Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Contrary Brin misc aside: send books to soldiers/sailors...

We keep saying we're not at war with the Iraqi people. We're not at war with Islam. We don't even seem to be coherently at war with enemies who use terrorism. Instead we're at war with terrorism itself. We might have killed, detained, and yes, tortured fewer Iraqis and Muslims if we were at war with them. We might even apply the Geneva Conventions.

“Reasonable people can have diverse opinions about the war in Iraq. I have expressed doubts here over the way we have fumbled around over there. (As I say below, those who shamefully left Saddam in power in 1991 have no right to preen over sending our troops back 12 years later, to correct their fantastic blunder. At best, they are atoning for a horrible stain on our honor.)

Still, despite grotesque political meddling and the bad apple behavior of some horrid rogues, most our soldiers and beleaguered officers are doing their best in a very rough situation. They deserve support, whatever we think of the War Plan they are forced to execute.

I have long made a habit of mailing crates of books to military units around the world, doing my small bit as an author and reader to help ease the draggy ennui that spans the intervals between episodes of danger and courage. (Lately, the Navy Department gave me a lovely wall chatchki for donating $2,000 worth of hardcovers to ships at the San Diego Naval Base.) ”

War on Blitzkrieg.

War on Saturation Bombing.

How about a War on House to House Combat?

Isn't it time we stopped fighting a tactic and concetrated on defeating the enemy?

Expert: Grokster Decision Won't Negate Sony 'Fair Use' Law

The entertainment industry has been fighting technology in court since the invention of the player piano. American courts have the unenviable job of preserving rights in intellectual property and maintaining an environment where innovation and ideas can flourish. It's a constitutional mandate that in this decision may have been misread.

“The Supreme Court's decision Monday that Grokster and other file-swapping services can be held liable for illegal downloading doesn't overturn the 'fair use' doctrine established in the early 1980s when consumers started buying videocassette recorders to copy television shows and movies, according to a Washington-based copyright attorney.

However, how the law is interpreted by the courts will likely change, due to the massive use of digital technology to download, copy and share millions of music and video files, said Ralph Oman, former federal register of copyrights and currently an attorney in the intellectual property group of Dechert LLP, a Washington-based law firm.

The case of Sony Corp. versus Universal Studios, which established the fair use doctrine, 'is pretty much intact in, perhaps, a way limited by the facts,' Oman said. 'Three of the justices said the Sony decision is irrelevant in this case and three said [Grokster] had met the Sony criteria and by specific acts had violated those criteria of the Sony decision.'The court found that Grokster wasn't "merely selling a device that could be used for infringing activity. It was a device or software that was designed to encourage the illegal activity," Oman said.…

In that case, Grokster couldn't claim that its file-swapping service represented fair use as was deemed legal in the Sony vs. Universal decision.

Oman was one of a group of attorneys and law professors that filed a "friend of the court" brief with the Supreme Court, arguing the view that "Grokster is trading on the illegal activity of its subscribers," he said.

Removing competitors, building barriers to entry, doesn't solve the industries underlying problem. It just treats one of the symptoms.

Companies like Grokster aim to "induce the infringing activity of their customers, and they benefit from that inducement in terms of being able to sell advertising to increase the number of people who are viewing their site," Oman said.

Grokster's business plan "requires acts of infringement on a large percentage scale," and that use is "not shielded by the laws limiting liability in the Sony case," he said.

The key difference between the two cases is that the video players and recorders in the Sony case were analog devices. Owners couldn't easily use their recorders to produce hundreds or thousands of movie videos for their friends or for anyone willing to pay for them.”

So now they'll try to stuff the genie back into the bottle, right after they unscramble the eggs they had for breakfast.

The entertainment industry has been fighting technology in court since the invention of the player piano. American courts have the unenviable job of preserving rights in intellectual property and maintaining an environment where innovation and ideas can flourish. It's a constitutional mandate that in this decision may have been misread.

I think, that even if you could unscramble already eaten eggs, there's no one who will want any. You've got to sell what people want to buy, or persuade them to want what you have to sell. Removing competitors, building barriers to entry, doesn't solve the industries underlying problem. It just treats one of the symptoms.

BitTorrent files of Grokster & Betamax legal documents (from

On Saturday, I created a BitTorrent file of all of the briefs submitted to the Supreme Court regarding the MGM v. Grokster case, which the Court will hear tomorrow. Since then, over 170 people have downloaded the Grokster briefs, which adds up to over 378,760 pages of court documents downloaded in two and a half days. (Update - as of midnight on 4/1/05, over 580,000 pages of Grokster briefs had been downloaded.)

Below are BitTorrent links for the Grokster briefs and two new torrents: one containing documents from the 1984 Betamax case, and one containing mp3 audio files of the oral arguments in that case. (Click here for information about how to install a BitTorrent client; click here for more BitTorrent files containing government documents).

MGM v. Grokster Briefs [
BitTorrent Link]
Contents: All of the briefs submitted to the Supreme Court re: MGM v. Grokster
Size: 20.7 MB (74 files)
Source: U.S. Copyright Office []

Betamax Legal Documents [BitTorrent Link]
Contents: Court documents and briefs from the Supreme Court's 1984 Betamax decision
Size: 4.7 MB (42 files)
Source: the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Betamax case document archive []

Betamax mp3s [BitTorrent Link]
Contents: mp3s of the oral arguments in the Supreme Court's 1984 Betamax decision
Size: 52.7 MB (3 files)
Source: the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Betamax case document archive []

Thanks to these folks, and everyone else, who linked to the Grokster briefs torrent:
"Grokster Briefs demonstrating the point of p2p" []
"Grokster briefs torrent" []

I'm taking the Chinatown bus down to D.C. tonight, with hopes of hearing part of the oral arguments tomorrow morning. Check back here Wednesday for some blogging on Grokster. Journalists/bloggers interested in talking to someone about the political uses of P2P, please email me at and leave a phone number.,1895,1831982,00.asp?kc=ewnws062805dtx1k0000599

Friday, June 24, 2005

The War President - New York Times

America's founders knew all too well how war appeals to the vanity of rulers and their thirst for glory. That's why they took care to deny presidents the kingly privilege of making war at their own discretion.

“In November 2002, Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent, told an audience, ‘I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war’ - but she made it clear that Mr. Bush was the exception. And she was right.

Leading the nation wrongfully into war strikes at the heart of democracy. It would have been an unprecedented abuse of power even if the war hadn't turned into a military and moral quagmire. And we won't be able to get out of that quagmire until we face up to the reality of how we got in.… ”

The administration has prevented any official inquiry into whether it hyped the case for war. But there's plenty of circumstantial evidence that it did.

And then there's the Downing Street Memo - actually the minutes of a prime minister's meeting in July 2002 - in which the chief of British overseas intelligence briefed his colleagues about his recent trip to Washington.

"Bush wanted to remove Saddam," says the memo, "through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and W.M.D. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." It doesn't get much clearer than that.

The U.S. news media largely ignored the memo for five weeks after it was released in The Times of London. Then some asserted that it was "old news" that Mr. Bush wanted war in the summer of 2002, and that W.M.D. were just an excuse. No, it isn't. Media insiders may have suspected as much, but they didn't inform their readers, viewers and listeners. And they have never held Mr. Bush accountable for his repeated declarations that he viewed war as a last resort.

The U.S. news media largely ignored the memo for five weeks after it was released in The Times of London. Then some asserted that it was "old news" that Mr. Bush wanted war in the summer of 2002, and that W.M.D. were just an excuse. No, it isn't. Media insiders may have suspected as much, but they didn't inform their readers, viewers and listeners. And they have never held Mr. Bush accountable for his repeated declarations that he viewed war as a last resort.

Still, some of my colleagues insist that we should let bygones be bygones. The question, they say, is what we do now. But they're wrong: it's crucial that those responsible for the war be held to account.

Let me explain. The United States will soon have to start reducing force levels in Iraq, or risk seeing the volunteer Army collapse. Yet the administration and its supporters have effectively prevented any adult discussion of the need to get out.

On one side, the people who sold this war, unable to face up to the fact that their fantasies of a splendid little war have led to disaster, are still peddling illusions: the insurgency is in its "last throes," says Dick Cheney. On the other, they still have moderates and even liberals intimidated: anyone who suggests that the United States will have to settle for something that falls far short of victory is accused of being unpatriotic.

We need to deprive these people of their ability to mislead and intimidate. And the best way to do that is to make it clear that the people who led us to war on false pretenses have no credibility, and no right to lecture the rest of us about patriotism.

The good news is that the public seems ready to hear that message - readier than the media are to deliver it. Major media organizations still act as if only a small, left-wing fringe believes that we were misled into war, but that "fringe" now comprises much if not most of the population.…

Monday, June 20, 2005

Class Matters - Social Class in the United States of America

“A team of reporters spent more than a year exploring ways that class - defined as a combination of income, education, wealth and occupation - influences destiny in a society that likes to think of itself as a land of unbounded opportunity.…

Multimedia & Graphics From This Series
Interactive Graphics: Where Do You Fit In? Poll Results
Bibliography: Selected Readings Related to This Series

Day 1: Overview
Day 2: Health
Day 3: Marriage
Day 4: Religion
Day 5: Education
Day 6: Immigration
Day 7: New Status Markers
Day 8: The 'Relo' Class
Day 9: The Hyper-Rich
Day 10: Class and Culture
Day 11: Up From the Projects

Times Books will publish the Class Matters series as a paperback in September. A limited number of newspaper reprints will also be available in three to four weeks for $2.50 per copy. To order the reprint, call 1-800-671-4332.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Legal Guide for Bloggers Legal Guide for Bloggers

“Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.…”


Table of Contents…

Blogger Legal Liability Issues

The Overview of Legal Liability Issues FAQ briefly addresses some common legal issues that affect you as a publisher, especially situations where you may face legal claims or threats based on the information you published on your blog.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Intellectual Property addresses issues that arise when you publish material created by others on your blog.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Online Defamation Law provides an overview of defamation (libel) law, including a discussion of the constitutional and statutory privileges that may protect you.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Section 230 Protections discusses a powerful federal law that gives you, as a web host, protection against legal claims arising from hosting information written by third parties.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Privacy addresses the legal issues surrounding the privacy rights of people you blog about.

Bloggers As Journalists

The Bloggers' FAQ on the Reporter's Privilege is useful to bloggers who report news gathered from confidential sources.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Media Access can help bloggers who need to get access to public records and government meetings, as well as secure press passes to help with newsgathering.

Other Legal Issues for Bloggers

The Bloggers' FAQ on Election Law addresses the legal issues you may face blogging about political campaigns.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Labor Law addresses legal issues with workplace blogging, including union organizing, protections for political blogging away from the workplace, and whistle blowing.

Blogger Legal FAQs

Legal Liability Issues
Intellectual Property
Section 230

Bloggers as Journalists
Reporter's Privilege
Media Access

Other Legal Issues
Election Law
Labor Law

Who Pays For This?

Who Pays?
Updated June 13, 2005 15:59 CDT

My apologies for an inaudible audio, problems with ourmedia seem resolved now. — Al Ingram

“I started getting pulled into something--something that craved other peole's pain. Just to make sure I wasn't regarded as a "fucking missionary" or a possible rat, I learned how to fit myself into that group that was untouchable, people too crazy to fuck with, people who desired the rush of omnipotence that comes with setting someone's house on fire just for the pure hell of it, or who could kill anyone, man, woman, or child, with hardly a second thought. People who had the power of life and death--because they could.

The anger helps. It's easy to hate everyone you can't trust because of your circumstances, and to rage about what you've seen, what has happened to you, and what you have done and can't take back.

It was all an act for me, a cover-up for deeper fears I couldn't name, and the reason I know that is
that we had to dehumanize our victims before we did the things we did. We knew deep down that what we were doing was wrong. So they became dinks or gooks, just like Iraqis are now being transformed into ragheads or hajjis. People had to be reduced to "niggers" here before they could be lynched. No difference. We convinced ourselves we had to kill them to survive, even when that wasn't true, but something inside us told us that so long as they were human beings, with the same intrinsic value we had as human beings, we were not allowed to burn their homes and barns, kill their animals, and sometimes even kill them. So we used these words, these new names, to reduce them, to strip them of their essential humanity, and then we could do things like adjust artillery fire onto the cries of a baby.

Until that baby was silenced, though, and here's the important thing to understand, that baby never surrendered her humanity. I did. We did. That's the thing you might not get until it's too late. When you take away the humantiy of another, you kill your own humanity. You attack your own soul because it is standing in the way.… ”

Excerpt from Hold On To Your Humanity: A Open Letter to GI's in Iraq by MFSO member Stan Goff.

Marine Cleared in Deaths of 2 Insurgents in Iraq

By By JOHN DeSANTIS, New York Times Regional Newspapers

Second Lt. Ilario Pantano was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the same two-star general who ordered a formal inquiry.

“The killings occurred on April 15, 2004, near Mahmudiyah, as Lieutenant Pantano led a platoon to search a house suspected of being an insurgent lair. When the marines approached, two men left in a white sedan, according to testimony at the hearing, but were stopped on Lieutenant Pantano's order. No weapons were found on the men, who were handcuffed as a Navy corpsman checked their car for weapons. When he was told that weapons and other contraband were found inside the house, Lieutenant Pantano ordered the men unhandcuffed and then directed them to search their car themselves.

Lieutenant Pantano supervised while the corpsman, George Gobles, and a Marine sergeant, Daniel Coburn, stood facing away as sentries. Lieutenant Pantano said that the men made a threatening move toward him after repeatedly talking with each other in Arabic and that he fired, emptying his M-16 rifle's magazine. He reloaded and emptied the second one, a total of as many as 50 bullets.

He acknowledged placing a hand-scrawled cardboard sign reading "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy" atop the car, against which the bodies lay. The sign and the number of rounds fired, according to lieutenant Pantano's statement, were meant to send a message to other Iraqis about what happens to those who join insurgents.

The sign and its placement resulted in a formal accusation of desecration, in addition to the two accusations of premeditated murder.”

Soldier Charged in Iraqi Killing Is Acquitted


A jury of four soldiers and two officers deliberated for less than three hours before finding Staff Sgt. Shane Werst not guilty of premeditated murder.

“Sergeant Werst testified that he did not regret shooting Mr. Ismail but acknowledged that his efforts to make it look like self-defense were wrong. "I would still to this day fire on that man, sir," he said.

He and a fellow soldier had gone into a house with Mr. Ismail looking for weapons. After shooting him, Sergeant Werst said, he fired the Iraqi's pistol into a couch and told the other soldier, Pfc. Nathan Stewart, to put the man's fingerprints on it.

Sergeant Werst said he had been scared because he had never shot anyone before.

The prosecutor, Capt. Evan Seamone, said the story did not make sense. "If this is a legitimate kill, if this follows the rules of engagement, why in the world would he have to create a lie?" Captain Seamone said.

He cited the testimony of Private Stewart, who said Sergeant Werst had gotten mad because he thought Mr. Ismail had lied about his identity. Sergeant Werst said, "Come on, Stewart, we're going to kill" him, Private Stewart testified.”

We're sending a deadly message, but, not to the insurgents and not to Al Qaeda. We're sending this deadly message to those we profess to help.

Read Hold On To Your Humanity: A Open Letter to GI's in Iraq

by MFSO member Stan Goff.

" Bring 'Em On? " By STAN GOFF, Former Special Forces Soldier and Military Parent, as he responds to Bush's invitation for Iraqis to attack US Troops

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A $250,000 Fine and 10 Years in Prison, Unless…

Ruling Limits Prosecutions of People Who Violate Law on Privacy of Medical Records

“An authoritative new ruling by the Justice Department sharply limits the government's ability to prosecute people for criminal violations of the law that protects the privacy of medical records.

The criminal penalties, the department said, apply to insurers, doctors, hospitals and other providers - but not necessarily their employees or outsiders who steal personal health data.

In short, the department said, people who work for an entity covered by the federal privacy law are not automatically covered by that law and may not be subject to its criminal penalties, which include a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison for the most serious violations.

The reasoning is that federal regulations establish the standards for medical privacy. The regulations apply just to "covered entities," including insurers and health care providers. Thus, only covered entities can be prosecuted for criminal violations of the law.

This interpretation is set forth in an opinion written by the office of legal counsel at the Justice Department. The opinion, dated June 1, is binding on the executive branch of the federal government, but not on judges. It was prepared over the last 16 months to answer questions from the criminal division of the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department.

The ruling was a surprise to many lawyers. Robert M. Gellman, an expert on privacy and information policy, said, "Under this decision, a tremendous amount of conduct that is clearly wrong will fall outside the criminal penalties of the statute," the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

If a hospital sells a list of patients' names to a firm for marketing purposes, the hospital can be held criminally liable, Mr. Gellman said. But if a hospital clerk does the same thing, in defiance of hospital policy, the clerk cannot be prosecuted under the 1996 law, because the clerk is not a "covered entity."

In December 2000, President Bill Clinton issued sweeping privacy standards that affected virtually every part of the health care system. President Bush allowed the rules to take effect with some changes.

The government has received more than 13,000 complaints of violations of the privacy standards in the last two years. The government has not imposed any civil fines, but it has secured one criminal conviction. A Seattle man pleaded guilty last August to wrongful disclosure of personal health information.

The man, Richard W. Gibson, admitted that he had improperly obtained a patient's name, birth date and Social Security account number while working for a consortium of cancer hospitals. Mr. Gibson used the information to obtain four credit cards in the patient's name. Using the cards, Mr. Gibson bought more than $9,000 worth of video games, jewelry, porcelain figurines, groceries, gasoline and other items for his use.

He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

The new Justice Department opinion appears to contradict the legal theory under which Mr. Gibson was prosecuted.

When informed of the new opinion, Gregory L. Ursich, a lawyer for the patient whose rights were violated, said Monday, ‘This is a very bizarre interpretation of the statute.’ ”

So,… will the one convicted thief get out of jail free? Has the Bush Justice Department gone nuts? Was it ever sane?

Tune in folks…, this one will be in the courts for the rest of our lives. It ranks up there with not letting the FBI check the firearms records of the 9-11 hijackers, or not supporting research that could take an innocent life, at least until after they're born, then all bets are off.…

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Turn On, Tune In, ..., Start the Computer Revolution

Almost every feature of today's home computers, from the graphical interface to the mouse control, can be traced to two Stanford research facilities that were completely immersed in the counterculture.…

What the Dormouse Said tells the story of the birth of the personal computer through the people, politics, and protest that defined its unique era.

“What the Dormouse Said:
How the 60's Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry”
(Viking, 287 pages) is John Markoff's hymn to the 1960's, and to the social idealists and, well, acid freaks who wanted to use computers to promote an agenda of sharing, openness and personal growth.

John Markoff is a senior writer for The New York Times who has coauthored Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier and the bestselling Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw.

John Markoff has been writing about computers, technology and the Internet for The New York Times since 1988. Before joining the Times, Markoff covered technology for The San Francisco Examiner and Infoworld, and wrote a weekly column for the San Jose Mercury News.

Markoff started covering technology in 1977, one year after Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple computer, and just two years after two geeks from Seattle -- Paul Allen and Bill Gates -- first got together to write software.

Under Markoff's watch, the idea that everyone could own a personal computer has gone from fantasy to reality, e-mail has transformed how we communicate, and the Internet has given everyone the ability to publish their own version of the news.

Heroic New World? How heroic can you be, if your world is filtered through psylocibin? Could you, stand up for a changed world, stone cold sober. Hacker Culture by Douglas Thomas University of Minnesota Press 2003.

It's not as gripping as “Takedown”with Tsutomu Shimomura, but definitely worth the read.…

Saturday, June 04, 2005

White House Downplays Missing Arms

“The White House on Friday played down a report in which U.N. weapons inspectors documented additional materials missing from weapons sites in Iraq.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Bush administration had taken steps to ensure sites were secured, and he suggested it was doubtful the looted material was being used to boost other countries' weapons programs.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, acting chief weapons inspector Demetrius Perricos said that satellite imagery experts had determined that material that could be used to make biological or chemical weapons and banned long-range missiles had been removed from 109 sites, up from 90 reported in March.

The sites have been emptied of equipment to varying degrees, with the largest percentage of missing items at 58 missile facilities.

For example, 289 of the 340 pieces of equipment to produce missiles -- or about 85 percent, had been removed, the report said.

Biological sites were the least damaged, according to the analysts at the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission.

Perricos said he's reached no conclusions about who removed the items or where they went. He said it could have been moved elsewhere in Iraq, sold as scrap, melted down or purchased.”

Friday, June 03, 2005

Disassembling The Truth

Amnesty International called Guantanamo Bay the "gulag of our time". Bush was scornful of this report. Bush says that some people are "trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means to not tell the truth", happily showcasing his latest line of malapropisms. "'Dissemble' means to not tell the truth. 'Disassemble' is what we did to Iraq," Stewart says.

Cheney had a similar reaction when asked about the Amnesty International report during a Larry King interview. The normally robotic stoic of a man Cheney says he was offended by it. Stewart, everyone's favorite Southern belle cries, "Offended?! Why, he's so sensitive! I declare, fetch that man a faintin' couch and some lemon water. He's got the vapors!"

Iraq: U.S. Checkpoints Continue to Kill

The failure of U.S. forces in Iraq to implement basic precautions at checkpoints has led to unnecessary deaths of civilians two years after these inadequacies were identified, Human Rights Watch said today.

The March 4 killing of an Italian intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari, at a checkpoint in Baghdad highlighted this failure.

After the fall of Baghdad, Human Rights Watch expressed concern to U.S. army ground commanders about excessive civilian deaths at checkpoints. The commanders told Human Rights Watch that they had identified many problems in their checkpoint procedures and were taking steps to correct them.

Again, in its October 2003 report, "Hearts and Minds," Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. military in Iraq to take further steps to better mark checkpoints with lights and large signs in Arabic, initiate a public-service campaign to inform Iraqis of proper checkpoint behavior, and make available interpreters and soldiers with Arabic skills at all times.

"The military should immediately take the basic steps to ensure that Iraqi civilians, as well as U.S. soldiers, are safe at checkpoints," said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. "The fact that soldiers who man checkpoints are at real risk is not an excuse for complacency. These risks should not be transferred to civilians."

The checkpoint killing of an Italian intelligence officer shows that the army still hasn't taken basic precautions to protect civilians. On May 2, the Pentagon released a classified investigation into the checkpoint shooting death of Nicola Calipari on March 4. The Italian intelligence officer was gunned down at a U.S. Army checkpoint while escorting an Italian reporter to the airport after she had been released by Iraqi insurgents who had kidnapped her. The U.S. military investigation exonerates all U.S. military personnel involved in the shooting, but it shows that the army has failed to implement lessons learned during two years of manning checkpoints.

Checkpoints in Iraq pose dangers to both soldiers manning them and persons crossing them. The U.S. military calls the type of checkpoint where Calipari was killed a "blocking position." Blocking positions are checkpoints where military units attempt to turn vehicles away without searching them. According to the U.S. investigation, the military unit in question had been given the Tactical Standing Operating Procedures, but this set of procedures for checkpoints "does not provide guidance on blocking positions."
"There is no evidence to indicate that the Soldiers were trained to execute blocking positions before arriving in theater," the Pentagon report admitted.

The investigation found that instead of following written guidelines, the unit used informal procedures that were passed from unit to unit over time. In fact, according to the investigation, the unit was never trained in the proper procedures to operate a blocking checkpoint.

"Using untrained troops for operations as sensitive as checkpoint duty makes no sense," said Garlasco. "These practices put U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians at risk."

The recommendations of the U.S. military's report mirror many of the issues that Human Rights Watch discussed with U.S. military commanders in Iraq immediately after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. A senior officer with the Third Infantry Division had told Human Rights Watch that the importance of using signs and barriers to slow vehicles was among the lessons from the war being implemented to minimize civilian casualties at checkpoints.

Yet according to the U.S. report, on the night that Calipari was killed, the army company operating the checkpoint did not employ signs warning vehicles to slow down, nor had it deployed rubber speed bumps. These items can be easily carried and placed by the troops as they set up checkpoints. The report recommended establishing a program to inform all Iraqis of how to behave at checkpoints, to require soldiers to consider the perspective of drivers and what they might see, and to implement a "more driver friendly alert signal."

According to the Pentagon report, procedures that should have been in place for checkpoints (though not blocking positions) the night of the shooting included, "an Alert Line, a Warning Line, a Stop Line, a Search Area, and an Overwatch Area." According to the Tactical Standing Operating Procedures, the Search Area should be "a well-lit checkpoint, provide standoff from neighborhood structures, allow a sufficient area to accommodate more than one search team, the establishment of warning signs with sufficient distance for drivers to react, the use of physical barriers to force vehicles to slow down, and other barriers like tire poppers, to block movement of vehicles attempting to continue through the search area."

Furthermore, the report said that units operating checkpoints should have equipment that includes "warnings signs, triangles, sawhorses, traffic cones, and/or tire poppers." None of these items was apparently used the night of this shooting. While some of the procedures for a standard checkpoint were in place, many that may have prevented the shooting of Nicola Calipari were not.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Storm Brews Over Encryption 'Safe Harbor' in Data Breach Bills

“You can encrypt the data with a trivial algorithm and get around [the law]," Schneier said. "If you can get around a law by doing something stupid, it's a badly written law.”
By Caron Carlson

“Spurred by the ongoing flood of sensitive data breaches this spring, nearly a dozen states may have breach notification laws on their books by summer. In turn, makers of security software and companies in several other industries are pressuring Capitol Hill for a federal law pre-empting the states' measures.

In Congress, more than a half-dozen bills requiring a range of data security measures and breach notification rules are pending, and at least two more are slated for introduction in coming months.

These measures—including one under consideration by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., and one in the draft stages by Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio—illustrate one of the most contentious questions in the debate: Should there be a notification exemption for businesses that encrypt their data?

Not surprisingly, industries for the most part are pushing for an encryption exemption to notification, a safe harbor that is included in California SB (Senate Bill) 1386, a notification law that went into effect in July 2003. The growing security software industry, a major ally in this effort, is trying to convince lawmakers that when encrypted data is stolen, the theft poses no meaningful harm to consumers.

"If the data is encrypted, it's gibberish. They don't know what it is. They can't use it," said Dan Burton, vice president of government affairs for Entrust Inc.

Some data security experts contend, however, that an encryption safe harbor could reduce data holders' incentives to implement strong protective measures in the first place. Criticizing the California notification law, Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at Counterpane Internet Security Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said it lets data holders bypass disclosure without necessarily protecting the data.

‘You can encrypt the data with a trivial algorithm and get around [the law],’ Schneier said. ‘If you can get around a law by doing something stupid, it's a badly written law.’

Entrust supports an encryption exemption to notification but not without other security requirements, said Chris Voice, CTO at the Addison, Texas, company. ‘Like any technological approach, it's going to require more than just encrypting the data,’ Voice said. ‘I think security controls will have to be in place regardless.’”

Anti-Spyware Bills Pass House, Move to Senate
“The U.S. House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly passed two separate anti-spyware bills, but as the measures now move to the Senate, legislators will find most of the hard questions unresolved—a familiar scenario in Congress, where similar House bills withered last year following Senate inaction.

The SPY ACT (Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass), authored by Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., takes the more active approach, requiring a conspicuous notice to users before transmitting spyware.

The SPY ACT largely resembles the Senate's SPYBLOCK (Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge) bill, sponsored by Sens. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The sponsors are awaiting a date for a committee hearing on the bill and hope to have one before the end of the summer, an aide to Burns said.

Alternatively, the Internet Spyware Prevention Act, authored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., focuses on penalties for fraudulent or deceptive behavior without targeting any particular technology—an approach favored by the IT industry.

Goodlatte's bill, which passed the House 395-1, makes it a crime to intentionally access a computer without authorization by causing code to be copied onto the computer and using it for malicious purposes.

From the industry's perspective, the Goodlatte approach avoids the possibility of ensnaring legitimate software downloads, such as security patches.”

I'm afraid we're going to get another CAN-SPAM act. Good only for saving legilators ‘phoney baloney jobs.’ Lets make a movie about it.

We an call it ‘Blazing Firewalls.’…,1759,1822182,00.asp?kc=ewnws060105dtx1k0000599
con·cept: June 2005