Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Monday, 2 November 2009
No Justice for Rendition Victim Maher Arar
Mood:  on fire
Now Playing: USA covers ass and holds no one accountable for "mistaken torture & rendittion"

November 2, 2009
1:10 PM

CONTACT: Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Jen Nessel, 212.614.6449, jnessel@ccr-ny.org
David Lerner, Riptide Communications, 212.260.5000

No Justice for Canadian Rendition Victim Maher Arar

Court Refuses to Hold US Officials Accountable for Complicity in Torture Abroad

WASHINGTON - November 2 2009


Today, a federal Court of Appeals dismissed Canadian citizen Maher Arar's case against U.S. officials for their role in sending him to Syria to be tortured and interrogated for a year. Arar is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). The court concluded that Arar's case raised too many sensitive foreign policy and secrecy issues to permit relief.  It leaves the federal officials involved free of any legal accountability for what they did. 

Maher Arar is not available to comment in person, but is issuing the following statement: "After seven years of pain and hard struggle it was my hope that the court system would listen to my plea and act as an independent body from the executive branch. Unfortunately, this recent decision and decisions taken on other similar cases, prove that the court system in the United States has become more or less a tool that the executive branch can easily manipulate through unfounded allegations and fear mongering. If anything, this decision is a loss to all Americans and to the rule of law."

Said Georgetown law professor and CCR cooperating attorney David Cole, who argued the case, "This decision says that U.S. officials can intentionally send a man to be tortured abroad, bar him from any access to the courts while doing so, and then avoid any legal accountability thereafter. It effectively places executive officials above the law, even when accused of a conscious conspiracy to torture. If the rule of law means anything, it must mean that courts can hear the claim of an innocent man subjected to torture that violates our most basic constitutional commitments."

CCR Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood said, "With this decision, we have lost much more than Maher Arar's case against torture - we have lost the rule of law, the moral high ground, our independent judiciary, and our commitment to the Constitution of the United States." 

The case was re-heard before twelve Second Circuit judges after a rare decision in August 2008 to rehear the case sua sponte, that is, of their own accord before Arar had even sought rehearing.

Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, was detained at JFK Airport in September 2002 while changing planes on his way home to Canada. The Bush administration labeled him a member of Al Qaeda and sent him not to Canada, his home and country of citizenship, but against his will to Syrian intelligence authorities renowned for torture. He was tortured, interrogated and detained in a tiny underground cell for nearly a year before the Syrian government released him, stating they had found no connection to any criminal or terrorist organization or activity.

In January 2004, just three months after he returned home to Canada from his ordeal, CCR filed a suit on Mr. Arar's behalf against John Ashcroft and other U.S. officials, the first to challenge the government's policy of "extraordinary rendition," also known as "outsourcing torture." 

The Canadian government, after an exhaustive public inquiry, found that Mr. Arar had no connection to terrorism and, in January 2007, apologized to Mr. Arar for Canada's role in his rendition and awarded him a multi-million-dollar settlement. The contrast between the two governments' responses to their mistakes could not be more stark, say Mr. Arar's attorneys. Both the Executive and Judicial branches of the United States government have barred inquiry and refused to hold anyone accountable for ruining the life of an innocent man.

Two Congressional hearings in October 2007 dealt with his case. On October 18, 2007 Mr. Arar testified via video at a House Joint Committee Hearing convened to discuss his rendition by the U.S. to Syria for interrogation under torture.  During that hearing - the first time Mr. Arar testified before any U.S. governmental body - individual members of Congress publicly apologized to him, though the government still has not issued a formal apology. The next week, on October 24, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted during a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing that the U.S. government mishandled his case.

In a strongly worded dissent, Judge Guido Calabresi wrote, "I believe that when the history of this distinguished court is written, today's majority decision will be viewed with dismay."

Joshua Sohn of DLA Piper US LLP, Katherine Gallagher of CCR, and Jules Lobel, professor at University of Pittsburgh Law School and CCR cooperating attorney, are co-counsel in Mr. Arar's case.

The Center for Constitutional Rights represents other victims of the Bush administration's programs, from Iraqis tortured and abused at Abu Ghraib prison to Muslim and Arab men rounded up and abused in immigration sweeps in the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11, to Guantanamo detainees in the recent Supreme Court case.

For more on Mr. Arar's case, including a timeline, court papers and other documents, go to http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/arar-v.-ashcroft. Additional information may be found by entering the search term "Arar" at the Center for Constitutional Rights website, www.ccrjustice.org

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 7:18 AM PST
Updated: Monday, 2 November 2009 2:20 PM PST
Portland Oregon 2009 --> Noam Chomsky
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Wasnt there but friends were ...here are 2 videos from that day in PDX

Noam Chomsky - Crisis and Hope in the Age of Obama, Oct. 4, 2009





Noam Chomsky - When Elites Fail, and What We Should Do About It, Oct. 2, 2009




Filmed by:


Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:51 AM PDT
Friday, 30 October 2009
Travis Bishop from the Ft. Lewis stockade
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: prisoner of conscience needs your letters and solidarity


Travis Bishop from the Ft. Lewis stockade

Serving a 12-month prison sentence as an Amnesty Internationaldesignated "prisoner of conscience," Travis refused to deploy to Afghanistan based on his religious beliefs after having had filed for a conscientious objector discharge.

Donate to Travis' ongoing legal expenses.

By Travis Bishop. October 20, 2009

The support I have gotten for my decision has been extraordinary. I can never repay the help and support I’ve gotten, but I will try hard to once I’m released.

Things here at Fort Lewis are grim. I was in isolation the first ten days I was here. It was hell, and I never want to go back to that. Now I’m in a bay of around 20 guys and it’s a little better, but we are treated like children, or murderers, by most of the guards. They forget very quickly that we were all soldiers once… They barley even show us common human courtesy and respect.

I’m two months into my sentence. With good behavior I should be out of here on June 14, 2010. This place is an assault on my mind, body and spirit. This whole atmosphere is foreign to me, and I think they pride themselves on that.

If anyone wants to write me, please tell them that I would love to get mail. Letters are the best part of the day. I’m going to try very hard to answer every letter. If someone sends me a letter, and it gets sent back to them [rejected by the military], wait about a week, and then send it to me again. This gives me time to put their address on my approved mail list. Only put your name—no organizations. The only things people can send me are letters—pen and paper only. No stickers or glitter or anything like that. The mail system is very strict here. Again, thank you to everyone for your support.

Please write to Travis at:

David Travis Bishop
Box 339536
Fort Lewis, WA 98433

Note that the Army will likely reject your first letter, and maybe your second also. Please keep trying to send Travis mail as he really wants to hear from you. When your letter is rejected, sometimes Travis gets to see the envelope. If so, he is then able to add your name to his approved correspondence list.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 1:28 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 31 October 2009 1:25 PM PDT
Mohawk Nation News
Mood:  don't ask
From:Offline Mohawk Nation News (ioriwase@mail.mohawknationnews.com)
Sent:Fri 10/30/09 10:49 AM
To: joe anybody

MNN. Oct. 29, 2009. On October 14th 2007, Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, was killed by the RCMP at the customs venue in Vancouver Airport. He was tasered, knocked down and hit again. He screamed in pain on the floor. They fired again, again and again until he died.

Dziekanski had come from Poland to visit his mother, who had been waiting for him at the arrivals level for 7 hours.

A bystander video taped his death with his cell phone. The RCMP were all buffed up with body armor, hand guns, pepper spray and collapsible batons. They said they feared for their safety when he picked up the stapler and waved it at them.

The state is spending millions on an highly publicized investigation into his death.

What’s the difference between this and the attack on Kahentinetha Horn at the Akwesasne border on June 14, 2009? The CBSA Canadian Border Services Agency video taped this vicious assault which they hide for reasons of National Security. Many witnesses have signed affidavits.

Horn was pulled over by the border guards to wait for hours. CBSA and a squad of heavily equipped commandos appeared. They surrounded her car, grabbed her and used stress tactics that brought on a heart attack. The border guards tried to push her to bend forward so the blood would rush into her heart and kill her. She survived.

This attack has been kept out of mainstream news. Every request to the RCMP, OPP and Attorney General of Canada to investigate this crime has been stopped.
Canada does not want a review of their agents torturing and trying to kill a 69 year old woman who was peacefully crossing the border at Akwesasne.

Horn went to the Federal Court of Canada to file an action to investigate this crime. FCC issued an order that she must pay for all of the Crown’s costs starting with a $20,000 deposit. They declared she lives in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake and therefore is not a resident of Canada. This is an admission that we are sovereign.

Many have been brutalized at this border. The colonial Akwesasne Mohawk Council is hiring a high profile lawyer, paid by Canada, to mount a class action suit against Canada, mainly to avoid the sovereignty, international border and land issues. Indigenous victims will be urged to take a settlement. The deal will probably try to absolve Canada of guilt and responsibility in the eyes of their law.

Canada knows this is an international nation-to-nation issue. The lawyer will say the ruling is a great victory for the Indigenous, blah, blah, blah. Canada will keep pretending they are in control of their Indians.

The foreigners need guns to assert their illegitimate authority.

In Akwesasne we are in our homes, doing nothing wrong. When some antagonistic armed border goon confronts us, our guard goes up. An issue is created and we could be killed. Armed camps are being created around us to force us to defend ourselves against their brutality and weapons. Since they have guns, shouldn’t we have guns to defend ourselves from them?

Any law abiding peaceful and compliant individual, black, white, yellow or brown, who shows up at the border is confronted with tasers and guns. They can become a victim, attacked and killed. Because it’s at the border the goons think they can walk away scot free with no fear of retaliation.

Is Canada at war with us? Why are they pointing us at us? The corporations, Wall Street, bankers, military and lawyers now control governments. Anyone asserting self-determination and sovereignty or questioning their lack of jurisdiction in a resource rich territory is considered an enemy. We have been declared terrorists or enemy combatants and denied civil, sovereign and human rights.

Dziekanski was a visitor with more rights to an investigation than us. He was killed to desensitize the public to what state agents will do to enforce their will. The RCMP took 7 hours to plan his killing and to work up the nerve to do it. In the Horn case, they spent over an hour and botched it.

Kahentinetha MNN Mohawk Nation News, www.mohawknationnews.com kahentinetha2@yahoo.com Note: Your financial help is needed and appreciated. Please send your donations by check or money order to “MNN Mohawk Nation News”, Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0. Or go to PayPal on MNN website. Nia:wen thank you very much. Go to MNN BORDER category for more stories; New MNN Books Available now!

NOTE: Charges could not be brought against the CBSA border guards unless the victims paid the crown’s court costs. Federal Court of Canada Prothonotary Mireille Tabib made an order on October 23, 2008 that Mohawks residing in Akwesasne and Kahnawake are not residents of Canada. Two supporting FCC orders were made by Judge Francois Lemieux on January 29, 2009; and Claude Morissette on March 16, 2009. FCA T-1309-08 and T-288-09.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:15 AM PDT
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Protester Arrested on Courthouse Steps in Portland 10.29.09
Mood:  loud
Now Playing: Torture Protester Activist Arrested - Video Coming Soon

Protester Arrested on Courthouse Steps in Portland 10.29.09


One protester was arrested today in Portland Oregon for peacefully handing out fliers on the 9th circuit Courthouse front porch (steps)

After being (rudely) told (by security guards) to leave the steps, the protester replied just as rudely (but louder) "Get out of my face" to the security guard. Well that caused the guard to go into "over ride"

Like 2 men in a bar the guard was not gonna have "anyone tell him" ...and the cuffs came out as a dozen citizens watched from the sidewalk, yelling "Faschism, let him go, Liar, etc"

The protester who it is rumored is a doctor was pulled (on his feet) into the building (Pioneer Courthouse)

The rude fascist arrest was all captured on video and I will be posting it here latter this evening (asap) on www.Joe-Anybody.com
  **** UPDATE ****
Video Release is now here:
The accompanying video (before & after the arrest) is here:

Posted by Joe Anybody at 5:40 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 31 October 2009 1:23 PM PDT
Monday, 26 October 2009
Sad to be having to read this travel report about Iraq
Mood:  crushed out
Now Playing: why do I feel sick after reading this?
Topic: WAR

Editorial sketchbook:

Something approaching beauty in Baghdad

By Mike Francis, The Oregonian

October 21, 2009, 5:31PM



View full size

The rotunda of Al Faw Palace in Baghdad where Oregon National Guard troops have been assigned.CAMP VICTORY SOUTH, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's artistic sensibilities, like those of many self-important dictators, were somewhat blunted. He was given to pseudo-classical motifs, clumsy statuary and, of course, he had a fondness for heroic images of himself.

Yet here at the former Al Faw Palace compound, now the center of a massive military base on the western edge of Baghdad, Saddam's vision found something approaching beauty.

The Al Faw compound is a complex of substantial, buff-colored buildings, built on man-made peninsulas and ringing a series of lakes formed by canals from the Tigris River. There remains much for an architectural critic to disdain, but there is also the foundation for an upscale resort that could impress even jaded world travelers.

There are just a few things to do before Iraq can hang out the welcome sign:

Lose the concertina wire.

And the sandbags.

And the blast walls.

And the Porta-Potties.

And the uniformed Ugandans who stand at the checkpoints with rifles slung over their shoulders.

And the stream of paired Black Hawk helicopters, racing over the near horizon.

And the signs warning of the authorization of deadly force against intruders.

And, if possible, minimize the frequency of unexplained explosions, which tend to bring visitors out to the sidewalk with questions on their lips. ("Controlled det, I think," muttered one last week.)

In fact, Al Faw, for all its hard edges, is a showpiece for the U.S. military. Late-night comic Stephen Colbert performed here. The Army hosts band parties on the patio overlooking the lakes. The military even has set up an honest-to-goodness hotel in the pillared hunting lodge that looks west toward Al Faw.

Today, the hotel is a project of the Oregon Army National Guard, whose soldiers check in guests, show them to their rooms and explain when the dining room opens for breakfast. It turns out the Army needed somebody to operate a hotel at Camp Victory, the better to entertain visitors, distinguished and otherwise. So the job was assigned to the incoming soldiers of Oregon's 41st Brigade.

So bring your duffel bag to the front desk and say hello to the uniformed soldier behind the desk. He (or she) will be happy to guide you to the Chief Joseph Room, across the parking lot full of armored Humvees. He'll be happy to show where the soldiers fish for the carp, eels and other unlovely species that populate the lake. And, good host that he is, he'll advise you against eating anything you pull out of these waters.

Then, when the door closes behind you, you'll lie on your bed and think, "If only Saddam could see me now."

--Mike Francis

Associate Editor Mike Francis is in Iraq reporting on the Oregon National Guard soldiers assigned to tours of duty there. Read more and comment at: blog.oregonlive.com/oregonatwar/

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 31 October 2009 1:25 PM PDT
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Podcast by Joe Anybody this is #7
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: AUDIO: Dhar Jamil discusses the current and future US military bases in Iraq.
Topic: WAR


click here to download PODCAST # 7  

Hey Z3 Readers here is podcast number 7 ..its not my opinion, it is me reading an email I recieved from the E-listserve by Dahr Jamil, the independent journalist in Iraq.

Dhar Jamil discusses the current and future US military bases in Iraq. He relays information from inside Iraq, on the SOFA program and the buildup of forces despite the news being told in America that we are moving bases out of Iraq. Dhar gives insight on how the Iraq government is not helping in the betterment of their country, nor is the Obama administration, or our US military bases word/play game.

This 6:59 min audio podcast , was recorded on 7.10.09 from a recent email alert I received from Dhar and thus read aloud and saved as an audio file. I posted this on my website on 10.25.09.

~ my podcast page ~



Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:50 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 25 October 2009 7:34 PM PDT
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Christians and Torture
Mood:  not sure
Now Playing: Torture is Not Only Immoral, It is Criminal

Major Religions Call for

Investigation into



Monday, September 28, 2009


by Charles Busch


Our nation is presently involved in a debate about the sanctioned use of torture by the United States since 9/11. Is it enough to denounce torture and focus on the future, or do we need to investigate the past and seek accountability? This question takes in considerable territory, including the security of the state and the insistence of justice. But for me, ultimately, it is a question of conscience, collective and individual.

On June 11 this year, in solidarity with religious leaders from five major religions standing in front of the White House, it was my privilege to stand with Rev. Bonnie Tarwater, minister of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Lincoln City and Rev. Carl Reynolds, a member of that congregation. The purpose of our witness along Highway 101 in downtown was to add our voices to the call for a Commission of Inquiry into U.S. torture practices.


Torture is Not Only Immoral,

 It is Criminal

As a Christian, I am heartened by this public witness because, during the Nazi reign in Germany, almost all the leaders of Christian churches held their tongues and ignored Nazi crimes in exchange for being left alone to worship and pursue personal piety. Among the few heroic leaders who risked dissention, was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and theologian. Marilynne Robinson writes that Bonheoffer “chastised those who accommodated their religion to the prevailing culture so thoroughly as to have made the prevailing culture their religion.”

Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and hanged in 1945 as a traitor.

As a child in Sunday school, I learned that intentional cruelty to another person is immoral, and as a Marine Corps recruit, I learned that torture is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. These early instructions confirmed what my conscience already knew, that the nightmare stuff of torture is evil.

Humans throughout the world hate and fear torture. This is evidenced by more than a century of Geneva Conventions. Specifically, the Third Geneva Conventions were enacted in 1949 to govern the treatment of prisoners of war. Articles 13 to 16 state that prisoners of war must be treated humanely and their medical needs met. Articles 17 to 20 state what information a prisoner must give and the limits of interrogation: “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion.” Nearly all 200 countries of the world are signatory nations.

In addition, the 1985 U.N. Convention against Torture was ratified by the United States and 64 other nations. Nationally, our Constitution has guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment, the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits torture, and the War Crimes Act of 1996 limits interrogation practices. We are a nation of laws.

Evidence that these codes against torture had been violated by U.S. personnel emerged when photographs were published in April 2004 of prisoners being abused in Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Then came allegations of excessive interrogation practices of “enemy combatants” at the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 2005, the secretary-general of Amnesty International called Guantanamo ”the gulag of our times.”

Then, word of secret “black site” prisons emerged. In April 2009, the Washington Post published a leaked confidential inspection report by the International Red Cross (which is charged with monitoring war crimes). This report provided detailed evidence of the torture of prisoners at “black sites” by CIA and other government-paid personnel. The evidence is persuasive and mounting that crimes against humanity have been committed and were sanctioned (i.e., practiced in multiple prisons over a period of years).

The details are horrific. They include: the water-boarding of a single prisoner 183 times, men chained by their wrists from the ceiling for days, toes barely touching the floor, men deprived of sleep for more than a week straight, forced feeding, slamming prisoners into walls up to 30 times in a row, brain washing, and men sitting in cells with music blasting their ears for days on end. Many men were jailed without evidence or any legal charge for years. A child would know these acts are monstrous.

How Will our Nation

Respond to its Own Crimes?

How will we, as a nation, respond to evidence of our own crimes against humanity? In this, I am guided by my Christian understanding that the life of each person is sacred, and that we are all part of one intricate, indivisible whole. I am also guided by two principles.

First: However politically inconvenient, when a crime has been committed, it may not be ignored.

Second: To create a just future, we must first be honest about our past.

To date, only a few low-level soldiers have been held accountable and served jail sentences. But with the recent release of the “Torture Memos,” written in August 2002 and March 2003 by five Justice Department lawyers, it is obvious that torture was policy approved at the highest levels of government. The purpose of these memos, which attempt a legal rationale for torture, was to provide immunity from future prosecution.

As I stood in Lincoln City, the leaders of five major religious faiths also stood, with other clergy and lay leaders, on Pennsylvania Ave in front of the White House to deliver a collective message to our President. Participants included the president of my church denomination, Rev. John Thomas (United Church of Christ), Archbishop Vicken Aykazian (Armenian Church in America), Rabbi Steve Gutow (Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs), Ingrid Mattson (President of the Islamic Society of North America), and the Rev. Michael Cinnamon (General Secretary of the National Council of Churches).

They came as a united part of The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). The message they delivered: President Obama, we look to you and the Department of Justice to authorize a Commission of Inquiry into recent U.S. torture practices. This Commission must be independent and nonpartisan. If it is found that crimes have been committed, then the responsible individuals must be indicted and held accountable.

In this call for accountability, there is no place for self-righteousness. Since May 2004, it has been public information that torture was being committed by the United States, and we citizens did not do what was needed to stop it. We are all complicit.

At the heart of torture is an ancient, recurring lie: That the pain inflicted on just one more person will save us. Every Christian knows and ought to abhor this lie; it’s the very lie that led to Jesus’ torture and political execution.

Will we as a nation investigate and be accountable? As we consider our answer, we do well to listen to these words from Stanley Kunitz’s poem, “Bonhoeffer.”

Slime, in the grains of the State,
like smut in the corn,
from the top infected
Hatred made law,
wolves bred out of maggots
rolling in blood,
and the seal of the church ravished
to receive the crooked sign.
All the steeples were burning.
In the chapel of his ear
he had heard the midnight bells
jangling: if you permit
this evil, what is the good
of the good of your life?
And he forsook the last things,
the dear inviolable mysteries—
Plato’s lamp, passed from the hand
of saint to saint—
that he might risk his soul in the streets, where the things given
are only next to last.Φ

Charles Busch, the founder and President of Peace Village, Inc. and a United Church of Christ minister, lives on the Oregon Coast.

Photo courtesy of : Ken McCormack

I have a link on "Torture Proof" on my website located here:


Posted by Joe Anybody at 7:02 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 25 October 2009 7:19 PM PDT
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Mood:  mischievious
Now Playing: Insecure Passwords
Fix Your Terrible, Insecure Passwords in Five Minutes

A foolproof technique to secure your computer, e-mail, and bank account.

By Farhad Manjoo

It's tempting to blame the victim. In May, a twentysomething French hacker broke into several Twitter employees' e-mail accounts and stole a trove of meeting notes, strategy documents, and other confidential scribbles. The hacker eventually gave the stash to TechCrunch, which has since published notes from meetings in which Twitter execs discussed their very lofty goals. (The company wants to be the first Web service to reach 1 billion users.) How'd the hacker get all this stuff? Like a lot of tech startups, Twitter runs without paper—much of the company's discussions take place in e-mail and over shared Google documents. All of these corporate secrets are kept secure with a very thin wall of protection: the employees' passwords, which the intruder managed to guess because some people at Twitter used the same passwords for many different sites. In other words, Twitter had it coming. The trouble is, so do the rest of us.

Your passwords aren't very secure. Even if you think they are, they probably aren't. Do you use the same or similar passwords for several different important sites? If you don't, pat yourself on the back; if you do, you're not alone—one recent survey found that half of people online use the same password for all the sites they visit. Do you change your passwords often? Probably not; more than 90 percent don't. If one of your accounts falls to a hacker, will he find enough to get into your other accounts? For a scare, try this: Search your e-mail for some of your own passwords. You'll probably find a lot of them, either because you've e-mailed them to yourself or because some Web sites send along your password when you register or when you tell them you've forgotten it. If an attacker manages to get into your e-mail, he'll have an easy time accessing your bank account, your social networking sites, and your fantasy baseball roster. That's exactly what happened at Twitter. (Here's my detailed explanation of how Twitter got compromised.)

Everyone knows it's bad to use the same password for different sites. People do it anyway because remembering different passwords is annoying. Remembering different difficult passwords is even more annoying. Eric Thompson, the founder of AccessData, a technology forensics company that makes password-guessing software, says that most passwords follow a pattern. First, people choose a readable word as a base for the password—not necessarily something in Webster's but something that is pronounceable in English. Then, when pressed to add a numeral or symbol to make the password more secure, most people add a 1 or ! to the end of that word. Thompson's software, which uses a "brute force" technique that tries thousands of passwords until it guesses yours correctly, can easily suss out such common passwords. When it incorporates your computer's Web history in its algorithm—all your ramblings on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere—Thompson's software can come up with a list of passwords that is highly likely to include yours. (He doesn't use it for nefarious ends; AccessData usually guesses passwords under the direction of a court order, for military purposes, or when companies get locked out of their own systems—"systems administrator gets hit by a bus on the way to work," Thompson says by way of example.)

Security expert Bruce Schneier writes about passwords often, and he distills Thompson's findings into a few rules: Choose a password that doesn't contain a readable word. Mix upper and lower case. Use a number or symbol in the middle of the word, not on the end. Don't just use 1 or !, and don't use symbols as replacements for letters, such as @ for a lowercase A—password-guessing software can see through that trick. And of course, create unique passwords for your different sites.

That all sounds difficult and time-consuming. It doesn't have to be. In Schneier's comment section, I found a foolproof technique to create passwords that are near-impossible to crack yet easy to remember. Even better, it'll take just five minutes of your time. Ready?

Start with an original but memorable phrase. For this exercise, let's use these two sentences: I like to eat bagels at the airport and My first Cadillac was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota. The phrase can have something to do with your life or it can be a random collection of words—just make sure it's something you can remember. That's the key: Because a mnemonic is easy to remember, you don't have to write it down anywhere. (If you can't remember it without writing it down, it's not a good mnemonic.) This reduces the chance that someone will guess it if he gets into your computer or your e-mail. What's more, a relatively simple mnemonic can be turned into a fanatically difficult password.

Which brings us to Step 2: Turn your phrase into an acronym. Be sure to use some numbers and symbols and capital letters, too. I like to eat bagels at the airport becomes Ilteb@ta, and My first Cadillac was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota is M1stCwarlsIbaT.

That's it—you're done. These mnemonic passwords are hard to forget, but they contain no guessable English words. You can even create pass phrases for specific sites that are coded with a hint about their purpose. A sentence like It's 20 degrees in February, so I use Gmail lets you set a new Gmail password every month and still never forget it: i90diSsIuG for September, i30diMsIuG for March, etc. (These aren't realistic temperatures; they're the month-number multiplied by 10.)

How many different such passwords do you need? Four or five at most. You don't have to keep unique passwords for every single site you visit—Thompson says it's perfectly OK to repeat passwords on sites that don't need to be kept very secure. For instance, I can use the same password for my accounts at the New York Times, the New Republic, The New Yorker, and other online magazines, because it won't hurt me too much if someone breaks into those. (My mnemonic is, I like to read snooty publications quite often.) You should probably use different passwords for each your social networking accounts—someone can do real damage by breaking into your Facebook or Twitter, so you want to keep them distinct—but you can still come up with a single systematic mnemonic to protect them: Twitter is my second favorite social networking site, MySpace is my third favorite social networking site, etc. Reserve your strongest, most distinct passwords for the few very important services that, if cracked, could do the most damage—your bank account, your computer, and most of all your e-mail, which often contains the keys to everything else in your life.

To be sure, this is more of a hassle than what you're doing now—but what you're doing now is going to come back to bite you. These days, we're all dishing personal information all the time; you may think that your password is totally unguessable, but your Facebook makes clear that you're a huge U2 fan and you graduated from college in 2000. Achtung2000, eh? Just go ahead and make some new passwords right now. Trust me, you'll feel better.

According to the story he gave TechCrunch, the Twitter hacker began exploiting Gmail's forgotten-password feature to get into one staffer's personal e-mail. The hacker got a bit lucky here: When he hit the forgotten-password button, Gmail gave him a hint about the secondary e-mail address that the employee had entered when he or she had set up the Gmail account: ******@h******.com. The hacker guessed that this was a Hotmail address; when he checked Hotmail for some addresses that might belong to the user, he found they were no longer active. (Hotmail, like a lot of Web e-mail services, deletes accounts that haven't been accessed in a while.) So the hacker set up the Hotmail account that Gmail thought belonged to the Twitter employee. When Gmail sent a password-reset link to the Hotmail address, it went right into the hacker's hands. (Google has recently added a feature in Gmail that occasionally prompts users to update their backup e-mail addresses.)

After rifling through the Twitter employee's Gmail in search of passwords, the hacker noticed that he seemed to use similar passwords for a lot of different sites. From there, Twitter fell like a line of dominoes: The hacker used the passwords he found in the Gmail account to get into the employee's Google Apps account, which led him to company documents that contained personal information about other Twitter employees. That information allowed him to guess those employees' passwords, which gave him even more personal information, which got him even more passwords, and so on. Eventually the hacker had access not only to documents floating around inside Twitter but also to some employees' accounts at Amazon, AT&T, and iTunes. He even got into the GoDaddy account that managed some of Twitter's domain names.

Farhad Manjoo is Slate's technology columnist and the author of True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society. You can e-mail him at farhad.manjoo@slate.com and follow him on Twitter.

Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2223478/


Posted by Joe Anybody at 7:00 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 25 October 2009 7:20 PM PDT
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Man In Black - Johnny Cash
Mood:  loud
Now Playing: Johnny tells you why

Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:06 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 October 2009 6:10 PM PDT

Newer | Latest | Older

« November 2009 »
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30
You are not logged in. Log in
Ben Waiting for it ? Well Look Here!
Robert Lindsay Blog
Old Blogs Go to Joe's Home Web Site
Media Underground
Joe's 911 Truth Report

Alex Ansary