Thursday, December 29, 2005

"We learned that one person can and does make a difference"

Tonight, I'm blogging. The group's over but I'll be grabbing an evening again starting next year, just FYI. So you have Mike and you have me discussing the same headlines from Democracy Now! so be sure to check out Mikey Likes It!.

NSA Website Capable of Tracking Web Activity of Visitors (Democracy Now!):
In other news, the Associated Press is reporting the National Security Agency has been using files that can track the web surfing activity of visitors to its website. The NSA says the tracking files -- known as "cookies" --- were a mistake and have been removed. Under federal law, government agencies are forbidden from using "cookie" files unless a senior official authorizes them and their use is disclosed in the agency's written privacy policy. The news comes as the Bush administration continues to defend its authoritization of an NSA program to eavesdrop on Americans and foreign nationals without court-approved warrants.

Mike's going to note Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, so be sure to read his comments. Me? I feel like C.I. made the points on this topic this morning:

So a person visits the NSA's site, maybe on purpose, maybe by accident, and upon visiting, a 'super cookie' (my term) hits your computer that is now tracking every site you go to for the next thirty years (hence my term). I am pretty sure we've never linked to the NSA. We have linked to the White House's official page and we have linked to the CIA's page -- for a speech by Poppy -- so it would be interesting to know if this "policy" was only implemented at the NSA or if it was a sort of "total awareness" going on at all government sites under the Bully Boy. The article states that the CIA did use them in 2002 until Daniel "Brandt called it to the agency's attention." Following cookies being placed upon anti-drug online ads (this would be in the Clinton years), "strict rules" were set in place in 2000 but as of 2001 at least 23 agencies were found by Congress to still be using them. A visit to the NSA website (prior to Tuesday) resulted in two cookies hitting your computer that did not expire until 2035.
Ari Schwartz is noted by many members as "embarrassing." (They must have missed his CNN chat if this is their first time noting Schwartz's weak defense.) Schwartz tells the AP that "Considering the surveillance power the N.S.A. has, cookies are not exactly a major concern. But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."
It's not a major concern to Schwartz. That shouldn't be surprising coming from Schwartz who most famously battled/petted the paper tiger when he "bravely" stuck his neck out to argue against the Patriot Act . . . without judicial oversight. (Link goes to a CNN transcript at CNN's web site.) While others fought the erosions of rights and liberties, Schwartz just wanted a little judicial oversight.
So, given that, it's not all that surprising that Schwartz, of the Center for Democracy and Technology, can see something illegal going on and deem it "not exactly a major concern."
If that's the best that Schwartz, speaking for the CDT, can do, perhaps the organization needs to get to work creating a commercial with the following tag line: "Where rights are to be given away, the Center for Democracy and Technology is there, helping to restrict your freedoms"?And if the Monkees' "Daydream Believer" weren't already in use (a product's song hawking a product, symmetry!), the CDT could use it for the theme of such a commercial.

Next item.

Pinochet Photographed For First Mug Shot (Democracy Now!):
And in Chile, after years of charges and investigations into human rights abuses under his rule, former dictator Augusto Pinochet has been fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken for the first time. Police are investigating his involvement in the deaths of hundreds of political opponents in the 1970s. Pinochet ruled the country until 1990 after seizing power in a US-backed coup in 1973. Over 3,000 people went missing and 28,000 were tortured under his regime. Pinochet, who is 90 years old, is currently living under house arrest over separate allegations of human rights abuses. His mug shot has not been released.

Pincochet is just one war criminal. There are many more. (Including war criminals in power today such as the Bully Boy.) But this is something. It's something for those who suffered under Pinochet and/or had family and friends who suffered under him. It's also something for the world because this sends a message that no one is above the law. I hope he's convicted. But he's been protected for so long (and by us from the beginning) that I think it's important to really note what's happened.

He thought he was above the law. He thought he could destroy in private and torture and kill and get away with it. For many years, it looked like he would. Then there was a panic when he was in England and it appeared he might be charged. He plays the "poor health card" and that's provided him with an out many times. That moment's also put a scare into at least one supporter, Henry Kissinger, who now has to worry about extradition and selects his travel destinations with care.

Pinochet socked away a lot of money and when that came out, he became less untouchable. Now he's had to pose for his mug shot. This is very important and should send fear running up the spine of the Bully Boy.

Among the people who inspired me this year (Joy asked in an e-mail) were Cindy Sheehan, John Conyers, Shirley Tubbs Jones, Maxine Waters, Barbara Boxer, Kim Gandy, Bright Eyes, Joan Baez, Howard Zinn, Medea Benjamin and everyone in The Common Ills community. I'll note an article by Howard Zinn and our peace quote tonight comes from Cindy Sheehan.

"After The War" (Howard Zinn, The Progressive):
The war in Iraq has revealed the hypocrisy of the “war on terrorism.” And the government of the United States, indeed governments everywhere, are becoming exposed as untrustworthy: that is, not to be entrusted with the safety of human beings, or the safety of the planet, or the guarding of its air, its water, its natural wealth, or the curing of poverty and disease, or coping with the alarming growth of natural disasters that plague so many of the six billion people on Earth.
I don’t believe that our government will be able to do once more what it did after Vietnam--prepare the population for still another plunge into violence and dishonor. It seems to me that when the war in Iraq ends, and the war syndrome heals, that there will be a great opportunity to make that healing permanent.
My hope is that the memory of death and disgrace will be so intense that the people of the United States will be able to listen to a message that the rest of the world, sobered by wars without end, can also understand: that war itself is the enemy of the human race.
Governments will resist this message. But their power is dependent on the obedience of the citizenry. When that is withdrawn, governments are helpless. We have seen this again and again in history.
The abolition of war has become not only desirable but absolutely necessary if the planet is to be saved. It is an idea whose time has come.

Now for the quote.

Peace Quote ("2006: The Year the Chickenhawks Will Go Home to Roost," Common Dreams):
We learned that one person can and does make a difference.
Cindy Sheehan