ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Obstructing the N.S.A. for fun and profit

In a googling of Richard M. Smith, the security researcher from the two previous AP stories I've commented on (here and here) and came across this article from what appears to be his web site on ways to detect if the NSA is snooping on your email.

His method:

The steps are:

  1. Set up a Hotmail account.
  2. Set up a second email account with a non-U.S. provider. (eg. Rediffmail.com)
  3. Send messages between the two accounts which might be interesting to the NSA.
  4. In each message, include a unique URL to a Web server that you have access to its server logs. This URL should only be known by you and not linked to from any other Web page. The text of the message should encourage an NSA monitor to visit the URL.
  5. If the server log file ever shows this URL being accessed, then you know that you are being snooped on. The IP address of the access can also provide clues about who is doing the snooping.
Basically he's talking about setting up what's known in the internet security field as a honeypot. A honeypot is used to attract malicious users or software agents in order to study them further. I think he underestimates his method and the NSA, however.

Plenty of other users other than the NSA would have access to his email and could follow his link. So a hit on the link would not demonstrate proof that the NSA was inolved in reading his email message, only that someone was. Email services such as Hotmail, etc. are owned and controlled by external entities (companies) all of which have employees, partners, etc., who may have had access to the original message, on either side (the sender or the recipient). There should be no expectation of privacy with email messages sent in the clear.

Even if the NSA were to hit his URL it would hardly come from www.nsa.gov (IP address 12.110.110.204) or any nsa.gov or .gov IP for that matter. Think about it, you are the NSA, you have some of the top minds in cryptology, more raw computer power than most universities and corporations. You have a vital mission of national security. You have strict guidelines that you have to operate under. And most important of all, your operational methods are secret. Vitally secret. You don't want to tip off your adversary that you are listening in. You want to remain passive. So you certainly aren't going to be hitting URL's that appear in an email just willy nilly. And you certainly wouldn't be doing it from an address that could be traced back to you or the government.

So ol' Richard set's up his little experiment and he gets a hit. Proof that the NSA is out to get him? Proof that they are reading every hotmail account? Nope. It means nothing. All it means is that somebody read the email. And the list of suspects is real real long. Big deal.

How does Richard expect to get the NSA to actually hit his URL? Why by making it "enticing" of course, sort of "sexing up" the email.

  • Include a variety of terrorist related trigger words
  • Include other links in a message to known AQ message boards
  • Include a fake CC: to Mohamed Atta's old email address (el-amir@tu-harburg.de)
  • Send the message from an SMTP server in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
  • Use a fake return address from a known terrorist organization
  • Use a ziplip or hushmail account.

So now he is essentially making his email about terrorism. And trying to make it look like it comes from a real terrorist. With all the foreign additions (Afghani email server, links to known terrorists, etc), at this point the email would probably qualify as a communication of a foreign agent, and therefore not require a warrant anyway. So even if you could trace it to the NSA, big whoop.

These "trigger" word email schemes were real popular in the 90's too, although the trigger words were different then. Clinton, Bomb, Echelon, etc. People would add them to their signature lines when posting to USENET as a way to trick the NSA into overloading their systems. It was foolish then, its even more foolish now.

The NSA has an unlimited budget, they aren't going to be fooled by a few hundred thousand hotmail emails with weird cryptic URL's.

Update:
Now, I don't doubt that Mr. Smith is a legitimate security and privacy expert, and he's certainly apolitical from what I can tell, but the method outlined above will not achieve anything at all and has the potential to impact the NSA in its ability to do its job.

Let me sum it up. I want the NSA to read every email with "known terrorist organizations" in it. It's not a sacrifice of our liberties. It's a tool in the terror war.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

They have the internet on computers now.....

(H/T Jonah at the Corner)

The title is a line from the Simpson's, so it sounds a little funnier if you say it in Homer's voice, but I digress.

In a related story to my post yesterday about the intrepid AP digging into the NSA website and finding, horror of horrors, that they were using persistent cookies, the AP seems to now be doing website analysis on the entire federal government. Of course they hit the White House.

The White House's site uses what's known as a Web bug — a tiny graphic image that's virtually invisible — to anonymously keep track of the number and time of visits. The bug is sent by a server maintained by an outside contractor, WebTrends Inc., and lets the traffic-analysis company know that another person has visited a specific page on the site.
Oh no! Karl Rove is tracking who goes to the White House web site! It must be that Gulag's are right around the corner! Let's read further:

Web bugs themselves are not prohibited. However, under a directive from the White House's Office of Management and Budget, they are largely banned at government sites when linked to cookies, which are data files that let a site track Web visitors.

Cookies are not generated simply by visiting the White House site. Rather, WebTrends cookies are sometimes created when visiting other WebTrends clients. An analysis by security researcher Richard M. Smith shows such preexisting cookies have then been read when users visit the White House site.

So its not prohibited, but it looks funny to the AP writer (and obviously his editor) since he's writing a national news story about it. Is the White House tracking its users for some nefarious purpose?

The discovery and subsequent inquiries by The Associated Press prompted the White House to investigate. David Almacy, the White House's Internet director, said tests conducted since Thursday show that data from the cookie and the bug are not mixed — and thus the 2003 guidelines weren't violated.

Oh. So no story here. But yet they printed it. Why?
Nonetheless, agencies occasionally violate the rules — inadvertently, they contend. The CIA did in 2002, and the NSA more recently. The NSA disabled the cookies this week and blamed a recent upgrade to software that shipped with cookie settings already on. (emphasis added)
Obviously the AP writer doesn't believe the NSA side of the story! To my earlier question of whether there were editors left at the AP, it appears the answer is no.

Attention, Department of Agriculture! You might want to make sure your not tracking users with a web bug. I'm sure the AP is going to go down the list alphabetically, so you're probably next.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Friday, December 30, 2005

Targeting the Dissenters

Finally, the Justice Department is going after the leakers of the NSA surveillance program.

Inquiry into leak of NSA spying program launched

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department has opened an investigation into leaks to the media about the National Security Agency's classified domestic surveillance program.

The program authorizes the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without first seeking permission from a court for a search warrant. It has caused a political uproar with both Democrats and Republicans questioning whether President Bush went beyond his powers under the U.S. Constitution in authorizing it.

The New York Times was the first to report the story on December 16th and then officials confirmed its existence to CNN and other organizations.

"The Justice Department has opened an investigation of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information related to the NSA," a Justice Department official told CNN.

The leak investigation is expected to be handled, as is standard, by Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents. Officials would not say when the investigation began.

The New York Times declined to comment on the leak investigation.

No doubt the Left and the MSM will decry such attempts to cover the illegal, Chimpy McBushitler and his regime's attack on "whistleblowers" and "dissent."

Oh, wait... they already have:
ACLU Slams DOJ Investigation of NSA Whistleblower, Says Government Must Independently Investigate Violation of Wiretap Laws (12/30/2005)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union today sharply criticized a Justice Department investigation into the disclosure of an illegal National Security Agency domestic eavesdropping operation approved by President George W. Bush.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as well as two full-page advertisements in the New York Times, the ACLU has called for the appointment of a special counsel to determine whether President Bush violated federal wiretapping laws by authorizing illegal surveillance of domestic targets.
Click the link and check out the comments. These Lefties that are so concerned with impact on national security from the "disclosure" of a two-bit "operative" at the CIA are cheering the ACLU on in defending the "whistleblower."

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

(H/T Glenn)

The latest in the MSM's attempt to really really expand the NSA kerfuffle comes from an AP report in the NYTimes:

The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type.
Files? You mean ultra secret software that turns your Dell 15" monitor into an emitter for Karl Rove's evil mindray beams? Or is it a virus that changes Grandma's cookie recipe in Microsoft Word from using chocalate chips to arsenic pellets?
The files, known as cookies, disappeared [!] after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake.
Where did they go? Was the NSA trying to coverup the nefarious cookies! Cue the ominous Karl Rove Mindray background music. Lots of sites use cookies to maintain state. It's not criminal.

And whats with "Federal rules"? We've moved from violating the constitution, to violating the law, to violating federal rules now? Talk about lowering the goalposts. The headline just inflames the issue though: "Spy Agency Removes Illegal Tracking files" (emphasis mine).
Nonetheless, the issue raised questions about privacy at the agency, which is on the defensive over reports of an eavesdropping program.
Did it? Is the NSA on the defensive? I haven't heard them being defensive. In fact, the NSA is pretty quiet on the warrantless wiretapping "scandal." As they should be for an agency that is nicknamed "No Such Agency."
Daniel Brandt, a privacy activist who discovered the N.S.A. cookies, said mistakes happen, "but in any case, it's illegal."
Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

So, is the NSA starting up some new super-secret American spying program? Well let's see what they say:

Don Weber, an agency spokesman, said in a statement yesterday that the use of the so-called persistent cookies resulted from a recent software upgrade.

Normally, Mr. Weber said, the site uses temporary cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, which is legally permissible. But he said the software in use was shipped with the persistent cookies turned on.

I think we can let this one slide don't you think Mr. Brandt? It's not like they don't have more pressing issues.

The real question is. Are there editors left at the NYTimes or the AP?

If the agency wanted to do nefarious things with citizens computers they likely already have the power. I don't remember the NYTimes saying the NSA was on the defensive back when this story came out in 1999.
NSA Builds Security Access Into Windows

NSA Builds Security Access Into Windows
By Duncan Campbell, TechWeb.com

A careless mistake by Microsoft programmers has shown that special access codes for use by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) have been secretly built into all versions of the Windows operating system.

Computer-security specialists have been aware for two years that unusual features are contained inside a standard Windows driver used for security and encryption functions. The driver, called ADVAPI.DLL, enables and controls a range of security functions including the Microsoft Cryptographic API (MS-CAPI). In particular, it authenticates modules signed by Microsoft, letting them run without user intervention.

At last year's Crypto 98 conference, British cryptography specialist Nicko van Someren said he had disassembled the driver and found it contained two different keys. One was used by Microsoft to control the cryptographic functions enabled in Windows, in compliance with U.S. export regulations. But the reason for building in a second key, or who owned it, remained a mystery.

Now, a North Carolina security company has come up with conclusive evidence the second key belongs to the NSA. Like van Someren, Andrew Fernandes, chief scientist with Cryptonym of Morrisville, North Carolina, had been probing the presence and significance of the two keys. Then he checked the latest Service Pack release for Windows NT4, Service Pack 5. He found Microsoft's developers had failed to remove or "strip" the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for the two keys. One was called "KEY." The other was called "NSAKEY."

Captains Quarters has a great post on this and points out all the MSM media cookie's on his computer. And Wizbang notes that the DNC was using persistent cookies until Tuesday.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

M - I - Z .... Z - O - U

Well, I was able to simply copy/paste my post from a week ago for most of this... Hopefully Mizzou will do better on the gridiron against the Gamecocks than they did on the court against the Illini. At least this time, I know Penelope won't be reading from her book of incantations during the entire game.

From the St Louis Post-Dispatch (which really needs to redesign their site - and their editorial page!):

South Carolina's key to winning today is to contain MU's Brad Smith
By Graham Watson
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, Dec. 29 2005

SHREVEPORT, LA.

Stop Brad Smith.

That has been the theme for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and his players in the week leading up to the Independence Bowl.

Spurrier, a former Florida quarterback, said the Gamecocks' best chance to beat Missouri today hinges on its ability to contain Smith and force him to pass.

Well, at least the Gamecocks have done their homework.

Three Big 12 teams - Iowa State, Kansas and Colorado - went into games against the Tigers (6-5) with the same idea, and none of them allowed Smith to rush for more than 39 yards. The only difference today is that the Gamecocks also are going to have two players "spy" Smith, so that if he does break loose, he's not going to get very far.

"I'm pretty much spying up against him," defensive end Orus Lambert said. "(It will be) me and (defensive end) Jordin Lindsey on certain plays, so I think that's going to be a major part for both sides if the pocket collapses not to let him get outside the pocket. Defensive end play is probably going to be the No. 1 key."

Here's the analysis from ESPN:
Who to watch
When Missouri quarterback Brad Smith has been on, there's no one more exciting. He just needs a more dependable thermostat. When South Carolina gets in a hole on offense, look for Blake Mitchell to throw a jump ball to 6-4 freshman wide receiver Sidney Rice, a star in the making.

What to watch
The Gamecock defense has stiffened since coach Steve Spurrier assigned the playcalling to co-defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix. South Carolina doesn't put up a lot of points, so the defense will have to keep Smith and Co. bottled up.

Why to watch
South Carolina won five of its last six. Missouri lost three of its last four and scheduled its way into a bowl (nonconference victories over Arkansas State and Troy). The Gamecocks deserve a tougher bowl.

So, be sure to tune to ESPN at 3:30 pm EST

And now it's time for yet another rousing rendition of Every True Son / Fight Tiger! I can hear everyone's applause right now.... (or is that the sound of keyboards and mice furiously clicking away?)

Click Here for Audio
Every true son, so happy hearted,
Skies above us are blue,
There's a spirit so deep within us,
Old Missouri here's to you (rah rah!);
When the band plays the Tiger war song,
And when the fray is through,
We will tramp, tramp, tramp, around the columns,
With a cheer, for Old Mizzou!

Hit it, Hooray, Hurrah,
Mizzou, Mizzou,
Hooray, Hurrah,
Mizzou, Mizzou,
Hooray, Hurrah,
And a "Bully" for Ol' Mizzou,
Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah,
Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah,
Tigers!

"Fight Tigers"

Fight, Tigers, fight for Old Mizzou,
Right behind you, everyone is with you,
Break the line and follow down the field,
And you'll be, on the top, upon the top;
Fight, Tigers, you will always win,
Proudly keep the colors flying skyward,
In the end we'll win the victory,
So Tigers, fight for Old Mizzou!


Now didn't that feel great? Thank you and GOODNIGHT!! I'll be here all week & please don't forget to tip the wait staff!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

2006 Predictions from the Conspiracy

Click Here to see the year end scoring

Well, here are the predictions from some of the members of the Conspiracy. It seems that Penelope is off on another secret mission and is incommunicado - I just hope that whoever she's keeping track of is aware of the danger they're in.

While we're all part of just Another Rovian Conspiracy, keep in mind that these predictions are probably more accurate than anything you'll see over at The Corner or from Miss Cleo... Since Karl let's us in on some of the things he's going to "orchestrate" in the coming year. And yes, this post will be revisited next year and the conspirator with the most correct predictions will win a prize - which will be identified in a week or so. The winner will be announced at the end of 2006.

Here are the categories for our predictions
War On Terror / Foreign Policy
Domestic Politics
Judicial
Media & Blogs
Financial / Economic

Now, on to the predictions! We here at Another Rovian Conspiracy hope that everyone has a Happy New Year! And thanks to my co-conspirators for submitting their predictions and for all of their efforts in 2005. May we drive the Left even battier in 2006!

*** UPDATE ***
The Anchoress has offered some predictions and provided a nice roundup of other bloggers that are joining the fray. Check out All Things Beautiful as well

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler



War On Terror / Foreign Policy
1.US Force Level in Iraq?
MontereyJohn - 100,000
Brian - Lower than November 2005 levels (at least 10-20%) (St Wendeler pegs that at about 120 - 135k. Thanks for being specific!
St Wendeler - 80,000, most of the hard fighting is done, thanks to the capture of Zarqawi, the establishment of an elected government, and the Iraqi military.

2.New Hot Spot in the WOT?
MontereyJohn - Syria
Brian - Iran
St Wendeler - Militarily, attention turns to Syria which is supplying the "insurgents". Diplomatically, the new hot spot is Saudi Arabia, which gets a stiff rebuke for its human rights abuses.

3.More Democratic Elections in Middle East other than Iraq?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - No, patience, grasshopper.
St Wendeler - Unlikely that we'll see another Lebanon type movement. However, modest local elections continue in other countries.

4.Status of Kim Jong Il
MontereyJohn - still there, nutty as ever
Brian - Alive and even crazier
St Wendeler - Firm grasp on power in N. Korea and seriously considers "reunifying" with the South. Unfortunately, S. Korean leaders balk at the Kim's request that he become Dear Leader for the reunified country and his demand that all Korean girls under the age of 16 must spend 2 weeks servicing him in his palace. As the saying goes, "the devil's in the details!"

5.Democratic movement in Iran or Holocaust denier still president?
MontereyJohn - he’s still there
Brian - Still president
St Wendeler – Iranian youth stage protests against his return to radicalism and his grip on power is loosens - but he's still in power.

6.Bashar Assad in power?
MontereyJohn - hmmmm, probably so
Brian - Not sure here, Probably
St Wendeler - No. Assassinated by thugs in his regime.

7.Palestinian Authority – Official State of Hamas?
MontereyJohn - afraid so
Brian - No
St Wendeler - Yes

8.WOT in Asia Pacific?
MontereyJohn - Indonesia signs on big time to WOT
Brian - Of course, it's a world war after all
St Wendeler - More attacks against Australian interests strengthen the Aussies' resolve. Indonesia and the Phillippines get increased attention.

9.More or fewer Socialists governments in Latin America?
MontereyJohn - more, looks like Bolivia
Brian - fewer
St Wendeler - More. Chavez continues his aggressive foreign policy of creating "socialist utopias" in Latin America. Unfortunately, Hollywood libs do not emigrate to any of them.

10.Blair as PM? If not, Labor or Conservative as PM?
MontereyJohn - Labor, not Blair
Brian - Still PM
St Wendeler - Still PM, but losing support. Able to hold off attemps by Gordon Brown to hold an election since new Tory leader would kill him with his British version of Compassionate Conservatism.

11.UN blue helmets in Iraq?
MontereyJohn - NO WAY!
Brian - LOL, um yeah right... Not a chance
St Wendeler - Only if the UN finds out that there's a chance to set up a pedophilia ring

12.Major terrorist attack in US?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - Small terrorist attacks ("shopping mall" type attacks) but nothing major. AQ is out of resources & on the run.
St Wendeler - Instances of "individuals" going "postal." Assailants names are not mentioned, lest they spark anti-Islamic sentiments. Democrats seize on the lack of a major attack as proof that we do not need the PATRIOT Act, the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI, the Bush presidency, etc, etc.

13.Major terrorist attack in Europe?
MontereyJohn - Yes
Brian - See 12, Bus Bombings, train bombings, etc. (Shame that they like public transport so much). Look for Italy to be next.
St Wendeler - British ferry is sunk... Two terrorists plots are uncovered and stopped in Germany and the Netherlands.

14.Bush Admin continues NSA surveillance of international communications?
MontereyJohn - Yes
Brian - Of course
St Wendeler - Yes, despite the handwringing and calls for impeachment of the Left and the media.



Domestic Politics
1.Bush Impeached?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - LOL. Umm, no
St Wendeler - the Left and the MSM call for impeachment, but don't have the facts or the votes on their side. They're shocked when this turns out to be a losing electoral strategy in the mid-terms.

2.Libby Convicted?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - No trial in 2006
St Wendeler - No, Fitz loses steam after he finally gets around to reading one of Tom Maguire's posts at JustOneMinute and realizes that Plame wasn't covered under the law and everyone knew that she worked at the CIA.

3.Rove indicted?
MontereyJohn - hmmmmm… No
Brian - Going to go out on a limb here and say no
St Wendeler - Yes... You can indict a ham sandwich, after all. Once Fitz loses all credibility (see 2 above), he indicts Karl after seeing what he believes to be a reasoned and well-researched post on DemocraticUnderground.com

4.Rove convicted?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - Even if indicted, not convicted
St Wendeler -No

5.Delay convicted?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - Yes, but overturned on appeal (not in '06)
St Wendeler - No

6.Dean still DNC Chair?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - Ys, despite the failure of the Dems to take back the house
St Wendeler - No, the washed up governor of Vermont, on the heels of his stunning failure in the mid-terms, announces that he's going to leave the DNC chairpersonship to someone else so he can focus on his '08 presidential bid. After all, the Democratic party loves losers (see Mondale, Carter, etc)

7.Harry Reid still Senate Leader?
MontereyJohn - Yes
Brian - Yes
St Wendeler - No... Succeeded by more charismatic Max Baucus.... zzzzzz

8.Nancy Pelosi still House Leader?
MontereyJohn - Yes
Brian - Yes, once again, despite the failure of the Dems to take back the house.
St Wendeler - Yes, but has yet another plastic surgery after the mid-terms, thinking that it will help. Unfortunately, we can now see her prefrontal cortex.

9.Party in control of Senate (and margin of majority)?
MontereyJohn - Republicans, haven’t looked at the situation state-by-state, but guess something like 52-48
Brian - Republicans, +2 (St Wendeler - gain 2 seats? or 2 seat majority?)
St Wendeler - Republicans, 53-47

10.Party in control of House and margin of majority?
MontereyJohn - Republicans, down a few
Brian - Republicans
St Wendeler - Republicans, up a few.

11.Party with most governorships?
MontereyJohn - Republicans
Brian - Don't know
St Wendeler – Republicans

12.Hillary, Romney, Condi, Allen, announces run for President?
MontereyJohn - None of them, not yet
Brian - Not in '06
St Wendeler - Biden announces prematurely, then withdraws in '07 after he remembers that he's from Delaware. Romney doesn't officially announce, but it's a done deal and the travel receipts from New Hampshire pile up.

16.Schwarzenegger re-elected?
MontereyJohn - No
Brian - Yes
St Wendeler - No. He decides to swing to the "center" (aka "the Left") and loses his base and fails to attract Democratic voters that think Boxer and Pelosi are too right-wing. California's fiscal problems worsen regardless of who wins because Californian's are unwilling to make any rational decisions.

17.Bush approval rating?
MontereyJohn - 52 pro 48 neg
Brian - 52%
St Wendeler - 56% - Media continues to pound on the NSA story and doesn't understand why president's numbers increase when they keep talking about him defeating terrorists.

18.Guest worker program, fortress America, or status quo?
MontereyJohn - nothing happens, status quo
Brian - Status quo
St Wendeler - Guest worker program (tied to increased border security) is given lip-service, purely for political purposes. Dems nor Republicans want to vote on the issue before mid-terms. Status quo is the result, to the detriment of the US economy and the immigrant workers.



Judicial
1.Alito confirmed?
MontereyJohn - yes
Brian - Yes
St Wendeler – Yes, and Ted Kennedy goes on a bender and starts hanging out with Dodd again and make another "waitress sandwich". Chuck Schumer uses this exact phrase: "Alito is a dagger at the heart of our Constitution."

2.“Nuclear” (or “Constitutional”) option used?
MontereyJohn - no
Brian - No
St Wendeler - No

3.Third SCOTUS nominee for Bush?
MontereyJohn - yes
Brian - Yes, late '06
St Wendeler - Yes. Carpets in the offices of Schumer, Leahy, and Kennedy require "deep" cleaning



Media & Blogs
1.Pajamas Media still in existence?
MontereyJohn - yes
Brian - Yes
St Wendeler - Yes, but not gaining the traction it had hoped. Discussions on changing the model take place with second launch party scheduled for late '06. In an effort to "sex up" the site, name changed again, this time to "Lingerie Media". Runner up is Victoria's Open Secrets

2.Another Rovian Conspiracy still in existence?
MontereyJohn - absolutely
Brian - Possibly
St Wendeler - Yes (although I don't like the wobbliness of that Brian guy... have to keep an eye on him). Penelope puts down her 9mm and posts...

3.Biggest blogger to “hang it up” in 2006?
MontereyJohn - not sure, Malkin gets a real gig?
Brian - BitchPhD
St Wendeler - Hmmmm, I would say Wonkette, but she's techincally already stopped blogging - just a few dudes writing at her site from what I can tell. My guess is that OliverWillis, shamed by yet another idiotic post, calls it quits and dedicates himself full-time to uncovering the Right Wing Media cabal - and Twinkies.

4.Biggest blog scandal for 2006 (blog-swarm or scandal involving a blog)?
MontereyJohn - New York Times finally gets busted for something
Brian - no idea
St Wendeler - Some ingenous hacker finds out that 95% of the commenters on DailyKos are actually journalists working at the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, CBSABCNBC, and NPR. Despite this revelation, Eric Alterman and Oliver Willis still bristle at the term "liberal media"

5.MSNBC’s Keith Olberman still on the air?
MontereyJohn - Oh God, I hope not, going with my heart... NO
Brian - Yes
St Wendeler - After the GOP retains majority in House & Senate, Olberman has seizure on-air after he reads Countdown item #1 on same subject. MSNBC replaces Olberman with a "more level-headed" Michael Moore

6.FNC’s O’Reilly still on the air (radio or TV)?
MontereyJohn - Yes, he has huge numbers
Brian - Yes
St Wendeler - Yes, although has a slip in the radio ratings

7.Air America still on the air?
MontereyJohn - Still Sucks, out of business, or profitable? – gone
Brian - Off the Air, still sucks, and out of business. Final days has staff stealing everything that isn't nailed down for sale on eBay.
St Wendeler - Yes, but Al Franken & Randi Rhodes have to say "Soros is a GOD" at the top and bottom of each hour.



Financial / Economic
1.Unemployment higher or lower (can it go any lower)?
MontereyJohn - inches lower
Brian - +/- 2% of current (St Wendeler comments: 4% swing.... way to take a stand!)
St Wendeler - 4% and Bernanke will signal inflationary pressures on the economy. Despite this, the Dems will still complain about the lack of economic opportunity for people who want to work and the illegal immigrants will be scalded for taking jobs from Americans by both the Left and the Right.

2.Annual GDP Growth?
MontereyJohn - 3%
Brian - 3%
St Wendeler - 4%, economy goes on a tear as Bernanke takes the wheel. Consumer Confidence finally catches up with economic reality.

3.Stock Market up or down for the year?
MontereyJohn - up a little, it’s had a pretty good run to almost 11,000, it will make it to that mark sometime during the year
Brian - Up
St Wendeler - DJIA over 11,000 and looking at 12,000; Nasdaq at 3,000

4.Google’s stock price (split adjusted)?
MontereyJohn - no idea… I smell a bubble
Brian - 450
St Wendeler - Google at 500. I commit suicide for not listening to my gut instincts on this one... If a company name is a verb (and it turns a profit), "buy! buy! buy!"

5.Tax cuts permanent?
MontereyJohn - unfortunately not all of them
Brian - Yes
St Wendeler - Partially; the GOP gives up on driving a stake in the death tax.

6.Social Security “reformed”?
MontereyJohn - no way
Brian - No, they'll call it reformed, but it won't be significant reform whatever they pass. Not in an election year.
St Wendeler - Kick the can down the road. In 10 years, when Bush is a former President, the Dems will complain about the lack of resolve by Bush to solve the problem.

7.Tax system “reformed”?
MontereyJohn - hmmmmm… no
Brian - No, ditto. They'll call it reformed, but it will be more nibbling around the edges
St Wendeler - Yes, if by reform you mean "more complicated and more likely to result in increased government interest in taxpayers' everyday life"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Favorite Prediction for 2006

Mark Steyn strikes exactly the right note regarding some of our "media elites" in Hollywood in the NRO 2006 predictions.

Hollywood will have another bad year following the failure of its latest critically-acclaimed masterpiece. In Broke Bank Mountin', the entire movie industry is flying in a jet to New York when a terrorist stewardess announces she's crushing their dissent by crashing the plane into the Empire State Building. Fortunately, an unemployed giant gorilla from Animal Equity is rampaging around at the top of the tower after his film career tanked when he agreed to take a challenging role in which he played the world's first gay giant gorilla and answers a personal ad in the Village Voice from a plus-sized bear. The enraged ape reaches into the sky and picks up the plane, sending the terrorist stewardess tumbling to the back of coach, where her wig falls off and she's revealed to be Dick Cheney. Industry insiders will be taken aback by the $300-million multi-Oscar-nominated flop but have high hopes for the new Spielberg movie Cycle Of Violence starring Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet as Israeli and Palestinian unicyclists who elope after the Cirque du Soleil opening ceremony at the Italian Olympics.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Implications of NSA Snoopgate on the War On Terror

I was absolutely joking when I asked whether the Dems and their propaganda arm in the MSM wanted this man to be let off on a technicality.

NSA's "special collection program" nabbed terrorist plotter Iyman Faris


Faris admitted to traveling to New York City in late 2002 to examine the bridge, and said he concluded that the plot to destroy the bridge by severing cables was unlikely to succeed because of the bridge’s security and structure. In early 2003, he sent a message that “the weather is too hot” - a coded message indicating that the bridge plot was unlikely to succeed.
So, you know... slippery slope and all that....

(Frankly, if an Al Qaeda terrorist were to pick up the phone and give me a ring, I WOULD WANT THE NSA TO BE LISTENING TO EVERY @#$ING WORD OF MY CONVERSATION WITH THEM!!!!)

Do Shumer, Leahy, and Kennedy, and the editorial board of the NYTimes think that Faris's civil liberties have been violated? Should all charges against him be dropped on this technicality?

Well, it seems that the NYTimes and the Dems' attack on the normal practice of the NSA surveiling foreign agents outside the US (and their communications with co-conspirators in the US) will result in just that.

I watched in horror as attorney's for terrorists (never referred by Norah O'Donnell as such) argued that their clients should be freed and their convictions. Well, I'm sure that the Dems arguing against the NSA surveillance techniques will have a fun time running for congress in '06. For some reasons, I have images of Willy Horton ads dancing in my head. But this time, instead of serial rapists revolving through the prison gates, it will be terrorists with bombs followed by images of the Brooklyn bridge and a closeup of Faris.

Keep it up, guys... this is going to be great - for the GOP. It's a shame that in addition to giving the GOP a political advantage you have to harm the nation's security - and I'd gladly trade the former for the latter. But, if you're going to take a suicidal position on national security, the GOP will have no choice but to give you a little nudge...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Politics of the NSA "Snoopgate"

A memo to the Democrats and their propaganda arm (aka the MSM): THE NSA STORY IS POLITICAL SUICIDE!!!

As we've been trying to point out here, here, and here.

From Blogs For Bush:

December 28, 2005--Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans say they are following the NSA story somewhat or very closely.

Just 26% believe President Bush is the first to authorize a program like the one currently in the news. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is not while 26% are not sure.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans believe the NSA should be allowed to listen in on conversations between terror suspects and people living in the United States. That view is shared by 51% of Democrats and 57% of those not affiliated with either major political party.
I'm pretty sure the RINO's who jumped on the anti-NSA bandwagon will now swiftly jump off...what I wonder is whether or not the anti-Bush left will allow the Democrats to drop this. After all, there have already been calls for impeachment on the left over this and judging by the comments we've received here from leftwing posters, they really believe that this is the prime example of Bushitlerism - the mantra being that the NSA story is proof we're just a step away from dictatorship.

Driving off a cliff doesn't even begin to cover what the left is doing these days.

Well, as our header says... let's give the Left a gentle nudge.

;-)

I seem to recall the Lefties going crazy over an online poll conducted at Christian Science Monitor (which must've been slammed by DUers and Kossacks, since the "result" was 98% think Bush broke the law). The results from a real Rasmussen poll cited above seem to be more accurate. Although, the Left will of course doubt their authenticity.

That's fine... This is all the product of having a complicit press echoing your positions. You get lazy and think that everyone agrees with you.

It's going to be a very hard landing.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Democrat's Target Senate Seats

Well, here's their plan according to a story at CNN online:

Schumer, the head of Senate Democrats' campaign efforts, said Tuesday he is focusing on seven states where he believes they can take GOP-held Senate seats in 2006: Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Arizona.


They have a good shot in Pennsylvania with Casey running. Rhode Island... so what. The already have a Democrat for all practical purposes. Ohio, mostly because of Republican incompetence/corruption is in play. As for the rest, keep dreaming guys.

Not sure where the vulnerable Democrat seats are, but there likely are some.

If this is their plan, control of the Senate will remain in GOP hands.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Bush Lied, People Died!!!

Errr, wait... apparently that isn't the case.

H/T to Instapundit

It seems that at least someone in the traditional media has decided to actually do some work and compared the reasons for war as presented by the Bush administration and the resulting facts.

Judging the case for war
Published December 28, 2005

Did President Bush intentionally mislead this nation and its allies into war? Or is it his critics who have misled Americans, recasting history to discredit him and his policies? If your responses are reflexive and self-assured, read on.

On Nov. 20, the Tribune began an inquest: We set out to assess the Bush administration's arguments for war in Iraq. We have weighed each of those nine arguments against the findings of subsequent official investigations by the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee and others. We predicted that this exercise would distress the smug and self-assured--those who have unquestioningly supported, or opposed, this war.

The matrix below summarizes findings from the resulting nine editorials. We have tried to bring order to a national debate that has flared for almost three years. Our intent was to help Tribune readers judge the case for war--based not on who shouts loudest, but on what actually was said and what happened.

The administration didn't advance its arguments with equal emphasis. Neither, though, did its case rely solely on Iraq's alleged illicit weapons. The other most prominent assertion in administration speeches and presentations was as accurate as the weapons argument was flawed: that Saddam Hussein had rejected 12 years of United Nations demands that he account for his stores of deadly weapons--and also stop exterminating innocents. Evaluating all nine arguments lets each of us decide which ones we now find persuasive or empty, and whether President Bush tried to mislead us.

In measuring risks to this country, the administration relied on the same intelligence agencies, in the U.S. and overseas, that failed to anticipate Sept. 11, 2001. We now know that the White House explained some but not enough of the ambiguities embedded in those agencies' conclusions. By not stressing what wasn't known as much as what was, the White House wound up exaggerating allegations that proved dead wrong.

Those flawed assertions are central to the charge that the president lied. Such accusations, though, can unfairly conflate three issues: the strength of the case Bush argued before the war, his refusal to delay its launch in March 2003 and his administration's failure to better anticipate the chaos that would follow. Those three are important, but not to be confused with one another.

After reassessing the administration's nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege. Example: The accusation that Bush lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs overlooks years of global intelligence warnings that, by February 2003, had convinced even French President Jacques Chirac of "the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq." We also know that, as early as 1997, U.S. intel agencies began repeatedly warning the Clinton White House that Iraq, with fissile material from a foreign source, could have a crude nuclear bomb within a year.

Read the whole article... it's quite lengthy, but worthwhile. Especially if you're a moonbat suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Now, hindsight is 20/20 and intelligence is rarely a "slam dunk" (as Tenet asserted. So, it was highly probable that pre-war claims would be erroneous by some measure. HOWEVER, being wrong by underestimating Saddam's capabilities was just as likely as being wrong by overestimating his capabilities. In fact, the last opportunity we had to assess his WMD capabilities (after the 1991 phase of the Gulf War) proved that we knew less about his programs than we had thought.

This article is going to be saved for future reference. Thanks to the Tribune for taking a rational approach to this question. It's a rarity in the MSM these days.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Birthday, Karl Rove

For those that didn't celebrate it yesterday, just a reminder that December 25th really is a special day here at Another Rovian Conspiracy. Yes, it was the birthday of our Prince of Darkness, Karl Rove.

After we celebrated the birth of Jesus here at ARC, it was down to business celebrating Karl's birthday. The ritualistic sacrifice was a bit messy, but we've gotten pretty good at it now and we're able to clean it all up in a jiffy. The in-laws that were staying with us asked a lot of questions (such as "Why is there a goat in the basement?"), but they're none the wiser.

And now for something completely different...

It seems that the New York Times has decidely and openly placed its chips behind Al Qaeda and any other enemy of the US.

The switches are some of the main arteries for moving voice and some Internet traffic into and out of the United States, and, with the globalization of the telecommunications industry in recent years, many international-to-international calls are also routed through such American switches.

One outside expert on communications privacy who previously worked at the N.S.A. said that to exploit its technological capabilities, the American government had in the last few years been quietly encouraging the telecommunications industry to increase the amount of international traffic that is routed through American-based switches.

The growth of that transit traffic had become a major issue for the intelligence community, officials say, because it had not been fully addressed by 1970's-era laws and regulations governing the N.S.A. Now that foreign calls were being routed through switches on American soil, some judges and law enforcement officials regarded eavesdropping on those calls as a possible violation of those decades-old restrictions, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court-approved warrants for domestic surveillance.

surprise, surprise... our 19th and 20th century laws applying to communications don't translate well to the 21st century. According to the Times, "some judges" think eavesdropping on a call between Afghanistan and Pakistan requires a search warrant because it is routed through the US. I'd like to meet any judge or enforcement official who actually thinks this so I can give them a quick slap across the face. That is absolutely asinine.

Frankly, I'm actually happy that the NSA was able to route more international (eg. foreign to foreign) telecommunications traffic through the US, allowing us to intercept and log any communication we wanted. Sure would make connecting the dots a whole lot easier.

Oh ,well... it was fun while it lasted. I s'pose the NYTimes will be declaring triumph over their defense of our liberties as the mushroom cloud engulfs 229 West 43rd Street in New York city.

Be sure to check out Just One Minute and Protein Wisdom (here and here)for additional coverage. They're knee-deep in this crap... I frankly view this as a non-issue. Any lefty who thinks that Bush is going to be impeached because he's eavesdropping on OBL's communications to KSM hasn't got a clue about American politics.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Soldier's Silent Night

Merry Christmas to everyone... even the Lefty Moonbats. May we all find peace (for once) on this day.

I'd bet that most everyone has heard this, but in case you haven't, here's "A Soldier's Silent Night." While our forces are vigilently protecting us from enemies that seek our destruction, be sure to keep them in your hearts and prayers each day - and especially today. And remember that our men and women under arms are deployed not just in Afghanistan and Iraq, but throughout the world. Pray for all of them and all of their families.

Click Here for Audio of A Soldier's Silent Night

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Christmas Greeting

I'm sitting here "thinking" (never my strong suit) about getting out my Christmas cards.

But what I do have is a lovely little Christmas video that you can watch here.

Feliz Navidad to all from California!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Frustrations of a Blogger

Having to hear in the MSM and the lefty blogosphere spin and distort the issue of NSA intercepts is very frustrating for those of us in the blogosphere. In almost all instances, the MSM and the Left are portraying the NSA to be targeting "Americans." As Dick Cheney pointed out in the following conversation with the press, nothing could be further from the truth:

Q Do you not understand, though, that some Americans are concerned to hear that their government is eavesdropping on these private conversations?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: What private conversations?

Q The private conversations between Americans and people overseas.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Which people overseas?

Q You tell me.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's important that you be clear that we're talking about individuals who are al Qaeda or have an association with al Qaeda, who we have reason to believe are part of that terrorist network. There are two requirements, and that's one of them. It's not just random conversations. If you're calling Aunt Sadie in Paris, we're probably not really interested.
and as Cliff May subsequently points out:
If an al-Qaeda operative in Karachi phones someone in Paris, France and tells him to go to the US to carry out an act of terrorism – obviously the President would have the authority to listen to that conversation without a warrant.

But if an al-Qaeda operative in Karachi phones someone in Paris, Texas and tells him to go to Houston to carry out an act of terrorism -- the President would not have that authority to listen to that conversation without a warrant?

In other words, once a terrorist lands on American soil he must be given additional rights, including an expectation of privacy when he gets a phone call from Osama bin Laden.


That's what the administration’s critics are arguing.

But, don't try and explain that to the DUers. They've all signed up to the theory that the NSA is watching your every move and tracking every FedEx and UPS delivery.

So, the most frustrating thing about being a blogger is that you find out that you know more about the facts than the MSM is presenting in the news.

In addition, the other frustrating part is the ridiculous charge that the NSA intercepts of communications by foreign terrorists (to other foreigners or to people here in the US) is "illegal" or unconstitutional. I think it's been pretty clearly demonstrated by Jeff Goldstein at ProteinWisdom (here, here, here, and here) and John Hinderaker at Powerline that these intercepts are neither illegal nor unconstitutional.

As I've stated in the comments to this post, if more oversight is required - fine. Let's give Congress some additional capability to have oversight into these activities - but not at the expense of speed and flexibility. As the editors at National Review pointed out, "the position of Bush's critics is that he can launch a Hellfire missile at an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan or Yemen, but can't listen to that operative's telephone conversations. Absurd."

Now, if you're a Lefty and wish to argue these points, fine... please read the research done by Hinderaker and Goldstein and then let's discuss. But it's extremely weak for you to simply throw at that King Bushitler has stolen our civil liberties and you won't even consider the possibility that the NYTimes and the MSM is trying to distort the activities of the NSA to fit to your preconceptions of Bushco.

As I've pointed out here, we are very clearly at war - although many refuse to accept that fact. I realize that many of you don't think it's an actual war and it would be better for us to return to the 90s when we were fat, dumb, and happy (except for the occassional terrorist attack), but that is not our future. Yes, the Spanish and the French have an occassional terrorist act and they don't seem to mind. Well, that's because they're French and Spanish - and they look to us to take down the bad guys. And while some might think it'd be great to be French and surrender to anyone with a sharp implement or a petrol bomb and a desire to torch some cars, there's nothing cool about being unable to defend yourself. And for all of the terrorist attacks that they've suffered, their enemies have not been able to land a decisive blow like we received on 9/11.

Or perhaps you've forgotten.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Saddam Proclaims White House "Biggest Liar in the World" and that He Was Tortured by the Americans - Now Where Did He Ever Get an Idea Like That?

Gee, I'm baffled? Where did Saddam get the idea that such a preposterous and incredible line of defense might work?

Oh, now I remember! It was from the Howard Dean, Jonathan Alter, The New York Times, Chris Matthews... blah, blah, blah

Hussein: White House 'No. 1 liar in the world'

After day of outbursts, the trial adjourns until January

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The trial of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, which has fallen into a pattern of grim testimony interrupted by theatrical outbursts, adjourned Thursday for more than a month.

The trial resumes on January 24.

On Thursday, as in previous days, testimony about brutal treatment was interrupted by courtroom tirades by Hussein and his half brother.

Hussein charged Thursday that the Bush administration lied when it claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, just at it lied by disputing his claims of being beaten.

"The White House lies once more," Hussein said, "the No. 1 liar in the world. They said in Iraq, there is chemicals, and there is a relation to terrorism, and they announced later we couldn't find any of that in Iraq.

"Also, they said that what Saddam Hussein (said) was not true," he continued in an apparent reference to his claims Wednesday that he and all seven of his codefendants were beaten and tortured by their American captors.

Hussein: 'We don't lie'

"I have documented the injuries I had before three American medical teams," he said.

Hussein later appeared to waver, saying the medical teams numbered "two, for sure, unequivocally." He began to heal after eight months, he said, but bruises remain three years later.

"We don't lie," he said. "The White House lies."

The U.S. State Department and a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said Hussein's claims of beatings and torture were untrue.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys requested that the testimony of prosecution witnesses not be broadcast until all the witnesses have testified, saying they are watching each other's testimonies and repeating them. The court said it would consider that request.

A day of disruptions

Hussein and seven codefendants are charged with crimes against humanity, including the killings of 140 men and boys in the town of Dujail following a failed 1982 assassination attempt against Hussein there.

The trial went into a closed session Thursday at the end of an eventful day in which Hussein and his half brother, Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti repeatedly disrupted the proceedings.

The judge closed the session after Hassan, the former chief of intelligence, asked to speak to him in private. On Wednesday, Hassan said he wanted time to talk to the judge about his health.

Earlier in the day, Hassan launched into long political diatribes, hurling insults at prosecutors, complaining about the conditions of their detention and challenging the legitimacy of the court.

Ranting about the food he is being served, Hassan said a New York Times magazine column mentioned that his ribs are showing because of weight loss.

Hassan also accused prosecutors of being former Baath Party members, implying they should not be leveling accusations against him. The attorneys threatened to walk out and resign from the case.

"This is not justice," Hassan declared. "This is not democracy." Asked to stop by prosecutors, Hassan said, "My talk is strengthening the court, and will give it credibility."

Courtroom fracas

At one point, a fracas erupted among Hassan, Hussein and prosecutors, prompted by Hussein's claim that a guard had been rude to him. "He acted without your orders, so he should be disciplined," Hussein said. "He is a small employee." The guard was removed from the courtroom.

Hussein also challenged the validity of a witness, the first of two to testify Thursday from behind a curtain to protect his identity. The witness said he was 8 years old at the time of the Dujail killings, but testified his father, his three uncles and his grandmother were arrested and imprisoned.

"She complained to us about what had happened to her," he said of his grandmother, who was released after four years. "They used to torture her before her children and they would torture her children before her. She said, 'They tortured us, and we did not know for what reason.' "

Defense attorneys and Hussein complained about the witness because he was a child at the time, was not arrested and did not see any torture or killings personally.

"His testimony is documented and accepted, and he's underage (at the time)?" Hussein asked. "This is something I would like to understand. Is this allowed? Is this permissible?"

Hussein claims he was beaten

On Wednesday, Hussein said his American captors beat him "on every part of my body and marks are still on top of my body and that was done by Americans," Hussein said. "Yes, we were beaten by the Americans, and we were tortured, everyone of us."

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Mousawi said he had visited the defendants in their cells and saw no signs of torture.

Christopher Reid, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said none of the defendants has been tortured or beaten.

Also on Wednesday, witness Ali Haj Hussein al-Haydari described more than four years of captivity and torture, and the execution of family members, including several brothers. His brother Hassan, who was among those killed, was one of six men who plotted unsuccessfully to assassinate Hussein.

More than 40 members of his family were taken into custody by government agents. Al-Haydari also talked of "walking through dead bodies" at the headquarters of the Baath Party, the ruling party during Hussein's regime.

Another witness said he was tortured three times with electric shocks during the initial 17-day period and beaten with cables during the time at Abu Ghraib.

"Even children were beaten with cables," he said. "Children died at Abu Ghraib."

CNN's Aneesh Raman contributed to this report
Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Update From the Front Lines

***Welcome GatewayPundit and Grouchy Old Cripple Readers.***

Received this email from one of our soldiers, still tirelessly defending our freedom despite our current Commander-In-Chief. I know you will all enjoy - be sure to click on the references I've linked to throughout the email:

From: "SSGT Anthony Rimmage" - Anthony.Rimmage*us.army.mil
To: "ARC:St Wendeler"
Subject: Christmas Away from Home - Waiting for the Withdrawal Timetable


Well, St Wendeler... thought I'd give you an update from the front lines. Sorry for the delay in writing, but you know how hectic things can get over here. Here's my latest diary entry for today:

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005 - 08:30 Zulu Time
How long has it been? It seems like just yesterday that I was stationed here... but, how many Christmas celebrations have I spent in this God forsaken place? Yes, I guess it has been that long. Yet another Christmas is approaching and there's no chance that I'll be home to enjoy it with my friends and family. The recent elections here appeared to go well, but they sure resulted in a lot of political turmoil, what with the various factions all threatening to sit out and fail to create a coalition government. End the end, cooler heads eventually prevailed and a coalition of the two major parties was formed. I was just happy that they didn't end up getting violent - because these people really get enthusiastic when it comes to violence. Fortunately, if they had resorted to their baser instincts, my .50 caliber would've straightened things out... I guess it's encouraging to see democracy in action in a country that really has no history of such things... In fact, more often than not they have rejected any move towards democracy, so it's amazing how far they've come.

Sure, the locals seem friendly and all when we head into town and do a little socializing. But, you can just sense that these people don't want us here. In some cases, it's outright hostility. It seems like they question the motives of everything we do. How many of us had to die to give them freedom and this is how they thank us? I suppose if I had to put up with thousands of foreign soldiers occupying my country, I'd be pissed, too.

Heck, perhaps we're just inciting the locals and making the problem worse. Heck, their probably justified in their hatred for us. Well, one thing is for sure. If we do withdraw now, it's unlikely that the local forces would be able to protect this country from its enemies - internal and external. Add to that the damage that our withdrawal would have on this country's economy and I guess it's a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

When will our country learn that we cannot be the world's policeman, taking down criminals around the world and replacing them with a form of government that we prefer? The constitution that we imposed on these people is a SHAM, I tell you and they'll figure it out some day.

We've got to stop being the perennial cowboy... This isn't fun & games and a lot of people are making huge sacrifices just so we can have this country as a military staging area. It's disgusting how we've imposed our system of democracy, "capitalism," and other "Western" values on these people - they didn't have a desire for any of this, but did we listen? No, we had the might and therefore we decided what was right.

Sorry to get so down, but today is the 22,144th day that I've been stationed here and I've lost all patience with our leadership's call to "stay the course." This will be the 60th Christmas that I'll spend away from home and I just don't think after all of the sacrifice that it was worth it...

Staff Sgt Anthony Rimmage *
1st Infantry Division
Schweinfurt, Germany **

Yes, Anthony... it's time to end the occupation and bring our forces home. The fight is over and 60 years is long enough. It's time for the German people to stand up and defend themselves. If you want to talk about withdrawal, I say let's start there. Let's pull our troops home, or as Murtha requested, redeploy them to a more important region of the world - like the Middle East.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

* Not a real soldier
** Instead of Germany, similar links could have been provided throughout related to the Phillippines, Japan, South Korea, etc, etc...

Martyr Act Extension - Laugh Out Loud

Scott Ott at Scrappleface so perfectly captures how silly we muss seem to our enemies:

Patriot Act, Global Jihad Get 6 Month Extensions
by Scott Ott

(2005-12-22) — Just hours after the U.S. Senate voted to extend the Patriot Act for six months, al Qaeda released a statement declaring that it would extend its global terror war for the same period.

Al Qaeda’s governing body approved the extension to the Martyr Act, which had been slated to expire December 31, despite controversial provisions which some in the international terror community say pose a threat to civil rights, or at least open the door to potential abuses.

“We have to strike that delicate balance of achieving our strategic goals without limiting the liberty that our people value so much,” said an unnamed aide to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. “We’ll use this extension time to retool the Martyr Act in a way that addresses personal privacy concerns, without eviscerating our effectiveness.”

Critics of the Martyr Act contend that al Qaeda agents should have to show more evidence that a potential target is a threat to the establishment of a global Islamic Caliphate before they execute a suicide bombing, videotaped beheading or detonation of weapons of mass destruction.

“You have to have checks and balances,” the al Qaeda source said. “Otherwise, you have all of these independent cells out there terrorizing people with no cohesive vision. Someone in the chain of command has to have the authority to run a sanity check.”

The spokesman said six months should be enough time for “the hawks and the bleeding hearts to reach a reasonable compromise.”
Frankly, I don't think the GOP can get the requisite number of Dems to pass the thing. They'll try to blame Bush, but when the next attack occurs on US soil and they set up another commission to figure out who knew what and when, don't be surprised that some FBI agent comes out and mentions the fact that he had a warrant for Mohammed's land line and his main cell phone, but hadn't gotten one for his 5th cell phone - so, he couldn't find out when the attack was going to occur.

But hey... if we can't protect civil liberties for the terrorists, we can't protect the civil liberties of all Americans. Except for the Mafioso... they've already lost their civil liberties when it comes to roving wiretaps. Thank God the Dems haven't made a stink about that.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ARC's Quote of the Day

As we've been discussing here at Another Rovian Conspiracy, your perception of the appropriateness of these intercepts likely is entirely dependent on your assumptions regarding the War On Terror. If you view it as primarily a criminal matter (to be settled in the courts), then the warrantless intercepts surely will seem to be a prosecutorial overzealousness. If you view it as a hot war, then you recognize it as gathering of actionable intelligence consistent with standard practices of war.

This is the , from this editorial in National Review Online, as it speaks directly to this difference in fundamental understanding of the War On Terror:

The position of Bush's critics is that he can launch a Hellfire missile at an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan or Yemen, but can't listen to that operative's telephone conversations. Absurd.
The entire article is a must read.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

M - I - Z / Z - O - U

From the St Louis Post-Dispatch:

Mizzou will need miracle or two
By Graham Watson

COLUMBIA, MO. — Illinois coach Bruce Weber said for tonight's annual Braggin' Rights game between his Illini and Missouri, you have to throw out the records.

Throw out the fact that Illinois is 11-0 this year and 48-2 over the last two seasons.

Throw out the fact that Missouri coach Quin Snyder is 1-5 against the Illini in his career, and the Tigers come into the game limping at 4-3.

When these two teams meet tonight at Savvis Center, the only thing that matters is how they play for a few hours.
All I have to say is that if Mizzou wins tonight, it will be yet another sign that the Apocalypse is coming.

Here is a history of the Braggin' Rights game. I happened to be sitting under the basket at the 1993 game, which had to be one of the best games in the history of the series - especially considering Mizzou pulled it out in the 3rd OT:
Year: 1993
Winner: Missouri
Score: 108-107 (3 OT)
Illini top performance: Kiwane Garris 31 pts., 6 assists
Mizzou top performance: Melvin Booker 21 pts., 13 assists
So, to all my co-conspirators... I know you'll all join in helping me sing the following. ;-)

Click Here for Audio
Every true son, so happy hearted,
Skies above us are blue,
There's a spirit so deep within us,
Old Missouri here's to you (rah rah!);
When the band plays the Tiger war song,
And when the fray is through,
We will tramp, tramp, tramp, around the columns,
With a cheer, for Old Mizzou!

Hit it, Hooray, Hurrah,
Mizzou, Mizzou,
Hooray, Hurrah,
Mizzou, Mizzou,
Hooray, Hurrah,
And a "Bully" for Ol' Mizzou,
Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah,
Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah,
Tigers!

"Fight Tigers"

Fight, Tigers, fight for Old Mizzou,
Right behind you, everyone is with you,
Break the line and follow down the field,
And you'll be, on the top, upon the top;
Fight, Tigers, you will always win,
Proudly keep the colors flying skyward,
In the end we'll win the victory,
So Tigers, fight for Old Mizzou!


Now didn't that feel great? Thank you and GOODNIGHT!! I'll be here all week & please don't forget to tip the wait staff!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

A Few Items

Item 1

The Senate passes a bill that actually reduces spending. Meanwhile, Harry Reid demonstrates why Bush has been unable to change the partisan tone in Washington:

But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada countered that the GOP was advancing "an ideologically driven, extreme, radical budget. It caters to lobbyists and an elite group of ultraconservative ideologues here in Washington, all at the expense of middle class Americans," he said.

Of course, the fact that the Dems don't play nice and pull out their usual, slanderous epithets is all the fault of Chimpy McHitlerBush...

Item 2

The economy continues to grow at record pace:
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
AP Economics Writer
Dec 21 8:37 AM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy turned in a remarkably strong performance in the summer despite surging energy prices and the battering the Gulf Coast states took from hurricanes, although business growth was slightly lower than the government previously estimated. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the gross domestic product, the nation's total output of goods and services, rose at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in the July-September quarter. It was the fastest pace of growth in 1 1/2 years.

While down slightly from the 4.3 percent GDP estimate made a month ago, the new figure demonstrated that the economy kept expanding at a strong pace during the summer, led by solid increases in consumer demand, especially for autos, and business investment.
No doubt Harry would regard this as "an ideologically driven, extreme, radical [economy]. It caters to lobbyists and an elite group of ultraconservative ideologues here in Washington, all at the expense of middle class Americans." Just a hunch... Paul at Wizbang notes that there's no credit to the Bush administration in this AP wire story. (Wonder why?)

Item 3

While the Left and their propaganda arm in the MSM go apesh!t over the efforts of our NSA in this War on Terror, be sure to check out actual research and analysis of the FISA statute, Executive authority, and judicial precedent. All of this research is countered in the usual manner, but here's a snippet from Oliver Willis (who in an updated post refers to those of us who are strong on national security as "pro-bin laden" - One wonders how Osama would respond to such a characterization):
There are always going to be some people (Prtoien Wisdom .ed) who, short of murdering an old woman on live tv, are going to defend George W. Bush no matter what he does. But on the issue of this spying, I don’t care what the polls are. If only 1% of Americans understand that the president isn’t above the law, so be it. It is wrong.

to which Jeff at Protein Wisdom responds:
I’ve put research and time into establishing and arguing my position—which I developing by setting out to find out as much as I can about FISA, the President’s authority, etc; Oliver’s response is to call me a kneejerk Bush supporter—which is all he’s capable of, because even surfing the web is a strain on the fat !@#$.

If Oliver has some argument to make rather than irrelevant suggestion that “if it’s wrong it’s wrong” (I’m arguing that it’s not wrong, which makes his objection as flabby as his thighs), let him make it. Otherwise he should just get back to the business of mauling rib slabs.


See Jeff at Protein Wisdom . I especially liked this analysis which echoes my sentiment regarding the political implications of this for the Democrats:
f the Dems’ argument is that, should an al Qaeda operative phone a US number, the NSA should hang up for fear of violating the rights of US citizen—even though there is no evidence the government ever planned to use the information gleaned in a criminal proceding—well, then, let them make that case.

Democratic party spokespeople are all over TV today stuttering through their talking points about the President’s supposed violations of federal law, asserting such with absolute certainty—which, sadly and obviously, means they are forced to argue around the objections raised to their sudden rousing defense of FISA (and against Presidential powers claimed by Carter, Reagan, and Clinton). On FOXNews just now, my own Senator Salazar looked particularly unconfortable and out of his depth.

Tigerhawk also provides excellent analysis of this kerfluffle.

Armando has the following post at DailyKos:
Judge Posner: FISA Needs To Be Amended; Unsaid: Bush Committed Crimes
My next post will be on this subject: "Armando quotes Judge Posner; Unsaid: Armando is the real killer of Nicole Simpson"

Item 4

Faces from the Front provides an analysis of George Clooney's war movies and comes to the conclusion that Clooney is a Neocon. Does anyone doubt that Clooney regards the characters he plays in these movies to be heros and antithetical to neocon foreign policy?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Progressive New Yorkers Cheer on their Union Comrades

Oh, wait... not quite. Even Katie Couric decried the "suffering" that the NYC Transit Strike is causing.

NYC Transit Strike Enters Day Two
POSTED: 7:18 am EST December 14, 2005
UPDATED: 10:16 am EST December 21, 2005

NEW YORK -- The New York City transit strike entered its second day Wednesday as lawyers for the city and state looked to the courts to inflict more punishment against union leaders, and commuters piled into cabs and walked the streets in the blistering cold.

New Yorkers were out before sunrise on Day Two of the strike, hoping to avoid the long lines and crushing crowds that formed at commuter rail stations during rush hour Tuesday. Outside Penn Station, a line of taxis were ready to pick up passengers around 7 a.m.

"A nightmare, disorganized, especially going home," Aleksandra Radakovic said Wednesday morning in describing her commute.

No worries... the Socialist Workers Online is there to take up the cause!
New York City transit workers need your support
Their fight is our fight
By Jen Roesch and Alan Maass | December 21, 2005

TRANSIT WORKERS in New York City are on an all-out strike for the first time in 25 years against the combined wrath of the city’s economic, political and media establishment.

It’s a battle that has already reverberated across the U.S. as the 33,000 men and women who keep New York’s trains and buses rolling draw a line in the sand for all workers against the relentless attacks of employers on wages, benefits and working conditions.
What you can do
-- Collect donations for the TWU Local 100 Strike Fund. Checks can be sent to: TWU Local 100 Strike Fund, 80 West End Ave., New York, NY 10023.
-- Organize a delegation to visit a picket line near you. See www.twulocal100.org for picket locations.
-- Pass resolutions in your union in support of the transit workers and opposing the use of the Taylor Law.
-- Send e-mails in support of the transit workers to Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Pataki and the MTA.
-- The New York Daily News is attacking the transit workers. Call (212-210-2100) or e-mail (news@edit.nydailynews.com) the Daily News to let them know that you stand behind the strikers and oppose their anti-union campaign.

Following marathon negotiations, leaders of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 announced in the early morning hours of Tuesday that the union had rejected the city’s “final” offer and was on strike effective immediately. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a state agency that runs the city’s bus and subway system, immediately went to court, and a judge imposed fines of $1 million a day against the TWU.

A transit strike is illegal under New York’s Taylor Law, which prohibits walkouts by public-sector workers. Under the law, individual transit workers could be fined the equivalent of two days’ pay for every day on strike.

The intent of these mammoth penalties—a throwback to the judicial union-busting of the 19th century—is obvious: to stop workers from standing up for their rights and defending their union. The MTA wants to make an example out of transit workers—and if they get away with it, employers everywhere will be emboldened to demand even more concessions.

Waiting for Oliver Willis to jump in with a reference to 19th century union-busting

Wizbang has more on the New York

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Are We At War?

It seems that this is a point that is in dispute by many on the Left. While they may pay lipservice to the War On Terror, they laugh at its implications... Yes, perhaps it should have been called the War on Islamofascism, but I think that the nuanced position of the administration (that we're against radical Islam that seeks to destroy the west through terrorist means and establish a caliphate) would be lost on the Muslim world (who would see such language as War On Islam). And there's little doubt that the New York Times would paint the same picture as Al Jazeera - inciting the entire Muslim world against us.

Anyway, as Jeff Goldstein points out in this EXCELLENT POST, the answer to this question will likely have an impact on your perception on Bush's super-secret NSA wiretaps of foreign terrorists.

If you think the "War On Terror" is primarily one for law enforcement (local, state, federal, and Interpol (LOL!)), then it's likely that you view terrorists as criminal suspects, requiring Miranda rights and protections against overzealous prosecution (such as viewing the capture of John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan as being a case of entrapment - ie but for the US becoming involved in Afghanistan, li'l Johnny wouldn't have raised arms against the US).

Jeff's post at Protein Wisdom is great and is a must read:

As Dale Franks argues in his rebuttal of fellow QandA contributor Jon Henke:
Where the problem would come in—and I think it’s the only area that would be problematic—would be if the president was conducting the warrantless surveillance of citizens who could not, in fact, be shown to have contact with hostile foreign powers. Or, conversely, if these surveillance wiretaps were to be introduced as evicence in a criminal proceeding. In that case, I think the warrantless wiretaps would certainly have to be thrown out.

Absent that, it seems to me that the relevant case law, while not precisely on point, gives the president an excellent argument in support of his actions to conduct such surveillance, purely for intelligence-gathering purposes.

On several fronts, then, the legal question is murky (and the paradigm you choose will affect the degree of murkiness you see)—but there should be no doubt that, wherever you come down on that front, simply that there is a compelling legal argument to be made on the President’s behalf, coupled with the fact that he acted on the advise of counsel, engaged in 45 day oversight reviews with the FISA Court, and briefed congressional leaders, will be enough to militate in the President’s favor. When all the facts come out, the Dems will look either weak or confused—and worst of all, they will have tied themselves, in the public mind, to the leakers.

Which is why today we are seeing such a furious attempt to paint the leakers as “truth tellers” combatting the excesses of a rogue administration.

But it won’t fly. And once again, the Democratic leadership has painted itself into an undesireable corner. Should they press the issue, things will only get worse, I predict—unless, of course, the Administration truly was misusing the surveillance for unrelated domestic purposes, an idea that depends on a wide ranging conspiracy that only takes place in the minds of the most feverishly deluded anti-Bush progressives.

While the Dems and their propaganda arm call for the impeachment of the President (and incorrectly and prejudicially refer to the President's order as "illegal"), it's unlikely that the public will call for Bush's head because he sought out information which has prevented terrorist attacks in the past four years.

If you wrote this up as an episode of 24, the West Wing, or even Commander-In-Chief for cying out loud, I think the public would be rooting for the President, not the yapping Dems. And that, my friends, is all you need to know about the political implications of this story. Bush holding up pictures of radical, Islamofascists caught or killed in this War On Terror because of information from these NSA intercepts vs. Reid calling for their civil liberties under a Constitution (which the terrorists view as evil incarnate) to be extended to them.

See Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute and Michelle Malkin for more.

Also see some excellent research by Kevin Alyward over at Wizbang:
In the far corners of the Internet, the NSA's domestic spying capability is hardly news. In one section in a rambling history of the program the applicability of FISA is discussed.
Within the United States, FISA still leaves the NSA free to pull into its massive vacuum cleaner every telephone call and message entering, leaving, OR TRANSITING the country.

By carefully inserting the words "by the National Security Agency" into the FISA legislation, the NSA has skillfully excluded from the coverage of the FISA statute as well as the surveillance court all interceptions received from the British GCHQ or any other non-NSA source.

Thus it is possible for GCHQ to monitor the necessary domestic circuits and pass them on to the NSA through the UKUSA Agreement, giving them impunity to target and watch-list Americans.

While there may be debate about whether or not such spying is appropriate, it appears that the US government (and it's allies) have specifically built a system designed to give them the capability to do this type of surveillance, and apparently to do so legally.
The wisdom of a "black" operations like this (which dates back to the 1940's) is up for debate, but trying to spin it as an invention of the Bush administration, or their use of it as "unprecedented" doesn't jibe with history.
Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler