24 September 2001

America under Attack: Web Perspectives II

The big story of the day is Bush signing an executive order to freeze the assets of 27 individuals and organizations believed to have funded terrorists. See inside for a list of the organizations and individuals ...

Most notable story I've seen today: PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) creator, Phil Zimmerman, sounds off on being misquoted and misrepresented in a recent Washington Post article where it stated that he has been "overwhelmed with feelings of guilt" about the use of PGP by suspected terrorists. Phil says he never implied that and due to the political sensitivities, had the reporter read back the article over the phone to ensure what he stated was accurately reflected. The published version, however, after the editors took inappropriate liberties, inaccurately captured his sentiments on encryption. Another one for the liberal-media-bias-my-arse department, I suppose ...

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who was criticised by the Wall Street Journal for his insensitivity in announcing earnings just after the WTC carnage, is calling for a national identification card system, and he is offering to donate the software to make it possible. Under Ellison's proposal, millions of Americans would be fingerprinted and the information would be placed on a database used by airport security officials to verify identities of travelers at airplane gates. ... ``We need a national ID card with our photograph and thumbprint digitized and embedded in the ID card,'' Ellison said in an interview Friday night on the evening news of KPIX-TV in San Francisco..

Conspiracy theorists speculate that Microsoft forged a deal with the Bush administration to monitor computer users in exchange for an anti-trust settlement ... The UK Daily Telegraph is reporting "first shots" in the "War on Terrorism" have been fired over the weekend, with British SAS troops engaging Taliban fighters ... A state of emergency has been declared in Pakistan ... Barbara Lee on why she opposed authorizing force in respose to terrorist attacks ...
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21 September 2001

Call center becomes a lifeline

An article published in Thursday's AZ Republic Business section, recognizing the Phoenix Discover Card call center for its relief efforts. My stepson is a supervisor at the call center, so the story leaped out at me.

It was an oddly quiet morning at the Discover Card call center in north Phoenix.

The massive complex on Beardsley Road operates around the clock and usually hops with calls from customers. Yet the phones fell silent on the morning of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

"Everyone was watching TV," Eric Carter of Glendale said. "There were no calls coming in."

That was about to change. Discover is owned by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and about 3,700 Morgan employees worked in the World Trade Center.
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20 September 2001

Steve Long was Bin Laden's Worst Nightmare

Here is a touching piece on U.S. Army Major Steven Long, murdered at age 39 by suicide pilots while working at the Pentagon. It elicited an emotional response for me, and I thought I'd share it with you.

Regrettably and ironically, Usama Bin Laden and I now have something in common: Neither one of us will ever get to meet U.S. Army Maj. Stephen V. Long.

"Steve jumped into combat in Grenada with the Rangers in 1983. He received an Army Commendation with a V for valorhe personally destroyed a Cuban armored vehicle with a bazooka. He was later injured when his helicopter was shot down in Grenada. He later became an officer and served with the 82nd in the Gulf War. He was a fast track officer in his field. He had a wife and a step-son. It's a shame that this hero was murdered by cowards. Steve was well known, well liked, and will be greatly missed."

While I write this, NBC-TV is airing a report from Ft. Bragg, saying the 82nd will be among the first units to be used to fight Islamic radicals and Bin Laden, and final preparations are underway for utilizing Steve's old airborne pals.

Maj. Steve Long didn't work at a fancy investment company on Wall Street, doesn't have relatives walking the streets with his picture, and to the best of my knowledge never appeared on a panel with Larry King or Don Imus. He was simply a patriot doing his daily work, stolen from his family and nation in an instant.

I sure will be praying for the success of the 82nd Airborne Division. I've been praying for all the family and friends of the dead and missing resulting from the incomprehensible 9/11 attack. And I'm praying for our nation's leaders to guide our military might to snuff out our enemies.

Would a Cardinal Sellout be a Wonderful Display of Reverence?

KFYI Bob Mohan took issue with today's Pedro Gomez AZ Republic sports column that implores Valley residents to "show, en masse, its reverence for all those impacted by last week's terror" by packing Sun Devil Stadium on Sunday night. In the same essay, the issue of dwindling sports attendance is expounded upon. Gomez's usage of the word "reverence" bothered the afternoon show host.

Are you troubled, too, by the use of "reverence" and sporting event in the same sentence? Or is it just the blathering of a talk show host who's run out of topic angles on the continuing "America under Attack" story?

America under Attack: Web Perspectives

I thought I would compile some of the captivating URLs I traversed today, in keeping abreast of new developments in the 9/11 terrorist attack aftermath. And, unlike the previous story source, these accounts are examples of credible journalism.

First, Jane's Security offers an alternative view of the who was responsible for the 9/11 suicide attacks. They state that the nation of Iraq sponsored the act, and that the mission was directed by Lebanese Imad Mughniyeh, head of the special overseas operations for Hizbullah, and the Egyptian Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, senior member of Al-Qaeda and possible successor of the ailing Osama Bin Laden. That's according to their source, Israel's military intelligence service, Aman.

Now for the rest of the links -- Another article from Jane's Security - this one on the myth of a "surgical strike" and applauds the G.W. Bush administration for carefully evaluating strategies instead of the failed Clinton tactics ... An interesting article in the Village Voice profiling the American Taliban spokesperson who also happens to be the niece of a former CIA director. ... A rational argument made by a columnist against an airlines bailout - taxpayers would be better served by bankruptcies, he claims ... A letter from the Dalai Lama to President Bush ... A succinct editorial on the "civil liberties catastrophe [that] looms as citizens surrender to fear, fury and frustration and as lawmakers throw money and shards of the Bill of Rights at the specter of terrorism." ...

Insert your recommended link du jour here ...

19 September 2001

America's Reichstag Fire?

A court reformer/cable TV program producer is claiming that the U.S. Government had prior knowledge of the massive 9/11 terrorist attacks. Reportedly, the French CIA and Israel Mossad penetrated the plots and "confirm the validity of this story". According to the author, Sherman Skolnick, the attack notice went unheeded by Bush administration officials.

Foreign television networks were preparing lengthy documentaries that would scandalize George W. Bush - The subject matter included how forty million dollars in dope funds were used by the Bush Family to reportedly corrupt South Florida DEMOCRATS to abandon the recount even ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling installing George W. Bush as President.

The purpose of the "terrorist" attacks was to effectively paralyze the financial infrastructure of the U.S. Some of the most important stock and bond houses in the world, with their key people having loads of inside knowledge and hard to replace trading tricks and expertise, were located in the known-to-be-targetted twin towers of the World Trade Center, New York City. It was like blowing up the main "financial factory" and destroying their inventory.

I believe the theme of this story would make for a good Oliver Stone movie. What do you think?

Ask Congress to Legislate to Improve Security Not Eliminate Freedoms

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging you to notify your elected government representatives to oppose H.R. 2500, a measure that will expand wiretap powers, enable warrantless searches, and implement restrictions on encryption.

I disconnected on hold from the KFYI Barry Young show this morning. I wanted to challenge his assertion that you have no "reasonable right to privacy" on the internet. Nothing could be further than the truth - your medical records, banking records, financial transactions, credit history records are all protected by encryption. Encyrption is just not limited to secret coded emails. None of these measures being advanced would have stopped the recent terrorist attacks. Many Americans are puzzled why us geeks (polls indicate 70% of the public support encryption restrictions while in the tech industry 80% or more do not) are making this a big deal. I'm going to address the other tenets of this hideous legislation proposed in the coming days, but thought I'd say a few words about encryption first and why giving the government a "backdoor" is a rotten idea.
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18 September 2001

Clear Channel Sends Stations Ban List of Songs

In response to the recent national tragedy, Clear Channel, one of the largest radio networks, has compiled a "ban" list of songs with "questionable content" and sent it to all of their member stations. Apparently, a company memo leaked out to the public, where it was then plastered up on F*** I've seen some reports that it's a hoax, but then I've read accounts from Clear Channel workers that say it is indeed true, but it's a "recommendation", not an order to censor.

The list includes artists from a variety of genres, from Elton John and Bruce Springsteen to Green Day, Metallica, and the Smashing Pumpkins. And it looks like the decision to add a song to the list was based more on the title than the lyrical content. See the song list inside ...
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17 September 2001

Be patriotic and buy stocks

Yes, as predicted, the economy and the stock market specifically is taking it in the shorts. A 685 point drop, the largest point drop in history, in the Dow Jones average today is already being termed "Bleak Monday". Our economy was already reeling from massive numbers of layoffs and technology sector slowdowns. Now it looks like we're in for a full fledged recession, if we weren't already.

I know a lot of people are flying flags to show their patriotism and love of America. While I think flag flying is a wonderful way for you to publically display devotion to your country, I am reminded of my pastor's repeated exhortations of how to verify that you walk the walk as a Christian - simply examine your calendar and checkbook. So when my wife urged me to sell our stocks, I resisted her plea - and stated that I know of no better way to show these demonic terrorists our firm resolve than to keep our money in the market and to continue investing. We're going to take a hit, and I realize that the affluent money changers will profit on the steadfast financial course of myself and others as they move funds to bonds or alternative investment vehicles. But, it's not like we have a fortune invested - in fact, it's probaly a mere pittance compared to others - just building a retirement fund for the golden years.
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13 September 2001

FBI pushes Carnivore on network providers after attacks

Just hours after three airplanes smashed into the buildings in what some U.S. legislators have dubbed a second Pearl Harbor, FBI agents began to visit Web-based, e-mail firms and network providers, according to engineers at those companies who spoke on condition of anonymity. An administrator at one major network service provider said that FBI agents showed up at his workplace on Tuesday "with a couple of Carnivores, requesting permission to place them in our core, along with offers to actually pay for circuits and costs."

The FBI's controversial Carnivore spy system, which has been renamed DCS1000, is a specially configured Windows computer designed to sit on an Internet provider's network and monitor electronic communications. To retrieve the stored data, an agent stops by to pick up a removable hard drive with the information that the Carnivore system was configured to record.

Update (01-09-14 16:15): Senate OKs FBI Net Spying - FBI agents soon may be able to spy on Internet users legally without a court order. On Thursday evening, two days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, the Senate approved the "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001," which enhances police wiretap powers and permits monitoring in more situations.
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11 September 2001

2 aircraft crash into World Trade Center; reports of hijacking investigated

Planes crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers minutes apart today in a horrific scene of explosions and fires that left gaping holes in the 110-story buildings. There was no immediate official word on injuries or fatalities in the twin disasters, which happened shortly before 9 a.m. and then right around 9 a.m. There were some news reports that at least six people were killed and thousands were injured. In Washington, officials said the FBI was investigating reports of a plane hijacking before the crashes.

Reportedly, the FAA is shutting down all air traffic across the U.S. today, due to this tragic event, which the President is calling a terroist act. Also, TV is showing shots of the Pentagon on fire. Update (08:00): Both towers have collapsed, the Pentagon fire is also the result of a air collision and another plane has crashed in Western Pennsylvania, 80 miles SE of Pittsburgh. There are reports, unverified, of perhaps other planes in the sky that have been hijacked. No word yet on how many casualties among the 50,000 workers in the WTC collapse or how many dead in the Pentagon collison.

10 September 2001

Another Republican Model of Hypocrisy: Phil Gramm

From the Houston Chronicle comes this column bidding adios and good riddance to U.S. Senator Phil Gramm - Gramm, a man who claims the government is wasteful and worthless, but has spent most of his life on the government dole and/or taking advantage of benefits of government programs.

In 23 years in politics, Gramm built a reputation as a tight-fisted budget-cutter who fought to reduce the size of the federal government and get rid of social programs that he views as wasteful handouts for freeloaders.

At the same time, however, he brags about all the costly federal benefits he has provided for Texas, sometimes even taking credit for projects that were passed over his opposition. "I'm carrying so much pork I'm beginning to get trichinosis," he once boasted.

For a senator who believes that government is "a corrosive influence," Gramm has never had a problem accepting federal help for himself. He was born in a government hospital, educated by his father's G.I. insurance, put through graduate school by a National Defense Education Act fellowship, and taught economics at Texas A&M University assisted by a development grant from the National Science Foundation. Since his election to the House in 1978, he has been on the government payroll. His wife Wendy has also held federal jobs since the couple came to Washington.

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