Friday Reads: Potomac Fever

penn rrd poster

Good Morning!

I continue to feel lethargic even though we’ve switched to a pattern of thunderstorms that has broken the most severe heat.   It’s August and things seems just wet,soggy, hot and tired.  That statement really includes me.   Everything seems unresolved and oppressive just like the heat.  I do have some really good news to share.  I got an email last night from a scholarly publisher in the EU–Germany actually–that wants to publish my recent research as a book.  I am seriously in a state of awe and humility.  I published my first academic book at the ripe old age of 29 but it was nothing like this work which is the basically the culmination of a lot of deep personal grok.   It is basically all the essays surrounding my dissertation.  I am in a state of OMG.  It probably won’t sell many copies, but it sure will look great on my VC, add salary potential, and up my creds.  I am registering as an author with them this morning.  Please tack my feet to the floor!

Here’s some stats on how badly the NSA has been managing the rules surrounding surveillance from WAPO. Maybe WAPO will just have to seek asylum in Russia!  (J/K)

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

The Obama administration has provided almost no public information about the NSA’s compliance record. In June, after promising to explain the NSA’s record in “as transparent a way as we possibly can,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole described extensive safeguards and oversight that keep the agency in check. “Every now and then, there may be a mistake,” Cole said in congressional testimony.

There is an extensive interview with Senator Ron Wyden on the NSA at  Rolling Stone Magazine that’s worth reading.

You went from supporting the Patriot Act in 2001 to pushing relentlessly for its de-authorization. What was the tipping point?
My concerns obviously deepened when I first learned that the Patriot Act was being used to justify the bulk collection of Americans’ records, which was in late 2006 or early 2007. So Senator Russ Feingold and I dutifully set about to write classified letters to senior officials urging them to make their official interpretation of the Patriot Act public. Back then, in those early days, we were rebuffed after we made repeated requests that the intelligence community inform the public what the government had secretly decided the law actually meant. In fact, there was a secret court opinion that authorized massive dragnet domestic surveillance, and the American people, by that point, were essentially in the dark about what their government was doing with respect to interpreting an important law.

You use the term “secret law” quite frequently – what do you actually mean by that?
I use the term “secret law” to refer to the federal government’s increasing tendency to rely on secret legal analysis to justify major programs and activities, without telling the public exactly what government agencies believe the law allows them to do. This is fundamentally inconsistent with democratic principles, but it’s unfortunately become increasingly common over the past decade. And the broad interpretations of the Patriot Act and other laws that have been issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are still secret, so right now the public can’t see how the Court concluded that the government’s authority to obtain records that are “relevant to an investigation” allowed the NSA to collect information on hundreds of millions of ordinary Americans. But there are an increasing number of lawmakers who are interested in pushing for more openness in this area, which is encouraging.

In a strange turn of events, WAPO has been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army.  This is a bizarre story if ever there was one.0000-1114

So, you may have heard we’re having some problems with the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) lately. Earlier this week the Twitter account of one of our journalists was compromised as part of a larger attack aimed at social media management groupSocialFlow, and Thursday an attack on content recommendation service Outbrain caused some of our stories to redirect to the the SEA homepage.

Who is the Syrian Electronic Army?

The SEA is a group of computer hackers who support embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It initially emerged in April 2011 during the rise of anti-regime protests in Syria.

Are they supported by the Assad regime?

Probably not. While Assad has a background in computing, and once explicitly referenced his “electronic army,” the group’s formal ties to the administration are unclear. The quality of their attacks suggest that the SEA includes both professional quality hackers, who might be receiving some form of compensation, and young volunteers who believe in the regime.

Those volunteers might include Syrian diaspora; some of their hacks have usedcolloquial English and reddit memes. After Washington Post reporter Max Fisher called their jokes unfunny, one hacker associated with the group told a Vice interview “haters gonna hate.”

Who has this “army” been attacking?

The group targets both dissidents within Syria and “sympathizers” outside the country. But that “sympathizer” label appears to be applied to anyone who talks about the Syrian conflict in almost any context without expressly endorsing the Assad regime.

Some of the SEA’s early activity included spamming pages with pro-Assad comments, but activity later escalated to large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Those attacks work by jamming Web sites with too many traffic requests and making normal visitors unable to access the page. The group has also battled onlinewith hacker collective Anonymous, who once hacked the Syrian Ministry of Defense Web site.

Alana Hinojosa writes that raising young black men and daughters of any color in the US is similar. That is because you live in perpetual fear that something bad will happen to them.  Here is her analysis.

Parents of all backgrounds have had to live with a very similar anxiety, worrying whether  their daughter(s) is walking alone at night, if a date (or a stranger) will rape her, if ruphees will be slipped in her drink at a party, if the older brother at her friend’s slumber party will sneak into bed with her at night, etc.

Since the beginning of time, parents with daughters have had to sit their girls down and teach them simple guidelines about how to avoid violence in everyday life, too.

So, really, the anxieties and responsibilities of parenting young black males and young women in the U.S. aren’t so different. In fact, I think they are remarkably similar.

Let’s take, for example, what one parent blogging on the Huffington Post called the Black Male Code – a series of guidelines that he taught his 12-year-old black son to prevent him from becoming the next Trayvon Martin.

It went like this:

Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few. Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.

Never argue with police, but protect your dignity and take pride in humility. When confronted by someone with a badge or a gun, do not flee, fight, or put your hands anywhere other than up.

Please don’t assume, son, that all white people view you as a threat. America is better than that. Suspicion and bitterness can imprison you. But as a black male, you must go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are.

With a very slight reworking, the code is likely something parents of daughters might use:

Always pay close attention to your surroundings, daughter, especially if you are walking at night, and especially if you are alone (but please don’t ever walk alone at night, or down alley ways). Understand that even though you are not a slut, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.

Never argue with police, but protect your dignity and take pride in humility. When confronted by someone with a gun who is demanding your purse, do not argue, just give them your purse. But don’t be afraid to use your pepper spray.washington american airlines

Wow, something to think on!!

Calling all Cops!  Calling all Cops!! There appear to be some Ex-JP Morgan Traders on the loose over the Whale debacle.

U.S. prosecutors urged former London-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) traders Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout to surrender and face charges that they attempted to hide trading losses tied to the bank’s $6.2 billion loss on derivatives bets last year.

Martin-Artajo, a Spanish citizen, andGrout, a French citizen, should “do the right thing,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a press conference yesterday. Both men face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious counts, including conspiracy and wire fraud.

While Bharara said he was “hopeful” they would return, he had arrest warrants filed under seal along with criminal complaints Aug. 9, according to court records. The warrants were to be served on the State Department, Interpol and foreign law enforcement agencies. The next day, police showed up at Grout’s London home, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Grout wasn’t there. His lawyers have said he’s inFrance.

Martin-Artajo oversaw trading strategy for the synthetic portfolio at JPMorgan’s chief investment office in London, while Grout was a trader who worked for him. They are charged with conspiring to falsify securities filings from March to May of 2012. The U.S. sought to keep the charges secret while arrests were attempted, but eventually had them unsealed yesterday.

JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon characterized the $6.2 billion loss as “the stupidest and most embarrassing situation I have ever been a part of.” First disclosed in May 2012, the bad bets led to an earnings restatement, a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing and probes by the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.

Why can’t we hold Jamie responsible?

Anyway, that’s my contribution today.  What’s on you reading and blogging list?


45 Comments on “Friday Reads: Potomac Fever”

  1. Beata says:

    Congratulations on the book, Dak! That is such wonderful news! Celebrate and enjoy it!

    • Yeah congratulations Dak, that is impressive and exciting! Is your book going to be used by people like a textbook?

    • janicen says:

      Congrats Dak. Well deserved. You belong in the upper echelon. We’ve always known that.

    • dakinikat says:

      Sorry for being so late to my own thread but it’s been a rough and busy day. Thanks so much! It isn’t so much a textbook as it is empirical research and theory on monetary union which is a big topic because of the EU zone meltdown. Although, my empirical data is on the in process ASEAN union. If you go to places like Princeton Press or Oxford Press you can see the research treatises they put out annually. This is the German version of those. I still have this entire sense of “I am not worthy” and I love you all!!!

  2. Beata says:

    Have a good Friday, Skydancers! It’s nice and cool here. Already feels like fall, my favorite time of the year.

  3. peej says:

    Whoa, whoa whoa! And gobsmacking whoa! Congratulations on your book deal! That is an amazing accomplishment. Though, in all your humility I hope you find room to be giddy and you allow yourself a happy dance with a vigorous pat on the back. You are deserving of pride. Wow, I’m proud of you. That’s so big, I think I’ll be smiling about it all day. Makes me think of this from Golda Meir:

    “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

    You’ve fanned those tiny little sparks of possibility into flames of achievement, I think it’s wonderful!

  4. Fannie says:

    Truly wonderful news Dak. We all knew their was a Book in you, and it’s timely. You’ve dedicated yourself, and your uniqueness will further help in educating others. We know what that means here, as we have educated each others for several years now. But it was your professionalism that brought us together. Congrats to you. Give us the details, so that we can get a signed copy.

    Luv Van Morrison Beata………………and happy Friday Sky Dancers.

  5. Allie says:

    Many congratulations on your book! I’m in complete awe of all your fantastic achievements. I also hope you will take the time to celebrate – it is much deserved.

    It is 63 degrees here – in Atlanta. In August. It didn’t even hit 70 as a high yesterday. I can’t remember a cooler or wetter summer here.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    On the latest NSA article from Barton Gellman, two caveats.

    1. These stats come from NSA INTERNAL audit, which means oversight–not exactly police state tactics.

    2. They are referring to analysts (usually accidentally) accessing meta data, not content.

    We need a complete review of the entire system, but it is important to do it based on facts rather than Greenwald-style fear-based exaggeration.

    The NYT made the correction to their story this morning:

    Correction: August 16, 2013

    An earlier version of this article inaccurately portrayed an incident in 2008 involving a mix-up of the area code of Washington, D.C., 202, and the international dialing code of Egypt, 20. While the Washington Post initially described this incident as involving the “interception” of calls placed from Washington, the Post later explained that it involved the collection of “metadata” logs about the calls. It is not the case that the N.S.A. “recorded” the calls.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Some new info on Edward Snowden’s hacking broke yesterday. It turns out he was downloading top secret data beginning nearly a year ago when he worked for Dell. Dell still won’t say if he was fired, but Snowden of course admits he sought a job at Booz Allen in order to access lists of employees and secret CIA bases.

      • peej says:

        I’m glad attention has finally been given to Dell. Given the quirky timeline Greenwald and Poitras claim about their contact with Snowden, it only makes sense that Snowden would have started his criminal hackery prior to Boozer, and the NSA also mentioned early on that Snowden’s shenanigans had been in the works for at least a year (likely longer) prior to the security breach made by Gellman and Greenwald.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I never saw that the NSA said that before yesterday. Do you have a link?

          I think we’ll eventually learn that Dell was aware of something. They have been sworn to secrecy by the feds up until now.

          • peej says:

            No, I don’t have a link right at my fingertips, but I’ll look for one. i just did a very quick google search to no avail. Will mean backtracking through a lot of Snowden stories – might be a while. I believe the timing info. was released when NSA divulged that Snowden accessed data above his security level by literally hacking into American security systems using fabricated keys. Also in the assessment for how long it will take NSA to discover what he did because what he did was so long in the doing. If I recall, it might have been Keith Alexander who stated it. Anyway, I’ll look for a link.

          • peej says:

            BB, I didn’t find a link and I’ve lost confidence in my ability to find it. So, disregard my statement if you will. My memory could be flawed. But, I did find a snippet that I hadn’t encountered before regarding data accessibility in response to 9/11 (which I still think is of critical importance). Anyway, it’s this little blurb about the probability of Snowden knowing how to game the system to obfuscate detection:

            “The government believes Snowden was aware that upgrades were being made to NSA systems tagging data and users so that downloads were recorded, but Snowden accessed portions where that work had not been completed.”


          • bostonboomer says:

            Sorry Peej, I didn’t mean to send you on a wild goose chase.

          • peej says:

            I know you didn’t intend to send me on a wild goose chase, BB. 🙂 It’s just that I am certain I did read somewhere that the NSA investigation would be arduous – taking up to a year or more to discover what Snowden had accessed. Perhaps the remark suggested that it would take as long for the government to unravel as it did for Snowden to plan. It was a little blurb, it seems to me associated with Ars Technica’s revelations of the TrueHooHa alias and/or unauthorized digital keys. In my unsuccessful search I did find a couple of more details I hadn’t encountered before or that I possibly forgot, so it hasn’t been entirely fruitless. One being the TrueHooHa’s opinion of the 2008 election line up:

            “… TheTrueHOOHA discussed presidential politics in the Ars Technica chat logs. Snowden told the Guardian he voted for a third party candidate in the 2008 presidential election. At the time, TheTrueHOOHA told his fellow chatters he could back then-Sen. Barack Obama if he teamed up with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). TheTrueHOOHA praised McCain as a “guy with real values” and said of an Obama presidency, “We need an idealist first and foremost.” One 2008 candidate, Hillary Clinton, did not have the approval of TheTrueHOOHA, who said she “would be a pox on the country” in the White House.”


          • bostonboomer says:

            Well, it was already pretty clear that Snowden is a misogynist–given the way he dumped his long-time girlfriend–but his attitude toward Hillary provides more evidence.

    • RalphB says:

      These stories almost always self-debunk as little more than “spin” when read carefully enough or whenever the fuller details become available.

    • RalphB says:

      A bit of explanation from the NYT story…

      The largest number of episodes — 1,904 — appeared to be “roamers,” in which a foreigner whose cellphone was being wiretapped without a warrant came to the United States, where individual warrants are required. A spike in such problems in a single quarter, the report said, could be because of Chinese citizens visiting friends and family for the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It’s mostly all human error. Plus in the WaPo story, Gellman admits that in at least one instance the FISA court refused a request because it was unconstitutional. Again, not typical “police state” behavior.

    • RalphB says:

      Bob Cesca’s post is really good, including GG’s utterly clueless remarks.

      New Snowden Bombshell Reveals Surveillance Errors Via Internal NSA Oversight

    • RalphB says:

      It’s even worse than I thought. The framing of the article implies this is the number of times the NSA has pursued information illegally. I clicked through both stories to the document, and that isn’t what it says at all.

      This was an audit of how many times the programs were used wrong, in the broadest sense. This is stuff like ‘entered the wrong search information’. It also specifically includes every time that American citizen information was found in the database and removed. This leak doesn’t show the NSA being out of control, it shows that they record every detail of how agents use their spying programs and audit the living crap out of them to make sure they’re not abused.

      The biggest takeaway from this is that Snowden was lying through his teeth about being able to access just anybody’s records. If he did it, he’d have been caught immediately.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Not only that, but Cesca points out that the audit was only for one year; yet Gellman assumes the numbers are representative of all years!

        • RalphB says:

          I just think this is more of a pile of garbage every day. An attempt to create a huge narrative with a bunch of bullshit stories. Then people will believe anything. It could be tied into BIG money behind the 2016 elections.

        • bostonboomer says:

          And the article mentions “automatic audits,” which has to equal built-in oversight.

          • RalphB says:

            I’m afraid this will be used against Hillary in 2016. Usually don’t buy into conspiracies but too many journalists are getting this too wrong for some reason. Dudebros may be at it again?

  7. RalphB says:

    Gotta love Paul Krugman, he just won’t give up. Moment of Truthiness

    • peej says:

      RB, Agreed. Great editorial. And we all know it is so. Republican lawmakers and the Right Wing propaganda-sphere circulate in an incessant feedback loop. There should be genuine public accountability for the press and for lawmakers who perpetuate lies and misinformation. Right Wing Radicals take advantage of this “anything goes” flaw in the system. There should be some better censure mechanism to keep politicians honest. Or Dems in Congress should start flexing their powers for censure, rebuke, and misconduct. But that would no doubt be a strategy Conservative extremists would adopt and abuse ten-fold.

  8. peej says:

    As to Wyden/Rolling Stone – much to parse out. Both are disgraceful. First up on the nonsense bandwagon:

    “Terms like “bulk data collection” and “Prism” may have only recently entered the national conversation, but Sen. Ron Wyden has been talking about them for years – or at least trying to.”

    Bunk and drivel. Tripe and babble. Wyden is a buffoon-clown honking his red rubber nose-horn, and he’s clod-hopping all over the security apparatus with oversized clown shoes.

    He is vilifying “bulk data collection” in such a way that is adverse to pragmatic governance. Bulk data collection isn’t evil; it’s a necessary component of sophisticated statistical analysis. It isn’t even a necessary evil. Wyden is a paranoid regressive. We don’t need less collection, we need more if we are to truly counter crime and terrorism – neither of which can be distinctly identified as separate entities any longer nor can “global” be neatly compartmentalized as separate from “domestic” in the arena of crime-terrorism.

    If he’s so fired up about surveillance of Americans he should simultaneously turn his attention to the private sector: from where Americans are daily and routinely collated, where every purchase is analyzed, where all online activity is tracked and that data used to profile every individual. And there’s no recourse because Americans are forcibly coerced into faux consent if they want to participate in what society has degraded into.

    Rolling Stone should be ashamed of themselves for this one:
    “But given the stringent rules of governing what elected officials with high level security clearances can and can’t say, he’s been unable to speak about these programs, let alone critique them.”

    Security clearance hasn’t stopped Wyden from speaking out. If the NSA were the serious “problem” he’s making it out to be, then he should have pulled a Snowden and “blown the whistle.” Or he could have gone the route built into the Senate system by calling for selective declassification – which he did not do.

    Wyden: “Leaders in the Intelligence Community can go out to public forums and say, ‘We don’t hold data on U.S. citizens,’ but I can’t pop up the next day and say, ‘Holy Toledo! That just not right!’

    Yes, he can pop up the next day and call out the Intelligence Community if he’s aware of genuine discrepancy that is cause for concern. He doesn’t because he doesn’t have legitimate cause for doing so. Wyden has chosen passive-aggressive governance instead. He’ll interrogate the Intelligence Community in a public forum by asking questions he knows the answers to, and that he knows the Intelligence Community can’t answer as a matter of oath. He won’t break his own oath, but he’ll force others to compromise theirs by asking loaded questions, and in so doing create the impression that they’re liars and can’t be trusted by the public. it’s disgusting.

    What he’s doing here is painting an inaccurately sketched portrait of authoritarianism. Classic Libertarianism – it’s the government that’s preventing me from acting, yada yada yada. And how did he respond when asked why he didn’t pluck up the courage to defy that “tyrannical” security apparatus? Remarkably he didn’t. But that gets buried at the back-end of the interview and Rolling Stone doesn’t nudge him a inch with respect to it.

    More in a moment.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m working on reading the Rolling Stone piece. I don’t know much about Wyden, but isn’t he the one who was working with Paul Ryan on changing Medicare and then turned around and tried to deny it?

      I agree that Wyden could have spoken out if he wanted to. He could have held a Church Committee-type hearing or he could have resigned and then revealed what he knew to journalists.

      • RalphB says:

        He could have spoken out on the Senate floor free from prosecution, if he weren’t such a chickenshit. Yes, he was working with Ryan.

  9. Sweet Sue says:

    My heartiest congratulations, Dakinikat.
    That’s an awesome achievement and they called you!
    PS, I never use the a word but for this, I’ll make an exception.

    • RalphB says:

      OMG, I can’t believe I have failed to offer congratulations until now. It is an awesome achievement and I’m sending my very best hopes for a huge bestseller!

  10. RalphB says:

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Anthony Weiner’s being accused of sexual impropriety. Again. Yeah, it apparently happened before he was married, but it does involve a former campaign aide who was 20 years younger than him. At this point, karma is just running up the score.

    Politicker: Anthony Weiner’s Relationship With Former Staffer Raises Questions

  11. peej says:

    Another mockery of journalistic integrity committed by RS evidenced by their apologist frame for irrational governance with leading questions designed to confirm a desired response, combined with the denial of historical precedent:

    “Why can’t the NSA be transparent about what it has access to? Why do these laws need to be secret?”

    Wyden: “The law should never be secret. Most Americans expect that the military and intelligence agencies will sometimes need to conduct secret operations, but they rightly expect those agencies to follow publicly understood rules – not a secret body of law. When Congress wrote the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, I suppose they could have found some way to keep its details a secret, so that Soviet agents wouldn’t know what the FBI and NSA’s authorities were. But Congress made that law public, because it’s a fundamental principle of democracy that laws should be public all the time, and every American should be able to find out what their government thinks the law means.”

    No, democracy isn’t jeopardized when a government operates clandestinely where the object is SECRECY for purposes of national security. No, the public shouldn’t be apprised of our government’s secret operations at any level. It is a fundamental principle of democracy that the representatives of the people do that which the people cannot do themselves. Sorry, but the public will never be qualified to judge the accuracy or utility of how the NSA does what it does because the public will never have access to critical inner workings in the way the three branches of representative government do. Government secrecy was built into the Constitution and every congress and executive administration has engaged in secrecy from day one. And as important, prior to day one – the revolutionary process required clandestine governance and the USA wouldn’t have emerged as a democratic republic without it.

    If only Wyden had styled himself as the pit bull of oversight during his softball interrogation of the USTR during the TPP hearings. Instead he fashioned himself into a faux bulldog of transparency by insisting he didn’t want the USTR to discuss classified information pertaining to private sector/foreign government involvement in those negotiations. If only he had so diligently questioned the appropriateness of secrecy policy and absence of public oversight when it comes to negotiating transnational trade deals that do actually threaten democracy and self governance.

    What Wyden is doing here is wielding the transparency-accountability bludgeon as a political weapon against the NSA. This is the same transparency-accountability axe that hacks away at voting rights by allowing voter intimidation at the polls under the guise of “integrity.” It’s the same faux transparency machete that dismantled public education in this country under the “common sense” banner of “accountability.” It is the same Conservative-Libertarian weapon that will be used to dismantle every regulatory framework of government. It is the same wrong-headed faux-populous juggernaut that will eliminate entire sectors of governance – like the EPA and the Department of Education.

  12. Hey y’all, here is an update on Russia and the anti-gay olympics: U.S. Olympic Committee Clarifies: Russian Law Is “Inconsistent With” Olympic Principles

    The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) views Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law as being “inconsistent w[ith] fundamental Olympic principles,” USOC communications chief Patrick Sandusky tweeted Friday.

    The “clarification” came because the committee’s CEO, Scott Blackmun, earlier in the week said it was the USOC’s “strong desire that our athletes comply with the laws of every nation that we visit. This law is no different.”

    Blackmun added that the USOC is “looking to the IOC for some leadership in this issue. They have been in discussions with the Russian authorities, so we’re awaiting for some clarification from them.”

    Saying that the role of the USOC is “to make sure that our athletes are prepared to compete and aren’t distracted while they’re here,” Blackmun continued, “We’re a sports organization, and we’ll leave the diplomacy on the legal issues to the diplomats, and we’re not going to get involved.”

    The IOC has said they will not tolerate any protest from athletes, so waving rainbow colored flags are out of the question…people could have their medals taken away.

  13. RalphB says:

    The crime is probably really extortion.

    Perry Under Investigation For Possible Abuse Of Office

    AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A Texas judge says he plans to have a special prosecutor review allegations that Governor Rick Perry abused the powers of his office and broke the law over a veto that cut funding for state public corruption investigators.

    Judge Robert Richardson told a newspaper in the state’s capitol that he expects to name a special prosecutor as early as next week to look at the complaint filed by a watchdog group, Texans for Public Justice.

  14. peej says:

    Believe it or not, I’m still ranting, the FISA proposal is another area of inanity that Obama should not assent to:

    “You recently proposed major legislation to reform the FISA court, some of which the President seems to agree with. What do you think are the key ways that it could be more transparent?

Wyden: The FISA court is arguably the most bizarre court in the United States. This is the only court I know of that is structured to hear essentially one side – it comes from the government. A group of judges operating in complete secret and issuing binding rulings based solely on the government’s arguments have made possible the sweeping surveillance authorities the public only found out about [recently.] What’s noteworthy is there has been nobody there to argue the other side, and that is what we want to change. This court has to be reformed to include an adversarial process where arguments for greater privacy protections can be offered alongside the government’s arguments for greater surveillance powers. It should have a selection process that produces a more diverse group of judges, and a process to ensure that its important rulings are made public so that American people can understand exactly what government agencies think the laws allow them to do. It was a lack of protections like these that allowed secret law to persist for so many years.”

    Flabbergasting idiocy. First, the very idea that the FISA Court is adversarial to the people is ludicrous and antithetical to any rational notion of American governance. This is a hazardous and fundamentally un-republican, un-democratic view of government; it is subversive and germinates the faux-transparency seeds for undermining democracy through democratic means. There is no sector to draw from here because there is no sector that represents the people and its governing structure other than the government. What precisely the “adversary” will be defending can never be determined – vague notions of liberty? “Limited” government?

    The FISA Court doesn’t need an outside entity to represent the interests of the people – that is the government’s role. Securing the rights of the people IS the role of the FISA Court. Wyden and Obama should have paid closer attention to the Intelligence Community’s response to the suggestion that the court needs an “independent” adversary – it has been tried, and it failed, and Congress scrapped it because the idea is inherently flawed. The idea of an “independent” interest representing the people is unsound – there’s no way to ascertain or control for what that agenda truly represents. It can’t possibly be wholly representative even if it is an entity like the ACLU and certainly if that “adversary” represents the private sector in any way. This is the same flawed notion that keeps our regulatory framework from truly operating in the interest of the people – because it is guided by interests other than the mass entity that is society at large. He’s applying a false equivalency standard that makes as much sense as insisting public schools should teach creationism or a flat earth hypotheses in science courses to ensure for a “balanced curriculum.”

    Reforming the selection process is a reasonable suggestion, but useless until the Supreme Court itself is reformed to be accountable to the people. If Wyden were genuinely concerned about accountability he’d be discussing comprehensive reform that is truly ground-breaking, but he’s not. He seeks only to break the surveillance system itself because he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t understand it – both attitudes predicated upon a fundamental misunderstanding of government operations from day one and a misconstruing of how government was intended to function. Wyden is unfit to govern. Rolling Stone has tarnished its standards.