Category Archives: Surveillance

Congress Pushes Bill To Create Internet Kill Switch

lieberman
Joe Lieberman

ORWELL LIVES! EVEN AS EGYPT'S GOVERNMENT attempts to crackdown on street protests by shutting down internet and mobile phone services, the US is preparing to reintroduce a bill that could be used to shut down the Internet, a kill switch. The legislation, which would grant presidential powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet, would soon be reintroduced to a Senate committee, Wired.com reported. It was initially introduced last year but expired with a new Congress. The proposed legislation, introduced into the US Senate by independent senator Joe Lieberman, who is chairman of the US Homeland Security committee, seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.

Last year, Lieberman argued the bill was necessary to "preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people". He said that, for all its allure, the internet could also be a "dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets". US economic security, national security and public safety were now all at risk from new kinds of enemies, including "cyber warriors, cyber spies, cyber terrorists and cyber criminals". Although the bill was targetted at protecting the US, many have said it would also affect other nations.

According to Renesys, a US Internet monitoring company, Egypt's four main internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move at 2234 GMT on Thursday. Around 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the internet, according to official figures, more than a quarter of the population.

One of Australia's top communications experts, University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, had previously railed against the idea, saying shutting down the internet would "inflict an enormous damage on the entire world". He said it would be like giving a single country "the right to poison the atmosphere, or poison the ocean".

The scale of Egypt's crackdown on the internet and mobile phones amid deadly protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak is unprecedented in the history of the web, experts have said. US President Barack Obama, social networking sites and rights groups around the world all condemned the moves by Egyptian authorities to stop activists using mobile phones and cyber technology to organise rallies. "It's a first in the history of the internet," Rik Ferguson, an expert for Trend Micro, the world's third biggest computer security firm, said.

Julien Coulon, co-founder of Cedexis, a French internet performance monitoring and traffic management system, added: "In 24 hours we have lost 97 per cent of Egyptian internet traffic". Despite this, many Egyptians are finding ways to get access, some using international telephone numbers to gain access to dial-up internet. According to Renesys, a US Internet monitoring company, Egypt's four main internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move at 2234 GMT on Thursday. Around 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the internet, according to official figures, more than a quarter of the population.

"In an action unprecedented in internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the internet," James Cowie of Renesys said in a blog post.

Read it all.

Daniel Ellsberg Disappointed In Obama

dellsberg1
Daniel Ellsberg

FROM THE OLD DEMOCRATS' battered and bruised perspective Daniel Ellsberg is merely another “there’s no place else to go” justifier. To these hard-working and intelligent folks the Democrat Party was all they knew. Lifers, all of them, with nary a glance towards the Other Side they viewed as down-right criminal without ever actually investigating them before Palin came along and utterly stupid beyond measurement. But theirs was another Democratic Party they thought, a party of one person, one vote, a party of egregious progress and open-hearted morality, but those warm memories and smart dreams were created long before Obama and his thug corps cracked the party wide open and left these folks, mostly women, without a political home. I'm talking, of course about the PUMA movement, which had nothing one might imagine to do with Daniel Ellsburg until his timely interview with SPEIGEL ONLINE.

Ellsberg is a former United States military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation who precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of US government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.

Legendary leaker of the “Pentagon Papers” during the Nixon administration, he still has a bone to pick with the White House. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, the 79-year-old peace activist accuses President Barack Obama of betraying his election promises—in Iraq, in Afghanistan and on civil liberties, of deceiving the public.

Ellsberg, speaking at length, said, "I voted for him and I will probably vote for him again, as opposed to the Republicans. But I believe his administration in some key aspects is nothing other than the third term of the Bush administration. He’s a good politician. He said what he needed to say to get elected, and now he’s just taking advantage of the office. Like any administration before, his administration caters to the profits of big corporations like BP and Goldman Sachs—even though I think BP won’t get off that easily this time. His early campaign contributions, the big corporate contributions, came from Wall Street. They got their money’s worth"

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But Obama has been very verbal about his criticism of Wall Street.

Ellsberg held his ground, stating, "His actions are totally uncoupled from his public statements. I don’t even listen anymore."

Reads word for word like the Hillaryocrats mantra we've been monitoring since that lost and frightful summer of '08. It's chilling actually to realize that someone like Daniel Ellsberg could be so easily fooled by the styrofoam messiah...

More to the point is the zeal and speed of this paradigm shift we've witnessed since the riveting James Carville moment. Like a shot over the bow, Carville signalled for blood, making it okay for others to come out of the covers. Claws visibly retracted beyond the call of duty in an obviously corrupt administration, many have finally stepped up to pop the Obama bubble. The media cloak, the pundits, and even Hollywood on steroids, each have finally exhaled. And that's how the whistle blows.

Once again we learn that people on both sides of the political aisle are slow learners, often just plain gullible, the way politicians prefer their voters, barefoot, poor, and damned near always two faced flushed into the kool-aid, or worse—corroded and corrupt to the bone. My guess is all of the above exist in ample portion. May God save us all.

The Thin Veneer Of Cultural Iconology

Fifth Avenue
The Thin Veneer of Cultural Iconology

In his article—Confessions of a Cultural Drop-out—published by Pajamas Media, Victor Davis Hanson slays the huffing and puffing dragon of popular culture by assessing the thin veneer of cultural iconology as it swishes by with no apparent staying power. His last few paragraphs begin with eerily the same language I just this past weekend used to describe my own general malaise which can also be summarily dismissed as simple aging by those who, in Kierkegaard's terms, simply refuse to make distinctions , so I start here...

A FINAL, ODD OBSERVATION. As I have dropped out of contemporary American culture and retreated inside some sort of 1950s time-warp, in a strange fashion of compensation for non-participation, I have tried to remain more engaged than ever in the country’s political and military crises, which are acute and growing. One’s distancing from the popular culture of movies, TV, newspapers, and establishment culture makes one perhaps wish to overcompensate in other directions, from the trivial to the important.

Lately more than ever I try to obey the speed limit, overpay my taxes, pay more estimates and withholding than I need, pay all the property taxes at once, pick up trash I see on the sidewalk, try to be overly polite to strangers in line, always stop on the freeway when I see an elderly person or single woman with a flat, leave 20% tips, let cars cut me off in the parking lot (not in my youth, not for a second), and patronize as many of Selma’s small businesses as I can (from the hardware store to insurance to cars). I don’t necessarily do that out of any sense of personal ethics, but rather because in these increasingly crass and lawless times, we all have to try something, even symbolically, to restore some common thread to the frayed veneer of American civilization, to balance the rips from a Letterman attack on Palin’s 14-year-old daughter or a Serena Williams’ threat to a line judge, or the President’s communication director’s praise of Mao, civilization’s most lethal mass murderer, or all of what I described above.

I don’t fathom the attraction of a Kanye West (I know that name after his outburst), a David Letterman, Van Jones, Michael Moore (all parasitic on the very culture they mock), or the New York Review of Books or People Magazine (they seem about the same in their world view). So goodbye to all that.

Horace called this reactionary nostalgia the delusion of a laudator temporis acti, the grouchy praiser of times past for the sake of being past. Perhaps. But I see the trend of many ignoring the old touchstones of popular entertainment and life as a rejection of establishment culture—a disbelief in, or utter unconcern with, what elites now offer as valuable on criteria that have nothing to do with merit or value. I was supposed to listen to Dan Rather because Murrow once worked for CBS? I am to go to the Cinema 16 because Hollywood once made Gone With the Wind or On the Waterfront?

I don’t particularly like the idea that I want little to do with contemporary culture. But I feel it nonetheless—and sense many of you do as well.

But don't neglect reading it all..

A Nation Of 300,000,000 Criminals

HERE IS A FRIGHTENING LOOK at ourselves, recently published in the Washington Times by reporter Brian W. Walsh, detailing the horrors of overcriminalization and the government's rush to prosecute Americans for minor offenses. Kathy and George Norris were quiet, industrious Americans whose only crime was to not have the proper paperwork on a specific number of orchids they purchased overseas in their small orchid supply business.

Bill Ayers
Bill Ayers
"You don't need to know. You can't know." Those are the words Kathy Norris, a 60-year-old grandmother of eight, heard when pursuing court officials the day after federal agents had subjected her home to a furious search. The agents, six of them, wearing SWAT gear and carrying weapons, were with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, spent half a day ransacking the Norris home in Spring, Texas. No questions were answered while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.

This particular American nightmare began with the search in October 2003 only officially ended when Mr. Norris was released from federal supervision in December 2008 after two years in the slammer, 71 years old, unnerved, a mere ghost of his former self.

Two Congressman, Chairman Robert C. Scott, D-VA, and ranking member Louie Gohmert, R-TX, conducted a truly bipartisan hearing in Washington earlier this year, giving voice to the increasing number of Americans who worry about this sort of "overcriminalization."

We wish this hearing well. This type of heavy-handed prosecution is no way for a great nation to behave. We will strongly resemble a corrupt, broken nation if this level of law enforcement against ordinary citizens is allowed to persist. How long before we regain our composure, our faith, our honesty, our compassion, our sense that we are a nation of reasonable men and women, and not merely a land of hidden laws, information and thug antics...

And yet we coddle so many others who thumb their noses at America herself...

Read it all.


MORE FROM TODAY'S Project archives...
[display-posts]


Honor Among Thieves

brigitte_gabriel
Brigitte Gabriel

AL-ZAWAHIRI, THE SECOND in command at Al-Qaida, released a new video message to Pakistani people yesterday, which shows the desperation of Al-Qaida to keep on going in its supposedly strongest region. Al-Qaida is fighting to survive and has lost its fundamental strength in the last few years. The U.S. government has killed or captured over 60% of Al-Qaida's leadership. Whether you agree or disagree with the previous administration's War on Terror, it has been successful on all fronts:

  • We have done major damage to Al-Qaida's operation and leadership destroying 60% of its command structure. Al-Qaida today is even hurting for funds. But there is honor among thieves. Al-Zawahiri appealed to the Pakistanis in his video to support the organization with much-needed funding to carry on operations.
  • We have brought democracy to Iraq where today there are almost 100 different political groups practicing democracy and participating in the government system. Iraq today is the envy of its surrounding neighbors such as Iran, Syria, Egypt and many others—thanks to the U.S. and its allies.
  • We have eliminated the dictator Saddam Hussein who posed a major threat to the region and our interest.
  • We have protected the homeland form a major terrorist attacks since 2001.
  • Our immediate military involvement in Pakistan working with the secular military and applying pressure on the government has helped choke Al-Qaida in its stronghold.

All the above successes were achieved through strong, authoritative confrontation with terror. Despite all the criticism for the way we fought the War on Terror, the results speak for themselves.

Brigitte Gabriel, the New York Times bestselling author of "They Must Be Stopped" and president of Act! for America provides in-depth analysis and commentary on Al-Zawahiri.

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

SHOT AT THE DNC in Denver this week. It looked like these 9/11 Conspiracy wolves were ready to tear Michelle Malkin from limb to limb. This whole episode reminded me of the 1960s civil rights confrontations, and as I sense it we will see more of this behavior writ large. You know, wolves will be wolves, and bullies will be bullies, no matter what the conflict...

I mean, what do people like this lead bully expect to accomplish? That Malkin would suddenly be addressed by a shaft of light, fall to her knees, tearfully repent of whatever opinions she may have held, and convert to this wolf's version of cocksure dogma? Makes for engaging TV, I suppose, is the fragile logic working here.

These sorts of bullies stalk their prey, unfortunately from both sides of the divide. As the song says, "This is not America."

An excerpt from my poem "Died In My Mouth" by an earlier me, circa 1980. I was then 25, a budding poet, and a fearless hunter standing among the breeze-swept reeds of Corpus Christi. My, how times have changed. I am no longer fearless.

And the saint thus
Spoke scantily to the prophet:
"He who demoralizes another
"Can claim no morality for himself."
To this the prophet said nothing, but
He knew in part the saint
For a shanty fool.

(And the unfed,
Left to perish among
The unwelcome, left to ravish
The beauty of beast, and the beast
Of beauty, established
Many fine logics.)

I fell blank at such a formula—
Asses built on caged numbers observed,
Deserved and dirty word reserved
For quaint molecules and family,
Where my occupation is a gift to anyone
Stroking along fishy fables,
Mentality tables, cradled
Images, daisies, nightsies,
Keepsies.

I am the yellow sheep
I can’t earn my keep
Proving the fallibility of this text
World without maps
World without worldliness
Matterhorn

My mind, an accurate page.
My head keeps to its own symbol,
There is no comfort.

I wonder what proof died in my mouth.

Of course, a well-fed fellow, whom I think makes his living on the micophone shocking fans and foes alike under the name and out of the mouth of Alex Jones, suddenly appears to protect the mousey but outspoken Ms. Malkin. The crowd begins to stir in a different direction, and everyone with a pair in that crowd seemed to sense, jerks on either side could quickly become the mob...

Congress On Foreign Internet Oppression

china-internet-police
Chinese Internet Police

CONGRESS in its inimitable fashion has considered how to resolve the dilemma of U.S. Internet companies that try to serve their customers but end up serving repressive foreign governments. Witnesses at a congressional hearing talked about dissidents in China, Syria and Russia who were imprisoned after posting their political thoughts on the Internet.

Routers, e-mail and other Internet services of U.S. companies helped the foreign governments track down the dissidents in some cases, the witnesses told members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on human rights and the law.

"Cisco´s routers are supercomputers," said Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, a group that advocates against political censorship of the Internet. "They can be used as a toys, but they can also be made into an A-bomb."

He was referring to the Chinese government's Golden Shield Project, sometimes referred to as the Great Firewall of China. It is a censorship and surveillance program run by China's Ministry of Public Security that began operating in November 2003.

The Global Internet Freedom Consortium says Cisco Systems Inc.'s contract with the Chinese government to help build the Golden Shield program enabled Chinese police to find and arrest dissidents by tracking their Internet postings back to the source.

"They can make it into an A-bomb to make it do whatever the Golden Shield needs," Mr. Zhou said about Cisco's computer systems.

Well, our wonderfully sluggish US Congress finally awakens from their slumber on this issue that has caught the attention of concerned industry pundits for at least a decade. Damned American greed once again strikes at the hearts of the innocents, just to gain a foothold in market share (and the misplaced hope that these governments will either loosen up or the people will somehow rise up against their oppressors by luck of Western technologies. Read the entire Washington Times article.