Saturday, June 28, 2008

Annals of Homeland Security: Crony Capitalism, Nuclear Terror and the "Advanced Spectroscopic Portal"

When the Department of Homeland Security announced in 2006 that it awarded contracts totaling some $1.2 billion over five years to Raytheon, Thermo Electron and Canberra Industries for "Advanced Spectroscopic Portal" (ASP) radiation monitors, it should have been reality-check time.

But Congress being what it is, it wasn't, and now massive cost overruns plague the project with little to show in way of "deterrence." As Global Security Newswire reported last May,

Raytheon and Thermo Electron are both headquartered in Waltham, Mass., in the district represented by Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee. Canberra Industries is headquartered in Meriden, Conn., in Lieberman's state. (Chris Strohm, "US Lawmakers Ask for Audit of Bush Administration Plans to Buy Radiation Detectors," Global Security Newswire, May 16, 2007)

Can you say congressional grifters well-attuned to the "needs" of their "constituents"--multinational defense firms "keeping America safe"--for their bottom lines? Let's take a peek at these DHS "winners."

According to Washington Technology, Raytheon Co. "earned" $5,170,829,645 in outsourced government contracts and was No. 4 on their "Top 100" list. How did they do it? If we're to believe Washington Technology, by "sticking close to their customers, developing contingency plans and looking for ways to make their customers' lives easier."

Raytheon provides a range of "services" including: "integrated defense systems, intelligence and information systems, missile systems, network centric systems, Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC and space and airborne systems" for the FBI, Navy, Air Force, Defense Department and the General Services Administration. Additionally, the company provides "enhanced information technology solutions and services through the GSA's Alliant IDIQ contract. The company is specifically providing infrastructure, application services and IT management services to support federal agencies. The 10-year contract is worth $50 billion, but is on hold as it undergoes further reviews by GSA."

GSA would be well-advised to take a very close look at Raytheon!

Thermo Electron, now Thermo Fisher Scientific, manufactures an array of analytical instruments ranging from biosafety cabinets to radiation measurement and protection systems. According to Thermo's web site, their Security and Detection Systems division "offers a full range of security products and services for the detection of nuclear materials, explosives, chemical and biological agents, and radiological protection. Our instruments are a first line of defense for first responders and border control personnel. Also, used in laboratories, nuclear, waste treatment and environmental monitoring."

Meanwhile, Canberra Industries' Homeland Security division, is a subsidiary of French nuclear-manufacturing titan, the Areva Group. Canberra claims that its mission is the "Prevention of a terrorist act involving nuclear or radiological weapons... Commitment to maintain constant vigil against those who would conspire to bring such acts of terror to our cities, and the commitment to arm those who protect our borders and ensure our security with the best available technology."

What has DHS gotten for our money as it maintains a "constant vigil" against terrorists threatening the heimat?

Sold as a high-tech "homeland security tool" that is able to provide increased capability to detect illicit nuclear or radiological material inside containers entering American ports "with low false alarm rates," it turns out the newfangled ASPs are no better than what's currently in place. Indeed, today's monitors are ill-equipped to distinguish between say, the components for manufacturing a radiological dirty bomb from--wait!--natural radiation emitters such as kitty litter, ceramics and bananas!

As originally sold, and bought, by Congress, DHS' Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) said each ASP would cost some $500,000 each to buy and deploy. But according to The Washington Post,

Now the nuclear detection office estimates that the total cost for each machine will work out to at least $778,000. The office said it needs almost $68 million "for the procurement and deployment" of 87 machines for one portion of the project, according to budget documents. (Robert O'Harrow Jr., "Radiation Monitors to Cost More than DHS Estimated in '06," The Washington Post, Saturday, June 28, 2008; D01)

A DNDO spokesman told the Post,

"The cost per unit of the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal system has not increased in price. The cost was previously quoted to Congressional staff and the Government Accountability Office as approximately $377,000," Knocke said in an e-mail. "Congressional officials were also advised that there was a deployment cost associated with each system that includes a one year maintenance contract. The cost of deployment is approximately $325,000 and $400,000 per unit for current generation Radiation Portal Monitors and Advanced Spectroscopic Portal systems, respectively."

In other words, Congress was warned--and should have known--that massive cost overruns would be "factored in" to the original contract by these "enterprising" corporate malefactors. Indeed, the ubiquitous "some officials" dotting the Washington landscape like mushrooms after a warm rain, told the Post "the cost to buy and deploy the ASPs could climb even higher after the GAO completes an independent assessment this summer."

How much higher? No one knows for sure.

The project has been repeatedly delayed by technological glitches, management incompetence, indeed, by questions whether or not the newfangled ASP critters even work, according to GAO auditors.

When the program was first touted by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff in 2006, GAO watchdogs questioned whether the expense was even worth it, since the "cost-benefit" report report submitted to Congress to win approval for deploying some 1,400 of the new devices were more expensive and that ASPs probably didn't perform "significantly better" than what was already taking up space and gathering dust at American ports.

Additional questions were raised by the veracity of the manufacturer's claims when the GAO discovered that ASP tests may have been rigged in order to "generate data for Chertoff's certification decision," as the Post delicately puts it.

The auditors found that the "tests were flawed because manufacturers of the monitors were allowed to conduct 'dress rehearsals' and calibrate their machines in anticipation of testing, which auditors said inappropriately enhanced the monitors' performance."

But since "failure is not an option" in the administration's ceaseless drive to "keep America safe," Chertoff has "delayed" certification since the machines "needed more work." However, DNDO is "preparing new tests" and has a goal of "securing certification" from Chertoff "by the beginning of fiscal 2009."

Congress responded "heroically." Rather than killing the program outright for its failure to deliver on advertised claims, they "cut $22.7 million from the program's requested budget." Senate appropriators said, "The Committee notes that certification of the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitor systems by the Secretary will likely not occur expeditiously enough for quick obligation of the requested funds and has reduced this account accordingly."

But as with all assertions of "major technological breakthroughs" by corporate con men out to make a buck (remember DARPA's loony-quest for a "hafnium bomb"?) raising the specter of "nuclear terrorism" is a sure bet in Washington especially during an election year. One thing is certain however, the fear factory's well-heeled army of smooth-talking lobbyists will be ramping-up production lines for a "new and improved" ASP.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Fighting Democrats" Rake-in Big Telecom Bucks

Here's some "shocking" news for those of you who still believe in the tooth-fairy or that substantial "principled differences" exist between Democrats and Republicans. Politico reported Tuesday,

House Democrats who flipped their votes to support retroactive immunity for telecom companies in last week's FISA bill took thousands of dollars more from phone companies than Democrats who consistently voted against legislation with an immunity provision. (Chris Frates, "Dems Who Flipped on FISA Immunity See More Telecom Cash," Politico, June 24, 2008)

According to MAPLight, a watchdog group "that tracks the connection between campaign contributions and legislative outcomes," the 94 Democrats who changed their position on telecom immunity "received on average $8,359 in contributions from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from January, 2005, to March, 2008."

Despite congressional bromides about "national security" and "keeping America safe," what it all comes down too is cold, hard cash. Considering that legislation passed last week by the House will effectively quash some 40 lawsuits pending against telecom giants--with potential savings for these corporate grifters running into the billions--it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude its a rigged game.

And despite efforts Wednesday by Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) to mount a filibuster against this onerous legislation, the Associated Press reports that 80 senators voted in favor of beginning debate while "only 15 senators tried to kill the bill by blocking debate." And with Senate "leaders" such as Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pressing for a Thursday vote, passage is a near certainty.

How do Democratic "leaders" spin the fabulous prizes showered on "team players" in the House? Politico's Chris Frates reports,

Nick Papas, spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus, said, "Many members of the caucus opposed the earlier version of this legislation and ultimately supported better legislation that was the product of bipartisan negotiations. Months of hard work, not campaign contributions, earned the support of many members."

But MAPLight executive director Daniel Newman told Politico, "unlike pressure from constituents, campaign cash is not a 'democratic influence'."

Indeed! But just for kicks, let's take a peek at a list of the Top 10 Democrats who changed their vote to support telecom immunity. MAPLight breaks it down by boodle received and congressional district:

PAC contributions from Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint (January 2005-March 2008).

01. $29,500; James Clyburn, (SC-6).
02. $29,000; Steny Hoyer, (MD-5).
03. $28,000; Rahm Emanuel, (IL-5).
04. $27,500, Frederick Boucher, (VA-9).
05. $26,000, Gregory Meeks, (NY-6).
06. $24,000, Joseph Crowley (NY-7).
07. $24,500, Nancy Pelosi, (CA-8).
08. $24,000, Melissa Bean, (IL-8).
09. $22,500, Thomas Edwards, (TX-17).
10. $22,100, Joe Baca, (CA-43).

While such "contributions" may seem like a windfall to the folks back home struggling with high gas prices, for Congress' well-connected industry "friends" its so much chump change.

As Washington Technology's "2008 Top Government IT Contractors" detailed in May, telecoms fishing for taxpayer dollars have found the Bush regime a rather generous "partner" indeed. With contracts running the gamut from the Department of Defense to the 16 agencies comprising America's intelligence "community"--overseen by Booz Allen Hamilton alumnus Michael McConnell (No. 11 on Washington Technology's "Top 100" with some $2,401,528,741 in government payouts)--its a sure bet the telecoms got exactly what they wanted, immunity, and at bargain basement prices to boot!

Clocking in at No. 14, ITT Corporation raked in $1,800,281,433; at No. 18, Verizon Communications Inc. "earned" $1,320,637,982; at No. 25, Sprint-Nextel scooped-up $839,946,000; at No. 51, Qwest Communications International Inc. "generously received" $306,617,000; at No. 60, Comtech Telecommunications Corporation "handled" $276,880,406 in generous donations; at No. 77, ViaSat Inc., hardly a slouch, "merited" $192,844,980 in NSA and "defense-related" largess.

As MAPLight's Daniel Newman averred, "Who's more likely to get a meeting you or AT&T, which donates million of dollars and has the legislator's ear?"

Good question. But no matter how you divvy-up the spoils for gutting the Constitution and stripping Americans' of privacy rights, you'd have to agree it's still the best Congress money can buy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What Bush's Torture Attorneys Wanted from SERE

The subversion of the rule of law by the George W. Bush administration was neither accidental nor contingent on executing its fraudulent "war on terror." On the contrary, within weeks of the 9/11 terror attacks while the remains of the Twin Towers continued to smolder, the foundations of the American Republic were consciously undermined by high regime officials.

Ideologically predisposed to governance via unlimited executive power, administration lawyers, many of whom identified with neoconservatism, exploited 9/11 as a salutary means to achieve an unsavory end: the creation of an authoritarian order where secretive--and highly-profitable--"public-private partnerships" served as a code for the "creative destruction" sought by their corporatist masters.

As Naomi Klein describes the processes in play after September 11:

Believers in the shock doctrine are convinced that only a great rupture--a flood, a war, a terrorist attack--can generate the kind of vast, clean canvases they crave. It is in these malleable moments, when we are psychologically unmoored and physically uprooted, that these artists of the real plunge in their hands and begin their work or remaking the world. (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007, p. 21.)

It is hardly a coincidence that Klein begins her exploration of "the shock doctrine" with a descriptive history of the CIA's MKULTRA "mind control" experiments of the 1950s and 1960s. Over time, CIA psychiatrists and paramilitary operators crafted a series of devil's dictionaries rooted in the soil of psychological terror and the quantification of human emotion. Both the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation and its deranged twin, the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual--1983, while creatures of America's anticommunist Cold War jihad have had a long-lasting and disastrous impact on U.S. military and intelligence policies.

While KUBARK was the monstrous offspring of MKULTRA, the 1983 Manual was a hybrid beast, a "product" lifted from KUBARK guidelines and from U.S. Military Intelligence field manuals written in the 1960s, the distilled "wisdom" of the Army's Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program code named "Project X." As Thomas Blanton and Peter Kornbluh describe,

The manual was used in numerous Latin American countries as an instructional tool by CIA and Green Beret trainers between 1983 and 1987 and became the subject of executive session Senate Intelligence Committee hearings in 1988 because of human rights abuses committed by CIA-trained Honduran military units. The manual allocates considerable space to the subject of "coercive questioning" and psychological and physical techniques. The original text stated that "we will be discussing two types of techniques, coercive and non-coercive. While we do not stress the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of them." After Congress began investigating human rights violations by U.S.-trained Honduran intelligence officers, that passage was hand edited to read "while we deplore the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of them so that you may avoid them." Although the manual advised methods of coercion similar to those used in the Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. forces, it also carried a prescient observation: "The routine use of torture lowers the moral caliber of the organization that uses it and corrupts those that rely on it…." ("Prisoner Abuse: Patterns from the Past," National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 122, The National Security Archive, May 12, 2004)

Bush's "War Council" of administration attorneys, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, John C. Yoo and William J. Haynes II crafted a legal strategy for "handling" detainees in U.S. gulags that may very well lead to war crimes prosecutions for egregious breeches of international law.

Once this crew decided that "war on terror" detainees had no legal rights under the Geneva Convention and especially, Common Article 3, it set off a chain of events that ended in state-sanctioned murder and torture.

Nowhere was this grotesque strategy more apparent than in Bush administration moves to draft "enhanced interrogation techniques" for use at its Guantánamo Bay facility. But "what happened at Guantánamo, didn't stay there," as the "Gitmo regime" inevitably migrated to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soon after 9/11, the Pentagon and the CIA "began an orchestrated effort to tap expertise from the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape school, for use in the interrogation of terrorist suspects," writes Salon's Mark Benjamin, the investigative journalist who exposed the SERE school's role in implementing a harsh torture regime. Benjamin avers,

SERE training has nothing to do with effective interrogation, according to military experts. Trained interrogators don't work in the program. Skilled, experienced interrogators, in fact, say that only a fool would think that the training could somehow be reverse-engineered into effective interrogation techniques.

But that's exactly what the Bush government sought to do. As the plan rolled forward, military and law enforcement officials consistently sent up red flags that the SERE-based interrogation program wasn't just wrongheaded, it was probably illegal. ("A Timeline to Bush Government Torture," Salon, June 18, 2008)

Last Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held hearings on the evolution of Bush torture policies. Memos and documents released by the committee paint a grim picture of what the administration sought from reverse-engineered SERE tactics.

Documents released by the SASC revealed that the SERE Training School, administered by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), conducted briefings and provided a detailed dossier on SERE tactics to the Pentagon General Counsel William J. Haynes II in July 2002.

Indeed, according to international human rights attorney Philippe Sands,

"There were backchannels, unconnected communications," involving a military intelligence person and a non-military intelligence person, who was passing information outside. [Former Guantánamo commander Maj. Gen. Mike] Dunlavey couldn't remember his name. He told me that the most senior Washington lawyers visited Guantánamo, including David Addington, the Vice President's lawyer, with Gonzales and Haynes, at the end of September before he signed off on his memo. (Torture Team, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, p. 47)

As Sands and other investigators, such as psychoanalyst Stephen Soldz have reported, moves to reverse-engineer SERE tactics by Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCT) tasked to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, following explicit demands by Bush's team of torture attorneys, led to systematic and widespread detainee abuse. At Guantánamo and elsewhere, BSCT psychologists held operational positions and did not function as mental health providers but rather, were present at Guantánamo for the purpose of instructing personnel in the use of "enhanced interrogation" tactics, torture.

Below, I provide an abridged summary of SERE techniques exported to Guantánamo. Most, though not all, of the descriptions have been omitted, but I have provided SERE's full explanation of the purpose each technique hoped to achieve. The text is excerpted from documents released by the Senate Armed Services Committee; all are prefaced by the acronym "FOUO," For Official Use Only.

(Tab 3 -- Extracts) July 25, 2002 document entitled "Physical Pressures Used in Resistance Training and Against American Prisoners and Detainees." Attached to JPRA Memorandum of July 26, 2002.

1. FACIAL SLAP: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

2. WALLING: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

3. SILENCING FACIAL HOLD: Typical conditions for application: to threaten or intimidate via invasion of personal space, to instill fear and apprehension without using direct physical force, to punish illogical, defiant, or repetitive responses.

4. FACIAL HOLD: Typical conditions for application: to threaten or intimidate via invasion of personal space, to instill fear and apprehension without using direct physical force, to punish illogical, defiant, or repetitive responses.

5. ABDOMEN SLAP: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

6. FINGER PRESS: Typical conditions for application: to instill apprehension or insult.

7. WATER: When this tactic is used, water is poured, flicked, or tossed on the subject. ... Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to startle, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

8. BLOCK HOLD: The subject can be sitting, kneeling or standing with their arms extended out straight with the palms up. The interrogator puts a weighted block, 10-15 lbs., on their hands. The subject is required to keep their arms straight, told not to drop the block at risk of additional punishment. Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to demonstrate self-imposed pressure, to instill apprehension, humiliation or cause insult.

(AFC Note: the "self-imposed pressure" above is described by Alfred W. McCoy in A Question of Torture as self-inflicted pain, that is, a CIA psychological technique to wear down the "subject" by deflecting responsibility for severe pain from the torturer to the tortured. "You are responsible for your suffering; it will stop when you cooperate.")

9. BLOCK SIT: Using a block with a pointed end that is pointed to the floor, the subject is told to sit on the flat top with feet and knees together. The knees are bent 90 degrees, and the subject is not allowed to spread their legs to form a tripod. The process of trying to balance on this very unstable seat and concentrate on the interrogator's questions at the same time is very difficult. Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to demonstrate self-imposed pressure, to instill apprehension, humiliation or cause insult.

10. ATTENTION GRASP: Typical conditions for application: to startle, to instill fear, apprehension, and humiliation or cause insult.

11. STRESS POSITION: The subject is placed on their knees, told to extend their arms either straight up or straight to the front. The subject is not allowed to lean back on their heels, arch their back or relieve the pressure off the point of the knee. Note: there are any number of uncomfortable physical positions that can be used and considered in this category. Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to demonstrate self-imposed pressure, to instill apprehension, humiliation or cause insult.


1. SMOKE: Pipe tobacco smoke is blown into a subject's face while in a standing, sitting or kneeling position. ... Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

2. WATERBOARD: Subject is interrogated while strapped to a wooden board, approximately 4'x7'. Often the subject's feet are elevated after being strapped down and having their torso stripped. Up to 1.5. gallons of water is slowly poured directly onto the subject's face from a height of 12-24 inches. In some cases, a wet cloth is placed over the subject's face. It will remain in place for a short period of time. Trained supervisory and medical staff monitors the subject's physical condition. Student may be threatened or strapped back onto the board at a later time. However, no student will have water applied a second time. This tactic instills a feeling of drowning and quickly compels cooperation. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior.

3. SHAKING AND MANHANDLING: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior.

4. GROUNDING: This tactic is using the manhandling pressure and forcefully guiding the subject to the ground, never letting go. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior.

5. CRAMPED CONFINEMENT ("the little box"): This is administered by placing a subject into a small box in a kneeling position with legs crossed at the ankle and having him learn [sic] forward to allow the door to be closed without exerting pressure on the back. Time and temperature is closely monitored. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

6. IMMERSION IN WATER/WETTING DOWN: Wetting the subject consists of spraying with a hose, hand pressure water cans, or immersion in a shallow pool of water. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.


1. Isolation/Solitary Confinement.

2. Induced Physical Weakness and Exhaustion.

3. Degradation.

4. Conditioning.

5. Sensory Deprivation: When a subject is deprived of sensory input for an interrupted period, for approximately 6-8 hours, it is not uncommon for them to experience visual, auditory and/or tactile hallucinations. If deprived of input, the brain will make it up. This tactic is used in conjunction with other methods to promote dislocation of expectations and induce emotions.

6. Sensory overload: This includes being continually exposed to bright, flashing lights, loud music, annoying/irritating sounds, etc. This tactic elevates the agitation level of a person and increases their emotionality, as well as enhances the effects of isolation.

7. Disruption of sleep and biorhythms.

8. Manipulation of diet.

Despite hearings by the House and Senate into widespread detainee abuse, not a single administration official has been brought to justice. This too, should surprise no one since Congress has colluded with the Bush regime's torture policies and its broader "war on terror" every step of the way.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Telecoms Flex Their Muscles: FISA "Compromise" Locks-in Lawless Spying

You knew it would eventually come to this: a huge victory for the Bush regime and a gigantic swindle by Democratic party sell-outs posing as an "opposition."

Thursday, House and Senate leaders in a bipartisan Washington love-fest, stooped to new lows of dissimulation as they reached agreement on a bill that gives the nation's spy agencies and their outsourced "partners" in the telecommunications industry carte blanche to illegally spy on Americans.

By Friday afternoon the votes were in and, surprise! the bill passed by a lopsided 293-129. The bill now moves to the Senate where easy passage is expected next week. The White House immediately endorsed the bill.

According to The Washington Post,

White House spokesman Tony Fratto called the measure "a bipartisan bill" that "will give the intelligence professionals the long-term tools they need to protect the nation, and liability protection for those who may have assisted the government after the 9/11 attacks." (Dan Eggen and Paul Kane, "Surveillance Bill Offers Protection to Telecom Firms," The Washington Post, Friday, June 20, 2008)

"Bipartisan" indeed! House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described it as a "balanced bill." True enough, if by "balanced" Ms. Pelosi means that it protects her "constituents"--the giant telecoms--while telling Americans, in the ignoble words of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, to "watch what they say, watch what they do."

Gloating over the Democrats' "capitulation," as Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) characterized the deal, Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) who led Republicans during negotiations, told The New York Times, "I think the White House got a better deal than even they had hoped to get."

Despite hand-wringing by Democrats, the accord gives "Bush and his aides, including Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, much of what they sought in a new surveillance law," Times' reporter Eric Lichtblau avers.

Virtually guaranteeing that U.S. citizens won't have their day in court, H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, grants immunity to giant telecom companies who participated in the Bush administration's lawless surveillance programs. Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) told the Times without skipping a beat, "The lawsuits will be dismissed."

And in the best tradition of totalitarians everywhere, Bond, defending immunity provisions for lawless telecoms told Dow Jones Newswires,

"I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do."

Ponder those words and then consider the loathsome depths reached by the Democrats and their Republican partners in crime.

Under the proposal, U.S. intelligence agencies will be allowed to issue broad orders to U.S. phone companies, ISPs and other online service providers to cough-up all communications if it is "reasonably believed" to involve non-citizens outside the country. To boot, the plethora of spy agencies who make up the U.S. intelligence "community" will neither be bothered by naming their "targets" nor will they have to obtain prior approval by any court to continue their driftnet-style surveillance.

In other words, under terms of H.R. 6304 one American or the entire internet could be subject to warrantless surveillance and intrusive data-mining by state actors or private spooks. Considering that some 70% of intelligence "community" employees are mercenary contractors in the pay of private corporations that rely on U.S. Government handouts to pad their bottom line, the bill drives another nail in the coffin of privacy and individual rights while furthering the already-considerable transformation of the former American Republic into a post-Constitutional "New Order."

The Democratic "compromise" overturns longstanding rules of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under which the government was compelled to obtain court approval and individual warrants if an American's communications were to be monitored.

As ACLU Washington Legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said in her denunciation of the proposed "compromise,"

"This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans' communications. The court review is mere window-dressing -- all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole -- 'exigent' circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all."

"The Hoyer/Bush surveillance deal was clearly written with the telephone companies and internet providers at the table and for their benefit. They wanted immunity, and this bill gives it to them." ("ACLU Condemns FISA Deal, Declares Surveillance Bill Unconstitutional," American Civil Liberties Union, Press Release, June 19, 2008)

As Fredrickson outlined above, this onerous legislative flotsam grants immunity to telecoms currently being sued for breaking federal wiretapping laws by handing over billions of Americans' call records to state and private data-miners whilst giving agencies such as the NSA and FBI access to phone and internet infrastructure inside the United States itself. Under terms of the "compromise" the bill strips away the right of a federal district court to decide whether these multinational privateers violated federal laws prohibiting wiretapping without a court order. In terms of telecom liability, and the huge damages that may have resulted from a guilty verdict by a jury, this is huge.

As United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker wrote on July 20, 2006 regarding AT&T's motion to dismiss EFF's Hepting vs. AT&T lawsuit,

Because the alleged dragnet here encompasses the communications of "all or substantially all of the communications transmitted through [AT&T's] key domestic telecommunications facilities," it cannot reasonably be said that the program as alleged is limited to tracking foreign powers. Accordingly, AT&T's alleged action here violate the constitutional rights clearly established in Keith. Moreover, because "the very action in question has previously been held unlawful," AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.

The current congressional agreement stipulates instead, that the U.S. Attorney General need only certify that a company being sued did not participate, or that the state provided said privateer with a written request certifying that the President authorized the program and that his henchmen-attorneys determined it was "legal." As the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes,

The new bill specifically allows the Court to see the directives that were given to the telecoms as "supplemental materials" to the AG certification (p. 90:22), but the court is still only evaluating whether they existed, not whether they were legal requests, or whether it was legal for the phone companies to comply with them. Thus, even if a court independently would have ruled the directives and the surveillance they authorized to be unlawful, the bill still requires the court to rubber stamp the retroactive immunity it provides. ("Analysis of H.R. 6304: It's Still Immunity!", Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 19, 2008)

In other words, even if a court rules that Bush administration directives are patently illegal, which indeed they are, the formerly independent judiciary's role under the new FISA amendments passed by the House, diminish its role to that of a mere accessory, an afterthought and rubberstamp for decrees issued by the "unitary executive" exercising plenary (unlimited) powers. Despite the temporizing weasel-words by congressional leaders, Friday's House vote is nothing less than a formula for permanent presidential dictatorship.

Consider this: if the White House can unrestrictedly spy on Americans based on the merest of "exigent circumstances," will future "exigencies"--an external terrorist attack or internal provocation--spearhead a martial law regime with full suspension of civil liberties and the detention of domestic dissidents, the "other persons who may pose a threat to national security," referred to by National Security Presidential Directive 59?

In the final analysis, whatever temporary divisions may exist amongst the twin parties of capitalist reaction, none of the leading Democrats have any interest in challenging the fundamental fraud of the so-called "war on terror." Indeed, "terrorism" is but a convenient pretext for a bipartisan attack on democratic rights as a decaying American Empire launch "preemptive" wars in a quixotic quest to shore-up its crumbling edifice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"It Was Real 'Manchurian Candidate' Stuff"

A Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) investigation has concluded that top Pentagon officials had assembled lists of harsh torture techniques in the summer of 2002 for use on prisoners in America's Guantánamo Bay prison gulag.

The Senate's findings strongly refute claims by top Bush administration officials that their approval of such techniques were in response to requests from field commanders "far down the chain of command," The Washington Post reports. According to Joby Warrick,

The sources said that memos and other evidence obtained during the inquiry show that officials in the office of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld started to research the use of waterboarding, stress positions, sensory deprivation and other practices in July 2002, months before memos from commanders at the detention facility in Cuba requested permission to use those measures on suspected terrorists. ("Report Questions Pentagon Accounts," The Washington Post, June 17, 2008)

During hearings Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, it was revealed that the CIA played a larger role in the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation" policies than previously acknowledged. Torture, according to minutes of an October 2, 2002 meeting at Guantánamo Bay, "is basically subject to perception," CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman told a group of military and intelligence officials. "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong," The Washington Post reports.

The hearings, and supporting documents released by the SASC, revealed that Fredman, whose Agency handlers had been granted virtual carte blanche by the Justice Department to torture suspected "terrorists," discussed

the pros and cons of videotaping, talked about how to avoid interference by the International Committee of the Red Cross and offered a strong defense of waterboarding.

"If a well-trained individual is used to perform this technique, it can feel like you're drowning," he said, according to the meeting's minutes, which do not provide a verbatim transcript.

Fredman said medical experts should monitor detainees. "If someone dies while aggressive techniques are being used, regardless of the cause of death, the backlash of attention would be severely detrimental," he was quoted as saying. (Joby Warrick, "CIA Played Larger Role in Advising Pentagon," The Washington Post, June 18, 2008)

While Fredman's "expertise" on abusing prisoners recommends placing physicians, psychiatrists and other trained medical personnel in American torture chambers, in itself a clear breech of international norms and the military's own procedures, his callous disregard for human rights hardly absolve high-level administration officials.

As ABC News reported in April, during dozens of top-secret talks and meetings at the White House, the National Security Council Principals Committee, which included Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft, "discussed and approved specific details" of how "high-value" prisoners would be interrogated.

Indeed, so explicit were these discussions that one source told ABC News, "the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed." One top official reported Ashcroft as having said, "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

In a statement released Tuesday, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, wrote: did it come about that American military personnel stripped detainees naked, put them in stress positions, used dogs to scare them, put leashes around their necks to humiliate them, hooded them, deprived them of sleep, and blasted music at them. Were these actions the result of "a few bad apples" acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that's not the case. The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. ("The Origins of Aggressive Interrogation Techniques," Carl Levin, United States Senator, June 17, 2008)

As Philippe Sands' investigative piece in last month's Vanity Fair revealed, after the Principals Committee reached a decision to torture, Bush administration "little Eichmanns" provided the necessary "legal" gloss to implement these criminal policies:

The fingerprints of the most senior lawyers in the administration were all over the design and implementation of the abusive interrogation policies. [David] Addington, [Jay] Bybee, [Alberto] Gonzales, [Jim] Haynes, and [John] Yoo became, in effect, a torture team of lawyers, freeing the administration from the constraints of all international rules prohibiting abuse. ("The Green Light," Vanity Fair, May 2008)

But as The Washington Post reported Tuesday, the new evidence presented by the Armed Services Committee challenged previous statements by

William J. "Jim" Haynes II, who served as Defense Department general counsel under Rumsfeld and is among the witnesses scheduled to testify at today's hearing. Haynes, who resigned in February, suggested to a Senate panel in 2006 that the request for tougher interrogation methods originated in October 2002, when Guantanamo Bay commanders began asking for help in ratcheting up the pressure on suspected terrorists who had stopped cooperating. A memo from the prison's top military lawyer that same month had suggested specific techniques and declared them legal.

However, "memos and e-mails" obtained by Senate investigators suggest otherwise. In July 2002, Haynes and other top Defense Department officials "were soliciting ideas for harsh interrogations from military experts in survival training." By late July, despite strenuous objections by military lawyers who viewed such methods as patently illegal breeches of the Geneva Convention, a list was compiled that included many of the torture techniques that infamously became synonymous with the Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram airbase repertoire.

Indeed, military criminal investigators, "attempting to develop evidence to prosecute suspected terrorists, objected strenuously to techniques they considered illegal and likely to damage chances of a conviction," The Wall Street Journal reports. Journal reporter Jess Bravin reveals that,

In an October 2002 email to a colleague, Special Agent Mark Fallon of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said that comments like those of Col. Beaver and Mr. Fredman could "shock the conscience of any legal body" looking into interrogation methods. "This looks like the kinds of stuff Congressional hearings are made of," he wrote. ("Ex-Pentagon Lawyers Challenged on Torture," The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2008)

In a major breakthrough that demolish the mendacious claims of the Bush regime, the Senate report provides irrefutable evidence that top Pentagon and CIA officials sought out military and "outsourced" mercenary personnel, including psychologists, to reverse-engineer U.S. military Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) tactics taught pilots and Special Operations Commandos caught behind enemy lines for use on prisoners designated "enemy combatants" by the administration.

According to Levin, in July 2002, Richard Shiffrin, a Pentagon Deputy General Counsel called Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Baumgartner, the Chief of Staff at the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), the DoD bureau that oversees SERE training "and asked for information on SERE techniques."

Baumgartner responded by drafting a memo with three attachments. According to Levin's statement and supporting documentation released by the SASC,

One of those attachments (TAB 3) listed physical and psychological pressures used in SERE resistance training including sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, stress positions, waterboarding, and slapping. It also made reference to a section of the JPRA instructor manual that talks about “coercive pressures” like keeping the lights at all times, and treating a person like an animal. Another attachment (TAB 4), written by Dr. Ogrisseg, also a witness today, assessed the long-term psychological effects of SERE resistance training on students and the effects of the waterboard.

Scarcely a week after Baumgartner's memo, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued two opinions drafted by Jay Bybee and John C. Yoo addressed to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. These are the infamous Torture Memos, one of which still remains classified.

As current Assistant Attorney General of the OLC Steven Bradbury testified earlier this year before the House Judiciary Committee, the "CIA's use of the waterboarding procedure was adapted from the SERE training program."

At this point, JPRA staff were "finalizing plans" to conduct training for interrogation staff from U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force 170 at Guantánamo Bay.

In mid-September 2002, a group from Guantánamo, "including interrogators and behavioral scientists, travelled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and attended training conducted by instructors from the JPRA SERE school. None of the three JPRA personnel who provided the training was a trained interrogator," Levin reveals.

As I wrote in April, those who committed these unspeakable atrocities "were acting out scenes from a CIA 'masterwork' composed decades earlier: KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation."

The July 1963 CIA torture manual describes a fear-cloaked shadow world of hooding, isolation, sensory deprivation, drugging, sexual humiliation and other unseemly interrogation techniques, many of which were "perfected" by "outsourced" psychiatrists on their patients during the 1950s and 1960s during the Agency's criminal MKULTRA "mind-control" experiments.

Fast-forward 50 years, and the fruit of these Nazi-like experiments in psychological torment are all-too-discernible in the hollowed-out eyes and shattered minds of America's "war on terror" prisoners. As former Pentagon lawyer Richard Shiffrin told The New York Times, the Rumsfeld's Defense Department turned to SERE out of "great frustration" at the nature of the intelligence obtained from prisoners through lawful means.

As Salon investigative journalist Mark Benjamin, a reporter who broke many stories on the reverse-engineering of SERE tactics as a torture tool, writes,

But as more and more documents from inside the Bush government come to light, it is increasingly clear that the administration sought from early on to implement interrogation techniques whose basis was torture. Soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Pentagon and the CIA began an orchestrated effort to tap expertise from the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape school, for use in the interrogation of terrorist suspects. ...

SERE training has nothing to do with effective interrogation, according to military experts. Trained interrogators don't work in the program. Skilled, experienced interrogators, in fact, say that only a fool would think that the training could somehow be reverse-engineered into effective interrogation techniques.

But that's exactly what the Bush government sought to do. As the plan rolled forward, military and law enforcement officials consistently sent up red flags that the SERE-based interrogation program wasn't just wrongheaded, it was probably illegal. ("A Timeline to Bush Government Torture," Salon, June 18, 2008)

What were the results obtained by Shiffrin and others into the efficacy of reverse-engineered SERE tactics? "It was real 'Manchurian Candidate' stuff," Shiffrin told the Times.

An apt description if ever there were one, of the post-Constitutional order created by the Bush administration and their corporatist masters. Why then, do top Democratic party leaders, including Carl Levin, continue to insist "impeachment is off the table"?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Democrats Ready to Gut the Constitution to Protect Their "Constituents" -- The Telecoms

Proving the old axiom that Congress "is the best that money can buy," congressional Democrats are preparing to gut the Constitution by granting giant telecom companies retroactive immunity and liability protection on warrantless wiretapping by the Bush regime.

According to Congressional Quarterly, "Congressional leaders and the Bush administration have reached an agreement in principle on an overhaul of surveillance rules."

Tim Starks reports,

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the compromise would be very similar to the last proposal by Sen. Christopher S. Bond , R-Mo., to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

Sources said the major change is that a federal district court, not the secret FISA court itself, would make an assessment about whether to provide retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies being sued for their alleged role in the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program. ("Agreement Could Pave Way for Surveillance Overhaul," Congressional Quarterly, June 13, 2008)

In other words, the telecommunication corporations and their "customers," the NSA, FBI and other members of the "intelligence community" will get everything they want--retroactive immunity and billions of dollars in continued taxpayer subsidies for intelligence "outsourcing."

Under rules being considered by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Bush administration officials, the deal would allow the federal district court "to look at a lower standard of evidence to determine if companies received such orders--a provision sought by the GOP, according to one person involved in the talks," The Hill reports.

Without clear standards for determining whether immunity for these privateers is even justified, the courts will be forced to issue virtual get-out-of-jail-free cards to corporate executives and their shareholders, thus freeing them from any and all liability, should companies claim they had "received assurances" from the state that its spying program was "legal."

Indeed, no warrants at all would be required when the administration and their outsourced private "partners" choose surveillance "targets" under "exigent," or urgent circumstances. Needless to say, such "exigent" circumstances are determined by executive branch "intelligence officials," of whom fully 70% are private mercenaries in the employ of corporatist state structures.

However, civil liberties' campaigners charge that language currently under consideration by House and Senate "leaders" is "judicial theatre" and a "mirage." According to the ACLU,

Allowing phone companies to avoid litigation by simply presenting a "permission slip" from the president is not court review. This is immunity pure and simple because the companies are NOT being judged on whether they followed the law. A document stating that the president asked them to conduct warrantless wiretapping is not enough justification for violating the basic privacy rights of Americans. ("Facts on Senator Kit Bond's (R-MO) FISA Proposal," American Civil Liberties Union, June 13, 2008)

Who then, are the privateers that "opposition" Democrats want to "protect" from litigious "radicals" such as the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation? Some of the wealthiest recipients of "outsourced" intelligence handouts, that's who! Major players in the administration's illegal spying programs include, according to Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 Government IT Contractors : Verizon Communications Inc., $1,320,637,982 (No. 18); Sprint-Nextel Corporation, $839,946,000 (No. 25); AT&T Inc., $505,358,533 (No. 38); Qwest Communications International Inc., $306,617,000 (No. 51).

If this weren't bad enough, mendacious "leaders" such as Jay Rockefeller claim that spying telecoms "deserve" immunity because they were "ordered" by the NSA to cooperate with the administration. Indeed, back in January,

Rockefeller defended the actions of the telecom companies, arguing that the companies received explicit orders from the National Security Agency to cooperate with the supersecret surveillance effort. The West Virginia Democrat said the telecom companies were being "pushed by the government, compelled by the government, required by the government to do this. And I think in the end, we'll prevail."

Rockefeller added: "If people want to be mad, don't be mad at the telecommunications companies, who are restrained from saying anything at all under the State Secrets Act. And they really are. They can't say whether they were involved, they can't go to court, they can't do anything. They're just helpless. And the president was just having his way." (Daniel W. Reilly, "Rockefeller predicts win in FISA fight over telecom immunity," Politico, January 23, 2008)

Pity the poor "helpless" telecoms! But as investigative journalist Tim Shorrock documents,

The history of telecom cooperation with the NSA is a guide to how the NSA went about winning cooperation with the industry in 2001. During the 1940s, when telephone and telegraph companies began turning over their call and telegram records to the NSA, only one or two executives at each firm were in on the secret. Essentially, the government raised the issue of patriotism with them, and the companies went along. That kind of arrangement continued into the 1970s, and is likely how cooperation works today. "Once the CEO approved, all the contacts" with the intelligence agencies "would be worked at a lower level," Kenneth Bass, a former Justice Department official with the Carter administration, told me. "The telecos have been participating in surveillance activities for decades--pre-FISA, post-FISA--so its nothing new to them." Bass, who helped craft the FISA law and worked with the NSA to implement it, added that he "would not be surprised at all" if cooperating executives received from the Bush administration "the same sort of briefing, but much more detailed and specific, that the FISA court got when [the surveillance] was first approved." (Spies for Hire, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008, p. 320)

Helpless indeed! But let's make a few things clear: the Democratic party is completely beholden to their "constituents"--the multinational corporations, including the telecoms, the giant defense contractors and the well-heeled lobbyists who fill their campaign coffers. Since 9/11, with few rare exceptions that can be counted on one hand, the Democrats have been complicit with the Bush administration's quasi-fascistic "war on terror" and everything that followed in its wake--illegal spying, torture, wars of aggression, not to mention the looting of public assets for private profit known as "outsourcing."

The facile "debate" over retroactive immunity for spooky telecommunication corporations will reach its inevitable denouement with the Democrats allowing either the FISA court or Federal District courts to essentially rubberstamp immunity orders issued by the Bush administration.

As the ACLU's Caroline Fredrickson told The Hill, "Whatever silk purse Hoyer tries to make of Bond's sow's ear and no matter how they try to sell it, the end result of all this negotiating will be exactly what the administration has wanted from the beginning--FISA rewritten to delete court oversight of surveillance and immunity for its pals at the telephone companies."

In the final analysis, these "negotiations" are taking place behind closed doors, subject to input by influence-peddlers and corporate lobbyists, without even a cursory--let alone, public--exploration of whether these mercenary outfits violated the law.

It's a rigged game without a referee...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wiretaps "R" Us: Is the FBI Tracking Your Cellphone?

Under broad powers handed the Federal Bureau of Investigation by Congress in 2001 after it passed the Orwellian USA Patriot Act, the rights of ordinary citizens have progressively been stripped away by America's national security state.

With a history of domestic counterinsurgency operations against the left, and despite bruising attacks after 9/11 on its (undeserved) reputation as the nation's premier "crime fighting agency," the FBI nevertheless, remains a formidable organization when it comes to repressing dissent.

In this light, a disturbing report showcased Wednesday by Wired, highlights the grave dangers posed to individual rights and freedoms when secretive and largely unaccountable federal bureaucracies are handed nearly unlimited powers. Ryan Singel writes:

Does the FBI track cellphone users' physical movements without a warrant? Does the Bureau store recordings of innocent Americans caught up in wiretaps in a searchable database? Does the FBI's wiretap equipment store information like voicemail passwords and bank account numbers without legal authorization to do so? ("Secret Spy Court Repeatedly Questions FBI Wiretap Network," Wired, June 11, 2008)

According to Singel, during a series of inquiries in 2005-2006 the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court repeatedly questioned the legality of Bureau electronic surveillance operations that targeted Americans. These revelations came to light in newly declassified documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The spy court inquired whether the FBI was using so-called "pen register" orders to "collect digits dialed after a call is made, potentially including voicemail passwords and account numbers entered into bank-by-phone applications," Singel writes.

Title 18 of the United States Code, as amended by the USA Patriot Act, defines a pen register and/or a trap and trace device as

...a device or process which records or decodes dialing, routing, addressing, or signaling information transmitted by an instrument or facility from which a wire or electronic communication is transmitted, provided, however, that such information shall not include the contents of any communication, but such term does not include any device or process used by a provider or customer of a wire or electronic communication service for billing, or recording as an incident to billing, for communications services provided by such provider or any device or process used by a provider or customer of a wire communication service for cost accounting or other like purposes in the ordinary course of its business.

Under existing federal statutes, the FBI can compel a telecom carrier to turn over records of whom a "target" has called simply by claiming the information is relevant to an on-going investigation. However, under interpretations of existing case law, Wired reports that "so-called 'post-cut-through dialed digits' count as the content of a communication, and thus to collect that information, the FBI would need to get a full-blown wiretapping warrant based on probable cause."

Coming on the heels of revelations of the FBI's abuse of so-called National Security Letters to obtain electronic and financial records during "terrorism investigations," the documents outline a systematic pattern by the Bureau to skirt the law. Wired reports,

Among other things, the declassified documents reveal that lawyers in the FBI's Office of General Counsel and the Justice Department's Office of Intelligence Policy Review queried FBI technology officials in late July 2006 about cellphone tracking. The attorneys asked whether the FBI was obtaining and storing real-time cellphone-location data from carriers under a "pen register" court order that's normally limited to records of who a person called or was called by.

You read that right: real-time cellphone-location data from carriers.

In 2006, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge Coleen Kollar-Kottely ordered the FBI to report how its phone wiretapping network known as Digital Collection System, handled information it obtained illegally and whether it stored them in its centralized data-mining repository known as Telephone Application. Wired further reports that FBI documents show that

the majority of FBI offices surveyed internally were collecting that information without full-blown wiretap orders, especially in classified investigations. The documents also indicate that the information was being uploaded to the FBI's central repository for wiretap recordings and phone records, where analysts can data-mine the records for decades.

According to EFF attorney Kevin Bankston, this demonstrates that FBI offices had reconfigured their "digit-recording software, DCS 3000, to collect more than the law allows."

In other words, despite prohibitions on the FBI's ability to spy on Americans, the Bureau is storing illegally-obtained data in a centralized data-mining "warehouse" for indefinite retrieval purposes, say, during a "state of national emergency" when the "usual suspects" can be "disappeared" under Continuity of Government plans already in place.

Lest there be any question that federal surveillance programs are concerned with far more than wiretapping alleged terrorists, National Security Presidential Directive 59/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 24 (NSPD 59/HSPD 24), "Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security," should clear up any lingering doubts.

Signed June 5, 2008 by President Bush,

This directive establishes a framework to ensure that Federal executive departments and agencies (agencies) use mutually compatible methods and procedures in the collection, storage, use, analysis, and sharing of biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of individuals in a lawful and appropriate manner, while respecting their information privacy and other legal rights under United States law.

The executive branch has developed an integrated screening capability to protect the Nation against "known and suspected terrorists" (KSTs). The executive branch shall build upon this success, in accordance with this directive, by enhancing its capability to collect, store, use, analyze, and share biometrics to identify and screen KSTs and other persons who may pose a threat to national security. [emphasis added]

As analyst Michel Chossudovsky points out in a scathing critique of Bush's directive,

NSPD 59 goes far beyond the issue of biometric identification, it recommends the collection and storage of "associated biographic" information, meaning information on the private lives of US citizens, in minute detail, all of which will be "accomplished within the law." ...

The directive uses 9/11 as an all encompassing justification to wage a witch hunt against dissenting citizens, establishing at the same time an atmosphere of fear and intimidation across the land. It also calls for the integration of various data banks as well as inter-agency cooperation in the sharing of information, with a view to eventually centralizing the information on American citizens. ("'Big Brother' Presidential Directive: 'Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security'," Global Research, June 11, 2008)

In other words, in addition to "known and suspected terrorists," presumably al-Qaeda and their minions, additional "potential threats" to the capitalist order are named: domestic "radical groups" and "disgruntled employees."

One needn't be a "conspiracy buff" to recognize--cooly and rationally--that the national security surveillance state under construction since before 9/11, can trace its lineage back to domestic counterinsurgency operations such as the FBI's COINTELPRO or "civil disturbance" contingency plans such as NORTHCOM's contemporaneous "Garden Plot" and "Cable Splicer" projects.

Cellphone and internet tracking, now ubiquitous after the USA Patriot Act, are but two of the repressive bricks shoring-up the decaying edifice of the corporatist American empire. In this light, it would be a fatal mistake to hope for ameliorating the erosion of our rights by relying on the Democratic party, or to believe that "change" in the form of an Obama presidency will somehow, magically perhaps, reverse ruling class consensus on this score.

Over the past decade, the Democrats and their "progressive" critics have stood idly by--or joined in the assault on democracy--as the sinister Bush regime hijacked a national election, launched an illegal war, systematically tortured prisoners, covered-up their criminal negligence, or worse, in the 9/11 attacks, while shredding the Bill of Rights.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ramping-up Production Lines at the Fear Factory for Telecom Immunity

You can tell a sell-out by the Democrats are in the works when "Congressional and intelligence officials" revert to using phrases like "degradation," loss of "intelligence capabilities," "dangerous step backward" and "unthinkable."

Was "terrorist chatter" sucked up by the NSA data vacuum or did the FBI's "Quantico circuit" discover "actionable intelligence" of an al-Qaeda plot to nuke lower Manhattan?

No. The alarmist rhetoric from Washington insiders described a "severe gap in overseas intelligence" that would allegedly occur were U.S. spy agencies "forced" to obtain warrants to monitor terrorism suspects, The New York Times reports.

According to Eric Lichtblau,

That prospect seemed almost inconceivable just a few months ago, when Congressional negotiators and the White House promised a quick resolution to a bruising debate over the government's surveillance powers. But the dispute has dragged on. Though both sides say they are hopeful of reaching a deal, officials have been preparing classified briefings for Congress on the intelligence "degradation" they say could occur if there is no deal in place by August. ("Impasse on Spying Could Lead to Tighter Rules," The New York Times, June 10, 2008)

The fact that such assertions are patently false and obfuscate current interpretations of the 1978 FISA law, even by the (admittedly low) standards of the Bush Justice Department, doesn't mean they won't be used ad nauseam as bipartisan talking points to ram through flawed, indeed unconstitutional legislation.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation avers,

[Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth] Wainstein said that the current interpretation of FISA does not impede the interception of foreign-to-foreign telephone calls--even after the secret FISA court ruling that [Director of National Intelligence Mike] McConnell claims required the change in the law. Thus, according to the Department of Justice's own interpretation of FISA, the surveillance law does not require court orders for foreign-to-foreign phone calls, or any other communications where both ends are known to be overseas, even if the communication passes through a U.S. switch. The Government does not need prepare individual warrants for surveillance of terrorism targets overseas. ...

Pursuant to FISA, the government can freely wiretap any "agent of a foreign power," which includes those who "engages in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefore." Any one who the Intelligence Community has evidence is a terrorist is fair game, even if the terrorists are communicating with a United States person.

The FISA court approves almost every application put before it. For example, the court granted all but four of 2,371 government requests in 2007. FISA Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth, has said he has approved FISA orders in minutes with only an oral briefing. [Kurt Opsahl, "What Will Happen to Surveillance in August 2008," Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 10, 2008)

What it all boils down to has nothing to do with "national security" or an "imminent threat" of a terrorist attack, but rather, a Congressional plan to grant retroactive immunity to lawbreaking telecoms who hope to escape liability for illegally spying on Americans at the behest of the Bush administration.

Among the "compromises" sought by Democrats and Republicans is a scheme cooked-up by Senators Christopher Bond (R-MI) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to allow the FISA court, the most secretive and least transparent judicial body in the United States, "to review the administration's requests and determine by a 'preponderance of the evidence' whether the requests were valid," according to the Times.

But as Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) wrote to House and Senate "leadership,"

As we understand it, the [Republican] proposal would authorize secret proceedings in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the companies' immunity claims, but the court's role would be limited to evaluating precisely the same question laid out in the Senate bill: whether a company received "a written request or directive from the Attorney General or the head of an element of the intelligence community... indicating that the activity was authorized by the President and determined to be lawful." Information declassified in the committee report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the FISA Amendments Act, S. 2248, confirms that the companies received exactly these materials....

In other words, under the Bond proposal, the result of the FISA Court's evaluation would be predetermined. Regardless of how much information it is permitted to review, what standard of review is employed, how open the proceedings are, and what role the plaintiffs' lawyers are permitted to play, the FISA Court would be required to grant immunity. To agree to such a proposal would not represent a reasonable compromise.

And since "the FISA court would be required to grant immunity" under terms of the "compromise" legislation, what's the real significance of the angst-laden "August deadline"? According to Lichtblau,

Democrats may have even more at stake. They acknowledge not wanting to risk reaching their national convention in Denver in August without a deal, lest that create an opening for the Republicans and Senator John McCain, their presumptive presidential nominee, to portray themselves as tougher on national security--a tried-and-true attack method in the past--just as the Democrats are nominating Senator Barack Obama.

There you have it. Unfortunately, Lichtblau doesn't share this "news" with Times' readers until the 20th paragraph of a 25 paragraph piece. Talk about "burying the lede"! But just for kicks, let's take a closer look.

The Bush administration, a mendacious pack of war criminals who by all standards of decency should be packed off to the Hague in chains, have subverted constitutional guarantees against Americans' right to privacy, in league with giant multinational privateers (telecoms) who were paid $1,000 per illegal wiretap that presumably represent millions of illegal data sweeps. How many? We don't know because its secret.

Why the rush then, to pass this piece of legislative flotsam? Liability, and lots of it, too! According to USA Today's Leslie Cauley, under section 222 of the Communications Act, the FCC "can levy fines up to $130,000 per day per violation, with a cap of $1.325 million per violation. The FCC has no hard definition of 'violation.' In practice, that means a single 'violation' could cover one customer or 1 million."

Were the multiple lawsuits against spying telecoms to go forward, and should they be found guilty in open court of violating their customer's constitutionally-protected right to privacy, it would add up to a horde of angry shareholders and a "deep impact" on the corporate bottom line.

To avert such a "disaster," the telecom industry has rolled-out the big guns--bundles of cash to their congressional "friends." According to the Center for Responsive Politics, AT&T Inc. has spent $5,213,841; Verizon Communications $3,880,000; the National Cable & Telecommunications Association $3,260,000 and Comcast Corporation $2,660,000 during the first quarter of 2008 on lobbying pay-outs. In a word, that's a lot of fire power! Call it a veritable "shock and awe" campaign for senators and congressmen cozily ensconced in the corporatist kennel.

And lest we forget the significance of the "gathering threat" posed by that "August deadline," president Bush stepped-up to the the plate and reminded us that "terrorists are planning attacks on American soil that will make September 11 pale in comparison."

And so it goes, on and on and on...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Meet the MITRE Corporation: McClean, Virginia's Dr. Strangeloves

Move over Herman Kahn. Forget the "missile gap." The latest "crisis" facing U.S. "warfighters" in their noble quest to defend the "homeland" and dominate the "battlespace" is... the sleep gap!

That's right. According to a newly disclosed report by The MITRE Corporation's defense science advisory panel know as JASON, the United States must continue investigating the potential by America's adversaries "to exploit advances in Human Performance Modification, and thus create a threat to national security," Secrecy News reveals.

According to Steven Aftergood,

Their report examined "the present state of the art in pharmaceutical intervention in cognition and in brain-computer interfaces, and considered how possible future developments might proceed and be used by adversaries."

Among their findings was the under-appreciated significance of sleep and the possibility of a "sleep gap" (a term not used in the report).

"The most immediate human performance factor in military effectiveness is degradation of performance under stressful conditions, particularly sleep deprivation." ("JASON Warns of Threat from Sleeping Enemies," Secrecy News, June 5, 2008)

Though its hard to take Strangelovian madness such as this seriously, the investigation of military applications of "Human Performance Modification" is no laughing matter. Undoubtedly, the Office of Defense Research and Engineering, the Pentagon agency that commissioned the study, aren't laughing either.

When JASON researchers conclude, "If an opposing force had a significant sleep advantage, this would pose a serious threat," its difficult not to crack a smile. That is, until one considers that the The MITRE Corporation, a McClean, Virginia-based "not-for-profit corporation," was formed in 1958 when "several hundred employees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratories came to MITRE to create new technology for the Department of Defense--specifically the Semi-Automated Ground Environment, which used brand new digital computers."

Currently fronting 6,700 scientists and "support specialists," MITRE "customers" include the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Missile Defense Command, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Intelligence Agencies, as well as "other members" of the "National Security Community."

Additionally, MITRE's "Homeland Security customers" include the full panoply of agencies under the (dark) wing of the Department of Homeland Security: the Directorate for Science & Technology, the Directorate for National Protection & Programs, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (Secure Border Initiative) and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).

According to researcher Nick Turse in his book The Complex, "MITRE brought in a cool $275,384,277" in research, development, test and evaluation money from the Pentagon in 2005. All in all, MITRE is one of the spookiest corporations you've never heard of.

As a leading provider of technical researchers for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, MITRE behavioral scientists are on the "cutting edge" of what Pentagon war criminals have euphemistically designated an "Enhanced Human Performance Project." Among the more frightening aspects of this venture, DARPA claims they will "exploit the life sciences to make the individual warfighter stronger, more alert, more endurant, and better able to heal."

In other words, a warfighting "Terminator" in the service of corporate power. These developments are further along than you might think. As Nick Turse revealed:

Right now, researchers are already growing insects with electronics inside them. They're creating cyborg moths and flying beetles that can be remotely controlled. One day, the U.S. military may field squadrons of winged insect/machine hybrids with on-board audio, video or chemical sensors. These cyborg insects could conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions on distant battlefields, in far-off caves, or maybe even in cities closer to home, and transmit detailed data back to their handlers at U.S. military bases.

Today, many people fear U.S. government surveillance of email and cell phone communications. With this program, the Pentagon aims to exponentially increase the paranoia. Imagine a world in which any insect fluttering past your window may be a remote-controlled spy, packed with surveillance equipment. Even more frightening is the prospect that such creatures could be weaponized, and the possibility, according to one scientist intimately familiar with the project, that these cyborg insects might be armed with "bio weapons." ("Weaponizing the Pentagon's Cyborg Insects," TomDispatch, March 30, 2008)

Called HI-MEMS, Turse reports that DARPA aims to transform "insects into unmanned air-vehicles." HI-MEMS program manager Armit Lal, an associate professor on leave from Cornell University described the research thusly at DARPA's annual symposium, DARPATech:

"[T]he HI-MEMS program seeks to grow MEMS and electronics inside the insect pupae. The new tissue forms around the insertions, making the bio-electronic interface long-lasting and reliable." In other words, micro-electronics are inserted at the pupal stage of metamorphosis so that they can be integrated into the insects' bodies as they develop, creating living robots that can be remotely controlled after the insect emerges from its cocoon.

And, as with all military research aiming to weaponize all aspects of the natural world, MITRE scientists and their DARPA "customers" cloak their devilish tinkering as purely "defensive" moves designed to impede an unseen, but nevertheless cunning and ruthless "adversary."

Thus we read in JASON's bizarre executive summary:

1. Maintain a strong internal research activity, with concomitant personnel expertise, because this is crucial for evaluation of potential threats based on the activity of adversaries in human performance modification.

2. Monitor enemy activities in sleep research, and maintain close understanding of open source sleep research. Use in-house military research on the safety and effectiveness of newly developing drugs for ameliorating the effects of sleep deprivation, such as ampakines, as a baseline for evaluating potential activities of adversaries.

3. Develop a corps of trained analysts capable of evaluating technical developments in human performance modification. These analysts should be trained in assessing the meaning of statistical metrics, and also in assessing the experimental methods and results of the original scientific literature on which claims are based. (E. Williams,, Human Performance, JASON, The MITRE Corporation, March 2008, JSR-07-625)

And what conclusion can we infer from JASON's recommendation that the U.S. develop a "technical knowledge base" in "behavior modification"?

The US military will certainly test whether, and to what extent, the new lessons of neuroscience can be used in military training, and it is reasonable to expect that adversaries will do so as well. We do not expect the development of super-soldiers as a result of improved training, although enhanced military capability can certainly be expected. However, unexpected adversarial behavior could result if training included behavior modification (e.g., for increased aggressiveness or decreased empathy). Thus one strong recommendation of this study is that the US should develop a technical knowledge base concerning scientifically based training tools, especially as applied in behavior modification. This knowledge base should be combined with information-gathering and analysis concerning the training techniques (both civilian and military) in adversaries' cultures.

Simply put, psychoanalysis describe such notions as projection: the process whereby what is inside is misunderstood, consciously or otherwise, as originating outside the self or body politic. In its most malignant, pathological form--as is in the self-interested mendacities of corporate and political elites--projected attitudes seriously distort the object on whom they are projected, as in the branding of x, y, or z as a "new Hitler," as a defense mechanism to mask one's own aggression.

Interestingly enough, the Nazi's genocidal project to eradicate the Jewish people was thusly theorized as a "defense" of Germanic culture against a "Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy." So it is today, with JASON's obsession with the "training techniques" in "adversaries' cultures" allegedly "training for increased aggressiveness or decreased empathy." What is this if not a descriptive catalogue of the horrors visited on the Iraqi people by an "imperialism gone wild"?

As the history of the U.S. Government's earlier experiments in "behavior modification" demonstrate, building on the "skill-sets" acquired from vanquished Nazi and Japanese war criminals, The MITRE Corporation and their DARPA "customers" are following along the path blazed decades earlier by the CIA and the Pentagon.

Sporting esoteric names and "above top secret" pedigrees, projects such as ARTICHOKE, MKULTRA, MKDELTA and MKNAOMI embodied the 1950s "cutting edge" zeitgeist of science, academia, military heavy-lifting, covert operations and expanding "business horizons." While America's Cold War vision was guided by anticommunist paranoia, consumerism and its accompanying cult of the "normal," as well as the "can-do" optimism of "winnable" nuclear war, its ideological hubris arose in the political-economic context of an American superpower that had annihilated its German and Japanese capitalist rivals.

As America's permanent war and surveillance society morphs into the dystopian phantasmagoria of Philip K. Dick's The Minority Report, technological optimism--as is inevitable in kleptocracies such as the United States--is harnessed and reified by bio-behavioral modification engineers, sociopaths in lab coats, who populate outfits such as The MITRE Corporation like so many poisonous intellectual mushrooms.

Imagining monstrous hybrids fueled by perverse fantasies of swarming cyborg-insects that "dominate the battlespace" or morals-free imperialist "Terminators" jacked-up by "pharmaceutical enhancements" and "invasive brain-computer interfaces," the JASONs, like their Hollywood namesake--the masked killing machine who ran amok in a score of popular slasher films--are, in the end, not harbingers of a bright, shining globalized future but rather, its terminal end point: the corporatist Borg hive where resistance is futile.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Homeland Security's Space-Based Spies

When The Wall Street Journal broke a story last August on the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) decision to provide state and local authorities access to information gathered by the U.S. military's fleet of spy satellites, it ignited a minor firestorm in Congress.

The National Applications Office (NAO) according to published reports, would coordinate how domestic law enforcement and "disaster relief" agencies such as FEMA utilize imagery intelligence (IMINT) generated by U.S. spy satellites. But as with other Bushist "security" schemes there's little in the way of "oversight" and zero concern for the rights of the American people.

Indeed, in a scathing letter from House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, Thompson wrote,

Unfortunately, I have had to rely on media reports to gain information about this endeavor because neither I nor my staff was briefed on the decision to create this new office prior to the public disclosure of this effort. ...

I am also concerned about the Department’s failure to vet this program with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was specifically created to ensure that concerns with respect to privacy and civil liberties are appropriately considered in the implementation of executive branch policies related to protecting the Nation against terrorism. The failure to consult the Board on a matter as controversial as using spy satellites for domestic homeland security and law enforcement purposes is particularly worrisome.

Worrisome perhaps, but standard operating procedure for the corporatist gang setting "homeland" security policy in Washington: "You don't ask, we don't tell, comprende?"

The ACLU weighed in last September when Barry Steinhardt, Director of the Technology and Liberty Project in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee stated:

"Congress needs to act before this potentially powerful surveillance tool is turned inward upon the American people. The domestic use of spy satellites represents a potential monster in the making, and we need to put some restraints in place before it grows into something that will trample Americans' privacy rights."

The program, originally slated to "go live" October 1, 2007, had been delayed by DHS's refusal to address concerns raised by congressional and civil liberties critics over the NAO's legal basis, not to mention its potential for abuse. But those misgivings have apparently been jettisoned out of the proverbial airlock.

The Washington Post reported April 12, "The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority."

But during the September hearing cited above, Jane Harman (D-CA), the architect of the Orwellian "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" (H.R. 1955), certainly no slouch when it comes to expanding repressive state power said: "It will terrify you if you really understand the capabilities of [military] satellites."

Citing criticism raised by Thompson and Harman, Chertoff claimed,

"There is no basis to suggest that this process is in any way insufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans," Chertoff wrote to Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.), chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee and its intelligence subcommittee, respectively, in letters released yesterday.

"I think we've fully addressed anybody's concerns," Chertoff added in remarks last week to bloggers. "I think the way is now clear to stand it up and go warm on it." (Spencer S. Hsu, "Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.," The Washington Post, April 12, 2008)
Why are these "assets" so terrifying?

Unlike commercial satellites that beam TV programs, forecast the weather or provide global positioning services, their military cousins are far more flexible, have greater resolution and therefore, more power to monitor human activity. By utilizing different parts of the light- and infrared spectrum, spy satellites, in addition to taking ultra high-resolution photographs to within a meter of their "target," can also track the heat signatures generated by people inside a building.

Perfectly suited for handing local SWAT teams "actionable intelligence" to bust up a meeting by antiwar, union or environmental activists, we have no criteria for assessing how the use of IMINT by "law enforcement" will impact our lives since DHS won't say. Considering that the full-capabilities of these systems are unknown outside the intelligence "community" and are among the most closely-guarded state secrets, only those inside NAO will actually know who is being monitored from space.

Simply put, if Chertoff's plan passes congressional muster NAO will greatly enhance the formidable technological police state architecture already in place through current "warrantless wiretapping" and data mining programs. As it stands, use of imagery and geospatial intelligence is limited to scientific agencies with zero responsibility for "homeland" security or law enforcement. Why these capabilities couldn't continue to be used for legitimate scientific purposes--or disaster assessment, for that matter--have not been addressed by Chertoff and his minions.

But perhaps, other, more pressing "commercial concerns" are being catered to here. As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock wrote,

The NAO was created under a plan tentatively approved in May 2007 by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell. Specifically, the NAO will oversee how classified information collected by the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and other key agencies is used within the U.S. during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other events affecting national security. The most critical intelligence will be supplied by the NSA and the NGA, which are often referred to by U.S. officials as the "eyes" and "ears" of the intelligence community. ...

The study group that established policies for the NAO was jointly funded by the ODNI and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), one of only two domestic U.S. agencies that is currently allowed, under rules set in the 1970s, to use classified intelligence from spy satellites. (The other is NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.) The group was chaired by Keith Hall, a Booz Allen vice president who manages his firm's extensive contracts with the NGA and previously served as the director of the NRO.

Other members of the group included seven other former intelligence officers working for Booz Allen, as well as retired Army Lieutenant General Patrick M. Hughes, the former director of the DIA and vice president of homeland security for L-3 Communications, a key NSA contractor; and Thomas W. Conroy, the vice president of national security programs for Northrop Grumman, which has extensive contracts with the NSA and the NGA and throughout the intelligence community.

From the start, the study group was heavily weighted toward companies with a stake in both foreign and domestic intelligence. Not surprisingly, its contractor-advisers called for a major expansion in the domestic use of the spy satellites that they sell to the government. Since the end of the Cold War and particularly since the September 11, 2001 attacks, they said, the "threats to the nation have changed and there is a growing interest in making available the special capabilities of the intelligence community to all parts of the government, to include homeland security and law enforcement entities and on a higher priority basis." ("Domestic Spying, Inc.," CorpWatch, November 27, 2007)

As is readily apparent the problem here, as with nearly all of the Bush administration's "counterterrorist" schemes since 9/11, is that NAO will largely be a creature operated and managed--at a steep price--by defense, intelligence and security privateers.

According to Washington Technology's "2008 Top Government IT Contractors," The Boeing Company clocks in at No. 2, with $9,706,621,413; No. 3, Northrop Grumman Corporation at $7,914,924,473: No. 5, SAIC, at $4,919,829,998; No. 8, L-3 Communications Corporation at $3,944,840,524; No. 12, BAE Systems, the third largest military contractor in the world, at $2,019,931,520.

However you spread the taxpayer-generated grease around, it adds up to one giant incentive to see NAO "go warm," as Chertoff colorfully explained in April.

But as Alice Lipowicz wrote,

Satellite communications and intelligence activities are a major source of federal contracting activity, and expansion of those programs into homeland security and law enforcement is likely to lead to greater contracting support. Information was not immediately available on the proposed budget for the National Applications Office for fiscal 2009 and beyond. ("CRS: Satellite surveillance raises privacy questions," Washington Technology, April 1, 2008)

We can only imagine how, under the stewardship of opaque corporations answerable to no one but their boards of directors, NAO would greatly enhance the corporatist "growth potential" into the ever-more lucrative "homeland security" market!