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Links of the Week

CRS Report : Declarations of
War and Authorizations for the
Use of Military Force :
Historical Background and
Legal Implications

NASA : Report Reveals Likely
Causes of Mars Spacecraft

Gila Cliff Dwellings National
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and Wilderness, New Mexico

The Sloane Astrolabe :
England, around AD 1300,
British Museum

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back to top of
number 99   04.15.07
spread of the red
source: Viroqua
verbatim                                          number 19.3
"Now, David says: Does
this mean you're trying to
have a pretext for war?
No. It means I'm trying to
protect our troops. That's
what that's means...
...and that's what the
family members of our
soldiers expect the
commander in chief and
those responsible for -
responsible for our
troops on the ground...
...and we'll continue
to do so."                   
Washington DC 02.14.07
The Bush administration has
proposed sweeping changes to the
laws that regulate the use of
electronic surveillance in terrorism
investigations by government
intelligence agencies. The revisions
to the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act would expand the
range of targets that can be
monitored, tripling the length of
secret search warrants, and
increasing the period that agents
may conduct surveillance before
applying for an emergency warrant.
The proposal also includes a
controversial provision that would
grant legal immunity to private
telecommunications companies that
cooperate with government
surveillance activities. The immunity
from lawsuits would be applied
retroactively, to 2001.

Director of National Intelligence Mike
McConnell has said the changes are
necessary to keep up with
dramatically improving
communications technology used by
potential terrorists in the US and
abroad. But the proposal is likely to
meet with resistance in the key
Congressional committees, even
among Republicans, who are
increasingly at odds with the
administration on intelligence
matters. The White House
threatened last week to veto the
Senate version of the intelligence
appropriations bill over language that
strengthens legislative oversight over
the very activities the FISA revisions
seek to expand.  
The proposed changes would
allow surveillance of suspects for
a week before application for a
secret FISA warrant, up from 72
hours; and the effective duration
of such warrants would be
increased from 120 days to one
year. Agencies would also be
allowed to keep, develop, and
share information obtained
through surveillance that is
unrelated to the investigation for
which the warrant was sought.

The proposal grants blanket legal
immunity to telephone, cable, and
internet companies that may have
assisted in government
surveillance activities since
it's all true
Despite an overall rise in audit
activity by the IRS since 2000,
reviews of corporate tax returns
are increasingly likely to yield no
revenue, according to a report
released last week. The
Transactional Records Access
Clearinghouse found that
corporate audits that resulted in
no change to the company’s tax
liability have increased steadily,
rising 40 percent from 2005 to
2006. Accordingly, funds from
audits of individual taxpayers
make up a growing share of
revenues recovered by the IRS
each year.

The report comes in the wake of
recent Congressional testimony
that a short-staffed IRS had de-
emphasized corporate audits.
Colleen M. Kelley, a union
representative for IRS employees,
told a House panel that workers
were being pressured by
supervisors to hastily close
investigations involving

Of all taxes collected by the IRS
for 2006, individuals, including
small business owners, paid 76
percent, while corporations paid
24 percent, according to the
it's all true
Florida Senator Bill Nelson recently
expressed concern that state
National Guard units may be
unprepared for the weather related
disasters likely to occur over the
2007 hurricane season.

Guard deployments in “Iraq and
Afghanistan have stretched the
Florida National Guard further than
ever before,” said Nelson who fears
that depleted resources will
jeopardize an effective guard
response to a “domestic crisis”
sparked by a hurricane like the ones
that hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Nelson’s comments came after he
toured Florida Guard facilities in
Jacksonville and Orlando.  The
Florida National Guard, like other
units around the country, has
experienced a depletion of
equipment as Guard forces have
been deployed for extended tours in
the Mid
East and Asia.  The Government
Accountability Office has tracked
National Guard preparedness since
the beginning of the Afghani War and
has reported that equipment levels
have been reduced by more than 50
percent over the past three years
and the Army has no replacement

The GAO reported that over 101,000
equipment items have been
transferred overseas with the nation’
s guard units.  Equipment such as
radios and trucks is generally left
behind to be used by regular Army
units when National Guard troops
return to their home state bases.  
The Guard reported that 14 military
police companies have left more than
600 humvees overseas.  The GAO
found that since 2001, more than
$1.2 billion worth of equipment has
been left  overseas and that the
“Army cannot
account for over half” of the items
and “does not have a plan to
replace” the equipment.

The GAO reported that guard
units in Texas, California,
Louisiana and Florida have lost
about 50 percent of their
equipment to the wars in the Mid
East and Asia.  The New Mexico
Guard is reported to have
shipped 67 percent of its
equipment overseas.

The GAO said that the “National
Guard will continue to face critical
equipment shortages that reduce
its readiness for future missions.”  
The study also reported that
Guard troop deployment has
reduced the ability of units to
respond to natural disasters and
“states are concerned about the
Guard’s ability to perform future
domestic missions.”   
it's all true
A powerful industry association
is pushing the legislature in
California to allow it an
exemption from a proposed
new law that would criminalize
"pretexting"; a tool used by
crooks to perpetrate identity

Pretexting is a technique used
by identity thieves to convince
unsuspecting consumers or
businesses to give up personal
identifiers, such as social
security numbers and bank
card PIN numbers, which can
be used to set up credit lines
or drain bank accounts.  
California is considering a bill
that would outlaw using false
or misleading information and
deception to convince people
to divulge personal information.

The Recording Industry
Association of America has
sent a letter to California
legislators pleading for an
exemption to the proposed law
stating that outlawing
deceptive statements to get
personal information would
“gut” its ability to catch
bootleggers of music

The RIAA has proposed an
amendment to the law that
would allow any owner of a
copyright or trademark to use
“pretexting or other
investigative techniques to
obtain personal information
about a customer or

Consumer advocates and
others who support the
proposal believe that no one
should be allowed to use
deception to obtain personal
it's all true
The head of the General Services
Administration, already the subject of
multiple Congressional and internal
ethics investigations, is now at the
center of an uproar over allegations
of improper politicization of agency
operations after hosting a
presentation by a White House
political staffer on Republican
strategy for the 2008 elections. Lurita
Alexis Doan, who took over the
largest civilian government
procurement agency last July,
reportedly asked some forty GSA
regional directors in attendance for
suggestions on how to help ensure
Republican success in targeted
districts. Congressional investigators
have said that Doan’s actions may
constitute a violation of the federal
Hatch Act, which prohibits such
political activity in the course of
agency business.

Doan recently appeared before the
House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee to answer
charges that she improperly
intervened in agency contractual
negotiations, unilaterally reversing
the decision of experienced contract
auditors. She is also alleged to have
awarded a no-bid contract for public
relations services to a personal
business associate. It was during
related testimony by other GSA
personnel that the January 26th
presentation by White   
House deputy director of political
affairs J. Scott Jennings came to
light. Although Doan has stated
repeatedly under oath that she does
not remember details of the meeting,
several witnesses said that she
asked how the GSA could “help our
candidates in the next elections."

The latest revelations included
further evidence that White House
political staff and high-ranking
political appointees utilized a private
communications network in an effort
to evade legislative oversight
regulations. One email from the
White House to Doan’s office reads
in part: “Please do not email this out
or let people see it. It is a close hold
and we’re not supposed to be
emailing it around.” The use of
private email accounts to conduct
official business was previously
reported by

According to the
Federal Times,
Doan’s brief but rocky tenure at the
GSA has had an adverse effect on
morale at the agency, resulting in an
exodus of senior managers. Doan
has complained that the probes into
her administration, which she says
are largely due to political vendettas
against her, are diverting her from
her official duties. She has hired
three law firms and two media
relations companies to handle
matters arising from the  
it's all true
States Discover Foreign Deployments Let Their Guard
Federal corporate taxes as a
percentage of GDP,
1960                1980                
4 %
1 %
2 %
3 %
Record Companies
Demand Deception
to Bust Bootleggers
Director's Services More Specific Than
IRS Checks
Not Worth Much
White House Drafts New Set of Surveillance Laws to Ignore
A Canadian citizen, who is a
graduate student at Carleton
College, was pulled over for moving
violations recently in Georgia.  When
the local sheriff’s police discovered
the driver, Cheryl Kuehn, to be
Canadian, they arrested her, brought
her to the county jail, strip-searched
her, de-loused her and jailed her for
11 hours.

The arrest came as Georgia readies
to implement a rule that would
require jailing foreign nationals
arrested for felonies or drunk driving
until their immigration status is
determined.  The state law was
created to prevent undocumented
workers from accessing essential
social services.  The Glynn County
Sheriff’s Police have gone further,
establishing an internal policy to
perform an immigration status check
on all foreign nationals arrested, no
matter how minor the crime.
Kuehn told the Ottawa Citizen that
the ad hoc policy in Glynn County
creates the situation where the police
“treat anyone who is not an American
as an illegal immigrant.”

Glynn County Sheriff Wayne Bennett
said that the policy was established
because of incidents where
immigrants were arrested and freed
after posting bond, but were later
discovered to be wanted for a crime
in another jurisdiction or in their
home country.  Bennett said that,
because the police didn’t want to
discriminate, all Canadians had to be
held and their status checked, “it has
to be systematic.”  Bennett went on
to say, “I don’t consider a Canadian
to be an illegal immigrant, but
according to this immigration policy, if
they are a foreign national, then they
go through this
it's all true
Georgia Cops in Strip-Search
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