Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dickie's Quickies

Pretty scary: a dead cat found on an island off of Germany was found to be infected with the avian flu virus. Investigators are still determining what killed the cat - it may not have been the virus. However, it shows that the leap has been made to our feline friends.

Not to be left out, hackers have invented a virus that leaps from PDAs to PCs and back.

Why let the national party have all of the datamining/spying fun? According to Minnesota Public Radio, Republicans in that state have been collecting data in a surreptitious manner. The GOP in Minnesota has proposed an anti-gay marriage law. In order to promote the law, they sent out a CD to "educate" the public on their position. The CD asks the user several questions, including name, address, and positions on several political topics (gun control, abortion, etc). What the CD does not do is inform the user that their answers are being transmitted back to a GOP website and they are not anonymous. The GOP also doesn't tell the user how they intend to use or abuse that data. What could make it worse? The website is public and it is live. There are at least 25,000 names, according to the radio report, and all can be downloaded to prepare a mailing list or identity theft. Someone should sue the Republican Party in Minnesota. This report comes on the heals of one from North Carolina where Republicans there asked churches to provide name and contact information for their members. Even conservative ministers were appalled. Geez, guys, just buy a list businesses that sell such things.

This piece ought to make those state parties even more envious. Attorney General Gonzales, in a letter "clarifying" (read: "correcting") his testimony of the domestic spying program admitted that there may be other programs or that the government's spying might be broader than what he testified to. From the article, emphasis is my own:
But in yesterday's letter, Gonzales, citing that quote, wrote: "I did not and could not address . . . any other classified intelligence activities." Using the administration's term for the recently disclosed operation, he continued, "I was confining my remarks to the Terrorist Surveillance Program as described by the President, the legality of which was the subject" of the Feb. 6 hearing.
Here's a great NY Times Op-Ed by a former interrogator in Iraq. Anthony Lagouranis served in the U.S. Army and he isn't too pleased that the people who gave the orders for torture techniques to be used in Iraq are not being prosecuted while the people who carried out the orders are facing trials and possibly jail. From the article:
General Miller has denied recommending the use of guard dogs to intimidate prisoners during interrogations in Iraq. He also recently said he would not testify in the courts-martial of Sergeants Cardona and Smith, invoking his right to avoid self-incrimination. As someone who voluntarily spoke at length about my actions in Iraq to investigators, without a lawyer present, I can't have a favorable opinion of General Miller. By doing the military equivalent of "taking the Fifth," he's decided to protect himself, apparently happy to let two dog handlers take the fall — a stunning betrayal of his subordinates and Army values.
More on Iraq: The Inspector General at the Pentagon revealed in a report that the U.S. had no plan for rebuilding the country. They also didn't prepare for the insurgency and billions were lost to fraud. From the article:
"There was insufficient systematic planning for human capital management in Iraq before and during the U.S.-directed stabilization and reconstruction operations," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, in a new "lessons learned" report released yesterday. "The practical limitations ensuing from this shortfall adversely affected reconstruction in post-war Iraq."
Yet more on Iraq: The Bush Administration ignored intelligence reports that indicated the insurgency was local and broadly supported. Anyone need any more evidence of the incompetence of our government leaders? From the article:

A former senior U.S. official who participated in the process said that analysts at the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department's intelligence bureau all agreed that the insurgency posed a growing threat to stability in Iraq and to U.S. hopes for forming a new government and rebuilding the economy.

"This was stuff the White House and the Pentagon did not want to hear," the former official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They were constantly grumbling that the people who were writing these kind of downbeat assessments `needed to get on the team,' `were not team players' and were `sitting up there (at CIA headquarters) in Langley sucking their thumbs.'"

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