real ID implementation begins

March 4, 2008

An AP story found on fox news: If the states do not seek an extention by March 31, their residents will be subjected to secondary screening by security workers before boarding any domestic flight beginning May 11.

here is the full story:

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security officials are pushing recalcitrant states to adopt stricter driver’s license standards to end a standoff that could disrupt domestic air travel.

States have less than a month to send a letter to the Homeland Security Department seeking an extension to comply with the Real ID law passed following the 2001 terror attacks. Some states have resisted, saying it is costly, impractical and an invasion of privacy.

Four states — Maine, Montana, New Hampshire and South Carolina — have yet to seek an extension.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argues that the law fixes a critical gap in security identified by the commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks: the ease of obtaining government-issued ID. It will also hinder would-be con artists and illegal immigrants, he said.

Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses would have several layers of new security features to prevent forgery. They would also be issued after a number of ID checks, including verification of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and immigration status. Officials acknowledge it will take years to phase in all the different security measures.

To bring the states in line, Chertoff warned that any state that does not seek an extension by the end of March will find that, come May, their residents will not be able to use their licenses to board domestic flights.

Chertoff’s assistant secretary, Stewart Baker, sent letters to several governors Monday reminding them of the looming deadline, and urging the holdouts to seek an extension.

In recent years, 17 states passed legislation or resolutions opposing Real ID, but now only a handful appear willing to challenge the government publicly.

Officials in Maine and Montana insisted Monday they would not seek an extension. A spokesman for South Carolina’s governor said he was still considering it. New Hampshire

passed a law last year prohibiting the state from participating in the Real ID program, and Gov. John Lynch wrote Chertoff last week asking him not to impose the requirements on New Hampshire citizens.

A fifth state, Delaware, has sent a letter asking for an extension, but DHS officials are still weighing whether the wording of the letter legally adds up to an extension request.

If the states do not seek an extention by March 31, their residents will be subjected to secondary screening by security workers before boarding any domestic flight beginning May 11.

“We’re not going to buckle under here,” said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. “My guess is the people of Montana would be proud to walk through that line.”

Schweitzer called the Real ID proposal a bureaucratic boondoggle that will cost his state a fortune and give a false sense of security without actually making ID more reliable. He has sought to rally opposition to Real ID, but the vast majority of states have decided not to test whether Washington is bluffing.

As the high-stakes game of chicken continues, federal authorities are not publicly saying whether seeking an extension actually counts as complying with the law. In his recent letters, Baker said only that the 45 states that have sought extensions are “on track toward improved security.”

virtual terror

March 4, 2008

from the BBC:

The US government has begun a project to develop ways to spot terrorists who are using virtual worlds.

Codenamed Reynard it aims to recognise “normal” behaviour in online worlds and home in on anomalous activity.

It is likely to develop tools and techniques for intelligence officers who are hunting terrorists and terror groups on the net or in virtual worlds.

The project was welcomed by experts tracking terror groups using the net to organise or carry out attacks.

The full bizarre story is here.


February 9, 2008

This is pretty creepy. It pretty much matches up with the step toward a fascist police state, as characterized by Naomi Wolf, in which a privileged citizen militia is created. And once again, the same as the extraordinary rendition program, it was started during the Clinton administration and then greatly expanded by Bush after 911.

The full article just came out at The Progressive website and is important to read. Here are some of the creepy excerpts:

Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.
InfraGard is “a child of the FBI,” says Michael Hershman, the chairman of the advisory board of the InfraGard National Members Alliance and CEO of the Fairfax Group, an international consulting firm.

InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats.

“Then the FBI cloned it,” says Phyllis Schneck, chairman of the board of directors of the InfraGard National Members Alliance, and the prime mover behind the growth of InfraGard over the last several years.

InfraGard itself is still an FBI operation, with FBI agents in each state overseeing the local InfraGard chapters. (There are now eighty-six of them.) The alliance is a nonprofit organization of private sector InfraGard members.

“We are the owners, operators, and experts of our critical infrastructure, from the CEO of a large company in agriculture or high finance to the guy who turns the valve at the water utility,” says Schneck, who by day is the vice president of research integration at Secure Computing.

One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation—and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo and its slogan, “Partnership for Protection.” On the back of the card were the emergency numbers that Schneck mentioned.

This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do.

“The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage,” he says. “From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we’d be given specific benefits.” These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out.
But that’s not all.

“Then they said when—not if—martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted,” he says.

I was able to confirm that the meeting took place where he said it had, and that the FBI and Homeland Security did make presentations there. One InfraGard member who attended that meeting denies that the subject of lethal force came up. But the whistleblower is 100 percent certain of it. “I have nothing to gain by telling you this, and everything to lose,” he adds. “I’m so nervous about this, and I’m not someone who gets nervous.”

Though Schneck says that FBI and Homeland Security agents do make presentations to InfraGard, she denies that InfraGard members would have any civil patrol or law enforcement functions. “I have never heard of InfraGard members being told to use lethal force anywhere,” Schneck says.

The FBI adamantly denies it, also. “That’s ridiculous,” says Catherine Milhoan, an FBI spokesperson. “If you want to quote a businessperson saying that, knock yourself out. If that’s what you want to print, fine.”

But one other InfraGard member corroborated the whistleblower’s account, and another would not deny it.

Christine Moerke is a business continuity consultant for Alliant Energy in Madison, Wisconsin. She says she’s an InfraGard member, and she confirms that she has attended InfraGard meetings that went into the details about what kind of civil patrol function—including engaging in lethal force—that InfraGard members may be called upon to perform….


February 4, 2008


January 30, 2008

The Department of Homeland Security has hired the services of the PR firm Sedatem, Cheatham, and Hyde to help people understand the War on Terror.
PR Duo Trish Sedatem and Clyde Hyde sing about America’s very capable military history, with accordion backup from Klyftan van Qlyvdn.

Under the Table, Brooklyn’s own Physical Comedy Ensemble…
(from “Fever Pitch,” 2003…

Black Panthers documentary

January 30, 2008

MLK, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, cointelpro, REX84, Iran-Contra, CIA drug trade, privatized counterinsurgency… this documentary tracks the historical through-line into the 1990s. You can see today how these forms of manipulation and control have continued to escalate and we continue to struggle with the aftermath of the 60s, 70s, 80s…

Read the rest of this entry »


January 27, 2008

Kucinich is out of the race. In a practical sense, he made the right decision. He needs to defend his seat in congress and there are many pieces of legislation being pushed through right now that he is one of the few voices against. He has been so thoroughly shut out of the presidential race and his ideas have been so thoroughly shut out of the debate, we need him to focus on congress where he can hopefully still have an effect.

It has been immensely frustrating to see the possibility for positive social transformation that Kucinich represents be so cynically shoved aside. It is very important to continue pointing out this massive anti-democratic manipulation of our society by corporate power. It is important to recognize that this may be a temporary defeat to one approach to progressive change, but it is not a defeat to the ideas. If the time is not right to come up against the system in this way, how do we act at the local level to start implementing ideas such as a WPA-style program that would focus on meaningful work for community building and environmental sustainability?

Meanwhile, lets see if Cynthia McKinney is able to play the game in more innovative ways and make a presence for her Green Party candidacy.

Here is Kucinich on Democracy Now responding to segments from one of the many debates his ideas were excluded from:

Chris Hedges did an interview with Kucinich that is very worth reading. It points up the vast differences and potentials that have been silenced. In this excerpt Kucinich talks about his plan for a modern day version of the WPA as a means of counteracting the decimation of our economy and returning meaningful work to our society :

Hedges: Have we evolved into a corporate state?

Kucinich: I Look at it as the political equivalent of genetic engineering. That we’ve taken the gene of corporate America and shot it into both political parties. So they both now are growing with that essence within. So what does that mean? It means oil runs our politics. Corrupt Wall Street interests run our politics. Insurance companies run our politics. Arms manufacturers run our politics. And the public interest is being strangled. Fulfilling the practical aspirations of people should be our mission. How do we measure up to providing people with jobs? It was a Democratic president that made it possible for NAFTA to be passed, causing millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs that help support the middle class. …

NAFTA, GAT, the WTO, China Trade, and every other trade agreement that’s passed in Congress has been passed with the help of either the leadership of or with the help of the Democratic Party, knowing that each and every one of those agreements was devoid of protections for workers, knowing that if you don’t have workers’ rights put into a trade agreement then workers here in the United States are going to see their own bargaining position undermined because corporations can move jobs out of the country to places where workers don’t have any rights. They don’t have the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike. So what I see is that the Democratic Party abandoned working people, and paradoxically they’re the ones who hoist the flag of workers every two and four years only to engender excitement, and then to turn around and abandon their constituency. This is now on the level of a practiced ritual. At least a biannual ceremony, or every two years. So you can see how pernicious this becomes when the minimum wage increase was tied to funding the war. That, to me, says it all. Because it is inevitably the sons and daughters of working Americans that are the ones who are led to slaughter. Aspirations for health care.

So what I’ve done in my campaign is to advocate a full-employment economy. How do you do that? A new WPA-type program. We’ll rebuild America’s bridges, water systems, sewer systems, our libraries, our universities, our mass transit systems. And we do that with a program that I introduced legislation in repeated Congresses with the cosponsorship of a Republican from Ohio by the name of Steven LaTourette and the bill, HR 3400, provides for rebuilding America’s infrastructure. And I would put millions of people back to work in good-paying jobs. I would put millions more back to work in new energy policies where we would design, engineer, manufacture, install and maintain wind and solar microtechnologies which would be retrofitted into tens of millions of American homes and businesses, driving down our carbon footprint and dramatically reducing our cost of energy. This would be a major development in America to take us away from a condition where America is leading the way towards the destruction of our global climate. I call this part of it the WG: a Works Green Administration, where we turn government into an engine of sustainability, where the whole government becomes about moving towards green. The transportation plan, mass transit, housing and development—it’s about green housing, solar, natural lighting, using recycled material, the energy department stops incentivizing coal and oil and nuclear, and moves toward incentivizing wind and solar, bringing forward a whole generation of entrepreneurs just waiting to get into green energy solutions.

NAFTA becomes about the development of these new technologies at the alpha stage and then licensing them to the beta stage to encourage that entrepreneurial spirit. I mean we could create millions of jobs to prime the pump of the economy—that’s the way I think about this. Prime the pump of the economy, get people back to work rebuilding America and creating a transition economy and making us more green in all of our policies. Agriculture, for example: Bring back the concept of parity, work for sustainable practices in agriculture and help protect small farmers, get their products to market, get their price, get a fair price, protect them with local markets, help organic farmers. I could go through every department, and that’s what Works Green is about.

Addressing the practical aspirations of people, you’re looking for jobs, how to create jobs, how to create movement in the economy that benefits people. And our party just swings around the edges and always makes deals with the idea of protecting the status quo, which is war

The full interview is available here.

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do something local, do something real

January 25, 2008

Grace Lee Boggs on Bill Moyers:

interviewed on DemocracyNow:

the zeitgeist

January 25, 2008

Documentary on artist Brian Alfred:

video by Brian Alfred:


Over the Horizon Radar

crowd control

January 10, 2008

from Democracy Now headlines:

Report: Blackwater Dropped Toxin on Crowded Checkpoint

The private military firm Blackwater Worldwide is facing new allegations of unlawful activity in Iraq, this time for dropping a heavily-restricted riot-control gas on a crowded Baghdad checkpoint in May 2005. According to the New York Times, the release of the CS gas by a Blackwater helicopter and armored vehicle temporarily blinded drivers, pedestrians and at least ten American soldiers. Blackwater is already under scrutiny for a mass shooting in Baghdad that killed seventeen Iraqis last September. Military witnesses say Blackwater personnel appeared to release the gas as a way to clear a traffic jam that was blocking their route. The gas is only authorized for use in dangerous situations. Its effects include burning and watering eyes, skin irritation, coughing and breathing difficulties, nausea and vomiting. Blackwater says it reported the incident to the U.S. Embassy and that the case was investigated. But U.S. officials could not confirm that an investigation occurred.