Saturday, December 17, 2005


CLICK: Information Warfare on the Internet


By David Martin

Strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can
bring down a government. When the government lacks an effective, fact-
based defense, other techniques must be employed. The success of
these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, compliant press
and a mere token opposition party.

1. Dummy up. If it's not reported, if it's not news, it didn't happen.

2. Wax indignant. This is also known as the "how dare you?" gambit.

3. Characterize the charges as "rumors" or, better yet, "wild
rumors." If, in spite of the news blackout, the public is still able
to learn about the suspicious facts, it can only be through "rumors."
(If they tend to believe the "rumors" it must be because they are
simply "paranoid" or "hysterical.")

4. Knock down straw men. Deal only with the weakest aspect of the
weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild
rumors and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the
charges, real and fanciful alike.

5. Call the skeptics names like "conspiracy
theorist," "nut," "ranter," "kook," "crackpot," and of course, "rumor
monger." Be sure, too, to use heavily loaded verbs and adjectives
when characterizing their charges and defending the "more reasonable"
government and its defenders. You must then carefully avoid fair and
open debate with any of the people you have thus maligned. For
insurance, set up your own "skeptics" to shoot down.

6. Impugn motives. Attempt to marginalize the critics by suggesting
strongly that they are not really interested in the truth but are
simply pursuing a partisan political agenda or are out to make money
(compared to over-compensated adherents to the government line who,
presumably, are not).

7. Invoke authority. Here the controlled press and the sham
opposition can be very useful.

8. Dismiss the charges as "old news."

9. Come half-clean. This is also known as "confession and avoidance"
or "taking the limited hangout route." This way, you create the
impression of candor and honesty while you admit only to relatively
harmless, less-than-criminal "mistakes." This stratagem often
requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the
one originally taken. With effective damage control, the fall-back
position need only be peddled by stooge skeptics to carefully limited

10. Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as
ultimately unknowable.

11. Reason backward, using the deductive method with a vengeance.
With thoroughly rigorous deduction, troublesome evidence is
irrelevant. For example: We have a completely free press. If they
know of evidence that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
(BATF) had prior knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing they would
have reported it. They haven't reported it, so there was no prior
knowledge by the BATF. Another variation on this theme involves the
likelihood of a conspiracy leaker and a press that would report the

12. Require the skeptics to solve the crime completely. For example:
If Vince Foster was murdered, who did it and why?

13. Change the subject. This technique includes creating and/or
publicizing distractions.

14. Scantly report incriminating facts, and then make nothing of
them. This is sometimes referred to as "bump and run" reporting.

15. Baldly and brazenly lie. A favorite way of doing this is to
attribute the "facts" furnished the public to a plausible-sounding,
but anonymous, source.

16. Expanding further on numbers 4 and 5, have your own
stooges "expose" scandals and champion popular causes. Their job is
to pre-empt real opponents and to play 99-yard football. A variation
is to pay rich people for the job who will pretend to spend their own

17. Flood the Internet with agents. This is the answer to the
question, "What could possibly motivate a person to spend hour upon
hour on Internet news groups defending the government and/or the
press and harassing genuine critics?"

Don't the authorities have defenders enough in all the newspapers,
magazines, radio, and television? One would think refusing to print
critical letters and screening out serious callers or dumping them
from radio talk shows would be control enough, but, obviously, it is

College Student?s Humor Website Reaches 50 Millionth Visit

College Student?s Humor Website Reaches 50 Millionth Visit: "College Student?s Humor Website Reaches 50 Millionth Visit

Download this press release as an Adobe PDF document.

A college student's wildly-popular website, The Random Vin Diesel Fact Generator, hits the 50 millionth visitor mark.

New York (PRWEB) December 17, 2005 -- The humor website created in April, 2005 by university student, Ian Spector, reached its 50 millionth visitor today at 2:55 AM. The primary site, simply entitled The Random Vin Diesel Fact Generator displays a new ?fact? about the actor Vin Diesel upon each refresh of the page.

The Random Vin Diesel Fact Generator is strictly humorous. None of the content in its database is necessarily true, but all of it has been regarded as downright uproarious. With over 4,500 facts, and growing by the day, the site has reached up to 9 million visitors per month and upwards of 200,000 visitors per day. In its early stages, the site received accolades from (?Combat boredom at work! Educate yourself! Dazzle your peers at cocktail parties!?), UK-based Empire Online (?Best. Website. Ever.?), and the Long Island Press (?Wasting time celebrity-scouring on the Internet has rarely been so hilarious.'). Although Ian Spector maintains the site, approximately 90% of the ?facts? are contributed by visitors ? most of whom are either college students or stuck in a cubicle ? and are individually approved, edited, or denied. According to Spector, out of one hundred submitted facts, only two or three end up making the cut.

The website was spawned from a discussion thread on the massively popular internet forum,, which was entitled ?Facts About Vin Diesel.? The first eight hundred facts were compiled from this thread and put on the website. Within 24 hours, visitor submissions were being accepted and within a month, the site received in excess of 10 million visitors.

At this point in time, Spector has already released a calendar with illustrated facts and is currently working with the creator of the original discussion thread on a book which will contain additional illustrations and the entirety of the fact database. The duo is working with, the leader in online on-demand printing and shipping.

Ian Spector is always seeking inspiration from his visitors, ?A lot of people have been asking for a Steven Seagal fact generator, so expect that one the horizon.? In fact, since the inception of the website, two new fact generators have cropped up ? The Random Chuck Norris Fact Generator, which has just reached the 20 millionth visitor mark, and The Random Mr. T Fact Generator. Despite the overwhelming number of visitors to the network, neither Vin Diesel, Chuck Norris, nor Mr. T have contacted Spector. ?If those guys are anything like the way my site says they are, I?m glad, too,? he states.

About Author
Long Island-native Ian Spector is currently an undergraduate student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. and intends to concentrate in computational biology. In addition to, he has owned and operated a web hosting company, QubeFactor Technologies ( since 2003.

About Lulu
Founded in 2002, Lulu is the world?s fastest-growing print-on-demand marketplace for digital do-it-yourselfers. Please see for more information.

EDITORIAL: Iraq war was wrong Iraq war was wrong?-?ENGLISH: "EDITORIAL: Iraq war was wrong


Speaking about the war in Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush admitted Wednesday, 'It is true that much of the intelligence (on which his administration invaded Iraq) turned out to be wrong.' How did the people of Iraq feel when they heard this?

Washington's principal justification for invading Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. But it became gradually clear that this was not true. Finally, Bush himself acknowledged this on Wednesday.

If the United States invaded Iraq based on false intelligence, the attack itself was wrong, and Bush should admit this. In the war that began on a false premise, at least 30,000 Iraqi civilians are believed to have been killed, and more than 2,000 U.S. troops have died.

'As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq,' Bush said. But in what we can only describe as a display of misguided defiance, he quickly defended his action: 'Saddam was a threat--and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power.'

Let us recall what Bush said in his ultimatum just before the invasion.

He stated there was no question that Iraq was hiding WMD, and that Saddam had to be disarmed immediately for the safety of the world.

As legal grounds for justifying these claims, Bush argued that Baghdad refused to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding that Iraq submit to WMD inspections. Iraq's denials of WMD possession were ignored.

At the time, we insisted on placing the foremost priority on U.N. inspections, and opposed the invasion of Iraq because, in the absence of evidence that Iraq's weapons posed a clear threat, a pre-emptive strike would violate international law.

Given how the war has since turned out, it is clear that Bush's strategy of rushing into a pre-emptive strike was a flop.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who supported the war, must feel like the ground has crumbled under his feet. Koizumi said at the start of the war: 'Just imagine the danger of WMD falling into the hands of a dangerous dictator. Japan can't sit back and say this is someone else's business.'

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe noted Thursday: 'Given the fact that Iraq had used WMD in the past, Washington had good reason to conclude that the Iraqis were in possession of those weapons. And it was only reasonable that Japan should decide to support the United States.'

But since Washington's premise was wrong, there is no changing the fact that Tokyo had erred in its decision, no matter how hard Koizumi and others may try to rationalize it. Germany and France insisted on thorough weapons inspections and opposed the invasion. Their argument was far more reasonable.

Iraq has just held parliamentary elections, and the political process of national reconstruction has advanced one step. Democracy is obviously more desirable than a dictatorship, but that does not justify any forcible change by an external power.

Including Japan, all nations that have supported or participated in the Iraq war ought to admit their mistakes now. Only then will it become possible to reorganize the framework of global cooperation with Iraq's reconstruction.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 16(IHT/Asahi: December 17,2005)"

Pentagon may not hand over Rumsfeld papers

Pentagon may not hand over Rumsfeld papers


The Pentagon will comply with a House subpoena for internal documents detailing Hurricane Katrina-related correspondence except, perhaps, from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, an official said Friday.

Rumsfeld may claim a legal privilege to resist turning over e-mails spanning nearly a month before and after the Aug. 29 storm, said Assistant Defense Secretary Paul McHale, the Pentagon's top homeland defense official.

McHale said in an interview that the Pentagon planned to provide a House inquiry with thousands of e-mails about military preparations and response. Asked, however, if the documents would include e-mails from Rumsfeld, McHale said, "I'm hesitant to say that at this moment."

That decision is "subject to a continuing review of the communication for legitimate issues of legal privilege and confidentiality," McHale said.

Hours later, a McHale spokesman said that it was a hypothetical situation, claiming that Rumsfeld generally does not use e-mail.

The House committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., requested hundreds of thousands of documents from local, state and federal officials in its investigation of the government's response to Katrina.

Davis issued the subpoena Wednesday for internal communications from Rumsfeld and eight other top military officials between Aug. 23 to Sept. 15. The committee is also considering a subpoena against the White House.

McHale said the Pentagon already has turned over more than 200,000 documents, and he hoped that the e-mails would satisfy the committee.

"Some of those e-mails will undoubtedly will be taken out of context," said McHale, who served three terms as a House Democrat in the 1990s. "Others will be subject to legitimate criticism. But, on balance, the e-mails that we release will be comprehensive, entirely accurate and more than sufficient to enable the Congress to effectively complete the investigation."

"I don't think there's anything in the e-mails that will, in any material way, conflict with those general positive reviews of DOD activity in response to Katrina," he said.

The Pentagon deployed an estimated 72,000 active duty and National Guard troops in its response to Katrina, which included rescuing victims, delivering food, water, ice and medical supplies, and assessing damage over the storm's 90,000 square-mile swath.

Davis spokesman David Marin said the Pentagon "has assured the committee that it will provide the information we've requested, consistent with the production of other agencies and departments."

Ellery Gould, a spokesman for Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., said that without Rumsfeld's e-mails, "we don't consider that full compliance."

St. John's University law professor John Barrett said administration officials can claim privilege if their communications - even when outside the White House - gather information for the president. "You don't want to err on the side of jeopardizing the advising process that allows the president to do his job," Barrett said.

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon will comply with a House subpoena for internal documents detailing Hurricane Katrina-related correspondence except, perhaps, from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, an official said Friday.

Rumsfeld may claim a legal privilege to resist turning over e-mails spanning nearly a month before and after the Aug. 29 storm, said Assistant Defense Secretary Paul McHale, the Pentagon's top homeland defense official.

McHale said in an interview that the Pentagon planned to provide a House inquiry with thousands of e-mails about military preparations and response. Asked, however, if the documents would include e-mails from Rumsfeld, McHale said, "I'm hesitant to say that at this moment."

That decision is "subject to a continuing review of the communication for legitimate issues of legal privilege and confidentiality," McHale said.

Hours later, a McHale spokesman said that it was a hypothetical situation, claiming that Rumsfeld generally does not use e-mail.

The House committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., requested hundreds of thousands of documents from local, state and federal officials in its investigation of the government's response to Katrina.

Davis issued the subpoena Wednesday for internal communications from Rumsfeld and eight other top military officials between Aug. 23 to Sept. 15. The committee is also considering a subpoena against the White House.

McHale said the Pentagon already has turned over more than 200,000 documents, and he hoped that the e-mails would satisfy the committee.

"Some of those e-mails will undoubtedly will be taken out of context," said McHale, who served three terms as a House Democrat in the 1990s. "Others will be subject to legitimate criticism. But, on balance, the e-mails that we release will be comprehensive, entirely accurate and more than sufficient to enable the Congress to effectively complete the investigation."

"I don't think there's anything in the e-mails that will, in any material way, conflict with those general positive reviews of DOD activity in response to Katrina," he said.

The Pentagon deployed an estimated 72,000 active duty and National Guard troops in its response to Katrina, which included rescuing victims, delivering food, water, ice and medical supplies, and assessing damage over the storm's 90,000 square-mile swath.

Davis spokesman David Marin said the Pentagon "has assured the committee that it will provide the information we've requested, consistent with the production of other agencies and departments."

Ellery Gould, a spokesman for Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., said that without Rumsfeld's e-mails, "we don't consider that full compliance."

St. John's University law professor John Barrett said administration officials can claim privilege if their communications - even when outside the White House - gather information for the president. "You don't want to err on the side of jeopardizing the advising process that allows the president to do his job," Barrett said.

U.S. Command Declares Global Strike Capability

By David Ruppe
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON ? The U.S. Strategic Command announced yesterday it had
achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets
around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons, after last
month testing its capacity for nuclear war against a fictional
country believed to represent North Korea (see GSN, Oct. 21).

In a press release yesterday, STRATCOM said a new Joint Functional
Component Command for Space and Global Strike on Nov. 18 "met
requirements necessary to declare an initial operational capability."

The requirements were met, it said, "following a rigorous test of
integrated planning and operational execution capabilities during
Exercise Global Lightning."

The annual Global Lightning exercise last month tested U.S. strategic
warfare capabilities, including the so-called CONPLAN 8022 mission
for a global strike, according to publicly available military

CONPLAN 8022 is "a new strike plan that includes [a] pre-emptive
nuclear strike against weapons of mass destruction facilities
anywhere in the world," said Hans Kristensen, a consultant for the
Natural Resources Defense Council. Kristensen first published the
STRATCOM press release on his Web site,

Military analyst William Arkin, in a column on the Washington Post
Web site in October, wrote that the classified exercise involved the
response to a radiological "dirty bomb" attack on Alabama by the
fictional country Purple or allied terrorists. "In the exercise,
Purple is a Northeast Asian nation thinly veiled as North Korea,"
according to Arkin.

Maj. Jeff Jones, STRATCOM spokesman, said today that the exercise
incorporated various scenarios and added, "Everything is fictional
that we put in the exercise."

Global Lightning employed command and control personnel, according to
the STRATCOM release.

Global strike attacks could be launched from U.S. long-range bombers,
nuclear submarines or land-based ballistic missiles, according to the
STRATCOM Web site.

The new command was created Aug. 9 in an attempt to integrate broad
elements of U.S. military power into global strike plans and

That, according to an Arkin commentary in the Washington Post in May,
could include anything from electronic jamming to penetrating
computer networks, to commando operations, to the use of a nuclear
earth penetrator. CONPLAN 8022, he wrote, is intended to address two
scenarios using such capabilities: preventing a suspected imminent
nuclear attack from a small state, and attacking an adversary's
suspected WMD infrastructure.

STRATCOM Commander Gen. James Cartwright said at an opening ceremony
that the new command would help the country convey a "new kind of

According to the STRATCOM release, "The command's performance during
Global Lightning demonstrated preparedness to execute its mission of
providing integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter
and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through
decisive joint global effects in support of STRATCOM missions."

According to Arkin's article in May, CONPLAN 8022 was completed in
2003, "putting in place for the first time a pre-emptive and
offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea."

STRATCOM's readiness for global strike was certified to Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush in January
2004, Arkin reported.

Bush Vows to Continue Spying on Americans

Bush Vows to Continue Spying on Americans
The Associated Press

Saturday 17 December 2005

Reacting to Bush's vow to continue spying on Americans, Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said the president's remarks were "breathtaking in how extreme they were." Feingold said it was "absurd" that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps. "If that's true, he doesn't need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he's President George Bush, not King George Bush."

Washington - President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the US, lashing out at those involved in revealing it while defending it as crucial to preventing future attacks.

"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.

"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.

Angry members of Congress have demanded an explanation of the program, first revealed in Friday's New York Times and whether the monitoring by the National Security Agency without obtaining warrants from a court violates civil liberties. One Democrat said in response to Bush's remarks on the radio that Bush was acting more like a king than the elected president of a democracy.

Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used "consistent with US law and the Constitution." He said it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.

The program is reviewed every 45 days, using fresh threat assessments, legal reviews by the Justice Department, White House counsel and others, and information from previous activities under the program, the president said.

Without identifying specific lawmakers, Bush said congressional leaders have been briefed more than a dozen times on the program's activities.

The president also said the intelligence officials involved in the monitoring receive extensive training to make sure civil liberties are not violated.

Appearing angry at points during his eight-minute address, Bush said he had reauthorized the program more than 30 times since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and plans to continue doing so.

"I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al-Qaida and related groups," he said.

The president contended the program has helped "detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the US and abroad," but did not provide specific examples.

He said it is designed in part to fix problems raised by the Sept. 11 commission, which found that two of the suicide hijackers were communicating from San Diego with al-Qaida operatives overseas.

"The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9-11 hijackers will be identified and located in time," he said.

In an effort by the administration that appeared coordinated to stem criticism, Bush's remarks echoed - in many cases word-for-word - those issued Friday night by a senior intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The president's highly unusual discussion of classified activities showed the sensitive nature of the program, whose existence was revealed as Congress was trying to renew the terrorism-fighting Patriot Act and complicated that effort, a top priority of Bush's.

Senate Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans on Friday to stall the bill. Those opposing the renewal of key provisions of the act that are expiring say they threaten constitutional liberties.

Reacting to Bush's defense of the NSA program, Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said the president's remarks were "breathtaking in how extreme they were."

Feingold said it was "absurd" that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps.

"If that's true, he doesn't need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he's President George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for," Feingold told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The president had harsh words for those who talked about the program to the media, saying their actions were illegal and improper.

"As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have," he said. "The unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."

Analysis: Legal Problems Add to GOP Woes

Analysis: Legal Problems Add to GOP Woes

Saturday December 17, 2005 6:01 PM


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - In President Bush's first term, the Republican congressional leadership stood solidly behind him at every turn, delivering on tax cuts, authorization for the Iraq war, homeland security and Medicare overhaul.

That GOP discipline is clearly gone now.

Neither House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., nor Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has been able keep the troops in line as a fractious Congress limps toward its year-end recess. Their leadership woes are compounded by legal troubles that are confronting Frist and that have sidelined former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Bush's low approval ratings add to the problem.

There have been many setbacks over the past few days for Bush and the Republicans:

-the Senate blocked Bush's request to extend the Patriot Act.

-Congress was poised to leave town without approving a tax bill that was a GOP priority.

-Republicans were deeply divided on immigration and spending issues.

-Bush had to bow to bipartisan pressure and accept a proposal by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to ban abuse of suspected terrorists.

Republicans are nervous as they monitor the antics with an eye toward next year's congressional elections.

``We'd kind of like us to get our act together a little bit, instead of standing in a circle shooting inward,'' said Tom Rath of New Hampshire, a senior member of the Republican National Committee.

He said people are concerned about the government's deficit spending. ``The extent to which there's a perception that everybody in Washington is buying into big government programs, that's been harmful'' to Republicans, Rath said.

It isn't the first time that the congressional majority has become unruly at year's end. It won't be the last.

``They'll get their jobs done,'' said former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. ``They'll get their appropriations bills done. And everybody will get together in one big, sweaty, hot room and say, `We don't want to look like a bunch of idiots here, gang. We want to go home and get re-elected.'''

Simpson said lawmakers today ``get too much tangled up on social issues'' such as abortion, stem-cell research,and gay-lesbian issues.

As to Frist's leadership, ``I think he's done the best he can,'' Simpson said. But he suggested Frist erred in getting involved in the Terry Schiavo tube-feeding case and in proposing a change in the Senate's filibuster rule to make it harder for the minority party to block judicial appointments.

``Unfortunately, you're not always in the majority. And you better be careful when you mess with the rules of filibuster and other things. Because 10 years from now, you're on the outside. And it's like an automatic butt-kicking machine. It will come right around and nail you in the fanny,'' Simpson said.

Frist's influence also has been undercut by a Security and Exchange investigation into his stock sales and by the fact that he already is a lame duck, having announced he is not running for re-election next year.

In the House, Hastert has been hobbled by the loss of DeLay. The Texas Republican had to step aside in November as majority leader - a job he performed with an iron hand - after his indictment on election-law charges in his home state.

Veterans of past end-of-year congressional squabbles and logjams said this year's difficulties rank among the nastiest.

``Over the last 10 or 15 years, there's almost been a deliberate strategy to push all the tough decisions to the very end of a Congress, with the hope that you can ram them through as members try to get away for the holidays,'' said Leon Panetta. The former Democratic congressman from California served in the Clinton White House as budget director and then chief of staff.

If a leadership vacuum or gridlock results, ``leadership has to bear a lot of the responsibility. Because, in the end, it's up to them basically to be able to put discipline together to get both the House and the Senate to work,'' Panetta said.

Panetta said Republican leaders should be mindful that House Republicans and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich suffered politically after forcing a government shutdown in a 1995 budget veto fight with President Clinton.

``I was at the White House at that time. We were concerned that when the president vetoed these things, he would bear responsibility for the shutdown. But Congress in the end became the vocal point for public anger. And that could be the case with this Congress as well,'' Panetta said.

A reality not lost on any Republican running for Congress next year is that Bush is not the one up for re-election. ``He gets a pass, they don't. And that's obviously created a lot of nervousness on Capitol Hill,'' Panetta said.

Lawmakers Back Use of Evidence Coerced From Detainees

Lawmakers Back Use of Evidence Coerced From Detainees


WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 - House and Senate negotiators agreed Friday to a measure that would enable the government to keep prisoners at Guant�namo Bay indefinitely on the basis of evidence obtained by coercive interrogations.

The provision, which has been a subject of extensive bargaining with the Bush administration, could allow evidence that would not be permitted in civilian courts to be admissable in deciding whether to hold detainees at the American military prison in Guant�namo Bay, Cuba. In recent days, the Congressional negotiators quietly eliminated an explicit ban on the use of such material in an earlier version of the legislation.

The measure is contained in the same military policy bill that includes Senator John McCain's provision to ban the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in American custody worldwide. Mr. Bush reluctantly embraced Mr. McCain's ban on Thursday. The full House is expected to approve the compromise bill soon, with the Senate to follow in the next few days, Congressional officials said.

The juxtaposition of the seemingly contradictory measures immediately led lawyers for Guant�namo prisoners to assert that Congressional Republicans were helping to preserve the utility of coercive interrogations that senior White House officials have argued are vital to the fight against war against terror.

While the measure would allow the Guant�namo prisoners to challenge in federal court their status as enemy combatants and to appeal automatically any convictions and sentences handed down by military tribunals in excess of 10 years, it would still prevent the detainees from asking civilian courts to intervene with the administration over harsh treatment or prison conditions.

Thomas B. Wilner, a lawyer who represents a group of Kuwaiti detainees at Guant�namo Bay, said in an interview that the new language would render the McCain restrictions unenforceable at the Cuban prison. "If McCain is one small step forward, enactment of this language would be two giant steps backwards," Mr. Wilner said.

Two of the main Senate sponsors of the measure, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, defended the changes made to the language that the Senate passed last month, 84 to 14.

Mr. Graham acknowledged the measure's intention to make it possible to use information obtained by coercive interrogation techniques in military panels that evaluate whether detainees at Guant�namo are being rightfully held as "enemy combatants." He argued that the techniques were not abusive.

He also said that under his measure, the panels would weigh the value of the intelligence gained from an interrogation against a judgment on whether the statement was coerced. He said in a telephone interview with reporters that the amendment would promote "a balanced approach." A similar rule now applies in the military commissions that have been established to prosecute terror suspects at Guant�namo.

Human rights advocates criticized Mr. Levin, the chief Senate Democratic negotiator, for agreeing to restrict further the legal rights of Guant�namo detainees. Mr. Levin suggested that he had settled for the less damaging of two bad outcomes, saying he had deflected more onerous provisions that House Republicans wanted, including a demand that interrogators who abused prisoners be granted immunity from prosecution. Mr. Levin added in a telephone interview, "I don't think courts will allow coerced evidence in any proceeding."

The Bush administration has repeatedly considered - and rejected - explicitly prohibiting the use of evidence obtained by torture in the military commissions. Most recently, the issue was a major part of a lengthy internal debate over new rules for the tribunals that were promulgated on Aug. 31 in response to longstanding criticism in the United States and overseas that the tribunals are unfair.

Several officials familiar with the internal discussions said State Department officials and some senior Defense Department aides had strongly advocated an explicit ban on the use of evidence obtained by torture in a series of interagency discussions that began last December.

At one point in that process, the Pentagon official in charge of the tribunals, Maj. Gen. John D. Altenburg Jr., who is now retired, proposed barring any "confession or admission that was procured from the accused by torture," according to parts of a draft document read to a reporter. The rule defined torture as any act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain and suffering."

The ban was also championed by the counselor of the State Department, Philip D. Zelikow, two officials said. The deputy defense secretary, Gordon R. England, also supported the ban in meetings on the revised commission rules, as did some senior military officers, said a spokesman for Mr. England, Capt. Kevin Wensing.

But such a prohibition was opposed by other officials involved in the debate, including David S. Addington, who was then Vice President Dick Cheney's counsel and is now his chief of staff. A spokesman for the vice president said Mr. Addington would have no comment on his reported role in the policy debates.

Since the drafting of the presidential order that established the commissions on Nov. 13, 2001, White House officials have sought to give the commissions wide latitude to consider evidence that would be inadmissible in civilian courts.

Mr. Addington, who was a primary architect of the presidential order, argued in the debates earlier this year that by explicitly prohibiting evidence obtained by torture, the administration would raise an unnecessary red flag. suggesting at least implicitly that prisoners in American custody were, in fact, being tortured, officials said.

Justice Department officials involved in the debates contended that such a prohibition was not necessary because the matter was already covered by the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a treaty adopted by the United Nations more than two decades ago and ratified by the United States in 1994.

An Incredible Day in America

An Incredible Day in America

By Martin Garbus

12/17/05 "Huffington Post" -- -- Today, for two separate reasons, has been an incredible day in America. First, the United States has legitimized torture and secondly, the President has admitted to an impeachable offense.

First, the media has been totally misled on the alleged Bush-McCain agreement on torture. McCain capitulated. It is not a defeat for Bush. It is a win for Cheney.

Torture is not banned or in any way impeded.

Under the compromise, anyone charged with torture can defend himself if a "reasonable" person could have concluded they were following a lawful order.

That defense "loophole" totally corrodes the ban. It is the CIA, or the torturing agency, who will decide what a "reasonable" person could have concluded. Can you imagine those agencies in the interrogation business torturing on their own in trying to decide what is reasonable or what is not? What is not "reasonable" if the interrogator (wrongfully or rightfully) believes he has a ticking-bomb situation? Will a CIA or military officer issue a narrow order if he knows his interrogator believes, in this case, torture will work?

The Bush-McCain torture compromise legitimizes torture. It is the first time that has happened in this country. Not in the two World Wars, Korea, the Cold War or Vietnam did the government ever seek or get the power this bill gives them.

The worst part of it is that most of the media missed it and got it wrong.

Secondly, the President in authorizing surveillance without seeking a court order has committed a crime. The Federal Communications Act criminalizes surveillance without a warrant. It is an impeachable offense. This was also totally missed by the media.

Martin Garbus is a partner in the law firm of Davis & Gilbert LLP and one of the country's leading trial lawyers.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bush Defends, Explains Comment on DeLay

Bush Defends, Explains Comment on DeLay
Friday, December 16, 2005 4:19 PM EST
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Bush said Friday his statement that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was innocent of criminal charges in Texas was meant to signal confidence in the justice system and not to make a pronouncement about the individual case.

"The point I was making was 'innocent until otherwise proven,'" Bush said in an interview to Friday for "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." "It's a belief in the system, and that's not always the way people are treated here in Washington as you know."

On Wednesday, Bush was asked on Fox News Channel whether he believed DeLay was innocent, and he replied, "Yes, I do."

Spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday that Bush was exercising his "presidential prerogative" in commenting on the case.

DeLay, R-Texas, was forced to step down as the No. 2 House leader in late November after he was indicted on a state charge of conspiracy to violate election laws. A second grand jury indicted him on charges of conspiracy to launder money and money laundering. The initial charge has been dismissed, but a judge has let stand the later charges.

Bush was also asked Friday about the CIA leak case, in which a special prosecutor is examining whether anyone in the administration revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame in 2003.

Columnist Robert Novak, the first to reveal Plame's name in print, said this week he was confident that Bush knows who leaked the information. All Bush would say in response was: "I appreciate his bold assertion."

On another topic, Bush said he doesn't agree with a report from the former Sept. 11 Commission that accused the government of failing to make enough changes since the 2001 terrorist attacks to protect the country.

"I think this country is making good progress toward securing the country," Bush said.

Continuing its work as a private entity called the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, the panel said the Bush administration and Congress had not moved quickly enough to enact the majority of its recommendations of July 2004. It issued an assessment of the government's counterterror performance as a report card that gave failing grades in five areas and issued only one "A."

"They're right on some and they're wrong on others," Bush said.

As an example, he said the administration does not deserve the mediocre grade it got on dealing with Pakistan. The president said that securing Pakistan as an ally in the war on terror and against the Taliban in Afghanistan was a major step.

2nd Army Officer Charged In Iraq Rebuilding Scandal

2nd Army Officer Charged In Iraq Rebuilding Scandal

An Army lieutenant colonel who received the Bronze Star for her wartime service in Iraq was arrested yesterday and charged with taking bribes in a growing corruption scandal involving the Iraq reconstruction program. An investigation has jolted the program, embarrassed the United States military and exposed a dark underside of the American occupation authority that ran the country after the invasion in April 2003.

The officer, Lt. Col. Debra Harrison, a reservist in a civil affairs unit based in Norristown, Pa., is the fourth person and the second senior Army officer to be arrested and charged in the scandal.

The citation for her Bronze Star recognizes her service in Iraq in 2004, including her actions during an ambush in April that a United States official who served in south-central Iraq said had killed a security guard and wounded others in a convoy.

Colonel Harrison was also ambushed earlier that year in an attack that sprayed windshield glass into her face and severed a nerve in her upper lip, The Centre Daily Times of State College, Pa., reported recently.

She is charged with receiving cash bribes of $80,000 to $100,000, a Cadillac Escalade, a trove of illegal weaponry and other items for steering construction jobs to an American contractor in Iraq.

Some of the cash, intended for projects like a library in the holy city of Karbala and an Iraqi police academy south of Baghdad, paid for a new hot tub and a deck for Colonel Harrison's home in Trenton, according to the federal affidavit. Conviction on the charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering as well as a long list of weapons charges, could put her in prison for up to 30 years, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Kristine Belisle, a spokeswoman for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the independent office whose investigators uncovered what they say is a bribery and kickback scheme, said more people would probably be arrested.

"It's been a lengthy ongoing investigation," Ms. Belisle said. Referring to the accusation that two senior Army officers helped defraud Iraq of money meant for its libraries, police facilities and other community centers, she said, "It's disconcerting, period, that the military is involved in this at all."

A man who answered the telephone yesterday at the house listed under Colonel Harrison's name said, "Thank you, but there will not be a statement." He would not identify himself.

The other military officer to be charged in the case is Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler, an Army reservist of Amherst Junction, Wis. The others who have been charged are two civilians, Robert J. Stein Jr. of Fayetteville, N.C., and Philip H. Bloom, an American citizen who lived for many years in Romania.

As officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority based in Hilla, south of Baghdad, Mr. Stein, Colonel Wheeler and Colonel Harrison are charged with accepting bribes totaling more than $200,000 a month, to steer at least $13 million in contracts to companies controlled by Mr. Bloom, who is accused of performing the work shoddily or not at all.

For reasons that the Pentagon has so far declined to clarify, Mr. Stein was hired as a comptroller by the Coalition Provisional Authority and put in charge of $82 million for reconstruction, despite his conviction for felony fraud in the 1990's. Colonel Harrison was initially Mr. Stein's deputy and became acting comptroller in Hilla in spring 2004.

The United States official who served in south-central Iraq said that like Mr. Stein, Colonel Harrison was a combative and difficult bureaucrat. At one point, the official said, Colonel Harrison cut off the flow of construction funds to the southern holy city of Najaf - because, Colonel Harrison said, American officials there were mismanaging the money.

Bush Gesture to McCain: Less than Meets the Eye

Bush Gesture to McCain: Less than Meets the Eye
By Ray McGovern
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 16 December 2005

In deciding not to follow through on his threat to veto Sen. John McCain?s amendment against torture, Bush actually surrendered very little. Torture is still in the eyes of the beholders in the defense and intelligence communities.

The unseemly spectacle of Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush openly opposing the McCain amendment banning torture for a torturous five months has done irreparable harm to America?s standing abroad. The damage will not be attenuated by the president?s reluctant acquiescence to the McCain amendment yesterday. The most that can be said is that the harm would have been still greater if McCain caved in to Cheney?s incredibly obtuse opposition, or if Bush had to veto must-pass defense legislation in order to defeat the amendment.

The Bush-McCain compromise changes very little. The interrogation practices banned are limited to those not authorized by the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation, which can be - is being - revised. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Army has approved a 10-page secret addendum to the Army field manual, a move that one Pentagon official described as ?a stick in McCain?s eye.? McCain?s chief of staff minced no words in describing the move as ?politically obtuse? and undertaken without ?one molecule of political due diligence.?

The new manual, to be issued this month, spells out authorized interrogation techniques, but these remain classified. Having faced down Cheney, it will be interesting to see if McCain?s courage extends to facing down Defense Secretary Rumsfeld?s transparent attempt to vitiate the amendment. Or will McCain and his congressional colleagues settle for a Potemkin-village-type victory, and leave the field for the clever lawyers around Cheney and Rumsfeld. The pleasant noises that McCain was making yesterday and premature comments of eager-to-please Jane Harmon, vice-chair of the House Intelligence Committee, suggest that, in the end, most legislators will settle for Potemkin.

The Crooks and the Crux

One Army officer involved bemoaned the fact that confusion persists because of lack of clarity on what constitutes torture. ??Cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment? is at the crux of the problem,? he said, ?but we?ve never defined that.?

The section of the McCain amendment applying to CIA and other civilian interrogators also hinges on what qualifies as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, but the amendment?s attempt to define it by referring to provisions in the US Constitution and the UN convention against torture leaves ample room for ambiguity and wide interpretation.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said yesterday that the dispute between the White House and McCain was over ?what constitutes cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment? and used the rhetorical device of reductio ad absurdam, pointing out, ?In some countries ... those words mean you can?t even insult someone when you question them.? Appearing on CNN, Gonzales added:

?Congress has defined what torture is, and it is intentional infliction of severe - I emphasize the word severe - intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering.?

Gonzales would not say whether this definition would include waterboarding. Those watching CNN will not have much reason to believe that anything has changed.

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said yesterday that his negotiations with McCain centered on providing legal protection for interrogators. McCain had said earlier that granting such protection would undermine his amendment, but under the compromise with the White House, CIA officers and other civilians accused of abuse in interrogation would be able to argue that they believed they were obeying a legal order and would have the right to government counsel. In practice, this will make it very difficult to hold anyone accountable in US courts. A prosecutor would have to prove that a higher-up?s orders were so unreasonable that they fit the category of Nazi atrocities.

No effort has been made to disguise what lies behind the administration?s position. Even Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a lawyer who has been considered a moderate on the issue of torture, has conceded that the ?problem? is to find a way to protect interrogators who go too far. Perhaps it is my lack of legal training, but I do not think one can square this circle. There remains too much of a disconnect, for example, between the ?we-do-not-torture? rhetoric and, for example, Gonzales?s refusal to rule out waterboarding.

Other Fallout

* Dick Cheney, dubbed ?Vice President for Torture? by the New York Times has been dealt a resolute rebuff. His open advocacy of torture, coming on the heels of the indictment of his chief of staff, has put a huge chink in his armor. Today?s revelations that he played a key role in the latest scandal, the use of the National Security Agency for warrant-less eavesdropping on US citizens, could be strike three. Despite the president?s protestations that the two have never been closer, Bush may soon be forced to put a considerable distance between himself and his �minence grise.

* The imperial presidency has been struck a blow - not fatal yet, but nonetheless damaging. Congress has summoned the courage to face Cheney and the president down, at least overtly, and that chips away at the image of invulnerability carefully cultivated by the administration. Congress people and Senators seem newly aware that their oath is to the Constitution, not the White House, and this can spell big trouble in the months ahead.

* The press is beginning to act like a responsible fourth estate. True, the New York Times sat on the NSA story for a whole year, but it was published before the final vote on the so-called Patriot Act - perhaps even in time to have some impact.

* After two years of intimidation by what happened to Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie, patriots within the national security establishment are showing a new willingness to reveal abuses to the press. ?According to current and former intelligence officials? has become familiar attribution in major stories that blow the whistle on abuses and deceit.

* The George W. Bush White House is no longer the well-honed machine it once was. Clearly, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are preoccupied with their legal problems, and the gaping hole left by their lack of timely advice has left the president to his own devices. His failure to do the smart thing last summer and meet with Cindy Sheehan, his identification with Cheney?s doomed stance on torture, his recent off-the-cuff appraisal of Iraqi casualties, his gratuitous remark that Donald Rumsfeld is doing ?a heck of a job? (like the late Michael Brown of FEMA?) - all attest to a lack of adult supervision these days at the White House. And as Libby goes to trial, and if Karl Rove is indicted, things are likely to get still more dicey.

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

CNN Drops Robert Novak

Media Matters for America Applauds CNN Decision to Drop Robert Novak

Media Matters delivered nearly 5,000 letters from concerned viewers to CNN urging Novak's permanent suspension

December 16, 2005 (Washington, DC) - Media Matters for America applauds CNN's official announcement today that it will not renew its contract with controversial conservative commentator and syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak after 25 years of serving as a CNN commentator and program host.

Novak's contract with CNN was reportedly set to expire in early 2006, but he has not appeared on the channel since August 2005 after being suspended for uttering an obscenity and storming off the set. On December 7th, Media Matters delivered nearly 5,000 letters from concerned viewers to CNN's Washington Bureau urging them not to renew Novak's contract.

"We applaud CNN for taking the appropriate step of not renewing Robert Novak's contract," said David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters for America. "CNN's overall news programming will benefit from not having a commentator known to spread conservative misinformation to the American public."

Senate Is Set to Require White House to Account for Secret Prisons

Senate Is Set to Require White House to Account for Secret Prisons
By Douglas Jehl
The New York Times

Thursday 15 December 2005

Washington - The Senate is poised to approve a measure that would require the Bush administration to provide Congress with its most specific and extensive accounting about the secret prison system established by the Central Intelligence Agency to house terrorism suspects.

The measure includes amendments that would require the director of national intelligence to provide regular, detailed updates about secret detention facilities maintained by the United States overseas, and to account for the treatment and condition of each prisoner. The facilities, established after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, are thought to hold two dozen to three dozen terrorism suspects, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is said to be the mastermind of the attacks.

An agreement reached Wednesday between Democrats and Republicans called for the measure to be approved by unanimous consent, but it was unclear on Wednesday night when a final vote might occur.

While the C.I.A. has provided limited briefings to members of Congress about the detention facilities, the information has generally been shared with only a handful of Congressional leaders, who are prohibited from discussing the information with their colleagues. The Senate measure would widen that circle considerably, by requiring the director of national intelligence to provide reports each 90 days to the House and Senate intelligence committees. Among other things, the reports would be required to address the size, location and cost of each detention facility; "the health and welfare" of each prisoner there, and whether the treatment of those prisoners had been humane.

The new Senate measure, part of a bill authorizing intelligence spending, is separate from an amendment by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, that is still being debated as part of a military spending bill. Both reflect a widening sense of unease in Congress about the treatment of prisoners captured and held by the United States as part of what the administration calls its war on terrorism. The McCain amendment would prohibit the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody anywhere in the world, including at secret facilities run by the C.I.A.

The Bush administration has never officially acknowledged that secret detention facilities exist, but the basic facts surrounding them have been described by current and former government officials. The location of the prisons in particular remains a carefully guarded secret, though the European Union is seeking information to confirm a report by The Washington Post last month that said that at least two were in Eastern Europe.

In a bow to that nuance, the Senate bill uses the phrase "if any" to describe the secret prisons and specifies that the reports about them remain classified, to minimize the prospect of public disclosure.

Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the top Republican on the Senate intelligence panel, agreed to include the amendments in a measure that was to be presented to the Senate for unanimous approval, Congressional officials said.

The new reporting requirement is not in a version of the intelligence bill that has been approved by the House, so the amendments to the Senate measure would have to be endorsed by a House-Senate conference committee, and then win final passage from the House and Senate before they could become law.

Representative Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said she would seek to persuade the conference committee to approve the new requirement. "There is more information that should legitimately come to the full intelligence committee," Ms. Harman said in an interview.

No senator has publicly objected to the amendments, which were introduced by the two Senate Democrats from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry. Another measure included in the bill, also introduced by Mr. Kennedy, would require the White House to provide classified intelligence documents on Iraq that have until now been withheld from Congress.

Pentagon Is Said to Mishandle a Counterterrorism Database

Pentagon Is Said to Mishandle a Counterterrorism Database

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 - Pentagon analysts appear not to have followed guidelines that require deleting information on American citizens and groups from a counterterrorism database within three months if they pose no security threats, Pentagon officials said on Thursday.

As a result, dozens of alerts on antiwar meetings and peaceful protests appear to have remained in the database, even though analysts had decided that those involved presented no threat to military bases or personnel, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program is classified.

The requirement to delete information after 90 days is in a set of procedures for handling reports entered into the Defense Department database, which is known as the Threat and Local Observation Notice reporting system, or Talon. Pentagon officials on Thursday refused to release the full list of procedures for handling information on citizens.

Details of the database were disclosed this week by NBC News, which said it had obtained a 400-page document on more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" across the country entered into the system in a 10-month period from 2004 to 2005.

A summary of the document put out by NBC said that among the incidents monitored was a "protest against Army recruiters" in Wayne, N.J., last April that the database notes happened "without incident."

Pentagon officials said Thursday that the Talon program was created in 2003 as a central repository of possible threats against military personnel and installations. Tips and other unverified information from military personnel, law enforcement agencies and intelligence entities are entered into the system and evaluated, they said.

Stephen A. Cambone, under secretary of defense for intelligence, ordered a review of the database on Wednesday, looking at "retention of information about any U.S. persons" and whether guidelines for collecting such information are consistent with current laws, officials said.

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say - New York Times

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say - New York Times

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 �- Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

"This is really a sea change," said a former senior official who specializes in national security law. "It's almost a mainstay of this country that the N.S.A. only does foreign searches."

Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.

According to those officials and others, reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a judge presiding over a secret court that oversees intelligence matters. Some of the questions about the agency's new powers led the administration to temporarily suspend the operation last year and impose more restrictions, the officials said.

The Bush administration views the operation as necessary so that the agency can move quickly to monitor communications that may disclose threats to this country, the officials said. Defenders of the program say it has been a critical tool in helping disrupt terrorist plots and prevent attacks inside the United States.

Administration officials are confident that existing safeguards are sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, the officials say. In some cases, they said, the Justice Department eventually seeks warrants if it wants to expand the eavesdropping to include communications confined within the United States. The officials said the administration had briefed Congressional leaders about the program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that deals with national security issues.

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it said the N.S.A. eavesdropped without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands over the past three years, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials.

Several officials said the eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. What appeared to be another Qaeda plot, involving fertilizer bomb attacks on British pubs and train stations, was exposed last year in part through the program, the officials said. But they said most people targeted for N.S.A. monitoring have never been charged with a crime, including an Iranian-American doctor in the South who came under suspicion because of what one official described as dubious ties to Osama bin Laden.

Dealing With a New Threat

The eavesdropping program grew out of concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks that the nation's intelligence agencies were not poised to deal effectively with the new threat of Al Qaeda and that they were handcuffed by legal and bureaucratic restrictions better suited to peacetime than war, according to officials. In response, President Bush significantly eased limits on American intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the military.

But some of the administration's antiterrorism initiatives have provoked an outcry from members of Congress, watchdog groups, immigrants and others who argue that the measures erode protections for civil liberties and intrude on Americans' privacy. Opponents have challenged provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the focus of contentious debate on Capitol Hill this week, that expand domestic surveillance by giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation more power to collect information like library lending lists or Internet use. Military and F.B.I. officials have drawn criticism for monitoring what were largely peaceful antiwar protests. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security were forced to retreat on plans to use public and private databases to hunt for possible terrorists. And last year, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's claim that those labeled "enemy combatants" were not entitled to judicial review of their open-ended detention.

Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States � including American citizens, permanent legal residents, tourists and other foreigners � is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A. operation.

The National Security Agency, which is based at Fort Meade, Md., is the nation's largest and most secretive intelligence agency, so intent on remaining out of public view that it has long been nicknamed "No Such Agency.'' It breaks codes and maintains listening posts around the world to eavesdrop on foreign governments, diplomats and trade negotiators as well as drug lords and terrorists. But the agency ordinarily operates under tight restrictions on any spying on Americans, even if they are overseas, or disseminating information about them.

What the agency calls a "special collection program" began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, as it looked for new tools to attack terrorism. The program accelerated in early 2002 after the Central Intelligence Agency started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, the officials said.

In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the Qaeda figures, the N.S.A. began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said.

Under the agency's longstanding rules, the N.S.A. can target for interception phone calls or e-mail messages on foreign soil, even if the recipients of those communications are in the United States. Usually, though, the government can only target phones and e-mail messages in this country by first obtaining a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which holds its closed sessions at the Justice Department.

Traditionally, the F.B.I., not the N.S.A., seeks such warrants and conducts most domestic eavesdropping. Until the new program began, the N.S.A. typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions in Washington, New York and other cities, and obtained court orders to do so.

Since 2002, the agency has been conducting some warrantless eavesdropping on people in the United States who are linked, even if indirectly, to suspected terrorists through the chain of phone numbers and e-mail addresses, according to several officials who know of the operation. Under the special program, the agency monitors their international communications, the officials said. The agency, for example, can target phone calls from someone in New York to someone in Afghanistan.

Warrants are still required for eavesdropping on entirely domestic-to-domestic communications, those officials say, meaning that calls from that New Yorker to someone in California could not be monitored without first going to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court.

A White House Briefing

After the special program started, Congressional leaders from both political parties were brought to Vice President Dick Cheney's office in the White House. The leaders, who included the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, learned of the N.S.A. operation from Mr. Cheney, Gen. Michael V. Hayden of the Air Force, who was then the agency's director and is now the principal deputy director of national intelligence, and George J. Tenet, then the director of the C.I.A., officials said.

It is not clear how much the members of Congress were told about the presidential order and the eavesdropping program. Some of them declined to comment about the matter, while others did not return phone calls.

Later briefings were held for members of Congress as they assumed leadership roles on the intelligence committees, officials familiar with the program said. After a 2003 briefing, Senator Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who became vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that year, wrote a letter to Mr. Cheney expressing concerns about the program, officials knowledgeable about the letter said. It could not be determined if he received a reply. Mr. Rockefeller declined to comment. Aside from the Congressional leaders, only a small group of people, including several cabinet members and officials at the N.S.A., the C.I.A. and the Justice Department, know of the program.

Some officials familiar with it say they consider warrantless eavesdropping inside the United States to be unlawful and possibly unconstitutional, amounting to an improper search. One government official involved in the operation said he privately complained to a Congressional official about his doubts about the legality of the program. But nothing came of his inquiry. "People just looked the other way because they didn't want to know what was going on," he said.

A senior government official recalled that he was taken aback when he first learned of the operation. "My first reaction was, ?We're doing what?' " he said. While he said he eventually felt that adequate safeguards were put in place, he added that questions about the program's legitimacy were understandable.

Some of those who object to the operation argue that is unnecessary. By getting warrants through the foreign intelligence court, the N.S.A. and F.B.I. could eavesdrop on people inside the United States who might be tied to terrorist groups without skirting longstanding rules, they say.

The standard of proof required to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is generally considered lower than that required for a criminal warrant � intelligence officials only have to show probable cause that someone may be "an agent of a foreign power," which includes international terrorist groups � and the secret court has turned down only a small number of requests over the years. In 2004, according to the Justice Department, 1,754 warrants were approved. And the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can grant emergency approval for wiretaps within hours, officials say.

Administration officials counter that they sometimes need to move more urgently, the officials said. Those involved in the program also said that the N.S.A.'s eavesdroppers might need to start monitoring large batches of numbers all at once, and that it would be impractical to seek permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court first, according to the officials.

Culture of Caution and Rules

The N.S.A. domestic spying operation has stirred such controversy among some national security officials in part because of the agency's cautious culture and longstanding rules.

Widespread abuses � including eavesdropping on Vietnam War protesters and civil rights activists � by American intelligence agencies became public in the 1970's and led to passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which imposed strict limits on intelligence gathering on American soil. Among other things, the law required search warrants, approved by the secret F.I.S.A. court, for wiretaps in national security cases. The agency, deeply scarred by the scandals, adopted additional rules that all but ended domestic spying on its part.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, though, the United States intelligence community was criticized for being too risk-averse. The National Security Agency was even cited by the independent 9/11 Commission for adhering to self-imposed rules that were stricter than those set by federal law.

Several senior government officials say that when the special operation first began, there were few controls on it and little formal oversight outside the N.S.A. The agency can choose its eavesdropping targets and does not have to seek approval from Justice Department or other Bush administration officials. Some agency officials wanted nothing to do with the program, apparently fearful of participating in an illegal operation, a former senior Bush administration official said. Before the 2004 election, the official said, some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president.

In mid-2004, concerns about the program expressed by national security officials, government lawyers and a judge prompted the Bush administration to suspend elements of the program and revamp it.

For the first time, the Justice Department audited the N.S.A. program, several officials said. And to provide more guidance, the Justice Department and the agency expanded and refined a checklist to follow in deciding whether probable cause existed to start monitoring someone's communications, several officials said.

A complaint from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the federal judge who oversees the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, helped spur the suspension, officials said. The judge questioned whether information obtained under the N.S.A. program was being improperly used as the basis for F.I.S.A. wiretap warrant requests from the Justice Department, according to senior government officials. While not knowing all the details of the exchange, several government lawyers said there appeared to be concerns that the Justice Department, by trying to shield the existence of the N.S.A. program, was in danger of misleading the court about the origins of the information cited to justify the warrants.

One official familiar with the episode said the judge insisted to Justice Department lawyers at one point that any material gathered under the special N.S.A. program not be used in seeking wiretap warrants from her court. Judge Kollar-Kotelly did not return calls for comment.

A related issue arose in a case in which the F.B.I. was monitoring the communications of a terrorist suspect under a F.I.S.A.-approved warrant, even though the National Security Agency was already conducting warrantless eavesdropping. According to officials, F.B.I. surveillance of Mr. Faris, the Brooklyn Bridge plotter, was dropped for a short time because of technical problems. At the time, senior Justice Department officials worried what would happen if the N.S.A. picked up information that needed to be presented in court. The government would then either have to disclose the N.S.A. program or mislead a criminal court about how it had gotten the information.

The Civil Liberties Question

Several national security officials say the powers granted the N.S.A. by President Bush go far beyond the expanded counterterrorism powers granted by Congress under the USA Patriot Act, which is up for renewal. The House on Wednesday approved a plan to reauthorize crucial parts of the law. But final passage has been delayed under the threat of a Senate filibuster because of concerns from both parties over possible intrusions on Americans' civil liberties and privacy.

Under the act, law enforcement and intelligence officials are still required to seek a F.I.S.A. warrant every time they want to eavesdrop within the United States. A recent agreement reached by Republican leaders and the Bush administration would modify the standard for F.B.I. wiretap warrants, requiring, for instance, a description of a specific target. Critics say the bar would remain too low to prevent abuses.

Bush administration officials argue that the civil liberties concerns are unfounded, and they say pointedly that the Patriot Act has not freed the N.S.A. to target Americans. "Nothing could be further from the truth," wrote John Yoo, a former official in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, and his co-author in a Wall Street Journal opinion article in December 2003. Mr. Yoo worked on a classified legal opinion on the N.S.A.'s domestic eavesdropping program.

At an April hearing on the Patriot Act renewal, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I., "Can the National Security Agency, the great electronic snooper, spy on the American people?"

"Generally," Mr. Mueller said, "I would say generally, they are not allowed to spy or to gather information on American citizens." President Bush did not ask Congress to include provisions for the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program as part of the Patriot Act and has not sought any other laws to authorize the operation. Bush administration lawyers argued that such new laws were unnecessary, because they believed that the Congressional resolution on the campaign against terrorism provided ample authorization, officials said.

Seeking Congressional approval was also viewed as politically risky because the proposal would be certain to face intense opposition on civil liberties grounds. The administration also feared that by publicly disclosing the existence of the operation, its usefulness in tracking terrorists would end, officials said.

The legal opinions that support the N.S.A. operation remain classified, but they appear to have followed private discussions among senior administration lawyers and other officials about the need to pursue aggressive strategies that once may have been seen as crossing a legal line, according to senior officials who participated in the discussions.

For example, just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Mr. Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer, wrote an internal memorandum that argued that the government might use "electronic surveillance techniques and equipment that are more powerful and sophisticated than those available to law enforcement agencies in order to intercept telephonic communications and observe the movement of persons but without obtaining warrants for such uses."

Mr. Yoo noted that while such actions could raise constitutional issues, in the face of devastating terrorist attacks "the government may be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties."

The next year, Justice Department lawyers disclosed their thinking on the issue of warrantless wiretaps in national security cases in a little-noticed brief in an unrelated court case. In that 2002 brief, the government said that "the Constitution vests in the President inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority."

Administration officials were also encouraged by a November 2002 appeals court decision in an unrelated matter. The decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which sided with the administration in dismantling a bureaucratic "wall" limiting cooperation between prosecutors and intelligence officers, noted "the president's inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance."

But the same court suggested that national security interests should not be grounds "to jettison the Fourth Amendment requirements" protecting the rights of Americans against undue searches. The dividing line, the court acknowledged, "is a very difficult one to administer."

Coca-Cola Faces Mounting Pressure over Abusive Practices at Plants Worldwide

Published on Thursday, December 15, 2005 by
Coca-Cola Faces Mounting Pressure over Abusive Practices at Plants Worldwide
by Haider Rizvi

NEW YORK - Coca-Cola, the multinational soft drink giant, is facing the wrath of rights advocacy groups here in the United States and abroad for refusing to take responsibility for abusive practices at its bottling plants.

While a number of universities and colleges in the United States have already banned the sale of Coke products on their campuses, mounting pressure from student bodies throughout Europe is pushing hundreds of schools to terminate their contracts with the company as well.

The company is also under fire in a number of Asian and Latin American countries, where labor unions, peasant groups, and consumer associations are relentlessly campaigning to force Coca-Cola to just pack up and leave.

Last week, in India, for example, hundreds of villagers protested outside the company's bottling plant in Kala Dera in the northern state of Rajasthan. Demanding immediate closure of its plant, they charged that Coca-Cola was directly responsible for severe water shortages in the area because its continued operations had caused massive groundwater depletion and soil pollution.

Their demonstration came less than two weeks after another major protest was held in front of a Coca-Cola plant in Mehdiganj in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of people turned out to demand the plant's closure, activists say.

"Coca Cola is looting our natural resources. These resources belong to the public," says Sawai Singh, a prominent social activist in India who organized the march.

To Singh, "water is a basic need for people and trading in water is not acceptable because it deprives people of a basic need."

Activists say the anti-Coca-Cola campaign has spread all over India and that it has so far met with some success.

In Piachimada in south India, for example, Coca-Cola had to shut down its biggest plant for about 20 months after it failed to cope with the mounting pressure from community groups.

Rights activists in the Latin American nation of Colombia are equally angry at Coca-Cola, but for different reasons. They allege that the company is complicit in the murder and torture of union organizers at its plants in Colombia.

But the company has repeatedly denied that it bears responsibility for troubles at the Colombian plants, arguing that its business "in each country is a local business."

With about one million employees, the company says it operates in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Activists in the United States say they want the company to agree to an independent probe of labor violations and violence against union leaders at its Colombian bottling plants.

To address this issue, the company hired a private firm to conduct a probe into its Colombia plants, but says that it found no instances of anti-union violence or intimidation.

But activists remain skeptical about the company's claim.

"We believe the evidence shows that Coca-Cola and its corporate network are rife with immorality, corruption, and complicity in murder." says Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, an independent group based in the United States.

Last week, the U.S.-based campaigners scored a major victory when New York University, the largest private school in the country, declared that it had decided to ban Coke products on campus.

Rogers claims that more than 100 colleges and universities already have anti-Coke programs in place, adding that 20 of them have either banned Coke products or axed exclusive contracts with the company.

Still, there is more bad news for the multi-billion dollar corporation.

Recently, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest indicated that it was preparing a lawsuit against Coca-Cola that would link its additive caffeine levels with childhood obesity.

Meanwhile, encouraged by growing support from the West, activists in India say they will continue their campaign to revoke Coca-Cola's contracts until the communities' demands are met.

"Coca-Cola in India is a perfect example of what goes wrong when institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) give more powers to corporations," says Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, a U.S.-based advocacy group that has supported the anti-Coke campaigners.

"The campaign to hold Coca-Cola responsible is significant because it asserts the rights of communities over natural resources--rights that are increasingly under threat from the WTO.

Yahoo hires DARPA director to head research | CNET

[print version] Yahoo hires DARPA director to head research | CNET

Yahoo hires DARPA director to head research

By Elinor Mills

Story last modified Thu Dec 15 06:02:00 PST 2005

Yahoo has opened an East Coast research center and hired an artificial intelligence expert and former director at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to open research centers in other countries.

Ron Brachman, 56, was named vice president of worldwide research operations, the Internet giant said Thursday.

The new research center in New York City will initially focus on media, microeconomics and e-commerce to help understand "how people get together and do things in markets (and) auctions, (how they) exchange goods and services, and how large groups of people have macroeconomic behaviors," Brachman said.

Brachman previously served as the director of DARPA's Information Processing Technology Office.

In his new position, Brachman said he will research data-mining and how to make computer systems adaptive over time. "Recommendations made by online services--understanding similarities between interests and how to recommend things to people--have underlying (artificial intelligence) technology," he said.

Artificial intelligence can also be used to help fight fraud and help improve targeted advertising, he said. "We can use expert rules and Bayesian reasoning to understand when transactions may be fraudulent," Brachman said.

Before joining DARPA in 2002, Brachman was a research vice president at AT&T Labs, where he developed an artificial intelligence team. He also served as president of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. He received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a master's degree and doctorate from Harvard University.

Yahoo has three other research centers in Sunnyvale, Burbank and Berkeley, Calif.

Bush won't discuss report of NSA spying

Bush won't discuss report of NSA spying


Friday, December 16, 2005 � Last updated 11:22 a.m. PT

Bush won't discuss report of NSA spying


WASHINGTON -- President Bush refused to say whether the National Security Agency eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States but leaders of Congress condemned the practice on Friday and promised to look into what the administration has done.

"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said there would be hearings early next year and that they would have "a very, very high priority." He wasn't alone in reacting harshly to the report. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the story, first reported in Friday's New York Times, was troubling.

Bush said in an interview that "we do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country. And the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them.

"I will make this point," Bush said. "That whatever I do to protect the American people - and I have an obligation to do so - that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."

The president spoke in an interview to be aired Friday evening on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer."

Bush played down the importance of the eavesdropping story. "It's not the main story of the day," Bush told Lehrer. "The main story of the day is the Iraqi elections" for parliament which took place on Thursday.

Neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor White House press secretary Scott McClellan would confirm or deny the report which said the super-secret NSA had spied on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country.

That year, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds - perhaps thousands - of people inside the United States, the Times reported.

McClellan said the White House has received no requests for information from lawmakers because of the report. "Congress does have an important oversight role," he said.

Before the program began, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations. Overseas, 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time.

"This is Big Brother run amok," declared Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., called it a "shocking revelation" that "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American."

Administration officials reacted to the report by asserting that the president has respected the Constitution while striving to protect the American people.

Rice said Bush has "acted lawfully in every step that he has taken." And McClellan said Bush "is going to remain fully committed to upholding our Constitution and protect the civil liberties of the American people. And he has done both."

The report surfaced as the administration and its GOP allies on Capitol Hill were fighting to save provisions of the expiring USA Patriot Act that they believe are key tools in the fight against terrorism. An attempt to rescue the approach favored by the White House and Republicans failed on a procedural vote Friday morning.

The Times said reporters interviewed nearly a dozen current and former administration officials about the program and granted them anonymity because of the classified nature of the program.

Government officials credited the new program with uncovering several terrorist plots, including one by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting al-Qaida by planning to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, the report said.

Some NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said. Questions about the legality of the program led the administration to temporarily suspend it last year and impose new restrictions.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to confirm that the NSA eavesdrops on Americans or whether he played any role, in his previous job as White House counsel, in providing legal justification for the program.

Gonzales said Bush is waging an aggressive fight against terrorism, but one that is "consistent with the Constitution."

But he said generally that the government has an intense need for information in the struggle. "Winning the war on terrorism requires winning the war of information We are dealing with a patient, diabolical enemy who wants to harm America," Gonzales said at a news conference at the Justice Department on child prostitution arrests.

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the group was shocked by the disclosure.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it was reviewing its use of a classified database of information about suspicious people and activity inside the United States after a report by NBC News said the database listed activities of anti-war groups that were not a security threat to Pentagon property or personnel.

The administration had briefed congressional leaders about the NSA program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that handles national security issues.

The Times said it delayed publication of the report for a year because the White House said it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. The Times said it omitted information from the story that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists.