3/22/03 Special Edition Newsletter



  • The Real Meaning of "Red Alert"
  • Scalia Says War Justifies Rights' Recess
  • Dissenters to be Shot on Sight?
  • Even Your Luggage Had Better "Toe the Line"
  • Terror Attack by FBI/INS on Students
  • While Economy Withers, One Industry Thrives
  • If You Were Troubled By Patriot Act I, Get a Load Of Patriot Act II

As Bush wages his illegitimate oil war in Iraq, this special edition of our email newsletter will examine aspects of the war at home--attacks on our constitutional rights and efforts to quash and criminalize dissent.

Red alert? Stay home, await word
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Gannett State Bureau

If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."

A red alert means there is a severe risk of terrorist attack, according to federal guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations," says the state's new brochure on dealing with terrorism.

"You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."

Caspersen went further than the brochure. "The government agencies would run at a very low threshold," he said.

"The state police and the emergency management people would take control over the highways.

"You literally are staying home, is what happens, unless you are required to be out. No different than if you had a state of emergency with a snowstorm."

Justice Scalia says war justifies rights' recess
The Anchorage Daily News
Tues, March 18, 2003
The Associated Press

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (March 18, 7:06 p.m. AST) - The government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday. "The Constitution just sets minimums," Scalia said after a speech at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland. "Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires."

Scalia, one of the court's most conservative judges, was responding to a question about the Justice Department's pursuit of terrorism suspects and whether their rights are being violated.

Scalia did not discuss what rights he believed are constitutionally protected, but said that in wartime, one can expect "the protections will be ratcheted right down to the constitutional minimum. I won't let it go beyond the constitutional minimum."

Scalia was interrupted once briefly by a protester who shouted an anti-war statement. The protester was removed from the room by security officers but was not arrested.

Scalia stopped speaking during the scuffle, then joked that the protest probably was more interesting than his topic, which was the constitutional protection of religions.

Shoot-to-kill warning

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California -- Security forces at Vandenberg Air Force Base are allowed to use "deadly force" in some cases if antiwar demonstrators infiltrate the military complex, officials said.

Some antiwar activists have announced plans to trespass in hopes of disturbing Vandenberg's mission and to vandalize sensitive equipment they believe helps the war effort.

Vandenberg officials revealed Friday military security police have always been allowed to shoot to kill, if necessary, to protect base residents and equipment.

It is more critical now that people understand the severity of that policy, a base spokesman said.

"This is not fun and games anymore," said Maj. Stacee Bako. "We're living in post-9-11. We don't know what's going to happen with the war effort in Iraq."

Military police will use their judgment, experience and training to determine if lethal force is necessary, she said.

"It's impossible for us to determine what their intent is," she said.

"Are they protesters? Are there terrorists in that group and (do) they plan on killing everyone on base?"

The policy will not deter protesters, said Peter Lumsdaine of the Vandenberg Action Coalition, one of the organizers of the planned trespassing.

"I think it does underline that people in the non-violent resistance movement are willing to take some risks," Lumsdaine said.

Chilling message from TSA baggage checker about anti-war signs
Passenger finds 'chilling' note from bag handler

SEATTLE, Washington (AP) --An airline passenger who had two "No War with Iraq" signs in his suitcase says the federal security agent who opened his luggage inserted a note criticizing his "anti-American attitude."

"I found it chilling and a little Orwellian to have received this message," said Seth Goldberg, 41, of Cranbury, New Jersey.

Federal Transportation Security Administration officials are investigating. Goldberg says that after a March 2 flight from Seattle to San Diego, California, he opened his bag and found a card notifying him that TSA had opened and searched it.

A handwritten note on the card said: "Don't appreciate your anti-American attitude!"

He said it would have been hard for anyone else to have placed the note because when he claimed the bag in San Diego the zipper pulls were sealed with nylon straps that indicated a TSA inspection.

If a TSA employee placed the note, "we will take appropriate and swift action," TSA spokesman Brian Turmail said Saturday from Washington, D.C. "That is not appropriate behavior and not within the very high expectations we hold ... and that the American public has a right to expect," Turmail added.

Screeners are trained "in a range of customer service issues ... to assure the security process is polite, professional and appropriate," Turmail said. Goldberg said he picked up the anti-war signs in Seattle.

"In New Jersey there's very little in the way of protest and when I got to Seattle I was amazed how many anti-war signs were up in front of houses," he said.

FBI & INS Gestapo-like Actions at the Univ of Idaho
From: Prof. Elizabeth Brandt from Univ. of Idaho:

Well, yesterday was an exciting day in my small town. The FBI flew in 120 agents, fully armed in riot gear, on two C-17 military aircraft (I think -- they were BIG planes) to Moscow, Idaho (population 17,000 +/-) to arrest one Saudi graduate student for visa fraud. The raid went down In University of Idaho student housing at 4:30 a.m. in the morning, terrorizing not only the suspect's family (he lived in student housing with his wife and three elementary school age children) but also the families of neighboring students who were awakened by the shouting and lights and were required to remain in their homes until after 8:30 a.m.

At least 20 other students who had the misfortune to either know the suspect or to have some minor immigration irregularities were also subjected to substantial, surprise interrogations (4+ hours) although none were detained or arrested yesterday. Now, however, a witch hunt for additional unnamed suspects who supposedly helped the guy who was arrested is on.

The INS and FBI are working together using gestapo tactics to question the students -- threatening their immigration status (and hence their education) if they don't answer questions which are really aimed at the criminal investigation. They have also threatened their partners and spouses with perjury charges if they don't talk.

I spent yesterday working with our immigration clinic director and local criminal defense attorneys to organize legal representation for the students who are being swept into the hunt for co-conspirators. We have reached out to our entire area (40 -mile radius) to find enough attorneys. Now I'm working on getting resources and support to them. The Saudi government is providing financial support.

Reading about this stuff is one thing. Having it in your backyard is another. The international students at the University of Idaho are terrorized and scared.

Elizabeth Barker Brandt
University of Idaho College of Law

If you're under FBI surveillance ...

If you're under FBI surveillance, there's a good chance your phone calls and Internet traffic are traveling over the equipment of Verint Systems -- a company that's doing very well these days, writes SecurityFocus' Kevin Poulsen.

New York-based technology firm Verint Systems recently launched a product called "IntelliFind" that claims impressive capabilities. The system is designed to be attached to the phone lines at a company's call center, where it silently monitors every telephone call, and -- using advanced voice recognition technology -- picks out conversations in which certain keywords are spoken, dumping a digital recording into a searchable database. "You can decide you want to see all the calls where product 'xyz' was mentioned, and then you can pick one and listen to that entire call," says Alan Roden, Verint's VP of corporate development.

If IntelliFind sounds like something that would normally be found on a supercomputer humming in an NSA basement, there's a reason. Behind business intelligence offerings like IntelliFind, and a line of networkable video cameras, Verint is a leading maker of electronic surveillance equipment and software for the United States and other governments. And it turns out that while other technology firms are struggling in a down economy, the business of helping governments with their spying may be a growth industry. In quarterly results announced Wednesday, Verint, a subsidiary of Comverse Technology, posted record sales of $42 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2002 -- the company's third straight quarter of growth since going public in May 2002.

"During the year we believe that a greater interest in gathering intelligence to prevent criminal activity by government and law enforcement agencies resulted in greater demand for our communication interception solutions," said company president Dan Bodner in a conference call for analysts. "Over the past year we enhanced our competitive position by entering new markets, expanding our customer base, and introducing new capabilities for the analysis of content and culled data collected from wireline, wireless and data networks."

Among those new markets was an unnamed country "in the Latin America region" whose government recently placed a multi-million dollar order for communications interception systems, said Bodner.

Bodner didn't say what the Latin American government bought with that money, but the mainstay of Verint's electronic surveillance business is its "STAR-GATE" and "RELIANT" products, which operate on the supply and consumption sides of domestic spying respectively. The RELIANT system acts as a government agency's big ear, collecting and managing intercepted voice, e-mail, fax, SMS, data, chat, and Web browsing -- all on a single platform. On the delivery side, STAR- GATE does the actual wiretapping, and is primarily marketed to telephone companies trying to comply with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which requires telecommunications carriers to keep their networks wiretap friendly for the FBI. An ISP version of STAR-GATE lets Internet providers conduct lawful surveillance of their customers and send the intercepted data to law enforcement over private networks.


With recent legislation and court decisions granting U.S. law enforcement agencies greater spying powers than they've had since the Nixon administration, government surveillance solutions look like a good bet, and other technology companies are getting in on the game. Last Fall, VeriSign launched its "NetDiscovery" service -- a turnkey CALEA solution for telephone companies that sends intercepted communications to law enforcement over a national IP- based network, using Verint STAR-GATEs for the taps. And last August, computer security company Network Associates got into the Carnivore business with its acquisition of Utah-based Traxess, makers of the "DragNet" Internet spy tool.

And for every company that makes the news with a surveillance system, there may be countless more that nobody's ever heard of. When the non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center recently obtained a list of companies vying for a piece of the Defense Department's "Total Information Awareness" computerized spying project, the list of bidders included nearly as many obscure companies as it did brand name defense contractors. "It looks like there's this whole world of these little security technology companies that are probably doing well these days," says EPIC attorney David Sobel.

But Gartner analyst John Pescatore isn't convinced that there's big money in domestic surveillance. Instead, he says, the real opportunities are in helping the U.S. perform surveillance internationally. Indeed, according to its quarterly report, Verint has a subsidiary that provides communications interception solutions to what's described demurely as "various U.S. government agencies." The subsidiary's offices hold a facility security clearance from the Defense Department, and are located in Chantilly, Virginia, a stone's throw from most of America's intelligence agencies.

"Certainly with the USA-PATRIOT Act and all this homeland security stuff, there's been more effort in domestic collection," says Pescatore. "But the domestic type money has been a lot slower to start flowing than the national intelligence stuff... There's been definite growth there."


[One aspect this press release doesn't mention is a provision in PATRIOT II that would allow feds to strip a person of their US citizenship based on secret evidence or alleged association with organizations the government declares as "terrorist"--all without legal recourse.--ed]

On Eve of War, New Right-Left Letter Opposes Justice Department Plans for Legislation That Would Diminish Liberty, Fail to Bolster Security
March 17, 2003
Contact: [email protected]

WASHINGTON ­ As war with Iraq looms ­ and fears of possible new terrorist attacks grow -- a right-left letter to Congress said today that follow-up legislation to the USA PATRIOT Act would do little to bolster security in the United States while inevitably infringing on fundamental American freedoms.

A previous anti-terrorism law, the USA PATRIOT Act, was rushed through Congress in October 2001 in a crisis atmosphere. "Some in the Administration might be tempted to use this national crisis to try to intimidate Congress into passing another PATRIOT-style bill," said Timothy Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "They should think twice," Edgar added. "Americans agree that our safety need not come at the expense of our freedom."

Sixty-seven organizations expressed their concerns in a letter sent today to every Member of Congress. Its strange-bedfellows signatories represented groups as far apart on the political spectrum as the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Gun Owners of America, the ACLU, the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza. People of faith also expressed opposition to the Justice Department plans, including the American Baptist Churches USA, Presbyterian Church USA and the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.

The Department of Justice has been drafting the new legislation -- called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (DSEA), but nicknamed PATRIOT II -- in secret over the past several months. The draft language, which was leaked to the media last month, contains a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers and expands on many provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act.

The big picture implications of the bill, the ACLU said, include a severe reduction of basic checks and balances on the power of the executive branch. "If this proposal becomes law," Edgar said, "it will encourage police spying on political and religious activities, allow the government to wiretap without going to court and expand wiretapping and asset forfeiture laws under an overbroad definition of domestic terrorism."

Reaction to the leaked proposal has been quick and unfavorable. Conservative New York Times columnist William Safire called the draft legislation an "abomination" and Fox News Channel personality Bill O¹Reilly ­ who recently declared "I'm not the ACLU poster boy" ­ is up in arms about several provisions in the proposal, including one that would greatly expand the ability of authorities to collect and keep DNA samples of law-abiding Americans.

The Department of Justice has been tight-lipped about the proposed bill. At a hearing earlier this month, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) quizzed Attorney General Ashcroft about the proposal. In response, the Attorney General, oddly, denied that a final bill existed. "The Attorney General should know that if he goes forward with PATRIOT II as written, he'll be facing opposition from every point on the political spectrum," Edgar said.

The letter can be found at:

Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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