Counter Terrorism News Check
Counter Terrorism Page 14
Counter Terrorism Page 16
WeB-LOG after 9/11 continued
Media looked past 9-11
Commission documentation of Bush administration fabrications
TWA Flight 800 and the 9/11
Cover Up: An Interview With Peter Lance
by Claire E. White (September, 2004)
Was the 9/11 Commission Report a cover up? Were we lied to when we
were told that 9/11 was the first time that Al-Qaeda hijacked and
destroyed an American jetliner? Five time Emmy award-winning
investigative journalist and bestselling author Peter Lance asserts just that...
1000 YEARS FOR REVENGE:
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AND THE FBI - THE UNTOLD STORY
http://www.peterlance.com/timeline1.htm to http://www.peterlance.com/timeline32.htm
The Coming Economic
By Mark S. Watson
Oct 6, 2004
Flu Vaccine Rationing
British regulators on Tuesday shut down Chiron's factory in England where roughly 46 million doses destined for the United States had been made. Communities have begun canceling long-planned flu-shot clinics. Hospitals suddenly stripped of planned supplies scrambled to find alternatives. That leaves the nation with only 58 million shots for the more than 100 million people most vulnerable to the flu, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the doses are in the hands of private distributors, not state health departments. The CDC could not even estimate on Wednesday which regions would have the greatest shortages. The search probably will take weeks and will be voluntary. The CDC cannot override private contracts that, for instance, allow for healthy office workers to get the shot instead of people who need it the most - the youngest, oldest and sickest people and those in nursing homes. "In the face of a pandemic this is exactly what we will be faced with," said Dr. Robert Webster, a leading flu expert at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. "This is unacceptable in the United States. It is a bloody scandal." Experts said the shortfall has exposed a clumsy manufacturing system woefully unprepared for emergencies such as the 1918 flu pandemic - a public health crisis that scientists warn could happen again at any moment. Efforts to update the system are still dogged by scientific problems, intellectual property tangles and market forces. In the 1970s, there were as many as 25 flu vaccine makers. Today, there are only two major suppliers for the world.
Fla. Companies Accused Of
Price Gouging Flu Vaccine
Report: $85 Flu Vaccine Vials Sold For $700
Killer flu recreated in
Scientists have shown that tiny changes to modern flu viruses could render them as deadly as the 1918 strain which killed millions. A US team added two genes from a sample of the 1918 virus to a modern strain known to have no effect on mice. Animals exposed to this composite were dying within days of symptoms similar to those found in human victims of the 1918 pandemic. The research is published in the journal Nature. The work of the US team, lead by Dr Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, was carried out under the tightest security. Scientists believe the 1918 virus leapt to humans by mutating from bird flu, possibly after passing through pigs, which are able to harbour both human and avian viruses and thus allow them to swap genes as the viruses reproduce. For that reason, experts are deeply concerned that the avian flu that has broken out in poultry flocks in parts of south-east Asia may acquire genes that will make it highly infectious as well as lethal for humans. The 1918 "Spanish" flu pandemic is estimated to have infected up to one billion people - half the world's population at the time. The virus killed more people than any other single outbreak of disease, surpassing even the Black Death of the Middle Ages. Although it probably originated in the Far East, it was dubbed "Spanish" flu because the press in Spain - not being involved in World War I - were the first to report extensively on its impact. The virus caused three waves of disease. The second of these, between September and December 1918, resulting in the heaviest loss of life. It is thought that the virus may have played a role in ending World War I as soldiers were too sick to fight, and by that stage more men on both sides died of flu than were killed by weapons. Although most people who were infected with the virus recovered within a week following bed rest, some died within 24 hours of infection.
The price of crude broke through the $54 barrier Thursday, following
speculation fueled by a pipeline explosion in Mexico.
A continued work stoppage in Africa's largest producer, Nigeria, also
A 30-inch oil line exploded in eastern Mexico on Wednesday,
according to local officials. Enrique Fonseca, a spokesman for the
Veracruz state civil defense agency, said workers from the government
oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, had closed off the line
and were working to contain the spilled oil.
shook the Milan Army Ammunition Plant on Wednesday
afternoon. Preliminary reports indicate that at least one person was seriously
injured, possibly killed, and two people were unaccounted for, authorities said.
''There's been a reported fatality and two people missing,'' said spokesman Kirk
Pickering of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, although Pickering
stressed that those reports were ''very'' preliminary and that TEMA was awaiting
confirmation of those reports.
Tuesday 12 October 2004
WASHINGTON - The national price for gasoline increased 5.5 cents over the last week to $1.993 a
gallon, the highest pump price ever in October, while diesel fuel set a record for the third straight week,
the U.S. government said on Tuesday.
Militant, freed from Guantanamo Bay, is now holding
hostages in Pakistan
TANK, Pakistan - A former Taliban fighter who was freed
in March from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is
leading a group of militants who have kidnapped two
Chinese engineers and threatened to kill them. Tribal leaders
called on the Pakistani military Wednesday to use force to
free the hostages.
Foreign policy experts
slam US on Iraq
Wednesday 13 October 2004
The Iraq war is the most misguided since
Vietnam, benefits terrorists and is justified
by false claims, more than 650
foreign-policy experts have said.
Tuesday 12th October 2004
Under Cheney, Halliburton Helped Saddam Hussein
Siphon Billions from UN Oil-for-Food Program
by Jason Leopold
Demand Letter Sent To Bush
By Corp CEO
From Karl W. B. Schwarz
President, Chief Executive Officer
Patmos Nanotechnologies, LLC
France and Germany rejected any merger of the NATO and U.S-led missions in Afghanistan on Wednesday after Washington urged the alliance to study taking command of all military operations there. Paris and Berlin made clear they would tolerate no step to blend NATO's current peacekeeping and security duties with the more hazardous tasks of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) force, engaged in fighting a violent insurgency. "There are two operations with two different missions -- the OEF is fighting terrorism, the (NATO-led) ISAF is an operation of securitization," French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said at a meeting in Romania of NATO defense chiefs.
Bush expected to sign anti-Semitism
Washington, DC, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- U.S.
lawmakers have ordered the State Department
to issue an annual report on foreign
governments' treatment of their Jewish citizens.
Passage in both houses of Congress of the
Global Anti-Semitism Review Act means that
annual U.S. surveys of human rights abuses
around the world will now include a measure of
anti-Semitism, the Telegraph reported
The law also orders the establishment of an
office at the State Department dedicated to
State Department Opposes
Wed Oct 13, 2004
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON - Declaring it already works hard to combat
anti-Semitism, the State Department on Wednesday opposed legislation
approved by Congress to document annually attacks on Jews around the
Congress passed The Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 over
the weekend and sent it to President Bush (news - web sites). The
legislation also would set up an office in the department to counter
"If it becomes law we will implement it," State Department spokesman
Richard Boucher said.
But he said the legislation was unnecessary and that "separate reports
on different religions or ethnicities were not warranted" because the
department already issues reports on human rights and religious
The legislation requires annual reports by the State Department on acts
of anti-Semitism around the world, including violence against Jews and
vandalism of synagogues and other Jewish institutions.
"The issue of anti-Semitism is something that has been important to us,
we have been active and it's adequately covered by our efforts and by all
the other reports that we do," Boucher said.
The Anti-Defamation League, a 91-year-old private organization that
combats racism, including anti-Semitism, supported the legislation as
providing "an additional tool for the United States to continue its
leadership effort to hold governments accountable for past failures and to
encourage and note progress."
The ADL said the legislation was recognition of a disturbing increase in
Saudi Women Can't Vote,
Run in Elections
Oct 11, 2004
By DONNA ABU-NASR
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Women may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's
first nationwide elections, the government announced Monday, dashing hopes
of progressive Saudis and easing fears among conservatives that the kingdom
is moving too fast on reforms.
Some women considered the move yet another indignity in a country where
they need their husbands' permission to study, travel or work. But others said
they wouldn't trust themselves to judge whether a candidate is more than
just a handsome face.
The religious establishment had been lobbying against women's participation in the elections, diplomats said.
But an electoral official cited administrative and logistical reasons Monday for the decision to ban women from
the municipal elections, scheduled to be held in three stages from Feb. 10 to April 21.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are not enough women to run women's-only
registration centers and polling stations, and that only a fraction of the country's women have the photo
identity cards that would have been needed to vote.
Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards - introduced three
years ago - because the photographs would show their faces unveiled.
Saudi women have limited freedoms. Without written permission from a male guardian, they may not travel,
get an education or work. Regardless of permissions, they are not allowed to drive, mix with men in public or
leave home without covering themselves with black cloaks, called abayas.
The decision was first announced by Interior Minister Prince Nayef in an interview published Monday. In his
terse comment to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Nayef said only: "I don't think that women's participation is possible."
His remark was the first by a named top official on the issue. It settled a question that had been occupying
Saudis since the government set the date for the elections in August. When the election law was published,
it did not explicitly bar women from voting, which encouraged three women to declare themselves candidates.
"I am surprised," said Nadia Bakhurji, 37, the first woman to announce she planned to run. "I was optimistic
and didn't think they would ban it."
Bakhurji said she hoped Nayef and the elections committee would "rethink their decision" and show
transparency by saying why women have been banned.
She said that would give women the chance to "work hand-in-hand with them to solve these problems in time
for elections," said Bakhurji, an architect and a mother of two.
"My concern is if they don't bring us on board now, we will be fighting for something that should be a given
right," she said.
Not all Saudi women agreed. Taking a break from shopping at the food court of a Riyadh mall, Nour Ahmed
and her five female friends split evenly on the issue.
"Women are capable of voting and making the right choices," said Ahmed, a 22-year-old marketing graduate.
"Why aren't men and women equal in this issue?"
"We aren't," countered her friend Sarah Muhammad. "We have so little interaction with men that we will vote
with our emotions, choosing candidates for their looks and sweet talk rather than for what they can deliver."
Rima Khaled, 20, said Saudi women are not used to playing a role in public life, and many social and traditional
restraints should first be removed before they can.
"What's the point of voting?" she asked. "Even if we did vote, we would go home to the men in our lives who
will have the last say in whatever we do."
Saudi Arabia's only electoral experiences were some municipal polls held in a few cities in the 1960s. They did
not cover the whole country, and their electoral rules and registration procedures did not conform to
international standards. Women did not vote.
Registration for the new elections begins in November. Voting will start Feb. 10 around the capital, Riyadh.
Voting in the eastern and southwestern regions will follow, starting March 3. Voters in northern parts of the
country will go to the polls April 21.
The elections are part of the government's measured response to calls for political and social change. Saudi
Arabia is an absolute monarchy with an unelected Consultative Council, which acts like a parliament. Political
parties are banned and press freedoms are limited.
The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States spurred calls for the Saudi royal family to modernize the
country's political landscape. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in Sept. 11 were Saudis.
The Treasury Department tooks blocked any assets found in this country belonging to the Islamic African Relief Agency and the five designated officials. People in the United States are not allowed to provide money to them. The department said the group, headquartered in Khartoum, Sudan, has more than 40 offices worldwide, including one in Columbia, Mo. The five officials designated by Treasury are all listed as being outside this country. The Treasury Department alleged that international offices of the Islamic African Relief Agency "provided direct financial support" for bin Laden. It also alleged that the group "engaged in a joint program with an institute controlled by (bin Laden) that was involved in providing assistance to Taliban fighters." The government alleged that the overseas branches of the group provided "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to bin Laden in 1999. Treasury also believes that as early as 2003 the group was responsible for moving money to the Palestinian territories to support terrorist activities and served "as a conduit to Hamas in one Western European country." Meanwhile, the office in Missouri, which goes by the name of the Islamic American Relief Agency, was searched by federal and local law enforcement officials on Wednesday. People wearing FBI outfits carried computers, cardboard boxes and a file cabinet out of the office and loaded the equipment into a white van and U-Haul truck. An FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza would not say whether the search was connected to terrorism. He also declined to characterize the investigation, saying the federal search warrant remained under seal.
AP: Report Finds Lavish
Spending at TSA
By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The government agency in charge of airport security
spent nearly a half-million dollars on an awards ceremony at a lavish
hotel, including $81,000 for plaques and $500 for cheese displays,
according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press.
Awards were presented to 543 Transportation Security Administration
employees and 30 organizations, including a "lifetime achievement
award" for one worker with the 2-year-old agency. Almost $200,000 was
spent on travel and lodging for attendees.
October 13, 2004
Chechen terrorists probed
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
U.S. security officials are investigating a recent
intelligence report that a group of 25 Chechen
terrorists illegally entered the United States
from Mexico in July.
Judge Holds Second
Reporter in Contempt
Wednesday October 13, 2004 10:01 PM
By CURT ANDERSON
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - A second reporter was held in contempt
Wednesday by a federal judge for refusing to reveal confidential
sources before a grand jury investigating the leak of an
undercover CIA officer's identity.
U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Time magazine
reporter Matthew Cooper jailed for up to 18 months and the
magazine fined $1,000 a day for refusing to comply with a grand
jury subpoena seeking the testimony. Hogan suspended the jail
time and fine pending the outcome of an appeal.
The ruling was nearly identical to one issued last week by
Hogan in the case of Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York
Times who is also refusing to name her sources. Miller and
Cooper, both represented by lawyer Floyd Abrams, are
expected to join together in appealing their cases on First
``No reporter in the United States should have to go to jail for
simply doing their job,'' said Cooper, who is Time's White House
Hogan repeatedly has cited the Supreme Court in ruling that
reporters do not enjoy special protection from providing
testimony to grand juries unless they can show prosecutorial
harassment or bad faith. Hogan said he could find no evidence of
either on the part of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who was
appointed special prosecutor in the investigation.
``I'm convinced this is not a fishing expedition or an improper
exercise of prosecutorial authority,'' Hogan said.
The investigation concerns whether a crime was committed
when someone leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame,
whose name was published by syndicated columnist Robert
Novak on July 14, 2003.
The column appeared after Plame's husband, former
Ambassador Joseph Wilson, wrote a newspaper opinion column
criticizing President Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium
in Niger - a claim the CIA had asked Wilson to check out.
Wilson has said he believes his wife's name was leaked as
payback for his outspokenness.
Disclosure of the identity of an undercover intelligence officer
can be a federal crime, if prosecutors can show the leak was
intentional and the leaker knew about the officer's secret status.
Novak, who cited two senior administration officials as his
sources, has refused to say whether he has testified or been
subpoenaed. Fitzgerald declined comment Wednesday.
Prosecutors have interviewed President Bush, Vice President
Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and other current or
former administration officials in the investigation. At least five
reporters have been subpoenaed.
In August, Cooper agreed to provide limited testimony about a
conversation he had with Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President
Cheney's chief of staff, after Libby released Cooper from his
promise of confidentiality. Fitzgerald then issued a second,
broader subpoena seeking the names of other sources.
``The prosecutor came back a few days later and basically
asked for everything in my notebook,'' Cooper said.
Abrams said he expected legal filings in the appeals of both
Miller and Cooper to be completed by Nov. 10 before the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which would
then likely schedule an oral argument. That means the CIA leak
criminal investigation, which began in September 2003, could
drag on into early 2005.
Major Assaults on Hold
Until After U.S. Vote
By Mark Mazzetti
The Los Angeles Times
Monday 11 October 2004
Attacks on Iraq's rebel-held cities will be delayed, officials say. But that could
make it harder to allow wider, and more legitimate, Iraqi voting in January.
Washington The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until
after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military
offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.
'Attackumentary' = News
By Ari Berman
Monday 11 October 2004
Federal election law prohibits public corporations and labor unions from airing
"electioneering communication" sixty days before an election. But Sinclair dubs
the anti-Kerry attackumentary "news content."
Republicans must really be feeling desperate.
Sharon's Green Light To
by Mark Levey
October 02, 2004
The Bush Administration urged the members of the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) to approve an October 31 deadline on Iran for
compliance or face sanctions at the UN Security Council. Bush lost that
vote. Had the motion passed, that would have started the countdown to an
Israel-Iran war just days before the November 2nd elections.
A terrorist organization claiming to be affiliated with
al-Qaida has warned of attacks on South Korea and its
troops in Iraq unless the troops are withdrawn within two
weeks, a Foreign Affairs-Trade Ministry official said
The warning message from the ``Martyr Hammound
al-Masri battalion,'' datelined Sept. 30, was posted on an
Arab-language Web site on Oct. 10, spokesman Lee
Kyu-hyung said at a news conference at the ministry.
``Currently, the government is analyzing the credibility of the
threat and other related information,'' he told reporters.
The martyr battalion, which has not been heard of before,
claimed to be associated with al-Qaida and operate in
Southeast Asia, allegedly having a local branch in Seoul,
The Seoul government has been put on high alert for
possible terrorist attacks as it is the second threat of its kind
this month, Lee said. But he added that no high-ranking
officials' meeting is scheduled to deal with the threat from
On Oct. 1, the Arabic language TV news network Al
Jazeera aired what it claimed was a new audiotape of
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's top
lieutenant, urging ``young men of Islam'' to resist the U.S.'
allies, including South Korea.
South Korea deployed 2,800 troops to Iraq last month and
will add 800 more once a base has been built in Irbil.
The unit, which needs its mandate renewed by the National
Assembly to stay beyond December, is the third-largest
foreign force in the Middle Eastern country, after the
contingents from the U.S. and Britain.
South Korea is relatively unfamiliar with Islamic terrorism,
most of its defense capabilities being directed against
communist North Korea.
US funds chatroom snooping
Michael Hill in Troy
October 12, 2004
THE US government is funding a year-long study on chat room
surveillance under an anti-terrorism program.
The grant comes from the National
Science Foundation (NSF)'s Approaches to Combat Terrorism
program. It was selected in coordination with the nation's
The NSF's Leland Jameson said the foundation judged the
proposal strictly on its broader scientific merit, leaving it to the
intelligence community to determine its national security value.
Neither the CIA nor the FBI would comment on the grant, with a
CIA spokeswoman citing the confidentiality of sources and
Terrorists Caused Ferry
Pacific Rim Bureau Chief
Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - Seven months after insisting
that a deadly fire onboard a passenger ferry was not related to
terrorism, Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has acknowledged
that terrorists detonated a bomb which sparked the devastating
blaze.Her government has filed criminal charges against six
members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a terrorist gang with
historic links to al Qaeda, in connection with the attack last
February.Sixty-three bodies were recovered although police say 116
people perished, making it the worst terror attack in the country's
Mon, 11 Oct 2004 18:10:21
NEW YORK - Oil prices continued their rise on
Monday, as a general strike shut down Nigeria and a
Moscow court upheld a billion dollar back tax
demand on Yukos, Russia's largest oil producer.
The start of the planned four-day general strike in
Nigeria, one of the world's largest oil-producing
nations, further stoked negative market sentiment
already at a high due to fears of international oil supply
interruptions in war-torn Iraq.
Benchmark US November crude futures hit another
new record of $53.80 a barrel in New York, before
closing at $53.64; while Brent crude contracts for
November delivery rose past $50 for the first time
ever, closing up 32 cents at $50.03 in London.
North Korea Threatens War
Over Possible Sanctions
11 Oct 2004, 10:24 UTC
North Korea has warned that any attempt by the United Nations
to impose sanctions on the Stalinist state would spark a war.
The state-run Korean Central New Agency said Monday that
Pyongyang "would promptly and resolutely react to sanctions
with self-defensive war deterrent force."
Last month U.S. officials suggested Washington might bring
North Korea to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if
it continues to boycott talks on the country's nuclear weapons
Pyongyang did not attend a fourth round of six-party talks
scheduled to open in September in Beijing, citing what it called
Washington's "hostile policy" towards North Korea and reports
of secret nuclear experiments in South Korea.
$10,000 reward offered in
collapse of towers
Sabotage probed in incident that knocked out power to 17,000
By LINDA SPICE
Posted: Oct. 11, 2004
Oak Creek - A $10,000 reward has been offered for the arrest and conviction of those responsible
for toppling two electrical transmission towers that knocked out power to Mitchell International Airport
and 17,000 area residents over the weekend.
Investigators said someone with an ordinary wrench could
have removed the 2-inch long bolts that led to the collapse,
but still weren't sure exactly what caused the loosened tower
Pewaukee-based American Transmission Company, owner of the towers,
offered the reward at a Monday news conference. Oak Creek police and
the FBI said their investigation into the case is continuing. Once arrested, the
suspect or suspects would likely face federal charges for destruction of
energy transmission facilities.
"This is extremely crucial information," said Maripat Blankenheim, manager
of corporate communications for Pewaukee-based American Transmission
Company. "This type of activity cannot be allowed to continue."
Oak Creek Police Chief Thomas Bauer said investigators want information
from anyone who might have noticed anything unusual in the area between
Friday and Saturday or might have heard anything about the collapse.
"Even the smallest things can lead to bigger things," Bauer said in
encouraging tipsters to come forward.
The 80-foot towers, located just east of railroad tracks that are east of S.
13th St. near W. College Ave., fell sometime around 5 p.m. Saturday. Their
wires crossed over railroad tracks used by Amtrak and Canadian Pacific
trains while the towers collapsed on top of a lower voltage line belonging to
Blankenheim said American Transmission Company would erect two
temporary wood structures for seven to nine months to replace the fallen
towers, which were 49 years old. She said it is likely a new, sleeker single
metal tower would serve as the future replacement.
On Monday, about eight FBI investigators in white coveralls surrounded the
fallen towers in deep brush, while Oak Creek investigators and Milwaukee
police also gathered evidence in a wider perimeter around the scene.
Police were still focusing on how and why someone might have removed
bolts at the ground level of the towers, leading to their collapse.
Oak Creek Police Chief Thomas Bauer said, "A common wrench is all that would've been required" to
remove the bolts, which were two inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter.
How long it might have taken for the towers to fall or how they eventually collapsed was a question on
which investigators could only speculate Monday.
"It could've been wind. It could've been the weight of the lines. Could it have happened immediately? I
don't know," Bauer said.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Mike Johnson said although the agency is not calling the act terrorism,
it's not being ruled out either. He said that will have to wait someone is caught and reveals a motivation
for the act.
He said terrorism is determined when someone has engaged "in some kind of action with a threatened
use of force, an actual use of force or coercion to advance some type of social or political agenda."
Investigators said no one has claimed responsibility for the incident.
Police plan to turn over the entire scene to the transmission company by the end of the day Monday,
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Oak Creek police at 414-762-8200 or the FBI's
Joint Terrorism Task Force at 414-276-4684.
13 October 2004
It is clear that something very odd has been happening with the remnants of Iraqs nuclear program. The UNs nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has complained that since the US invasion, it has lost track of what is happening in Iraq. Remarkably, this has occurred because the Americans refused to allow IAEA inspectors access to the site. The IAEA has thus had to rely on outside sources of information, including satellite images. Its position has been made all the more difficult because the Iraqi government has yet to organize the regular reporting required by the IAEA. Yesterday the organizations head, Muhammad El-Baradei produced a series of extremely worrying revelations that equipment and material which could be used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons were missing. Most extraordinarily, an entire building containing machinery has been dismantled and carried away. El-Baradei has further revealed that an Iraqi-built rocket engine has been discovered for sale outside Iraq. The IAEA also reports that Iraqs main nuclear facility at Tuwaitha was looted after the invasion last year. It is not clear precisely what material went missing. The US has removed two tons of nuclear material from Iraq but the IAEA believes that there is at least 500 tons of related items which need to be removed. The question that needs to be answered is why the Americans have behaved so oddly in this matter. The first puzzle is why the US command did not go immediately to the Tuwaitha facilities and secure them. After all, it was to stop Saddam using the alleged weapons of mass destruction that the invasion was launched. If the Americans truly believed that Saddam had nuclear arms, Tuwaitha should have been one of the prime areas of concern. It is also strange that the Americans have kept the IAEA inspectors out of Iraq. In the early days, US teams were frantically combing Iraq looking for the WMDs which UN weapons teams were reasonably certain no longer existed. Perhaps it was thought that inspectors from another UN agency might have got in the way and complicated matters. But the Bush White House had long ago given up trying to pretend they could produce any physical evidence for their allegations of ready and waiting weapons systems. So why havent El-Baradeis people been allowed in? But the most puzzling question is why the US has not tried to transform the existence of this Iraqi nuclear material and its apparent theft to its own advantage by claiming that sinister elements within the old Baathist regime have spirited it away. It may be that spin doctors among the US occupation authorities failed to spot the opportunity. There could, however, be an altogether darker explanation and this might be that the US knew perfectly well what nuclear weapons-making equipment the Iraqis possessed and were aware of the shock its revelation would cause if the IAEA discovered them. And perhaps this was because American companies had sold it to them.
October 11, 2004
Nuclear equipment missing from Iraq says UN
[disappeared from Iraq after the March 2003 US-led invasion]
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)
Equipment and materials that could be used to make
nuclear weapons are disappearing from Iraq but
neither Baghdad nor Washington appear to have
noticed, the UN nuclear watchdog agency reported
Satellite imagery shows that entire buildings in Iraq
have been dismantled.
They once housed high-precision equipment that could
help a government or terror group make nuclear
bombs, the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) said in a report to the UN Security Council.
Equipment and materials helpful in making bombs also
have been removed from open storage areas in Iraq
and disappeared without a trace, according to the
satellite pictures, IAEA director-general Mohamed El
While some military goods that disappeared from Iraq
after the March 2003 US-led invasion, including
missile engines, later turned up in scrap yards in the
Middle East and Europe, none of the equipment or
material known to the IAEA as potentially useful in
making nuclear bombs has turned up yet, El Baradei
The United States barred the return of UN weapons
investigators after launching war on Iraq in March
2003, preventing the IAEA from keeping tabs on
high-tech equipment and materials up to the present
Under anti-proliferation agreements, the US
occupation authorities who administered Iraq until
June, and then the Iraqi interim Government that took
power at the end of June, would have to inform the
IAEA if they moved or exported any of that material or
But no such reports have been received since the
invasion, officials of the watchdog agency said.
The United States also has not publicly commented on
earlier UN inspectors' reports disclosing the
dismantling of a range of key weapons-making sites,
raising the question of whether it was unable to monitor
'We simply don't know'
In the absence of any US or Iraqi accounting, council
diplomats said the satellite images could mean the gear
had been moved to new sites inside Iraq or stolen.
If stolen, it could end up in the hands of a government
or terrorist group seeking nuclear weapons.
"We simply don't know, although we are trying to get
the information," said one council diplomat, speaking
on condition of anonymity.
US officials had no immediate comment on the report.
President George W Bush, locked in a tough
re-election battle with Senator John Kerry, justified the
war, in part, by saying that then-Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein was on the brink of developing a nuclear
bomb that he might use against the United States or
give to terrorists.
Both men agreed during a September 30 debate that
nuclear proliferation is the most serious threat facing
the United States.
A new CIA report last week by chief US weapons
investigator Charles Duelfer made clear, however, that
Saddam had all but given up on his nuclear program
after the first Gulf War in 1991.
Mr El Baradei, whose agency dismantled Iraq's
nuclear arms program over a decade ago, drew similar
conclusions to the Duelfer report well before the
March 2003 invasion.
China Offers Rewards for
By Associated Press
October 11, 2004
BEIJING -- China's police ministry on Sunday handed out rewards of up to $240 to people who reported pornographic Web sites in a campaign to stamp out online smut, the government said.
Some 445 people have been arrested and 1,125 Web sites shut down with the help of public tips since July, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the Ministry of Public Security.
The ministry handed out rewards of $60 to $240, Xinhua said, but it didn't say how many people received them.
China encourages Internet use for education and business but bans sexually oriented content on its own Web sites and tries to block access to foreign sites deemed pornographic or subversive.
The online crackdown is part of a sweeping official morality campaign launched this year on orders from communist leaders.
Television stations, video game makers and other suppliers of popular culture have been ordered to reduce or eliminate violent or sexually oriented content.
"The Genetic Bonds
Between Kurds and Jews"
by Kevin Alan Brook
Kurds are the Closest Relatives of Jews
Beheadings now routine for
10 Oct 2004
By Michael Georgy
BAGHDAD, October 10 (Reuters) - The beheading of British
hostage Ken Bigley horrified the world. It sickened Iraq's top
pathologist too, but he is getting used to seeing severed heads.
"It was barbaric, but we see all kinds of things here in forensic
pathology and beheadings are on the rise. It is the biggest trend by
far. Iraq is totally out of control," Faik Bakr told Reuters at his
morgue in Baghdad.
Bigley, a 62-year-old engineer, was beheaded with a knife on
Thursday after his televised pleas for help riveted attention on
foreign hostages in Iraq, where several have been decapitated.
Masked Islamic militants and guerrillas seeking to drive U.S. and
other foreign troops out of Iraq may see themselves as warriors in a
just cause. But after seeing more and more severed heads arrive at
his morgue, Bakr has drawn other conclusions.
"They think they are heroes. But the only thing I can say is that they
are abnormal, they are inhumane," said Bakr.
The militants usually make their blindfolded victims kneel before
them as a statement is read justifying what is to come. The hostage
is pushed to the floor for the final indignity.
"If the victim does not resist at all it would take about two or three
minutes for them to cut the head off," said Bakr.
Many of the victims of Saddam Hussein were never brought to
In those long years of oppression, executions, wars and sanctions,
the deaths Bakr dealt with were usually the more mundane results
of heart attacks, disease and only the occasional shooting.
"I began my work 25 years ago. I saw maybe three beheadings (in
the past). It is a rare way of killing in Iraq," said Bakr. "But now we
get up to six beheading cases a month in our morgue alone."
Bakr, 54, has not dealt with the high-profile beheadings of
foreigners that have grabbed the headlines.
He quietly goes to work at a medical complex where he examines
the bodies of the many Iraqis who have been murdered after being
kidnapped by criminals on the street.
More than 300 shooting victims are delivered to his morgue every
month, compared to about 16 under Saddam's iron grip.
"We don't get to understand what happened or to investigate. We
just see the bodies and the heads and we tag them if we can
identify them," said Bakr.
Some bereaved families are left with no clue as the motive for a
killing. A pharmacist was recently beheaded after being kidnapped
on his way to work along with a colleague who was shot dead. No
ransom was demanded and no political cause apparent.
But when Bakr teaches medical students forensic pathology these
days, there are usually few doubts about the immediate physical
cause of death.
Victims have often been beheaded, shot dead or blown apart in a
country plagued by suicide bombings, kidnappings and crime.
"The lesson is very simple. Death is definitely increasing every day
in Iraq," said Bakr.
Report Cites U.S. Profits
in Sale of Iraqi Oil Under Hussein
By Judith Miller and Eric Lapton
The New York Times
Saturday 09 October 2004
Washington - Major American oil companies and a Texas oil investor were among those who
received lucrative vouchers that enabled them to buy Iraqi oil under the United Nations oil-for-food
program, according to a report prepared by the chief arms inspector for the Central Intelligence
The 918-page report says that four American oil companies - Chevron, Mobil, Texaco and Bay Oil -
and three individuals including Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. of Houston were given vouchers and got 111 million
barrels of oil between them from 1996 to 2003. The vouchers allowed them to profit by selling the oil or
the right to trade it.
The other individuals, whose names appeared on a secret list maintained by the former Iraqi
government, were Samir Vincent of Annandale, Va., and Shakir al-Khafaji of West Bloomfield, Mich.,
according to the report by the inspector, Charles A. Duelfer.
New Security Council
resolution directs aim at all terrorists
8 October 2004 Condemning terrorism as one of the most
serious threats to peace and security, the United Nations
Security Council today unanimously called on countries to
prosecute or extradite anyone supporting terrorist acts or participating in the
planning of such schemes.
Fri Oct 8, 2004 03:59 PM
Oil prices hit another record on Friday, trading as high as $53.40 a barrel, on supply worries ahead of a planned oil worker strike in Nigeria and delays in post-Hurricane Ivan U.S. output recovery efforts. Strong demand growth, particularly in China, has helped oil surge 60 percent this year, prompting the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to pump at a 25-year high and leaving little margin for supply disruptions or refinery outages. "Demand growth is outstripping supply growth and there's very little prospect for that to change," said Rus Newton of commodities hedge fund manager Global Advisors. "Prospects of maintaining supply growth at current levels are extremely limited."
Friday, October 08, 2004
The House today in a bipartisan 282-to-134 vote approved legislation based upon the 9/11 Commission report. H.R. 10, the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act," now goes to a conference committee with the Senate to work out differences between the two bills.
The Council on American
Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called for an end to the cycle of
violence in the Middle East. In its statement, the Washington-based
Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said: "We condemn
this latest act of mindless cruelty and repeat our call for the
immediate release of all hostages currently held in Iraq,
whatever their nation of origin or faith." "We must
work together to bring an end to the seemingly endless cycle of
violence that has claimed so many innocent lives in the Middle
East." CAIR recently launched an online petition drive,
called "Not in the Name of Islam," designed to
disassociate Islam from the violent acts of a few Muslims. The
"Not in the Name of Islam" petition states: "We,
the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who
commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam
are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying
the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice
done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people,
and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We
repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or
individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse
to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of
a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran
and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him." CAIR,
America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 29 regional
offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
Election a 'win-win
situation' for secretive Bonesmen
By Kris Millegan
Long List Of Bush-Cheney
Compiled by a What Really Happened.com reader..
US seizes webservers from
independent media sites
Monday October 11, 2004
American authorities have shut down 20 independent media
centres by seizing their British-based webservers.
On Thursday a court order was issued to Rackspace, an
American-owned web hosting company in Uxbridge, Middlesex,
forcing it to hand over two servers used by Indymedia, an
international media network which covers of social justice issues
and provides a "news-wire", to which its users contribute.
The websites affected by the seizure span 17 countries.
It is unclear why, or to where, the servers have been taken. The
FBI, speaking to the French AFP, acknowledged that a
subpoena had been issued but said this was at the request of
Italian and Swiss authorities.
"It is not an FBI operation," said its spokesman, Joe Parris.
Rackspace told Indymedia that it had been served with a court
order under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, under which
countries assist each other in investigations such as
international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering
It is unclear why such a treaty would apply in this context. A UK
Indymedia journalist said: "The authorities may just be using
this as a trawling exercise. We don't know."
It is also unclear if the Home Office was involved.
The Metropolitan police said it was not aware of the move.
The UK Indymedia site is now working, because it was backed
up on another server, unlike others which are still shut down.
One of the servers was to be used to stream web radio coverage
of the European Social Forum conference in London next week.
Aidan White, the general secretary of the International
Federation of Journalists, condemned the "intolerable and
intrusive" action .
Tim Gopsill of the NUJ said: "If the security services of the UK or
US can just walk in and take away a server, then there is no
freedom of expression."
News website Indymedia
says FBI seized server
Fri Oct 8, 2004
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A website billed as a grassroots news
source for the anti-globalization movement and other issues said one of
its Web servers was shut down after the FBI served a
The Independent Media Center said the FBI
issued an order to hosting company
Rackspace "to remove physically one of our
The FBI acknowledged that a subpoena had
been issued but said it was at the request of
Italian and Swiss authorities.
"It is not an FBI operation," FBI spokesman Joe Parris told AFP.
"Through a legal assistance treaty, the subpoena was on behalf of a third
The FBI spokesman said there was no US investigation but that the
agency cooperated under the terms of an international treaty on law
Rackspace, a US Web hosting company with offices in London, said it
complied with a court order "pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance
Treaty, which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other
in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money
laundering." The company declined to elaborate.
"The order was so short-term that Rackspace had to give away our hard
drives in the UK," the Independent Media Center said.
Italian news reports said access to Indymedia had been cut as a result
of an FBI operation at US and British locations.
Mauro Bulgarelli, a member of Italy's Green party, called it a "provocation
and intimidate effort" against the alternative media.
The website was established by organizations during the 1999 World
Trade Organization protests claiming the mainstream
media failed to adequately cover the news.
It calls itself "a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation
of radical, accurate and passionate tellings of the truth."
Indymedia said in a statement it "had been asked last month by the FBI
to remove a story about Swiss undercover police from one of the
websites hosted at Rackspace."
The statement added, "It is not known, however, whether Thursday's
order is related to that incident since the order was issued to Rackspace
and not to Indymedia. According to Rackspace, they 'cannot provide
Indymedia with any information regarding the order.'"
Feds Seize Indymedia
By John Leyden
The Register U.K.
Friday 08 October 2004
The FBI yesterday seized a pair of UK servers used by Indymedia , the independent newsgathering
collective, after serving a subpoena in the US on Indymedia's hosting firm, Rackspace. Why or how
Oct 8, 2004
About 1,800 felons removed from voter rolls in 39 counties
By RACHEL LA CORTE
Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) -- About 1,800 new felons were removed from Florida
election rolls since a controversial state database of ineligible voters was
scrapped in July because it was flawed, but election officials aren't reviewing
old records to see if they may have missed anyone.
When the state bowed to criticism and discarded the flawed list of 48,000
potentially ineligible voters, local election officials continued what they had
been doing for years - examining court records each month for new names to
purge from voting rolls. They weren't required to make any other checks.
"We don't have the time or personnel to go back five years and check on the
felony status of a voter," said Brenda Renfore, executive administrator for
Escambia County elections. The county has purged 37 new felons from its
rolls since July.
Florida is one of only a handful of states that do not automatically restore
voting rights to convicted felons when they complete their sentence. The
purge by election officials has been a hot-button issue since the 2000
presidential election, in which many citizens discovered at the polls they
weren't allowed to vote.
A company hired to identify ineligible voters
before that election produced an error-filled list and elections supervisors
removed voters without verifying its accuracy. The state hired a new
contractor to create another list that election supervisors were to use this year
to screen felons whose voting rights weren't restored. That list was scrapped
after revelations it had a flaw that excluded Hispanic felons.
The Associated Press surveyed counties on their efforts to purge ineligible
voters and received responses from 48 of the state's 67 counties. Nine had
not removed any voters from their rolls since the list was tossed, including
Miami-Dade, the second-largest county with more than one million registered
"We follow the law, but within whatever flexibility we have, we always do
whatever we can do to err on the side of the voter and ensure that our
electorate is fully enfranchised," said Seth Kaplan, a spokesman for county's
elections office. "We won't put someone in felon status until we can verify
that they haven't received clemency."
But some elections officials noted that the burden is on voters, who sign
sworn oaths stating they are not felons, to prove their eligibility to vote.
"If they know they committed a felony and their rights were not restored,
they're committing another felony at that point," said Rosa Cruz, operations
manager for the Osceola County supervisor of elections.
When George W. Bush won Florida - and the presidency - by 537 votes,
many Democrats were convinced state officials purposely culled too many
voters from the rolls who would have supported Al Gore to ensure a
In May, Secretary of State Glenda Hood released the list of people identified
as potential felons who should be removed from the rolls because their voting
rights weren't restored. Many supervisors had expressed concern about the
accuracy of the list and some refused to remove voters.
Hood - who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother -
pulled the list July 10 after it was reported that a glitch resulted in the list
containing few Hispanics, who usually vote Republican in Florida. Local
elections officials were told to use their own system for making sure felons
whose voting rights weren't restored were purged from their voting rolls.
"The law is very clear," said Alia Faraj, Hood's spokeswoman. "Felons
cannot vote unless they've had their rights restored. Anybody who's had their
rights restored recently, double check with your supervisor of elections.
There's plenty of time between now and the election."
Between July 1 and the end of September, more than 750 felons have been
removed from the rolls in five of the state's 10 counties with the most
registered voters: Hillsborough, Orange, Duval, Lee and Volusia.
"I don't think that's an insignificant number," said Howard Simon, executive
director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. "Any process that
disenfranchises a single voter incorrectly is a process that is troubling."
Kay Clem, supervisor of elections in Indian River County, said that she's not
removed anyone from the rolls recently because of concerns over accuracy
of information from the courts. She said during the primary, her office
received court information that inaccurately listed a voter as a felon.
On Election Day, anyone who feels they have been mistakenly removed from
the voter rolls will be allowed to use a provisional ballot. Those ballots will be
later examined to determine the voter's eligibility.
Sherida Crum, supervisor of elections in Wakulla County in the Florida
Panhandle, said she won't remove anyone from her rolls unless she has
"black and white proof" they are convicted felons.
"Supervisors are in a bad jam," she said. "If we don't remove them and
they're felons you get in trouble, and if we remove them and they're not felons
we're getting in trouble. Isn't it ridiculous? The law's got to be changed some
October 7, 2004
Bomb blasts have hit three Egyptian Red Sea resorts used by vacationing Israelis, killing at least 35 people. The suspected truck bomb that tore apart the Taba Hilton, just metres from Egypt's border with Israel late on Thursday, was followed shortly by probable car bombs at two other resort towns on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula popular with Israelis.
Oct. 7, 2004
Blasts kill at least 36
Sunni radicals in central Pakistan
Police suspect sectarian terrorism
Shiites victims of attack last week
MULTAN, PakistanTwo bombs exploded at a gathering of Sunni Muslim
radicals in the central Pakistan city of Multan before dawn today, killing at least
36 people and wounding about 100, police said.
Police immediately suspected a sectarian attack. The bombing comes less than a
week after a suicide attack left 31 dead at a Shiite mosque in an eastern city.
About 3,000 people had gathered in a residential area of Multan to mark the
first anniversary of the killing of the leader of the outlawed Sunni radical group,
A car bomb exploded near the venue, and within minutes a second bomb
attached to a motorcycle went off, deputy police chief Arshad Hameed said.
He said at least 36 people were killed, but Arif Saeed, an official at the Nishtar
government hospital, put the death toll at 39. Saeed said up to 100 people were
wounded, about 50 seriously.
Hameed said the car blew up minutes after a man had parked it, and it was
probably detonated by remote control.
Thu Oct 7, 2004
Oil prices reached $53 a barrel on Thursday, and have advanced more than 20 percent in a month.
The Verdict Is In
The New York Times Editorial
Thursday 07 October 2004
Sanctions worked. Weapons inspectors worked. That is the bottom line of the long-awaited report
on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, written by President Bush's handpicked investigator.
Bush Administration in
Denial about Lack of Iraq WMD: Kay
Agence France Presse
Thursday 07 October 2004
WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush's administration is in denial over the lack of weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq before the US-led invasion in 2003, ex-chief US arms inspector David Kay
Oct. 7, 2004
Schools in six states in particular are being watched closely based on information uncovered by the U.S. military in Baghdad this summer, law enforcement and education officials told ABC News. A man described as an Iraqi insurgent involved in anti-coalition activities had downloaded school floor plans and safety and security information about elementary and high schools in the six states, according to officials. School officials in Fort Myers, Fla.; Salem, Ore.; Gray, Ga.; Birch Run, Mich.; two towns in New Jersey; and two towns in California have been told to increase security in light of the discovery. Officials in the New Jersey towns, Franklinville and Rumson, were notified by counterterrorism officials last month that their schools had been possibly singled out. On Wednesday, the federal government warned schools nationwide to look out for suspicious activity that might signal terrorist activity, and told school officials to be on the lookout for anyone spying on their buildings or buses, expressing interest in obtaining site plans, and other types of suspicious activity. It followed an analysis by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department of the school siege in Beslan, Russia, last month, in which nearly 340 people, many of them children, were killed. Ultimately, officials say they are hoping to increase security in schools and heighten awareness without causing parents nationwide to panic.
Judge Admonishes Lawyers
in Anthrax Case
Thu Oct 7, 2004
By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - A judge admonished government lawyers Thursday
after being told officials investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks still are
talking to the media about a bioterrorism expert who has not been
charged in the case.
Dr. Stephen Hatfill has filed a defamation lawsuit against Attorney
General John Ashcroft and other government
authorities who publicly named him as a "person of interest" in the
attacks. He said his reputation has been ruined and is seeking
unspecified monetary damages.
At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, Hatfill attorney
Thomas Connolly said investigators continue to leak his client's name.
"I am troubled," Walton said, his voice escalating in anger. "It
undermines what this country is about: that people are treated fairly."
"If they didn't have the information to indict him, it's wrong to drag his
name through the mud. And if the innuendo and whisper campaign is
continuing, that's what they're doing," he said. "That's not a government I
want to be a part of. It's wrong, and you need to do something about it."
Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Shapiro
responded that top Justice officials have told FBI
investigators to control leaks.
Hatfill's lawsuit claims officials named him to deflect attention from their
inability to find whoever was responsible for the October 2001 attacks,
which killed five people and sickened 17 others. He still is the only
publicly named "person of interest" in the case.
Hatfill worked as a researcher at the Army Medical Research Institute of
Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. The facility housed
the strain of anthrax found in the envelopes sent to the victims, though
Hatfill maintains he never worked with the bacterium.
The FBI had Hatfill under 24-hour surveillance for months following the
attacks and in one incident, agents in a vehicle trailing Hatfill ran over his
foot on a Washington street. Government lawyers have said Ashcroft
named Hatfill as a "person of interest" to dampen speculation that he
was a suspect.
Justice Department officials have repeatedly sought delays in making
FBI investigators available for depositions in preparation for trial on the
lawsuit, citing the potential risk of disclosing sensitive information in an
Shapiro emphasized that government officials aren't opposed to providing
written responses to Hatfill's attorneys.
Walton in March granted the government a six-month stay in the case,
but expressed impatience Thursday after Shapiro requested another six
Walton told both sides to reach an agreement in two weeks, or face a
court order. He also ordered government lawyers to file a written
response to Hatfill's allegations made more than a year ago within
Under a proposal submitted to Walton this week by Hatfill, government
investigators would be shielded from depositions for an additional six
months. However, Justice officials would be asked to sign waivers of any
confidentiality agreements with reporters, so that Hatfill may depose
them for information about the leaks.
Shapiro countered that the proposal was too broad and overly coercive,
and Walton said he wanted both sides to seek a compromise and report
back to him on Oct. 21.
Pentagon meddling crippled
post-war humanitarian aid for Iraq: US experts
Reporter Held in Contempt
in CIA Probe
Thu, Oct 07, 2004
By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - A reporter for the New York Times was held in
contempt Thursday by a federal judge and faces possible jail time for
refusing to divulge confidential sources to prosecutors investigating the
leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity.
Wed, Oct 06, 2004
The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a massive reorganization of the United States intelligence community to address the Sept. 11 commission's complaints that the nation's spy agencies don't work together properly to deter terrorist attacks . The bill, approved on a 96-2 vote, would create a national counterterrorism center and also a position of national intelligence director who would coordinate most of the nation's nonmilitary intelligence agencies. The Senate bill must be reconciled with House legislation before it can go the White House for Bush's signature, and the two bills currently are very different. The House also plans this week to approve legislation to create an intelligence director position and a national counterterrorism center. But the GOP also adds provisions on anti-terrorism, identity theft, illegal immigration and border security measures that Democrats and some Republicans think shouldn't be included. Senate leaders still think something can be accomplished by Election Day.
Some provisions in the Senate bill addressing the Sept. 11
commission's recommendations on national security, intelligence and
_Creates a national intelligence director to coordinate most of the
nation's nonmilitary intelligence agencies and serve as the president's
principal intelligence adviser. The intelligence director would control the
funds and personnel for the intelligence agencies, and would have to
concur with any appointment made to the intelligence community under
his control that is not made by the president.
_Declassifies the total amount of money that the government spends on
_Sets up a national counterterrorism center to coordinate anti-terror
efforts and a joint intelligence community council made up of the
secretaries of state, treasury, homeland security, energy and defense,
as well as the attorney general, to advise the national intelligence
_Creates a national counterproliferation center to work on stopping the
trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.
_Tightens holes in aviation security by authorizing more than $800
million to protect cargo and passenger planes, streamline checked
baggage screening, improve airport perimeter security, hire more federal
air marshals and develop new security technology.
_Tightens air cargo security through more and better inspections,
background checks on air cargo handlers and new requirements for
cargo airlines to develop security plans.
_Creates a Directorate of Intelligence at the FBI to
supervise and coordinate all of the intelligence programs and agents.
_Creates a Chief Scientist position for the national intelligence
community to come up additional scientific and technological advances
for the intelligence agencies.
_Requires outgoing presidential administrations to prepare detailed
reports of specific threats to the country, major military or covert
operations and pending military decisions on use of force for the
president-elect as soon as possible.
_Requires the president-elect to submit names of candidates for high
level national security positions for security clearance as soon as
possible as the election, and requires the government to have those
background checks completed before the presidential inauguration.
_Allows employers to do federal criminal background checks on private
_Allows the passengers and crew of cruise ships entering the United
States to be checked against terrorist watchlists.
_Requires 27 close U.S. allies such as France and Germany that
participate in a visa waiver program with the United States to fingerprint
and photograph any foreign visitors before granting them visas.
Wed Oct 6, 2004
By Richard Mably
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil's record-breaking rally lifted U.S. crude
beyond $52 a barrel on Wednesday, fueled by the impact of Hurricane
Ivan on U.S. winter inventories.
U.S. light crude set a new high of $52.15 a
barrel before settling at $52.02, up 93 cents
on the day. London Brent , the benchmark for
European imports, peaked at $48.10, settling
up 86 cents at $47.99.
Oil has surged nearly 60 percent, adding $19
to the cost of U.S. crude since January 1,
driven by the strongest demand growth in a
generation and a thinning cushion of spare
capacity to cope with supply outages.
"It's frightening how bullishly the market is shaping up from a
fundamental perspective," said Yasser Elguindi of Medley Global
Advisors in New York.
"There's strong demand in Asia and Europe as well as the U.S. and
inventories are low in all regions."
Paul Bremer, the "proconsul" of Iraq until the handover in late June, said the administration had made two serious mistakes. It had not sent enough troops and had compounded this by not curbing the violence and lawlessness that erupted after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
A CIA report has found no conclusive evidence that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein harbored Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which the Bush administration asserted before the invasion of Iraq.
Weapons inspector's final
report: Hussein had no WMD program in Iraq. This report relays
the findings of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central
Intelligence on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Seoul, Tokyo and the
forbidden nuclear card
By Yoel Sano
Oct 6, 2004
Fla. Supreme Court to hear lawsuit over provisional ballots
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear a
lawsuit challenging restrictions on using provisional ballots, which are part of
a law that overhauled the state's voting system after the disputed 2000
Justices voted Tuesday to hold a hearing on the lawsuit Oct. 13. They could
order election supervisors to make changes to state voting procedures days
before the Nov. 2 presidential election.
Provisional paper ballots were created in the 2001 election overhaul law to
guarantee that people who are incorrectly left off the rolls could still vote on
Election Day. If officials later find the voter is registered, the ballot is counted.
A coalition of unions, including the AFL-CIO, sued over part of the law that
said voters could only use provisional ballots in their home precinct. Lawyers
for the unions said that violates Florida's Constitution, which requires only
that voters cast their ballots in their home county.
"That qualification is overly restrictive and
really has no place in a democracy," said Alma Gonzalez, special counsel for
the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a
plaintiff in the suit.
The unions also say that the four hurricanes that have hit Florida could cause
many precincts to be changed due to damages at polling places, creating
But Ron Labasky, a lawyer who represents the Florida State Association of
Supervisors of Elections, predicted widespread turmoil if the high court
ordered counties to count all provisional ballots.
Labasky and other lawyers planned to argue that provisional ballots are a
protection of voter rights that wasn't in place before 2001.
"We were really not trying to restrict peoples rights in any way," said state
Rep. Dudley Goodlette, a Naples Republican and one of the architects of the
2001 election reform law. "We were trying to eliminate the potential for
voters to be disenfranchised."
George W. Bush won Florida by just 537 votes in 2000, which gave him the
presidency after 36 days of legal wrangling and recounts. Many people
alleged they were unfairly turned away from the polls even though they had
Crude oil prices jumped
above $51 a barrel yesterday, setting a new record.
Hurricane Ivan Evacuation and Production Shut-in Statistics as of Tuesday, October 5, 2004
US Job Cuts Hit 8-Month
High In September
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. planned job cuts soared to an eight-month
high in September while new hiring rose only slightly, a report said on
Employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said
employers announced 107,863 layoffs in September, 41 percent more than
in September 2003 and 45 percent more than in August of this year, when
74,150 were laid off.
The September figure was the largest since January 2004, when employers
laid off 117,556 workers.
The September figure brings third-quarter job cuts to 251,585, 19.9 percent
more than the 209,895 registered in the previous quarter and 4 percent more
than the 241,548 for the third quarter of 2003.
Job losses in September were particularly heavy in the computer,
transportation, telecommunications and consumer products industries, the
Adding to the glum jobs picture was the slow pace of new hiring in
September. The report said employer hiring announcements revealed only
16,166 new job openings in that month compared with 132,105 in August.
"Historically, the period from September 1 through December 31 is when we
see the heaviest downsizing and this year appears to be on track to repeat
that trend," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of the firm.
"This period can also be a time for hiring since companies are looking ahead
to the new year and making budget and staffing decisions. Weak hiring
announcements last month are not a good indication of stronger job creation
to come," he said. Tue Oct 5, 2004
The US Senate has signaled its determination to make public the nation's intelligence budget, breaking with the past practice of keeping billions of dollars of government spending under wraps. By a vote of 55-37, senators Monday shot down an amendment by Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska that would have required the government to continue keeping secret how much is spent on intelligence gathering. The disclosure provision calls for making public only the overall size of the intelligence budget, without itemizing it.
Driver's Licenses Debated
By Mark Baard
Oct. 06, 2004
Some federal and state government officials want to make state driver's licenses harder to counterfeit or steal, by adding computer chips that emit a radio signal bearing a license holder's unique, personal information.
In Virginia, where several of the 9/11 hijackers obtained driver's licenses, state legislators Wednesday will hear testimony about how radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags may prevent identity fraud and help thwart terrorists using falsified documents to move about the country.
Privacy advocates will argue that the radio tags will also make it easy for the government to spy on its citizens and exacerbate identity theft, one of the problems the technology is meant to relieve.
Virginia is among the first states to explore the idea of creating a smart driver's license, which may eventually use any combination of RFID tags and biometric data, such as fingerprints or retinal scans.
"Nine of the 19 9/11 terrorists obtained their licenses illegally in Virginia, and that was quite an embarrassment," said Virginia General Assembly delegate Kathy Byron, chairwoman of a subcommittee looking into the use of so-called smart driver's licenses, which may include RFID technology.
The biometric data would make it harder for an individual to use a stolen or forged driver's license for identification. The RFID tags would make the licenses a "contact-less" technology, verifying IDs more efficiently, and making lines at security checkpoints move quicker.
Because information on RFID tags can be picked up from many feet away, licenses would not have to be put directly into a reader device. If there was any suspicion that a person was not who he claimed to be, ID checkers could take him aside for fingerprinting or a retinal scan.
States need to adopt technologies that can ensure a driver's license holder is who he says he is, said Byron.
Federal legislators may also require states to comply with uniform "smart card" standards, making state driver's licenses into national identification cards that could be read at any location throughout the country. The RFID chips on driver's licenses would at a minimum transmit all of the information on the front of a driver's license. They may also eventually transmit fingerprint and other uniquely identifiable information to reader devices.
But federal mandates for adding RFID chips to driver's licenses would create an impossible burden for states, which will have to shoulder the costs of generating new licenses, and installing reader devices in their motor vehicle offices, said a states' rights advocate.
"It could easily become yet another unfunded federal mandate, of which we already have $60 billion worth," said Cheye Calvo, director of the transportation committee at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Drivers with E-ZPass tags on their windshields can already cruise through many highway toll booths without stopping, thanks to RFID technology.
RFID tags, which respond to signals sent out by special reader devices, have in some tests demonstrated broadcast ranges up to 30 feet. Reader devices have proven to possess similar "sensing" ranges. This is what has some privacy advocaters worried, including one testifying tomorrow before the Virginia legislators.
"The biggest problem is that these tags are remotely readable," said Christopher Calabrese, council for the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Program.
RFID tags inside driver's licenses will make it easy for government agents with readers to sweep large areas and identify protestors participating in a march, for example. Privacy advocates also fear that crooks sitting on street corners could remotely gather personal information from individual's wallets, such as their birth dates and home addresses -- the same information many bank employees use to verify account holders' identities.
Information from card readers could also be coupled with global positioning system data and relayed to satellites, helping the government form a comprehensive picture of the comings and goings of its citizens.
Driver's licenses with RFID tags may also become a tool that stalkers use to follow their victims, said Calabrese. "We're talking about a potential security nightmare."
But opponents of the use of RFID and other technologies in driver's licenses and state issued ID cards are conflating RFID's technological potential with its potential for abuse by government authorities, said Robert D. Atkinson, vice president at the Progressive Policy Institute.
"Putting a chip or biometric data on a driver's license doesn't change one iota the rules under which that information can be used," said Atkinson.
The Virginia legislators may balk at the use of RFID in driver's licenses, however, unless they can be proven to be immune from use by spies and identity thieves.
"I can't see us using RFID until we're comfortable we can without encroaching on individual privacy, and ensure it won't be used as a Big Brother technology by the government," said Joe May, chairman of the Virginia General Assembly's House Science and Technology Committee.
Identification: Little Devices Making Big Waves
Big Brother In Your Car
Futuristic hi-tech could save your life -- and raid your privacy
BY TARA SERVATIUS
Deep inside the United States Department of Transportation, Big Brother is rearing his head. On the third floor of the USDOT building in the heart of Washington, DC, a shadowy government agency that doesn't respond to public inquiries about its activities is coordinating a plan to use monitoring devices to catalogue the movements of every American driver.
Most people have probably never heard of the agency, called the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. And they haven't heard of its plans to add another dimension to our national road system, one that uses tracking and sensor technology to erase the lines between cars, the road and the government transportation management centers from which every aspect of transportation will be observed and managed.
For 13 years, a powerful group of car manufacturers, technology companies and government interests has fought to bring this system to life. They envision a future in which massive databases will track the comings and goings of everyone who travels by car or mass transit. The only way for people to evade the national transportation tracking system they're creating will be to travel on foot. Drive your car, and your every movement could be recorded and archived. The federal government will know the exact route you drove to work, how many times you braked along the way, the precise moment you arrived -- and that every other Tuesday you opt to ride the bus.
They'll know you're due for a transmission repair and that you've neglected to fix the ever-widening crack that resulted from a pebble dinging your windshield.
Once the system is brought to life, both the corporations and the government stand to reap billions in revenues. Companies plan to use the technology to sell endless user services and upgrades to drivers. For governments, tracking cars' movements means the ability to tax drivers for their driving habits, and ultimately to use a punitive tax system to control where they drive and when, a practice USDOT documents predict will be common throughout the country by 2022.
This system the government and its corporate partners are striving to create goes by many names, including the information superhighway and the Integrated Network of Transportation information, or INTI. Reams of federal documents spell out the details of how it will operate.
Despite this, it remains one of the federal government's best-kept secrets. Virtually nothing has been reported about it in the media. None of the experts at the privacy rights groups Creative Loafing talked to, including the ACLU, the Consumers Union and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, had ever heard of the INTI. Nor had they heard of the voluminous federal documents that spell out, in eerie futuristic tones, what data the system will collect and how it will impact drivers' daily lives.
Buried inside two key federal documents lies a chilling cookbook for a Big Brother-style transportation-monitoring system. None of the privacy experts we talked to was aware of a 2002 USDOT document called the "National Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Plan: A Ten-Year Vision" or the "National ITS Architecture ITS Vision Statement," published by the Federal Highway Administration in 2003.
What's more, no one we talked to was aware of just how far the USDOT has come in developing the base technology necessary to bring the system to life.
More than $4 billion in federal tax dollars has already been spent to lay the foundation for this system. Some of the technologies it will use to track our movements are already familiar to the public, like the GPS technology OnStar already used to pinpoint the location of its subscribers. Others are currently being developed by the USDOT and its sub-agencies.
Five technology companies hired by the USDOT to develop the transceivers, or "on-board units," that will transmit data from your car to the system are expected to unveil the first models next spring. By 2010, automakers hope to start installing them in cars. The goal is to equip 57 million vehicles by 2015.
Once the devices are installed, the technology will allow cars to talk to each other in real time, transmitting information about weather, dangerous road conditions ahead and even warning drivers instantaneously of an impending collision. When used in combination with GPS technology already being installed in millions of cars, the INTI will be able to transmit real-time information about where your car is and where you've been.
Though Joint Project Office officials refused to talk to Creative Loafing about the next step in their plan, one official defined it simply in a presentation before the National Research Council in January.
"The concept," said Bill Jones, Technical Director of the Joint Office, "is that vehicle manufacturers will install a communications device on the vehicle starting at some future date, and equipment will be installed on the nation's transportation system to allow all vehicles to communicate with the infrastructure."
"The whole idea here is that we would capture data from a large number of vehicles," Jones said at another meeting of transportation officials in May. "That data could then be used by public jurisdictions for traffic management purposes and also by private industry, such as DaimlerChrysler, for the services that they wish to provide for their customers."
According to USDOT's 10-year plan, the key "data" the INTI will collect is "the identity and performance of transportation system users."
"It's going to happen," said Jean-Claude Thill, a professor at the University of Buffalo who specializes in transportation and geographic information and who has done research for USDOT. "It's probably going to start in the large metropolitan areas where there's a much larger concentration and more demand for the services that are going to be made available."
With this system, and the fantastic technology it will enable, the government and the auto industry claim they can wipe out all but a fraction of the 42,000 deaths on America's roads by literally intervening between the drivers, cars and the road. But as they careen toward making it a reality, its costs in terms of individual privacy have barely been contemplated.
If the government has its way, these technologies will no longer be optional. They'll be buried deep inside our cars at the auto factory, unremovable by law. If things go as planned, within the next decade these devices will begin transmitting information about us to the government, regardless of whether we want to share it or not.
More chilling still is the fact that Creative Loafing isn't the first to use the "Big Brother" label to describe the system. Even the corporate leaders working to create it refer to it in Orwellian terms. At a workshop for industry and government leaders last year, John Worthington, the President and CEO of TransCore -- one of the companies currently under contract to develop the on-board units USDOT wants to put in your car -- described INTI as "kind of an Orwellian all-singing, all-dancing collector/aggregator/disseminator of transportation information."
This story really begins in 1991, the year Congress established a program to develop and deploy what is now called "Intelligent Transportation Systems," or ITS. At the time, most ITS technology was in its infancy. But even back then, the long-term goal of the federal government and the automobile industry was to develop and deploy a nationwide traffic monitoring system. A transportation technology industry quickly sprang to life over the next decade, feeding off federal money and the corporate demand for wireless technology.
Since 1991, the driving force behind the INTI has been the Washington, DC-based Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA). This powerful group of government and corporate interests has spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying to bring the INTI to life and worked side by side with USDOT and its agencies to create it.
A look at its shockingly broad 500-organization membership base shows just how much clout is behind the push to create the information superhighway. Forty-three of the 50 state Departments of Transportation are members, including the North Carolina DOT. Dozens of transportation departments from large and medium-sized cities, including the Charlotte Area Transit System, are also members. So are most of the key corporate players in the transportation technology industry and America's big three auto manufacturers.
Though the membership of the Board of Directors changes every year with companies cycling on and off, over the last two years, ITSA's board members have included executives from General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, and executives from the technology companies helping to develop the on-board units, including TransCore and Mark IV Industries. The board has also included federal transportation bureaucrats like Jeff Paniati, the Joint Program Office director. ITSA president and CEO Neil Schuster says the bulk of the group's $6 million annual budget comes from its corporate members, money that ITSA then turns around and uses to lobby Congress and the federal government for further development of the INTI.
So why haven't you heard about ITSA or the INTI? Until recently, most of the groundwork necessary to lay the foundation for the system has been highly technical and decidedly unsexy. That's because before industry leaders and government officials could hold the first transceiver in their hands or bury it inside the first automobile, they had to create a uniform language for the system and convince the Federal Communications Commission to set aside enough bandwidth to contain the massive amount of data a constant conversation between cars, the road and the system would produce.
A half-decade later, with the computer standards 90 percent complete and the bandwidth set aside by the FCC, they're on the brink of a transportation revolution.
To most drivers, the above probably sounds pretty far-fetched. National databases to track our every move? A national network of government-controlled traffic management centers that use wireless technology for traffic surveillance by 2022? But the reality is that much of the technology and infrastructure needed to bring the system to life has already been put in place.
In the old days, if you turned on your windshield wipers, power just went to the wipers. But in the cars of today, a miniature self-contained computer system of sensors and actuators controls the wipers and just about everything else the car does. All that information winds up on something inside your car called a data bus.
"We have the ability to communicate essentially any of the vehicle information that's on that data bus, typically encompassing the state of about 200 sensors and actuators," said Dave Acton, an ITS consultant to General Motors. "Anything that's available on the bus is just content to the system, so you could send anything."
For automakers and tech companies, the databus is a goldmine of information that can be transmitted via imbedded cell phone or GPS technology. This year alone, 2 million cars in General Motors' fleet were equipped with the GPS technology that would enable customers to subscribe to OnStar-type services if they choose. Eventually, says Acton, all cars will likely be equipped with it.
But the same technology installed in GM's fleet is also capable of transmitting the car's location and speed to any government agency or corporate entity that wants it without the driver knowing, whether they subscribe to OnStar-type services or not.
Though government-run transportation centers across the country are not yet collecting the data, Acton predicts they will begin to within the next decade.
Ann Lorscheider agrees. She's the manager of the Metrolina Region Transportation Management center on Tipton Drive in Charlotte.
At the center off Statesville Avenue, traffic management specialists stare at dozens of television screens mounted on a massive wall, watching for accidents or anything out of the ordinary. From their workstations, they surveil 200 interstate miles, including I-77 from the South Carolina state line to US 901 in Iredell and I-85 from the state line into Cabarrus County.
When they need to, they can swivel the cameras mounted along the interstate or zoom in to get a better look at an accident. Sensors in the road constantly dump data back to the center on traffic patterns and speed. A system based on predictive algorithms tells them if a traffic pattern signals a potential problem.
The cameras and the sensors were installed by the state in 2000, at a cost of $41 million. Traffic management centers like the one Lorscheider runs can now be found in just about every major to mid-sized city or region across the country, most constructed in over the last decade or so.
News reports show that over the last five years alone, there has been an explosion in the construction of these centers. During that time, over 100 such centers have opened across the country, part of a boom driven by the USDOT and its sub-agency, the Federal Highway Administration, which has secured funding to help bring the centers to life.
"They're booming," said Lorscheider. "They're all over the place now."
Everywhere they've opened, the centers have decreased response time to accidents and slashed, sometimes by as much as half, the number of law enforcement personnel needed to respond to accidents and get traffic moving again. Congestion and travel times have also improved.
This all sounds fine and safety-centered. But in the future envisioned by USDOT and ITSA in federal documents, the centers will be far more than a handy congestion management tool. They'll form the very hub of the INTI itself, interacting with regional and national traffic centers and, ultimately, with immense national databases run in partnership with the private sector that will cull data from vehicles, crunch and archive it.
To bring the INTI to life the way the government plans, the system will have to do far more than use GPS technology to transmit where cars have been and what they did along the way. Cars will need to swap information instantaneously with each other and with roadside readers at highway speeds in real time, something today's GPS technology can't do. To solve the problem, the federal government is pushing back the boundaries of wireless technology to create devices that can make the vision possible. Using something called Dedicated Short Range Communications, or DSRC, the transceivers the government is developing would allow cars to carry on simultaneous conversations with each other and with corresponding roadside units, sending messages or warnings throughout the transportation management system instantly.
These "conversations" could prevent collisions or stop drivers from running off the road, while giving transportation managers an instantaneous view of road and weather conditions. With a DSRC transceiver and GPS technology in every car, automakers believe they can wipe out nearly all automobile fatalities in the US. It's a goal they call the Zero Fatalities Vision.
"There is a basic consensus that we have to change the safety paradigm," said Chris Wilson, Vice President of ITS Strategy and Programs at DaimlerChrysler Research and Technology North America, Inc. "Everything we've done up until now -- airbags, seatbelts -- was to mitigate accidents once they occur. Now we're looking to prevent accidents. To do that we need live vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-vehicle infrastructure."
The tantalizing prospect of saving thousands of lives comes with a heavy price. The same technology that will allow cars to talk to each other in real time would also allow the government and ultimately private business to use the INTI to track every move American drivers make -- and profit from it.
This is the dark side of the information superhighway, the one executives and federal bureaucrats don't like to talk about. That's probably because they know it's entirely possible to use the technology the government is developing to prevent fatal collisions without harvesting information from automobiles and archiving it.
For all their talk about saving lives, there's ample evidence that the driving force behind the push to develop the national information superhighway is to profit from the data it collects. Both the corporations and the government -- including the more than 40 state departments of transportation that are members of ITSA -- stand to eventually rake in billions in revenues if they can bring the system to life. (See sidebar, "A Marketer's Dream.")
But first, they must find a way to harvest and archive the data.
That's where the ADUS, or Archived Data User Service, project comes in. For the last five years, while they were laying the foundation for the INTI, USDOT and ITSA have also begun setting standards for the massive databases that will collect and archive information.
According to federal documents, when it's completed, the brain of the INTI will essentially be a string of interconnected regional and national databases, swapping, processing and storing data on our travels it will collect from devices in our cars.
According to the "ITS Vision Statement" the Federal Highway Administration published in 2003, by 2022, each private "travel customer" will have their own "user profile" on the system that includes regular travel destinations, their route preferences, and any pay-for-service subscriptions they use.
Neil Schuster, president and CEO of ITSA, further clarified that goal in a recent interview with Creative Loafing.
"In fact, when we talk about this, the US government is talking about creating a national database, because where cars are has to go into a database," Schuster said.
Most INTI enthusiasts, like Schuster, insist that the lives potentially saved by this technology are worth giving up some privacy.
"When I get on an airplane everyone in the system knows where I am," said Schuster. "They know which tickets I bought. You could probably go back through United Airlines and find out everywhere I traveled in the last year. Do I worry about that? No. We've decided that airline safety is so important that we're going to put a transponder in every airplane and track it. We know the passenger list of every airplane and we're tracking these things so that planes don't crash into each other. Shouldn't we have that same sense of concern and urgency about road travel? The average number of fatalities each year from airplanes is less than 100. The average number of deaths on the highway is 42,000. I think we've got to enter the debate as to whether we're willing to change that in a substantial way and it may be that we have to allow something on our vehicles that makes our car safer. . . I wouldn't mind some of this information being available to make my roads safer so some idiot out there doesn't run into me."
Schuster insists that drivers shouldn't worry about the government storing information about their travels because personal identifying information would be stripped from it.
"They're not going to archive all of the data, they're going to archive the data they need," Schuster said. "They want origin, they want destination, they want what route that vehicle took. They don't want the personal information that goes with that because it's useless to them."
Schuster's words would be more reassuring if they didn't contradict planning documents authored by his organization and USDOT.
ITSA's own website on ADUS says data archived by INTI databases will include "vehicle and passenger data." So does the USDOT's Ten-Year-Plan. In fact, according to ITSA's own privacy principles, which are printed on its website, transportation systems will collect personal information, but only that information that's relevant for "intelligent transportation system" purposes.
"ITS, respectful of the individual's interest in privacy, will only collect information that contains individual identifiers that are needed for the ITS service functions," the site reads. "Furthermore, ITS information systems will include protocols that call for the purging of individual identifier information that is no longer needed to meet ITS needs."
In other words, identifying information will be purged when government and corporate users no longer have a need for it, not when it becomes a privacy issue for an individual driver.
Everyone Creative Loafing spoke to for this article, and every federal document we examined, insisted that safeguards would be put in place to protect this data. So far, though, no one has been able to specify exactly how these safeguards will work.
It's a problem Eric Skrum, Communications Director for the National Motorists Association, is familiar with.
"Information on this is awfully hard to get and it's also very conflicting, where one hand will be telling you one thing and the other will be saying oh no, we wouldn't possibly be doing that," Skrum said.
It's a problem Creative Loafing ran into as well. For instance, Schuster insists that the data the system will eventually collect won't be used to issue people speeding tickets or other traffic citations.
But according to ITSA's own privacy principles, the information won't be shared with law enforcement -- until states pass laws allowing it. In fact, the US Department of Justice and USDOT are already working on a plan to share the data ITS systems collect with law enforcement. It's called the USDOT/DOJ Joint Initiative For Intelligent Transportation & Public Safety Systems, and its aim is to coordinate the integration of the system with police and law enforcement systems by developing the software and technical language that will allow them to communicate.
After Sept. 11, ITSA and USDOT added a homeland security addendum to their 10-year plan. The system, through wireless surveillance and automated tracking of the users of our transportation system, could bolster Homeland Security efforts, it said.
Sensors deployed in vehicles and the infrastructure could "identify suspicious vehicles," "detect disruptions" and "detect threatening behavior" by drivers, according to the addendum. Those who take public transit wouldn't escape monitoring, either. The addendum suggests "developing systems for public transit tracking to monitor passenger behavior."
So who will control the information transmitted by the on-board units? That's still up in the air, too. Like the black boxes now installed in cars that record data before a crash that can later be used against the driver, it's possible that the on-board units will be installed in new cars before the legal issues surrounding the data they collect are fully resolved, says one industry insider.
Robert Kelly, a wireless communications legal expert who has acted as legal council to ITSA, says privacy law will have to evolve with the technology. In other words, privacy issues probably won't be resolved until the technology is already in place. Legislatures and Congress will have to guide how everyone from law enforcement to corporations use the data and exactly what information they have access to, Kelly said.
But again, with privacy organizations largely in the dark and the development of the system hurtling forward, the question is how much influence, if any, privacy advocates will be able to wield before these devices are installed on the first future fleet of cars.
That's part of what frustrates Skrum, the National Motorists Association communications director. "Because this is being done behind closed doors to a certain extent, the public isn't really going to have much to say about it," said Skrum.
The good news is that there's still time for the public to weigh in. It will take USDOT at least three more years of development and consumer testing before the first prototype "on-board unit" is ready. In the meantime, the federal government, automakers and the state departments of transportation will have to hash out a couple of billion-dollar details. So far, the government has borne nearly all the cost of developing the on-board units. But that will soon change. For the system to work, automakers must sign on to mass produce the on-board units and install them in cars, a move that will cost billions.
At the same time, the government must install the roadside readers to transmit the messages cars send, or the on-board units will be useless. So to bring the system to life, the government must spend millions, if not billions, on roadside units to communicate with cars at roughly the same time automakers begin installing the on-board units.
As Japan, Europe and foreign carmakers dash to develop similar technology, US automakers are under tremendous pressure. This is creating something of a chicken and egg situation. Given the nature of federal and state transportation budgets, the rollout of roadside units is likely to be gradual, starting at select trouble spots across the nation. But automakers say they need a mass deployment to make their effort worthwhile. They want to see a rollout of at least 400,000 roadside readers over about a three-year period.
A decision is currently slated for 2008, when automakers and the USDOT plan to come together to hash out a deployment strategy. At stake will be billions of dollars -- both in investments and profits. If the government and automakers can agree on a deployment plan, technology companies are expected to begin investing more heavily in the further development of programs the technology will enable.
ITSA projects that $209 billion could be invested in intelligent transportation technology between now and the year 2011 -- with 80 percent of that investment coming from the private sector in the form of consumer products and services.
Jean-Claude Thill, a professor at the University of Buffalo who specializes in transportation and geographic information systems, says he believes the system will be deployed, just not as fast as car makers would like.
"It's not going to happen all at once," said Thill. "Look at cell phones. Right now in large urban areas you have a high density of cell towers so you have good coverage. If you venture on the interstate your signal gets weak and sometimes you lose it. You can't expect this to be different."
Thill says he believes the automobile manufacturers are playing hardball with the government to make sure the infrastructure is put in place quickly.
"I think the automobile manufacturers will do it," said Thill. "There is money in it. I think as the market develops in large urban areas, they will see that it is in their interest to get on the wagon. But nothing is going to happen until they are on board."
From the government's perspective, the good news is that a few sensors in a few cars and a little GPS technology can go a long way.
"Only a relatively small percentage of the approximately 260 million vehicles on US roads today need to be equipped with communication devices for the system to start producing useful data," said Bill Jones, the Technical Director of the USDOT's ITS Joint Project Office in a speech to the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board in January. "With 14 to 15 million new vehicles sold in the US each year, within two years you can have 10 percent of all vehicles equipped. We already know from our previous studies that a vehicle probe saturation of less than 10 percent can provide good information."
Bush's 'Patriot Act' Vs
Hitler's 'Enabling Act'
What's The Difference?
By John Carman
External links are provided for research and information only. The external links on this Web site does not constitute endorsement or approval by me. I am not responsible for the contents on any external link referenced from this Web site.