, one can assume that it will represent the Republican take of the war in Iraq.

However, timed to break just before the Petraeus report, were two other reports of which we have heard already. One, by David Walker of the GAO, could be said to represent the Democratic view of the crises at hand. The other, sponsored by Senator Warner, featuring General Jones (Retired: who looks like he stepped out of the move “White Christmas”) could be said to provide a centrist, or otherwise unbiased, review.

Oh boy….here we go again……surprisingly, all say the same thing………WHAT?…….. All say some progress has been made militarily, but the true solution needs to be political.

So when asked if the surge worked, the answers are all the same. There are gains in stability in some regions as a result of the surge. But politically, we are in the same spot or worse, as we were in January 07.

At each of these hearings, each time this same conclusion is uttered, the Dems posture and say the surge didn’t work….and the Republicans hunker down and say some progress shows momentum…..you can’t quit while you are moving forward.

Oh No! Parallels to Vietnam: In Vietnam, the US Military won every engagement it fought against the enemy. However our State Department was unable to matriculate a political solution. So it is in Iraq. I heard Lindsey Graham, (R-SC) make a speech that would have fit quite nicely in an anthology of “Hawk’s” statements from the early ’70’s.

America: we are smarter than this….We should not make the same mistake twice……

All three reports comment on the marvelous success we fell upon in Al Anbar province. However it was not our military that forced the issue. Rather it was the local population that became fed up with Al Qaeda’s brutality so much that they did something about it. It was fortuitous that the troops were there, to capitalize on the decision made by the Sunni sector.

Had we not had the surge and enough troops in the field, we could have still been holed up in the Green Zone, and the opportunity that presented itself, could have slipped through our fingers. Supposedly the tipping point for the Sunnis came when Al Qaeda made a point of punishing a tribe by killing 6 or 7 of its young boys. The chieftain asked for protection. The astute Lt Col. said “I’ll have a tank parked here in two hours”…… The domino effect rolled throughout the region based on the momentum off that one incident.

But one incident doth not a war make…. As we succeed in Al Anbar, we are unraveling in the South; insurgents are moving back in as the Brits pull out. This should surprise no one……going back 67 years ago:

hostile forces will withdraw into the more remote parts of the country, or will be dispersed into numerous small groups which continue to oppose the occupation. Even though the recognized leaders may capitulate, the subordinate commanders often refuse to abide by the terms of the occupation. Escaping to the hinterland, they assemble heterogeneous armed groups of patriotic soldiers, malcontents, notorious outlaws,…… and by means of guerrilla warfare, continue to harass and oppose the intervening force in its attempt to restore peace and good order throughout the country as a whole.

Anyone out there recognize that? That was taken directly from the declassified version of the Marines’ Small Wars Manual, first published in 1940. It suggests that to countervail such forces, similar to what we anticipate today, we need numerous presence patrols organized with the help of local, native militias, and outposts that are erected dispersed over a wide area in order “to afford the maximum protection to the peaceful inhabitants of that country.”

This blanket approach of embedding Marines into local tribes, and assisting them in regaining some type of stability in their lives vis a vis their experience with the chaos caused by terrorists, means we often wind up doing the work, and leaving local militias with the credit. This has worked well in the southern Philippines, and has for many years worked well in Afghanistan. We did not employ these type of winning tactics in Iraq, until Petraeus took over, and because of bureaucratic squeamishness over causalities, we have let up on our winning strategy inside Afghanistan.

Americans are good…..and as long as we fight on the “side of good”, we continue to win the hearts and minds of local populations. On this direct level no one can compete with us. No one! Our administration lost sight of that. Intent on imposing a government made to help the image of the republican party, American forces found themselves, instead of fighting for the good in the local populations eyes, fighting for oil rights and Cheney/Bush’s tough machismo.

I call this post Mosquito Wars, because as I sat through each of these hearing, listening to all everyone had to say, the war became less of a military adventure, and more of a politically psychological one. After all, that is how the Soviet’s broken regime crumbled…..not by nuclear strikes or preemptive invasions. They just imploded.

The Soviet analogy sets this up well. During the peak of Cold War, we were beset by Soviet spies. They were relative easy to find, hard to kill, and harder still for their agency to replace. Today against the terror threat, the parameters have changed. The terrorists are very hard to find. easy to kill, and easy for their agency to replace.

The way you fight terrorism is with intelligence. If you know what terrorists are going to do, you can prevent it. But finding out is hard, especially when they mimic regular citizens. But as long as the root causes of terrorism are still out there, as long as there are breeding grounds to replace the ones killed or captured, terrorism itself will be never conquered.

Which brings us to mosquitoes. You can live with them, by walking around with mosquito netting over your head whenever you choose to go out, or you can spend 100 % of your outdoor time, watching your bare arms, and swatting whenever one lands. But if you really want to kill mosquitoes, you change the environment to one where they cannot survive. We did so as we built the Panama Canal. We suffocated their breeding grounds with oil; we sprayed standing water. We succeeded.

Terrorists are not lions, tigers or bears…oh my. They are mosquitoes. Totally harmless entities until they land on you. So lets fight them the same way we fight mosquitoes.

Fix the abject poverty in the area where they breed. For a mere 12 billion, it is estimated, we could permanently end poverty in the world…….Drill some wells, teach crop techniques, vaccinate their livestock, provide lifesaving medical attention, and do so with some M16’s standing by in case a lone mosquito slips in and needs a good swat…

It’s America…..it’s how we win…….and it is not to late to win in Iraq. Announce the timetable, work hard to build an Iraq ready for withdrawal, and leave whenever we are done, not a moment before. But announcing the timetable is the key to developing political will among all factions in Iraq.

Remember how the moment Reagan was sworn in, the Iranian hostages were released after 444 days of captivity? They were not going to budge an inch as long as Carter was still president.

Let us move things fast forward too, by changing our leadership on this side of the Atlantic, doing so on our fast forward timetable (67 votes), thereby giving Iraq some hope too………

It’s something to think about; the next time you swat a mosquito……

color enhanced copy of b/w picture in released documents

“This surveillance system lets FBI agents play back recordings even as they are being captured (like TiVo), create master wiretap files, send digital recordings to translators, track the rough location of targets in real time using cell-tower information, and even stream intercepts outward to mobile surveillance vans.

FBI wiretapping rooms in field offices and undercover locations around the country are connected through a private, encrypted backbone that is separated from the internet. Sprint runs it on the government’s behalf.”

Documents recently released to the EFF’s FOIA, suggest that the FBI’s wiretapping engineers have succeeded in tapping into our standard digital communication’s systems. As Randy Single writes in Wired, the FBI has quietly built a sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device, according to nearly a thousand pages of restricted documents newly released under the Freedom of Information Act. The redacted documentation leaves many questions, however. In particular, it’s unclear what role the carriers have in opening up a tap, and how that process is secured.

“The real question is the switch architecture on cell networks,” said Matt Blaze, a security researcher at the University of Pennsylvania . “What’s the carrier side look like?

Randy Cadenhead, the privacy counsel for Cox Communications, which offers VOIP phone service and internet access, says the FBI has no independent access to his company’s switches.

“Nothing ever gets connected or disconnected until I say so, based upon a court order in our hands,” Cadenhead says. “We run the interception process off of my desk, and we track them coming in. We give instructions to relevant field people who allow for interconnection and to make verbal connections with technical representatives at the FBI.”

The nation’s largest cell-phone providers — whose customers are targeted in the majority of wiretaps — were less forthcoming. AT&T politely declined to comment, while Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon simply ignored requests for comment.

FBI Agent DiClemente, however, seconded Cadenhead’s description.

“The carriers have complete control. That’s consistent with CALEA,” DiClemente said. “The carriers have legal teams to read the order, and they have procedures in place to review the court orders, and they also verify the information and that the target is one of their subscribers.”

Despite its ease of use, the new technology is proving more expensive than a traditional wiretap. Telecoms charge the government an average of $2,200 for a 30-day CALEA wiretap, while a traditional intercept costs only $250, according to the Justice Department inspector general. A federal wiretap order in 2006 cost taxpayers $67,000 on average, according to the most recent U.S. Court wiretap report.

To security experts, though, the biggest concern over DCSNet isn’t the cost: It’s the possibility that push-button wiretapping opens new security holes in the telecommunications network.

Documents show that an internal 2003 audit uncovered numerous security vulnerabilities in DCSNet. In this internal audit, (pg 61/112pdf), commenced after discovering that no security audit had been concluded for four years, pointed out some very basic security breeches. Some were the direct results of budget cuts, such as limiting technical staff. Others were the result of putting high tech toys in front of those too green to understand the full implications…..The security assessment titled Operation Mayday, uncovered this nugget. Problem:

“Zipdrive attached to FBINet machine.


Recommended Action: Complete Trilogy User training. Remind users not to attach unauthorized devices to network. Remind users not to install unauthorized software. Treat future instances as security violations and report through appropriate channels with increasingly severe penalties for
repeat violations.

Remember, this accesses all your bank documents as well as your deepest, intimate conversations…..which due to lack of oversight over the past four years, if cached, is now open forever to the world……Other samples of Katrina-like misconduct or ineptitude: Problem:

Outdated or no disk encryption on laptop
computers.


Recommended Action: Install PointSec on all machines unless excepted. Provide written justification to SecD for consideration of any exceptions.


Problem-: Baton Rouge RA, CART laptop has no disk encryption.

Also in the report:

1. There is no anti-viral software loaded on the DCS-3000 machines. If malicious
code, viruses, and/or executables are introduced, there will be potential for risk to the system or compromise of data, thereby compromising evidence contained therein.


Current Status:
• Verified Closed: McAfee 4.5.1 installed with Virus updated 05/05/2006

Current Status:
• Verified Closed: Passwords require eight characters, complex etc.

3. Successive failed logon attempt lockout is not enabled. Without a lockout policy,
an unauthorized user would have infinite attempts to gain access to the system.


Current Status:
• Verified Closed: Accounts lock out after three attempts and must be reset by
admin.

5. Workstations associated with the system do not enforce adequate user permissions. Improperly configured machines do not adhere to the least privilege principle. This practice could potentially give a user access and rights not warranted for by their position.

In particular, the DCS-3000 machines lacked adequate logging, had insufficient password management, were missing antivirus software, allowed unlimited numbers of incorrect passwords without locking the machine, and used shared logins rather than individual accounts.

The system also required that DCS-3000’s user accounts have administrative privileges in Windows, which would allow a hacker who got into the machine to gain complete control.

WTF?

The flaws are appalling and show that the FBI fails to appreciate the risk from insiders. The system is insecure, essentially because the people who designed it and run it have an insecure attitude about the nature of threats to the system. Outsiders may be stopped by VPNs, firewalls, etc., but insiders may wander around the system nearly at will. Not so different from the situation that set up the Vodaphone/Greece fiasco.

As Steve Bellovin from Columbia points out:

“Instead of personal userids, the FBI relies on log sheets. This may provide sufficient accountability if everyone follows the rules. It provides no protection against rule-breakers. It is worth noting that Robert Hanssen obtained much of the information he sold to the Soviets by exploiting weak permission mechanisms in the FBI’s Automated Case System. The DCS-3000 system doesn’t have proper password security mechanisms, either, which brings up another point: why does a high-security system use passwords at all? We’ve know for years how weak they are. Why not use smart cards for authentication?”

Any wiretap system faces a slew of risks, such as surveillance targets discovering a tap, or an outsider or corrupt insider setting up unauthorized taps. Moreover, the architectural changes to accommodate easy surveillance on phone switches and the internet can in itself, introduce new and frightfully dangerous security and privacy holes.

So where does our safety lie? In a bill of goods sold to us and to Congress in order to protect us from “phantom” terrorists, we have allowed anyone and everyone to compromise our personal privacy. Most particularly, those very ones we trusted to defend us from our enemies………

WTF?photo by SUCHAT PEDERSON, News Journal

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. (Helen Keller)

How true this is from a military perspective. We read of generals astride their horses, whose only contribution was to say, “let’s attack here” . Their work is done. They then receive history’s blame or credit depending on the outcome of those brave souls fighting for their lives.

The battle results are determined on the field by soldiers. Whether they choose to break and flee, or to stand their ground against impossible odds, alone determines the future reputation of their commander. History judges clearly.

Besides war, the same holds true for peace. Often it is more difficult to be non-violent, than to go into a rage. Yet those who propose peace, become castigated as being too cowardly to handle war, when in fact, the opposite is true. It takes deep spiritual devotion, and a strong belief in a higher power, to sail against the prevailing wind. To trust that peace will provide a dividend that is far greater than taking what you want to take with force……..requires great insight and courage, to make yourself believe in it……..

So who is brave?……. I learned that Marines (US) are brave. When shots were fired across Michigan Avenue in Fallujah, the uninitiated take cover. When they dare to look up, they see the Marines already running towards the sound of the shots. As you get to know Marines while off duty, you slowly arrive at the opinion, they are not that much different. But the moment live ammunition smacks around you, and you see them run at the source like fireman racing to a fire, you realize that courage has different levels.

We are taught from birth, (it may be instinct) that self preservation is a worthy cause. Survival is our primary concern. So when one takes the opposite tack, and puts survival below other considerations, those of us who witness it, call it courage.

It takes great courage to stand up to ones enemies. It takes even greater courage to stand up to ones friends. (Professor Dumbledore, Book 1) Think about it for a second………………..How easily do we lob insults at those representing the other side of the blogosphere? Too easy…………….Now how hard is it to do the same and to criticize those who have stood solidly with you and “watched your back” on other issues? Quite hard……..isn’t it.

But sometimes one must go against ones gut, and do what is right. What kind of insanity must possess a person willing to trust his life to some nylon and some string, and then throw himself out the door of a shot-up B17 over enemy territory? The answer is that the insanity of staying inside a falling chunk of metal, is greater than the insanity of bailing out……..

So what kind of insanity must possess a person who today, is willing to abandon the wreckage of what has been the primary focus of our nation’s foreign policy? Again, the answer is that the insanity of staying in a falling chunk of metal, is greater than the insanity of bailing out.

Wait a second: many of you by now are thinking. “Your analogy is not a good one. Many B 17’s were shot to hell and still made it back to English airfields. Those who persist in the war effort are like those few B17 crewmen who did not abandon their posts and persevered to safe harbor. Your analogy seems to support the opposite of your views?”

But there were also many who did not bail out over continental Europe, and then were force to bail out over the English Channel and certainly perish. By bailing early, their chances of survival would have been higher.

So rational people must look at each of these circumstances and make a decision based on their assessment of all the evidence. We are humans, we do this all the time.

For those who haven’t yet “got it,” the conversations we have about the war here within the blogosphere, mirror the conversations that took place within those shot up B17’s. The upcoming Petraeus report, is no more than a damage assessment sheet.

So with this upcoming report, how do we determine whether we throw our support against those who want to stay, or against those who vote to leave?……..We do it by performing a gut check.

Gut Check 1: If I lose my son or daughter in this war, will I always feel that they died to preserve my nation’s freedom.

Gut Check 2: Would I be better served to have all my money spent on this war and not on something else?

Gut Check 3: Would I be worse off if we left the war, or would it be better off to stay the course and continue doing exactly what we are doing now?

If you can answer no to any of these questions, you need to be in Rodney Square Today, from 5 to 7 pm. The rest of the arguments offered by both sides don’t matter one iota. The only thing that matters is your answer to these three gut checks.

Once you have decided that this war is not for you, then get moving to Wilmington’s Rodney Square. Don’t expect anyone else to do it for you. Even though the time will come when our policies dealing with foreign affairs will change for the better. But that will be because we can no longer afford the extravagance of war. This will occur when the American people realize that war causes too much suffering here at home, and the benefits of peace again become attractive to us all.

It is my humble opinion that America needs to change its policy. This change in policy can come easily once the people of this country decide that there is a better way to conduct ourselves throughout the world. Whenever the people turn against war as a tool to promote certain beliefs, the war ceases. That’s what we need today. (Ron Paul)

As Helen Keller stated in the opening of my piece: “the world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. ”

Today we are in desperate need of more honest solders for peace. Ask yourself this question: “if your showing up to this event, would make the actual difference and stop this war, could you then make a greater effort do it?” If you answered yes, then show up. Just showing up may be only the “tiny push: that Helen Keller spoke about, but if you passed the gut check, it is a push in the right direction………one requiring a great amount of courage……………………

Time to run like Marines towards those enablers who keep this war running; not duck and cover.