No one’s laughing these days, least of all the CIA. NEWSWEEK has obtained previously unpublished flight plans indicating the agency has been operating a Boeing 737 as part of a top-secret global charter servicing clandestine interrogation facilities used in the war on terror. And the Boeing’s flight information, detailed to the day, seems to confirm Masri’s tale of abduction. Gnjidic, Masri’s lawyer, called the information “very, very important” to his case, which is being investigated as a kidnapping by a Munich prosecutor. In what could prove embarrassing to President Bush, Gnjidic added that a German TV station was planning to feature Masri’s tale ahead of Bush’s much-touted trip to Germany this week. German Interior Minister Otto Schily recently visited CIA Director Porter Goss to discuss the case, and German sources tell NEWSWEEK that Schily was seeking an apology. CIA officials declined to comment on that meeting or any aspect of Masri’s story.
CIA officials are increasingly fretful about being saddled with this secret prison network at a time of intense pressure from lawyers and human-rights activists. The CIA’s anxiety only deepened last week when President Bush named John Negroponte, his ambassador to Iraq, as the country’s first director of national intelligence. Negroponte, a demanding career diplomat, will take over the coveted president’s daily brief, or PDB, from Goss. Bush sought to reassure the CIA that it would still be welcome in the Oval Office. But Bush also signaled that Negroponte would preside over a major shift in power in intelligence gathering. “John and I will work to determine how much exposure the CIA will have to the Oval Office,” the president told reporters.
While it battles for influence in Washington, the agency is also fighting a rear-guard action against critics at home and abroad. Some CIA officials fear the White House is now exposing them to legal peril. New Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, under pressure while he awaited his confirmation hearings late last year, repudiated a controversial August 2002 memo that CIA officials carefully solicited from the Justice Department for legal authorization on renditions and the agency’s treatment of Qaeda prisoners. Today the CIA has dozens of detainees it doesn’t know how to dispose of without legal procedures. “Where’s the off button?” says one retired CIA official. “They asked the White House for direction on how to dispose of these detainees back when they asked for [interrogation] guidance. The answer was, ‘We’ll worry about that later.’ Now we don’t know what to do with these guys. People keep saying, ‘We’re not going to shoot them’.”
You are looking at the VERY FIRST photo ever published on the web!
Back in 1992, after their show at the CERN Hardronic Festival, my colleague Tim Berners-Lee asked me for a few scanned photos of “the CERN girls” to publish them on some sort of information system he had just invented, called the “World Wide Web”. I had only a vague idea of what that was, but I scanned some photos on my Mac and FTPed them to Tim’s now famous “info.cern.ch”. How was I to know that I was passing an historical milestone, as the one above was the first picture ever to be clicked on in a web browser!”
Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.
~ Charles Schulz
A couple years ago CBS threatened to pull the plug on High Def programming if the FCC didnt push forward rules supporting the Broadcast Flag.
For those that dont know, the Broadcast Flag is basically a digital switch that over the air broadcasters, the major broadcast networks, can set to potentially prevent viewers from recording their broadcasts. If they dont want you copying their show to your Tivo/PVR hard drive, the switch could prevent it. Or they could set it so you could copy it one time, but not make any further copies.
When CBS made their threat, an argument could have been made that their content was needed to help speed up the adoption of HDTV. Back then, the HDTVs were more expensive, and if CBS stopped broadcasting in HD, it could have given potential buyers a reason not to buy a new HDTV.
Now the momentum has flipped. The HDTV cat is out of the bag. Its not that the majority of homes have high def sets, they dont and wont for a good 5 years. However, the number of people who do have HDTVs LOVE THEM. When you have millions and millions of consumers who have paid their hard earned money for a product they love, the only thing that would happen if a network broadcaster pulled the plug on their HD feeds is that their would be a switchboard meltdown at that broadcaster and the number of complaints the FCC would get would dwarf the Janet Jackson response.
Thats on the national level.
On the local level, forgettaboutit. Every affiliate of that broadcaster would go through living hell. There are still a lot of HD viewers that get their signal from over the air feeds. These are the most outspoken consumers who call and give grief to an affiliate when a show is upconverted rather than shown in true HD. If a show isnt shown at all in HD, the phones ring longer and the Emails come quicker. If its a major event, its not suprising for the local station general manager to get threats of bodily harm. I cant even imagine the hell that Fox affiliates that didnt carry the SuperBowl went through from their viewers.
Im telling you, there is no chance that the national network broadcasters pull back from HD. Their affiliates would revolt , side by side with their viewers in enough numbers, and with a loud enough voice, that the pain would last a long time.
But lets just say, for the sake of example that one of the network broadcasters did stop broadcasting in HD. They could do it in one of two ways. They could stop all of their broadcasting, which I dont they are stupid enough to do, or they could seperate their broadcasts. They could offer an HD feed to the cable and satellite distributors they already have HD deals with, and then offer only a low definition feed for over the air broadcasts.
The irony of the impact should make the FCC smile, if not blush.
By offering HD feeds only to cable and satellite, it would push viewers who had previously relied on antennas, but were buying a new HDTV (for those that dont know, you can buy a 27 HDTV ready set for under 300 dollars and falling now), or that already had an HDTV, towards signing up with an HD sat or cable provider for not just their HDTV, but also to support their analog TVs.
Anything that transitions TVs from receiving signals over the air , via antenna reception to utilizing a digital cable or satellite box pushs the analog to digital transition one baby step closer.
So if one of the networks threatens to pull their HD signal because of the broadcast flag call their bluff.
The same applies to the Movie Industry. MPAA has been quoted as saying that without the flag, high value content would migrate to where it could be protected. Yeah right. Just like the music industry switched their content back from CDs to cassette tapes and LPs. I havent seen a movement on the part of the music industry to switch from DVDs and their digital image back to VHS where it could be protected. The movie business complained about DVDs and threatened to not support them . until they started making more money from DVDs than theatrical release.
Protect the MPAA members from themselves and their lies. Its all BS. Call their bluff.
We dont need the broacast flag. It accomplishes absolutely nothing other than to set a precedent that the content industry can intimidate the FCC .
That said, although the broadcast flag is bad for consumers in every possible way, it would be great for my content businesses. HDNet Films, 2929 Entertainment, Rysher Entertainment, The Dallas Mavericks, HDNet Productions, www.hd.net, every single content entity I have would benefit from the broadcast flag. Not because it would protect content, it wouldnt. Content doesnt need any special protections. There are enough laws on the books regarding theft that no special content laws are needed.
They all would benefit because we wouldnt use the broadcast flag. While the big networks would create confusion and anger with their customers, our businesses could be the knight in shining armour and provide content in exactly the means consumers want it, unencumbered and available to watch, where and how they like.
Before I sign off, and since Im high on the soap box, since Ive touched on the subject of the analog to digital transition, let me make one point there that I think is being overlooked.
THe value of reclaiming the analog spectrum is not just in the 25 Billion dollars or more that could go into the government treasury from its sale, but also in the bandwidth that is freed up at cable MSOs. Most cable providers have nearly 80 analog channels chewing up their valuable bandwidth. AT approximately 38mbs PER CHANNEL, thats nearly 3 Gigabytes of bandwidth that can be freed up to be used for digital applications. Those applications could be not only HD channels, but just as importantly, bandwidth for broadband connections. Free up 3GBs and you could see the bandwidth available to your house expand to unheard of levels.
So the transition from analog to digital tv is not just about television, its as much about expanding the broadband opportunities to every home passed by cable. Thats good for all of us.