All entries for December 2007

December 27, 2007

Airport profilers: They're watching your expressions

Writing about web page

It goes on and on. Now "Transportation Security Administration officers" are being mobilised at dozens of major airports across the USA to ask travellers questions like:

"How are you today?”

“Where are you heading?”

“Is this all your property?”

Obviously it's far from chit-chat. The Seattle Post reports that a central task of these officers is "to recognize microfacial expressions -- a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt".

Carl Maccario, who helped start the program, says "Vague, evasive responses — fear shows itself. When you do this long enough, you see it right away.”

More post-9/11 paranoia.

More on FBI's aim for world's largest biometrics database

Follow-up to FBI aims for world's largest biometrics database from Jack's blog

Legal analyst: In wrong hands, FBI biometric info 'can follow you forever'

David Edwards and Jason Rhyne
Raw Story
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A newly announced FBI plan to catalog precise physical characteristics of individuals around the world -- a vast $1 billion dollar project that makes the bureau's fingerprint database look quaint by comparison -- is raising eyebrows among critics who worry about how the data may be used.

Taking advantage of the science of biometrics, which relies on precise body measurements unique to every human being, the FBI hopes to be able to identify criminal and terrorist suspects by face-shape, scars and even iris patterns.

But the idea raises some red flags for CNN legal analyst Sonny Hostin.

"The goal to have a comprehensive data base to track terror suspects, criminals, that sort of thing. I think it's a wonderful goal," said Hostin. "But you have to be very careful, because what if the wrong person is in that database? That is something that can follow you forever."

Hostin pointed out that while victims of other forms of identity theft could eventually correct the record, stolen biometric information -- in the wrong hands -- would present a more permanent problem.

In a Saturday piece about the initiative in the Washington Post, Silicon Valley tech forecaster Paul Saffo worried that the FBI would be unable to ensure that the data was secure.

"Unlike say, a credit card number, biometric data is forever," Saffo told the paper. "If someone steals and spoofs your iris image, you can't just get a new eyeball."

Asked by CNN anchor Alina Cho whether the database should concern "those of use who aren't on terror watch lists, like the two of us," Hostin cut her off.

"Hopefully," she joked about her absence from the terror list, but added that the plan warranted serious concern.

"I'm already in a database, having been a federal prosecutor and having security clearance," she said. "The FBI wants to take that information and keep it and that's the problem -- and generally you can get access to it and ask for information that's on you. But in this situation you may not be able to get that information. So I think everyone does have to be careful."

As reported by the Post, other critics voiced additional concerns about the program.

"You're giving the federal government access to an extraordinary amount of information linked to biometric identifiers that is becoming increasingly inaccurate," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Nevertheless, Barry Steinhardt, the director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the paper that the system was poised to become a ubiquitous law enforcement tool.

"It's going to be an essential component of tracking," he said. "It's enabling the Always On Surveillance Society." This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast on December 24, 2007.

December 21, 2007

Dept of Homeland Security's Creates Spy Satellite Program Without Congressional Oversight

Writing about web page

Plans also include "cyber-security strategy" to "protect" domestic computer networks

Steve Watson
day, Dec 20, 2007

The Department of Homeland security is forging ahead and finalizing plans to use a network of spy satellites for domestic surveillance despite the fact that the Congressional committee supposedly overseeing the program has had no update on it for over three months.

A report in today's Wall Street Journal suggests that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is in the process of finalizing a charter for the program this week, regardless of the fact that it is supposed to be suspended.

The DHS had declared that the program was "on hold" after its existence was made public in August, prompting an outcry amongst civil libertarians and lawmakers.

Demands to justify the congressional legality of the satellites, which were originally mandated for foreign surveillance, followed the revelation that a new department branch called the National Applications Office would oversee the program and be responsible for providing images from the satellites to non military law enforcement agencies.

Critics have called for cuts to DHS funding, stressing that the program is in direct violation of the Posse Comitatus act, which prevents the use of military for domestic law enforcement. It also violates the fourth amendment as the satellites are capable of seeing through the walls of people's homes.

Domestic intelligence and security agencies are now receiving more funding for spy satellites than the military.

"We still haven't seen the legal framework we requested or the standard operation procedures on how the NAO will actually be run," House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson told the WSJ.

In addition to the satellites, the surveillance program also includes new forms of internet monitoring:

Mr. Chertoff also plans soon to unveil a cyber-security strategy, part of an estimated $15 billion, multiyear program designed to protect the nation's Internet infrastructure. The program has been shrouded in secrecy for months and has also prompted privacy concerns on Capitol Hill because it involves government protection of domestic computer networks.

Essentially the program would allow the DHS to regulate and control access to the internet in the name of "protecting" national security.

The news comes on the back of separate revelations that another military spy agency, the NSA has increasing control over SSL, now called Transport Layer Security, the cryptographic protocol that provides secure communications on the internet for web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers.

In other words the agency is capable of intercepting and reading your emails and instant messages in real time.

We also learned this week that the lawyer for an AT&T engineer has alleged that "within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.” That is BEFORE 9/11, before the nation was embroiled in the freedom stripping exercise commonly known as the "war on terror" had even begun.

We shouldn't be surprised obviously, Government surveillance programs targeting Americans are legion and have been in place for decades.

December 20, 2007

'At least six identifiable crimes' possible in CIA tape affair

Follow-up to CIA destroyed torture tapes from Jack's blog

Constitutional scholar: 'At least six identifiable crimes' possible in CIA tape affair 

David Edwards and Jason Rhyne
Raw Story
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

White House involvement in the CIA's decision to destroy videotapes documenting severe interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists could constitute as many as six crimes, according to constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley.

Turley appeared on CNN to discuss a new report from the New York Times, which indicates that four White House attorneys, including then-White House counsels Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers, participated in discussions with the CIA about whether or not the tapes should be destroyed. The talks also reportedly included David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's former counsel and current chief of staff; and former senior National Security Council lawyer John Bellinger.

"Just when you think this scandal can't get worse, it does," the George Washington University Law School professor told CNN's John Roberts. "I mean, this is a very significant development because it shows that this was not just some rogue operator at the CIA that destroyed evidence being sought by Congress and the courts. It shows that this was a planned destruction, that there were meetings, and those meetings extended all the way to the White House."

Turley went on to say that the high-level discussions, particularly those involving Miers and Gonzales, were "a hair's breath away from the president himself."

Asked whether "through inference" the talks might have extended to the Oval Office, Turley suggested the possibility existed.

"I think it's more than an inference at this point, which is one of the reasons there's a call for a special prosecutor," he said. "There are at least six identifiable crimes here, from obstruction of justice to obstruction of Congress, perjury, conspiracy, false statements, and what is often forgotten: the crime of torturing suspects.

Added Turley, "If that crime was committed it was a crime that would conceivably be ordered by the president himself, only the president can order those types of special treatments or interrogation techniques."

The Times reports that a former senior intelligence official told the paper that there was a "'vigorous sentiment' among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes." Other officials said that there was no White House push for their destruction.

US District Judge Henry Kennedy, who in 2005 ordered that the US preserve "all evidence and information" regarding torture and other abuses, has scheduled a Friday hearing to investigate the destruction of the tapes.

"Judge Kennedy is obviously not taking the advice of the Justice Department, that told him not to interfere," Turley said of the upcoming hearing. "Courts don't understand when the government destroys evidence -- particularly evidence that was sought by Congress and other courts. So it's not going to be a good day for the Justice Department."

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast on December 19, 2007.

Good Pun

Writing about web page

A bit sad, but yesterday I was reeling from the brilliance of this pun:

"This is shaping up to be Gordon Brown’s Winter of Disc Content"

Hooray for puns

December 15, 2007

The worst article ever written?

Writing about web page,2933,316546,00.html

"Waterboarding: It's a Good Thing" -,2933,316546,00.html

December 08, 2007

Keith Olbermann's special comment on Bush's lies over Iran

Writing about web page

December 07, 2007

More Evidence of Obstruction of Justice in 9/11 Investigation

Writing about web page

More Evidence of Obstruction of Justice in 9/11 Investigation

George Washington's Blog
Friday December 7, 2007

By now you've heard that the CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations of alleged Al Qaeda members. The interesting part of this story is that the 9/11 Commission claimed that it obtained most of its information about the attacks from these interrogations (and then only indirectly as reported by the military to the Commission).

The New York Times confirms that the government swore that it had turned over all of the relevant material regarding the statements of the people being interrogated:

"The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request", said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission ....

"No tapes were acknowledged or turned over, nor was the commission provided with any transcript prepared from recordings", he said.

But is the destruction of the tapes -- and hiding from the 9/11 Commission the fact that the tapes existed -- a big deal? Yes, actually. As the Times goes on to state:

Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.

If tapes were destroyed, he said, "it's a big deal, it's a very big deal", because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.

This isn't the first evidence of obstruction of justice by the government regarding the 9/11 investigations. For example:

Indeed, there are even indications that false evidence may have been planted to deflect attention from the real perpetrators.

Of course, even had the government told the truth to the 9/11 Commission, the Commission was set up as a whitewash.

Jack Morgan's blog

The primary purpose of this blog is to syndicate information that is largely excluded from, or spun by, the increasingly consolidated corporate media.

I believe the “War on Terror” is a synthetic construct. It is part of a long term agenda of the political/corporate elites to aggressively consolidate global control. “War on Drugs” deja-vu.

I support a new criminal investigation into the events of 9/11. The previous investigation avoided hundreds of known pieces of evidence contradicting the government’s account – for example, the fact that the head of Pakistani intelligence funded the alleged lead hijacker, and the fact that World Trade Center Building 7 collapsed at 5.20 pm in the exact manner of a controlled demolition.

Disclaimer: I often paste articles from other websites but this does not imply that I am affiliated with them or that I agree with the totality of their content.

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