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Pentagon Plans To Keep 20,000 Troops Inside US To Bolster Domestic Security The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.
The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.
There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.
But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. (Washington Post)
U.S. stocks hammered after House rejects rescue Dow posts biggest point loss ever, topping plunge after Sept. 11, 2001 - Taking unprecedented steps, the Fed and other major central banks on Monday poured hundreds of billions of dollars of added liquidity into money markets left paralyzed by fears of further bank failures in the United States and Europe. (Wall Street Journal)
Watching the waistline--the thickening of the Canada-U.S. border: the difficulty of convincing the United States that Canada can September 11, 2001, was a seminal date in the young 21st century. The attacks on and collapse of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan was the seed from which grew America's preoccupation with the security of its homeland above all other national policy objectives. Canadians were justifiably proud of their immediate response to this crisis faced by their neighbour and closest ally. They opened their homes to thousands of air travels forced to land on Canadian soil and rallied in impressive numbers on Parliament Hill that same week to visibly demonstrate our nation's support. Within three months of the attacks, both countries issued the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration, leading to the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Accord in 2002--aimed at improving security and border efficiency. In the aftermath of 9/11, however, Canada acquired a new imperative in its vitally important relationship with the United States--trust in a secure 49th parallel is a condition precedent for trade and further trade liberalization between both countries.
Almost seven years later, it is clear that the historical low-maintenance approach to managing the border is over. Security trumps trade for Canada's largest trading partner. This has contributed to what is commonly referred to as the "thickening" of the Canada-U.S. border, characterized by increased wait times, direct border crossing fees, additional and duplicative border programs, inconsistent regulations, and increased inspection times. (Entrepreneur)
9/11 third tower mystery 'solved' The National Institute of Standards and Technology is expected to conclude in its long-awaited report this month that ordinary fires caused the building to collapse - That would make it the first and only steel skyscraper in the world to collapse because of fire (BBC)
Logan will install body scanners TSA has adjusted device to ease privacy concerns - The Boston airport is often among the first to deploy innovative technologies, a lingering effect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which the two hijacked planes that brought down New York's World Trade Center departed from Logan. (Boston Globe)
Preparing the Battlefield The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran - Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources (The New Yorker)
Global Elite Gather in D.C. "John has always supported free trade, even while campaigning before union leaders," said one. "Hil and Barack are pretending to be unhappy about some things, but that's merely political posturing. They're solidly in support." (American Free Press)
NSA's Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans' privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But the data-sifting effort didn't disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.
The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people's communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks. (Wall Street Journal)
Concentration Camps in America If you type the phrase “concentration camps” into your Internet search engine, you will find page after page of references to martial law and the construction of concentration camps in the United States on behalf of the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
A close examination reveals that many of these references lack sufficient facts to support their conclusions; however, taken as a whole, there is an abundance of factual information showing an alarming trend in the deployment of federal and military forces to restrain and detain American citizens.
Among the Internet sites are those listing between 600 and 800 locations in the United States where the government is establishing “concentration camps.” Many of these are former or active military bases; however, several provide detailed information about their location and improvements, including maps, videos, and satellite photographs... (William John Cox)
9/11 Commission controversy The analysis shows that much of what was reported about the planning and execution of the terror attacks on New York and Washington was derived from the interrogations of high-ranking al-Qaida operatives. Each had been subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques." (MSNBC)
With friends like these... Facebook has 59 million users - and 2 million new ones join each week. But you won't catch Tom Hodgkinson volunteering his personal information - not now that he knows the politics of the people behind the social networking site - I despise Facebook. This enormously successful American business describes itself as "a social utility that connects you with the people around you". But hang on. Why on God's earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub?
And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn't it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.
Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. ("I like Facebook," said another friend. "I got a shag out of it.") It also encourages a disturbing competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, quality counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, the better you are. You are "popular", in the sense much loved in American high schools. Witness the cover line on Dennis Publishing's new Facebook magazine: "How To Double Your Friends List." - The third board member of Facebook is Jim Breyer. He is a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners, who put $12.7m into Facebook in April 2005. On the board of such US giants as Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment, he is also a former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Now these are the people who are really making things happen in America, because they invest in the new young talent, the Zuckerbergs and the like. Facebook's most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock's senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What's In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA. After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, which "identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions".
The US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes spying easier. "We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries," defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003. "We need to make the leap into the information age, which is the critical foundation of our transformation efforts." In-Q-Tel's first chairman was Gilman Louie, who served on the board of the NVCA with Breyer. Another key figure in the In-Q-Tel team is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence, and - with Breyer - board member of BBN Technologies. When she left the US department of defence, Senator Chuck Robb paid her the following tribute: "She brought the technology and operational military communities together to design detailed plans to sustain US dominance on the battlefield into the next century." - The CIA may look at the stuff when they feel like it
"By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States ... We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards. Additionally, we may share account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies." (London Guardian)
Stonewalled by the C.I.A. The goal was to provide the American people with the fullest possible account of the “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001” - and to offer recommendations to prevent future attacks (New York Times)
Destruction of Evidence from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center The Destruction of Evidence from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center following the events of September 11, 2001, occurred, even though the criminal code requires that crime scene evidence be kept for forensic analysis. FEMA had steel recovered from the building rubble destroyed or shipped overseas before a serious investigation could take place.
However, the Associated Press reported in a February 26, 2004, update that not only did the FBI ban the removal of crime scene evidence "after 13 agents stole WTC rubble," but also stated that "'All relevant evidence connected with the WTC crime scene was properly retrieved, catalogued and maintained.'" (Source Watch)
Obama's views have changed with time When he ran for the Senate, Obama called the act a "shoddy and dangerous law" that should be replaced. After he took office, the Senate considered an update that Obama criticized as only a modest improvement and one that was inferior to other alternatives. Still, Obama ended up voting for that renewal and update of the Patriot Act. (USA Today)
What's Wrong With Fusion Centers Executive Summary - New institutions like fusion centers must be planned in a public, open manner, and their implications for privacy and other key values carefully thought out and debated. And like any powerful institution in a democracy, they must be constructed in a carefully bounded and limited manner with sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse. Unfortunately, the new fusion centers have not conformed to these vital requirements. (American Civil Liberties Union)
Bill Maher "Crazy people who still think the government brought down the Twin Towers in a controlled explosion," the comedian jabbed, "have to stop pretending that I'm the one who's being naive." (We Are Change)
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