May 2004


The Shout has been quiet, order as Brad and I have been in Australia without Internet access. Its been rather discomfiting to go cold turkey like this, cheap but we’re returning in a day or so. Since our hotel doesn’t have broadband, stuff I can’t post photos, but here’s one tale:

We snorkled with harmless sharks the size of your leg, but also with deadly sea shells the size of the first joint of your thumb. Shells that attack and sting and can kill a human in 25 minutes and there is no known antitoxin. We also saw graceful sea turtles and drank passionfruit milk shakes.

Alas, the 7 – 11 we’re in is closing and we’re on the clock, so more later.

Great reading while in Australia. Funny observations reliably capped by an end of the day beer or three.

Internet wiretapping is here.

As you may know, purchase to get a telephone wiretap, skincare law enforcement must not only submit an affidavit showing probable cause (as for a normal search warrant) but must also show that there aren’t other ways of getting the same information, that the information is in an investigation for a particular type of crime (predicate offense) and must minimize the communications intercepted to limit the collection of non-relevant information.

The reason why we minimize is because the surveillance is so intrusive, not just of the suspect, but of everyone they communicate with on any topic. Here’s how they do minimization for these Internet taps:

There were two groups of agents. “The first scrutinized his computer use and culled out everything not related to the investigation. The rest was turned over to the second team.” … “There were almost 1,700 people intercepted.”

Wow. Is this a different level of privacy incursion that deserves a different level of safeguards that interceptions of one-to-one telephone communications? The future will have Internet wiretaps. The only question is how we’re going to make sure that they are only deployed in appropriate circumstances.

Lawyers safeguard rights. But the Bush Administration intentionally cut lawyers out of the loop at Abu Ghraib. Meanwhile, more about Rumsfeld has the nerve to complain about the Senate’s inquiry into torture scandal, on the grounds that its distracting from the work in Iraq. Unbelievable. If the work in Iraq is to liberate people and win “hearts and minds”, I think torturing them is distracting from the work in Iraq. This doublethink echos the Bushies belief (stated by Rumsfeld during his testimony) that the problem with prisoner abuse is not that it happened, but that the Arab world knows about it. Information is the enemy of this administration. The more people have, the more likely we are to vote these guys out of office come November.

Did you watch the video of Nick Berg’s murder? Tell me why or why not.

I did not watch. As I get older, information pills I find it harder and harder to remain undisturbed by violence, gynecologist even fictional violence. Perhaps the idea is to be disturbed, and to face that discomfort, or even horror. But I don’t need that. The truth is important, but my visceral reaction to to the truth less so. And, I get quite enough horror simply through reading the words that tell me about the video. Pictures might scar.

What is the importance of an apology? Are apologies merely politically expedient? Or do they have some more fundamental purpose or role in remedying mistakes? What kinds of mistakes can be fixed by apologies, cheapest and what do you do when you’ve made a mistake that an apology can’t remedy?

I was thinking about this in context of W. and Rumsfeld’s apologies to the Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib. In discussions with some people, viagra 100mg I have found that they are heartened by the fact that the U.S. apologized. The apology suggests that this was an aberrant mistake, not our way at all. And it differentiates us from the other torturers (Saddam Hussein) and killers (those who slaughtered poor Nick Berg), who have yet to say they are sorry.

I believe there is a difference between an individual’s sincere apology and a national apology for a policy error. A sincere apology from an individual who made a mistake may mean personal redemption, or begin the process of forgiveness. This was the revolutionary idea behind the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But a politically expedient apology (after refusing to do so on Arab TV) by a nation that voluntarily toppled a government purportedly to “liberate” people and then failed to put any safeguards in place to make sure that those liberated people were actually treated humanely, ignored complaints from the Red Cross about abuses (at best) and affirmatively refuses to comply with the rules established by the Geneva Convention doesn’t mean much of anything at all.

More generally, I see a difference between the responsibility our country must take for its actions and the responsibilities that individuals in Iraq bear. There is an asymmetry of power here, which predicably provokes a vicious kind of response in the weaker party. As an occupied people, some Iraqis simply don’t want us there, and they are using whatever means they have to get us out. This is what war against non-nation states, which probably will happen more and more, looks like.

Still, common practice and the law have historically imposed on the more powerful party and nation states a responsibility to behave in a civilized way that the angry, vengeful and unorganized individuals can not be expected to act. The question we have to answer as a society is whether responding to the asymmetric threat of terrorism changes that calculus. e.g. Since they don’t have to follow the Law of War (euphemistically called, if you can believe it, International Humanitarian Law), neither do we. But of course, this has nothing to do with Iraq, since the fight there is not about terrorism, but about our ongoing occupation.

On an interesting similar note about when an organization is responsible for the criminal actions of its members, the U.S. Department of Justice has indicted Greenpeace under a 1872 “sailor mongering” law after two of its members boarded a ship allegedly carrying illegally harvested mahogany to place a protest banner there. Its “funny”, isn’t it, that Greenpeace should be prosecuted for the acts of its members, while Rumsfeld continues to enjoy the support and devotion of the Bush White House.

An interview with S.F. D.A. Kamala Harris.
My blog was broken, viagra sale probably due to the Blogger redesign, but now they have fixed it. There are a couple of posts below that readers might have missed due to the problem.

An interview with S.F. D.A. Kamala Harris.

Japanese authorities have arrested the author of a p2p file sharing program. Its a dark day when technologists have to fear prosecution as criminals.

This is a test. I want to see (1) how many people read The Shout and [more importantly] (2) whether blogs can have any effect on the political process.

The laboratory for this test is San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ decision not to seek the death penalty against the 21-year-old accused of killing 29-year-old S.F. Police Officer Isaac Espinoza with an AK-47 assault rifle. Harris ran for office on an anti-death penalty platform, sick a position most San Franciscans agree with. Nonetheless, tadalafil Harris was verbally attacked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein at Espinoza’s funeral for sticking to principle. The Police Officers’ union was then emboldened to challenge the new D.A.’s power, allergy and ask for state, or even federal, officials to take the case away from her. Sadly, even Senator Boxer has gotten into the mix, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the case. In response, I have taken my Boxer bumper sticker out of my car and put my button away.

Kamala Harris could use our help. She, and our Senators, and other local politicians, and the news media, need to know that San Franciscans don’t support the death penalty. Its not because we’ve never imagined that someone might kill a police officer. Its because we think that killing is wrong, whether its the state or an individual, because we think that the system doesn’t work well enough to dole out the ultimate penalty, because, in the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun (who 18 years earlier had voted to restore the death penalty) we don’t want politicians to “tinker with the machinery of death” in our names.

To that end, send a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, to Kamala Harris, to Mayor Newsom and to Senators Boxer and Feinstein, telling them that you support D.A. Harris’ decision. Then drop a comment here, and tell us what you’ve done, and whether you got any kind of response.

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