Wednesday, March 28, 2007

e-FOIA reviewed by the National Security Archive

"The Freedom of Information Act enables the public to obtain information from the federal government to ascertain... "what the government is up to."...a government shrouded in secrecy is not a government by the people and for the people."

It is far less burdensome and costly for federal agencies to post basic and most frequently requested information online than to respond separately to many individual requests for the same information when that information cannot be accessed on agency Web sites.

While the National Security Archive audit highlights some chief offenders of E-FOIA, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (a Department of Homeland Security component) and the Air Force, the audit also compliments certain federal branches, such as NASA for proactively posting records of great interest to the public (like the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster) and the Department of Education for providing guidance and tools like online forms for FOIA requesters.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Son of TIA Will Mine Asian Data

The Total Information Awareness system was an overarching plan for ubiquitous spying upon U.S. citizens and essentially upon "all" commerce and other activity which the U.S. spies might think to call a threat. It was later named the Terrorism Information Awareness system, because Terrorism became a big thing. Either way TIA promised to become the worst of our Big Brother fears. In 2003 the public became aware of the system and a bruhahahaha happened in Congress with a public shutdown of the project, including Admiral Poindexter having to resign from working for DARPA on the project.

The Wired article discusses a version of TIA developed by Singapore. The unveiling ceremony was led by, er, Admiral Poindexter. One of the project leaders had worked in DARPA on the TIA project. Hmm...

The article talks about adjustment to the plan based on the reaction seen in the U.S.A. The Singapore version is concentrating on "open source" intelligence data, which would be all the information published in the open. This would include news articles, blog postings, etc.

U.S. program for monitoring "open source intelligence": Re: Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S.

My original TIA coverage is here: DARPA's Information Awareness Office, The Total Information Awareness System; Or, Big Brother in-carnate
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Pentagon Preps Mind Fields

Augmented Cognition is a research idea being pursued by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that seems straight out of Science Fiction. The idea is that modern Military work is largely working with computers to do things like analyze intelligence data, or operate robotic weaponry, or fly airplanes, etc. Computers as they exist have too much information, supposedly, for the soldiers to comprehend. The idea is to have the computer scanning brainwaves and use that information to change the computer display so it fits the individual.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

War Protest Rally, San Francisco, March 19, 2007

It's four years almost to the day since the start of the illegal invasion of Iraq. The last war rally I attended, on March 15, 2003 was on the very eve of the launch of that war. If you read that report March 15, 2003 was a very exciting day for me, what with watching a cat-and-mouse game between police and an unofficial protest march I came across going down Market street that ended with a couple hundred arrests of people who had essentially been simply walking down the sidewalk and making a bit of noise.

As a measure of something related to the greater significance of the protest rally .. the march route four years ago went through some very non-mainstream areas of San Francisco, through neighborhoods with many surveillance cameras (can you cay 'high crime neighborhood'). The protesters I mentioned who had been arrested were trying to take the protest to Market street, because that's where the significance is if you can be visible in front of all the tourists etc. This year the protest rally started at The Embarcadero, went down Market Street, and ended in the Civic Center plaza across the street from City Hall. You couldn't have asked for a route with more significant visibility in San Francisco.

I took Caltrain up the Peninsula and it was more than exciting how jampacked the train was with war protesters. There were people handing out flyers, talking away with each other, a representative from Raging Grannies was teaching us some songs, etc. And .... that person remembered me from 2 1/2 years ago from the November 2004, San Francisco Autoshow when I accidentally bumped into a small scale protest staged by Medea Benjamin with Code Pink and Raging Grannies representatives who were climbing on top of Hummer's and chanting Hybrids not Hummers and calling into question the patrioticness of the HummerLovers ogling their dream vehicles.

More than a Number


This is a listing of the names and ages, by date, of the soldiers killed in Iraq. It's easy to hear a number, like 3105, and not really grasp what that number means. The web site attempts to present this statistic in a more meaningful way.

If you are a fan of the 60's TV show The Prisoner, as I am, you might be remembering I am not a number, I am a free man.

In any case one must also remember what (or who) is not counted in that count. It's the U.S. Soldiers who have died, it is not the wounded, it is not the dead or wounded contractors, it is not the Iraqi dead (which may be over 350,000) nor the Iraqi wounded, and it is not the cost in our souls for being party to this illegal war.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A National Driver's License and the Fading Right of Anonymity

Describes the Real ID Act as a the act of a totalitarian dystopia. Since those are $50 words I think he means totalitarian and domineering governments. Think of the movie portrayal of totalitarian governments, and you have a stern police officer demanding "papers, please". Today we have machines that scan our bodies, we have other machines that scan for metals, we have coming machines that scan biometric features of our bodies (such as iris pictures) and more. Taken together the technology has increased to where we can no longer go about our lives in anonymity.

Supposedly there is a right of anonymity we've had all along, which is now being threatened. I wonder, where did that right get written down? It doesn't list this right in the U.S. Bill of Rights, for example.


... to date, the most vocal condemnation has come from the far right. Religious fundamentalists, in particular, claim that it portends the "mark of the Beast" described in Revelation 13:16-17: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

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Salon.COM: Identity crisis

Coverage of the Real ID act by Salon.COM. They point to Rep. Sensenbrenner who, at the time of the passage of this act, was railing against illegal immigration. He sees todays system of identity cards, the drivers license, as "chinks" in the armor of national security. He is also a well known anti-immigration bigot. This article characterises the Real ID Act as a matter of portraying fears, e.g. more terrorist attacks or the dangers of illegal immigration, and to pose this security card as the solution.

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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: REAL ID


Official announcement by the Department of Homeland Security concerning proposed rules arising from the Real ID Act. They also have an FAQ.

Chertoff: Real ID not “invasion of privacy”

An analysis of a speech by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff about the Real ID Act.

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REAL ID Endangers People Fleeing Persecution


Summary by Human Rights First concerning the Real ID Act.

Montana moves to reject Real ID Act

Montana and other states are considering rejecting the requirements in the Real ID Act. The act places requirements on states which set standards for an identity card. If a given state does not meet those standards then residents of that state cannot partake in the activities for which the Real ID card is required, such as flying on an airplane, using federal services, etc. Meaning that residents of states who reject the requirements become like exiles in their own country.

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Maine rejects Real ID Act

Maine overwhelmingly rejected federal requirements for national identification cards on Thursday, marking the first formal state opposition to controversial legislation scheduled to go in effect for Americans next year.

Both chambers of the Maine legislature approved a resolution saying the state flatly "refuses" to force its citizens to use driver's licenses that comply with digital ID standards, which were established under the 2005 Real ID Act. It asks the U.S. Congress to repeal the law.

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Information by the ACLU concerning the Real ID act.

The Real ID Act: Threatening Your Privacy Through an Unfunded Government Mandate


Summary by the Electronic Freedom Foundation about the Real ID act and its significance.

Schneier on Security: Real ID

The eminent security expert, Bruce Schneier, explaining his opposition to the Real ID act. He claims it doesn't increase security, but decreases. He claims it's bogus to think requiring identification before boarding an airplane (for instance) increases the security of flying on airplanes. He claims that requiring this ID to be your drivers license just means illegal immigrants will start driving without a license, and just how does that make us any safer? And he claims this act isn't necessary .. the claim is the Real ID act is meant to fulfill the 9/11 Commission recommendation for tighter identification systems, but the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 already enacted those requirements. Hence the Real ID act is unnecessary.

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The REAL ID Act: How It Violates U.S. Treaty Obligations, Insults International Law, Undermines Our Security, and Betrays Eleano


A detailed summary by a FindLaw writer of the Real ID act. He makes several claims about this act and how it guts certain aspects of America that are part of our core identity as a nation.

The Real ID act will cause the U.S. to come into violation with two International treaties that together form an International Bill of Rights. These are International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The act would violate normal procedures in dealing with refugees from persecution in their home country. This is due to changes in requirements for people seeking asylum. The U.S. has long taken the role of a beacon of hope and freedom and democracy for those fleeing oppression.

National ID Card Regulations Issued (Real ID)

Real ID is a system being proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which they say will keep us safe, but which many of us think is a crude attempt to create big brother or something akin to The Beast (he of the Book of Revelations).

The proposed regulations state the card will be required for various activities such as entry into federal buildings, opening a bank account, or flying on airplanes.

The regulations were originally mandated, by Congress, to be in place by May 11, 2008. The DHS has slipped that requirement to 2009.

Some states have already declared they will not implement these requirements, or are considering joining with the rebellion against these requirements.

Privacy advocates who have studied this issue say such requirements actually decrease personal security, rather than increase it.

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National ID Cards and REAL ID Act


Summary by the Electronic Privacy Information Center on the Real ID system. This is a new requirement by the U.S. Government to establish an improved ID card system for U.S. citizens. The EPIC summary includes the long history in the U.S. of the people abhorring the concept of a national identity card, and previous fights against any similar system.

Real ID Act of 2005


The legislation record for the Real ID Act of 2005 which enacted a requirement of a National (U.S.) ID card system.



FAQ: How Real ID will affect you

An excellent summary (in FAQ format) of the Real ID Act at the time it was enacted. This act was slipped through Congress, no debate, attached to a Military Spending bill. At the time the Republicans were still in control of Congress meaning that Military spending was not under question, and that the Administration had a fairly free hand to pull shenanigans.

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