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They cost you too…

The drop in payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2% results in a savings of about $1000 a year to every wage earner.

(If truth were widely known, that tax cut is actually a bad idea. It hemorrhages a dying social security fund, requiring the eventual death of the program or an expensive emergency last ditch surgery in the future.)

But it is hard not to give a $1000 present to every voter. Even if it only comes out as $19 dollars and change each week… But, still again, if your electric bill is $198 and you only have $189 in your account, that additional amount is, well, a lifesaver…..

But, Republicans in the House, even after Republicans in the Senate voted passage, overwhelmingly voted….. not to vote on the measure…

They didn’t vote against it… THEY VOTED NOT TO VOTE ON IT……
(speculation is that they lacked the votes to keep it from passing)..

So, how does that relate to you?

House Republicans (read Tea Party) just voted NOT TO VOTE on whether or not you will be losing an extra $20 a month out of your next paycheck.

Imagine what this is doing to payroll clerks around the country?
Imagine what this is doing to family budgets around the country?
Imagine what this is doing to businesses who rely on consumer spending around the country?
Imagine what this is doing to businesses heavily involved in the financial sector, around this country?

So what would normally happen?

Normally a group that can’t find agreement, acknowledges the sad fact, and long before the deadline, announces that they failed to reach agreement and that things would continue as they were on a temporary basis, to unfortunately allow for more time to solve differences.

But NOOOOOOOOOOOO, …. WE ARE STUCK WITH A TEA PARTY THAT FUCKS THINGS UP.

Instead, we have a vote not-to-vote, then get all sorts of very lame excuses from those who are delaying, none of which apply to the real problem that Social Security is doomed unless drastic action gets taken (higher rates, not lower), and we get nothing….

The tax cut will expire…

It is like sequestering a jury in a room, where everyone after much fact-covering argument has agreed to a judgment, except for one person who’s been bought off. And nothing, nothing, logic, emotional appeal, bullying, snuggling up to, befriending, produces any change. And you go years, every working day, to the same court house, the same jury room, they same chair at the same table, hear the same arguments, hoping against all odds, that today, he will see the light and switch. You go the next day.

That is today’s Congress. Held hostage by Tea Party Republicans who live in a dream world untouched by the reality of living under $185,000 a year. Like that bought-out juror, every day, they hold up progress with the unjustified belief that, if they wait long enough, the other 11 jurors will give up and sway over to the sole juror’s way….

Two things can happen… 1) return to the public and announce a hung jury, and do a complete retrial.. or 2) sneak up to that one juror, put a gun to his head, say nothing, pull the trigger, clean up the mess, dispose of the body, then go out to the public and announce what the 11 of you have decided…..

One is the nice way, sanctioned to due process of law. The other is the American Way.

It’s time to initiate the kavipsian policy of expression or what is otherwise known as “Show Us How You Really Feel”… Who knows? It could become the next great movement? The next time someone you know (or don’t), says anything about how millionaires should keep their tax cuts and the poor should pay, nod your head in agreement, smile a little bit, then hit them as hard as you can in their mouth, I mean as hard as you can! Put them flat on the ground holding their jaw… Then loudly say, “Don’t every talk that stupid way to me again!” Who knows, if 99% or all 303,930,000 would respond that way to our fellow congressional delegates, and the other 3.9 million of their like who advocate such madness, we might actually get the very progress we need, not because of intimidation, but because such policy is right….

For those who argue expression of violence is un-American, I’ll remind them that tonight, is John Wayne Night on AMC: view it!… I argue that such action is VERY American and perhaps it has been the lack of such spontaneous expressions of frustration from working American people, that has caused the logjam where nothing gets done because of one holdout, who thinks he can sway the world to his opinion and face no consequences… ….

Practice now, by punching brick walls.

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courtsey of DOD
Courtesy of Department of Defense

Seems to be a quiet week in blogger land, at least in Delaware. Perhaps everyone is resting for the high intensity moments arriving exactly a week away, in the special election to fill the seat of Jim Vaughn. The wind controversy gears up tomorrow as well when the letters released today become public. (I had better hurry, it’s out now.)

Delaware Liberal: Although headaches are usually bad, it looks like one spared Jason from an even bigger headache caused by one snooze of a Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Bottom line: it does not look good for John Carney. His association with Minner is too hard to disconnect. Like a Siamese twin, he is attached at the hip. DWA and a comment provide more insight. But to stop a blogger from live blogging, now that IS bad……..
Sorry John.

However Joanne Christian, (Dave’s girl) politically speaking, actually spoke to Jason 330, a brave act for a Republican. I think it speaks highly of her character and courage that she did. I don’t think I would have the guts to do so; (especially if I had to wear a dress). Has Ennis sat down with Frank Knotts, in a dress? No?

Perhaps I was looking for more local opinions facing those living in that area, but Jason’s interview was a good start. Perhaps light can be shed on whether the interview was carefully screened by Dave while live, or screened by Jason during editing. For me it did not answer enough questions such as: How do you feel about Bluewater Wind’s proposal? How do you feel about funding SCHIPS to 300% poverty level. How do you feel about requiring the Bond Bill and Budget to be available for public scrutiny at least three days before it is voted upon? How do you feel about funding charter schools, or at least allowing them to borrow money to continue their existence? Do you think and would you support, keeping committees and caucuses open under FOIA and would you support Karen Peterson’s Bill as is, next year? Where do you draw the line between the rights of developers and the rights of current residents of a locality. Which of their sides will you favor?

Not to dis the interview. But with only a week away, these questions have not been answered, by EITHER CANDIDATE!!!!!!

Dana hints of this by calling Bruce Ennis on his “Tricky Dick” defense. Is it just me, or is Dana attempting subliminal electioneering. Tricky Dick…..B. Ennis……Tricky Dick ……B. Ennis….

What does that say about us as Delawareans? What does that say about us a bloggers? How dare we have the right to complain later once the election is over, when we can’t even get information out to voters to make even an educated guess as to how the candidate will vote next general assembly.

Perhaps there is no discussion because it is already common knowledge and I was out that day and missed it. If so, sorry. But from my searches, we have much more available to us today about the Millsboro election last spring. The really big question is: do voters have adequate access to facts to make informed choices?

No offense intended to fellow bloggers. Just addressing the fact that there is a 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Almost to prove the point, we had our own version of a early morning CBS/Bob Barker game show, titled ……”Who Stole The Sign ?…..” Again sign vandalism is important, only for the fact that it pushes real discussion off the front page…..

Bounce back: Delaware Liberal, at least it founder Jason 330, throws his support for Bruce Ennis here. This is the first informative piece of information on either candidate so far. Hat’s off for doing so. Bruce has a lot going in his favor. I just don’t know how he will vote on the issues I and my neighbors think are important. Has he, as of yet, distanced himself from Joe Hurley??? Inquiring minds want to know…….

Liberalgeek (Welcome Back: this time I know our side will win.) writes about Health Insurance invoking one of the greatest movies made during the Bush Administration’s tenure: The Incredibles. It is a must read as we consider how our Health Care should evolve after 08.

FSP surprised everyone by changing his banner. He says it was for fall, but speculation abounds that since Mitt Romney did not show up in a knit sweater at the top of his website, something else is afoot. Dave has allowed the speculation to continue by not reiterating his avid support for this year’s Bob Dylan candidate. Also at FSP, one of their crowd tries to mimic Dean, but instead creepily reminds one of the movie Deliverance.

A must read at FSP is this post by the other David, David Anderson which shows that cheap sources of energy and its environmental effects are far too serious of a solution, to be played with by wannabe career politicians…..As someone once said, based on the term paper given by Bluewater Wind, “For twenty five years, we will pay less for electric, than twenty states now…” When it comes to Delaware’s competitive economic future, a fixed cost for energy from wind, cheaper for twenty five years than twenty states offer now, would certainly not hurt…..I wish that in 1982, during Reagan’s first term off-election year, someone had the foresight to lock US into a price of gasoline that was cheaper than twenty states paid then……I believe it was somewhere around $1.30? Hat’s off to David. (Proves what I have always said: being wrong on tax policy does not make you wrong on everything.)

DWA has this important Public Service announcement. I wish I could provide the irritating Comcast siren sound as it does for weather watches, but I was unable to keep the link formated from going 401. Consider yourself spared.( It was pretty cool while it lasted, if your geek age was 6 or under). His distinctive glasses……that should give him away. We’ve never seen him in contacts…..

Cathcart is in a tizzy over missing another Public Service Announcement. Actually the comments here are insightful, should you be somewhat historical and interested in the Atkins Affair.

DWA also provides significant background on what will become a big story now that the PSC has changed tack on the Wind Farm, and that is the influence of one shadowy Joe Hurley. His play-book was leaked on line here.…..

Dana provides his take on Bidens comments. But as Loudell comments, the timing was all wrong………Dana however goes mainstream this week, landing a televised appearance on WHYY. It is about time they put some “learned” people on some of their panels. If WHYY keeps continuing to use bloggers, I may watch more often. Prior to this, their panels supported the Incumbent Party of Delaware.

Kilroy takes an educational piece of legislation in New Jersey, and turns it into a damning indictment of educating by rules. When will they realize student learn by teaching? He also shows us a seagull just before it gets killed by an offshore wind farm….

Jerry shows us that all the news about the Bush Administration is NOT bad. Painstakingly he has done the opposite of what critics accuse the MSM of doing: showing only the dark side…….

Nancy continues to focus on Delaware’s local politics. Working stories in both MOT and Sussex County, she has two controversies that have one thing in common: DELDOT. FSP tries to pin the latter on Minner. Why do they blame men and not nature when Democrats are involved, and then turn around and blame Nature when republicans are involved?

As if to prove a point I made earlier today, the the Main Stream Media is alienating itself from both the right and left at the same time, The Colossus of Rhody does his take on how the media is favoring Democrats. But try finding anything negative about Cheney, even read glowing reports excusing his shooting someone full of bird shot…..It’s republican control, I tell you……

For fans of his global warming posts he has this take. He also noticed as did I back in September while looking for one Israeli airbase, that using Google Earth to target missiles into Israel would be a bad idea. It appears it may also be a bad idea to go door to door this Halloween should you happen to live in an area where they kill people.

Most importantly to fellow bloggers as well as any new entrant into our small world, is

Your [un]abashedly thorough guide to the Delaware blogosphere!

Where do you stand? I have to agree with his perceptions and good taste, (example: Dave Burris is the right’s answer to Dana Garrett and Mike Matthews) except to note he definitely overrates this humble blog

That is probably the best news on our local scene. There are some things that should not be missed. Laugh now, for next week between wind and an election, we will all be very serious indeed….Matt Marshall at the Soapbox found something that at least describes me, and may apply to some of you as well. Duffy has some profound items here at Pencader Days. Bingo anyone?. The Fantastic Forefathers almost fill in for Hube’s lack of Marvel cartoon commentary…….

Update: And I almost missed it in my hurry to revisit the formula I footage I previewed last week. But my vote for the best post this week goes here, and if there was anyone who drives blogger’s ire more then Minner, then it may be this local hero. There are a lot of funnies on Delaware’s blog scene, but Duffy had me rolling on the floor. (Warning: appreciation of fine writing, with special expertise in sarcasm, required for first time viewing.)

Mikes Musings left his usual laid back comfortable mood on all who dropped in this week. As Delaware’s photographer laureate, at least in volume, we understand how special this state is, or was before the wind blew…..

Shirley, our cantankerous Curmudgeon, leads with Ron Paul’s assessment of our future relations with Cuba. As usual, he makes more sense than the usual prattle echoing off the walls of congressional committee walls. Again like Dorothy in Jerry McGuire, he has me here: “It’s time to stop talking solely in terms of what’s best for the Cuban people. How about the wishes of the American people, who are consistently in favor of diplomacy with Cuba ?” She follows with three more Ron Paul articles, then does a dust up of FSP, which may not get the coverage it deserves….especially this line which if I were not genetically programed to cause salacious trouble, I would leave unpublished……(I can’t help it….The Rockies lost…and it’s Mischief Night!!! ) The line was this: “Now, I don’t know FSP, but this reply sort of sounded like this to me: “Now, now there honey, don’t worry your purty little head about setch and setch. Leave it to the menfolk, darlin’, and grab me a beer. “

Poor Dave. He’s done it now…… But nothing defeats a hearty laugh like bad economic news. And sometimes enjoying the fruits of life requires a momentary lapse of facing reality. Alan Coffey uses the Digital Federalist to profile an article that should give every American pause, if they can pull themselves away from “Dancing With the Stars” long enough. Tough times, are coming. Many will not pay their mortgages. Such sullen news brings the phrase: “There, but for God, go I.”
What is interesting to the local scene, is that the company profiled in the article, Goldman Sachs, tends to be the consulting firm whenever one considers privatizing Delaware’s or any other state’s toll roads…….scary……….

And since tomorrow is Halloween I must, in deference to Jason330, end with something scary…After all, it is Halloween. As I struggled to figure out what was the scariest scenario with which I could close this post, I had to choose between Freddy Kruger, The Scream, Ghosts, Skeletons, Jabba the Hut, it was a complicated choice, involving the search of many images. And after much thought, and frightful consideration, I finally settled on this, which at least for Delawareans, would be the scariest thing possible……Happy Halloween…..

I am beginning to appreciate what a treasure Delaware has in its 2 hour news radio broadcast, that is every time the Phillies do not play, on WDEL. It’s damned original. Allan Loudell often brings home the bacon, instead of remicrowaving the crumbs uneaten by others……

It was while listening to this station, that I first became enamored with the Syrian-Israeli story. Ironically investigation points out that it had some nefarious connections to to the other story I first heard on WDEL, “The Missing Nuke’s Story.”

Here is the timeline.

August 30th, 2007 A Minot AFB stationed B-52 flies 6 nuclear warheads attached to a decommissioned type or Cruise missile known for its stealth and firepower.

It sits on the Barksdale AFB’s tarmac for 10 hours before the Military Times, part of the Gannet organization, investigates after receiving tips by three officers that the mishap was in the process of occurring. At the time of confirmation 5 of the 6 nuclear warheaded missiles are accounted for.

Late Night of September 5th, Israeli F16’s leave Ramat David Air Force Base and head west out over the Mediterranean on a routine flight pattern. Turning hard right and firing their afterburners they invaded Syrian airspeed above Mach II speeds. Waiting for them in the northeast Syrian desert, was an advance Israeli ground crew, outfitted with laser guiding bomb sites. Syria says their anti aircraft responded, but Israel boasts they were taken by surprise. There were several major explosions, to which Syria accounts for dropped fuel tanks. All planes returned to their base in the pre dawn hours of Sept 6th.

Isreali Fighters Returning to Ramat David Sept 6

Israel has not commented. Citing the wisdom of being at war for 40 years. Tsahi Hanegbi, head of the Israeli foreign affairs and defence committee, earlier said the government has adopted a policy of silence over the incident to ease tensions, but was taking Syrian threats of retaliation seriously. “We have to show restraint and it is in our interest to say nothing… This policy has proven itself. The tensions have slightly eased since 12 days ago. The more we bite our tongue, the better it will go,

How wise:( if only our Democrats and republicans could follow their example.)

Late September 6th, story about missing nukes is broken to public.

September 10th. Mysterious death to a member of the Minot AFB security detail, responsible for security when loading the B-52, while on leave in his home town of Whytheville, VA. Kid was just twenty, religious, and idealistically patriotic. Death still under investigation.

September 14th. Stand-down of the entire Air Combat Command.

Today September 18: Israeli President Shimon Peres says tensions between Israel and Syria are now “over,” and Israel is ready to negotiate for peace with Syria.

Background:

There has been much speculation within Washington that neocons, in a disparate move, would attempt something irrationally big to escalate the war, thereby continuing their control of influence within the Beltway.

Israel is not talking. so let see who is.

Writing in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal more than a week before the incident, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton asserted, “We know that both Iran and Syria have long cooperated with North Korea on ballistic missile programs, and the prospect of cooperation on nuclear matters is not far-fetched.”

Today September 18th, this joint statement between Syria and North Korea appeared. Both countries accused US officials of spreading the accusations for political reasons – either to back Israel or to block progress on a deal between Washington and Pyongyang. More likely, the political geography encompasses a turf battle, literally just doors down a hall, within the White House itself.

There could be something to that political reason crap. Condoleezza Rice avoided a shut out by the cabal of White House neocoms, and won a diplomatic coup by appealing directly to Bush and unfreezing the measly 25 million in frozen assets of North Korea, thereby breaking the log jam over the dissolution of their nuclear program. Hard-liners , like Cheney and Boulton, called the Rice accord a bad precedent for dealing with regimes that threaten global stability, particularly with nuclear development. The neocons were desperate to show the world that dealing directly with rogue nations, was just…… “dangerous?”

What better way to do so than have a nuclear device go off during an Israeli attack in the Syrian desert, thereby implicating Syria, North Korea, Hesbollah, and Hesbollah’s supplier, Iran proving once and for all time, that the threat was real? That would clinch the argument that pre-emptive force was morally right, right? Who could ever trust regimes forming the Axis of Evil again?

But something did not work right. There was no nuclear explosion. Just an unexplained adventure in the Syrian desert that has intelligence agencies around the world, scratching their heads………

Did the Cruise missile launched from under the wing of one Israeli F16 misfire? Or did one twenty year old, understand the implications of what was to happen, and switch the red nuclear warhead warning caps, onto dummy missiles and install those believably active warheads, according to orders, underneath the wings of one B-52?

Hi, this is an open letter to those at Quantico who have the unfortunate task of monitoring me. Yeah, I know that I am the most boring case you have had to deal with, but, orders are orders.

I hope in the short time you have been impressed by how much I love this nation, how exciting it is to see it grow. I know many of you had preconceived notions about bloggers, particularly those who disagree with your commander in chief, but I hope over time, you have changed your opinion.

As you know, I am a human, and have to deal with human issues…..such as needing more money than I have to raise a family. But still, life is good when you suscribe to a simple code: Duty, Honor, Country.

That is what I want to talk to you about…..You have jobs to do and you have been told that doing such will benefit our country. Hopefully you have come to understand that I love this country as much, if not more than you do…….. That arguing for a better way is not destructive to this country’s interests.

I guess the difference between you and I is that, as someone who himself must use people to accomplish my means, I can see when others are doing the same. It is one thing to do what I do in the context of making money, and sharing it with those who work for me. For when I am successful, so are they. But it is far different for someone to delude others into giving all, and then taking it for himself and disappearing.

As you have so sworn, you are there to defend the Constitution. As a matter of fact, that is why I am here as well. Following orders, makes you loyal to your commander in chief… That is fine except in this rare case. But what if …….he is not pursuing America’s best interests, which are those outlined in the Constitution? Do you still have a duty to protect the reputation of our president, or then does it become your duty to honor your country?

Most of you, who hail from a rural beginning, know what it like to take a walk in the woods. Most of you would give anything now to be back home, wandering around your homesteads. So in a sense we are working on the same line. You are working to keep America safe from external threats….That is your job and you do it well. Me, and those like me, are working to keep America safe from internal threats, often more dangerous in the long run, than those outside the country.

One must fight a bar bully and cancer in different ways. Being tough helps in a bar fight, but being sensitive, knowing exactly where the cancer is, can save ones life in this other fight. Both fights require great courage……

I know as youthful persons, you have the belief that you need to channel peoples attention away from what you are doing. You need to watch us in secret. But think for a minute of the real reason and of whom you are fighting for……Your commander in chief, or you mom and dad, brother and sisters, family and friends?……..

If your leaders actions endanger their safety, are you helping the right side?

Just questions only you can answer……But I hope as you plod through my boring epistles and phone conversations, that you keep in mind that sometimes , those in power can go a little too far off center for this country’s own good……..

And when something leans to far and starts to fall, it takes quite an effort to straighten and right it up again………..

Just keep it in mind, that’s all……

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………

Frank Church Quotes
“At the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

“If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, 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. Such is the capability of this technology…

“I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

Where’s a real patriot when you need one?

This was resurrected in part due to this article from the Wall Street Journal

In brief, the decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.’s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials. The move was authorized in a May 25 memo sent to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking his department to facilitate access to the spy network on behalf of civilian agencies and law enforcement.The U.S.’s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation’s vast network of spy satellites in the U.S.

In recent years, some military experts have questioned whether domestic use of such satellites would violate the Posse Comitatus Act. The act bars the military from engaging in law-enforcement activity inside the U.S., and the satellites were predominantly built for and owned by the Defense Department.

Access to the satellite surveillance will be controlled by a new Homeland Security branch — the National Applications Office — which will be up and running in October.

“You are talking about enormous power,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel and director of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group advocating privacy rights in the digital age. “Not only is the surveillance they are contemplating intrusive and omnipresent, it’s also invisible. And that’s what makes this so dangerous.”

Thanks to fellow live bloggers: Ryan Singel and David Kravets for their words and images.
threat level rising

Based on the judges question, an apparent victory may be at hand……..

The hearing involves two cases: one aimed at AT&T for allegedly helping the government with a widespread data-mining program allegedly involving domestic and international phone calls and internet use; the other a direct challenge to the government’s admitted warrant-less wiretapping of overseas phone calls.

In questioning of the governmental witness, this exchange occurred.

Judge Harry Pregerson suggests the government is asking the courts to “rubber stamp” the government’s claim that state secrets are at risk “Who decides whether something is a state secret or not? … We have to take the word of the members of the executive branch that something is a state secret?”

Garre counters that the courts should give “utmost deference” to the Bush administration.

Judge Pregerson: “What does utmost deference mean? Bow to it?”

Fifteen minutes later, this exchange occurs.

Judge McKeown asks whether the government stands by President Bush’s statements that purely-domestic communications, where both parties are in the United States, are not being monitored without warrants.

“Does the government stand behind that statement,” McKeown asks.

Garre: “Yes, your honor.”

But Garre says the government would not be willing to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect for the court record.

Blogger’s opinion: Pregerson, by his record, is the most liberal judge on the panel, and he clearly thinks the government is just looking for a blank check for their secret program. But the other two judges aren’t thrilled either. They seem perplexed that the government attorney can’t swear under oath that the Bush Administration isn’t warrant-lessly spying on domestic phone calls.

Proceed to the second case:

Whether the foundation’s lawyers were spied upon, which is the subject of the case, “Is itself a state secret,” Bondy argues. Expanding on that theme, the government argues that the Al-Haramain case needs to be thrown out because the secret document that the government accidentally gave the foundation is so secret that it is outside of the case.

The government claims that the plaintiff’s memories of the document can’t be allowed into the case because the only way to test them is against the “totally classified” document.

This leads to this exchange :

Judge McKeown on the TOP SECRET/TOTALLY document: “I feel like I’m in Alice and Wonderland.”

Eisenberg: “I feel like I’m in Alice in Wonderland, too.”

Al-Haramain lawyer Eisenberg argues that the government’s rationale for dismissing the cases on state secrets grounds doesn’t apply to his clients, since they already know they were surveilled from seeing the secret document.

Judge Margaret McKeown and Judge Hawkins seem unconvinced that the Al-Haramain case can continue without relying on a top-secret document that can’t be used in court.

Eisenberg also offered that the government could have the case dismissed simply by proving the court that they got a warrant.

But the panel seemed unpersuaded that the document can be used at all and generally seemed to be sympathetic to the government’s position.

Bondy, the government’s attorney, finished by reiterating that giving out any information on the alleged surveillance would help the enemy: “We just cannot confirm or deny whether they were surveilled.”

Bondy, for the government, gets the last word and neatly sums up the case for the three judges. Al-Haramain Foundation attorneys, he points out, “think or believe or claim they were surveilled.”

“It’s entirely possible that everything they think they know is entirely false,” he says.

The Federal Governments Position in Defense of Secret Surveillance

Possibility of another terrorist attack?

Unconfirmed talk is that international terrorist chatter is as high as it was in August of 01, just before the planes came………Definitely expect an attack within 90 days we are told. Code Red.

Wasn’t it a former Pennsylvanian senator named Santorum who said last week that what ultraconservatives needed to push their agenda forward is another terrorist attack like 9/11? What?

Isn’t that what Mitch McConnell is currently peddling around Congress, this heightened level of chatter? But who is the source? Silence…..Is there any independent confirmation? Silence…… The only answer the public hears is a rumble from the gut of Chertoff. ……..Feed me……

The fear every American has, is not from the random violence of a terrorist, who supposedly will fight the sharks and swim across the ocean to get here, but of our own self-appointed president, declaring martial law, stripping us of our rights, in order to stay in power forever. What better method than to use a massive terrorist attack to push ones agenda…… It worked the last time, right?

This time I am not so sure it would work. If one has an employee who makes the same mistake twice, big time, one fires his ass. A terrorist attack is definitely big time. And whose ass did we entrust the last time to make us safe? And now miraculously those same people are telling us that Al Qaeda is as stronger than it was in the summer of 01?

That doesn’t make me scared. It really pisses me off!  How on earth can the greatest country in the world, be completely powerless to contain Robin Hood and his band of merry men, climbing over moon rocks while carrying a kidney machine? Bottom line is that they can’t…. unless not finding him is being done on purpose.

“What is most troubling is that no one in a position of authority is trying to get to the bottom of this.

If GOP leaders like Dennis Milligan (R-Ark) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa) possess information that could protect the American people from another terrorist attack, the CIA should interrogate them using the techniques our Vice President has approved,” Fetzer observed. “Let’s water-board them and subject them to sexual humiliation. After all, that’s what we are doing to prevent attacks abroad. Why aren’t they being used here? Chertoff appears to be making no effort to get to the bottom of this. Bush can’t claim to be ‘the security president’ if he won’t keep us secure.”How much money have we sunk into Iraq, where according to every nation’s intelligence agencies, there were NO terrorists before we started. How many bridges could we have inspected and repaired in this country if we had used that money less foolishly?……..

If we have an administration that allows us another terrorist attack, this time killing between 30,000 and 300,000, we need to impeach that administration; not give them more power. What the hell have we been spending our children’s money on? and they are telling me that terror is worse now?…. than it was before 9/11?

And they want us to trust who? Should another attack occur, an attack more viscous than 9/11, the ugly truth is that such an attack could only occur because one man fell asleep at the wheel: George W Bush. America will be furious. They will not reward him with powers of tyranny, they will impeach!

Cheney’s diversion in Iraq provided a lull in the war on terrorism. Had we finished Afghanistan first, maybe made a couple or secret raids across the border into Pakistan, there would be no Al Qaeda. But no, we are now being warned of an eminent attack………..

If the unthinkable occurs and we are attacked, America must get it’s own house in order first before striking back. America must replace its 2 leaders with ones who are competent,… so that when our time comes to return the favor to Al Qaeda………we won’t make the same mistake twice………..

Bush can’t claim to be ‘the security president’ if he won’t keep us secure