Friday, December 16, 2005
Security run amok
If you want an object lesson in security run amok, go to the Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos and find the documentation there for the security upgrades planned for West Jemez Road. The NNSA security experts, not to be outdone by the Homeland Security guys who demonstrated their competence so dramatically in Louisiana and Mississippi during and after the recent hurricanes, are securing LANL against unspecified terrorist threats by constructing a 20 million dollar complex of guard stations and loop-de-loops at the corner of Diamond drive and West Jemez road that looks like a cross between the toll gates at the Oakland Bay Bridge and the fun house ride at Coney Island.
This complex is perfectly calculated to isolate Los Alamos from three of its four prime tourist attractions: Bandelier National Monument, the Jemez mountains, and Pajarito mountain ski hill. Maybe we can make up for it by offering tourists the opportunity to be shaken down in genuine government security inspections by genuine government security inspectors. Save a trip to the border.
Employees at the laboratory have endured for decades increasingly inane security and safety rules that make work without addressing real problems, but at least they get paid to put up with this stuff. Business people and ordinary citizens going about their daily lives receive no such compensation, and ought to complain: security restraints on citizens of this country have passed from illusion to fantasy, and serve primarily to provide opportunities for government contractors. Enough is enough. I’m tired of taking off my shoes and emptying my pockets for the government.
If you think this is stupid, so do a lot of your neighbors. Write letters to the people who can stop it: Udall, Domenici, and Bingaman. Telephone your County Councillors or go to the Council meeting Thursday night the 22nd and tell them to stand up to these turkeys.
1208 9th Street
Los Alamos NM 87544
505 662-5900 Fax 662-5777 Cell 280-3110
A woman who refused to show ID on a public bus was arrested and harrassed by Federal security agents without any probably cause - other than they felt like it.
Of course you are correct. The whole concept of the security corridor on West Jemez is not only unneighborly, but, to use your words, it is "innane" and "stupid". What you fail to realize is that such incredible waste, such arrogance in the name of National Security is now what Los Alamos (under NNSA, UC, and Nanos) has become - at least in terms of future funding profiles. $20M. Incredible. It seems clear the Government intends to fund us indefinitely. I ask the same question you do. Why not pay us to do something useful in the service of the Country instead of erecting fences to protect us against the bogeyman? Sadly - increasingly - the roads in Los Alamos County lead to nowhere.
Not quite, Scott. They still lead out.
"In a stinging defeat for President Bush, Senate Democrats blocked passage Friday of a new Patriot Act to combat terrorism at home, depicting the measure as a threat to the constitutional liberties of innocent Americans." (AP)
The Democrats are beginning to grow cojones, and with them, emerge some rational Republican moderates, blinking their eyes from the long stay in a dark closet. I tell you, this is a long-overdue hopeful sign. And I am one of the curmudgeonliest cynics in the local neighborhood.
Constitutional Law? Federal Statutes? Warrants? We don't need no
stink'n legal warrants. A signature by our Prezident is good enuf,
cuz he's a very honest hombre.
Bush Won't Discuss Report of NSA Spying
-- AP News Dec 16, 2005 --
President Bush refused to say whether the National Security Agency
eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States but
leaders of Congress condemned the practice on Friday and promised to
look into what the administration has done.
"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Sen. Arlen Specter,
R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said there would
be hearings early next year and that they would have "a very, very high
priority." He wasn't alone in reacting harshly to the report.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the story, first reported in Friday's
New York Times, was troubling.
stink'n legal warrants. A signature by our Prezident is good enuf,
cuz he's a very honest hombre."
The misconceptions being propagated around the internet about the Patriot Act are enough to make a survivalist blush. The provisions of the Patriot Act that are expiring do not do away with the need to obtain search warrants. They update pre-internet laws so investigators don't need wiretap orders to get email, nor do they need to obtain separate warrants for each ISP a suspect has an account with. I don't see the nobility or courage of trying to get these provisions rolled back.
This document contains specific details about the expiring portions of the Patriot Act that take some of the energy out of the quixotic campaign to revoke it.
the need to obtain search warrants. " -- dug
But that is EXACTLY what happened in this NSA domestic wiretapping
case. There where no warrants! Yet our FISA (foreign intel) courts
will hand out warrants any time of the day for almost 99.99 % of the
government's requests. So the big question is -- what was going on
that the Whitehouse felt they didn't need to bother with a warrant
for this project? The news is reporting that up to 500 US citizens
where being monitored at any given time by this effort. Even some
of the staff at NSA was backing away from getting involved in this
stinker. They knew it could land them in jail.
Ignore all the laws and any idiot can keep America safe. Is that
what we want? In many countries like China, they have a wonderful
Constitution. Problem is, it means nothing. It's only words.
We seem to be headed in the same direction. Precedence is being
set here. Some day, a future President will come into power that
the right-wingers don't much care for, and he'll be able to follow
the same path as our current President. What if someone like Nixon
was serving as our President right now? It's not a pleasant thought,
and it's the reason why our Constitution set up the court system to
serve as a balance to uncontrolled Executive power.
Even the President's own party is turning against him on this one,
"dug". And nothing in the current Patriot Act authorized this type
Remind me why the Patriot Act is being vilified over this then.
These check point are scheduled to last (just coincidentally, of course) until this nonsense stops. We are being held hostage by idiots, and I think we need to up the ante.
Because the NSA story shows that our President cannot be trusted with
"Patriot Act" type powers. Give him and his DOJ an inch, and they'll take
a mile. We are going to need some pretty thorough oversight of this
Administration to make sure the are not abusing our laws and Constitution.
As of now, we have just witnessed a severe breach of trust between the Pres
and his own party in the Senate based on the NSA story. Wake up, "dug".
What happened in the Senate in regards to their voting down on the renewal
of the Patriot Act late this week should be telling you something.
BTW, you might find Arlen Spector's (R-Pa) video discussing this recent
NSA story to be of interest. Note his use of the word "devastating":
Senator Specter Speaks About Patriot Act, NSA -- AP News Video
(NOTE: Video starts out with a short advertisement)
sleep much better at night just knowing that Good Americans like you two
are watching over our democracy. As they say, if you don't have any thing
to hide, then why worry about illegal government wiretaps, right? Many
people in 1930's Germany probably thought the very same way. You two are
in very good company. Who needs the Senate and the courts getting in the
way? Our President knows what's best for us all. Heck, he hardly ever
makes a mistake.
But, seriously, the PA and the NSA domestic wiretapping story are
related to the road issue at LANL. They are signs of a mindset that
is troublesome to me. We've devolved this country into a constant
State of Fear. Why is that? In the Cold War, we had a "real" enemy
who could kill almost all Americans in less than 30 minutes. Our
current enemy in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) compares poorly to
the old Soviet state. I find it frightening that so many in the
public are more than willing to give up their liberties and freedom
of movement to this new boogey-man. The chances that you, as an
individual, will be involved in a terrorist event are very low --
about 1-in-50 million according to the insurance industry. What
happened on 911 was tragic and historic, but we shouldn't wreck
our democracy over it. If we do, then the terrorist have won.
"Patriot Act" type powers. Give him and his DOJ an inch, and they'll take a mile. We are going to need some pretty thorough oversight of this Administration to make sure the are not abusing our laws and Constitution."
So, because the President authorized wiretaps of the international communications of a few hundred people with known Al Qaeda connections, you don't trust the entire DOJ? It's up to each individual to decide who they trust, but I want those people who have Al Qaeda on their speed dial to have their phones tapped. And considering that even if, hypothetically speaking, the DOJ abused their wiretap powers, the harm would be far smaller to society than what they are trying to prevent, the question of who needs to "wake up" is one I still consider open. What's with all this paranoia anyway? I think conspiracy theorists are taking TV and movies too seriously. If somebody wanted to spy on me, I'd be amused.
Well, I guess if you kept your nose clean and stayed away from any of THAT monkeybusiness, then you're safe. -Maybe.
(That's why libertarians are such curmudeonly people. I'm rather fond of them, myself. They are the prickly burrs underneath the saddles of the too-comfortably fat cats.)
slope of dis-regarding our Constitution and laws for "convenience",
then it won't be long until much worse things begin to happen. I
lived through the Nixon era. I suppose you would be one of
the few who still rooted for the man on the day he left office.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Why is it
that many right-wingers think our laws only seem to apply to those
outside of their narrow tribe? This level of hypocrisy is amazing.
But, hey, I'm sure it's a minor incident. And cases like the
one that happened in the article listed below are nothing to
worry about. Place your trust in our President - not in the
Constitution. He's infallible and divinely inspired:
Standard-Times Newspaper -- New Bedford, MA -- Dec 17, 2005
======== Agents' Visit Chills UMass Dartmouth Senior ========
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer
NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal
agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's
tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book." Two history professors
at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said
the student told them he requested the book through the UMass
Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program. The student, who was
completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's
class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the
request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security
number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by
two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors
said. The professors said the student was told by the agents that the
book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included
significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student
further. "I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he
asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor
Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is
monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the
visit, as I understand it." Although The Standard-Times knows the name
of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears
repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The
Standard-Times. The professors had been asked to comment on a report
that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy
on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country.
The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants. The Little Red
Book, is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese
leader Mao Tse-Tung. In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural
Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are
abridged versions available, the student asked for a version
translated directly from the original book. The student told Professor
Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that the Homeland Security agents told him
the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but
did not leave it with the student, the professors said. Dr. Williams
said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan,
Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his
calls are monitored. "My instinct is that there is a lot more
monitoring than we think," he said. Dr. Williams said he had been
planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is
reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk. "I shudder
to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites,
what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is
Contact Aaron Nicodemus at email@example.com
This story appeared on Page A9 of The Standard-Times on December 17,
What's the point of going to a public rally if you're going to complain about your lack of anonymity? If you don't want to be on record as being a part of something, then don't participate publicly. Either decide you want to stand up and be counted, or stay home. The tendency of these "peace" (sometimes peace is just another word for surrender) rallies to end in vandalism seems to come from the false sense of disappearing in a crowd. I want these things to be photographed so if buildings get broken into, they can track it back to who did it. Besides, in many cities, public spaces are under continuous video surveillance.
"How about the photographs taken of people attending the rally for Todd Kauppila in Los Alamos? (We won't even mention the Wen Ho Lee homecoming in White Rock.)"
If people are being retaliated against for participating in a lawful activity, the crime is not one of photography.
"Then what will you say about this kind of intrusion?"
I think rallies are formulaic, scripted, and irrelevant. People think they're doing something "historic," but they usually just look silly to everyone else. The only reason the authorities pay attention is to prevent vandalism, but the average 21-year-old participant seems flattered by the attention.
Nobody has a right to be an anonymous member of a crowd in a public place. Mob behavior tends to result from that kind of thinking. I want people to know that if they do something wrong because the crowd is doing it, they will be individually tracked down and held accountable for it.
slope of dis-regarding our Constitution and laws for "convenience",
then it won't be long until much worse things begin to happen."
Not to get caught in labeling games, but it could just as easily be called dogmatism. I don't like being forced to explain myself to the government either, and I like to read a lot of extreme political stuff for "breadth," but there's a difference between being asked by a government official why you're borrowing Mein Kampf from the library and actually having your liberties infringed upon. If your answer is, "I keep hearing about it on the History Channel, and I wanted more background," I'm sure they'll leave you alone. But if the answer is, "I'm hoping to start my own country up in a part of Idaho," then I'd expect you'd find yourself under a magnifying glass.
"I lived through the Nixon era."
It's a wonder you survived.
"I suppose you would be one of the few who still rooted for the man on the day he left office."
I was about 2 years old when he resigned. Before you take this opportunity to enlighten me about what a dark time it was, enemies list and all, let me point out that there were never any halcyon days in America where government power wasn't somewhere on the putative "slippery slope" to totalitarianism. Reference the "Alien and Sedition Acts" of 1798.
The problem with such silliness is with who decides about “things you are not supposed to” and what we deserve to get. We used to assume that we were free to act the fool, say what we wanted to and even read any book we pleased - as long as we didn’t break any of our laws. Now, fundamentalists, neo-cons and King George are replacing the rule of law with some sort of Rambo-style expediency.
I remember the first time I ran into this sort of attitude. In the late 1960s, a Los
Alamos resident complained because the police stopped him and questioned why he was out walking after midnight. My office mate couldn’t understand why he was upset - “if he wasn’t doing anything wrong ...”. A few months later, another W Division employee and I went down to Ashley Pond to see what the peace demonstrations were about. I found out later that my office mate reported this to the FBI when interviewed for my next clearance renewal and suggested that my clearance be revoked. However, justice was done when he announced that special relativity and then (gasp!) artificial viscosity were mere figments of our imaginations. Just went too far.
The information that is currently available does not in any way lead one to believe that there has been any violation of law by the President. This operation was vetted by the Attorney General and was briefed to members of congress. The calls in question originated outside of the country and are thereby subject to different restrictions than calls within the United States. If you are so in love with the constitution then you should be familiar with the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”. Since there is nothing that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that there has been a violation of law at this point your continued conjecture is useless but telling of your true motivations. It is also dangerous as this country fights a worldwide war on terrorism. Attempts to weaken the President at this point are despicable. When the nation is at risk politics should take a back seat. Dissent is only honorable when it is done honestly and with the goal of improving the nation. The democrats quest to regain power in the Congress and the White House does not meet that standard.
Not too long ago the liberal left was decrying the outing of Valerie Plame. This CIA employee had not had a covert identity for well over seven years but somehow this was being couched as the end of secrecy in Washington. And it was all George Bush’s fault.
Never mind that Ms. Plame plastered her picture all over a national publication (generally considered bad form for a covert CIA operative). And never mind that no law was violated since she had not acted in a covert capacity for more that seven years as the statute requires. And never mind that George Bush had nothing to do with it. The attempt to smear the President for political gain was still made. Now someone has divulged information that is genuinely highly classified in nature. The publication of this information puts lives at risk as well as doing great harm to the nations security. Yet there is no outcry from the left wanting to find the person who leaked this information as there was in the Plame case. In this case there is no doubt that someone committed a felony by divulging this information to the press. That person should be found and prosecuted. Your silence in this regard unmasks your true goal which is to GET BUSH AT ANY COST.
I remember September 11th like it was yesterday. It seems all too many have forgotten this devastating attack on our homeland. I remember watching the news and seeing people from the middle-eastern community dancing in the streets celebrating the death of our countrymen. Some of these people were in Iran, some were in Syria, and some were in Iraq. But, far too many of them were in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. This fact cannot be denied. There are people in this nation that, if not monitored, will unleash another attack. Some of them are citizens and some are not. Until there is clear and compelling evidence of wrongdoing by the President lets give the benefit of the doubt to him rather that bestowing that benefit on those who are plotting against us.
The "President" (he's only a man, not a god) MUST be held to a higher standard than what you suggest. Bush's actions for the last 5 years, including his benumbed inaction on Sept. 11, 2001, and the months just before, are the fundamental source of "obsessive hatred," as you call it, for him and the Neocon saboteurs that have captured our entire government.
Believe me, my dissent from the misguided policies of the Neocons is both honest and dedicated to improving our country. I welcome the help from anyone--Republican or Democrat or Independent--in the quest to get these idiots out of the halls of government. The dangers posed by them to our country and their irrational obsessions with Empire far supercede the political aspirations of any "leader" or party.
The danger we face that is most inimical to our way of life comes from the terrorists in high places, WITHIN our country.
-Brad Lee Holian
But by your post, it is also clear where your political beliefs
are rooted. This country is more divided than I've ever seen before -
even worse in many ways than during the Vietnam War.
I'm sure the President made his decision based on what he thought would
help make this country safer. Unfortunately, that doesn't give him
the right to violate our laws. He's a President, and not a King.
He can't make up the laws on his own as he goes along. Frankly,
I, like many in the Congress, are baffled as to why he did it.
Do you realize that the FISA courts hand out warrants for almost
all request? Did you know that wiretaps can be started without
warrants, and they can later be issued retroactively, as needed?
So this being the case, why did the President completely circumvent
our courts in this matter? It doesn't make any sense to me. John,
this should be very troublesome to you, and to all Americans.
Some tough questions need to be asked of our President about
this situation. Perhaps he has some good answers. So far, this
Administration, with it's excellent lawyers, as not been able to
site specific laws which allowed for these extraordinary actions
to take place.
Let's bring this closer to home. You have been a harsh critic
of UC and Lab management. How would you feel if they, without
any warrant, decided to tap your home phone and internet, based
on the fact that your anger to LANL management might indicate you
are a security risk? "I'm not a terrorist", you might say. We'll
how do we know that for sure? You've certainly exhibited some
harsh criticism at a Lab that is closely related to National
Security needs. How can we be sure of your true intentions?
Without the courts in the loops, there would be no mechanism that
could act as a "safety check" to this type of abuse.
Let me end this post by quoting the President from this mornings
news conference, as reported by AP news:
President Bush, brushing aside bipartisan criticism in Congress,
said Monday he approved spying on suspected terrorists without
court orders because it was "a necessary part of my job to protect"
Americans from attack. The president said he would continue the
program "for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat
of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens," and added it
included safeguards to protect civil liberties.
You would probably focus on the phrase "to protect Americans".
However, note his implied promise to by-pass our court system as
long as there is anyone who would threaten an American. This
is completely open ended. We will always have those who want
to harm this country. By issuing a statement like this,
the President has basically said that he has the right, from
this point on until eternity, to by-pass our court system
and issue any edict he damn well feels like. You concentrate
on the "protection of Americans" clause. I focus on the
concept of protecting the laws and ideals this country stands
for. Which is more important? That's a judgment call we'll
all have to make.
President Bush took this country to war with Iraq for reasons that turned out to be based on false intelligence.
Director Nanos shut down Los Alamos National Laboratory for 7 months, for reasons that turned out to be based on false intelligence.
Can you trust Attorney General Gonzales, whose attitude toward Bush is that of a lapdog, to give reliable legal advice about wiretaps? That's like Nanos asking Lab Legal whether the shutdown (and certain personnel actions) were OK by them. And claiming that certain Congresspersons were "informed" of the wiretap scheme requires us to "trust" Bush to be truthful with them about all aspects of it, simply because he "has our best interests at heart." Sounds to me, once again, like the Nanophiles defending Nanos' decision to shut the Lab down before DOE/NNSA did it.
It all boils down to: Who do you trust? Those in power, who claim we should just look the other way, because there are "others" who are our enemies, out there lurking?
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
(-Not me; Thomas Jefferson.)
Director Nanos shut down Los Alamos National Laboratory for 7 months, for reasons that turned out to be based on false intelligence."
In the case of Iraq WMD, the false intelligence was endorsed by most, if not all, the members of Congress, the national and international intelligence agencies, the presidents' cabinets, etc. Most of the politicians who now claim they were misled by Bush are on video from the 90's saying Iraq had WMDs.
Nanos was the only person on the planet who believed prior to July 15, 2004, that the Lab needed to be shut down.
(By the way, there's still a dodge for some in the Congress with regard to WMDs: They were fed selected tidbits and not the general view of those in the trenches of the CIA, as opposed to that distinguished Medal-of-Freedom winner and traitor to his country, George Tenet. Not dissimilar to the different views of Nanos and his minions vs just about everyone at LANL.)
Was President Clinton in on this conspiracy to manipulate the evidence too? John Kerry and Madeline Albright were making the same WMD claims in the 90's that Bush made in 2001. The story that there's a second, hidden, set of data within the CIA just doesn't wash.
On the other hand, Bush had made up his mind to invade Iraq from the day he climbed up into the chair behind the desk in the Oval Office. Similarly, Nanos was determined to shut LANL down, and UC let him. Was Nanos out to sabotage the Lab from his first day? Who knows the mind of a Vice Admiral...
There are so many points made in this thread it could take all night to respond. If interest holds it would be entertaining to continue the discussion. Maybe tomorrow.
Good night all. Oh, and Merry Christmas.