August Landmesser, Hamburg Shipyard Worker Who Refused To Make Nazi Salute

Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Kill Switch' Internet bill alarms privacy experts

SAN FRANCISCO — A raging debate over new legislation, and its impact on the Internet, has tongues wagging and fingers pointing from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C.
Just as the Egyptian government recently forced the Internet to go dark, U.S. officials could flip the switch if the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset legislation becomes law, say its critics.
Proponents of the bill, which is expected to be reintroduced in the current session of Congress, dismiss the detractors as ill-informed — even naive.
The ominously nicknamed Kill Switch bill is sure to be a flashpoint of discussion at the RSA Conference, the nation's largest gathering of computer-security experts that takes place here this week.
The bill — crafted by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.;Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Tom Carper, D-Del. — aims to defend the economic infrastructure from a cyberterrorist attack. But it has free-speech advocates and privacy experts howling over the prospect of a government agency quelling the communication of hundreds of millions of people.
"This is all about control, an attempt to control every aspect of our existence," says Christopher Feudo, a cybersecurity expert who is chairman of SecurityFusion Solutions. "I consider it an attack on our personal right of free speech. Look what recently occurred in Egypt."
Its critics immediately dubbed it Kill Switch, suffusing it with Big Brother-tinged foreboding. "Unfortunately, it got this label, which is analogous to death panels (during the health care debates)," says Mark Kagan, director of research at Keane Federal Systems, an information-technology contractor for the government.
The disruption to communications and economic activity "could be catastrophic," says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Reasons to flip the 'Kill Switch'

Advocates of a bill to protect the nation's cyberdefenses point to several computer breaches as evidence of a threat to critical infrastructure:

-- Hackers in China may have swiped sensitive information from several international oil and energy companies for as long as four years, cybersecurity firm McAfee said in a report last week. The "coordinated covert and targeted cyberattack" victims included companies in the U.S., Taiwan, Greece and Kazakhstan.

-- Computer hackers have repeatedly broken into the systems of the company that runs the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York over the past year, but they haven't penetrated its trading system. "Whether political or financial gain, it illustrates the fragility of computer networks," says Frank Andrus, chief technology officer at security firm Bradford Networks.

-- The Stuxnet computer worm wiped out about 20% of Iran's nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran's ability to make its first nuclear arms, according to a report this year from TheNew York Times.

-- Cyberattacks in Brazil paralyzed services that affected millions. The first, north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005, affected tens of thousands of people. The second, beginning September 2007 in the state of Espirito Santo, hit more than 3 million people in dozens of cities over two days, causing major disruptions. The world's largest iron ore producer, in Vitoria, had seven plants knocked offline, costing the company $7 million. It is unclear who orchestrated the attacks or why.

-- In March 2001, a disgruntled former employee in Australia was convicted of using a computer and radio gear to hack into a computerized sewage system and release millions of liters of waste into public waterways.

-- Teenage hacker Michael Calce, aka MafiaBoy, took down Yahoo, eBay, and others with a denial-of-service attack in 2000.
Computer-security expert Ira Winkler, a staunch advocate of the legislation, counters, "The fact that people are complaining about this fact is grossly ignorant of the real world. The fact critical infrastructure elements are even accessible to the Internet is the worst part to begin with."
The overheated debate takes place against the backdrop of revolution in the Middle East and a recent breach of Nasdaq's computer system. Both underline the power of the Internet, its vulnerability and the importance of cybersecurity.
It also underscores the delicate balance between protecting the Internet — the largest communications device — and unfettered free speech.
The autocratic government of former Egyptian presidentHosni Mubarak ordered the shutdown of four major Internet service providers, effectively shuttering the Internet in Egypt for several days. Could that happen in the U.S. if the bill becomes law?
In the U.S., there are 2,000 to 4,000 Internet providers, many of whom virulently oppose government interference that would put a clamp-down on their businesses.
"When it comes to practicalities, I would be surprised if anything comes to (a kill switch)," says CEO Michael Fertik, a lawyer with expertise in constitutional law and Internet privacy law. "If (the bill and president) strays too far, it would be extremely unpopular."

A national necessity?

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other congressional members introduced a placeholder bill and stressed that a cybersecurity measure is a top priority for the 112th Congress.
Carper, Collins and Lieberman have yet to announce plans to reintroduce the bill. But it is likely to be included as part of a larger, more comprehensive bill that includes other bits of legislation, say sources close to Lieberman who are not authorized to speak publicly about the bill.
"There can be no debate over whether our nation needs to improve its cyberdefenses," Lieberman, chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said in a statement. "Our legislation is designed to improve these defenses, while protecting the fundamental freedoms that we all cherish."
Lieberman did not comment on whether the bill will be reintroduced.
Proponents of the bill say it is narrowly crafted and does not intend to limit speech but to eliminate the vulnerability of critical systems such as banks, the power grid and telecommunications from attacks by terrorists or agents of hostile countries.
Indeed, the bill specifically does not grant the president power to act unless a cyberattack threatens to cause more than $25 billion in damages in a year, kill more than 2,500 people or force mass evacuations. The president would have the ability to pinpoint what to clamp down on without causing economic damage to U.S. interests, for anywhere from 30 to 120 days with the approval of Congress, according to the bill.
"This is not Big Brother," says Tom Kellermann, vice president of security awareness at Core Security Technologies, and a former security expert for the World Bank. "It's not about shutting off the Internet, but taking a scalpel to command control to key services to protect them."
Winkler, chief security strategist of TechnoDyne, a systems-integration specialist for financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies, agrees. "Nobody is giving Obama the ability to kill Twitter access," Winkler says. "There might possibly be unintended consequences, but people are ignoring imminent harm because there may be theoretical harm if the country devolves into a state of anarchy."
Examples abound, say Kellermann and others, underscoring the looming threat.
More industries could be at risk, Kagan and others warn. "It's 10 years after 9/11, and some companies still do not do a good job defending their computer systems," Kagan says, pointing to major chemical facilities as prime targets.
"Espionage and crimes have exploded on the Internet," Kellermann says. "There has been anarchy over attempts to leverage assets. This closes the spigot on attempted attacks by hostile forces."

Opposition and execution

Cyberthreats aside, deep questions persist over what critics claim is the bill's heavy-handed approach, what it means to free speech and whether it can be enforced practically.
The crux of the issue, to computer-law expert Fertik and others, is if the Internet is a national asset, should it be nationalized?
"Determining where the Internet connects to infrastructure is hard to define and impose," Kagan says.
"In its current form, the legislation offers no clear means to check that power," says Timothy Karr, campaign director for media-policy group Free Press, a non-profit organization.
A 1934 federal law that created the Federal Communications Commission allows the president to "authorize the use or control" of communications outlets during moments of emergency of "public peril or disaster." The Lieberman-led bill would be considered a specific extension of that and let the nation's chief executive prioritize communications on the Internet, says Fertik.
A provision in the bill lets the president take limited control during an emergency and decide restrictions. "It, essentially, gives the president a loaded gun," Fertik says.
"Say there is a mounted attack from a terrorist group on the Internet," Fertik says. "(The law) could present the president with a kill switch option. But what are the conditions, and how far does (the law) go?"
The debate extends to minutiae in the bill's wording.
It neither expressly calls for the creation of an Internet kill switch nor does it exclude one. It only requires the president to notify Congress before taking action, and it specifically prohibits judicial review of the president's designation of critical infrastructure. The non-profit Center for Democracy and Technology, in a measured letter to Lieberman, Collins and others, wants more specifics on the sweep of "emergency" measures mentioned in the bill.
"In our constitutional system of checks and balances, that concentrates far too much power in one branch of government," says Karr. "The devil is always in the details, and here the details suggest that this is a dangerous bill that threatens our free-speech rights."
Giving the president broad power to "interfere" with the Internet — even bottling up chunks of it in the name of national security — would require him to go to court to stop communications, says Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
What's more, a new law may be next to impossible to administer widely, technology experts say.
"Whether nuclear or the Internet, there is no 'off' button or switch. There is a clear chain of command," Kagan says. "This notion of an all-consuming switch only happens in the movies."
Mubarak was able to temporarily silence the Internet because there are a small number of Internet providers in Egypt. Yet, even with the nationwide digital blockade, activists still communicated effectively, using old-fashioned methods.
Silencing portions of the Internet faces a steeper challenge in the U.S., where there are thousands of Internet providers and where the federal government's previous efforts to clamp down on hostile threats have met with little success, says EPIC's Rotenberg.
He points to a non-Internet example, the struggle to contain the nation's borders. "That was tried with (the Department of Homeland Security) on the border fence, and it was a disaster," Rotenberg says.

Exclusive video: Cops shooting at protesters in deadly Yemen unrest

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

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Jordan Maxwell April 2011

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Photo of the Year

‎"Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state." 
"As our enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also."
      -Thomas Jefferson

WeAreChange confronts Dick Cheney

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hero Egyptian Protester Wael Ghonim Interview says "I am ready to die!"

Muslim Brotherhood - Egypt

Kennedy and wikileaks

"Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed-- and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First (emphasized) Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution-- not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

This means greater coverage and analysis of international news-- for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security..."

-John F. Kennedy


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Iran's Larijani on Egypt unrest

William Cooper - Area 51 (Pt. 1 of 3)

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WikiLeaks, Revolution, and the Lost Cojones of American Journalism

Naomi Wolf Posted: February 4, 2011 11:40 AM

Now that the WikiLeaks releases about Tunisian corruption have directly sparked a peoples' uprising in Tunisia; now that Egypt is in the throes of pro-democracy protest driven in large measure by WikiLeaks' revelation in the Palestine Papers about US manipulation of Palestine, surely one would expect key U.S. news organizations and journalists to rally prominently to the defense of the right to publish that that site represents. One would expect lead editorials supporting Assange's right to publish from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USAToday, not to mention every major TV outlet. But instead, what we have heard is the deafening sounds of what middle-schoolers call 'crickets' -- that is, an awkward silence. As Nancy Youssef in the McClatchy papers reported recently, most U.S. journalists -- and, even more shamefully, journalists' organizations -- decided, regarding supporting Wikileaks' freedom to publish, to "take a pass."
How on earth could this be? This cravenness represents one of American journalism's darkest hours -- as dark as the depth of the McCarthy era. In terms of the question of the legalities of publishing classified information, most American journalists understand full well that Assange is not the one who committed the crime of illegally obtaining classified material -- that was Bradley Manning, or whomever released the material to the site. So Assange is not the 'hacker' of secrets, as People magazine has mis-identified him; he is of course the publisher, just as any traditional news organization is. He is not Daniel Ellsberg, in the most comparable analogy, the illegal releaser of the classified Pentagon Papers; rather, Assange is analogous to the New York Times, which made the brave and correct decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in the public's interest.
U.S. journalists also know perfectly well that they too traffic in classified material continually -- and many of our most prominent reporters have built lucrative careers doing exactly what Assange is being charged with. Any sophisticated dinner party in media circles in New York or Washington has journalists jauntily showing prospective employers their goods, or trading favors with each other, by disclosing classified information. For we all, in this profession, know that seeking out and handling classified information is what serious journalists DO: their job is to find out the government's secrets in spite of officials who don't want these secrets revealed. American journalists also know that the U.S. government classifies information mostly out of embarrassment, or for expediency, rather than because of true national security concerns (an example is the classification of suspicious deaths in Guantanamo and other US-held jails). The New York Times garnered kudos -- as they should have -- in 2005 with the publication of the SWIFT banking story -- based on leaked classified documents, which makes Bill Kellers' recent essay trying to put distance between his newspaper and WikiLeaks all the more indefensible.
Here is what readers are not being told: We have ALL handled classified information if we are serious American journalists. I am waiting for more than a handful of other American reporters, editors and news organizations to have the courage -- courage that is in abundance in Tahrir Square and on the pages of Al Jazeera, now that we no longer see it on the editorial page of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal -- to stand up and confirm the obvious. For the assault on Assange to be credible, they would have to come arrest us all. Many of Bob Woodward's bestselling books, which have made him America's highest-paid reporter, are based on classified information -- that's why he gets the big bucks. Where are the calls for Woodward's arrest? Indeed Dick Cheney and other highest-level officials in the Bush administration committed the same act as Bradley Manning in this case, when they illegally revealed the classified identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
So why do all these American reporters, who know quite well that they get praise and money for doing what Assange has done, stand in a silence that can only be called cowardly, while a fellow publisher faces threats of extradition, banning, prosecution for spying -- which can incur the death penalty -- and calls for his assassination?
One could say that the reason for the silence has to do with the sexual misconduct charges in Sweden. But any serious journalist in America knows perfectly well that the two issues must not be conflated. The First Amendment applies to rogues and scoundrels. You don't lose your First Amendment rights because of a sleazy personality, or even for having committed a crime. Felons in jail are protected by the First Amendment. Indeed the most famous First Amendment cases, the ones that are supposed to showcase America's strength and moral power, involve the protection of speech most decent people hate.
So again: why have U.S. journalists and editor, as Youssef reported, "shunned" Assange? Youssef reports an almost unbelievably craven American press scenario: The "freedom of the press committee" -- yes, you read that correctly -- of the Overseas Press Club of America in New York City declared him "not one of us." The Associated Press itself won't issue comment about him. And even the National Press Club in Washington made the decision not to speak publicly about the possibility that Assange may be charged with a crime. She notes that it is foreign press organizations that have had to defend him.
One answer for this silence has to do with what happens to the press in a closing society. I warned in 2006 and often since that you don't need a coup to close down America's open society -- you need to simply accomplish a few key goals. One critical task -- number seven -- is to intimidate journalists; this is done, as in any closing society, by creating a situation in which a high-profile reporter is accused of "treason" or of endangering national security through their reporting, and threatened with torture or with a show trial and indefinite detention. History shows that when that happens, you don't need to arrest or threaten any other reporters -- because they immediately start to police and censor themselves, and fall all over themselves attacking the "traitor" as well. That way safety lies, whether the knowledge is conscious or not.
Another motive is revealed in the comment that Assange is "not one of us." U.S. journalism's business model is collapsing; the people who should be out in front defending Assange are facing cut salaries or unemployment because of the medium that Assange represents. These journalists are not willing to concede that Assange is, of course, a publisher, rather than some sort of hybrid terrorist blogger, because of their self-interested prejudices against a medium in which they are not the gatekeepers.
In this, paradoxically, they have become just like the outraged U.S. government officials who are threatening Assange: the American government too is in the position, because of the Internet, of no longer being able to control its secrets, and is lashing out at Assange as it faces a future in which there are no traditional gatekeepers, and all institutions live in glass houses.
It is for this reason that the prosecution of Assange -- and his betrayal by his fellow journalists and publishers in America -- is so almost absurdly futile. Even if they lock Assange up forever, the world of the future is a WikiLeaks world. Trying to extradite and to convict Assange is like trying to convict the first person who dared to install a telephone. The WikiLeaks necessity -- for citizens who are upset at government or private sector abuses of power -- to release documents, is not going away, ever. Egypt is showing us that conclusively: they turn off the news and people create the news on their cellphones. The technology of leaking government secrets globally is not going away either. In five years one can expect that every major institution will have its own version of WikiLeaks -- so shareholders, members of university communities, citizens of governments all over the world, and so on, can read the secrets that are in the public interest that the traditional gatekeepers wish to keep under wraps.
History shows that journalists only protect themselves, when bullied like this, by fighting back -- as a group. And history shows that when a technology and its social change are inevitable, it is better to integrate the way the future will work, into an open society -- rather than trying pointlessly to punish it, in this case by seeking to ship the inevitable future off to Guantanamo Bay.

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This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.

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