May 22nd, 2006

Chris Keeley

The Southern Rhodesians got really really mad! The reputation of their great wonder was being sullie

Victoria Falls replica at 1939 World's Fair

Robyn Miller has images and information about Rhodesia's fantastic entry to the 1939 World's Fair.
Picture 9-2 They put Victoria Falls in a huge room (or a scale creation of it) pumping 60,000 gallons of water over the edge per minute! But it came to a sad end, due to nearby "depraved" activities (at the fair).

The Southern Rhodesians got really really mad! The reputation of their great wonder was being sullied – lowered to the height of mere eroticism... "Where's Victoria?" the visitors began to ask, "We want her, we want to see the voluptuous but seductive Victoria... from Rhodesia!"
Chris Keeley

One in every 136 U.S. residents is now behind bars.

1 in 136 U.S. Residents Now in Prison
The country’s prison population has reached almost 2.2 million. One in every 136 U.S. residents is now behind bars. The nation’s prison population increased by more than 1,000 inmates a week last year. New data also shows that 12 percent of African-American men between the ages of 25 and 29 are now incarcerated. That is more than ten times the incarceration rate of white men.

Number of Women in U.S. Jails up 750% Since 1977
Meanwhile a new report from the Women’s Prison Association has found the number of women imprisoned in the country has increased by over 750 percent since 1977. 

Palestinian In-Fighting Intensifies Between Hamas and Fatah
In the Gaza Strip fighting has intensified between Palestinian factions loyal to Hamas and the former ruling party Fatah. On Saturday, the Palestinian’s chief intelligence officer Tareq Abu Rajab was seriously wounded in an attempt on his life. On Sunday, security officials found a 150 pound bomb planted along a road used by Gaza’s Security Chief Rashid Abu Shbak. Both officials are allies of former Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On Sunday Abbas said he feared the fighting between Hamas and Fatah could lead to civil war. Meanwhile Israel is continuing to carry out its campaign of assassinating Palestinian militants inside the Gaza Strip. On Saturday an Israeli missile struck a car carrying a commander in the militant group Islamic Jihad. The attack killed the man and three others including a four-year-old boy.

Alberto Gonzales: Gov’t May Arrest & Prosecute Journalists
In Washington, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested Sunday the Justice Department may begin prosecuting journalists for writing articles based on classified information. Under the Espionage Act of 1917 it is a crime for an unauthorized person to receive national defense information and transmit it to others but it has seldom – if ever – been used to target journalists. Gonzales comments came on ABC’s This Week.

    George Stephanopoulos: So you believe journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information?

    Alberto Gonzales: Well, again, George, it depends on the circumstances. There are some statutes on the book which if, if you read the language carefully would seem to indicate that that is a possibility. That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation. We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected.


    Juan Cole: Four Wars Are Now Being Fought In Iraq
    Middle East analyst Juan Cole said four distinct wars are now being fought in Iraq simultaneously. There is a Sunni Arab guerrilla war to expel US troops from the Sunni heartland; a militant Shiite guerrilla war to expel the British from the south; a civil war between the Sunni and Shiites; and a Kurdish war against Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk province.



Chris Keeley

General Hayden, who as the head of the N.S.A. supervised the intercept program, is seen by many as a

by Seymour M. Hersh
Issue of 2006-05-29
Posted 2006-05-22

A few days before the start of the confirmation hearings for General Michael Hayden, who has been nominated by President Bush to be the head of the C.I.A., I spoke to an official of the National Security Agency who recently retired. The official joined the N.S.A. in the mid-nineteen-seventies, soon after contentious congressional hearings that redefined the relationship between national security and the public’s right to privacy. The hearings, which revealed that, among other abuses, the N.S.A. had illegally intercepted telegrams to and from the United States, led to the passage of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to protect citizens from unlawful surveillance. “When I first came in, I heard from all my elders that ‘we’ll never be able to collect intelligence again,’” the former official said. “They’d whine, ‘Why do we have to report to oversight committees?’ ” But, over the next few years, he told me, the agency did find a way to operate within the law. “We built a system that protected national security and left people able to go home at night without worrying whether what they did that day was appropriate or legal.”

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was clear that the intelligence community needed to get more aggressive and improve its performance. The Administration, deciding on a quick fix, returned to the tactic that got intelligence agencies in trouble thirty years ago: intercepting large numbers of electronic communications made by Americans. The N.S.A.’s carefully constructed rules were set aside.

Last December, the Times reported that the N.S.A. was listening in on calls between people in the United States and people in other countries, and a few weeks ago USA Today reported that the agency was collecting information on millions of private domestic calls. A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center. This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored. “What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,” the consultant said. “They’re providing total access to all the data.”

“This is not about getting a cardboard box of monthly phone bills in alphabetical order,” a former senior intelligence official said. The Administration’s goal after September 11th was to find suspected terrorists and target them for capture or, in some cases, air strikes. “The N.S.A. is getting real-time actionable intelligence,” the former official said.

The N.S.A. also programmed computers to map the connections between telephone numbers in the United States and suspect numbers abroad, sometimes focussing on a geographic area, rather than on a specific person—for example, a region of Pakistan. Such calls often triggered a process, known as “chaining,” in which subsequent calls to and from the American number were monitored and linked. The way it worked, one high-level Bush Administration intelligence official told me, was for the agency “to take the first number out to two, three, or more levels of separation, and see if one of them comes back”—if, say, someone down the chain was also calling the original, suspect number. As the chain grew longer, more and more Americans inevitably were drawn in.

FISA requires the government to get a warrant from a special court if it wants to eavesdrop on calls made or received by Americans. (It is generally legal for the government to wiretap a call if it is purely foreign.) The legal implications of chaining are less clear. Two people who worked on the N.S.A. call-tracking program told me they believed that, in its early stages, it did not violate the law. “We were not listening to an individual’s conversation,” a defense contractor said. “We were gathering data on the incidence of calls made to and from his phone by people associated with him and others.” Similarly, the Administration intelligence official said that no warrant was needed, because “there’s no personal identifier involved, other than the metadata from a call being placed.”

But the point, obviously, was to identify terrorists. “After you hit something, you have to figure out what to do with it,” the Administration intelligence official told me. The next step, theoretically, could have been to get a suspect’s name and go to the fisa court for a warrant to listen in. One problem, however, was the volume and the ambiguity of the data that had already been generated. (“There’s too many calls and not enough judges in the world,” the former senior intelligence official said.) The agency would also have had to reveal how far it had gone, and how many Americans were involved. And there was a risk that the court could shut down the program.

Instead, the N.S.A. began, in some cases, to eavesdrop on callers (often using computers to listen for key words) or to investigate them using traditional police methods. A government consultant told me that tens of thousands of Americans had had their calls monitored in one way or the other. “In the old days, you needed probable cause to listen in,” the consultant explained. “But you could not listen in to generate probable cause. What they’re doing is a violation of the spirit of the law.” One C.I.A. officer told me that the Administration, by not approaching the FISA court early on, had made it much harder to go to the court later.

The Administration intelligence official acknowledged that the implications of the program had not been fully thought out. “There’s a lot that needs to be looked at,” he said. “We are in a technology age. We need to tweak fisa, and we need to reconsider how we handle privacy issues.”

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, believes that if the White House had gone to Congress after September 11th and asked for the necessary changes in FISA “it would have got them.” He told me, “The N.S.A. had a lot of latitude under FISA to get the data it needed. I think the White House purposefully ignored the law, because the President did not want to do the monitoring under FISA. There is a strong commitment inside the intelligence community to obey the law, and the community is getting dragged into the mud on this.”

General Hayden, who as the head of the N.S.A. supervised the intercept program, is seen by many as a competent professional who was too quick to follow orders without asking enough questions. As one senior congressional staff aide said, “The concern is that the Administration says, ‘We’re going to do this,’ and he does it—even if he knows better.” Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, who was a member of the 9/11 Commission, had a harsher assessment. Kerrey criticized Hayden for his suggestion, after the Times exposé, that the N.S.A.’s wiretap program could have prevented the attacks of 9/11. “That’s patently false and an indication that he’s willing to politicize intelligence and use false information to help the President,” Kerrey said.

Hayden’s public confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee was unlike the tough-minded House and Senate investigations of three decades ago, and added little to what is known about the wiretap program. One unexamined issue was the effectiveness of the N.S.A. program. “The vast majority of what we did with the intelligence was ill-focussed and not productive,” a Pentagon consultant told me. “It’s intelligence in real time, but you have to know where you’re looking and what you’re after.”

On May 11th, President Bush, responding to the USA Today story, said, “If Al Qaeda or their associates are making calls into the United States, or out of the United States, we want to know what they are saying.” That is valid, and a well-conceived, properly supervised intercept program would be an important asset. “Nobody disputes the value of the tool,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “It’s the unresolved tension between the operators saying, ‘Here’s what we can build,’ and the legal people saying, ‘Just because you can build it doesn’t mean you can use it.’ ” It’s a tension that the President and his advisers have not even begun to come to terms with.

Chris Keeley

appearing as an expert on CBS News, he theorized that the attack was the work of Islamic extremists.

How Rita Katz got into the spying business.
Issue of 2006-05-29
Posted 2006-05-22

Rita Katz is tiny and dark, with volatile brown eyes, and when she is nervous or excited she can’t sit still. She speaks in torrents, ten minutes at a stretch. Everybody who works in intelligence calls her Rita, even people who don’t know her well. She sometimes telephones people she hasn’t met—important people in the government—to tell them things that she thinks they ought to know. She keeps copies of letters from officials whose investigations into terrorism she has assisted. “You and your staff . . . were invaluable additions to the investigative team,” the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Salt Lake City Division wrote; the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boise said, “You are a rare and extraordinary gem that has appeared too infrequently throughout the course of history.” The letters come in handy, she told me, when she meets with skepticism or lack of interest; they are her establishment bona fides.

Katz, who was born in Iraq and speaks fluent Arabic, spends hours each day monitoring the password-protected online chat rooms in which Islamic terrorists discuss politics and trade tips: how to disperse botulinum toxin or transfer funds, which suicide vests work best. Occasionally, a chat-room member will announce that he is turning in his user name and password and going to Iraq to become a martyr, a shaheed. Several weeks later, his friends will post a report of the young man blowing himself up. Katz usually logs on at six in the morning. When she has guests for dinner, she leaves a laptop open on the kitchen counter, so she can check for updates. “It is completely addicting,” she says. “You wake up thinking, I’ve been offline for seven hours, but the terrorists have been making plans.”

Traditionally, intelligence has been filtered through government agencies, such as the C.I.A. and the N.S.A., which gather raw data and analyze it, and the government decides who sees the product of their work and when. Katz, who is the head of an organization called the Search for International Terrorist Entities, or SITE Institute, has made it her business to upset that monopoly. She and her researchers mine online sources for intelligence, which her staff translates and sends out by e-mail to a list of about a hundred subscribers.

Katz’s client list includes people in the government who are presumably frustrated by how long it takes to get information through official channels; it also includes people in corporate security and in the media, who rarely get much useful material from the C.I.A. She has worked with prosecutors on more than a dozen terrorism investigations, and many American officers in Iraq rely on Katz’s e-mails to, for example, brief their troops on the designs for explosives that are passed around terrorist Web sites. “You’re thrown into Baghdad, and there are a million different groups out there you’ve never heard of claiming responsibility for attacks,” Robert Worth, a Times reporter who used Katz’s service during the eighteen months he spent in Iraq, told me. “Rita really knows what she’s talking about—who’s responsible for attacks, what’s a legitimate terrorist organization and what’s not.” Because many reporters rebroadcast her information, it can reach the public before people in the government have had a chance to evaluate it; her organization’s work is cited in the Times and the Washington Post about twice a month.

Katz has many critics, who believe that she is giving terrorists a bigger platform than they would otherwise have, and that the certainty and obsession that make her a dedicated archivist also make her too eager to find plots where they don’t exist; she publicized a manual for using botulinum in terror attacks, for example, which experts later concluded was not linked to any serious threat. It’s possible that her immersion in the world of terrorism has removed whatever skepticism or doubts she may have had. “Much as Al Jazeera underplays terrorist threats, the SITE Institute at times overhypes them,” Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A.’s bin Laden unit, said.

Terrorism is, in part, theatre and psychological warfare, and many of the statements that Katz translates are propaganda intended to raise the profile of obscure groups. Katz sees her audience mainly as professionals—people whose job it is to stop terrorism or uncover it. But, by creating a shortcut around government agencies, she may also be contributing to the tendency that the media (and at times the government) has displayed since 9/11 to dramatize even the flimsiest threat. In recent months, Katz has noticed Algerian radicals and Afghan terrorists releasing videos that mirror Zarqawi’s in substance and tone and that are also designed to impress young militants in the West. Katz believes that the terrorists have been underestimated, and that more people should have direct access to what they are thinking and saying. The terrorists, of course, think so, too.

Katz has a very specific vision of the counterterrorism problem, which she shares with most of the other contractors and consultants who do what she does. They believe that the government has failed to appreciate the threat of Islamic extremism, and that its feel for counterterrorism is all wrong. As they see it, the best way to fight terrorists is to go at it not like G-men, with two-year assignments and query letters to the staff attorneys, but the way the terrorists do, with fury and the conviction that history will turn on the decisions you make—as an obsession and as a life style. Worrying about overestimating the threat is beside the point, because underestimating the threat is so much worse.

“The problem isn’t Rita Katz—the problem is our political conversation about terrorism,” Timothy Naftali says. “Now, after September 11th, there’s no incentive for anyone in politics or the media to say the Alaska pipeline’s fine, and nobody’s cows are going to be poisoned by the terrorists. And so you have these little eruptions of anxiety. But, for me, look, the world is wired now: either you take the risks that come with giving people—not just the government—this kind of access to information or you leave them. I take them.”

Chris Keeley

Portrait of Miss Tuya

Xue Mo: China Renaissance 

Portrait of Miss Tuya

(2006, oil on linen). From the exhibition China Renaissance, works by Xue Mo at Diane Farris Gallery. "...Described as 'Medici-like,' the paintings evoke a universal elegance, a return to pure painting, and a contemporary interpretation of formalism. They portray concepts of 'woman,' 'womanhood,' 'gentlewoman' and possibly self-portraiture

Chris Keeley

photobook guide

Photo Book Guide 


by  Eikoh Hosoe

Eikoh Hosoe - Kamaitachi
According to Japanese legend, the Kamaitachi is a demon that haunts rice paddies and villages in the north of the country. Literally a ‘sickle-weasel’, the kamaitachi bursts forth from vacuums in the air, slashing villagers in the ensuing whirlwhind. Photographer Eikoh Hosoe, who as a boy was evacuated to a northern village during the war, returned to the land of the kamaitachi in late 1967. With him was Tatsumi Hijikata, the founder of Butoh, an avant-garde dance movement. Born in politically charged post-war Japan, Butoh was a rejection of the influx of foreign culture that many considered was displacing traditional culture. This collaboration led to one of the most intricate and ceremonial photobooks in the history of photography. As Hijikata became the kamaitachi, Hosoe became the camera brandishing villager who revisits his youth, memories of the war, and hopes for the future of art.

Continue reading the review of "Kamaitachi" ...

Chris Keeley

mesmerizing scenarios largely influenced by dreams

Roq La Rue is very pleased to present “Alternate Realities” and show featuring two New York painters who combine flawless painterly skill combined with mesmerizing scenarios largely influenced by dreams.

Travis Louie and Robert Craig at Roq La Rue

Roq La Rue gallery in Seattle has a terrific two-man show going on right now, featuring the work of Travis Louie and Robert Craig.
 Showpages Alternate-Realities Images Images Louie1  Showpages Alternate-Realities Images Images Craig1 Travis Louie’s hypnotic “portraiture” is compelling for its blend of the hyper realistic with the blatantly surreal. Fantastical creatures gaze out from paintings so technically refined (using transparent layers of acrylic paint over a tight graphite drawing on a smooth flat surface) that they look uncannily like old photographs. Adding to the discomfiting presence these animal like characters have are the human expressions- even if the creature in the paintings looks a bit bizarre, it also looks spookily familiar as well.

Robert Craig creates Technicolor dreamscapes where toys, deities, skeletons, and advertising archetypes intermingle and cavort under bright blue skies. Inspired by everything from Michelangelo, Dali, Norman Rockwell, and Rick Griffin to the images on a box of pancake mix, Craig defiantly refuses to raise one influence as loftier than the other, in fact states that while he cites as influence old sci-fi movies, cartoons, his own childhood, Hindu art, LSD, the catholic church, and the death of his daughter, “My paintings have no inherent, intentional meaning because I don't believe that life has any inherent just is. I have no great wisdom, moral messages or cosmic profundity to impart in my work. I feel that would only detract from it. Like watching a great movie and a commercial butts in. 'Shut up and paint!' Sez I.”

Chris Keeley

crash-test dummy

all Firefox versions are named after public parks

Smoking fast Firefox 2 alpha is out

A new public alpha of Firefox 2 has gone live. The browser, code-named "Bon Echo" (all Firefox versions are named after public parks) is nowhere near ready for prime-time, but it is smokin' hot fast on my Powerbook, easily twice as fast at managing tabs and tab-switches as the current Firefox. Regrettably, almost none of my Firefox "extensions" (plugins) worked with Bon Echo, but I'm willing to live without them temporarily while I play at crash-test dummy. Link

Update: Leonard sez, "Use the Nightly Tester Tools extension to get around those silly version issues. Obviously if the extensions are actually broken you'll have issues, but almost everything I have works even on the FF3 trunk builds (I run 40-50 extensions)."

Adam also suggests "You might want to try the MR Tech Local Install extension for forcing extensions to work with Bon Echo Alpha - I've haven't tried it w/the latest Bon Echo Alpha, but it worked really well for Bon Echo Alpha a month or two back."