Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bush Uses "Packed Web Site" Strategy

Last month, I discussed the common complaint among those opposed to administration policy that "the military is spying on domestic opposition groups". Here's what I said:

Despite the scary words "military spying" and "domestic spying" being thrown around in articles like this one, this isn't a case of the military sending people out to spy on local peace groups. It's a damn database of information collected from local agencies! Someone looks at the information, decides if the people in the upcoming protest are likely to start throwing Molotov cocktails at the gate guard, and sends out a threat assessment. Base security is then ratcheted up for the day of the protest if needed.

Today, Congressional Democrats held unofficial "hearings" to discuss their concerns about administration spying on Americans. One of the witnesses represented Truth Project Inc. of Palm Beach County, who said that his group and others had been "infiltrated and spied upon". Here's what this article says he used to substantiate his charges:

"Agents rummaged through the trash, snooped into e-mails, packed Web sites and listened in on phone conversations," Hersh charged. "We know that address books and activist meeting lists have disappeared."

Packing their web sites? What, they sent so many people to look at it that it got full? That sounds like a DOS attack to me, but I suppose that "packing" the web site sounds just as good.

OK, I know that this was probably just a bad editing job by the local paper, and he really said "hacked". But honestly... "agents" rummaging through trash? "Activist meeting lists" disappearing? (I guess the "agents" can't afford those fancy spy cameras.) I lose stuff all the time, but I don't go to a bunch of Congressmen and complain that government "agents" took it. And notice how there's no proof given of the "snooped" E-mails or listened-into phone conversations. (Actually, Hersh doesn't seem to mind that the government supposedly did these things to him, since he uses this notoriety in advertising his group's activities at Indymedia Miami.)

Not that this panel would have wanted that sort of thing... they just wanted people who shared their conviction that Bus-hitler is evil, actual facts be damned. [According to this New York Times article (registration required) "Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, even compared the president's powers to those the Nazis used early to cement their power", thus re-proving Godwin's Law.]

It'll be an interesting mid-term election year...

Update 1827 22 Jan: This week's Newsweek has a new article out on the TALON program, using scary words to describe it. The sub-header: "The Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far."

Reading down in the article, we learn how the "outfit" went "too far":

"But at the same time, they acknowledge that an internal Pentagon review has found that CIFA's database contained some information that may have violated regulations. The department is not allowed to retain information about U.S. citizens for more than 90 days—unless they are "reasonably believed" to have some link to terrorism, criminal wrongdoing or foreign intelligence. There was information that was "improperly stored," says a Pentagon spokesman who was authorized to talk about the program (but not to give his name). "It was an oversight."

Yep, it's 1984 22 years late: they didn't delete files after 90 days. While some might think that this is clearly evidence of Bush/Cheney/Rove using either mind-control rays or direct phones calls to the O-3 in charge of deleting files to keep them from doing it, others might recognize that this is more likely an administrative error -- someone didn't update their tickler file. The article also confirms how the military "spied" on the protest groups:

"The presentation... shows that CIFA analysts had access to law-enforcement reports and sensitive military and U.S. intelligence documents... But the organization also gleaned data from "open source Internet monitoring." In other words, they surfed the Web."

Yep, they had local law enforcement forward them any reports they might have had on a group, visited their web site, and then determined if the group might be a threat to attack a recruiter or try to rush the gate at a military base. Not a "threat" to the "neo-con agenda", a threat to attempt to breach security or commit assault or vandalism. They didn't use military spies to try to infiltrate the organizations, or go through their trash. Citizen Smash made many of these same points late last year...

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