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.

Monday, March 17, 2008

From my In-Box to my Out--Box

Now is later -- Like many of you, I keep little scraps of digital stuff "for later." Today's post is a digest of information that follows up several of my previous posts. Note that I am somewhat reluctant with several items, because some of it is news that's not so good or counter to my previous pieces.

Post 1) Profile of the U.S. space program, my yesterday's post should have included this earlier good news follow up to : Putin signs decree to set up rocket-and-space research center, according to a 2/29 article in Ria Novosti. To quote:

President Putin has signed a decree establishing a federal government-sponsored Rocket and Space Industry Research and Test Center, the Kremlin press service said on Friday.

Post 2) In search of excellence -- and finding it:" follow up. Think Progress "White House Smears Nobel Economist: 'Lacks Courage' for Ignoring 'Cost of Failure' in Iraq - 2/28/08. This is the opposite of excellence. To quote (TP links):

The White House has a sensitive spot for assessments of the wars’ costs. In October, the CBO conservatively said the wars may cost $2 trillion over the next decade. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino retorted that the CBO’s estimate was “pure speculation” and “wildly premature.” When the Joint Economic Committee said the “hidden” costs of the wars totaled $1.5 trillion, OMB Chairman Jim Nussle derided it as “clearly partisan.”

While the White House says it is “not worried” about the price tag of war, they should be. The war costs are the “hidden cause of the current credit crunch” and housing crisis, Stiglitz’s book argues.

The second follow up story about another "opposite of excellence." From "betmo," my blogger friend, what she termed "More good News." From the Wall Street Journal of 2/3/08 comes the headline, "CIA Likely Let Contractors Perform Waterboarding," By Siobhan Gorman, I quote:

The CIA's secret interrogation program has made extensive use of outside contractors, whose role likely included the waterboarding of terrorist suspects, according to testimony yesterday from the CIA director and two other people familiar with the program.

Many of the contractors involved aren't large corporate entities but rather individuals who are often former agency or military officers. However, large corporations also are involved, current and former officials said. Their identities couldn't be learned.

The broader involvement of contractors, and the likelihood they partook in waterboarding, raises new legal questions about the Central Intelligence Agency's use of the practice, ...

Post 3) "It is called Backbone:" The first follow up story reports that Senator Obama's adviser does not agree with him. Memeorandum -- picks this up from The Blotter/ABC News: " Intel Adviser Breaks with Obama over FISA, Telecoms" March 07, 2008. A National Journal insider interview with John Brennan, titled "The Counterterror campaign."

There are many types of scenarios for signals [for example, telephone calls and e-mails] to be accessed. But whenever this happens, there needs to be some substantive predicate, a probable cause, that someone is being targeted appropriately. There is an important issue about timeliness.

And even though you can go through the FISA process, particularly when you're dealing with terrorism issues, there needs to be an understanding that intelligence agencies can move quickly if certain predicates are met. We shouldn't be held hostage to a complicated, globalized [information technology] structure that puts up obstacles to that timely collection. I think there are some very, very sensible people on both sides of the partisan divide trying to make this happen.

. . . To me, I think the government does have the right and the obligation to ensure the security and safety of its citizens. If there is probable cause, reasonable suspicion, about the involvement of a U.S. person in something, the government needs to have the ability to understand what the nature of that involvement is. The threshold for that type of government access can be high or can be low, and it needs to be somewhere in the middle.

. . . But there needs to be an articulation of those triggers that the American people overall feel, yes, that's the right thing for the government to do.

You don't want to just troll and with a large net just pull up everything. There are technologies available to pulse the data set and pull back only that which has some type of correlation to your predicate.

. . . These are things that need to be discussed openly -- not to the point of revealing sources and methods and giving the potential terrorists out there insight into our capability -- but to make sure there is a general understanding and consensus that these initiatives, collections, capabilities, and techniques comport with American values and are appropriately adjusted . . .

The second follow up to the "Backbone" post is an older story that has disappeared because there was no connection between the letters and the bombings. I include it here because this story could have caused Democrats in the House could have "caved," rather than vote the right way on the FISA bill. House members receive letters before bombings.

House Members receive letters, photo of NY recruiting station sent before bombing. . . A number of House members were mailed a letter and photo of a Times Square recruiting station in Manhattan before it was bombed on Thursday. morning, according to House insiders and law-enforcement officials.

The third follow up story on "backbone" is one that was forwarded to me by my blogfriend, betmo," who asked, "Why am I not surprised?" Dated 2/24/08 and from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington comes this headline, "Senators diverting campaign funds to kin." To quote,

Under long-standing congressional ethics rules, corporations, unions and other large organizations cannot directly pay senators stipends. But their contributions to senators' election campaigns can be paid without limit to the children, spouses, in-laws and other relatives of the lawmakers, in a practice that has aroused controversy but is fully legal.

Since 2000, at least 20 members of the Senate dipped into their campaign contributions and wrote more than half a million dollars in checks to their own relatives, typically as payment for fundraising and other campaign work, according to a new report by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Post 4) "The Quantico Circuit -- Second Peek:" follow up points out that there is much room for mischief with this. "Bush order Expands Network Monitoring." Washington Post. (1/26/08) HT to "seashell' at Project Lucidity. To quote (WaPo links):

Until now, the government's efforts to protect itself from cyber-attacks -- which run the gamut from hackers to organized crime to foreign governments trying to steal sensitive data -- have been piecemeal. Under the new initiative, a task force headed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will coordinate efforts to identify the source of cyber-attacks against government computer systems. As part of that effort, the Department of Homeland Security will work to protect the systems and the Pentagon will devise strategies for counterattacks against the intruders.

Post 5) "More to the Texas vote story" What follows is a great piece of writing by Tom Shade about the delicious dilemma facing the Democratic party, having two great candidates. TheTPM Cafe post (2/8/08) on our Democratic party's dilemma of race vs. gender is titled, "Gender Panic." To quote the opening:

There is politics; and there is the political culture.

Politics is about power – who can wield the power of the government to advance their interests and their theory of the general good. The political culture, on the other hand, is about what people think and say about politics – what they think the issues are, how they vote.

The issue for progressive people has been how the political culture is constructed in such a way that the majority of people are convinced to vote for candidates and parties that do not serve their interests. Why should the GOP win elections when they effectively work to make the rich richer and the poor and middle class poorer?

Following up to this story is another reference from my blog friend, "betmo, " who calls it a "good find: electoral vote" -- a regularly updated map of the 2008 Primary elections situation. Betmo writes "life's journey."

So this concludes cleaning out my In-Box and posting it to my Out-Box. Later for more.

Technorati tags:

No comments: