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October 07, 2007


At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon and his re-assembled 'Grand Army' faced-off for the first and only time against the Duke of Wellington, a Leahy type of guy - sharp, determined and patient.

It was Napoleon's Plan of Campaign to attack the 'Allies' - the British and the Prussians, who were Former Enemies - separately before they could combine against him and gain substantial numerical advantage.

In the days immediately preceding Waterloo, Napoleon had decisively defeated the Prussians, under Blucher, at Ligny, who then fell back in disarray. Now, Blucher - believe it or not - was an Arlen type of guy - headstrong and proud, but under it all, he had Honor. It's actually due to the fact that Blucher acted on his honor, that Waterloo turned out the way it did...

On the morning of Waterloo, the Armies of Napoleon and Wellington were arrayed across from each other, with just a few key pieces of terrain between them, including a farmhouse that changed hands all day long. The Battle opens with Napoleon making a furious Artillery Barrage on the British lines.

Wellington, however, due to many years of campaigning, and winning, against Napoleon's seconds in Spain, had become a Defensive specialist in the face of the Emperor's Always Aggressive Style. At Waterloo, Wellington anticipated the bombardment and had his men positioned on the 'back slope' of every rise so that the cannonballs would either pass safely 'over head' or get stopped by the (soggy) ground.

Having weathered the Bombardment, Wellington then moved his men to the forward slopes, and tactically re-positioned a force on his wing to be able to fire into an anticipated Napoleon follow-up Infantry assault 'up the middle' - which is exactly what Napoleon did, eventually committing the cream of his reserve, the Imperial Guard.

Even having bested Napoleon tactically, so far, the Battle was still 'a very close run thing' as Wellington would later describe it - it could have gone either way several times during the day.

Meanwhile, the Prussian General, Blucher, who had taken a head wound at Ligny and was falling back to regroup away from Waterloo, hears Napoleon's Bombardment and realizes that time is of the essence - Wellington was taking a pounding and needed help. Blucher then rides ahead of his Army and rallies his battered Troops to turn around and 'march to the sound of the guns.'

Blucher reverse-collects his units, now going towards Waterloo, where he arrives at the battlefield just as Napoleon commits his last reserve.

After playing defense all day, Wellington sees Blucher and his Troops cresting a ridge on the far side of Napoleon and realizes that Now is the Time, and rides to the top of a hill - where he famously takes off his 'paperboat' hat and waves it forward - the signal for the General Attack.

The Allies chased Napoleon all the way to exile on St. Helena, where he died in 1821, after re-writing the history of his Campaigns to 'enhance' the Legend of his already truly great Military Genius.

And it's true, on that day - in a very close run thing - it took Former Enemies working together in good faith and honorable effort to bring down the Tyrant, and all of Europe was the better for it.

Since the title was phrased as a question; my answer is no. No progress. Whatever thread you first discusses they were pulling the bill, I commented that the Dem Leadersheep will come up with a couple of token meaningless concessions and prepare a parliamentary and whip count strategy to make sure the progressives don't cause any more problems. This "New Bill" is exhibit freaking A of the "every now and then bmaz stumbles on an acorn" truth.

From the WaPo article: "Some conservatives want no judicial oversight, and some liberals oppose any notion of a blanket order," said James X. Dempsey, Center for Democracy and Technology policy director. "So the challenge of the Democratic leadership is to strike a balance, one that gives the National Security Agency the flexibility to select its targets overseas but that keeps the court involved to protect the private communications of innocent Americans." What total crock of dung. "The challenge of the Democratic leadership" is to enact a law THAT COMPLIES WITH THE CONSTITUTION; not to "strike a balance" unconstitutional and totally off the the charts unconstitutional. This is absolute bullshit. The 4th Amendment requires particularized and individualized basis for government invasion. Period. Blanket and umbrella BS does NOT comply. And having the DOJ IG, a member of the administration, who is NOT a neutral and detached magistrate, compile a self serving report of what the administration has done, and submit it to FISC quarterly AFTER THE FACT, doesn't do diidly squat for me and/or the Constitution either.

The house has not done anything positive on immunity either. They have sunk back to the same exact shell game that got us the wonderful Pillage er Protect America Act. They are playing a shell game and hiding the immunity pea under the Senate shell momentarily. This is but a slightly reformulated repeat of the PAA process; all of a sudden, the Senate will have something that screws us and the House will jigger the procedural rules and pass the equivalent, screwing us for good.

Lastly, and man am I on a pissed off roll right now; Perkins Cole. For any and all who have not had the extreme pleasure of dealing with Perkins Cole; well, you simply could not possibly deal with a group of bigger, more belligerent, more arrogant, more ethically dubious, underhanded jerks. NOTHING they say or do should be believed or trusted. They have the have the law firm equivalent of the credibility and good will of Dick Cheney. Nuff said.

while those who did not are either agnostic or do not want their competitors to get a free pass.

Hmm. Checking the political donation habits of the telsatcos might reveal some rather interesting relationships.

The scary thing about this bill, if the description is valid, and if it goes to the floor and is approved, is the back-door it gives the telecos on lawsuits. Further along in the WaPo article it's stated one of the potential provisions of the bill is this: if a teleco is sued for violation of privacy, and loses, the government pays the damages, not the teleco. This means there is no accountability for the telecos. They do the Administration's bidding, and the taxpayers (i.e. Thou and I) foot the legal costs.

I'm with bmaz on this one. I don't see this as progress at all. This is the Congress of the United States endorsing its own irrelevancy. At most, they are fighting over the terms of their capitulation, to see which faction is most willing to sacrifice the Constitution at the altar of national security.

Is there something in the water in DC? Really, I've got to know.

It just seems so unbelievable that purported intelligent folks can leave their home districts and states and upon arrival in DC, suddenly (and perhaps permanently) develop a case of the "stupids".

I'm with bmaz and William!

Attention feckin' Congresscritters!

1. You don't give immunity for criminal conduct. Period!
2. You don't get to makeover our Constitution. Period!

P.S. - And stop drinking the feckin' water!

This is the key part of any legislation, and it should absolutely kill off this BS

And it would require a court order when the government is seeking communications of a person inside the United States, but only if that person is the target.


There MUST be a warrant, even if the person in the US is not the target, as there's no doubt this Administration will use that loophole to warrantlessly spy on purely domestic communications and political opponents/critics

And why aren't the Dems screaming about how DNI McConnell has outright lied, repeatedly, and further insist that any revision of the FISA laws after they sunset will ONLY occur if McConnell steps down

To extend this power given to McConnell of all people is beyond insulting, it's galling

Reyes is my Representative, and he's completely worthless, but I was surprised to see Conyers apparently getting ready to cave in to the W crowd on this one

what bmaz said - except that I do think Perkins is where Swift went to work (and who helped him on Hamdan) and I do know some nice-ish folks with parts of that firm. It's pretty darn big so there are bound to be a few ok people there *g*

Mary, it is an absolutely huge firm; so you are right, there are probably a few decent folks there. I had a pretty heated little war with a couple of the senior muckety mucks in Seattle and I can honestly report there was one line level paralegal that seemed human..... I respect Chalrie Swift a lot; if he is there, he needs to get out before the dark ethos consumes him.

Not good enough. Not good enough. Surveillance on communications in which a US person is a participant should be subject to a warrant requirement, regardless of whether the US person is "the" target. The whole FISA scheme was intended to apply to communications involving a US person -- a completely foreign to foreign communication requires no warrant from either a regular court or the FISC -- so saying that the Administration can conduct warrantless surveillance on a US person so long as s/he is not "the" target leaves the Administration a lot of room to, how shall we say, game the system. It permits the use of warrantless surveillance for essentially domestic law enforcement purposes, rather than "foreign intelligence," since all the Administration need do is assert that the primary target of the surveillance is on the foreign end of the communication -- even if that is a bald-faced lie.

Give this Administration an inch, and they'll take a mile. Or ten. The permanent amendment should do no more than fix the "foreign to foreign through US switch" problem. Otherwise, the original FISA scheme is perfectly adequate (at least until the Oregon decision reaches the higher courts).

I guess that lets the cat out of the bag: when the telcoms rewired the backbone in the early 90's, they neglected to tell their foreign customers that their calls would be routed through and monitored by the U.S. A good percentage of their customers probably suspected this, and some probably get the US to do their domestic spying for them when it is illegal for the foreign country to do it themselves. Well, the telcoms brought it upon themselves and now they can not sell their systems as 'secure'.

As a witness in a case that got rolled into COINTELPRO, I can say that we need warrents for each wiretap in the U.S, not just the targets. Further, we must be very careful about the data mining. IMO there is going to be datamining because we have no way of live operators or tape recorders listening in on millions of calls daily. So there will be datamining. What I learned from COINTELPRO was that everytime there is a third party selling info to the gov., the info was gussied up or falsified to look like more of a danger/threat/whatever the gov. was looking for that day, because third parties were paid by the incidence of 'good info'. i.e., don't let Poindexter's company do the job because he'll empty the till and scream 'terrorist' so often that no one will believe it when he actually hits upon the truth. And the data will stick around for years and years, for people to go back and data mine, or pervert or whatever they want to do with it - blackmail and manipulation of the financial markets seem likely. I say there have to be very very exacting standards, with the penalties clearly defined.

Oh. Wait, we already had that and the telcoms went ahead and did it anyway, and it seems like someone wants the taxpayers to pay for it. O.K. time to negotiate - maybe we get the telcoms to pay pennies on the dollar in fines, in return for admitting what they did, acknowledging that they were wrong, and that the next time it will be double the previous penalties with the legal costs taken from the board's personal pockets. Where should the fines (small though they may be) end up? IMO the fines should go proportionately by size to the telcoms that did not participate in the rape of the constitution. Rewards for good behavoir.

Since we know Qwest is the opposition company, why don't we call them to see how we as citizens support them in their stance?

Bmaz, I agree with you. What do we do between now and October 17th to address the concerns? It needs to be organized and with high citizen participation. I wonder if ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and MoveOn would partner on this? Two of them may not be able to because of the court cases they represent on this matter.

"Umbrella" language and "exceptions" language equals "business as usual", every time.

FCC declines to investigate NSA-telco link

"Extensive news reports have claimed that AT&T, BellSouth (now part of AT&T), and Verizon offered the NSA access to certain information from their networks, and some reports have indicated that AT&T even allowed the government to install optical splitters at key locations."

Some companies helped the NSA, but which? from february '06:

Company Response
Adelphia Communications Declined comment
AOL Time Warner No [1]
AT&T Declined comment
BellSouth Communications No
Cable & Wireless* No response
Cablevision Systems No
CenturyTel No
Charter Communications No [1]
Cingular Wireless No [2]
Citizens Communications No response
Cogent Communications* No [1]
Comcast No
Cox Communications No
EarthLink No
Global Crossing* Inconclusive
Google Declined comment
Level 3* No response
Microsoft No [3]
NTT Communications* Inconclusive [4]
Qwest Communications No [2]
SAVVIS Communications* No response
Sprint Nextel No [2]
T-Mobile USA No [2]
United Online No response
Verizon Communications Inconclusive [5]
XO Communications* No [1]
Yahoo Declined comment

* = Not a company contacted by Rep. John Conyers.
[1] The answer did not explicitly address NSA but said that compliance happens only if required by law.
[2] Provided by a source with knowledge of what this company is telling Conyers. In the case of Sprint Nextel, the source was familiar with Nextel's operations.
[3] As part of an answer to a closely related question for a different survey.
[4] The response was "NTT Communications respects the privacy rights of our customers and complies fully with law enforcement requests as permitted and required by law."
[5] The response was "Verizon complies with applicable laws and does not comment on law enforcement or national security matters."

truth or not, that's what they said.
to c/net anyway.

I agree that Surveillance on communications in which a US person is a participant should be subject to a warrant requirement, regardless of whether the US person is the target. Did you know there is more surveillance than what you read about? I am a victim of stalking, and many of you may be also, but you mistakenly think only you have worse luck than average. Organized MULTIPLE stalkers are right-wing groups who target whistleblowers, judges, liberals, etc for low-level warfare in the form of mimicking life's little calamities. This is proven by a private investigator who infiltrated these groups for 12 years, David Lawson. Even scarier is that the right wing is targetting progressive singles for dating!! No kidding. This is a mafia tactic too. If you are a liberal like me, just stay single! The conservatives have sent me dozens of men (I had no dates for 15 years until I became a target of stalkers).

An Illegitimate Quest for Intelligence Part 1

Questioning the impact of recent legislative decisions regarding our government's

capabilities to spy on Americans is relevant and urgent. Questions that should

be answered by all law makers are: Did your read the Patriot Act? Are you

aware of current technological applications for eavesdropping, for satellite spy

imaging, and for harvesting large amounts of information from wireless systems?
Who pays for intelligence gathering activities, and who profits from these


Understanding the operational realities of surveillance is relevant to the debate

that has resurfaced about unchecked practices that allow our government to spy

on Americans. The above questions add meat to the contention that "more is not

always better" when it comes to gathering intelligence in the name of national


Citing recent news articles adds to the collage of issues that must be seen as

part of a whole when discussing national security needs. Needs are generally

seen as different than desires within the context of human relationships. We can

assure our government that in their relationship to the public, few Americans

would questions their need for tools to fulfill their obligation to protect our borders,

to protect the integrity of our institutions and to protect public safety.

Of course, as an instrument of power, our government may have desires that are

in conflict with other obligations. For example, the obligation to create conditions

that provide opportunities for checks and balances within hierarchies to protect

the human structure of society. After all, it is the human structure of society

that create intangible value, and it is intangible value that makes the soul of a


Identifying the social glue that bonds human structures, both public and private,

is not a difficult thing to do. It is directly related to the level of trust people have

in government institutions and private interests. As in human relationships, the

issue of trust can be measured by how well expressed statements or feeling

correspond with action that demonstrates what is spoken.

We should relentlessly remind our government of the cause and effect created

from mistrust by the public of their elected officials. We should insist that the

debate about national security needs hold deeper discourse. This is especially

true when domestic policies start to reflect a climate that is based on a lurking

enemy that cannot be clearly defined expect by the conditions that create them

The debate about our government's ability to spy on Americans goes to the heart

of what defines the pioneering spirit, the sense of individualism balanced with

seeing ourselves as a larger cohesive whole bound by certain principles.

Citing recent news articles adds to the collage of issues that must be seen as

part of a whole when discussing national security needs. According to a Wall

Street Journal article on August 22, 2007, the Pentagon will be shutting

down their anti-terror database because it failed to provide consistent analytic

information regarding potential threats to military personnel and facilities.

Known as Talon, the program was criticized in 2005 for improper storing of

information on activists and other peaceful demonstrations. The Pentagon also

acknowledged that some officials may have misused the program.

Scheduled to close on September 17, 2007, the WSJ reports that the information
gathered by Talon will be sent to an FBI database. Say what?! Is type of sharing

between intelligence agencies the result of streamlining the process for

information sharing between agencies promoted by the Patriot Act?

Such coziness between the Pentagon and the FBI raises more questions about

the difference between needs and desires of our government's intent. The blurring

of the lines between intelligence accessed for criminal investigations and

intelligence gathered by special operations by the military for terror threats is

a concern. We are not comforted by the military having jursidiction to gather

information about criminal activities.

Taking this example further warrants an inquiry into what type of intelligence

was gathered by Talon. If I were to think like someone who believed that seeds

of terror could be found within the sub-culture of anti-military and peace activism,

I probably would want photographs of demonstrations, random conversations

between these individuals on the phone and in usual meeting places. I might

also want information on their daily internet habits with random email


Consider the logistics of gathering such information. If it is true that the CIA

uses private contractors about 50% of the time to gather intelligence, imagine

who might be responsible for this eavesdropping, harvesting of wireless

conversations and cyber-spying. Private contractors? Intelligence officers from

county police departments? Not knowing much about who does the

intelligence gathering for Talon, I could guess that they may use the same

groups as the CIA in some instances.

In late 2005, NY Police Commissioner Paul Brown appeared on Democracy Now

to comment on the use of local intelligence unit officers to monitor peace

activists in New York who rode with Critical Mass. In a letter to the

Commissioner, I asked him if he believed that local intelligence officers should

be privileged to function without checks and balances as though they were

federal agents. If the Patriot Act can be broadly interpreted to allow local

intelligence officers certain powers to spy on Americans, the potential for abuse

should sound an alarm.

A plausible result of this policy could be that a local intelligence unit officer with a

salary of about $50-800,000/year were given powers to contract with federal

surveillance groups to identify potential threats within an organized peace

network demonstrating against military policies. The notion that international

terror groups would become embedded within a peace network may be far

fetched, but think about the cash flow generated for a few groups.

How much does surveillance cost? Eavesdropping on phone calls and in a

single meeting place may cost $150-125 thousand/month according to someone

who works in a spy technology shop. Multiply that by a dozen activists who have

productive lives. You get the picture about the income that results by a small

clandestine operation to spy on a core groups of activists. A cozy relationship

between federal agencies and the local police intelligence unit has some unseen

risks for those being watched.

Who pays? Who buys the information? And who would know who pays and

buys? When conditions are created to profit from abuses, abuses are inevitable.

Aside from strong leadership from elected officials and well-written policies, only

the decency and motive within the human structure of surveillance determine how

this information can be used.

Bribery as a means of control is predictable within security networks, and yes,

as with elected officials and lobbyists, it is up to the officials to say "no" to

corrupt practices. Spying is big business. Personally, I would like to see

legislation that makes a distinction between above the table spying and below

the table spying that is used for intelligence and security needs.

Further questions about the logistics about surveillance raises the alarm for

abuses. Who harvests the information, how is this information disseminated, who

stores the information, how is this information stored and who exposes abuses?

Recent articles in the NY Times highlight the ongoing effects of new

technological capabilities for spying in our society. The front page article on

September 11, 2007 describes the "surveillance boom" in China, and the interest

Wall Street has shown in surveillance systems for 24-hour video monitoring for

the sake of security. Their September 15th front page describes how surveillance

software can be used by private investigators to track the electronic trail of

spouses who are soon to be divorced.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnel made his statements to the

House Judiciary Committee about the NSA curtailing its use of warrantless

wiretapping since February 2007. Can he verify that this is limited to phone

and email conversations between an American and a foreigner overseas that

is a target of surveillance? Can he vouch for this given the number of daily

transactions that take place? And does the use of a "secret intelligence

court" provide enough oversight?

We should be concerned.

Yukie Yamada resides on Maui. She has experienced abuses from current
spy policies within a corrupt system with few checks and balances. You can
email her at [email protected].

Don't think I seen you this angry, no, pissed before.
I think trusting almost any Republican connected closely to the WH is asking to be _ _ _ _ _ _ royally.

When we can tell the FCC to fuck off and run our own public networks, this issue will be moot.

KLynn: I'm not sure Qwest is "the resistance" as much as they are "the incompetant." The accounts I've heard suggest not that Qwest was not as much unwilling as unable/i> to comply with the government's request.

close that italics tag!

the HJC is having the markup hearing tomorrow morning:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
10:15 am - House Judiciary
Markup of: H.R. 3773 the "Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007"

the hearing is scheduled to be covered live by c-span2 (and live webcast at the committee's website).

more links and details at my weekly congressional hearings list (if you're interested).

... thanks to siun, who sent me the email earlier today (the tomorrow's hearing was only scheduled today), i've been trying to get the word out...

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