Links, 9/6/11

Remember that top DHS cybersecurity official who quit in June? He’s now working for Sony, which badly needs help protecting their users’ privacy.

In their latest installment reporting on the NYPD’s “CIA-on-the-Hudson,” Goldman and Apuzzo reveal that the NYPD’s spooks have 250 mosques and student groups under surveillance.

Jeffrey Bloomberg reports on Robert Gates bitching about Israel and specifically Bibi Netanyahu for being ungrateful for US efforts to protect Israel’s interests. But he then concludes that the US should nevertheless go to the mat to oppose Palestinian statehood in the UNSC.

Mitch McConnell is cross with Obama because he’s not sending American jobs to Korea fast enough, and not asking Americans to compete against workers who will be killed for organizing fast enough.

This article suggests the rising middle class in developing nations may demand a new focus on getting rid of corruption and expanding democracy. While I’m dubious about this claim generally–it uses the World Bank’s measure for middle class, which is shockingly low, to show the ballooning of the middle class, but then uses Pew results for middle class attitudes–I do wonder whether the reverse is happening in the US, as more and more people fall out of the middle class.

The AP’s headline suggests that Americans are willing to trade civil liberties to protect against terrorism. But poll results seem to say a majority do not want to make that trade–which I believe is a swing back in favor of civil liberties and (for the question on torture) human rights.

This DKos diary anecdotally quantifies austerity at the state level: a couple, both of whom work for the WI state government, who will see $500 less a month in their paycheck because of Scott Walker’s new deductions. That adds up to $20M taken out of the WI economy immediately. Note, this has been going on for part time workers for some years–it’s what the declining average hours worked in BLS surveys translate into.

The DC District Court upheld a District Court ruling that DOJ should turn over at least some of the information ACLU FOIAed on the government’s use of cell phone tracking in criminal prosecutions. DOJ is hiding that cell phone tracking info like a crown jewel–I would imagine things may get interesting when DOJ releases this stuff.

AlterNet has a list of 5 brands to avoid if you’re trying to avoid war profiteers: BP, FedEx, Dell, Kraft, and Pepsi.

A blogger who, after receiving the full gate grope treatment, called it rape on her blog. Now, the TSA Agent who administered the gate grope is suing for $500,000.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

51 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I wonder who persuaded that TSA agent to file suit. Mr. Obama’s security apparat would love to dissuade such claims, while the average TSA worker, with not much beyond high school and the military, if they’re lucky, wouldn’t ordinarily have the chutzpah to initiate and pursue such a public claim, not when debating the factual accuracy of the claim of rape will call into question government policies and explicit staff conduct that the government would rarely want litigated.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Wilkerson ripped Cheney a new a–hole over at Democracy Now. Says he would testify if Cheney were ever held accountable for his war crimes.

    Norman Finkelstein on the UN Report on the Mavi Marmara.

    “The Zawahri Era” by former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit at National Interest.

    “Dead in the Water” over at Foreign Policy. Israel/Turkey relations.

    Over at Race for Iran “Why the Myth of Iran’s “Stolen” Election still matters”

  3. rosalind says:

    i read Amy Alkon’s blog daily. she’s very good at advocating against the erosion of our rights but you have to put up with her repeating whatever libertarian, breitbartarian claptrap of the day verbatim.

    i give her a lot of slack as her advocacy of low-carb, hi protein eating led me to a food plan that’s really changed my life for the better.

  4. rugger9 says:

    Re the TSA agent: good luck, since in CA it’s rape no matter when “No” is said. Plus there’s video, so unless they went into the proverbial back alley there will be a record for review by the jury. TSA agent, your only hope is FauxNews wingnuts.

    Now, for the next item, get the barf bag ready. AOL is posting a link to the HuffPost article channeling a Sunday Times interview with the two worst people in the world, LizanDick Cheney “opening up about teir 9/11 experience. Darth is bad enough, but who cares what the Spawn thinks? She’s an idiot. Don’t say I didn’t ask y’all to prepare…

  5. rosalind says:

    @allan: the article you link quotes Napolitano saying the shoe policy “may be on the way out” and that she “did not hint at when such a change may occur”.

    forgive me if i withhold my applause until the specifics are revealed, and we can confirm the new policy is not being instituted only in conjunction with a new radiation scanning machine rushed onto the market with no independently verified safety test results released to the Public, or part of the “first class” & “steerage” boarding lines they so fervently wish to implement (where wealthy people can pay for special sped up search procedures while all else are subjected to the invasive searches).

    “We are moving towards an intelligence and risk-based approach to how we screen” says she.

    “The devil is in the details”, say I.

  6. rugger9 says:

    Amy Alkon is a fixture in the Metro in my area. Reading the article linked, it reminded me a lot of that girl down South who was raped by the high school jock, was shunned and shamed, and had to apologize to him and the school for not cheering for him after he got off scot-free. Plus the district sued her and made her pay damages.

    Or the one posted today on AOL about the 15-year-old shunned, shamed, then shipped out [obstructing an investigation, btw] to give up the baby for adoption. The fundie minister who did the deed claimed consensual sex (well over 20 years’ age difference plus an authority issue, yeah right) and forced the 15 year old girl to apologize to her church for the sin of getting pregnant, without being able to explain how. He got 15-30 today in NH where he has been doing just fine, thank you, in today’s hypocrisy watch.

    So, the TSA lady is going to claim immunity as a government agent, but then the guidelines will have to be made evidence to show she didn’t step out of line. I know it’s rape IAW the UCMJ. An, since the TSA agents don’t make all that much, who’s bankrolling this and how is that information dug out?

  7. MadDog says:

    Another interesting link to read from the Scotsman:

    Nato halts Afghan prisoner handovers after torture claims

    Nato troops across Afghanistan have been ordered to stop transferring prisoners into Afghan custody amid horrific allegations of torture and “gross human rights violations”.

    In a major blow to Nato’s transition policy, giving Afghan forces more control, General John Allen, the top American commander in Afghanistan, issued orders on Sunday night to halt transfers at nine locations with immediate effect.

    Previously, most prisoners arrested by Nato were transferred into Afghan custody within 96 hours, although US Special Forces and the CIA’s covert militias have long faced allegations of running their own “black sites” at camps across the country.

    The orders came ahead of a damning United Nations investigation into the state of Afghanistan’s prisons, which is due to be published next week.


    “It’s a lot worse than a bucket of ice water,” said a source familiar with the allegations. “This is car batteries, electric shocks. It’s very bad.”

    In separate research, independent human rights investigators detailed credible allegations of a medieval-style rack used to stretch detainees during interrogations. Their findings are due to be published later this year…”

  8. MadDog says:

    @rosalind: Given the mindset of the National Security State’s control, even if one might eventually be able to keep one’s shoes on, like you I am not celebrating yet.

    I expect that strip searches and cavity searches will not disappear. But you can keep your shoes on.

  9. rugger9 says:


    Indeed they are.

    Clear was a program that’s been around from the very beginning of the TSA madness, mostly intended for the frequent flyers which may or may not be the MOTUs [who don’t fly coach or commercial, y’know]. I saw that Clear gradually has disappeared and/or morphed into the newer version noted by Rosalind, but my take on this is that the airlines’ shameless pursuit of cash streams meant that they saw an opportunity and took it. At least the Clear program required submission of data to the TSA [which of course could be compromised using those awesomely awesome IT protections on the USG computer systems not fixed until 2013] which is now a credit card number.

    Nice and secure, what could possibly go wrong? As far as the shoes, they weren’t supposed to be checked unless the sniffer rigs found something.

    Any data on the TSA test runs they’re supposed to be doing for detection?

  10. MadDog says:

    @bmaz: LOL!

    D*ldo manufacturers rejoice! Instead of being dissed as heathen rodents of the sex industry, they now are firmly in the…camp of Patriots doing their all for the good of our National Security.

    Shorter D*ldo manufacturers: “We stick up for doG and Country!”

    • bmaz says:

      After sacking Dennis Burke like that and making him the lead fall guy for the operation, there was little choice but to do this. It was necessary.

  11. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: Dagnabbit, I apologize but I seemed to have screwed up my text hyperlinking (again). I hope it doesn’t screw up anything else here.

  12. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And this piece from the AP means that the ATF’s GunRunner clusterfuck masterpiece wasn’t only about guns. Sheesh!:

    Mexico says US man smuggled grenade parts

    Police have arrested a U.S. man for smuggling American grenade parts into Mexico for use by the Sinaloa cartel, and a U.S. official said the case has now been included in investigations into flawed law enforcement operations aimed at gun-trafficking networks on the Mexican border.

    The arrest of a man who Mexican police identified as Jean Baptiste Kingery has provided details on a network that allegedly supplied hundreds of hand grenades to Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel. Such grenades have been blamed in the injuries or deaths of dozens of civilians in Mexico, where grenades have been tossed into public squares, streets, bars and nightclubs.

    A U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation, known as Fast and Furious, was designed to track small-time gun buyers at several Phoenix-area gun shops up the chain to make cases against major weapons traffickers. But a congressional investigation says ATF agents of lost track of about 1,400 of the more than 2,000 guns whose purchase they had watched.

    In Washington D.C., Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the department’s inspector general has expanded that investigation to include the Kingery case…”

  13. Lexington says:

    This article suggests the rising middle class in developing nations may demand a new focus on getting rid of corruption and expanding democracy.

    I didn’t even have to click on the link to recognize this as garden variety Economist agitprop.

    The Economist attributes every progressive move in the developing world to the “middle class”, from the downfall of Ferdinand Marcos to the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo. It’s the perpetually unfolding story of how a technocratic, meritocratic, neo liberal “middle class” is triumphing over darkness and ignorance.

    Needless to say the underclass, who represent the bulk of the population in these countries, has no place in the narrative.

  14. orionATL says:


    slapp suit was my first thought.

    what is needed at this point is an foi request (rejected of course) + research into the previous work history of the tsa thug-ess.

    chances are very, very high that said thug-ess has done things very like this in her previous work situation – guess? maybe prison guard.

  15. orionATL says:

    @Kathryn in MA:

    my uninformed-by-first-hand-fact opinion is that eliz warren has the makings of a superb political leader. her way of speaking after her non-apointment by prez was one-in-a-thousand political articulateness and adroitness.

    we need leaders of the sort i suspect prof warren would be. but do they want the hassle of public service?

  16. orionATL says:


    happened recently to me, too.

    it definitely was not something i intended to do.

    may be an unknown key assignment (i’m back to cursed itouch)

    or flakiness in the new “emptywheel” code.

  17. rugger9 says:

    Maybe this kind of suit also gives the lower level TSA thugs (note they don’t change gloves either between searches) the spine to call out the illegal orders for what they are. Just like the military they’re still [theoretically] bound by the Constitution.

    Illegal orders can be refused in the military. Even in the cold war as well as now. That’s why Abu Ghraib, Bagram, GTMO, etc., are so reprehensible on so many levels. Mind you, it’s a pretty ballsy E3 that will try this, but it can be done.

  18. orionATL says:


    there is something very odd going on with this particular atf effort.

    nothing makes any sense on the surface.

    somehow it smells more like fbi (or maybe cia) than atf.

    • bmaz says:

      I would hazard a guess it was very much an ATF effort. It just smacks of their type of idiot thinking and operational planning. The FBI is not this stupid. The better question is how the DOJ allowed it, and I guarantee you Burke was not the top DOJ guy manning the store. There is always a DOJ Main senior level attorney assigned to any big ATF operation precisely because they are so boneheaded.

  19. orionATL says:

    what might we be doing

    while these guns and grenades were running?

    why listening, of course.

    burke had to go to keep intrusive curiosity down on what might have been an nsa/fbi gambit.

    it would not be the first time people have died because the fbi was foolishly scheming to achieve some “greater goal”.

  20. rosalind says:

    @orionATL: from a LA Times article from early July:

    ‘The embattled head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has told congressional investigators that the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration kept his agency “in the dark” about their dealings with Mexican drug cartel figures linked to a controversial gun-trafficking investigation.

    According to Melson, some of the Mexican drug cartel leaders being targeted were paid informants working for the FBI and DEA. Those agencies never shared that crucial information with the ATF, he said, telling investigators that if ATF agents had known of the relationships, the agency might have ended the investigation much earlier.’

  21. prostratedragon says:

    @bmaz: Gives new meaning to the phrase “Is this trip really necessary?” and I don’t mean Amy Alkon’s plane trip. Sick and sickening.

  22. orionATL says:


    you’re a lot closer to it than i bmaz,
    but i am recalling the fbi’s long history of working with and playing footsie with mafia murderers and bank robbers.

    i should add “the long pointless history…”

  23. bmaz says:


    Agreed. What the FBI does NOT, however, do very well historically is work with the ATF. They hate the ATF and think they are bumbling boobs. Which is about right.

  24. orionATL says:

    one of the small oddities in this matter is that on the list of weapons atf allowed to walk into mexico was .50 caliber rifles

    i’m not a gun person, but i do know that .50 rifles can be used for very long range assinations. i am having trouble imagining who would want this gun and why. drug cartel killers seem very happy with machine pistols, assalt weapons, and, of course, the ever handy machete.

  25. orionATL says:

    faces of evil:

    take a look at countenance of jean baptiste kingerey.

    kingerey’s specialty is manufacturing ied’s for drug cartels.

    he was released from custody by the az u. s. attorney’s office then later arrested in mexico.

  26. bmaz says:


    Prior to yesterday, I had no knowledge of the Kingery part of the story. It is pretty ugly, and that email is damning and does not reflect well on Burke. My guess is Burke just signed off on whatever Emory Hurley was telling him. Still, that does not cut it. Everybody knows the ATF are a bunch of idiots; did the long time history just get lost on Dennis? Seriously, WTF? I am coming around to really understanding why he was forced out. He is a very good guy and a pretty decent manager, but no one should have EVER given the ATF that much rope. And the Kingery matter was much more localized than the GunWalker investigation, which was promoted out of DC. Jeebus, the stupid just burns.

  27. orionATL says:

    thanks for the insights, bmaz.

    it always hurts to see a good man get burned for acting out of loyalty, if that’s what happened.

  28. thatvisionthing says:


    I’ve kind of gotten hooked on Harry Shearer’s Le Show podcasts, and one of the recurring segments is “Tales of Airport Security,” where he reads reader letters on their lunatic airport security experiences, to the soundtrack of the Beatles’ Flying. So whenever I start reading airport security things, I hear Flying and start laughing.

    However, starting to scan bmaz’s popehat link, I quit laughing:

    Basically, I felt it important to make a spectacle of what they are doing to us, to make it uncomfortable for them to violate us and our rights, so I let the tears come. In fact, I sobbed my guts out. Loudly. Very loudly. The entire time the woman was searching me.

    Nearing the end of this violation, I sobbed even louder as the woman, FOUR TIMES, stuck the side of her gloved hand INTO my vagina, through my pants. Between my labia. She really got up there. Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left. In my vagina. Between my labia. I was shocked — utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there. It was government-sanctioned sexual assault.

    btw, Harry’s advice to flyers is to take the search because radiation is forever. What a choice.

  29. thatvisionthing says:


    In my mind, “they” knew about McVeigh casing the Murrah building four months in advance of the bombing — and then I think, who they? The undercover agent Carol Howe worked for who?

    I googled her name and this is one of the top links, The Feds Knew About the Oklahoma City Bombing in Advance, Long, full of details, I haven’t read it through, but Howe was ATF, and her statement was excluded from jurors hearing it at McVeigh’s trial, so that’s DOJ. From past comments I’ve made (the links are there), Eric Holder then Asst AG was tasked with the Trentadue mission in the Clinton administration to squelch congressional oversight of Oklahoma City, the FBI is hiding/losing videotape evidence that Jesse Trentadue has FOIAed that might show John Doe No. 2 was the last guy out of the Ryder truck and probably the one who set the bomb off, and the wall that Jesse Trentadue hit in one of his earlier FOIAs was CIA. The CIA had a connection to the Oklahoma bombing that the national security secrets card prevents us from ever learning. Who’s left? They’re all in on it, and their informers, apparently distrusting each other and covering their butts, and America is just collateral damage. Looking back, looking forward. Forever. Do you make the distinction that the FBI is good and the ATF is bad? On what evidence? Oh right, we can’t see it.

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