Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Blackwater = Christian Theo-Cons With Guns
Now Playing: USA Government Using Christian Thugs In Mllitary
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
Here is the super cool website that I found this "Blackwater " topic on: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3184/
These Guns for Hire
Blackwater unites conservative Catholics, evangelicals and neoconservatives to fight a theoconservative holy war
By Chris BarsantiAs reported in Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater (Nation Books), one of the largest providers of private security assets to the U.S. military is more than a business: It’s a well-armed and well-funded cog in the military-industrial complex led by a self-styled Christian warrior with deep ties to the right’s theo-con fringe. In short, the sort of thing to keep any right-minded, small-d democrat awake at night. Although the book itself is essentially a magazine feature bloated up to book length without the additional research needed to justify the heft, the facts at its core are the eye-widening stuff of lurid conspiracy novels.The Christian warrior described above is Erik Prince, son of auto parts multi-millionaire Edgar Prince, who, until his death in 1995, ran bucolic Holland, Mich., as a company town and provided seed money for, among other causes, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Although Erik, a stridently orthodox Catholic convert and former SEAL, wouldn’t take over the family business, he followed in Edgar’s footsteps in other ways. In 1997, Erik founded Blackwater USA, a private security firm based on several thousand acres of North Carolina swamp. A number of Blackwater executives are deeply conservative Christians, including corruption-smeared former Pentagon Inspector General Joseph Schmitz, who is also a member of the Sovereign Order of Malta, which Scahill describes as “a Christian militia formed in the eleventh century [to defend] ‘territories that the Crusaders had conquered from the Moslems.’” Blackwater makes hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts from the Pentagon and fields what might be the world’s largest private military force, with 2,300 armed men working around the globe, and a database with 21,000 more. As many critics have ominously noted, the company already has enough man- and firepower to take over a small Third World country.Given all that, it’s not hard to buy Scahill’s charge that Prince, “who has been in the thick of this right-wing effort to unite conservative Catholics, evangelicals, and neoconservatives in a common theoconservative holy war,” has essentially created a modern-day Praetorian Guard that Prince envisions as the tip of the Christian right’s spear. This also seems to be exactly how the administration wants it.The unholy admixture of extreme capitalism and right-wing political ideology has rarely been more perfectly realized than in the convenient marriage of the Bush era’s global war doctrine and the rise of freelance gunsels like Blackwater. Since the ’90s, Rumsfeld and Cheney had both been pushing the outsourcing agenda with evangelical fervor. (Rumsfeld once called for the military to behave more like “venture capitalists.”) As they saw it, the war on terror/Iraq/whoever would be better fought by flexible units of contractors. After the Pentagon spent some $300 billion on contractors between 1994 and 2002, it was hardy surprising that the Defense Department’s 2006 Quadrennial Review redefined “Total Force” to include contractors, essentially deputizing mercenaries into the U.S. military. One out of 60 U.S. military personnel serving in the Gulf War theater of operations were contractors; in the Iraq War by late 2006 that ratio was by some counts almost one to one. Firms like Blackwater are so central to the administration’s war efforts that Paul Bremer’s last act before leaving Baghdad was issuing Order 17, “immunizing all contractors in Iraq from prosecution.” So if any of the thousands of contractors currently employed in Iraq or Afghanistan were to commit a Haditha-like rampage (Blackwater employs many ex-Chilean commandos from the Pinochet era), it wouldn’t be clear what, if any, justice they could possibly face. To make matters more muddled, it’s not even clear who all these contractors are even working for, even though almost 650 contractors had been killed in Iraq by September 2006. After the infamous incident on March 31, 2004—when four Blackwater employees were ambushed in Fallujah, their bodies mutilated and set on fire—nobody could ever conclusively say what the men were even doing there, who they were working for and under whose command. The truth was buried in a mire of bureaucratic and subcontracting smokescreens. Representing Blackwater against a lawsuit from the dead men’s families (one of whom memorably referred to the company as a “whore of war”) was none other than Kenneth Starr.
Indeed, Scahill has a fantastic subject here in Blackwater. But having such a wealth of easy targets to lob stones at seems to keep him from digging deeper or casting a wider net in the manner of a Steve Coll or Jon Lee Anderson. The thinness of Scahill’s approach is most apparent in his habit of excessively repeating key facts, sometimes replicating entire sentences verbatim. That said, Blackwater raises a host of deeply disturbing questions about where America’s military is being led by this new breed of free-market mercenaries—merchants of death who see war as nothing more than a growth market.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
By Jeremy Scahill
Nation Books · $26.95
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 2:05 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007 12:47 AM PDT
Monday, 21 May 2007
Luring to a Peace Talk... USA plans on an attack to kill Al-Sadr
Now Playing: Secret Plot To Kill - US killing machine in the spotlight again!
Zebra 3 Readers .... I just got back from camping this weekend and read this terrible article.
How many of you appreciate this type of "help" that we are over there in Iraq doing?
This is not "help" this is atrocities, this is absurd, and this is ethically wrong. It is rather disgusting. I am ashamed to know that "my country" behaves like this and is behind secret plots of killing people in the Middle East.
Sorry to have to relay this to you all. It is an article I found on the "Christian Monitor" website. The link is below. ~peace joe anybody
Secret US plot to kill Al-Sadr
By Patrick Cockburn In Baghdad
Published: 21 May 2007
The US Army tried to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr, the widely revered Shia cleric, after luring him to peace negotiations at a house in the holy city of Najaf, which it then attacked, according to a senior Iraqi government official.
The revelation of this extraordinary plot, which would probably have provoked an uprising by outraged Shia if it had succeeded, has left a legacy of bitter distrust in the mind of Mr Sadr for which the US and its allies in Iraq may still be paying. "I believe that particular incident made Muqtada lose any confidence or trust in the [US-led] coalition and made him really wild," the Iraqi National Security Adviser Dr Mowaffaq Rubai'e told The Independent in an interview. It is not known who gave the orders for the attempt on Mr Sadr but it is one of a series of ill-considered and politically explosive US actions in Iraq since the invasion. In January this year a US helicopter assault team tried to kidnap two senior Iranian security officials on an official visit to the Iraqi President. Earlier examples of highly provocative actions carried out by the US withlittle thought for the consequences include the dissolution of the Iraqi army and the Baath party.
The attempted assassination or abduction took place two-and-a-half years ago in August 2004 when Mr Sadr and his Mehdi Army militiamen were besieged by US Marines in Najaf, south of Baghdad.
Dr Rubai'e believes that his mediation efforts - about which he had given the US embassy, the American military command and the Iraqi government in Baghdad full details - were used as an elaborate set-up to entice the Shia leader to a place where he could be trapped.
Mr Sadr emerged as the leader of the Sadrist movement in Baghdad at the time of the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. It had been founded by his father, also a cleric, who had confronted Saddam's regime in the 1990s and had been murdered by his agents in 1999. Its blend of nationalism, religion and populism proved highly attractive to Iraqi Shia, particularly to the very poor.
Although Mr Sadr escaped with his life at the last moment, the incident helps explain why he disappeared from view in Iraq when President George Bush stepped up confrontation with him and his Mehdi Army militia in January.
Dr Rubai'e said: "I know him very well and I think his suspicion and distrust of the coalition and any foreigner is really deep-rooted," and dates from what happened in Najaf. He notes that after it had happened Mr Sadr occupied the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf as a place of refuge. Dr Rubai'e had gone to Najaf in August 2004 to try to mediate an end to the fighting. He met Mr Sadr who agreed to a set of conditions to end the crisis. "He actually signed the agreement with his own handwriting," said Dr Rubai'e. "He wanted the inner Najaf, the old city, around the shrine to be treated like the Vatican."
Having returned to Baghdad to show the draft document to Iyad Allawi, who was prime minister at the time, Dr Rubai'e went back to Najaf to make a final agreement with Mr Sadr.
It was agreed that the last meeting would take place in the house in Najaf of Muqtada's father Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr who had been murdered by Saddam's gunmen with two of his sons five years before. Dr Rubai'e and other mediators started for the house. As they did so they saw the US Marines open up an intense bombardment of the house and US Special Forces also heading for it. But the attack was a few minutes premature. Mr Sadr was not yet in the house and managed to escape.
Although Dr Rubai'e, as Iraqi National Security Adviser since 2004 and earlier a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, is closely associated with the American authorities in Baghdad, he has no doubt about what happened.
He sees the negotiations as part of a charade to lure Mr Sadr, who is normally very careful about his own security, to a house where he could be eliminated.
"When I came back to Baghdad I was really, really infuriated, I can tell you," Dr Rubai'e said. "I went berserk with both [the US commander General George] Casey and the ambassador [John Negroponte]." They denied that knew of a trap and said they would look into what happened but he never received any explanation from them.
The US always felt deeply threatened by Mr Sadr because, unlike the other Shia parties, he opposed the occupation and demanded that it end.
There were two attempts to crush his movement in 2004, neither of which was successful. The first, at the end of March, began with the closure of his newspaper and the arrest of one of his close advisers. A warrant for Mr Sadr's own arrest was issued. A US general said his only alternatives were to be killed or captured.
The US authorities appeared to have little understanding of the reverence with which the Sadr family was regarded by many Iraqi Shia.
The crackdown provoked a reaction for which the US was ill-prepared. The Mehdi Army, though poorly armed and untrained, took over part of Baghdad and many Shia cities and towns in southern Iraq. The US had to rush troops to embattled outposts.
A second crisis began in Najaf in August and this time the US and the recently appointed government of Iyad Allawi appear to have decided to smash Mr Sadr and his movement for ever. But they dared not assault the shrine of Imam Ali, one of the holiest Shia shrines.
Other Shia parties suspected that once Mr Sadr was dealt with they would be marginalised. The crisis was finally defused when Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani, after undergoing medical treatment in London, returned to Najaf and negotiated an agreement with Mr Sadr under which he withdrew but did not disarm his forces.
The attempt to kill or imprison Mr Sadr was first revealed by Dr Rubai'e to Ali Allawi, the former Iraqi finance minister, who gives an account of what happened in his recent book The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the war, Losing the peace.
Dr Rubai'e said this weekend in Baghdad that he stands by his account given there. He does not think the Americans were planning to kill him along with Mr Sadr because he had a senior American officer with him almost all the time.
Muqtada al-Sadr is one of the most extraordinary figures to emerge during the war in Iraq,a pivotal figure leading a broad-based political movement with a powerful military wing.
The appeal of the 33-year-old Shia cleric is both religious and nationalist. He is regarded with devotion by millions. He is also a survivor and an astute politician who has often out-manoeuvred his opponents. The US and Britain have repeatedly underestimated the strength of his support.
The al-Sadrs are one of the great Shia religious families. His relative, Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, was the founder of a politically active Shia movement and was executed by Saddam Hussein in 1980. Muqtada's father Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr in effect founded the Sadrist movement in the 1990s. Finding he could not control him, Saddam Hussein had him murdered with two of his sons in Najaf in 1999, provoking widespread rioting.
To the surprise of all, the Sadrist movement re-emerged with Muqtada at its head during the fall of the old regime. In April 2003 it took over large parts of Shia Iraq. Its base was the vast Shia slum, renamed Sadr City, that contains a third of the population of Baghdad.
The US and its Iraqi allies regarded Muqtada as a highly threatening figure. Paul Bremer, the ill-fated US viceroy in Iraq after the invasion, detested and unwisely under-rated the Sadrists. When he moved against them in April 2004 he was astonished to see them take over much of southern Shia Iraq in a few days. Muqtada took refuge in Najaf.
There was a heavy fighting in August 2004 when the US made an all-out effort to eliminate Muqtada and his movement. Once again he survived, thanks to a compromise arranged by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
His movement became less confrontational. It took part in the elections in 2005, winning 32 seats out of 275. The Mehdi Army was viewed by the Sunni as an organisation of sectarian death squads.
The US began increasingly to confront the Sadrists. But they were an essential support of the Iraqi government, making it difficult for the US to move against them. When the reinforced US forces in Baghdad did threaten the Mehdi Army, Muqtada simply sent his militiamen home, and disappeared from view.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 3:45 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007 3:53 PM PDT
Thursday, 17 May 2007
The Power of a Hug
Now Playing: Positive Power - Peace Love n Hug
Topic: SMILE SMILE SMILE
Here we go Z3 Readers,
............. its a good story, for a change so enjoy!
The Power of a Hug
An Indian Woman Draws Hundreds of Thousands of Devotees -- All for Her Hugs
By VIVIAN HERNANDEZ ORTIZ and SARAH HODD
May 9, 2007 — In the south of India lives a woman who has dedicated her life to helping others through the simplest of gestures -- an embrace. She is said to have blessed and consoled more than 26 million people throughout the world.
In Malayalam, Amma's native language, the name Amma means "mother" -- an apt name for the woman revered as a holy being.
Amma, known to many as the hugging saint, traveled to Chennai, the fifth most populous city in India earlier this year.
Chennai is blanketed with her image; her face is on street buses and there are larger-than-life posters of her around the city.
Amma's Winter Tour of Southern India
Having many devoted followers, Amma often addresses massive crowds -- as many as 200,000 packed into an outdoor space as big as a football field during her stop in Chennai. She has gained near superstar status among her followers around the world, all through her simple act of hugging.
After speaking to the overflowing crowd, followers rushed to the stage and patiently waited hours for their turn at darshan -- the Sanskrit term which means "vision" and is used to describe the meeting with a holy person. Through 16 straight hours, Amma hugged each and every person while offering advice and guidance to many troubled hearts.
She is not selling salvation or offering physical healing or a chance at prosperity. Instead, Amma seems to have tapped into a deep and essential human need -- the need for affection and the human touch.
Betsy Barnett, an American from New York, has been a devotee for the past 10 years. She described Amma as someone with infinite compassion and motherly love, who makes a relentless effort to uplift and to relieve suffering.
"Slowly, slowly I'm learning how to love," Barnett said. "To me that means to love without expectations, without attachment, but being able to really&feel purely loving toward others. And it's hard."
From Humble Beginnings to Devoted Followers
Amma is the daughter of a poor fisherman and a member of one of the lowest castes in India. She attended school until the fourth grade, but had to quit to help out her family. As a young girl Amma spent hours in meditation, singing chants to her God.
She began with small acts of charity at the age of 7 years old, inspired by the desire to ease people's suffering. She washed the clothes of her elderly neighbors, bathed them and even brought them food and clothing from her own home.
"I used to visit villages when I was young," Amma said. "In some of the homes there would be a lot of food available and everyone was happy. In yet another house, the mother and children would be huddled together and crying. When I saw that, I brought things from my house and gave it to them."
Amma has inspired and started many humanitarian services, from charities and orphanages, and founded an 800-bed hospital, schools of higher education and soup kitchens at home and abroad.
Her devotion to her cause is reflected in her followers. She travels with hundreds of unpaid volunteers who have gladly uprooted their lives to serve her.
Are Hugs the Answer to the World's Problems?
Amma's popularity, while impressive, is not a new phenomenon. There have been a number of Indian spiritual leaders who have become popular in the West. The Maharishi were made popular by the Beatles in the 1960s, Sai Baba has more than 30 million followers worldwide and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was well-known for his popularity in the United States before his death.
For Amma, her life as a spiritual leader has also brought material benefits. Her headquarters in Kerala are indeed grand -- but according to her organization, the money comes from the sale of souvenirs, her personal effects and contributions.
While it is hard to know exactly how much money Amma has, she certainly spends a lot on her charities. She has been honored at the United Nations for her humanitarian service, and her charitable contributions have made international news. In February, she handed over the keys to 1,100 new homes in Nagapattanam for survivors of the 2005 tsunami.
Still her simple message is to love and serve one another, and most of her time is still spent hugging those in need.
"Love is not ordinary," Amma said. "Love is what sustains life. Whatever we do it is only to get love. There are two types of poverty in this world. The first one is, you know, financial. The second is poverty due to lack of love, the second one is more important. If we have compassion, we will automatically help."
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 9:11 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007 9:17 PM PDT
Wal-Mart picks on Nuns.....
Now Playing: I have not shopped at Wal-Mart in 4 years ....here is one reason why
Topic: CORPORATE CRAP
I found this today on the web
The creeps that run Wal-Mart are messing with nuns!
Ya....... I just called them Wal-Mart guys creeps!http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA050407.nunsvswalmart.KENS.3a704ac5.html
Wal-Mart labels Boerne nuns a security threat
Web Posted: 05/05/2007 Nydia Lopez
It's a David versus Goliath battle heating up in the Hill Country — a group of nuns from Boerne is taking a stand against Wal-Mart. The corporate giant reportedly labeled the nuns a security threat after they raised questions about Wal-Mart's business practices. Sister Susan Mika is part of the Benedectine Sisters, which is part of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. The center has been questioning Wal-Mart's business practices for years. "We've been raising questions with them for about 17 years, so it's not like they don't know it," Sister Mika said. Now, the sisters find themselves on Wal-Mart's security threat list. Sister Mika said the group has been wrongly labeled. "In no way have we ever been a threat to the company in that sense. We might be a threat in the kind of question that we're asking, but not a security threat," Sister Mika said. The sisters have raised questions on wages, human rights, health care and the pay disparity between CEOs and workers. They believe that's why Wal-Mart has launched a surveillance operation on the small church group. "We wanted to find out more about what was actually happening, and did they do any surveillance on us, either personally or as a community, and to let us know what that would be, and to apologize to us," Sister Mika said. Calls from KENS 5 to a Wal-Mart spokesperson went unreturned. The nuns say they want an apology and will continue to raise concerns and issues until someone launches an investigation into thousands of allegations against Wal-Mart.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:58 AM PDT
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Hey Mr Airport Security, can I see that picture of my wife too?
Now Playing: Invasion of privacy and preverted protections
Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS
Hey so how was it that you wanted to be searched, since Bush allowed the 911 debacle ...now see what we are put through just to travel around when TERROR is such a popular tool to use to "warrant" the right to view, touch, frisk, or gawk. This is not in the US ...... but stay tuned, men are in the waiting ...just to see if your wife or daughter may be packing explosives......
to bad 911 was allowed (if not orchestrated) ...now we are subject to this type of "protection" ...... your being "duped" by manufactured terrorism and fear. Good Luck my peaceful readers........ good luck indeed!
Amsterdam's Schiphol airport began using new body-scanning machines at security checkpoints on Tuesday, becoming the first major airport to use the technology to find metals and explosives hidden under clothing.
The "security scan" system, which uses harmless radio waves to display head-to-toe images of people, is also being used by other airports on a trial basis, but Schiphol is the only one to deploy the technology for regular use at its checkpoints.
Going through the scanner takes about three seconds, allowing users to avoid metal detectors or body searches. For privacy, the digital images are viewed by security personnel in another room and deleted after they are seen.
Schiphol, Europe's fourth busiest hub, handles about 160,000 passengers per day at peak times and. So far the security scan is voluntary but officials are hoping to expand it to include all passengers, crew and personnel.
Schiphol is one of the world's most modern airports, with flat-panel screens, airport-wide Web access and iris scanners already on offer to those who want to bypass passport lines.
Some people object to the machines because they are concerned about the radio waves, rather than privacy, said Schiphol's Chief Operations Officer Ad Rutten.
But the alternative, being hand-frisked, is "never a happy story," Rutten adds.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 5:23 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007 10:43 AM PDT
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
This Has To Be Said.... Because it is true!
Now Playing: And I am here to say it - Wake Up - It is Rotton - It is In Your Face
"Illegal" is the new "Nigger"
ANGRYINDIAN.BLOGSPOT . COM
Illegals is the 21st century version of 'nigger'. That is what I hear when the term is thrown at undocumented families. Just like nigger was (and still is, although less overtly) the soundtrack to the murder and oppression of black folks, 'illegals' is the political theatrical score for the police and minutemen murder and political oppression of undocumented families from the South.
It's a shame that the so-called US progressive movement isn't involved with what is obviously the true front of progressivism in the United States in the 21st century. The struggle for human rights led by immigrants.
As in the 60s, so many so-called political people stood on the sidelines or contented themselves with reading about how King and activist blacks fought for a more free USA, the progressive movement of today is for the most part, only watching as the real progressive movement, mostly latinos, fight for further realization of the USA some say exists right now and others say used to exist but certainly that we all want."
—MarcG, comment on BradBlog
MY DEAR black amig@s, you know I respect you and I hope you immediately understand my deciding to quote this word, and invoke all its ugly, historical glory. This is not a stand-up routine, this is not a song, and this is not a joke. Nor is it an attempt to take anything away from your unique history and current struggles. But in this specific instance, the framing of today's hate and fear-motivated violence against Mexican immigrants—on the border as well as over it—needs to be spelled out with this terribly appropriate metaphor, and for the very reason that makes "The N Word" a disturbing and volatile utterance to this day.
My opening explanation aside, I am, of course, speaking to all of us. All people, all colors. This creeping abuse leveled on Mexican immigrants must concern each and every one of us. Just as in the days when the "N Word" was invariably used hand-in-hand with gross violence, human beings are being lingually dehumanized in America so that nobody minds when they are exploited, hated, hunted, and killed.
Just one word—"LETS REMEMBER THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE ILLEGALS" or the wonderfully, soul-stripping ALIEN—and somehow, magically, conveniently, all humanity is negated, and average people find it comfortable to stand by and cheer on, or ignore, what should be seen as atrocities.
It's not just the LAPDs stormtrooping the May Day parades. It's the language and the words online where Average Americans are angry that the cops didn't just open the bloody floodgates on Those Arrogant Mexicans, it's the slimey junk some politicians feel comfortable saying, it's watching the KKK grow its membership by 40% since taking on the HAWT New ALIEN issue as a selling point.
It's the conversations and words dropped that nobody contests. These seeds of a wicked vine must be stepped on wherever they lie.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:27 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007 2:52 AM PDT
Your Government NEEDS to Spy on you for your Safety
Now Playing: You are tracked and followed for your own freedom & well being
Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS
Hello My Friendly Neighborhood Z3 Readers,
I just found this today in the "news"
Big Brother National ID Card story link:
EDITORIAL - U.S. policymakers have long rejected a national ID as inconsistent with American freedom. Ordinary people, it has long been believed, should not have to carry a card as if they are criminal suspects and they should not be asked to account to authorities for their whereabouts or activities.
"...as the federal government has grown in size and scope, its desire to track and monitor citizens has increased."
Nonetheless, as the federal government has grown in size and scope, its desire to track and monitor citizens has increased. To administer increasingly complex tax laws and expanding entitlements, the government has come to need more and more information about citizens and more and more assurance of who is who.
The Social Security Number, originally created solely to administer the Social Security System, has taken on much of this role. Today, it is used throughout the public and private sector to distinctly identify people. Recent laws have required or encouraged parents to get SSNs even for their very young children. The SSN is our national identifier.
Meanwhile, because of the vast terrain our country covers, nearly everyone must carry a driver's license. Departments of Motor Vehicles have fallen naturally into the role of providing not only this authorization to drive, but also cards for people who need some proof of who they are.
With the REAL ID Act, the federal government is seeking to combine these two identifiers and proof of lawful presence on American soil in a federal identification card and database system. States that do not accord their driver licensing and identification card systems to federal standards will find that their residents can not use state-issued cards for a variety of federal purposes.
How REAL ID Was Passed
In early 2005, Congress' regular appropriation for military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan was giving out. Legislation was pending to provide the Defense Department more money — and to fund aid efforts after the devastating tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean at the end of 2004. It was clear that this $82 billion spending bill would pass. Opposition to it, even principled responses to important details, could easily be spun as "not supporting the troops."
Consistent with usual practice, the Iraq spending bill came before the Rules Committee on its way to the floor of the House of Representatives. But the Committee added a curious note to the rule governing debate on the bill. The Committee instructed the Clerk of the House to append the text of a different bill at the end once the bill had passed the House.1 This new bill was the "REAL ID Act."2 It would not be open to amendment or separate consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Why would the Rules Committee append an unrelated bill to a military spending measure? It is widely speculated that in the previous Congress a powerful House committee chairman had held up intelligence reform legislation, releasing it only with a promise from House leadership that his preferred vision for a U.S. national ID would be passed early in the next Congress. Whatever the case, the military spending bill with REAL ID's new identification provisions passed by overwhelming margins in both the House and Senate. It was not considered in any hearing and was not the subject of a separate vote in the Senate. REAL ID repealed identification security provisions that had passed into law as part of the 9/11 Commission-inspired Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.
REAL ID Requirements
The REAL ID Act seeks to force states to issue drivers' licenses and identification cards consistent with federal standards. There are three steps in the process by which a typical government-issued identification card communicates information from an ID subject to a verifier, and REAL ID affects two of the three:
First, the ID subject communicates information to the card issuer. For example, a state resident submits information to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Next, the issuer produces the identification card, which communicates information to the verifier. When a motor vehicle bureau produces a card, that provides information to whomever may check it.
Finally, the verifier compares the identifiers on the card to the ID subject. A law enforcement officer, for example, may look at a card and check the picture against the person he has pulled over.
If the identifiers and the ID subject match up, the information on the card is accepted as true and the ID subject is identified. Each of these steps is a point of weakness, though, and the REAL ID Act addresses two of them.
The obvious weakness in the first step is that ID subjects are allowed to submit the information that goes into the card. The information on the card can be falsified. The REAL ID Act addresses this several different ways. First, it mandates collection of four different items of information:
* A photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if it includes both the person's full legal name and date of birth;
* Documentation showing the person's date of birth;
* Proof of the person's social security account number or verification that the person is not eligible for a social security account number; and
* Documentation showing the person's name and address of principal residence.3
Along with increasing the number of identifiers, REAL ID also requires evidence of lawful status4 — that is, the legal right to be in the country. It requires states to issue temporary cards, marked as such conspicuously, to anyone temporarily in the country.5
Further, the REAL ID Act requires DMVs to capture digital copies of source documents and retain paper copies for seven years, images for ten years.6 DMVs can no longer accept foreign documents other than passports. Each person applying for a driver's license or identification is also subject to "mandatory facial image capture."7
The REAL ID Act also requires DMVs to verify "with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document" presented.8 At a potentially huge expense — few institutions have the resources or infrastructure to confirm their authorship of documents — this could suppress the easiest attack on data veracity: presenting DMV workers with fraudulent identifiers.
The REAL ID Act also sought to suppress fraud on DMVs by improving their employees' ability to detect false identifiers. Among other things, it requires states to "[e]stablish fraudulent document recognition training programs for appropriate employees engaged in the issuance of drivers' licenses and identification cards."9
If carried out properly, each of these steps would make it harder for ID subjects to inject false information into new identification cards and drivers' licenses. With constant oversight, they would make it harder to defraud DMVs.
The REAL ID Act also requires confirmation of some of the information a card applicant submits. It requires states to routinely utilize the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system, which confirms the legal presence of foreigners in the country.10 It also requires them to confirm Social Security numbers with the Social Security Administration. In the event a Social Security number is already associated with another license or identification card, the state must "resolve the discrepancy."11
These processes attempt to use information held by governments to check the identifiers proffered by an ID subject. They help reduce one or two avenues for fraud.
The REAL ID Act did a few things to address the security of identification cards, as well. It requires state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards to use physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of documents for fraudulent purposes.12 It requires physical security features at the locations where drivers' licenses are produced. And it requires security to protect the materials and papers from which the documents are produced.13 The REAL ID Act also requires "appropriate security clearance requirements" for people who manufacture or produce driver's licenses.
The REAL ID Act also calls for "[a] common machine-readable technology."14 Regulations fleshing out the Act were issued March 9th and they provisionally selected a 2D bar code. Plans are underway in some states to embed licenses with computer chips that will communicate information about the bearer by radio. The use of radio frequency identification (RFID) to track people is controversial, but RFID-chipped identity documents are being established, such as the U.S. State Department's new e-passport.
Complying with the REAL ID Act will require states to retool their identification card practices a great deal, particularly with respect to the information that they use to issue licenses and cards. The mandates in the REAL ID Act could be quite large.
The Costs of Complying with the REAL ID Act
Estimates from a variety of states and groups show that the costs of complying with the REAL ID Act could range from substantial to staggering:
Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner's Task Force on the Real ID Act estimated start-up costs if Virginia participated in REAL ID ranging from $35 million to $169 million, and recurring costs from $1 million to $63 million per year. The Task Force expressed doubts that federal funds would cover all the costs of implementing the REAL ID Act.15
The budget director of Washington state's Department of Licensing has estimated that his state might need to spend $97 million during the next two years should it implement REAL ID.16
In a broader study, the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that it would cost $9 billion nationwide for states to implement the REAL ID Act.17
Taxpayer group Citizens Against Government Waste has estimated costs as high as $15 billion dollars for full implementation of the REAL ID Act. This would push the cost of a driver's license from the $10-$25 range up to $90 or more.18
The DHS' own cost estimate placed the tally at over $17 billion.
States agreeing to participate in the REAL ID Act system are incurring an open-ended obligation to tune their driver's licensing and identification card processes to federal standards.
Other Costs of REAL ID
While the monetary costs of the REAL ID Act are substantial, there are other important costs. The REAL ID Act is a further step toward a national ID, which has significant costs in terms of privacy and security.
Today, more personal information is captured, stored, transferred, and used than it ever has been before. Information storage and processing techniques are only getting better. In the past, identification merely confirmed who a person was, but now identification systems are effective surveillance systems. They record people's locations and activities, making this information available to others long into the future. Being identified is becoming a record-keeping event.
This is concerning not just because of privacy — the fact that people's lives are more exposed to governments and corporations than ever before. It is also a threat to liberty.
Historically, oppressive governments have used identification time and time again to administer evil acts. Well known historical examples include Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Modern genocides like Rwanda's were facilitated by an identification card system. Uniform and centralized identification systems provide no failsafe in the event a democracy fails, or fails to protect liberty. A diverse identification system is more difficult to navigate. This makes it a bulwark of liberty.
Uniform identification systems are also too easy to navigate for crooks. Today, identity fraudsters are successfully exploiting the single-key identification system used by the government and financial services sector. Simply having access to a person's Social Security Number puts a criminal well on the way to impersonating his or her financial identity, defrauding merchants out of thousands of dollars, and ruining the credit of the victim.
These costs — to privacy, liberty, and personal security — are also significant considerations in the REAL ID Act. Because it is relying on the states to implement its national ID system, Congress has shifted these costs, along with the monetary ones, to state leaders rather than bearing the burdens themselves.
Does it Work?
Most people would happily bear these burdens if doing so would add to our nation's protections. Some might accept these costs as a way to control illegal immigration. But because Congress did not hold a hearing before creating this national ID, these issues have not been thoroughly vetted.
Identification is a powerful force as to willing participants in our economy and society, but it will generally have little influence over terrorists. They neither seek the benefits of our society nor are they deterred by knowing they will be held accountable after they act. Identifying people merely tells you who they are. It does not reveal their intentions.
The dynamic is similar in the case of illegal immigration. People who have entered the United States illegally are unlikely to be deterred by the prospect of violating one or two more laws so they can work. The existing market for false identification and the use of identity fraud by illegal aliens will grow if a national ID is used for domestic enforcement of immigration laws, such as by requiring all people to seek federal government approval to work.
There is overlap between these two issues, of course. The false identification system created by and for illegal immigrants could be used by terrorists to evade the identification-based security systems we have in this country. The use of identification as a national security tool, or as an immigration law enforcement tool, is a minefield of difficult issues that require a great deal of study.
Where REAL ID is Going
The future of the REAL ID Act is uncertain. Department of Homeland Security regulations issued March 9th essentially "punted" on the most difficult technical, security, and privacy issues associated with the law. The regulations offered states a "golden handcuffs" opportunity: if they commit to implementing REAL ID early, it will grant them an extension until December 2009 to implement the law. If they do not commit early, they are faced with the statutory May 2008 deadline.
While some states have taken some steps to comply with the REAL ID Act mandates they anticipate, other states have declined to do so, or signaled their outright refusal of the REAL ID Act's mandates.
The state of Alabama, for example, tried to get ahead of the REAL ID Act in late 2005 by having residents conform the names on their licenses to the records held by the Social Security Administration. Alabama officials sent out 65,000 letters to residents asking them to have their licenses reissued before public outrage halted the program.19 Proposed legislation in California (SB 1160) is designed to comply with Real ID while providing drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants. New Mexico's HB 852 aims to prevent undocumented immigrants from obtaining licenses. The state of Alaska, on the other hand, recently declined to pass legislation that would have begun compliance with the REAL ID Act.
In Maine and Idaho, both houses of the legislature have passed resolutions opposing REAL ID. Bills and resolutions rejecting the REAL ID Act are pending or have passed at least one house of the legislature in more than half of the states in the country.
Among the many issues that have come up in debates about the REAL ID Act, along with cost, are the consequences of refusing to accept this federal mandate on states. After May 2008, the law says that drivers' licenses and identification cards from states that do not comply with the Act will not be acceptable identification or any "official purpose." DHS regulations could alter what this means at any time, but the primary lever is the requirement that travelers show identification at airports.
In January 2006, a Ninth Circuit ruling showed that the TSA does not require identification at airports. Rather, travelers have an option between showing identification or being subject to secondary screening.20 Nonetheless, most people believe that identification is required to travel. State legislators have been concerned that, if their states have not come into compliance, the federal government might effectively shut down passenger air travel. This is a question of the federal authorities' willingness to make economic war against the states to force compliance — and whether the air transportation industry would not intervene with federal authorities long before there was such a showdown.
On the horizon, there are a variety of technologies and processes that may be able to get governments, corporations, consumers, and citizens all the benefits of identification without the costs in terms of privacy and surveillance. "Digital identity management" is the idea that technologies can be designed to share only the information needed in a transaction — and to destroy that data when it is no longer needed. Identification and credentialing may soon become an economic service just like payments, telecommunications, and credit reporting. Rather than a government monopoly on identification, a diverse competitive private industry may emerge to provide proper assurance of who a person is, and of other information needed to support transactions.
The REAL ID Act is a complex law whose contours and benefits have still not yet come into focus, though its costs are increasingly clear. This national ID program received little consideration in the federal Congress, but state legislators must now grapple with it, facing a May 2008 compliance deadline. In addition to significant monetary costs, the Act will threaten Americans' privacy, liberty, and personal security. The decision about whether this is appropriate turns on whether a national ID would be an effective addition to our protections against terrorism and illegal immigration.
A variety of states are struggling to implement the REAL ID Act. Others have decided to outright rebel from this federal mandate. Should the rebellion hold, the issue will move back to Congress, which may then be forced to have hearings and up-or-down votes on whether the United States government should require her citizens to carry a national ID card.
1 H. Res. 151 § 2 (109th Cong., 1st Sess.).
2 H.R. 418 (109th Cong., 1st Sess.).
3 Id. at § 202(c).
4 Id. at § 202(c)(2)(B).
5 Id. at § 202(c)(2)(C).
6 Id. at § 202(d)(1), (2).
7 Id. at § 202(d)(3).
8 Id. at § 202(c)(3).
9 Id. at §202(d)(9).
10 Id. at § 202(c)(3)(C).
11 Id. at § 202(d)(5).
12 Id. at § 202(b)(8).
13 Id. at § 202(d)(7).
14 Id. at § 202(b)(9).
15 Report: The Governor's Task Force on the REAL ID Act (December 29, 2005) .
16 States may face higher costs for Real ID, Federal Computer Week (August 19, 2005) .
17 Federal Preemption of State Authority a Disturbing Trend: Implementations of REAL ID Act to cost at least $9 billion, National Conference of State Legislatures (August 16, 2005) .
18 CAGW Issues Report on Real ID: DHS Regulations Could Cost Taxpayers, Threaten Privacy (October 18, 2005) .
19 Alabama Puts Brakes on License Notification, The Decatur Daily, Oct. 7, 2005
20 Gilmore v. Gonzales, 435 F.3d 1125 (2006).
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:16 AM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007 11:35 AM PDT
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Cool tools to use... to find those pesky representatives of ours
Now Playing: COTACT YOUR CONGRESSMAN - IT IS REAL EASY
Hello Z3 Readers,
here is the website I found these cool tools on
I want you to look at these
"cool tools for activists"
Check this out my fellow Z3 Readers
Congress At Your Fingertips - Condensed
AVAILABLE NOW!!! This directory is a black-and-white compact edition of our Standard Version, except that it does not include Member photos. It includes Members’ party affiliations, districts, terms, phone and fax numbers, Web sites, Hill offices, and key staff. Committee rosters include phone numbers, Hill offices, and majority and minority staff directors. The Condensed Version also includes Senate and House leadership, contact information for important congressional offices and national party organizations, a schedule for the 110th Congress, a map of Capitol Hill, and more! (Actual size: 31/2" x 6 3/4")
HOW TO ORDER
Is right here -->
Please return your completed order form with payment via fax to: 703.550.0406
Or by mail to:
Capitol Advantage Publishing
PO Box 2018
Merrifield, VA 22116-2018
Here is the pdf. FORM to order with
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:09 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007 11:14 PM PDT
Monday, 7 May 2007
Can You Say .... Darfur?
Now Playing: A subject that I have barley spoke of..... Changes today....
My Fellow Z3 Readers
It is with regret I say that this is my first post on "Darfur" - please forgive me and read this article I copied from ....... "Oxfam"
As the Need in Darfur Grows,
So Does the Difficulty of
16 April 2007
It has been more than four years since conflict first erupted in Darfur, Sudan, and in that time the number of people in need has grown exponentially: About 4 million people now depend on humanitarian assistance. But as their numbers mount, so does the difficulty in reaching them.
Unabated violence has left huge swaths of Darfur inaccessible to aid groups. Carjackings, assaults, robberies—these are the almost daily dangers aid workers now face as tens of thousands of people have continued to flee ongoing attacks. In the first two months of this year, more than 80,000 people found themselves on the run—some for the second, third, and fourth times. With the conflict now spilling over into Chad, violence there has forced the displacement of 120,000 Chadians.
In Darfur alone, more than 2 million people are now crowded into temporary camps or massed on the outskirts of towns where Oxfam is providing clean water, sanitation services, and basic necessities—such as soap and jerry cans—to about 475,000 of them. The agency is offering similar help to an additional 63,000 people in Chad.
But in some places, such as Darfur’s largest camp—Gereida, where 130,000 people now live in limbo, waiting for peace—Oxfam has had to greatly reduce its assistance because of the violence. In December, armed men entered the compounds of Oxfam and other agencies there where they beat an Oxfam staffer, raped a worker at one of those other agencies, and stole 12 vehicles.
Roads have also become increasingly unsafe for travel because of the risk of hijackings. Many times, helicopters are the only way aid workers can reach the larger towns and camps. People in rural areas and smaller villages often get no attention at all since the helicopters do not fly to those areas.
The humanitarian effort in Darfur is now one of the largest in the world, and the initiative has managed to stabilize living conditions in the camps. But there is a growing concern among aid groups that inaccessibility to the camps could derail this progress. Aid workers fear a return to devastating levels of malnutrition and disease they witnessed at the start of the crisis.
Helplessness and frustration permeate the camps, where people are trapped with limited access to education or economic opportunities. The conflict has stretched on for so long that some camps have now taken on a feeling of permanence, with people transforming their temporary shelters into mud brick dwellings. The majority of those in the camps are women and children, many of whom have now spent most of their lives trapped there by the conflict. Inevitably, the impact of the crisis on a whole generation will have long-term consequences for Darfur.
Despite the dangers, Oxfam is committed to remaining in the region to help the people there. It continues to be one of the few agencies working in all three Darfur states. But what people need urgently is protection from violence. The African Union force now in place to provide that has just 7,000 members—not nearly enough to cover the vast region. And increasingly, the AU force itself has become the target of violence, with its members being assaulted, abducted, and killed. Its ranks urgently need strengthening.
More than anything, what’s needed now is increased pressure on everyone involved in the conflict to stop attacking civilians and stop targeting aid workers.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:22 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007 8:25 PM PDT
Army Cracks Down On Information -
Now Playing: THE MILITARY TRIES TO SHUT DOWN THE MEDIA
Army Cracks Down On Military Blogs & Emails
If you are the husband or wife or sibling or parent of a U.S. Army soldier serving in Iraq and you blog (and according to the new rules, email) about the war, you are now in official trouble with the U.S. Army.
FOLKS ....this is your friendly military crack down on the Truth that gets leaked out to society. Well not if the WAR goons can squash the press. How do you feel knowing the Military we have is not going to let you know what they "really are doing"
Hell they want you to get your news from the Corporate Military feed pile
I OBJECT !!
----- Wake Up America ---- Your getting a good screwing -----
From Mother Jones .com here is the article in the news today:
The Army is getting strict about its rule that soldiers sending emails or posting items on blogs must first clear the content with a superior officer. Since, to avoid possible court-martial, a soldier would have to check with her commanding officer before making every blog post, soldiers' blogs about the Iraq war can safely be called a thing of the past.
The guidelines also apply to civilians working for the Army, Army contractors and soldiers' family members.
"This is the final nail in the coffin for combat blogging," said retired paratrooper Matthew Burden, editor of The Blog of War anthology. "No more military bloggers writing about their experiences in the combat zone. This is the best PR the military has--its most honest voice out of the war zone--and it's being silenced."
Posted by Diane E. Dees on 05/03/07 at 6:15 AM |
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 1:48 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007 1:50 PM PDT
Newer | Latest | Older