05
17
06

From al-Qaeda to Journalists

On December 17, 2005, President Bush responded to reports that he had authorized the National Security Agency of the United States (NSA) to eavesdrop on the communications of people in the United States, including Americans, without the legally required court orders to do so:

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

In fact, this was not consistent with US law or the Constitution, but many people bought this explanation anyway. The invocation of September 11 still trumps everything else.

Fast-forward 6 months to May 11, 2006, when USA Today reported that the NSA has been recording data on the phone calls of millions of Americans:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans – most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

The “largest database ever assembled in the world”, according to an individual familiar with the NSA’s secret program, may not include recordings of the conversations, but it does include the time, duration, and phone numbers of each call. This is more than enough to gain intimate insight into private lives.

The information was helpfully provided to the NSA – without warrants – by some of America’s biggest telecommunications companies: AT & T, Verizon, and BellSouth, who provide phone service to more than 200 million US customers.

Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary, responded to the renewed controversy over NSA surveillance activities by saying they are “lawful, necessary and required to protect Americans from terrorist attacks”.

Meanwhile, the FBI is seeking the phone records of journalists involved in leaks of secret information – like the one that revealed the existence of the NSA’s phone record mining operation – in order to identify their sources.

Given the close cooperation between agencies like the FBI, the CIA and the NSA, how long will it be before the FBI has access to this massive database of telephone calls, if they don’t have it already?

From tracking down al-Qaeda operatives to prosecuting journalists who are critical of the administration, and their sources, in just six months. What’s next?

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05
15
06

Pics from Cuba

Cuba 2006

I have posted up some of the pictures we took in Cuba. Use the Next link in the top left-hand corner to navigate the photos (clicking Previous will bring you to other unrelated photos).

05
15
06

Ethics

I strolled into my backyard on Saturday, drink in hand, to see how the garden was doing after our week away.

Rosie, one of our neighbours’ children, was vigorously hammering away at something over the fence.

“Hi Rosie,” I said.

“Hi,” she replied, ringlets bouncing as she thumped away.

I continued to inspect the garden.

“We chopped a worm in half,” remarked Rosie.

“Really?”

“Do you want to see it?”

I walked over to side of the fence and peered over at the table she was working at. She pointed out the remains of the worm. Half of its gray, meaty length led to a large splat mark and chunks of glistening worm guts. The second half of the worm was missing.

“That wasn’t very nice for the worm,” I said.

“Yeah, but it was dead already,” she chirped. “So that’s okay.”

05
05
06

Sayonara

My beautiful and wonderfully loving and affectionate wife and I travelled to Varadero, Cuba for our honeymoon almost two years ago. At our wedding my mom slipped me a note. It said, “Did you know that Cuba has more imprisoned journalists than any other country in the world?”

I’m pleased to be able to say that today, we will be supporting everyone’s favourite dictator and reporter-imprisoner, Fidel Castro, by once again travelling to the beautiful country of Cuba and injecting large sums of tourist dollars into their liquor industry.

If I can find Internet access while I’m there – our “4″ star hotel no longer provides it, for some reason – I’ll keep you updated, otherwise, we’re back next Friday.

05
03
06

Pandora

There is a great new web startup company called Pandora that you really have to check out. It’s like an Internet radio station, except that you create your own stations by telling it what songs or artists you like. It takes those songs or artists and starts playing music that is similar. As you hear songs you can train your station by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to the songs it plays.

I have been rocking out all morning to my latest station, which I have dubbed Hard as Nails Bitch, that features the finest in modern hard rock and classic screaming guitar 80s metal.



Life, politics, code and current events from a Canadian perspective.

Adrian Duyzer
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