Homeland Security…Of The Vote?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials said they would unveil on Friday reasonable and inexpensive national requirements to implement an identification-card program critics call a costly invasion of privacy.The program, called Real ID, has been rejected by 17 states based on draft regulations. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he would announce on Friday revised rules that reflect state concerns.

“We have worked very closely with the states in terms of developing a plan that I think will be quite inexpensive, reasonable to implement and produce … secure identification when drivers’ licenses are presented,” Chertoff said on Thursday to a panel of outside advisers to his department.

At the same time as this, coincidentally-

The Supreme Court appeared ready Wednesday to uphold the nation’s strictest requirement that voters show photo identification before casting a ballot. The justices are faced with a partisan dispute that echoes the bitterly divided decision that sealed the 2000 presidential election for George W. Bush. Now, as then, the court seemed divided along ideological lines.

Wednesday’s arguments were over a challenge to an Indiana law, passed in 2005, that is backed by Republicans as a prudent way to deter voter fraud. Democrats and civil rights groups oppose the law as unconstitutional and call it a thinly veiled effort to discourage elderly, poor and minority voters — those most likely to lack proper ID and who tend to vote for Democrats.

Meanwhile the next generation of homeland patriots are being well funded-

Free speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security curriculum. Private security contractors… Welcome to the new homeland security campus…

The record so far is impressive: DHS has doled out 439 federal fellowships and scholarships since 2003, providing full tuition to students who fit “within the homeland security research enterprise.” Two hundred twenty-seven schools now offer degree or certificate programs in “homeland security,” a curriculum that encompasses over 1,800 courses. Along with OUP, some of the key players in creating the homeland security classroom are the U.S. Northern Command (Northcom) and the Aerospace Defense Command, co-founders of the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium.

OUP has also partnered with researchers and laboratories to “align scientific results with homeland security priorities.” In Fiscal Year 2008 alone, $4.9 billion in federal funding will go to homeland security-related research. (ht2 James @ The Mahatma X Files)

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Keystone Tonkin Mash-Up & Other Damn Lies

Thanks to a comment from Naj, indeed this is hilarious, now the NYT reports the Pentagon itself is sniffing a wrong un, looks like the pro- Iran attack neo-con cabal are a: hugely incompetent (I mean come on, you could do a better job in iMovie, which might explain it, maybe they are stuck on pc’s those poor war pimping bastards) and b: the establishment are really not keen on the whole thing.

The list of those who are less than fully confident in the Pentagon’s video/audio mashup of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself. Unnamed Pentagon officials said on Wednesday that the threatening voice heard in the audio clip, which was released on Monday night with a disclaimer that it was recorded separately from the video images and merged with them later, is not directly traceable to the Iranian military.

All ships at sea use a common UHF frequency, Channel 16, also known as “bridge-to bridge” radio. Over here, near the U.S., and throughout the Mediterranean, Ch. 16 is used pretty professionally, i.e., chatter is limited to shiphandling issues, identifying yourself, telling other ships what your intentions are to avoid mishaps, etc.

But over in the Gulf, Ch. 16 is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses involving your mother; 1970’s music broadcast in the wee hours (nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of Iran at 4 a.m.)

On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was that the “explode” comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility.

The commenter, who signed his posting “SWO officer,” went on to say, “I hope everybody exercises great caution here and doesn’t jump to conclusions.”

So added to the questions of geography the dodgy story coincides with Bush’s trip to the mid-east where Israel further briefs him on plans to attack Iran and he has meetings to broaden support for sanctions and other ‘actions’ against the only blot in the empire’s sphere of influence over the region. The visit is also a mini imperial invasion-

Hundreds of hotel rooms across Jerusalem have been booked for Bush’s group, as well as for the media and even Israeli officials, who fear they might not be able to make it home in the evenings.

Bush, who arrives on Wednesday for his first visit as president, will stay at the King David hotel. Eight truckloads of equipment have already arrived in advance of his two-night stay. All the hotel’s rooms will be taken by his entourage – tourists have had their bookings cancelled.

The security precautions, dubbed Operation Clear Skies by the Israeli security services, are immense. Roads around the hotel will be blocked, despite the huge traffic jams that will entail. A force of 10,500 police and security staff will be deployed and Bush will be flown in to the hotel by helicopter from the airport near Tel Aviv. “There will be so much security nobody will be able to get anywhere near the president,” said Micky Rosenfield, Israel’s police spokesman.

That would be the man often called by American chauvinists ‘the leader of the free world’, he is just so popular. And a real wit. The Gaza Siege continues-

Gaza Strip (AP) — With winter deepening, Gazans will be forced to live without lights and electric heaters for eight hours a day because Israel has cut fuel supplies to the territory’s only electric plant in half, Gaza’s top energy official warned Sunday.

Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli army stepped up a broad offensive in the Gaza Strip starting Thursday and killed at least 11 Palestinians in a 24-hour period after militants fired a rocket that struck deep into Israel.

And the air war in Iraq breaks cover-

US warplanes have dropped more than 18,000kg of bombs on more than 40 targets in the southern outskirts of the capital, Baghdad. The US military said in a statement on Thursday that the intensive bombing by B-1 bombers and F-16 fighter jets on the village of Arab Jabour was aimed at al-Qaeda targets. However, a local Sunni tribal leader told Al Jazeera that many civilians were feared dead and 300 families had fled after the offensive began earlier in the week.

And even with a WHO death estimate much lower (but larger than Iraq Body Count, ahem) than the John Hopkins University/Lancet figures, the empire says ‘not us guv, it woz the Eye-Racks wot dun it’-

The White House said it had not seen the study but blamed “extremist” elements for the deaths. Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said: “The unmistakable fact is that the vast majority of these deaths are caused by the wilful, murderous intentions of extremists committed to taking innocent life. It is also beyond dispute that more Iraqi citizens would be condemned to death and oppression if they were abandoned by America and our coalition partners.”

‘Beyond dispute’ erm, wow with only two words he went from annoying bullshitting coward and war criminal to cruising for a bruising. Hey Tony! Wanna dispute how painful being repeatedly kicked in the balls is? Cos I heard you kind of assume total falsehoods as facts so maybe it doesn’t hurt at all in your universe of lies, you can call it a great step forward for faith base science if you like, I’ll call it a chance to borrow some steel plated rigger boots. Deal?

PS. The BBC take Bush’s criticism of the Lancet study as a definitive condemning word on it and do not mention it was accepted by the UK government internally even as they publicly trashed it and the methodology is accepted and used in many other conflict zones where…not coincidentally the figures suit elite interests.


Curiously, Aaronovitch wrote in 2006 of how “up to three million might have died in the Congo over the past decade”. (Aaronovitch, ‘A debate of the deaf poisoning young minds,’ The Times, November 21, 2006)

The figure of 3 million dead was provided by the leading epidemiologist, Les Roberts, who also conducted the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies on Iraq using the same methods, producing the figures that Aaronovitch described as “absurd”.

Update: Lenin has all the relevant links here.