S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Homeland Security and CIA - what in the world is going on?

Operation Vigilant Shield 2008 is going on today, about which I posted not long ago, asking "What do we do?" This is not the first time such a significant exercise has been deployed. Oregon is the lucky(?) state that gets to go thought this training. Louisiana was the lucky (?) state that became the original laboratory for today's exercise. Global also has the story, from which I quote:

US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) has just announced plans for an anti-terrorism exercise called Vigilant Shield 2008. The series of exercises is mandated by the US government to prepare, prevent and respond to any number of national crises that would call for the use of the military inside the United States.

At the same time the new National Applications Office has not gone into business. This is the first really good news we have had in a while about the Bush administration's ubiquitous domestic spying efforts. I wrote of my very dubious assessment of the proposed spy in the sky program in a past post - "Like an ubiquitous spook - Part II." TechNewsWorld headlined, "Domestic Spy Satellite Program Halted on Privacy Fears." This is terrific news! To quote,
A program designed to provide emergency response, border control and law enforcement organizations with information gleaned from spy satellites has been put on hold due to questions concerning privacy. Proponents of the program say it could help save lives, but some critics have a lot of questions they want answered before spy satellites are pointed at Americans.

The Department of Homeland Security Latest News about Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has opted to postpone the planned opening of its new National Applications Office (NAO) that would oversee the expanded use of spy satellite imagery of American territories, the agency announced Monday. The NAO had been scheduled to start operations on Oct. 1.

The decision came after the agency received several requests from the Homeland Security Committee to delay the start of the program until questions concerning its impact on privacy and civil liberties as well as the legal basis for the program have been addressed.

"While we are pleased by the Department's decision to go back to the drawing board and get it right, we are troubled by its silence on the second part of our request: that Congress also be provided 'a full opportunity to review the NAO's written legal framework, offer comments and help shape appropriate procedures and protocols,'" said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security.

The CIA Inspector General is perhaps not going on right now. This is bad news again. Former CIA agent Larry Johnson is a longtime blogger. Remember his great posts about his colleague Valerie Plame? On (10/14/07) Johnson wrote a very interesting post on a CIA internal fight at TPMCafe.
IG means Inspector General. Normally, the IG operates outside the boundaries of political influence and cronyism. This week we learned that CIA Director Michael Hayden has launched an investigation of the IG. This comes in the wake of the IG–a man named John Helgerson–investigating torture and other abuses by CIA officers. Sure looks like an effort to shut down Mr. Helgerson. So what the hell is going on?
In the civil liberties business in the 21st Century, we win some and we lose some, but it is a fight every time, unfortunately.
My links:
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is about mental health in 1978.
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