Saturday, August 31, 2002

Slouching Towards 9/11
Of course we still remember the missing, and mourn them, and not even a maudlin, self-aggrandizing media orgy a year later could so deaden our senses that we would forget. But a certain national numbness, or perhaps amnesia, is settling in. If we remember the dead of Sept. 11 vividly, we are gradually losing sight of those who carried out their slaughter. Wasn't our mission to track down Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, dead or alive, before they struck again? We are now gearing up to fight another war that has been grandfathered into the war on terrorism. While it too targets an unambiguous evildoer, it is a different mission that is already obscuring the first and may yet defeat it.

Each week brings new evidence that our original task has largely been left unfulfilled in the wake of our early and successful routing of the Taliban. The Los Angeles Times has reported that the nearly 600 prisoners from 43 countries being held in U.S. military custody at Guantánamo Bay have yielded no senior Qaeda leaders whatsoever. On Wednesday The Washington Post found that two of the most important of those missing leaders are operating at full tilt out of Iran, where they are "directly involved in planning Al Qaeda terrorist operations," despite the Pentagon's announcement that one of them had been killed in Afghanistan in January.

The fact that this unhappy news arrives late and muted can be attributed in part to one other post-9/11 change. The Bush administration, never open to begin with, has now turned secrecy into a crusade so extreme that it is even fighting in court to protect the confidentiality of Bill Clinton's sleazy dealings with Marc Rich. (Why? Perhaps the executive privilege at stake would help hide its Energy Task Force's sleazy dealings with Enron.) There's a legitimate debate whether the defeat of terrorism justifies constitutional shortcuts — and that argument is playing out in court, where there have now been four judgments against the government this year, including a unanimous appellate decision this week. But more and more the argument is academic. The administration's blanket secrecy has less to do with the legitimate good of protecting our security than with the political goal of burying its own failures.

By keeping the names and court proceedings of his detainees under wraps, John Ashcroft could for months cover up his law enforcement minions' inability to apprehend a single terrorist connected to 9/11. The same stunt has been pulled by designating prisoners "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo. Jose Padilla, the "dirty bomber," whose arrest was trumpeted by the attorney general as the breakup of a major terrorist plot, turns out to be a nonentity who may not be charged with anything. But as long as Mr. Padilla is locked away in a legal deep freeze, that embarrassment can be kept on the q.t. In the same spirit, the F.B.I. is now investigating 17 members of the Senate Intelligence Committee for leaks to the press; revealingly, the leaks that angered Dick Cheney and prompted this investigation were not leaks about intelligence per se but leaks about how our government bungled intelligence on this administration's watch just before 9/11.

Now "America's New War," as CNN once branded it, is about to give way to "America's Newer War," and you have to wonder what if anything we have learned. George W. Bush is in a box, and one of his own making. If he does not attack Iraq now, after months of swagger, he will destroy his own credibility and hurt the country's. But if he does, he is in another bind. Even though the administration maintains that it needs neither allies nor Congressional approval, the president still needs the support of the American people unless he wants to mimic another hubristic Texan president who took a backdoor route into pre-emptive warfare.
Professors Offer a Reality Check For Politicians
Leonard Wantchekon …could have done the standard review of past political advertisements or interviewed candidates, consultants and voters. But Professor Wantchekon, who teaches politics at New York University and is an expert in game theory, wanted a more scientific approach.

So he chose a novel but controversial approach: instead of observing an election, he participated in one.

Born and reared in Benin, Professor Wantchekon decided to use the 2001 presidential primary in his small West African home country as his case study. As a younger man, he had helped found the Democratic Front of Benin, in the early 1980's the only opposition group to military rule in that country, and in 1988immigrated to Canada as a political refugee. With his previous political ties, he was able to convince Benin's four primary candidates to allow him and his researchers to write and disseminate campaign messages for each of them and then test them on villagers.

Working hand in hand with the two opposition and two pro-government parties, Professor Wantchekon and his team created two types of messages. One used specific promises — to build schools, clinics and roads in a particular village, for example; the other invoked a much broader appeal to improve the nation's general welfare. The team enlisted tribal leaders, soccer stars, popular musicians and local officials to help deliver their messages. From December 2000 to the primary in March 2001, they campaigned in about 20 villages, each with some 700 inhabitants. Each village was randomly assigned to receive either the specific promise or the broad appeal. Some 4.1 million voters in other villages who received the candidates' regular campaign messages, and not ones prepared for the experiment, served as a control group.

The research, known as a field experiment, was unusual, Professor Wantchekon said, because "it involved real candidates in real elections."

But intervening in real elections creates problems, say some political scientists, who argue that potentially tampering with election results is unethical, as is having people unknowingly participate in an experiment.

"There are some major ethical concerns with field experiments in that they can affect election results and bring up important considerations of informed consent," said Rebecca B. Morton, who also teaches politics at New York University.

Professor Wantchekon, who still counts himself among the pro-democracy advocates in Benin, said such concerns were overblown. Villages were carefully screened to help ensure that the experiment would not influence the results, he said. Only villages where the votes were not close in the previous election were selected. (As it turned out, the incumbent, Mathieu Kérékou, a Marxist former military ruler, won). Professor Wantchekon also argued that it was perfectly reasonable not to inform villagers that they were participating in his experiment because doing so would have skewed the study's results. In the end, he emphasized, it would be the villagers who might eventually benefit from his findings.

Professor Wantchekon said his results, which are under peer review, showed that specific promises worked well for incumbents, but not for challengers or underdogs, who won more votes when they used broad appeals. Women also preferred broad appeals. The findings, he added, could sharpen the political debate: "There are clear benefits to voters from this experiment." Candidates courting women, he said, might be motivated to work for more lasting changes in children's health care and education.

To Professor Wantchekon and other proponents of field experiments, that method has a scientific rigor that is lacking in other types of political analysis. It is well accepted in medical research, for example: when scientists test new medical treatments, they compare a new drug to an existing one or to a placebo by testing it on people who are randomly chosen and who do not know which drug they are getting. Random selection gives researchers confidence that any difference in results between the two groups is due to the treatment. Similarly, field experiments, supporters say, promise to shed light on important political questions, from why people vote to what makes for successful welfare reform

There are huge questions that field experimentation cannot answer, for obvious ethical and logistical reasons. For example, what conditions make for a successful coup d'état and what causes genocide? And while scholars might find it useful to identify the reason people don't bother to vote, most would consider it unethical to stage an experiment that kept voters away from the polls.

Kathleen McGraw, who teaches political science at Ohio State University, said that while field experiments provided more rigorous findings that could be used to improve democracy, the ethics of a particular experiment must be considered on a case-by-case basis. "It all comes down," she said, "to whether in specific experiments, the potential benefits outweigh the potential harm" to participants.

One place likely to feel the impact of field experiments, if they become more widely used, is the multimillion-dollar political-consulting industry, which thrives on creating campaign messages of unproven and untested value, said Professor Arterton of George Washington University. "It's an industry that is very skilled at talking about the factors that produce a result," he said, "but it's not very effective. Field experiments could make some political consulting firms out there very uncomfortable."
U.S. Envoy Meets Palestinian and European Officials
Israeli helicopter gunships killed five Palestinians including two children in a missile strike on Saturday, shaking U.S. efforts to broker Palestinian security reforms in the hope of producing a truce.

Two Apache gunships attacked at Tubas village near the West Bank city of Jenin in the afternoon, one missile obliterated a car and three people in the vehicle, Tubas Mayor Diab Abu Khezaran told Reuters.

Medical officials identified them as a militant linked Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, as well as two teenagers, neither of them combatants.

Witnesses said a second missile struck a nearby house -- apparently overshooting the target -- and killed a boy, 9, and a girl, 10, and wounding seven others.

``What is the sense of hitting a building with no militants or wanted men inside, only civilians?'' Abu Khezaran said.

Fresh from what he termed a ``fruitful'' meeting with U.S. Deputy of State Satterfield on Palestinian security reform, Nabil Shaath, Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, expressed outrage at the ``filthy, appalling crime.''

``It is a repetition of previous assassination crimes conducted by Israel aimed at escalating the military situation to avoid sitting at the negotiating table,'' Shaath told Reuters.

Satterfield is reported to be trying to bring Palestinians and the United States closer to implementing security reforms regarded as crucial by Israel and Washington to reviving political talks on a Palestinian state.

A U.S. embassy spokesman expressed regret at the loss of innocent life in Tubas, but said Satterfield's mission would continue.

Earlier, Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razzak al-Yahya said there had been ``positive feedback'' from the U.S. envoy about sending experts, training and equipment to help restructure security services.

Israeli troops in Ramallah arrested Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas political leader on Saturday. The Islamic organization vowed anew to continue what it called its resistance.

Discussion of Washington helping Palestinian security services follows Arafat's comments in August in which he said there was an agreement Americans, Egyptian and Jordanians would ``come and administer the training of our security branches.''

The latest talks also aim to strengthen a fragile security deal that Israelis and Palestinians struck last week, whereby Israel is to ease its military clampdown in the West Bank and Gaza in return for Palestinian security forces ensuring calm.

Palestinians accuse Israel of abandoning the ``Gaza-Bethlehem First'' arrangement that has frayed as violence persists.

The Israeli army has vacated the West Bank city of Bethlehem but says it will only leave six more cities and lift controls over civilians in Gaza when Palestinian police follow through on new commitments to curb militant groups.
A Senior Palestinian Official Urges End to Suicide Attacks
The senior Palestinian security official who has been negotiating with Israel on a cease-fire denounced suicide attacks in an interview published today in an Israeli newspaper as "murders for no reason," and said he was demanding that militant organizations abandon them.

The official, Abdel Razak Yehiyeh, who was appointed Palestinian interior minister in June, said he had told all Palestinian factions: "Stop the suicide bombings, stop the murders for no reason. Return to the legitimate struggle against the occupation, without violence and following international norms and legitimacy."

Suicide attacks, he said, harmed the Palestinian cause. "Children were exploited for these attacks," he said, "when they could have made a much more positive contribution to future Palestinian society."

It was also noteworthy that his comments appeared in an interview with Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot. Mr. Yehiyeh and another ranking Palestinian, Muhammad Dahlan, who is Yasir Arafat's top security adviser, have been seeking in recent weeks to project a conciliatory, moderate image to Israelis.

Mr. Yehiyeh, in his interview, acknowledged that neither Hamas and Islamic Jihad, nor the radical wing of Mr. Arafat's movement, Fatah, have agreed to forswear terror. The extreme organizations have publicly rejected Mr. Yehiyeh's proposals, though talks among the factions continue. The next meeting was set for Sunday.

Mr. Yehiyeh was also the Palestinian official who negotiated with the Israeli defense minister, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, on an agreement to pull Israeli troops back from Bethlehem and Gaza, and eventually other towns, if the Palestinians kept the peace. Though the process stalled after an initial pullback in Bethlehem, Mr. Yehiyeh said Palestinians had "full control" in Bethlehem, which has remained peaceful since the Israelis allowed the Palestinian police to return on Aug. 19.

Both Mr. Yehiyeh and Mr. Dahlan have insisted that they are acting under the authority of Mr. Arafat, the Palestinian leader, who remains secluded in his headquarters in Ramallah. But Mr. Dahlan, at least, urged Israelis not to focus so much attention on the Palestinian leadership.

"Don't waste time on dreams over who will come after Arafat," he said. "For better or for worse, Arafat represents the consensus. Everything else is nonsense."

So far, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, have made no public signs of changing their harsh policies. General Yaalon made headlines over the past week when he declared that if Israel did not defeat the Palestinian Authority, Israelis would face a "cancerous threat." Mr. Sharon declared that General Yaalon's comments were "true and correct."

Israeli military operations in the West Bank and Gaza have also continued undiminished, with daily reports of raids to nab militants, often leading to Palestinian casualties
WDVL: The Flash Animator
In this excerpt from The Flash Animator, Sandro Corsaro shares tips and techniques on drawing in Flash.

Intrigued by digital animation? Know a little bit about Macromedia Flash but are ready to take it to the next level? The Flash Animator will teach you how to create traditional-looking animations faster, cheaper, and with more delivery options. Sandro Corsaro helps you to develop a solid understanding of the principles of traditional animation, and then guides you step by step through bringing those principles to life with Macromedia Flash. Topics range from creating basic ball bounces to managing complex character design, sound, and optimization issues.
Security Alert: Internet Explorer Hole Exploited For Banking Hack
A flaw in Microsoft's implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) in Internet Explorer, which was recently reported on ExtremeTech, has been used to hijack online banking systems.

According to Reuters, a Swedish hacker has demonstrated that this flaw can be used to subvert Internet banking systems. During the demonstration, the hacker transparently transferred money into his account from other unsuspecting customers.

Luckily for those customers, and the bank, this particular incident was only a benign demonstration. However, it graphically illustrates the tenuous state of online banking security. Based on the results of this demonstation, it is quite possible that others are exploiting this same bug to illegally siphon cash from the accounts of personal and business customers using a web-browser to bank on-line.,3973,493241,00.asp

Friday, August 30, 2002

Relatives Recall Deadly Attack on Gaza
It was after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Sharif al-Hajeen recalled today, when Israeli tank shells crashed with deadly accuracy into the plot of fig trees and grapevines in the dunes south of Gaza City where his family works days and sleeps nights during the summer picking season.

Some of Mr. al-Hajeen's brothers and cousins had been sitting on the sand, he said, others were stretched out in the warm summer night, when two Israeli tanks protecting the adjacent settlement of Netzarim crested a rise no more than 100 yards away. The men ducked under a fig tree, and the shells landed among them, followed by machine-gun fire, Mr. al-Hajeen said. Two of his brothers and a cousin were killed. His mother was cut down as she ran to help her stricken sons. A 4-year-old son trailing behind her was among the other family members injured.

About a month ago, Mr. al-Hajeen said, soldiers who came to the family's plot were told that people slept there at night, and the troops gave assurances that as long as no one approached their positions, the farmers would be safe. Tanks often appeared on the dunes overlooking the area, he said, and during the day local children would wave at them.

An army spokesman said the Palestinians had been warned that movement in the area at night was dangerous. On Wednesday night, the spokesman said, troops looking through night-vision equipment spotted people crawling toward Netzarim and opened fire.

Mr. al-Hajeen said he was thrown into the air by the blast, and later crawled to safety, wounded in the legs. The army said it later found "signs of crawling and a cellular phone" at the scene.

The dead were identified as Ruwaida al-Hajeen, 43; her two sons, Ashraf, 23, and Nihad, 19; and a cousin, Muhammad, 18.

The army said that it had tightened restrictions on fire by tanks in the Gaza Strip and that firing would now require prior approval from more senior officers.
Destitution Seen for Palestinians
The senior United Nations official in the region today painted a devastating picture of the Palestinian economy under Israeli siege in which a large majority was "scrambling to survive" on less than $2 a day and despair was fueling ever greater extremism.

"The draconian security measures in Gaza and the West Bank are producing a real humanitarian crisis, which fuels anger and supports terrorism," Terje Roed-Larsen, the United Nations special coordinator here, said at a news conference.

More than half of all Palestinian households have lost at least half their income, and nearly 20 percent have lost it all,"…

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Israeli Raid Kills Four Gaza Palestinians
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer expressed regret for the army's killing of ``Palestinian innocents'' in an assault after midnight on the coastal village of Sheikh Ijleen and demanded the army investigate.

But the apologetic tone did not appease Palestinian anger over the attack, which killed a mother, two of her sons and their cousin as they slept in an outdoor courtyard of their home nestled among fig and lemon trees.

The blasts of several rounds which Palestinian doctors said sprayed thousands of small, dart-like flechettes, left their bodies sliced and torn and spattered the area with blood.

The army has fired such rounds in the past at suspected attackers in Gaza, though the targets have at times turned out to be civilians.

``Members of one family were killed in cold blood,'' senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told Reuters as he stood beside the bodies of the dead in the morgue of Gaza's main hospital.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said in a statement the attack was ``a deliberate crime that aims to sabotage the peace efforts made by our friends, the 'Quartet' (group of international mediators) and...the Arab peace initiative.''

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli tanks entered several hundred meters (yards) into the village south of Gaza City and fired shells toward the al-Hajeen family home, killing the four and wounding at least three other family members.


An army spokesman said troops guarding the nearby Jewish settlement of Netzarim opened fire when they saw ``several suspicious figures'' crawling in the direction of the community.

``Evidence found on the ground later corroborates the suspicion that the figures were crawling. The soldiers then opened fire at the figures who were moving in an open area near the settlement and not inside a house,'' the army spokesman said.

Netzarim and other Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza have become frequent targets for attack by Palestinian militants waging a 23-month-old uprising against Israeli occupation on those lands which they seek for a state.

The attack raised new questions about the army's tactics just weeks after its probe into the killing of a Hamas leader found an intelligence failure led to the deaths of 13 civilians, including nine children, in an air strike on his Gaza home.

On news of the attack in Sheikh Ijleen, family members and neighbors rushed to Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, some embracing one another and weeping in the corridors. A woman fainted as she entered the reception area where the dead were brought in on stretchers, lying on sheets soaked in blood.

``A whole family has been eliminated,'' whispered one shocked relative.

The Gaza raids coincided with a visit by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, the first time in weeks a U.S. envoy has met Israeli and Palestinian officials in the region to discuss ways to restore calm.
Israeli Tanks Kill Four in Gaza Family
Israeli tanks fired shells at a house in the Gaza Strip early today, killing a Palestinian woman, her two sons and a cousin, drawing an expression of regret from the Israeli defense minister and a reported vow of revenge from militants of the Hamas group.

According to reports from Gaza, the tanks raided a village on the coast south of Gaza City, Sheikh Ijleen, and fired. Hospital officials said the dead were members of the al-Hajeen family, Ruwaida, 55; her two sons, Ashraf, 23, and Nihad, 17; and the cousin, Muhammad, 20. Six or seven people were reported injured.

The night before, Israeli tanks, helicopters and naval ships operated on the coast for several hours after having spotted suspicious barrels in the sea. Palestinians reported heavy fire from the ships from midnight through the early morning, apparently trying to blow up the barrels. Later Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said the barrels carried refrigerators that were presumably being smuggled into Gaza.

Today Mr. Ben-Eliezer expressed regret for the army's killing of "Palestinian innocents" in the predawn assault in Sheikh Ijleen.

The defense ministry said in a statement that Mr. Ben-Eliezer had ordered the army to "present him forthwith with its findings on the incident and conclusions for the future."

The deaths were certain to fire new passions among Palestinians. "When there are killings of Palestinian civilians, Israel can expect killings of its civilians," a senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, told Reuters today in the morgue of Gaza's main hospital, where the bodies had been taken.

Under an agreement reached on Aug. 18, Israeli troops were to have pulled back in Bethlehem and Gaza, and then in other areas, if the Palestinian police managed to maintain a calm. But after pulling back in Bethlehem and allowing the Palestinian police to resume control of several checkpoints in Gaza, Israel postponed further actions until at least the end of September.

On Wednesday, Mr. Ben-Eliezer cited reported arms smuggling and a mortar shell lobbed into a Jewish settlement overnight in the Gaza Strip as reasons for indefinitely postponing a meeting that had been scheduled that day with the Palestinian interior minister, Abdel Razak Yehiyeh. That meeting was to have discussed the stalled pact for a limited Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian areas.

He cited security as a reason. Israelis and Palestinians have widely speculated that the big reason was stiff opposition in the Israeli military and lack of support from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The accord has also been criticized by radical Palestinian groups, including the militant Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades cells of the dominant Fatah movement.

At the Gaza hospital, Reuters reported, a relative of the killed Palestinians spoke angrily of the failed agreement.

"Where is Yehiyeh?" he asked, referring to the interior minister. "Let him do us a favor and keep silent."

A poll commissioned by the Search for Common Ground, a conflict-resolution in Washington, found that 62 percent of Palestinians said a new approach was needed in their struggle. A strong majority, from 73 to 92 percent, supported using nonviolent methods like boycotts of Israeli goods or mass protests.

But the poll also found that a majority of Palestinians did not believe nonviolent action would work, and 85 percent agreed with the statement that because Palestinians suffered at the hands of Israelis, "then Israeli civilians should suffer at the hands of Palestinians."

The poll also found that 78 percent of Israelis believed that the Palestinians have a right to seek a state, and 56 percent said the Palestinians have the right to oppose the expansion of settlements provided they used nonviolent means.
News: What are the real risks of cyberterrorism?
In 1998, a 12-year-old hacker broke into the computer system that controlled the floodgates of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam in Arizona, according to a June Washington Post report. If the gates had been opened, the article added, walls of water could have flooded the cities of Tempe and Mesa, whose populations total nearly 1 million.

There was just one problem with the account: It wasn't true.
News: E-terrorism: Liberty vs. security
SAN FRANCISCO--Earlier this year, a few California scuba divers found out just how far the long arm of the law can reach since Sept. 11.

Federal agents concerned about scuba-related terrorist plans requested the entire database of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Unbeknownst to most of its members, the organization voluntarily handed over a list of more than 100,000 certified divers worldwide, explaining later that it wanted to avoid an FBI subpoena that would have required far more information to be disclosed.

Cindy Cohn, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a diver listed in the database, was livid after learning of the incident. Such concerns resonate with particular volume in this liberal city where the EFF is based, which has a long history of protesting government intrusion.

"You participated in creating an FBI file on me and all the rest of your customers, loyal Americans who have done nothing wrong and who now face the process of increased surveillance by virtue of the fact that we did business with you," Cohn wrote in a letter to the Southern California-based divers association.

Since Sept. 11, databases containing information on tens of thousands of ordinary people have found their way into the hands of federal investigators hungry for any scraps of data that might serve as leads in terrorism investigations. Grocery shopping lists, travel records and information from other, more public databases have all been caught in the government's antiterrorism net.

Since Sept. 11, databases containing information on tens of thousands of ordinary people have found their way into the hands of federal investigators hungry for any scraps of data that might serve as leads in terrorism investigations. Grocery shopping lists, travel records and information from other, more public databases have all been caught in the government's antiterrorism net.
The Mustafa assassination followed dozens of other so-called “targeted killings” carried out by Israel during the uprising, and resumed an Israeli tradition stretching back to the early 1970s of liquidating Palestinian leaders and emmissaries. Despite their occasional efforts to retaliate, Palestinian militants had yet to conduct a fatal attack against a prominent Israeli official. In the specific context of the Mustafa assassination, and the general one of an increasingly violent uprising in which the various Palestinian paramilitary formations not only cooperate but also compete to inflict the most painful blow upon Israel, many observers predicted the PFLP would respond by attempting to kill a senior Israeli personality.

Seen from the PFLP’s perspective, perhaps the only candidate with better qualifications than Ze’evi for its retaliatory exercise would have been Sharon himself. To begin with, Ze’evi was at the time of his assassination a serving minister, leader of a political party (which formed part of Israel’s ruling coalition), and a longstanding member of parliament. A graduate of the Command and General Staff College of the U.S. Army, prior to his political debut Ze’evi had attained the rank of general during a lengthy, and often bloody, military career.

Secondly, at the time of the Mustafa assassination Ze’evi was a member of both the Israeli government’s full and security cabinets, and thus shared personal and political responsibility for the killing of the PFLP leader. Additionally, Ze’evi was legally culpable for each and every Israeli attack against Palestinian civilian non-combatants carried out during his term of office not justified by military necessity and conducted pursuant to government decisions he supported; a cursory reading of available human rights reports suggests eventual proceedings would have been rather lengthy.

Ze’evi was also one of Israel’s most visible and bellicose racists. The Moledet (“Homeland”) Party he founded during the 1980s was established for the exclusive purpose of advocating and promoting the mass expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (euphemistically termed “voluntary transfer” in party literature).

While one can question various aspects of the Ze’evi assassination, such as its political utility, it was by any reasonable standard a proportionate response to the Mustafa killing, because it targeted a single individual of broadly similar stature who—unlike Mustafa in relation to the DFLP’s Gaza attack—shared responsibility for the act to which retaliation was being sought.

Although the Oslo agreements commit the PA to prevent any act of violence by any Palestinian (they place no such restrictions upon Israel), there is no suggestion the PA had advance knowledge of the plot and failed to stop it, or was involved in any other way. Rather, Arafat was criticized and condemned in the wake of the Ze’evi killing in the context of the PA’s failure to meet its broader security commitments—obligations the PFLP, which rejected Oslo from the outset, never recognized.

If it seems ironic that Sharon, who ordered the hit on Mustafa, besieged Arafat—who cannot by any standard be considered legally culpable for the Ze’evi killing—in order to force the extradition of PFLP men accused of an act of retaliation against the Sharon government (presumably with the additional objective of deterring Israel from similar attacks in future), there is more. During a previous, albeit less severe, siege of the PA Ramallah compound which commenced in December 2001 and continued intermittently until mid-March of this year, and in which Israeli demands in connection with the Ze’evi case also played a key role, the issue of extradition was never even raised. Rather, Sharon insisted then that the PA fulfil its bilateral treaty obligations toward Israel by itself arresting the remaining PFLP suspects (Sa’adat had been nabbed in El Bireh in mid-January). In order to add weight to its demands, Israel rescinded the unrestricted freedom of travel Arafat had enjoyed pursuant to the Oslo agreements and confined him to Ramallah.

Amid vociferous Israeli accusations that Arafat was extending “protection” to the fugitives in the Ramallah area, the Palestinian Preventative Security Force had located the four in March in a Nablus hideout and detained them after a shootout. The prisoners subsequently were transported to Ramallah in U.S. diplomatic vehicles and there delivered to PA security in an arrangement approved not only by Washington but by Sharon personally. (Like most of the West Bank, the territory between Nablus and Ramallah remains under full Israeli control and the PA feared the men would be grabbed by Israel if it transported them itself.) Sharon demonstratively responded that, since Arafat had met Israel’s conditions, he was once again free to travel—within the occupied territories. Every foreign trip by Arafat, however, would require a separate decision, which, if positive, would not include a guarantee that the Palestinian leader would be able to return.

In August 2001, Washington refused to condemn the Mustafa assassination, did not call upon Israel to arrest those responsible for the planning and execution of the attack and bring them to justice, nor in any way suggest the assassination could influence U.S.-Israeli relations—an important point, given that the killing had been carried out with U.S. weapons funded by the American taxpayer. It responded instead with an oblique reference to its previously stated disagreement with Israel’s policy of assassinations, expressed concern that such attacks could “inflame” the conflict—responsibility for the resolution of which once again was placed squarely on the shoulders of Arafat and the PA—and issued its habitual appeal for mutual “restraint.” If there was any criticism of the Israeli action—and this would be stretching the definition of the term somewhat—it related to the fact that 22 U.S. citizens (none of whom were injured) lived in the building targeted by missile-firing Israeli helicopter gunships.

Seven weeks later the U.S. took a rather different view of such acts. The White House, State Department, and numerous congressional representatives publicly, explicitly, repeatedly, unreservedely, and unambiguously condemned the Ze’evi assassination as an unjustifiable “act of terror,” vociferously demanded that Arafat’s forces hunt down and bring to justice those responsible (and indeed dismantle the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades and all similar formations), severely criticized the PA and (yet again) Arafat personally for their failure to halt Palestinian violence, and made it clear that deteriorating U.S.-Palestinian relations had suffered yet another significant blow and were highly unlikely to be set right unless and until the Ze’evi matter was adequately resolved. One would be forgiven for concluding that the Mustafa killing had been the inevitable Israeli reprisal for the PFLP’s felling of Ze’evi, rather than the other way around.
The Atlantic | September 2002 | Homeland Insecurity | Mann
The Atlantic Monthly | September 2002

Homeland Insecurity

A top expert says America's approach to protecting itself will only make matters worse. Forget "foolproof" technology—we need systems designed to fail smartly
by Charles C. Mann

To stop the rampant theft of expensive cars, manufacturers in the 1990s began to make ignitions very difficult to hot-wire. This reduced the likelihood that cars would be stolen from parking lots—but apparently contributed to the sudden appearance of a new and more dangerous crime, carjacking.

After a vote against management Vivendi Universal announced earlier this year that its electronic shareholder-voting system, which it had adopted to tabulate votes efficiently and securely, had been broken into by hackers. Because the new system eliminated the old paper ballots, recounting the votes—or even independently verifying that the attack had occurred—was impossible.

To help merchants verify and protect the identity of their customers, marketing firms and financial institutions have created large computerized databases of personal information: Social Security numbers, credit-card numbers, telephone numbers, home addresses, and the like. With these databases being increasingly interconnected by means of the Internet, they have become irresistible targets for criminals. From 1995 to 2000 the incidence of identity theft tripled.

…Crypto was not enough to guarantee privacy and security. Failures occurred all the time—which was what Schneier's terrible idea demonstrated. No matter what kind of technological safeguards an organization uses, its secrets will never be safe while its employees are sending their passwords, however unwittingly, to pornographers—or to anyone else outside the organization.

…The way people think about security, especially security on computer networks, is almost always wrong. All too often planners seek technological cure-alls, when such security measures at best limit risks to acceptable levels. In particular, the consequences of going wrong—and all these systems go wrong sometimes—are rarely considered. For these reasons Schneier believes that most of the security measures envisioned after September 11 will be ineffective, and that some will make Americans less safe.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Few Exercise New Right to Leave Failing Schools
The number of applicants is small, superintendents say, because parents seem to want their children close to home, in schools they already know. But also, parents have been given only a brief window in which to apply before classes begin, and because good schools draw the most applicants, they have the least slots available.

Paul Houston, director of the American Association of School Administrators, said that districts have had insufficient time to carry out the new "No Child Left Behind" law, including adjusting budgets that would allow for increased enrollment in better schools. Aside from finding space, superintendents must arrange transportation for students to new schools, hire extra teachers and buy supplies on short notice. In many Southern states, administrators are struggling to comply with the new law without violating desegregation court orders, which assign students to schools on the basis of race.

Educators on both ends of the political spectrum complain that while the law demands that they find slots in better schools, it gives them no means to create them. It also does not spell out penalties, though states could conceivably lose their share of the federal $10.4 billion Title I allotment if they did not comply.

Education advocates like Madeline Talbot, of the Chicago chapter of the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, echoes the criticism from last year's debate.

"This whole choice busing provision was a huge sham for cities like Chicago that have huge numbers of failing schools, and not enough places in good schools for kids to go," said Ms. Talbot, who opposes privatizing public schools and vouchers to pay for private schools.

Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a Washington group that supports vouchers, was similarly disaffected. But she blamed the sluggish local responses, not the law itself.

Federal officials do not have a full count of how many children have been given the option to transfer, and how many have succeeded in doing so, Mr. Hickok said. Education officials contend that the only valid reason for not letting children transfer out of a failing school is lack of space, which they define as levels that violate safety regulations.

The problem of finding slots in coveted schools was raised in Congress last year. Some education advocates proposed busing children to better schools beyond their districts, an idea lawmakers rejected.

The "choice" requirement is the opening salvo in the government's stepped-up battle to improve academic achievement by establishing the threat of dwindling student enrollment and eventual closure. But federal and local education officials acknowledge that the law's real strength comes from its power to expose poor performance.
Study Finds Big Increase in Black Men as Inmates Since 1980
The increase in the black male prison population coincides with the prison construction boom that began 1980. At that time, three times more black men were enrolled in institutions of higher learning than behind bars, the study said.

The report was prepared by the Justice Policy Institute, a Washington-based research and advocacy group that supports alternatives to incarceration.

The study found that in 2000 there were 791,600 black men in jail or prison and 603,032 enrolled in colleges or universities. By contrast, the study said that in 1980 there were 143,000 black men in jail or prison but 463,700 enrolled in colleges or universities.

Some criminal justice experts said it was misleading to compare the two categories because the number in jail and prison includes all adult black men 17 years or older, while the number in institutions of higher learning is confined to a narrower student-age population in their late teens and early twenties.

But Todd Clear, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, said the study's findings were still significant and "tell us there has been a public policy far overemphasizing investment in criminal justice instead of in education for this population."

"It tells you that the life chances of a black male going to prison is greater today than the chances of a black male going to college, and it wasn't always this way," Professor Clear said.
Senate Report on Pre-9/11 Failures Tells of Bungling at F.B.I.
In the Moussaoui case, the report found, F.B.I. counterterrorism specialists and the bureau's lawyers were so ignorant of federal surveillance laws that they did not understand that they had ample evidence to press for a warrant to search the belongings of Mr. Moussaoui, a French national who was arrested weeks before the attacks after arousing the suspicion of instructors at a Minnesota flight school.

Instead, the report found, the F.B.I. supervisors and lawyers aggressively blocked the search warrant sought by desperate field agents in Minnesota who believed last August that they might have a terrorist on their hands who might use a commercial airplane as a weapon.

The Minnesota agents had sought the warrant under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which sets a relatively low standard for the evidence required for searches of suspected spies or terrorists; standard criminal warrants require a much higher standard of evidence.

Officials said a search of Mr. Moussaoui's computer and other belongings after Sept. 11 turned up information on commercial airplanes, crop-dusting and a telephone number in Germany for a suspected member of the Qaeda terrorist network.

That evidence, coupled with other information in the hands of the same F.B.I. counterterrorism supervisors last summer, would have provided a "veritable blueprint for 9/11," said Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee and an author of the report.

…He said the decision by F.B.I. supervisors in Washington to rebuff the Minneapolis agents, and the supervisors' ignorance of the standards of evidence required for a search warrant, were "inexplicable."

The bureau officials, the report said, "impose a higher standard on themselves than that required by the Constitution before seeking to obtain a warrant," with the result that important searches of terrorism suspects are not carried out.

In Mr. Moussaoui's case, the report said, bureau supervisors rejected the search warrant request "despite their strong suspicions with respect to Moussaoui." It added, "Without going into the actual evidence in the Moussaoui case, there was ample evidence to confirm these suspicions."

Senate officials involved in the preparation of the Judiciary Committee report said they were eager for its findings to become public in light of last week's disclosure that the nation's secret intelligence court had harshly criticized the F.B.I.'s performance under FISA, and that the court had accused the Justice Department of overreaching in its recent request for broad new powers under the surveillance law.

The court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was established under the 1978 law, weighs F.B.I. applications for wiretaps and other searches of people suspected of espionage or of terrorism. In an unclassified ruling that it provided last week to the Judiciary Committee, and that the panel subsequently released, the court identified more than 75 cases during the Clinton administration in which the bureau had provided misleading applications.

The ruling also rejected a Bush administration request to tear down the "wall" that for years has prevented criminal investigators from being actively involved in counterintelligence wiretaps. The administration had cited the new authority it received under a sweeping counterterrorism law passed after Sept. 11.

…Mr. Specter said the department appeared to have misread the intent of Congress when it passed the antiterrorism bill. He suggested that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department already had ample investigative power under the surveillance law, and that they had failed to use it properly.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Washington Bends the Rules
S omeone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested." So begins "The Trial," Franz Kafka's story of an ordinary man caught in a legal web where the more he struggles to find out what he did wrong, the more trapped he becomes. "After all," says Kafka's narrator, "K. lived in a state governed by law, there was universal peace, all statutes were in force."

With increasing speed, the Justice Department of Attorney General John Ashcroft is starting to resemble the "always vengeful bureaucracy" that crushed Josef K. Recently, in two federal cases, the Justice Department argued that it is within the president's inherent power to indefinitely detain, without any charges, any person, including any United States citizen, whom the president (through the Justice Department) designates an "enemy combatant." Further, the person can be locked away, held incommunicado and denied counsel. Finally, Mr. Ashcroft argues that such a decision is not subject to review by federal or state courts. This situation is beyond even Kafka, who in his parable of punishment and paranoia at least supplied Josef K. with an attorney.

Despite the draconian dictates issuing almost daily from the Justice Department, it is not the watchdogs in Congress but the judiciary itself that is blowing the whistle. The most recent example came from the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the form of an extremely unusual open opinion — only the second in its quarter-century history. The judges of the court unanimously criticized federal agents for misleading the court in applications for secret eavesdropping warrants on 75 occasions during the Clinton administration (as of September 2000) and an unspecified additional number between September 2000 and March 2001. One request was even signed by F.B.I. director Louis J. Freeh.

The F.I.S.C. presiding judge from that period, Royce Lamberth, said in April of this year that Mr. Ashcroft's Justice Department had cleared up some problems associated with approval of wiretaps — the court's main activity. However, Mr. Ashcroft's steady push to increase his department's surveillance powers and subject citizens to investigative methods normally restricted to the tracking of spies has forced the court to publicize its worries. The F.I.S.C. opinion was issued on May 17. It found that the Justice Department wanted to use the U.S.A. Patriot Act improperly. The court's decision is now being appealed by Mr. Ashcroft to the F.I.S.C. appeals court. The May 17 opinion was sent by the F.I.S.C. court to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which released it to the public last Thursday. The committee, like F.I.S.C. itself, has grown concerned by the Justice Department's ever more extensive power.

It is time for Congress to at last hold public hearings on the issue. The problems have become so bad that the court barred one F.B.I. agent — the supervisor in charge of surveillance involving Hamas, no less — from appearing before them again.

What triggered the court's extraordinary public rebuke was Mr. Ashcroft's proposal last March to greatly increase the amount of intelligence information shared between the spies and the cops. Many fear that erasing the line between the two groups will open up, in particular, a Pandora's box of domestic electronic espionage by the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency.
Court Backs Open Deportation Hearings in Terror Cases
"Democracies die behind closed doors," wrote Judge Damon J. Keith for the unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The Bush administration has sought, the panel said, to place its actions "beyond public scrutiny."

"When the government begins closing doors," the panel continued, "it selectively controls information rightfully belonging to the people. Selective information is misinformation."
7 More Israeli Arabs Jailed; Tied to Palestinian Bombing
Israel announced today that seven Arabs with Israeli citizenship had been arrested for assisting a suicide bomber, further heightening apprehensions that Israeli Arabs were increasingly joining in the violent tactics of the Palestinians.

According to officials, the seven men, all from one clan in Bana, a northern village, were seized some time ago by the Shin Ben security service and the police, but the arrests were made public only today. The seven were accused of assisting a Hamas suicide bomber who blew up a bus on Aug. 4, killing nine.

Israeli Arabs can travel freely across Israel, unconstrained by the severe restrictions imposed on the West Bank and Gaza. If they choose, they could have considerable opportunity to prepare attacks.
ZDNet Downloads
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Bush to Call for Fed NOC
The Bush administration has plans to create a centralized facility for collecting and examining security-related e-mail and data traffic and will push private network operators to expand their data-gathering initiatives, according to an unreleased draft of the plan.

The proposed cyber-security Network Operations Center is included in a draft of the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, which was developed by the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board and is due for release Sept. 18.

The call for expanded data collection and analysis results from administration concerns that efforts to secure cyberspace are hampered by the lack of a single data-collection point to detect cyber-security incidents and issue warnings, according to a draft of the plan, which was obtained by eWeek.

Critics, however, worry that such a system would be expensive, difficult to manage and allow government agencies to expand their surveillance powers.
Bush to Call for Fed NOC
News: Why Larry Lessig gets an "F" in copyrights
Lawrence Lessig first came to public attention a few years ago when U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, then presiding over the Microsoft antitrust case, invited him down from Harvard as a special master.

Since then, Lessig--nowadays working at Stanford University--made a name writing and expounding on the danger posed by powerful, entrenched interests in using copyright law to choke innovation and halt the sharing and distribution of copyrighted works online.

But Lessig is also going further. In his latest book, "The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World," he draws a distinction between the intellectual property developed by, say, an Ernest Hemingway, and the intellectual property created by a code jockey.

"When the system protects Hemingway, we at least get to see how Hemingway writes. We get to learn about his style and the tricks he uses to make his work succeed. We can see this because it is the nature of creative writing that the writing is public. There is no such thing as language that conveys meaning while not simultaneously transmitting its words.

"Software is different," he continues. "Software gets compiled, and the compiled code is essentially unreadable; but in order to copyright software, the author need not reveal the source code."

That results in an unfair social arrangement, according to Lessig, who believes that coders (or more likely, the companies they work for) get to enjoy decades of copyright protection (70-plus years) while the public gets nary little in return.

And then punctuating his prose with a professorial flourish, Lessig dismisses this as "a bastardization of the Constitution's requirement that copyright be for 'limited times.'"

Lessig would limit software copyrights to 10 years. After that, the code would wind up in the public domain. I can't think of a better prescription for formalizing the existing constellation of power that favors the Microsofts and Oracles over the small and independent developers.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Israel Postpones Troop Withdrawals From Palestinian Areas
Only a week after Israel announced an agreement with the Palestinians to start pulling back from Palestinian areas, the defense minister said today that there would be no further withdrawals at least until the end of the Jewish holidays in September.

Palestinian officials responded angrily. A senior aide to Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, called it a "dangerous action."

"The Israeli side has no intention to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza," said the aide, Nabil Aburdeineh. "Therefore there won't be any progress."

A week ago, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer announced an agreement with Palestinian security chiefs to start pulling Israeli troops back, starting with Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip, allowing the Palestinians to resume policing the areas. The Palestinian police did return to Bethlehem, which has remained quiet.

But the Israeli Army continued raids in Gaza, and today, after a week of criticism from right-wing politicians and military officers, Mr. Ben-Eliezer announced that he was delaying any withdrawal from Hebron, the next West Bank city scheduled for a withdrawal, for at least six weeks.

Mr. Ben-Eliezer said he barred any further withdrawals because the potential for violence had not abated. "It is pointless to move forward unless there is quiet and the warnings have stopped," he said on television. "In Hebron there are still many warnings. We want to go about this process step by step."

Hebron has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, although there has been some violence, including attacks for which a militant group associated with Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement, Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, has claimed responsibility. In addition, the army has continued its raids into Palestinian towns and villages to seize suspected militants, prompting some shootouts in which several Palestinians have been wounded.

Israeli reports suggested that Mr. Ben-Eliezer's decision was prompted largely by opposition in the military, and by lukewarm support from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Confession Had His Signature; DNA Did Not
Mr. Lloyd's exoneration — the 110th nationally based on DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project at the Cardozo School of Law in New York — occurs as federal investigators continue their inquiry into whether the Detroit Police Department systematically violated civil rights laws. The inquiry is focusing on excessive force, prisoner deaths and the widespread detention of witnesses but includes at least one other case of a confession.

…The question of coercion is a central focus of efforts to change the criminal justice system, like the Innocence Protection Act pending in Congress, which calls for all interrogations of suspects to be videotaped. Videotaping is now required in just two states, Alaska and Minnesota.

"When the police believe somebody's guilty, they conduct a particularly aggressive investigation — they make the person look guilty," said Saul Kassin, a psychology professor at Williams College who has studied false confessions for 15 years. "The question you need to ask in these cases is: Did the suspect produce anything in that statement that the cops didn't already know? If not, you have to wonder."

Barry C. Scheck, the co-director of the Innocence Project and Mr. Lloyd's lawyer, said that the detective in the case, Thomas De Galan, should be criminally prosecuted. Mr. Scheck also called for misconduct investigations into William Rice, the sergeant who oversaw the case, and the prosecutor, Timothy Kenny, because biological evidence available at the time that could have cleared Mr. Lloyd was never pursued.

"This cop had to know, he had to know, that he was feeding a paranoid schizophrenic guy, a guy with a mental disorder, in a mental institution, facts in order to clear a major homicide so everybody could look good," Mr. Scheck said. "If you permit this kind of questioning, you're going to end up not just with innocent people in jail but the real perpetrators still out there."

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Israel Decries Palestinian Security
An agreement calling for Israeli troops to withdraw gradually from Palestinian towns in exchange for security assurances cannot proceed unless the Palestinians do more to stop attacks, Israeli officials said Sunday.

Palestinians accused the Israelis of stalling, insisting Israel has little intention of easing restrictions that have confined hundreds of thousands of West Bank residents to their homes for much of the past two months.

Under the first security accord between the sides in more than a year, Israeli troops transferred control of the West Bank town of Bethlehem to the Palestinians last week and were slated to do the same in parts of the Gaza Strip.

If Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip remained quiet, Israel said it would consider withdrawing from other West Bank towns and cities taken over in June following Palestinian attacks.

While there were no reports of violence in Bethlehem over the weekend, the army said it foiled a Palestinian attack on a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip and that troops in the area came under repeated fire from automatic weapons, grenades and anti-tank missiles. There were no Israeli casualties but troops killed the two alleged Gaza raiders and shot dead a militant during a gunfight in the West Bank town of Jenin.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said further withdrawals envisioned under the accord would not be possible unless Palestinian security forces take measures to head off suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

Another Cabinet minister, Danny Naveh, went even further, saying the security agreement reached last week was ``frozen.''

``They (the Palestinians) haven't done anything serious ... concerning terror and violence,'' Naveh told Israel Radio.

Ben-Eliezer denied the agreement was frozen. Security meetings to discuss implementing the agreement will occur this week, the ministry said.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat accused the Israelis of trying to maintain the ``status quo, to keep the reoccupation, to keep the siege.''

Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh published a statement Sunday detailing his negotiations over recent weeks trying to get militant groups to abandon violence. During a meeting last week, Yehiyeh stressed the importance of the security agreement in removing Israeli troops from Palestinian towns, he said.

However, militants at the meeting repeated their rejections of the plan. Islamic groups in particular vow to continue their resistance until all Israeli occupation has ended.

Meanwhile, Israeli radio aired an interview with an unidentified Israeli soldier who reported looting and assaults of Palestinian civilians by troops in the West Bank town of Jenin during a military incursion there in March and April.

``Soldiers took money, jewelry, electrical appliances, abused people,'' he said. ``They beat them even when it wasn't necessary, when nobody was resisting.''

An army spokeswoman said military police were investigating 35 such cases, involving an unspecified number of soldiers.

In Jenin, gunmen from the Al Aqsa Brigades, which is affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, detonated explosives early Sunday at the office of local Palestinian Gov. Haider Irshaid. Walls and furniture at the offices were damaged seriously, Irshaid said.

The attack followed a heated telephone argument in which the gunmen demanded Irshaid stop conveying Israeli army instructions about the town's curfew. Irshaid publicizes nightly on local television plans by the army to impose or lift the curfew the next day.

The authority of local Palestinian officials has eroded gradually since the latest uprising -- or intefadeh -- began two years ago in the wake of failed peace talks.
Palestinian Militia Executes Woman
A Palestinian militia shot and killed a Palestinian woman suspected of collaborating with Israel Saturday, then dumped her bullet-riddled body on a street in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, the militia said.

Dozens of suspected Palestinian collaborators have been killed since the beginning of a Palestinian uprising in September 2000, but Ikhlas Khouli was the first woman reported executed.

A member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is linked to the Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said the militia seized Khouli, 35, from her house on Friday and took her to a deserted building where they videotaped her confessing that she had spied for Israel.

On Saturday, she was executed as a lesson to others who would consider collaborating with Israel, he said on condition of anonymity.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Clash Occurs on W. Bank Near Nablus
Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers on the outskirts of Nablus Saturday after the Israeli army prevented a joint Arab-Jewish peace coalition from delivering food to Palestinians living under curfew for more than two months.

The army fired tear gas and Palestinian youths threw stones, according to witnesses in the West Bank city. No injuries were reported.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, the Israeli army entered a Palestinian police station and arrested a man, whisking him away blindfolded and handcuffed in an armored personnel carrier, witness said.

No details were immediately available on who the suspect was or why he was arrested.

The army said it was investigating both incidents, which underscored the tensions that reign in the West Bank amid the current wave of attacks and counterattacks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders have denounced a U.S. proposal to create a new governmental post to dilute the power of Yasser Arafat, and an official said such disagreements could threaten upcoming Palestinian elections.

Arafat is likely to be re-elected in that vote, despite attempts by the United States to sideline him. U.S. officials accuse him of stoking Israeli-Palestinian violence, and they are calling for elections as part of efforts to persuade the Palestinian Authority to undertake sweeping reforms.

As an alternative to the 73-year-old leader, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- in a meeting in Washington with Palestinian officials two weeks ago -- proposed that the Palestinian parliament choose a prime minister, said Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat.

In a report Friday to an international task force in Paris on Palestinian reform, the Palestinian Authority said it would not agree to changes in the electoral system used by Palestinians in 1996 to confirm Arafat as leader.

``We told them (the United States) that this is not your business,'' Erekat said. ``We were shocked during the discussions that the American side is speaking about changing the law of elections.''

The United States, he said, is trying to delay the balloting.

Raanan Gissin, adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, confirmed the United States proposed a parliament-chosen prime minister as a way of sidestepping Arafat.

``They (the Palestinians) rejected that,'' Gissin said. ``The election as proposed in its current state will only ensure that the same people and the same reign of terror will be re-established.''

Palestinians refer to Arafat as their president. The Israelis refer to him as ``Chairman Arafat,'' saying there's not yet a Palestinian state to be president of.

On Saturday, about 400 members of the Israeli Jewish-Arab peace group Taayush, or Coexistence, tried to deliver food to Palestinians near Nablus, but were stopped by the army, demonstrators said.

Military officials said the demonstrators, all Israeli citizens, were blocked by the army because they had not coordinated their entry into Palestinian areas with the army's civil administration. Shortly after violence broke out in September 2000, the government banned citizens from entering Palestinian areas without permission because of security fears.

Witnesses said the group managed to get some food to local Palestinians.
Israel, Palestinians Stall on Gaza-Bethlehem Plan
An Israeli-Palestinian arrangement to ease Israel's military clampdown on Palestinian areas stalled on Saturday with violence in the Gaza Strip and the failure of joint security talks on a new Israeli pullout.

Israel pulled troops out of the West Bank city of Bethlehem early this week under a security deal which also called for lifting restrictions on Palestinian travel in Gaza in return for Palestinian security forces curbing violence in those areas.

But no such measures were seen in Gaza and a new round of talks failed to produce agreement on an Israeli withdrawal from Hebron, one of six West Bank cities that remain under a military reoccupation launched after suicide bombings in Israel in June.

``Israel has frozen the agreement,'' Nabil Abu Rdainah, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, told Reuters on Saturday. ``The Israeli side has no intention to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza. Therefore there won't be any progress.''

The so-called ``Gaza-Bethlehem First'' plan has been viewed as a trial case for a wider cease-fire to end 22 months of bloodshed since a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation began in September 2000 after peace talks froze.

A senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem said a rash of shootings and an attempted attack on a Jewish settlement in Gaza had halted further progress in easing military blockades there.

The source was referring to an attempt by two Palestinian gunmen to infiltrate the Kfar Darom settlement on Friday. They were shot dead by Israeli troops on guard in the area.

On Saturday, Israeli troops demolished three Palestinian houses west of Kfar Darom near the town of Deir al-Balah, witnesses and security officials said.

Israeli and Palestinian security commanders held talks on Friday to lift restrictions in other West Bank areas, including Hebron, but the meeting broke off without agreement.

``The Israeli side said that at this stage it would not make any further security-related changes. These will depend on extended Palestinian action against terror,'' an army statement said, adding dialogue would resume soon.

But the diplomatic source said a pullout from Hebron may be delayed by at least one month due to warnings that Jewish pilgrims to the city revered as the burial place of Abraham may be targeted during a season of Jewish holidays in September.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attempted Gaza raid, a sign that an appeal by the Palestinian Authority for militant groups to exercise restraint had gone unheeded.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both sworn to Israel's destruction, rejected the plan, vowing to continue attacks against Israelis.

In Paris, an international task force including members of the ``quartet'' of Middle East peace brokers raised concern about ``the deteriorating Palestinian humanitarian situation'' due to prolonged Israeli military closures and curfews.
Saudis Said to Detain 9/11 Suspect
A man wanted by FBI for alleged links to the Sept. 11 hijackers has been detained by the Saudi authorities, his father said Saturday.

Saud Abdulaziz Saud al-Rasheed surrendered voluntarily to the Interior Ministry on Thursday, said his father.

The FBI issued a bulletin Tuesday night seeking the immediate arrest of the 21-year-old Saudi man, saying he was suspected of being ``associated with the September 11, 2001 hijackers.''

Abdulaziz Saud al-Rasheed said he had urged his son to turn himself in to the ministry because he was sure of the young man's innocence and feared for his safety after the FBI alert.

The elder al-Rasheed, who works for the Saudi Red Crescent society in the capital Riyadh, denied the FBI accusations against his son, calling him a peaceful person who ``has nothing to do with terror networks.''

He said his son was in Egypt when the alert was issued and returned to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Saud al-Rasheed, who runs a small sweet shop in Riyadh, was previously in Afghanistan to take part in humanitarian efforts there and returned the Saudi Arabia several months before the Sept. 11 attacks took place, the father said, speaking from Riyadh by telephone with The Associated Press in Dubai.

``He confirmed to me had no relations with any terror group there, specifically al-Qaida or the Taliban regime,'' he said.

The FBI bulletin said Saud al-Rasheed's current whereabouts were not known. It warned that he should be considered armed and dangerous.

The agency said it issued the alert after an image of al-Rasheed's Saudi passport was found among material ``previously recovered during the war on terrorism'' connected to the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Senior law enforcement officials say al-Rasheed's picture was found among pictures of several hijackers in materials obtained overseas some time ago and recently reviewed at the FBI.

Abdulaziz al-Rashid said the FBI obtained his son's photo from Pakistan.

``Saud told me that he entered Afghanistan through Pakistan and that he gave that particular photo to the Pakistani authorities in his visa application,'' the father said.
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Link to the code is at,,12760_95741,00.html
E-Stats - Main Page

U.S. Census Bureau's new Internet site devoted exclusively to "Measuring the Electronic Economy." It features recent and upcoming releases, information on methods, classification systems, and background papers.

E-commerce data were collected in four separate Census Bureau surveys. These surveys used different measures of economic activity such as shipments for manufacturing, sales for wholesale and retail trade, and revenues for service industries. Consequently, measures of total economic and e-commerce activity vary by economic sector, are conceptually and definitionally different, and therefore, are not additive. The Census Bureau’s e-commerce measures report the value of goods and services sold online whether over open networks such as the Internet, or over proprietary networks running systems such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Although E-Stats does not cover the entire U.S. economy, this report covers North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industries that accounted for approximately 70 percent of economic activity measured in the 1997 Economic Census. The report does not cover agriculture, mining, utilities, construction, nonmerchant wholesalers, and approximately one-third of service-related industries.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Black Farmers Seek Settlements From Bias Suit
Black farmers with well-used tractors and a mule protested today outside the Department of Agriculture, asking for immediate settlement of their cases from a five-year-old lawsuit charging that the government had refused them loans because of their race.

Agriculture Department officials said they planned to continue speaking to the group and hundreds of other black farmers who say they have yet to be paid in the class-action suit, which was settled in 1999 when the government essentially admitted racial discrimination.

The protesters said farmers were going bankrupt waiting for millions of dollars owed them.

"We're not asking for handouts," said Philip Haynie, a Virginia farmer. "We're asking for our due, and we're going to keep on praying and coming back to Washington until we get it."

In the settlement, the government agreed to pay $50,000 to each farmer who had been denied a loan. Those farmers wanting more money would be required to go through a longer procedure.

More than 500 cases are outstanding, the protesters said. The department says more than 10,000 cases have been paid. Mr. Gallegos said he had no date for when the remaining ones would be paid.

…many of the more than 50 farmers waving homemade placards and shouting slogans said the department's announcements were glossing over its legal responsibilities.

"They denied my claim by saying they had no record we were farmers," said Walter Rodgers Jr., who drove to Washington from his home near Coldwater, Miss.

"I am a fifth-generation farmer," Mr. Rodgers said. "We had to stop row cropping because we've run out of money. That's why we're here now. Trying to get something done."
Lawsuits Seek $2.2 Trillion Over 'Junk' Faxes
A coalition of California activists filed a jaw-dropping $2.2 trillion set of lawsuits against facsimile marketer Thursday, saying millions of ``junk faxes'' are clogging the nation's fax machines, jamming communications and possibly endangering lives.

The suits, filed in both California state and federal court, seek class action status and punitive damages against privately held, its telecommunications provider, Cox Business Services, a division of Cox Communications Inc., as well as's advertisers.

``The right to free speech stops at the entrance to my house. You are not allowed to invade my privacy and to use my resources to send your message,'' said Steve Kirsch, a long-time Internet entrepreneur and philanthropist who announced the lawsuits on Thursday.

The lawsuits accuse all the named companies of violating federal laws prohibiting ``junk'' faxes -- unsolicited advertisements or announcements which ``broadcast'' to millions of personal, corporate and government facsimile machines., in a statement, rejected the lawsuits as ``unfounded and absurd'' and said it had the constitutional right to advertise by fax.

But in a decision earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission proposed fining $5.38 million for sending unsolicited advertisements by fax, the largest fine ever proposed for such a violation.

Lawyers in the California lawsuits said they would seek a minimum statutory remedy of $500 per fax from every advertiser who used to send out unsolicited advertisements over the past four years.

``We believe that there are companies with substantial assets in this group. We will seek treble damages of $1,500 per unsolicited fax from and Cox Communications,'' Kirsch said in a statement.

The lawsuits were announced at a news conference at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., where officials said they had also been bombarded with junk fax advertisements sent by computer ``war dialing'' programs that can target numerous facsimile machines simultaneously.

``We have between 80 and 100 different fax machines in the hospital. In one fax machine which we monitored for a period of about four months we received over 500 junk faxes,'' said Mark Zielazinski, the hospital's chief information officer.

In Washington state, the University of Washington Medical Center was almost shut down by a ``war dialing'' assault mounted by a facsimile broadcaster.

``In the past year, made over 1,000 telephone calls at once to the University of Washington Medical Center,'' center spokesman Walter Neary said, adding that the center had since joined with Washington's state attorney general to file suit against the
Secret Court Says F.B.I. Aides Misled Judges in 75 Cases
The nation's secret intelligence court has identified more than 75 cases in which it says it was misled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in documents in which the bureau attempted to justify its need for wiretaps and other electronic surveillance, according to the first of the court's rulings to be released publicly.

The opinion by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was issued in May but made public today by Congress, is stinging in its criticism of the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, which the court suggested had tried to defy the will of Congress by allowing intelligence material to be shared freely with criminal investigators.

In its opinion, the court rejected a secret request made by the Justice Department this year to allow broader cooperation and evidence-sharing between counterintelligence investigators and criminal prosecutors. The court found that the request was "not reasonably designed" to safeguard the privacy of Americans. The court generally operates in secret and is responsible for approving warrants to eavesdrop on people suspected of espionage or terrorism.

The opinion may be important in documenting why the F.B.I. was hesitant last summer to seek court authority to search the computer and other belongings of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mr. Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota last August, and F.B.I. officials have acknowledged that their failure to investigate him more fully was among the mistakes that allowed the Sept. 11 hijackers to operate in the United States undetected in the weeks before the attacks.

Officials have previously acknowledged that at the time of Mr. Moussaoui's arrest, the F.B.I. was wary of making any surveillance requests to the special court after its judges had complained bitterly the year before that they were being seriously misled by the bureau in F.B.I. affidavits requesting surveillance of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group.

As a result of the complaints, the Justice Department opened an internal investigation of the conduct of senior F.B.I. and Justice Department officials. Department officials said the inquiry was still under way and could result in disciplinary action.

In its opinion made public today, the court, which is based in Washington, documented the "alarming number of instances" during the Clinton administration in which the F.B.I. might have acted improperly.

The opinion was part of a package of material presented this week by the court to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is reviewing requests by the Justice Department for even broader investigative powers in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The committee released the documents today, along with a statement from the panel's chairman, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who said, "this ray of sunshine from the judicial branch is a remarkable step forward for constructive oversight."

In weighing eavesdrop requests, the special court, which was created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and was recently expanded from to 11 members from 7, is responsible for enforcing provisions of the law that limit the sharing of electronic surveillance from intelligence or terrorism cases with criminal investigators; the limitations are intended to uphold the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.

Because the standards of evidence required for electronic surveillance are much lower in many intelligence investigations than in criminal investigations, the authors of the law wanted to prevent the dissemination of intelligence information to criminal investigators or prosecutors.

But in a number of cases, the court said, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department had made "erroneous statements" in eavesdropping applications about "the separation of the overlapping intelligence and criminal investigators and the unauthorized sharing of FISA information with F.B.I. criminal investigators and assistant U.S. attorneys."

"How these misrepresentations occurred remains unexplained to the court," the opinion said.

In essence, the court said that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department were violating the law by allowing information gathered from intelligence eavesdrops to be used freely in bringing criminal charges, without court review, and that criminal investigators were improperly directing the use of counterintelligence wiretaps.

The opinion said that in September 2000, "the government came forward to confess errors in 75 FISA applications related to major terrorist attacks directed against the United States — the errors related to misstatements and omissions of material facts."

In one case, it said, the error appeared in a statement issued by the office of Louis J. Freeh, then the F.B.I. director, in which the bureau said that target of an intelligence eavesdropping request "was not under criminal investigation."

In March of 2001, the court said, "the government reported similar misstatements in another series of FISA applications in which there was supposed to be a `wall' between separate intelligence and criminal squads in F.B.I. field offices to screen FISA intercepts, when in fact all of the F.B.I. agents were on the same squad and all of the screening was done by the one supervisor overseeing both investigations." The location of the squad and the nature of the inquiry were not described.
1,200 Starbucks offer wireless jolt - Tech News -
Starbucks is now serving up high-speed wireless Internet access at about 1,200 of its coffee shops, the company said Wednesday.

The Seattle-based coffee shop operator has surrounded the shops with a local area network supplied by T-Mobile, which is the wireless division of Germany's Deutsche Telekom, and computer maker Hewlett-Packard, the three companies said in a joint statement.

The three aim to offer the wireless Net access at up a total of 2,000 cafes in the United States as well as Europe, including Berlin and London, by the end of the year.

Hewlett-Packard is offering free software, so that notebooks and handhelds with wireless antennas can sniff out the coffee shop networks via the Starbucks Web site.

T-Mobile will act as the Internet service provider for a fee but will give free 24-hour trials to first-time users.
Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance
Converging Technologies
for Improving Human Performance:
Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Data Show Growing Trend Toward Permanent Layoffs
Permanent layoffs surged from 1999 through 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday in releasing the results of a survey that is the government's most comprehensive assessment of how frequently workers are dismissed from their jobs.

The 9.9 million people who lost their jobs in that three-year period represented an unusually high 7.8 percent of the nation's work force. The economy moved from boom in 1999 to recession in 2001, and half of the layoffs came in that last hard year, when the unemployment rate suddenly shot up.

Compounding the damage from the surge in layoffs, employers cut back on hiring. More than 800,000 job openings disappeared from May of last year to May of this year, a decline of nearly 19 percent, the bureau reported last month.

"You can have a high job displacement rate in a dynamic economy when there are lots of job openings for people to go to," said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard University labor economist. "But now there is a lot of displacement with a low level of job openings," and that is hardship.

Even in 1999 and 2000, which were years of strong growth and unemployment rates at 25-year lows, permanent layoffs were sufficiently frequent and widespread to suggest to many economists that the practice had become entrenched in the American workplace in the best as well as the worst of times.

"These numbers show a relatively high level of job displacement even when the unemployment rate was very low," said Ryan Helwig, the economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics who wrote the latest job displacement report. It is based on a survey every two years of 60,000 households.

The new report confirmed trends that have been developing for more than a decade. Permanent layoffs, also known as downsizing, no longer dip as sharply in the expansion periods between recessions. In addition, their constant presence has generated job insecurity, many economists say. That insecurity, in turn, has damped wage demands.

In fending off pressure to increase interest rates in the late 1990's, for example, Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, cited job insecurity as a reason the falling unemployment rate would not produce the inflationary wage pressures characteristic of tight labor markets in the 1970's and 1980's. His resistance to rate increases, in turn, helped to sustain the expansion. The low rates encouraged borrowing to finance spending.

Among the 9.9 million people who said in the latest survey, conducted in January, that they had lost a job in the previous three years, 64.4 percent were working again at the time of the survey, in most cases full time. An additional 22 percent were unemployed and seeking work, while 14 percent had dropped out of the labor force.

The 64.4 percent re-employment rate was significantly below the rate in the three previous surveys. It matched, in fact, the difficulty in landing another job during the early 1990's recession, when the unemployment rate rose above 7 percent. It is 5.9 percent now, up from 4.3 percent early last year.

Those who managed to land full-time jobs after having been laid off from 1999 through 2001 did so at a sacrifice. Their median weekly wage in their new job was $571, down from $609 in the lost jobs.
Jerusalem Ex - Mayor Urges Arab Control of Some Areas
Israel must give the Palestinians control over parts of the city, including Muslim holy sites, to help bring peace to the Middle East, former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek said Thursday.

Kollek, who governed for 27 years, weighed in on the volatile issue of the city's status a day after Israel said it had arrested four East Jerusalem Arabs accused of mounting attacks that killed 35 people, including five Americans.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want the eastern part of the city for the capital of a future state, while Israelis consider Jerusalem their united capital.

Kollek, 91, who worked for reconciliation between Jews and Arabs during his tenure that ended in 1993, said Israelis would have to make concessions on Jerusalem if it wanted peace.

``I think that we have to reach a deal. As part of the arrangement, something must be given to them (the Arabs),'' the former politician told Israel's Army Radio.

``We will not achieve calm without giving them some of what they want to have control over of, viewing it as Arab land,'' he added.
con·cept: August 2002