Category Archives: honest people

NSA: “EVERYONE !!”

Seems the NSA can, without a warrant, snoop on anyone within three degrees of someone that they may have some suspicion about.

…the rather startling news that came out of yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee on the NSA spying programs: NSA Director John Inglis revealed that the FISA Court permits the government to do three jumps from an initial number tied to a phone number reasonably believed to be tied to terrorism (or relevant to Iran, though that search criteria didn’t get mentioned at all in the parts of the hearing I watched).

Three degrees of separation!

Remember, some years ago, every single person in the US could be connected via six degrees — the old Kevin Bacon game. There’s some evidence that that number has become smaller — perhaps as small as 3 (I’ve seen more scientific numbers that say it is 4.5 or thereabouts).

In any case, if the US is using the excuse of terror to get three jumps deep into US person associations, then this program is even more intrusive then they’ve let on.

I imagine that would include everyone in our government, the Israeli government, the Palestinian authority, every head of state, every law enforcement officer, everyone who has ever been abroad, everyone who has ever interviewed a foreign person, everyone who knows anyone who knows anyone in:

Greenpeace,

the Quakers,

any demonstration of any kind,

anyone who has written a letter to an editor,

any person of color,

anyone who signed a petition, and

so on.

It’s basically EVERYONE. and what will they do with it? Wait til Karl Rove or one of the Cheneys gets back in power and you’ll see in short order. Or just some NSA guy who’s curious about who his ex girlfriend in dating. Or some NSA girl with a grudge against oh, well, ANYONE!

We have a constitution; that used to mean something.

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.

When basically the entire population is legally suspect, doesn’t that mean we’re doing something wrong?

 

video: Gary Oldman, in “The Professional.”

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Stanford, UC Berkeley form science news wire service

The slow and lingering death of “traditional” news media has prompted some of the nations premier scientific institutions to create their own science wire service.

…35 top research universities—including Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley—have created their own “wire service” of sorts, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The service, called Futurity, is drafting and distributing articles about the universities’ discoveries to sites like Google News and Yahoo News. They are also leveraging new media, like YouTube, to get the word out. And the stories are also being posted on the consortium’s own site, Futurity.org.

“Our preference would be to have the level of coverage of science and research that we enjoyed for decades,” Lisa Lapin, a Stanford spokesman told the Merc. “But the major news organizations haven’t had the resources to provide that independent, objective look at what we are doing. It’s been declining.”

The Merc notes that newspapers across the country have been whittling down their science reporting staffs. Both the Merc and the San Francisco Chronicle closed their Science sections several years ago.

Well done, and it has to be an improvement over the coverage provided by general news reporters or even science reporters.

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British will release minutes of 2003 Iraq war discussions

link

“There is a widespread view that the justification for the decision on military action in Iraq is either not fully understood or that the public were not given the full or genuine reasons for that decision,” Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said in his ruling on a request made under the British version of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Cabinet Office had argued to him that public disclosure of minutes would inhibit free and candid debate about sensitive issues in future cabinet sessions.

Thomas, who was allowed to inspect the minutes as part of his deliberations, said that while he respected the government’s position, “arguments for the withholding of the information are outweighed by the public interest in its disclosure.”

Wow, So that’s how they do it in a democracy. Simply amazing. Just think, there actually was a day when we had the democracy on this side of the pond and Britain had the king. (or, was that a dream?)

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Iraq mortality study showing 600,000 excess deaths NOT funded by George Soros

Link

Let me convey what I thought was a simple and unremarkable fact I told Munro in an interview in November and one of the Lancet authors emailed Cannon the details of how the survey was funded. My center at MIT used internal funds to underwrite the survey. More than six months after the survey was commissioned, the Open Society Institute, the charitable foundation begun by Soros, provided a grant to support public education efforts of the issue. We used that to pay for some travel for lectures, a web site, and so on.

OSI, much less Soros himself (who likely was not even aware of this small grant), had nothing to do with the origination, conduct, or results of the survey. The researchers and authors did not know OSI, among other donors, had contributed. And we had hoped the survey’s findings would appear earlier in the year but were impeded by the violence in Iraq. All of this was told repeatedly to Munro and Cannon, but they choose to falsify the story. Charges of political timing were especially ludicrous, because we started more than a year before the 2006 election and tried to do the survey as quickly as possible. It was published when the data were ready.

The New York Post and the Sunday Times of London, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, followed the WSJ editorial and trumpeted the Soros connection and the supposed “fraud” which Munro and Cannon hinted. “$OROS IRAQ DEATH STORY WAS A SHAM” was a headline in the Post, which was followed by a story in which scarcely anything stated was true.

The charges of “fraud” that were also central to the National Journal piece were based on distortions or ignorance of statistical method, such as random sampling and sample size, or speculations about Iraqi field researchers fabricating data. Nothing close to proof of misdeeds was ever offered. 

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Book recommend re Norman Mailer: Tom Wolfe’s “The Gang that Couldn’t Write Straight.”

link

An overview of the Gonzo generation of writers, from Wolfe’s perspective. Interesting reading, though a bit gossipy and NYC-centric.

Starting in 1965 and spanning a ten-year period, a group of writers including Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, John Sack, and Michael Herr emerged and joined a few of their pioneering elders, including Truman Capote and Norman Mailer, to remake American letters. The perfect chroniclers of an age of frenzied cultural change, they were blessed with the insight that traditional tools of reporting would prove inadequate to tell the story of a nation manically hopscotching from hope to doom and back again — from war to rock, assassination to drugs, hippies to Yippies, Kennedy to the dark lord Nixon. Traditional just-the-facts reporting simply couldn’t provide a neat and symmetrical order to this chaos.

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Bob Herbert, Jeffrey Feldman on the trivial reporting on political candidates UPDATED

link

The fate of Al Gore offers a window into our condition as a country and the future we are doomed to repeat–soon–if we do not wake up to this problem and fix it.

Gore, whom Herbert calls “one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, talented men in America and remarkably well-equipped to lead the nation,” is the exact opposite kind of leader that America has chosen for the past decade. Herbert blames journalists for what history will mark as one of the monumental failures of all time in that profession:

In the race for the highest office in the land, we showed the collective maturity of 3-year-olds. Mr. Gore was taken to task for his taste in clothing and for such grievous offenses as sighing or, allegedly, rolling his eyes. It was a given that at a barbecue everyone would rush to be with his opponent. We’ve paid a heavy price. The president who got such high marks as a barbecue companion doesn’t seem to know up from down. He’s hurled the nation into a ruinous war that has cost countless lives and spawned a whole new generation of terrorists. He continues to sit idly by as a historic American city, New Orleans, remains wounded and on its knees. He’s blithely steered the nation into a bottomless pit of debt. I could go on.

UPDATE: I almost missed Bob Somerby’s rant on the state of the Washington Post.

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Mike McConnell: caught again trying to deceive Congress

Digby

….DNI Michael McConnell? I understand that spooks, by nature and profession, are liars, but this fellow is not supposed to be political, and we are ostensibly in a democracy in which government employees — all government employees — work for the people. They are not allowed to lie to the people’s representatives, even if they think it’s for our own good.

McConnell’s position is supposed to be non-partisan and apolitical. And yet he is known to have consciously misled the congress, threatened them with “being responsible for American deaths” if they don’t do what he says and, it’s quite clear, strategized the FISA bill abortion last August with the White house, which is a big no-no. It’s a bad idea to trust anyone with the kind of power this man wields without strenuous oversight. It’s political malpractice to trust a man this manipulative and dishonest. He is a problem.

Here’s the latest example of his blatant (and disturbingly sloppy, which explains why our intelligence agencies can’t find water if they fall out of a boat) misleading of the congress:

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told Congress last week that a May wiretap that targeted Iraqi insurgents was delayed for 12 hours by attempts to comply with onerous surveillance laws, which slowed an effort to locate three U.S. soldiers who had been captured south of Baghdad.

But new details released this week portray a more complicated picture of the delay, which actually lasted about 9 1/2 hours and was caused primarily by legal wrangling between the Justice Department and intelligence officials over whether authorities had probable cause to begin the surveillance.


This is why all this “trust us, we’re keeping the boogeyman rom killing you in your bed” is so dangerous. Michael McConnell has repeatedly lied to congress. You can’t trust liars. If they needed this power for legitimate reasons they would have no reason to make up scenarios to justify it. They can always go behind closed doors and share classified information with the people’s representatives who are authorized to receive it. Indeed, we expect them to o it. The only conclusion you can come to is that they are using this power for nefarious reasons.

Michael McConnell has given interviews that call his judgment into question. He is a proven liar. He has shown himself to be a tool of the Bush Administration. What in the world is this man doing in charge of some of the most delicate intelligence functions in the government? He had a reputation for rectitude before took the job. but he either became tainted by the Cheney/Addington paranoid vision or he was highly overrated. Either way, the congress should never take his word for anything. There’s something very wrong with him.

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