Click. White House recommends more on-line snooping.

Click. Federal Judge dismisses George Franklin's suite against police and prosecutors, but allows suit against daughter (accuser) and therapist.

Click. Pentagon red-faced over award to LORAL security company.


White House recommends more on-line snooping
The Register
Posted: 19/07/2000 at 07:41 GMT
Surveillance of citizens suspected of computer crimes such as malicious hacking must be made easier for federal law enforcement agents, White House Chief of Staff John Podesta said during a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, echoing a familiar Clinton Administration demand once again.

If the Clintonites get their way, blanket trap and trace orders will be permitted without prior approval by a court during an 'emergency', such as when a computer is under attack, Podesta said.

To mitigate the Orwellian atmosphere of Bill Clinton's and Janet Reno's unhealthy obsession with snooping on US citizens, Podesta said that federal and state judges would independently review the factual basis for issuing such orders in 'normal' circumstances.

The White House proposal which Podesta was touting to the press would also simplify jurisdictional niceties so that only one such order would be needed to trace a call or an Internet session back to its source through multiple carriers across state lines.

Podesta also proposed that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act be 'strengthened' to exploit a fuller range of damages which can be said to have resulted from computer attacks. Multiple small attacks should be treated as one large attack, Podesta said, so that on-line evildoers won't escape federal prosecution in cases where none in a series of small, nuisance attacks causes sufficient damage to trigger federal law enforcement involvement.

By way of enlarging on that theme, the ever-increasing sphere of influence for federal prosecutors should be extended further to give them jurisdiction over juvenile offenders in 'serious' cases of computer mischief, Podestra advised.

To further maximise opportunities for satisfying convictions, Podesta reckoned that mandatory jail time should be eliminated for minor copmuter attacks which might otherwise go unpunished when a judge weighs the hefty sentence required against the crime's triviality.

Podesta also recommended that the standards for intercepting electronic, wire, and cable communications be harmonised with the current regulations for intercepting telephone calls.

Current regulations under which federal law enforcement can intercept private communications vary for e-mail, a phone calls and a cable modems. In this instance the result might be a bit less government monitoring of private e-mail messages, which at the moment requires a lower legal standard than monitoring a telephone conversation. (You are using PGP religiously, right readers?)

Meanwhile, the White House would like to see increased penalties for violations of US wiretapping laws, thereby giving the Feds the undisputed monopoly on snooping, and another weapon which can potentially be used against the dreaded malicious hackers, whose activities might at times be construed as the illegal interception of communications.

The entire proposal was packaged under the benign heading of assuring public trust in cyberspace, another White House obsession. Bill Clinton is convinced that the Internet is the golden goose of his tenure as President, and there is little he would not do to individual civil liberties in his eagerness protect it from disruption by those who fail to appreciate its economic implications as he does.

In time the US federal government will become a model on-line citizen, Podesta promised, by continuing to make itself a veritable paragon of information security and privacy practices.

Fair enough, but we wonder what 'model citizen' would tap the phones and read the mail of its neighbours with half the relish displayed by the Clinton Administration and Reno DoJ. ®

Bush's Web Site Raises Privacy Concerns
Yahoo News, © 2000 July 19, 2000
By Michael Carney
© 2000

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new Web site unveiled on Wednesday by Texas Gov. George W. Bush (news - web sites) may violate his campaign's privacy protection policy, a privacy expert said.

``Everywhere I clicked there was a cookie,'' said Deborah Pierce of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, referring to small text files used to store personal information about Web surfers.

In its privacy policy, the Bush campaign says it will only collect information about visitors when they stop in one of four specific areas. In reality, Pierce said, the site collects such information with every click of the mouse.

``They try to set a cookie even before you read the privacy policy,'' said Pierce, an attorney at the non-partisan group, which advocates for increased privacy protection.

A Bush spokesman would not confirm the findings, first noted by Democrat Al Gore (news - web sites)'s campaign, but emphasized its commitment to personal privacy.

``The policy absolutely stands, said Bush spokesman Tucker Eskew. ``If it happened, it was a vendor error and is being corrected.''

Pierce stressed that there is nothing sinister about the cookies, but said the campaign should be upfront about how much information it collects from visitors.

Trawling Online For Voters

The Bush campaign hopes to create a new kind of politics on the Internet.

``We very deliberately sought to examine high-traffic, information-intensive sites that were visually appealing,'' Eskew said. ``That doesn't usually refer to political sites.''

In their haste to go online, however, the campaign left off a section for young people and many Spanish-language translations.

Eskew said those problems will be soon resolved.

The campaign rolled out a 30-second television commercial Wednesday designed to draw people to the site, which features an Internet radio station and live interviews, as well as Bush screensavers, pictures and electronic post cards. Visitors can also test their knowledge with a trivia game or register to vote.

``It's a different kind of site for a different kind of Republican, a different kind of e-publican, if you will,'' said Eskew.

The campaign will solicit contributions through the convention, but is preparing for the post-convention fundraising ban by adding options that allow supporters to volunteer or write a letter to their local newspaper.

``This represents a major step forward driving grassroots action,'' said Eskew.

The Bush campaign established its first Internet site March 17, 1999. They report it received an average 150,000 daily page visits at


"PLAN COLUMBIA" Drugs under fire.

One side is paid for by the US military, the other by addicts. Welcome to Colombia's civil war.

Duncan Campbell © Thursday July 20, 2000, The Guardian, London

The United States is currently holding 400,000 prisoners of war in jails across the country. Most of them have never picked up a weapon or threatened anyone and many of them know they will die in jail, far from their families.

They are prisoners who have been taken by the US government in what is known as the "war on drugs". Now the US government has decided to devote a further $1.3bn of its citizens' money towards fighting this war on a foreign field - or in many foreign fields - by supplying military aid to the Colombian government and by seeking the backing and approval of Europe in this task.

Essentially, the US is to provide the stick in the form of helicopters and weaponry to tackle drug producers while Europe provides a carrot - or more likely a banana crop - in the form of aid for the development of crops that will replace the coca and the opium poppy on which so much of the Colombian economy relies.

Earlier this month, 27 nations and international agencies attended a conference in Madrid to discuss Plan Colombia, the scheme under which the US has committed itself to the destruction of drugs in Colombia. A total of more than $800m was pledged by a variety of countries and bodies but crucially the EU will wait until September and another meeting in Bogota before deciding exactly what its commitment will be.

Officially, the weapons and helicopters are to be used to attack the coca and opium poppy fields. Unofficially, the hardware is to be used to destroy the 17,000-strong, well-armed Marxist guerrilla group the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) that receives much of its revenue as a result of the drugs trade. Europe is being asked, as one European diplomat has been quoted as saying, "to clean up the mess that the Americans will make".

Over recent weeks, President Clinton has been talking thoughtfully and sensitively about the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the part he hopes that he can play before he leaves office. Every effort is being made to try to bring the two sides together. As the peace process in Northern Ireland has been stumbling slowly towards resolution, the United States government has always been prepared to offer its help it mediating between the two sides, to send its most distinguished statesmen across the sea in an effort to broker a lasting peace.

Some weeks ago, ministers and officials from Europe, Japan, Canada and the United Nations made their way to Los Pozos in the heart of the territory of Colombia given temporarily to the FARC. There they listened to Colombians on both sides of the civil war and heard the arguments for and against Plan Colombia. The US were not represented at the meeting because they do not "recognise" the FARC.

Where is the energy that has categorised US initiatives in the Middle East and Ireland? Some have suggested that the American commitment of such a high quantity of military aid will unleash a Latin American Vietnam. Others have likened it to the proxy war fought by the US against the leftist guerrillas in El Salvador. All are agreed that this escalation of the 36-year-long civil war will mean a marked increase in deaths. Whatever one's views of the FARC and what they stand for, they are highly trained, well armed and many are highly committed to the war. They are not going to roll over and they will be fighting in territory they know well.

Leading the charge, almost literally, for the Americans is the drugs tsar General Barry McCaffrey. He recently appeared on BBC television in a documentary about Colombia and claimed that the "greatest threat" to human rights in Colombia was the FARC and that it posed "a huge threat not only for its neighbours but also the the US".

This is nonsense. All the human rights reports, whether from the UN or the US's own state department, indicate that the "greatest threat" to human rights is posed by the far-right paramilitaries or "self-defence" groups which have worked so often with the Colombian military.

As the US Department of State human rights report, dated February of this year, put it: "Paramilitary forces were responsible for an increasing number of massacres and other politically motivated killings. . . the army tolerated and even collaborated with paramilitary groups."

McCaffrey has an old- fashioned military man's attitude to facts. In 1998, he attacked Holland's liberal drugs policy by claiming that this had led to a crime wave and that the murder rate in Holland was twice that in the US. "That's drugs," was the general's conclusion. That was also nonsense. The US murder rate is in fact four times higher than that in Holland. Now McCaffrey, having convinced the American government to hurl money from the skies on to Colombia in battle and in fumigation programmes, hopes that Europe will politely follow suit.

There are three schools of thought about European involvement in Plan Colombia: the US government view, that they should cough up the money and keep their mouths shut; the view that Europe should have not be associated at all with a plan that seems doomed towards escalating the war at a time when peace talks - however painfully slow and faltering - are taking place; and the third view, that Europe should attach itself to the plan if only so that there is another voice that can try to get itself heard above the noise of the choppers taking off.

Drugs in the US are a problem for the US, however convenient it may be to blame Latin Americans. Recently the tiny US Libertarian party launched its bid for the presidency by saying that its first act if - rather big if - elected would be the pardoning of every non-violent drug offender. If the US was really serious about its "war on drugs" those are the steps they would be looking at to remove the grip of organised international crime from the drugs trade. With all the money saved, they could help address Colombia's real problem: poverty. As the signs carried by some of the hundreds of thousands displaced by the conflict who descended on Bogota last month said: "With hunger, there is no peace."

Instead, there is the possibility of a grim war fought by Colombians, a civil war in which one side will be funded by the US tax-payer and the other side by the US drug-taker - a mad scenario indeed. Europe has a chance to use its influence here, either by withholding its support from the plan and then involving itself actively in searching for a peaceful solution or, if it backs the plan, by using its influence to try stop what could be the next of this millennium's really bloody civil conflicts.

Colombia should not be used as a military exhibition centre and Europe should do all in its power to prevent a bloodbath before we find we have sleepwalked our way into it.


Federal Judge dismisses George Franklin's suite against police and prosecutors, but allows suit against daughter (accuser) and therapist.
San Francisco Examiner ©  7/20/00

A federal judge has dismissed most of a civil suit by George Franklin, the retired San Mateo firefighter who spent six years in prison on a murder conviction that was based on his daughter's repressed-memory testimony about events 20 years earlier.

Franklin sued police, prosecutors and his daughter after his conviction was overturned by another federal judge in 1995. He accused them of conspiring to have him arrested without any legal basis and of violating his rights in a jailhouse confrontation with his daughter that was the chief reason for the reversal.

But U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ruled Wednesday that prosecutors and police had not violated any clearly established rights and therefore were immune, as government officials, from a damage suit. He said they had reasonable grounds for arresting Franklin and were operating in a legally unsettled area when they allegedly arranged the jailhouse meeting.

All that remains of the suit is Franklin's claim that his daughter, Eileen Franklin-Lipsker, conspired to arrange false testimony by a therapist. Franklin is seeking only a token $1 in damages against his daughter and hasn't decided whether to proceed, said Dylan Schaffer, one of his lawyers.

Schaffer predicted an appeals court would reinstate the suit. "We consider the violations of Mr. Franklin's constitutional rights to be absolutely clear," he said.

James Wagstaffe, a lawyer for police, prosecutors and San Mateo County, said the ruling should end "this harassing litigation." He said Breyer had recognized that those who arrested and prosecuted him "had very strong reasons to believe . . . that George Franklin killed this little girl."

The case was the first known criminal conviction based on the much-disputed theory of repressed memory. Franklin-Lipsker testified she was looking into her daughter's eyes in 1989 and suddenly remembered seeing her father holding a rock over the head of her childhood playmate, 8-year-old Susan Nason, in 1969. She said she later remembered seeing him crush the girl's skull after molesting her.

xp The conviction was upheld by state courts but overturned in 1995 by U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen. He said the trial judge should not have told jurors they could conclude Franklin was confessing when he remained silent after his daughter visited him in jail and urged him to admit his guilt. Jensen also said jurors should have heard about newspaper articles that might have supplied Franklin-Lipsker with details of the murder.

Franklin was freed in July 1996 when county prosecutors decided not to retry him after another of his daughters testified Franklin-Lipsker had told her in 1989 that she remembered the murder only after being hypnotized. Hypnotically influenced testimony is inadmissible in California. Franklin-Lipsker has denied that she was hypnotized.

In the civil suit, Franklin's lawyers said police must have known his daughter's testimony was inadmissible, because of the hypnosis, and therefore had no reason to arrest him in the first place.

But Breyer said there was no evidence that Franklin-Lipsker ever told the officers she had been hypnotized. Police and a prosecutor said she told them she had considered hypnosis to lose weight but had never been hypnotized. Apart from that issue, police had some evidence to corroborate Franklin-Lipsker's story at the time of the arrest, Breyer said.

Pentagon red-faced over award to LORAL security company.
    Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 01:42:35 +0200
    From: "Mario Profaca" <
July 18, 2000, Web posted at: 11:26 p.m. EDT (0326 GMT)
From CNN National Security Producer Chris Plante ©

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Defense Department says it is embarrassed about  having presented an award for industrial security to a company that is being  investigated for giving a sensitive report on missile technology to the  government of China.

The Defense Security Service (DSS) presented the Cogswell Award Monday to  the Loral Space & Communication company for "Outstanding Industrial Security  Achievement" -- then learned several hours later that Loral is the subject  of an ongoing three-year investigation into the alleged security breach.

The decision to give the award to Loral was almost immediately reversed.

"I'd describe it as an embarrassment and something that was unfortunate," said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon. "As soon as it was learned that Loral was  under investigation, the award was withdrawn."

A grand jury has been looking into allegations that Loral violated export  control laws when they provided the Chinese government with an assessment of a failed Chinese missile launch, perhaps contributing to China's ballistic  missile program.

The failed Chinese missile was contracted to carry a Loral satellite into orbit.

"I think it's seen upstairs (in the office of Defense Secretary William  Cohen) as an embarrassment, and it was quickly corrected," Bacon said.

The decision to present the award for sound security practices to Loral and 49 other companies had been approved by the office of the Secretary of  Defense.

"I don't have a good explanation for this, but I suspect that the award -- I know that the award was for a national industrial security program, which involves steps that companies take to deal with the way classified  information is handled within their facilities. And the people who made this  award were probably unaware of the fact that Loral was under investigation  for another matter, which is a violation of export control, an alleged  violation of export control policies," Bacon said.

"So it was just a question of somebody not being omniscient enough to have a complete picture of Loral's dealings across the board."


Signals intelligence is being used "to collect personal information about American citizens and proprietary information about U.S. corporations."

More Echelon paranoia?  No.  But in a mirror-image of the European debate over Echelon, leading members of Congress warned on Wednesday that a Russian intelligence facility in Lourdes, Cuba is being used to violate Americans' privacy and to steal U.S. commercial secrets.

"I wonder how many Americans are aware that the Russians are operating an electronic spy center in our own backyard violating the very privacy of communications in our Nation each and every day," said Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY).

"The vast signal intelligence facilities operated near Lourdes by Havana's and Moscow's intelligence services, permit the wholesale collection of sensitive United States military, diplomatic, and commercial data, and the invasion of millions of Americans' privacy," said Rep. Diaz-Balart (R-Florida).

"Nobody wants Big Brother reading their mail or looking over their shoulder or spying at them especially when Big Brother is not American" said Rep. Goss, who also stated that the Russians are collecting "personal information about American citizens."

The debate occurred during consideration of a bill (H.R. 4118) that would prohibit any rescheduling of Russian debt payments unless and until the President certifies that the signals intelligence facility at Lourdes has been shut down.  The bill was passed in the House by 275-146.  The July 19 floor debate is posted here:

In a Statement of Administration Position, the Clinton Administration argued against the bill:

"We share congressional concerns about the Lourdes facility and its intelligence collection activities. However, this legislation is not likely to be an effective lever on Russian actions. The United States, like Russia, maintains a number of signals intelligence facilities around the world.  One important function of such facilities for both countries is to collect information to verify arms control agreements.  Successive administrations have steadfastly resisted attempts to define national technical means of verification or to circumscribe the location and use of such systems.  Such a hindrance would run counter to fundamental U.S. national security interests and, in particular, to their ability to conduct arms verification.  Legislation like this bill may rebound adversely to the United States by inviting Russia and other countries to pursue similar charges against U.S. facilities they characterize as threatening.  Additional explanation or information relating to facilities such as Lourdes can be provided in classified briefings."

At the same time that Congress is raising new questions about the "ethics" of intelligence collection, it is preparing to exempt U.S. intelligence agencies from treaty obligations and international agreements, as previously discussed here:

Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists