Today, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani delivered a speech to the Jewish Community Relations Council in New York:
[I]f we flee Iraq, if we do what the Democrats want us to do — which is to not only flee Iraq, not only retreat in Iraq, but give them a timetable of our retreat.
Have you ever heard of that in a history of war? Have you ever heard of an army being required to give a printed schedule of its release to the enemy? It makes no sense, does it? Whether you’re for the war or against it, you would never have an army retreat on a six- month, one-year, 18-month schedule explaining, We’ll reduce the forces by 20,000, then by 30,000, then by 50,000. Gee, you can then figure out when the forces are depleted enough so you can really do damage to them.
Giuliani needs to brush up on his history. A publicly-announced gradual reduction of forces is exactly what the United States did in the Vietnam War. On May 14, 1969, President Richard Nixon laid out an “eight-point peace plan” calling for the gradual withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Vietnam:
Over a period of 12 months, by agreed-upon stages, the major positions of all U.S., allied, and other non-South Vietnamese forces would be withdrawn. At the end of this 12-month period, the remaining U.S., allied, and other non-South Vietnamese forces would move into designated base areas and would not engage in combat operations.
It could be a scene from Kafka or Brazil. Imagine a government agency, in a bureaucratic foul-up, accidentally gives you a copy of a document marked “top secret.” And it contains a log of some of your private phone calls.
You read it and ponder it and wonder what it all means. Then, two months later, the FBI shows up at your door, demands the document back and orders you to forget you ever saw it.
By all accounts, that’s what happened to Washington D.C. attorney Wendell Belew in August 2004. And it happened at a time when no one outside a small group of high-ranking officials and workaday spooks knew the National Security Agency was listening in on Americans’ phone calls without warrants. Belew didn’t know what to make of the episode. But now, thanks to that government gaffe, he and a colleague have the distinction of being the only Americans who can prove they were specifically eavesdropped upon by the NSA’s surveillance program.
The lawsuit is poised to blow a hole through a bizarre catch-22 that has dogged other legal efforts to challenge the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance.
Since the 2005 Times story, and subsequent acknowledgment of the surveillance by the Bush administration, some 50-odd lawsuits have sprung up around the NSA program, taking on the government and various telecom companies who are allegedly cooperating in spying on their customers, including BellSouth, Verizon and Sprint.
Justice Department and phone company lawyers have asserted that the plaintiffs in those cases don’t have legal standing to sue, because they have no proof that they were direct victims of the eavesdropping. At the same time, the government claims it doesn’t have to reveal if any individual was or was not wiretapped because the “state secrets privilege” permits it to withhold information that would endanger national security.
The tangible document makes Belew’s case uniquely positioned to cut through that thicket, says Shayana Kadidal, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents individuals being held in Guantanamo Bay. The center is also suing to stop the surveillance, but lacks Belew’s concrete evidence of monitoring — arguing instead that the possibility of being monitored hampers its legal work.
“The government’s line is that if you don’t have evidence of actual surveillance, you lose on standing,” says Kadidal. “Out of all the cases, this is the only one with evidence of actual surveillance.”
That evidence also gives the courts enough to rule immediately on whether the president had the authority to spy on Belew and Ghafoor without a court order, said Jon Eisenberg, one of Belew’s lawyers. “We know how many times he’s been surveilled,” Eisenberg told a judge last month. “There is nothing left for this court to do except hear oral arguments on the legality of the program.”
The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago.
A military spokesman acknowledged the mistake after it was called to his attention by The Examiner. He said public affairs officers will be more careful in announcing significant kills.
Makes you wonder about all the other “progress” reports…
A U.S. appeals court has ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit against the U.S. National Security Agency for a wiretapping program because it said the plaintiffs haven’t been hurt by the agency’s actions.
A divided three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled today that the lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of journalists, lawyers and academics, be sent back to a district court judge to be dismissed. In August 2006, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled the NSA program, which monitored telephone and Internet communications without court-ordered warrants, was illegal.
The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t prove they had been affected by the NSA’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, authorized by President Bush in 2002. The program allowed the NSA to monitor communications between U.S. residents and people in other countries with suspected ties to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
In other words, since they’re not telling you they’re wiretapping you, you cannot know they’re doing it. Since you cannot know they’re doing it, you have no standing suing them. Neat.
Judge Batchelder was appointed by President George Bush, Judge Gibbons by President George W. Bush and Judge Gilman by President Bill Clinton. Judge Taylor, the district court judge, was appointed by President Jimmy Carter.
And yes, you guessed it, Judge Batchelder (George Bush) wrote the majority opinion, Judge Gibbons (George W. Bush) concurred with the majority, and Judge Gilman (Bill Clinton) dissented. Judge Taylor (Jimmy Carter) was the district court judge who was over-ruled.
Enjoy your dictatorship, America.
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. (Lt.) Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he [Yossarian] observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.
How about rewriting that?
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s privacy in the face of surveillance that was real and immediate was the process of a pro-American mind. The ACLU was pro-American and not subject to surveillance. All they had to do was file suit; and as soon as they did, they would become anti-American and would then become subject to surveillance. The ACLU would be anti-American to advocate surveillance, and pro-American to oppose it; but if they were pro-American, they had to advocate surveillance. If they advocated surveillance they were pro-American and didn’t have to be watched; but if they didn’t want to be watched, they were anti-American and had to be watched.”
Mobile-gadget makers are starting to take advantage of software-defined radio, a new technology allowing a single device to receive signals from multiple sources, including television stations and cell phone networks.
But a new federal rule set to take effect Friday could mean that radios built on “open-source elements” may encounter a more sluggish path to market–or, in the worst case scenario, be shut out altogether. U.S. regulators, it seems, believe the inherently public nature of open-source code makes it more vulnerable to hackers, leaving “a high burden to demonstrate that it is sufficiently secure.”
If the decision stands, it may take longer for consumers to get their hands on these all-in-one devices. The nascent industry is reluctant to rush to market with products whose security hasn’t been thoroughly vetted, and it fears the Federal Communications Commission’s preference for keeping code secret could allow flaws to go unexposed, potentially killing confidence in their products.
By effectively siding with what is known in cryptography circles as “security through obscurity,” the controversial idea that keeping security methods secret makes them more impenetrable, the FCC has drawn an outcry from the software radio set and raised eyebrows among some security experts.
“There is no reason why regulators should discourage open-source approaches that may in the end be more secure, cheaper, more interoperable, easier to standardize, and easier to certify,” Bernard Eydt, chairman of the security committee for a global industry association called the SDR (software-defined radio) Forum, said in an e-mail interview this week.
Actually, I can think of a reason. Money. I cannot believe the regulators are stupid enough to still believe in “security through obscurity”, so that leaves few other explanations..
Thousands of guitar students lost a valuable resource last week. The most popular guitar teacher on YouTube saw his more than 100 videos yanked from the site. The reason: a music company accused him of copyright infringement for an instructional video on how to play a Rolling Stones song.
We’re watching a media industry commit a slow suicide. While it dies, they’re blaming it on those who merely wanted to hear and view their product. While it dies, we all suffer their death spasms. Perhaps we should help them along and start torching their buildings.