Apparently many of our interrogation techniques were designed to elicit false confessions, not the truth:
WASHINGTON — The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”
What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.
The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The background:WASHINGTON -- The White House said Wednesday that the widely condemned interrogation technique known as waterboarding is legal and that President Bush could authorize the CIA to resume using the simulated-drowning method under extraordinary circumstances.
It is considered torture worldwide.Waterboarding refers to a practice that involves strapping down a prisoner, placing a cloth over his face and dousing him with water to simulate the sensation of drowning. The technique has been traced to the Spanish Inquisition and has been the subject of war-crimes trials dating back a century.
In a recent GOP presidential debate, McCain said it was inconceivable that "anyone could believe that [waterboarding is] not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Convention. It's in violation of existing law."
Congress has passed two laws -- the Detainee Treatment Act in 2005 and the Military Commissions Act in 2006 -- that ban the use of harsh interrogation methods and require all U.S. agencies to comply with the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions in their treatment of detainees.
Joseph P. Nacchio, a former Qwest chief executive, says the NSA approached him about a warrantless surveillance program on Americans in February, 2001 - long before 9/11. Qwest declined to participate in the program when they discovered it would not be using any legal processes nor would it be using the FISA Court and there were no plans to use them in the future.
Nacchio was convicted for selling shares of Qwest stock in early 2001, just before financial problems caused the company's share price to tumble. He has claimed in court papers that he had been optimistic that Qwest would overcome weak sales because of the expected top-secret contract with the government. Nacchio said he was forbidden to mention the specifics during the trial because of secrecy restrictions, but the judge ruled that the issue was irrelevant to the charges against him.
Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.
The allegations could affect the debate on Capitol Hill over whether telecoms sued for disclosing customers' phone records and other data to the government after the Sept. 11 attacks should be given legal immunity, even if they did not have court authorization to do so.
More voting problems in Florida:
Symptoms consistent with a known software flaw in a popular electronic voting machine surfaced widely in a controversial election in Sarasota County, Florida, last November, despite county officials' claims that a bug played no role in the election results, according to documents obtained by Wired News.
Activists say the flaw might have contributed to the high number of lost or uncast votes in a now-contested congressional race.
Incident reports from the election reveal Sarasota County poll workers from at least 19 precincts contacted technicians and election officials to report touch-screen sensitivity problems with the I-Votronic voting machine. In those incidents, voters were forced to press the screen harder and repeatedly to register a vote. The complaints mirror the symptoms of a bug that the machine's maker, Election Systems & Software, revealed prior to the election in a warning unheeded by the county.
These problems happened on a smaller scale in the previous election according to documents, but denied by the supervisor of elections Kathy Dent. Election Systems and Software suggested a sign be posted indicating the need to press the screen firmly for several seconds to insure the vote was recorded, but Dent put up signs without this critical information.
18,000 ballots recorded no vote in the Senate race which was "lost" by Christine Jennings by less than 400 votes. Numerous voter complaints were ignored or dismissed as ballot design problems in spite of the known software flaws.
A little humor to brighten your day - from a parrot!
Corin says:"An African Grey Parrot called N'kisi has a vocabulary of 950 words and can 'communicate' (as opposed to repeat). He has a sense of humour as well. Amazed by this [article on the BBC web site] I searched a little and found a recording of the bird with his owner. Initially I thought 'why they hell did you put the microphone next to the person and not the bird?' before I realised it wasn't the person I was listening to but the bird."
Finally, Floriday is moving to more reliable - and verifiable - voting machines with paper trails. Other states are making the change as well.
DELRAY BEACH, Fla., Feb. 1 — Gov. Charlie Crist announced plans on Thursday to abandon the touch-screen voting machines that many of Florida’s counties installed after the disputed 2000 presidential election. The state will instead adopt a system of casting paper ballots counted by scanning machines in time for the 2008 presidential election.
Voting experts said Florida’s move, coupled with new federal voting legislation expected to pass this year, could be the death knell for the paperless electronic touch-screen machines. If as expected the Florida Legislature approves the $32.5 million cost of the change, it would be the nation’s biggest repudiation yet of touch-screen voting, which was widely embraced after the 2000 recount as a state-of-the-art means of restoring confidence that every vote would count.
This is a very good explanation of Habeas Corpus, what it means and what happens when we lose that right:
Under Habeas Corpus, you have the right to say, I want to be brought into the court to determine if I am the right person charged, if there's an actual law prohibiting what I'm charged with, if the people who are holding me have the jurisdiction to do so, and I want that publicly known and I want the right to dispute all of that and the right to be tried too.
Without Habeas Corpus you can be swept up off the street and never heard from again. Period. Nobody has to know. Nobody - including yourself - has to know why. Nobody gets to determine if there is a law against what you're charged with. You have no rights at all.
In America, the Constitution forbids taking habeas corpus away from you (except "in case of rebellion or invasion the public safety shall require it.") It was written that way because the right of habeas corpus was a basic right even under the King of England. It was the most basic check on a king's tyranny. It was assumed.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argues it's a right we never had in the first place.
This is something I missed:
All Americans regardless of political philosophy or party affiliation ought to take note when the attorney general tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee habeas corpus.
In justifying the law signed by the president last October that stripped federal courts of their authority to hear habeas corpus suits by noncitizens labeled "enemy combatants," U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified last week: "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas."
Gonzales' contention, which undoubtedly is the Bush administration's most far-reaching in its battle against the war on terror, threatens to take the country down a slippery slope that undermines the very basis of the republic.
The writ of habeas corpus requires that a person detained by the authorities be brought before a court of law so that the legality of the detention may be examined.
This is the good news. The bad news is this "consession" is not binding in any way - AT&T can ignore it completely if it wants to. Hopefully a Net neutrality Bill will be passed before this becomes an issue.
Net neutrality advocates celebrated this week after AT&T said it would pledge to maintain a "neutral network" in exchange for US government approval of its proposed acquisition of BellSouth Corp.
AT&T has offered a net neutrality concession – saying it will not prioritise or degrade network traffic based on "source, ownership or destination" for two years after its merger – as an incentive for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to break a deadlock on whether to approve the deal, now worth more than $85 billion.
Net neutrality advocates called the concessions a victory.
A tough California bill that would have prohibited companies andindividuals from using deceptive "pretexting" ruses to steal privateinformation about consumers was killed after determined lobbying by themotion picture industry, Wired News has learned.
The bill, SB1666,was written by state Sen. Debra Bowen, and would have barredinvestigators from making "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statementsor representations to obtain private information about an individual,including telephone calling records, Social Security numbers andfinancial information. Victims would have had the right to sue fordamages.
The bill won approval in three committees and sailed through thestate Senate with a 30-0 vote. Then, according to Lenny Goldberg, alobbyist for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the measure encounteredunexpected, last-minute resistance from the Motion Picture Associationof America.
"The MPAA has a tremendous amount of clout and they toldlegislators, 'We need to pose as someone other than who we are to stopillegal downloading,'" Goldberg said.
It’s time to act to preserve neutrality of the internet.
Net Neutrality ensures that Republican and Democrat Web sites open just as quickly, regardless of the political affiliation or financial self-interest of any Internet company. It allows a video on a small news blog to be just as accessible as the video on a large corporate news site. And it prevents Google from ever having to worry about Yahoo outbidding it for the right to work more quickly on your computer.
It is precisely because of Net Neutrality that the Internet has been a revolutionary force for democratic participation, economic innovation and free speech. The free and open Internet empowers everyday people — mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, young and old alike. But this week, as Congress rewrites our nation’s telecommunications policy, Internet freedom at risk. (From Washington Times, June 16, 2006)
Last week the House of Representatives voted to do away with Net Neutrality protections. This will drastically change the internet.
Telecom executives have been surprisingly blatant in public comments about their desire to erect tollbooths on the information superhighway as soon as Net Neutrality is dead and buried — creating a fast lane for some and a slow lane for everyone else. AT&T’s Chief Executive Officer Ed Whitacre has said, “The Internet can’t be free” and referred to the Internet as “my pipes” which others must pay to go through. BellSouth’s William Smith said his company should be able to charge Yahoo for the opportunity to load faster than Google on your computer. (From Washington Times)
I've been talking about the security problems surrounding the new drivers licenses and passports with RFID chips that the government is about to issue. They make life very easy for identity thieves - actually, for all thieves - and they make you much less secure.
Here's how easy it is to steal your information and your identity:
"I just need to bump into James and get my hand within a few inches of him," Westhues says. We're shivering in the early spring air outside the offices of Sandstorm, the Internet security company Van Bokkelen runs north of Boston. As Van Bokkelen approaches from the parking lot, Westhues brushes past him. A coil of copper wire flashes briefly in Westhues' palm, then disappears.
Van Bokkelen enters the building, and Westhues returns to me. "Let's see if I've got his keys," he says, meaning the signal from Van Bokkelen's smartcard badge. The card contains an RFID sensor chip, which emits a short burst of radio waves when activated by the reader next to Sandstorm's door. If the signal translates into an authorized ID number, the door unlocks.
The coil in Westhues' hand is the antenna for the wallet-sized device he calls a cloner, which is currently shoved up his sleeve. The cloner can elicit, record, and mimic signals from smartcard RFID chips. Westhues takes out the device and, using a USB cable, connects it to his laptop and downloads the data from Van Bokkelen's card for processing. Then, satisfied that he has retrieved the code, Westhues switches the cloner from Record mode to Emit. We head to the locked door.
"Want me to let you in?" Westhues asks. I nod.
He waves the cloner's antenna in front of a black box attached to the wall. The single red LED blinks green. The lock clicks. We walk in and find Van Bokkelen waiting.