one nation, under surveillance
number 60   07.09.06
NSA Domestic Spying Began Weeks After Bush Took
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Documents filed in a federal lawsuit
in New York appear to confirm
reports that the National Security
Agency undertook its program of
warrantless domestic wiretapping in
February of 2001, some seven
months before the September 11th
terrorist attacks.

The papers assert that the NSA
asked telecom giant AT&T to help it
develop a call monitoring capability
for its terrorism related
investigations. President Bush is
reported to have issued executive
orders at that time authorizing the
agency to collect and share data on
American citizens, effectively
contravening the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act.
The case, which was filed in the US
District court in New York on behalf of
customers of Verizon and BellSouth,
contends that the companies violated
privacy laws when they cooperated
with the NSA program. In a filing
adding AT&T as a defendant to the
suit, lawyers for the plaintiffs allege
that the world’s largest
telecommunications firm was
approached by the agency in early
2001 and asked to provide
technological assistance in setting up
at least one state-of-the-art digital
data-mining facility. Other suits
against the telecoms have claimed
that the NSA eventually constructed
secure rooms at AT&T sites in cities
across the country, including Seattle,
San Francisco, and St. Louis.
Since details of the NSA program
began to emerge last December,
the President has maintained that
expansion of domestic
surveillance was made necessary
by the so-called “war on terror,”
which was announced in an
address to a special joint session
of Congress on September 20,

Administration officials have also
said that they received
Congressional approval for the
spying in the October, 2001
authorization for military action
against Afghanistan. The
allegations contained within the
New York court filing call that
chronology into question.   
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Interrogators Use Brain Scans to Develop Mental Mug Shots
Modern Medicine
Excommunicated by
The American Civil Liberties Union
has filed Freedom of Information
Requests with the federal security
agencies in an effort to discover
details about the possible use of
sophisticated brain scanning
technology in terrorism and law
enforcement interrogations. The
requests were filed with the
Pentagon, the National Security
Agency, the CIA, the FBI and the
Department of Homeland Security.
Government efforts to develop brain
scanning into a reliable lie detection
technique have been widely
reported. The ACLU called for careful
evaluation of the procedure, citing a
lack of evidence of the technology’s
safety and reliability, as well as the
absence of uniform standards for it’s

The two types of brain scans that
been studied for use in the
interrogation of prisoners are
functional magnetic resonance
imaging (fMRI), which produces
detailed images of brain activity, and
electroencephalographic scanning,
which uses electrodes attached to
the subject’s head to assemble a
picture of brain activity. Researchers
hope to be able to produce more
reliable findings than the traditional
polygraph, the results of which are
typically inadmissible in criminal court
proceedings. It is thought that the
Pentagon may have used fMRI
equipment in prisoner interrogations
at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In a statement announcing the FOIA
requests, Barry Steinhardt, Director
of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty
Project, warned, “These brain
scanning technologies are far
from ready for forensic uses and if
deployed will inevitably be
misused and misunderstood. This
technology must not be deployed
until it is proven effective- and we
are along way from that point,
according to scientists in the field.”

Privacy advocates have argued
that even if brain-scanning
prisoners during questioning were
proven safe and effective, it still
represents a new level of
intrusiveness on the part of the
state. Critics also point out that
the limited positive results
achieved so far under controlled
conditions may not be duplicable
in real world
its all true  
The head of the Catholic  
Pontifical Council for the
Family proclaimed in a recent
interview that participation by a
Catholic at any level in the
process of stem cell research
would be grounds for

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo
told the leading Italian Catholic
Famiglia Cristiana,
“Destroying human embryos is
equivalent to an abortion,” and
would therefore unequivocally
result in excommunication of all
participants in the process.  
Trujillo said, “Excommunication
applies to all women, doctors
and researchers who eliminate
embryos (and also to)
politicians that approve of the

Trujillo’s statement clarifies the
church’s stance on stem cell
research, abortion and related
medical technologies, such as
in-vitro fertilization.  Trujillo
recently sparked controversy
when the Council released a
letter that denounced same
sex marriage as "absolute

American Catholics who are
contemplating using in-vitro
fertilization will have to balance
their desire to have a family
against the prospect of being
cut off from their church.
Trujillo said, referring to
medical technologies, that
"certain crimes", were
regarded by modern society as
if they had "become
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Air Force Planning New Type of Search
Percent of US public schools
where at least one building was
in disrepair in 1999
The Air Force signaled its interest in
monitoring Internet Blogs when it
recently gave $450,000 to a
Massachusetts based company for a
multiple year study of weblogs and
link analysis.  Versatile Information
Systems (VIS) was selected to study
weblogs that “may provide
information analysts and warfighters
with invaluable help fighting the war
on terrorism.”

The study is a component of the
larger Air Force research project
called “Information Forensics and
Process Integration” that is exploring
new technologies for monitoring the
Internet and Internet users.  The
Senior Scientist for VIS said that
currently military surveillance of web
users habits and weblogs yields too
much “actionable information”.
The Air Force study is seeking tools
to filter weblog content and analyze
hyperlinks contained in postings.  
The three year contract will focus on
analyzing the language usage and
prose characteristics of bloggers to
be able to more effectively sift
through huge amounts of web
postings looking for suspicious
threads that may identify web users
with terrorist sympathies or leanings.

The firm's study, called "Automated
Ontologically-Based Link Analysis of
International Web Logs for the Timely
Discovery of Relevant and Credible
Information" will, said VIS president
Mieczyslaw Kokar,“provide the war
fighter with a kind of information
radar to better understand the
informational battle space.”      
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source: US Department of






previous editions

Links of the Week

CRS Report:The Cost of Iraq,
Afghanistan, and Other Global
War on Terror Operations  
Since 9/11

Lethal Risk to Birds from
Insecticide use in the US

Paul Klee : Curtain, 1924.
Guggenheim Museum

John Locke: A Letter
Concerning Toleration, 1689

Arches National Park, Utah
National Park Service

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CEO Pensions Increasingly Super-sized
Worker Pensions Frequently Down-sized
Human Activity
Pushes Birds Out of
Many American companies, citing the
current economic climate, have
discontinued funding traditional
pension plans for their workers
replacing the old guaranteed benefit
system with a 401k plans where
employees can choose to withhold
some of their paychecks to be
invested for their retirement.  Some
companies that have faced the
prospect of bankruptcy like United
Airlines de-funded worker pensions
so that they can remain solvent.

Although corporations that have
decided to end traditional pension
plans claim that worker’s retirement
benefit obligations are a drain on
corporate profitability, the
Street Journal
recently published
an analysis of corporate salary
records that revealed that executive
pensions constitute an enormous
financial drain on corporate

Journal reported that benefits
for executives account for up to $100
million for a single executive in
certain instances. General Electric
has overall pension liabilities of more
than $3 billion.

The report found that executive
pensions are often linked to CEO
pay.  In most cases, executive pay is
not linked to overall company
performance and has been
increasing rapidly over the past five
The chairman of Pfizer, Henry
McKinnel, negotiated to receive 100
percent of his current $6.5 million
salary when he retires.  Pfizer’s stock
price dropped to an eight year low
last December.  The CEO of AT&T,
Edward Whitacre signed a
Supplemental Retirement Income
Plan that will guarantee 75 percent of
his current $5.38 million salary when
he retires.  That is in addition ot a
lump sum retirement bonus of $18.8

Journal found that executive
pension liabilities are hidden
corporate debts because companies
do not separate executive pension
obligations from overall worker
pension debts in financial reporting.
The study also found that because
CEO pensions are not funded
through dedicated assets, they
constitute a more urgent financial
obligation than the pension
obligations of rank and file

Other US firms that was reported as
having significant CEO pension
liabilities were Exxon, IBM and GM, all
of which have executive pension
obligations that exceed $1 billion.  
GM and AT&T, like IBM and other US
companies before them, ended
traditional guaranteed benefit
retirement plans for their workers last
year.  GM reported that it expects to
save an estimated $420 million per
year due to the
its all true
Global bird species are becoming
extinct at a much faster than
scientists had previously
calculated, and if current trends
continue as many as 12 percent of
existing species could be
threatened with extinction over the
next century, according to a
recent study. Researchers also
found that various forms of human
activity, including industrialization,
large scale agriculture, and
combustion of petroleum products
are by far the greatest threat to
the species’ survival. The study
was published in the journal
Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences

Although only 130 bird species
are officially documented as
having become extinct since 1500,
the authors put the figure closer to
500. Their estimates include many
species that have only recently
been discovered by
archaeological researchers. The
study also regarded as extinct
some species not been sighted for
decades that have not yet been
declared extinct. A separate study
published last month in the British
Proceedings of the
Royal Society
also concluded
that human activity, particularly
habitat loss and climate change,
posed the most serious threats to
global bird populations
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verbatim                                                                       number 11.6
"It's a myth to think I don't
know what's going on. It's a
myth to think that I'm not
aware that there's opinions
that don't agree with mine,
because I'm fully aware of
...I mean, I read the
I mean, I can tell you what
the headlines are… I'll move
on. But I know what the
story's about."
Philadelphia 12.12.2005