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Editor, The Konformist
NSA just one of many federal agencies spying on Americans
By DOUG THOMPSON
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Dec 27, 2005
Spying on Americans by the super-secret National Security Agency is
not only more widespread than President George W. Bush admits but is
part of a concentrated, government-wide effort to gather and catalog
information on U.S. citizens, sources close to the administration
Besides the NSA, the Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
Department of Homeland Security and dozens of private contractors
are spying on millions of Americans 24 hours a day, seven days a
week, 365 days a year.
"It's a total effort to build dossiers on as many Americans as
possible," says a former NSA agent who quit in disgust over use of
the agency to spy on Americans. "We're no longer in the business of
tracking our enemies. We're spying on everyday Americans."
"It's really obvious to me that it's a look-at-everything type
program," says cryptology expert Bruce Schneier.
Schneier says he suspects that the NSA is turning its massive spy
satellites inward on the United States and intentionally gathering
vast streams of raw data from many more people than disclosed to
date potentially including all e-mails and phone calls within the
But the NSA spying is just the tip of the iceberg.
Although supposedly killed by Congress more than 18 months ago, the
Defense Advance Project Research Agency's Terrorist Information
Awareness (TIA) system, formerly called the "Total Information
Awareness" program, is alive and well and collecting data in real
time on Americans at a computer center located at 3801 Fairfax Drive
in Arlington, Virginia.
The system, set up by retired admiral John Poindexter, once
convicted of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal, compiles
financial, travel and other data on the day-to-day activities of
Americans and then runs that data through a computer model to look
for patterns that the agency deems "terrorist-related behavior."
Poindexter admits the program was quietly moved into the
Pentagon's "black bag" program where it does escapes Congressional
"TIA builds a profile of every American who travels, has a bank
account, uses credit cards and has a credit record," says security
expert Allen Banks. "The profile establishes norms based on the
person's spending and travel habits. Then the system looks for
patterns that break from the norms, such of purchases of materials
that are considered likely for terrorist activity, travel to
specific areas or a change in spending habits."
Patterns that fit pre-defined criteria result in an investigative
alert and the individual becomes a "person of interest" who is
referred to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland
Security, Banks says.
Intelligence pros call the process "data mining" and that is
something the NSA excels at as well says former NSA signals
intelligence analyst Russell Tice.
"The technology exists," says Tice, who left the NSA earlier this
"Say Aunt Molly in Oklahoma calls her niece at an Army base in
Germany and says, 'Isn't it horrible about those terrorists and
September 11th,'" Tice told the Atlanta Constitution recently. "That
conversation would not only be captured by NSA satellites listening
in on Germany which is legal but flagged and listened to by NSA
analysts and possibly transcribed for further investigation. All you
would have to do is move the vacuum cleaner a little to the left and
begin sucking up the other end of that conversation. You move it a
little more and you could be picking up everything people are saying
from California to New York."
The Pentagon has built a massive database of Americans it considers
threats, including members of antiwar groups, peace activists and
writers opposed to the war in Iraq. Pentagon officials now claim
they are "reviewing the files" to see if the information is
necessary to the "war on terrorism."
"Given the military's legacy of privacy abuses, such vague
assurances are cold comfort," says Gene Healy, senior editor of the
CATO Institute in Washington.
"During World War I, concerns about German saboteurs led to
unrestrained domestic spying by U.S. Army intelligence operatives,"
says Healy. "Army spies were given free reign to gather information
on potential subversives, and were often empowered to make arrests
as special police officers. Occasionally, they carried false
identification as employees of public utilities to allow them, as
the chief intelligence officer for the Western Department put
it, `to enter offices or residences of suspects gracefully, and
thereby obtain data.'"
"There's a long and troubling history of military surveillance in
this country," Healy adds. "That history suggests that we should
loathe allowing the Pentagon access to our personal information."
In her book Army Surveillance in America, historian Joan M. Jensen
noted, "What began as a system to protect the government from enemy
agents became a vast surveillance system to watch civilians who
violated no law but who objected to wartime policies or to the war
"It's a fucking nightmare," says a Congressional aide who recently
obtained information on the program for his boss but asked not to be
identified because he fears retaliation from the Bush
administration. "We're collecting more information on Americans than
on real enemies of our country."
Sen. John Rockefeller says he raised concerns more than two years
ago about increased spying on Americans but as a member of the
Senate Intelligence Committee could not share that concern with
"For the last few days, I have witnessed the President, the Vice-
President, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney-General
repeatedly misrepresent the facts," Rockefeller said last week. When
he was first briefed about the activity in 2003, we sent a
handwritten note to Vice President Dick Cheney outlining his
"I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed envelope in the
secure spaces of the Senate intelligence committee to ensure that I
have a record of this communication," Rockefeller told Cheney.
However, Rockefeller says now, "my concerns were never addressed,
and I was prohibited from sharing my views with my colleagues."
Missouri Congressman William Clay worries that the Bush
Adminstration is skirting the law by letting private contractors
handle the data mining.
"The agencies involved in data mining are trying to skirt the
Privacy Act by claiming that they hold no data," said Clay. Instead,
they use private companies to maintain and sift through the data, he
"Technically, that gets them out from under the Privacy Act," he
said. "Ethically, it does not."
Elections & Voting
Fake voting rights activists and groups linked to White House
By Bob Fitrakis
Online Journal Guest Writer
Dec 31, 2005
Top level Republican operatives with ties to the White House, Senate
Majority Leader William Frist and the Republican National Committee
(RNC) not only engaged in the suppression of poor and minority
voters in the 2004 Ohio presidential election, but they spun the
election irregularities into a story linking blacks to cocaine and
voter fraud. Bush allies in Ohio are now using this myth of voter
fraud to pass a repressive "election reform" bill.
In the month prior to and immediately after the 2004 presidential
election, the Republican Party engaged in an orchestrated campaign
to divert the mainstream media focus away from election fraud and
irregularities in Ohio and manufactured the myth of "voter fraud."
According to a former Columbus Dispatch reporter, Ohio Senator Mike
DeWine sent his spokesperson, Mike Dawson, to meet with the
editorial board of the Dispatch and other Ohio newspapers. The
primary talking point for the GOP was that there was no evidence of
irregularities in Ohio.
The Republican state legislature used the "voter fraud" spin to
introduce the draconian Ohio House Bill 3. The "election reform"
bill has passed both Republican-dominated houses and is awaiting a
conference committee at the start of the new year.
HB 3's most publicized provision will require voters to show their
ID before casting a ballot. But it also opens voter registration
activists to criminal prosecution, exempts electronic voting
machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-
requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a
presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in
Ohio. HB 3 will also reduce voter rolls by ordering county boards of
elections to send cards to registered voters every two years. If a
card comes back as undelivered, the voter must rely on a provisional
As the League of Women Voters put it in a letter to Republican
legislative leaders, "Its [HB 3's] purported purpose of preventing
voting fraud is based on the fallacy that there was widespread fraud
perpetrated by voters in Ohio. In fact, the fraud was committed
against Ohio voters by inadequate preparation that suppressed the
votes of those whose registrations were not recorded correctly,
those who could not wait for hours to vote, or those whose votes
were not counted because of misdirection or mishandling."
The Senate sponsor of HB 3, Kevin Coughlin, could only cite the
names of a few cartoon characters and celebrities on voting
registration forms, which were easily weeded out by county election
boards, as the reason for his repressive legislation.
Fake Voting Rights Groups Tied to the White House
In March 2005, Congressman Bob Ney held a U.S. House Administrative
hearing at the Ohio Statehouse where a general counsel for the brand
new voting rights group, the American Center for Voting Rights
(ACVR), told the congressional committee that the voting problems in
Ohio were the result of the NAACP paying people with crack in order
to entice them to register to vote. ACVR's general counsel, Mark
F. "Thor" Hearne, turned out to be the former national general
counsel for Bush-Cheney '04, Inc., with no history of working in a
voting rights organization. Hearne relied on a lawsuit filed against
the NAACP in Wood County, Ohio, "alleging fraudulent voter
registration under the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act."
Hearne wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice in March
2005 claiming there was "substantial evidence to suggest potential
criminal wrongdoing by organizations such as Americans Coming
Together ("ACT"), ACORN and the NAACP -- Project Vote."
"We understand that local Ohio law enforcement authorities are
pursuing criminal prosecution against some of the individuals
involved in this activity, which activities include paying crack
cocaine for fraudulent voter registration forms," Hearne wrote.
Cliff Arnebeck, the attorney representing the NAACP, denounces this
as a deliberate racist disinformation campaign to divert attention
from Ohio's election theft. "Crack cocaine, the NAACP -- Hearne and
the Republicans are using racist code words," Arnebeck said. The
Wood County case was withdrawn in June 2005, but not before it was
revealed that the plaintiff, Mark Rubick, had been "indemnified" and
held "harmless" by an obscure group, the Free Enterprise Coalition,
with ties to the Republican Party. Signing as the "Authorized
representative" for the coalition was one Alex Vogel.
Who Is Alex Vogel?
This is the same Alex Vogel who is now identified as Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist's attorney. Vogel was busy in December explaining
why Frist's so-called AIDS charity, World of Hope, Inc., paid nearly
a half million dollars in consulting fees to his "political inner
circle," according to the Washington Times.
While Vogel fights to keep secret the amount of money that Frist's
96 World of Hope donors gave to the "charity," his top-level
political connections are emerging in the media. Vogel co-founded a
lobbying firm with Bruce Mehlman, the brother of Republican National
Committee Chair Ken Mehlman. Vogel and Mehlman's lobbying firm has
close ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Arnebeck recently won a ruling against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
which he claims gave $14 million secretly to Ohio Republican
candidates in the 2002 and 2004 election cycle, allowing the GOP to
dominate Ohio's Supreme Court.
Vogel also served as a member of the National Republican Senatorial
Committee and as parliamentarian at the 2004 Republican Party
Other Players Tied to Bush-Cheney
While Vogel helped create the voter fraud myth and Hearne acted as
the group's general counsel, a man named Jim Dyke acted as
spokesperson for the dubious ACVR. Dyke served for many years as
Republican National Committee Communications Director. In October,
Dyke emerged as a White House spokesperson on National Public Radio
pushing the ill-fated nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme
Dyke and Hearne incorporated their "nonpartisan" tax-exempt voting
rights organization in Dallas, Texas, only three business days prior
to the Ney hearings in Ohio's capital. Despite its lack of history,
the ACVR was the only "voting rights group" called to testify on
election irregularities in Ohio. With a few exceptions, like Raw
Story and Bradblog, news organizations have ignored these obvious
Other interesting individuals involved in so-called "election
reform" activities in Ohio are William E. Franke of Gannon
Technologies Group and Steve Hertzberg of the Election Science
Franke, a close friend of former Attorney General John Ashcroft,
installed a computer operating system for Ohio Secretary of State J.
Kenneth Blackwell. The Gannon Technologies website bragged that the
Ohio Secretary of State joins the FBI and a host of other government
agencies as clients of "an innovative system that compiles records
in different formats via an imaging program with 100 percent
accuracy." One worker who helped install the technology warned the
Free Press that there were possible back doors into the system and
it may have "points of vulnerability."
Franke came to national attention during the 2004 election as the
man heading the operations of the Swift Boat Veterans and Vietnam
POWs for Truth. Their nasty attack ads against John Kerry became
Hertzberg, the project director of Election Science Institute (ESI),
received a contract in 2005 from the Franklin County commissioners
to monitor and certify new voting machines. Hertzberg's website is
dedicated to disputing any scientific claims of election fraud in
Ohio. Oddly, Hertzberg's biography posted at the ESI website shows
he has no advanced degrees in political science, only a bachelor of
science in aerospace engineering from Purdue University. As
Hertzberg explains it, he "spent the first several years of his
career as a civilian within the U.S. Department of Defense"
also " . . . serving as a Project Manager and Test Director for
highly visible military development programs. . . ."
Hertzberg launched an organization called Vote Watch in 2002 before
renaming it Election Science Institute in 2005. Recent ESI
publications seek to discredit real social scientists with Ph.D.s
who claim there was election fraud.
The ability of the Bush-Cheney White House to both blatantly repress
poor and minority voters in the 2004 election and divert attention
from these activities to spin this political operation into a bogus
election reform bill bodes well for their ability to win the 2006
mid-term elections, despite a majority of the voters disapproving of
the president's performance.
Bob Fitrakis is the co-editor of "Did George W. Bush Steal America's
2004 Election?" with Harvey Wasserman (www.freepress.org) and co-
counsel with Cliff Arnebeck in the Alliance for Democracy suit
against the Hocking County Board of Elections.
Most outrageous statements of 2005
Fri, Dec 23, 2005
Here are the most outrageous statements Media Matters for America
has documented this year. From attacks on women, Muslims, and
African-Americans to a call for the assassination of a foreign
leader to an open invitation for Al Qaeda to "blow up" San Francisco
to a claim that gay marriage would lead to unions between "a man and
his donkey," these statements acutely represent the extreme
conservative speech we found in the news media in 2005. (We tried to
limit the comments to a Top 10 list, but it was simply impossible.)
Former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill
Bennett: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and
your crime rate would go down." [Salem Radio Network's Bill
Bennett's Morning in America, 9/28/05]
Pat Robertson: "If [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez] thinks we're
trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead
and do it." [Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club, 8/22/05]
Bill O'Reilly to San Francisco: "[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here and
blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. ... You want
to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." [Westwood One's The Radio
Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 12/8/05]
Bill O'Reilly, agreeing with caller that illegal immigrants
are "biological weapon[s]": "I think you could probably make an
absolutely airtight case that more than 3,000 Americans have been
either killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are
here." [Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 4/15/05]
Rush Limbaugh: "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive
women easier access to the mainstream of society." [The Rush
Limbaugh Show, 8/12/05]
Rush Limbaugh on the kidnapping of peace activists in Iraq: "I'm
telling you, folks, there's a part of me that likes this." [The Rush
Limbaugh Show, 11/29/05]
Ann Coulter: Bill Clinton "was a very good rapist"; "I'm getting a
little fed up with hearing about, oh, civilian casualties"; "I think
we ought to nuke North Korea right now just to give the rest of the
world a warning." [New York Observer, 1/10/05]
Ann Coulter: "Isn't it great to see Muslims celebrating something
other than the slaughter of Americans?" [Syndicated column, 2/3/05]
Radio host Glenn Beck: "[Y]ou know it took me about a year to start
hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year." [Premiere
Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 9/9/05]
Tucker Carlson: "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's Canada."
[MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson, 12/15/05]
American Family Association president Tim Wildmon: Liberals "don't
have the kind of family responsibilities most people have, and
certainly not church responsibilities." [American Family Radio's
Today's Issues, 5/11/05]
David Horowitz on Cindy Sheehan: "It's very hard to have respect for
a woman who exploits the death of her own son and doesn't respect
her own son's life. ... She portrays him as an idiot." [MSNBC's
Connected: Coast to Coast, 8/16/05]
Radio host Neal Boortz on the execution of Stanley "Tookie"
Williams: "[T]here will be riots in South Central Los Angeles and
elsewhere. ... The rioting, of course, will lead to wide scale
looting. There are a lot of aspiring rappers and NBA superstars who
could really use a nice flat-screen television right now."
Pat Buchanan: "Our guys" in Iraq "have got every right to have good
news put into the media and get to the people of Iraq, even if it's
got to be planted or bought." [MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews,
National Review editor Rich Lowry: Given EPA-mandated "small-flush"
toilets, "[h]ow is it possible to flush a Quran down the toilet?"
[Young America's Foundation speech, 8/5/05]
Neal Boortz, suggesting that a victim of Hurricane Katrina housed in
an Atlanta hotel consider prostitution: "I dare say she could walk
out of that hotel and walk 100 yards in either direction on Fulton
Industrial Boulevard here in Atlanta and have a job. What's that?
Well, no, no, no. ... Well, you know what? [laughing] Now that you
mention it ... [i]f that's the only way she can take care of
herself, it sure beats the hell out of sucking off the taxpayers."
[Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show, 10/24/05]
Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson: Same-sex
marriage would lead to "marriage between daddies and little
girls ... between a man and his donkey." [Focus on the Family radio
Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid: "Have you noticed that many
news organizations, in honor of former ABC News anchorman Peter
Jennings, have embarked on a quit smoking campaign? So why don't our
media launch a campaign advising people to quit engaging in the
dangerous and addictive homosexual lifestyle? ... It appears that
the homosexual lifestyle is as addictive as smoking." [Accuracy in
Media column, 12/14/05]
Couric pitted constitutional scholars versus "Americans" who "don't
want another September 11"
Mon, Dec 19, 2005
Summary: NBC Today host Katie Couric, in an interview with Tim
Russert, characterized the debate about the Bush administration's
domestic spying as a controversy between "legal analysts and
constitutional scholars" on the one hand and "Americans" who "don't
want another September 11" on the other.
On the December 19 broadcast of NBC's Today, host Katie Couric asked
NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert whether the debate over
the Bush administration's secret use of domestic surveillance
without a warrant amounted to "legal analysts and constitutional
scholars versus Americans, who say civil liberties are important,
but we don't want another September 11." Russert responded, "Exactly
Couric's assertion, with which Russert agreed, is problematic for
numerous reasons. First, Couric's question suggested that the very
act of questioning President Bush's legal authority to undertake
domestic surveillance is inconsistent with wanting to
prevent "another September 11." Second, Couric's statement suggested
that the view of "constitutional scholars" that Bush should obey the
law is at odds with the views of most Americans. Third, the
statement suggested that Americans support the Bush administration's
apparent position that it has unlimited authority to do whatever it
deems necessary -- regardless of the law -- to prevent another
terrorist attack. Finally, the statement sets up exactly the false
debate that the administration is advocating in its defense of its
practice of engaging in domestic surveillance. For example, Vice
President Dick Cheney defended the practice as necessary to protect
national security. He said, "It's the kind of capability -- if we'd
had before 9-11 -- might have led us to be able to prevent 9-11."
And Bush himself, in a December 17 radio address, argued that the
secret eavesdropping program was necessary to "detect and prevent
possible terrorist attacks in the United States."
From the December 19 broadcast of NBC's Today:
COURIC: At the same time, Tim, you know, considering the
Constitution, the rule of law, is this going to be a case of a
debate by legal analysts and constitutional scholars versus
Americans, who say civil liberties are important, but we don't want
another September 11?
RUSSERT: Exactly right. The court of public opinion and what's going
on in Congress.
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