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Commentary :: Theory and Information

Response: Derrida’s Deconstruction of Authority

The inherent qualities of anarchism are egalitarian, democratic and cooperative relations. These qualities enable it to ‘roam’ at will within any cultural dynamic and to be seen or appreciated as compatible with whatever it encounters. However, its inherent qualities are not realised until after the host has been affected/‘equalised’ by constant dilution/dispersal of ‘congested’ power. The cuckoo’s egg becomes the fully developed bird of a completely different genus to that which nurtured it.

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Police State

Senate Rejects Extension of the Patriot Act

This is good news, but it is not yet over.


Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act

Associated Press Writer
11:30 a.m. PST, 12/16/05

The Senate on Friday refused to reauthorize major portions of the USA Patriot Act after critics complained they infringed too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.

President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Republicans congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent.

They also supported new safeguards and expiration dates to the act's two most controversial parts: authorization for roving wiretaps, which allow investigators to monitor multiple devices to keep a target from evading detection by switching phones or computers; and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

Feingold, Craig and other critics said those efforts weren't enough, and have called for the law to be extended in its present form so they can continue to try and add more civil liberties safeguards. But Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have said they won't accept a short-term extension of the law.

If a compromise is not reached, the 16 Patriot Act provisions expire on Dec. 31, but the expirations have enormous exceptions. Investigators will still be able to use those powers to complete any investigation that began before the expiration date and to initiate new investigations of any alleged crime that began before Dec. 31, according to a provision in the original law. There are ongoing investigations of every known terrorist group, including al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and the Zarqawi group in Iraq, and all the Patriot Act tools could continue to be used in those investigations.

Five Republicans voted against the reauthorization: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Craig and Frist. Two Democrats voted to extend the provisions: Sens. Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Frist, R-Tenn., changed his vote at the last moment after seeing the critics would win. He decided to vote with the prevailing side so he could call for a new vote at any time. He immediately objected to an offer of a short term extension from Democrats, saying the House won't approve it and the president won't sign it.

"We have more to fear from terrorism than we do from this Patriot Act," Frist warned.

If the Patriot Act provisions expire, Republicans say they will place the blame on Democrats in next year's midterm elections. "In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without these vital tools for a single moment," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "The time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come."

But the Patriot Act's critics got a boost from a New York Times report saying Bush authorized the National Security Agency to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people inside the United States. Previously, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations.

"I don't want to hear again from the attorney general or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care," said Feingold, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001.

"It is time to have some checks and balances in this country," shouted Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "We are more American for doing that."

Most of the Patriot Act — which expanded the government's surveillance and prosecutorial powers against suspected terrorists, their associates and financiers — was made permanent when Congress overwhelmingly passed it after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. Making the rest of it permanent was a priority for both the Bush administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill before Congress adjourns for the year.

The House on Wednesday passed a House-Senate compromise bill to renew the expiring portions of the Patriot Act that supporters say added significant safeguards to the law. Its Senate supporters say that compromise is the only thing that has a chance to pass Congress before 2006.

"This is a defining moment. There are no more compromises to be made, no more extensions of time. The bill is what it is," said Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz.

The bill's opponents say the original act was rushed into law, and Congress should take more time now to make sure the rights of innocent Americans are safeguarded before making the expiring provisions permanent.

"Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit in a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security," said Sen. John Sununu (news, bio, voting record), R-N.H. They suggested a short extension so negotiations could continue, but the Senate scrapped a Democratic-led effort to renew the USA Patriot Act for just three months before the vote began.

"Today, fair-minded senators stood firm in their commitment to the Constitution and rejected the White House's call to pass a faulty law," said Caroline Fredrickson, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office. "This was a victory for the privacy and liberty of all Americans."


On the Net:

Justice Department's Web site on the USA Patriot Act:

ACLU's Patriot Act Web site:

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Peace & War : Police State

Protest arrests disturbingly disparate

Protest arrests disturbingly disparate
By L.A. Chung
Mercury News
It's nights like the one at De Anza College last month when Brian Helmle concludes he benefits from ``white privilege.''

That's the kind of statement that gets dismissed as liberal guilt or accepted as the way of the world -- depending on your experiences.

Helmle was one of several people arrested or detained during protests at former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's appearance at the Flint Center Nov. 11. The difference, Helmle said this week before a county Human Rights Commission panel looking into the matter, is that he and another man arrested inside the Flint Center that night are white.

The others, arrested on the outside, were Arab or black. The difference in their treatment, he said, was as stark as night and day -- or as wearing a keffiyeh or a suit.

Helmle, a customer support agent for an electronics company, had gotten a ticket to Powell's event specifically to be arrested, to be provocative, to . . . well, blow a whistle from the audience, shout ``liar, murderer!'' to disrupt Powell's remarks. So it was no surprise he was hustled out of the hall and arrested.

Identifiable by dress

But outside, in the mixed crowd of protesters, some saw something surprising. After the theatrical skirmishes had ended, Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies, moving in formation, pushed people off campus, pursued them into a shopping center and later arrested six people. It is unclear whether those six were all involved in the protest, or simply were caught up in the arrests by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Among those arrested or detained were a 17-year-old minor and a 19-year-old De Anza student who were leaving a class with books under their arms. They were wearing thoubs, or robes, or keffiyehs, the red-and-white head scarves of Palestine. It's not an uncommon sight at De Anza.

Helmle said De Anza police meticulously called him ``Sir'' as they asked for permission to extract his wallet to confirm his identity. The young men being brought in from outside, he said, were roughed up, bleeding, upset and scared, and sheriff's deputies called them rock-throwers and used a racial epithet, he said.

Sheriff's deputy Serg Palanov said those arrested on the outside had been identified from the crowd earlier in the evening as instigators who were passing rocks to others. The district attorney's office has not decided whether to prosecute the charges, which range from resisting arrest to felony assault.

`Why so obvious?'

What bothered De Anza sociology instructor Richard Wood was the apparent targeting and roughness.

``If the black kids or the Arab kids were the only ones who had been in their face or only ones who cursed them, you could understand how they would target them as particularly provocative, as having crossed the line,'' he said. ``But the white kids were the only ones who engaged in any kind of property destruction.'' They were the most vocal and the most confrontational, he said.

Hanny Zaki, a 22-year-old Arab-American who was one of those arrested, said he was vocally protesting but being slammed to the ground and kicked was wrong.

``They broke my glasses, stepped on them to make sure I didn't go anywhere,'' Zaki said. Dr. Ali Zaki said he was shocked when he awoke the next morning to find his son's ``face swollen and glasses missing.''

The Human Rights Commission will address the issue at a Jan. 24 meeting. Lawyer Dan Mayfield, who is representing all of those arrested, is hopeful for a dialogue that results in better understanding between the police, sheriff's office and the community, rather than in charges filed by the district attorney's office.

``Maybe it's Pollyanna-ish,'' he said. ``But why not make something positive out of it?''

Now that would be a privilege.

Contact L.A. Chung at

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News :: Media Criticism

The Web: Feds flop at stopping spam

Bush administration fails again - can't stop spam.
CHICAGO, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The Federal Trade Commission is expected shortly to issue a report on the effectiveness of the CAN-SPAM Act, passed by Congress to combat unsolicited junk e-mail, but experts tell United Press International's The Web ahead of the report that spam continues to rapidly proliferate.

"The CAN-SPAM Act has been largely ineffective," said Edward Naughton, an intellectual-property law partner with the firm of Holland & Knight, based in Boston. "Most of the data, and my own experience, indicates that the volume of spam has increased since the statute became effective." By Gene Koprowski

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News :: Education & Youth : Peace & War

Pentagon to review spy files after NBC report

Pentagon to review spy files after NBC report
Anti-war groups are in database, but are they threat to agency?

Updated: 10:32 a.m. ET Dec. 15, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon says it views with the greatest concern possible misuse of a classified database of information about suspicious people and activity in the United States. An NBC News report on Tuesday said the database listed activities of anti-war groups and referred to at least 20 U.S. citizens or others inside the U.S.

Pentagon spokesmen declined to discuss the matter on the record but issued a written statement Wednesday evening that implied — but did not explicitly acknowledge — that some information had been handled improperly.

The Pentagon said Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, ordered a full review of the system for handling such information to ensure that it complies with Pentagon policies and federal law.

Cambone also ordered a review of whether Pentagon polices are being applied properly with respect to reporting and storing information about “U.S. persons? — people, not necessarily U.S. citizens, inside the United States. And he ordered the database to be reviewed “to identify any other information that is improperly in the database,? according to the Pentagon statement.

The House and Senate intelligence committees were to receive letters Thursday spelling out these actions, officials said.

Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?

NBC obtained 400-page report
The Pentagon was responding to the report by NBC News, which said it obtained a 400-page document generated by an obscure Pentagon agency that analyzes intelligence reports on suspicious domestic activity that includes at least 20 references to U.S. citizens, plus information on anti-war meetings and protests.

A Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, acknowledged that anti-war group activities had been included in the database.

Earlier, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he had not determined whether the 400-page document was authentic.

“What I can tell you is that the Defense Department does have legitimate interests in protecting its installations, in protecting its people, and to the extent that they use information collected by law enforcement agencies to do that, that’s an appropriate activity of the United States military,? Whitman said.

The military’s intelligence-gathering efforts must pertain directly to protection of Pentagon property or people, he said.

NBC News said the database lists a meeting in 2004 of The Truth Project in Lake Worth, Fla., where activists planned a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. It listed the meeting as a “threat? and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents? across the country over a recent 10-month period.

The NBC report also said the database includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation or recruitment center.

Agency born after 9/11
The database was generated by an obscure Pentagon agency, the Counterintelligence Field Activity, a three-year old outfit whose size and budget are classified secret. Some have portrayed its activities as reminiscent of the 1960s when the Pentagon collected information on anti-Vietnam war groups and peace activists.

The Pentagon increased its counterintelligence efforts in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. An intelligence reporting system developed by the Air Force, called the Threat and Local Observation Notice, or TALON, was put into effect across the Defense Department in 2002. Its purpose was to assemble and share “non-validated domestic threat information,? according to a Pentagon fact sheet.

“The TALON is designed to capture non-validated threat information and security anomalies indicative of possible terrorist pre-attack activity,? it said. “Reportable events include nonspecific threat to DoD interests; suspected surveillance of DoD facilities and personnel,? tests of security, unusual repetitive activity, bomb threats and “any other suspicious activity,? it added.

© 2005 The Associated Press.

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News :: Education & Youth : Peace & War

Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?

Secret database obtained by NBC News tracks ‘suspicious’ domestic groups

By Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella and the NBC Investigative Unit
Updated: 6:18 p.m. ET Dec. 14, 2005

Lisa Myers
Senior investigative correspondent
WASHINGTON - A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat? and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents? across the country over a recent 10-month period.

“This peaceful, educationally oriented group being a threat is incredible,? says Evy Grachow, a member of the Florida group called The Truth Project.

“This is incredible,? adds group member Rich Hersh. “It's an example of paranoia by our government,? he says. “We're not doing anything illegal.?

The Defense Department document is the first inside look at how the U.S. military has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups.

“I think Americans should be concerned that the military, in fact, has reached too far,? says NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin.

The Department of Defense declined repeated requests by NBC News for an interview. A spokesman said that all domestic intelligence information is “properly collected? and involves “protection of Defense Department installations, interests and personnel.? The military has always had a legitimate “force protection? mission inside the U.S. to protect its personnel and facilities from potential violence. But the Pentagon now collects domestic intelligence that goes beyond legitimate concerns about terrorism or protecting U.S. military installations, say critics.

Four dozen anti-war meetings
The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One “incident? included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald’s National Salute to America’s Heroes — a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: “US group exercising constitutional rights.? Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense — yet they all remained in the database.

The DOD has strict guidelines (.PDF link), adopted in December 1982, that limit the extent to which they can collect and retain information on U.S. citizens.

Still, the DOD database includes at least 20 references to U.S. citizens or U.S. persons. Other documents obtained by NBC News show that the Defense Department is clearly increasing its domestic monitoring activities. One DOD briefing document stamped “secret? concludes: “[W]e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the [I]nternet,? but no “significant connection? between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests? or “vehicle descriptions.?

The increased monitoring disturbs some military observers.

“It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests,? says Arkin. “On the domestic level, this is unprecedented,? he says. “I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military.?

Some former senior DOD intelligence officials share his concern. George Lotz, a 30-year career DOD official and former U.S. Air Force colonel, held the post of Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight from 1998 until his retirement last May. Lotz, who recently began a consulting business to help train and educate intelligence agencies and improve oversight of their collection process, believes some of the information the DOD has been collecting is not justified.

Make sure they are not just going crazy
“Somebody needs to be monitoring to make sure they are just not going crazy and reporting things on U.S. citizens without any kind of reasoning or rationale,? says Lotz. “I demonstrated with Martin Luther King in 1963 in Washington,? he says, “and I certainly didn’t want anybody putting my name on any kind of list. I wasn’t any threat to the government,? he adds.

The military’s penchant for collecting domestic intelligence is disturbing — but familiar — to Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence officer.

“Some people never learn,? he says. During the Vietnam War, Pyle blew the whistle on the Defense Department for monitoring and infiltrating anti-war and civil rights protests when he published an article in the Washington Monthly in January 1970.

The public was outraged and a lengthy congressional investigation followed that revealed that the military had conducted investigations on at least 100,000 American citizens. Pyle got more than 100 military agents to testify that they had been ordered to spy on U.S. citizens — many of them anti-war protestors and civil rights advocates. In the wake of the investigations, Pyle helped Congress write a law placing new limits on military spying inside the U.S.

But Pyle, now a professor at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, says some of the information in the database suggests the military may be dangerously close to repeating its past mistakes.

“The documents tell me that military intelligence is back conducting investigations and maintaining records on civilian political activity. The military made promises that it would not do this again,? he says.

Too much data?
Some Pentagon observers worry that in the effort to thwart the next 9/11, the U.S. military is now collecting too much data, both undermining its own analysis efforts by forcing analysts to wade through a mountain of rubble in order to obtain potentially key nuggets of intelligence and entangling U.S. citizens in the U.S. military’s expanding and quiet collection of domestic threat data.

Two years ago, the Defense Department directed a little known agency, Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, to establish and “maintain a domestic law enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense.? Then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz also established a new reporting mechanism known as a TALON or Threat and Local Observation Notice report. TALONs now provide “non-validated domestic threat information? from military units throughout the United States that are collected and retained in a CIFA database. The reports include details on potential surveillance of military bases, stolen vehicles, bomb threats and planned anti-war protests. In the program’s first year, the agency received more than 5,000 TALON reports. The database obtained by NBC News is generated by Counterintelligence Field Activity.

CIFA is becoming the superpower of data mining within the U.S. national security community. Its “operational and analytical records? include “reports of investigation, collection reports, statements of individuals, affidavits, correspondence, and other documentation pertaining to investigative or analytical efforts? by the DOD and other U.S. government agencies to identify terrorist and other threats. Since March 2004, CIFA has awarded at least $33 million in contracts to corporate giants Lockheed Martin, Unisys Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation and Northrop Grumman to develop databases that comb through classified and unclassified government data, commercial information and Internet chatter to help sniff out terrorists, saboteurs and spies.

One of the CIFA-funded database projects being developed by Northrop Grumman and dubbed “Person Search,? is designed “to provide comprehensive information about people of interest.? It will include the ability to search government as well as commercial databases. Another project, “The Insider Threat Initiative,? intends to “develop systems able to detect, mitigate and investigate insider threats,? as well as the ability to “identify and document normal and abnormal activities and ‘behaviors,’? according to the Computer Sciences Corp. contract. A separate CIFA contract with a small Virginia-based defense contractor seeks to develop methods “to track and monitor activities of suspect individuals.?

“The military has the right to protect its installations, and to protect its recruiting services,? says Pyle. “It does not have the right to maintain extensive files on lawful protests of their recruiting activities, or of their base activities,? he argues.

Lotz agrees. “The harm in my view is that these people ought to be allowed to demonstrate, to hold a banner, to peacefully assemble whether they agree or disagree with the government’s policies,? the former DOD intelligence official says.

'Slippery slope'
Bert Tussing, director of Homeland Defense and Security Issues at the U.S. Army War College and a former Marine, says “there is very little that could justify the collection of domestic intelligence by the Unites States military. If we start going down this slippery slope it would be too easy to go back to a place we never want to see again,? he says.

Some of the targets of the U.S. military’s recent collection efforts say they have already gone too far.

“It's absolute paranoia — at the highest levels of our government,? says Hersh of The Truth Project.

“I mean, we're based here at the Quaker Meeting House,? says Truth Project member Marie Zwicker, “and several of us are Quakers.?

The Defense Department refused to comment on how it obtained information on the Lake Worth meeting or why it considers a dozen or so anti-war activists a “threat.?

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News :: Media Criticism

Critics Claim FCC Ruling Creates 'Duopoly'

Bush administration enriches corporate fat cats again.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin says that the agency's new rules on broadband Internet access create a "level playing field." But critics—including leading investment bankers and Internet technology vendors—are alleging that the FCC is actually creating a new, unfair playing field, where cable and traditional telecom companies are favored over ISPs.
"We have to assume now that we are in a duopoly world," said Jonathan Taplin, a partner with Business Edge Solutions, a Los Angeles-based consulting company that works with telecom clients, in an interview with By Gene Koprowski

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Commentary :: Theory and Information

The Politics of Inversion

A fundamental feature of extremist regimes is the absolute requirement of an adversary. If a real or perceived enemy loses its opponent status then a bogeyman (under the bed) mentality is cultivated until the negative effects of that strategy (fear, loathing etc.) can be successfully superimposed onto a suitable ‘candidate’. The ‘successful’ candidate would then immediately attract the fear, loathing and violence of the extremist society (or group) in question.

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