Friday, December 23, 2005

Telecoms Aid Govt. Spying

The NY Times has a story about how U.S. Telecom companies have been working with the NSA in providing data and routing information through U.S. based switches, allowing the Intelligence agency access to desired information.
Several officials said that after President Bush's order authorizing the N.S.A. program, senior government officials arranged with officials of some of the nation's largest telecommunications companies to gain access to switches that act as gateways at the borders between the United States' communications networks and international networks. The identities of the corporations involved could not be determined.

Pardons for 2 Cleared by DNA

In 2001, a forgotton cotton swab was found in a case file in a storage facility. Today, based on DNA evidence found on that swab, Virginia Governor Mark Warner pardoned two men who had served many years in prison, and who have been on parole.

The DNA reportedly did result in a match within the state's database, but no charges have yet been filed against that unnamed individual.

Alito: Overturn Roe v. Wade!

The AP is reporting that a 1985 memo by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito argues that the Roe v. Wade court ruling should be overruled.
In a recommendation to the solicitor general on filing a friend-of-court brief, Alito said the government "should make clear that we disagree with Roe v. Wade and would welcome the opportunity to brief the issue of whether, and if so to what extent, that decision should be overruled."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

FISA Court Judge Resigns

The Washington Post is reporting that James Robertson, one of the judges sitting on the secret FISA Court has resigned in protest of President Bush's admission that he authorized warrantless spying on Americans.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work

Friday, December 16, 2005

Carlson: Canada is Our "Retarded Cousin"

Tucker Carlson is mad at Canada because they don't always agree with us, even if they are right. So now he's resorted to name calling:
"...Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he‘s nice, but you don‘t take him seriously. That is Canada."

Inconsistency is "Presidential Prerogative"

Last Wednesday President Bush was asked if he thought Tom Delay was innocent of the money laundering and conspiracy charges he's been accused of. "Yes, I do" the President replied.

Democrats criticized the response, saying the President has prejudged the case. And Press Secretary McClellan is reportedly defensive when asked why the President won't talk about the Valerie Plame case and what he knows, but is apparently willing to state his views on the Delay case.
"The president was asked a question and he responded to that question in the interview yesterday, and made very clear what his views were," McClellan said. "We don't typically tend to get into discussing legal matters of that nature, but in this instance, the president chose to respond to it. Our policy regarding the Fitzgerald investigation and ongoing legal proceeding is well-known and it remains unchanged."

"Call it a presidential prerogative," he added.

Novak Moving to Fox

Earlier today there was much gushing over Robert Novak's leaving CNN, after decades on that network. Now we learn that, beginning January 1, Novak will become a "Contributor" to Fox News.

Bush Authorized Spying on Americans

The New York Times is reporting that President Bush signed an order in 2002 authorizing the NSA to spy on Americans, without the court-approved warrants normally required for domestic spying. The monitoring has included telephone calls and emails, and is said to represent a major shift in the information gathering practices of American spy agencies, particularly the NSA.
"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."
The White House asked the NY Times to not publish the story. The paper complied for a year, "to conduct additional reporting", and the final story omits information which is considered useful to terrorists.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Al-Zarqawi Caught, Then Released!!!

CNN is reporting that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, perhaps the most wanted man in Iraq, suspected leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, and a person the President refers to as a "most prominent leader" of foreign terrorists in Iraq, was in custody last year, then released because he wasn't recognized.

Military Pulls Press Passes Over Photos

Reporter Louis Hansen and photographer Hyunsoo Leo Kim have had their military passes taken by U.S. officials because they "violated ground rules" by photographing damaged U.S. vehicles in Iraq.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tookie Williams is Dead

It wasn't a gang killing.
Nor in the heat of the moment.
It was planned in great detail.
And as deliberate as it gets.

We killed a man. Tonight.
As the state often does.
Perhaps three times a month.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

BellSouth Withdraws Katrina Aid Over WiFi

The Washington Post is reporting that the huge telecom company BellSouth has withdrawn an offer to donate a damaged building to the police department of New Orleans because the city has proposed offering free WiFi.

According to the officials, the head of BellSouth's Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force.

City officials said BellSouth was upset about the plan to bring high-speed Internet access for free to homes and businesses to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city.

While the company disputes the city's version of events, it is true that BellSouth and others have consistently been fighting municipal efforts to bring free Internet access to local users.

Customers of BellSouth might consider contacting the company to see if they will indeed follow through on their promise to help the police, and the people of New Orleans. Also, since telecom is a federally regulated industry, others might consider contacting their elected federal representatives to express their thoughts regarding efforts against free Internet access.

via BoingBoing

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Rummy & General Pace Disagree Over Torture

While acknowledging that "inhumane behavior is obviously worrisome" Donald Rumsfeld indicated U.S. troops who observe Iraqi forces abusing their captives are not obliged to physically stop it, but only to report it. General Pace, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff disagrees, strongly.
GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don't see it happening but you're told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There's a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done.

SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it.

GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.