Military Justice: Transparent?
Originally uploaded by leyaya Interesting commentary at The Christian Science Monitor by Mark Sappenfield: Can the military effectively investigate itself?
While I’d certainly not deny the military has had it’s share of coverups, my knowledge of judge advocates is that once they start in on an investigation, they’re like bulldogs. They’ll be thorough and complete.
Not that I can say that much for the chain of command… but… in the end, I believe transparency will win out.
Even in this latest case
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseInteresting turn of events from the highest court in the land…
The Supreme Court yesterday bolstered the government’s power to discipline public employees who make charges of official misconduct, ruling that the First Amendment does not protect those who blow the whistle in the course of their official duties.
By a vote of 5 to 4, the court ruled that the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office did not violate prosecutor Richard Ceballos’s freedom of speech by allegedly demoting him after he wrote to supervisors charging that a sheriff’s deputy had lied to get a search warrant.
Dissenters on the court, civil libertarians and public-employee unions said the ruling, which extends to all of the nation’s public employees, could deter government workers from going to their bosses with evidence of corruption or ineptitude.
Hmm. I wonder if this means instead of going to bosses, public employees ought to just blog or go to the press?
Just what were they saying?
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseAll in good fun, friends. All in good fun…
on the balcony
Originally uploaded by rollinoffsetPerhaps it is time to think again. First, try this one:
A man killed his two young children Saturday by throwing them off the 15th floor of a landmark South Beach hotel and then jumped to his own death, police said.
If that doesn’t make you a believer, try this one:
Two suspects accused of videotaping the rape of a woman and killing her might have other victims, authorities said Saturday.
Yeh, evil is alive and well in the world.
Question: How do we get rid of it? Turning a blind eye is not the answer.
The President attended the ceremony for the change of command for the Commandant of the Coast Guard. He made a few remarks; among them:
In a few moments, Admiral Collins will pass the duties of commandant to an outstanding successor in Admiral Thad Allen. I came to know Admiral Allen well last September, when he directed recovery efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We surveyed damage together. We sat one evening on the deck of the USS Iwo Jima, talking about how we could help the folks in that region recover. He gave me regular updates on what was taking place — an incredibly devastated part of our country.
It didn’t take long to recognize his ability or his integrity or his ability to lead. I knew I could count on Admiral Allen to give me candid judgment. I relied on his steady nerves and his presence of mind in trying conditions. I was impressed by his compassion and his determination to help those who had lost so much.
What he meant to say was this:
In a few moments, Admiral Collins will pass the duties of commandant to an outstanding successor in Admiral Thad Allen. I came to know Admiral Allen well last September, when he saved my political bacon by stepping in and taking charge of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. We surveyed damage together, and we both knew the damage to my legacy was worse than the damage wrought by the storm. We sat one evening on the deck of the USS Iwo Jima, talking about I could recover following the horrible response led by my horse-loving friend.
It didn’t take long to realize he’d saved my ass, and I owed him big-time. I recognized his apolitical nature, his ability to talk straight (unlike elected officials), and his integrity, and his ability to lead. I knew I could count on Admiral Allen to give me candid judgment. I relied on his steady nerves and his presence of mind in trying conditions; I relied on him to save my tail. I was impressed by his compassion and his determination to help those who had lost so much; and I was impressed that a man from the smallest military force could do the most for my standing with the American public.
See the full, real speech here
Also, the President awarded the Coast Guard the Presidential Unit Citation, sometimes referred to as the Saving the President’s Tail Citation (the acronym is pronounced SPIT-CEE).
Hmm…. for anyone interested in organizational change, Admiral Allen’s personal vision holds a host of clues about the next couple of years.
We will focus our entire organization on improving and sustaining Mission Execution. We will do this by structuring our service as a three-pronged force: shore-based operations, maritime operations, and deployable operations. We’ve taken bold steps forward by creating Sectors for shore-based operations. We’ve taken equally bold steps by advancing the Deepwater acquisition for maritime presence, patrol, and response. And we’ve created truly deployable forces. We must now expand our deployable force capabilities and support them with proper doctrine, logistics, training, and exercises. Across all of our forces, we will partner with other services and agencies to integrate our efforts. To further optimize the mission execution of this three-pronged force, we will assess our command and control structure. We will also reevaluate and realign our Mission Support system, including organizational structures, human resources, maintenance, logistics, financial management and information systems. Each of you, regardless of your pay grade, job or rating, or where you sit in our organization, is critical to mission success. You must have the tools and support you need to do your job. We will ensure Coast Guard men and women are the best trained and most versatile workforce in government, equipped with the most capable fleet of multi-mission ships, aircraft, boats and command and control systems available. We will remain aligned with our Department, sister services, and partner agencies. I have already assigned responsibility for a substantial list of specific initiatives to our Flag and SES corps. Information on these initiatives will follow shortly and I will keep you updated on their progress.
So, perhaps we’ll have a Operational Forces Command with three force groupings: shore-based operations, maritime operations, and deployable operations. OPFORCOM would likely be a three-star (as I’ve suggested before)…
And then we’ll have a Support Systems Command with various support-providers beneath it, including all the current HQ-unit level commands, such as the ELC, C2CEN, TISCOM, OSC, etc.
Anyone want to take a guess as to how long it will take to get to this new structure?
The Commandant’s performance goal: receipt of his all hands messages by ALL HANDS within 24 hours…
R 251740Z MAY 06 ZUI ASN-A00145000027
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//G-C//
SUBJ: COMMANDANTS CHANGE OF COMMAND
1. TODAY I RELIEVED ADMIRAL THOMAS COLLINS AS COMMANDANT. WE HONOR HIS 38 YEARS OF EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE TO THE NATION. HE LED THE COAST GUARD THROUGH TIMES OF SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE AND CHANGE, INCLUDING THE TRANSITION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, SUPPORTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NORTHCOM, THE SWIFT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MARITIME TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ACT, HISTORIC INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT WITH THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA, AND THE UNPRECEDENTED RESPONSE TO THE 2005 HURRICANES. WE WISH HIM WELL AND THANK HIM FOR A JOB WELL DONE IN SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY AND HUMANITY. I ALSO EXTEND MY SINCERE APPRECIATION TO MRS. NANCY COLLINS FOR HER SUPPORT DURING ADMIRAL COLLINS DISTINGUISHED CAREER.
2. CONCURRENT WITH THIS ALCOAST I AM SENDING AN EMAIL, MY FIRST SITREP, TO ALL HANDS AND TO OUR MANY PARTNERS, OUTLINING MY INTENT. A PERSONAL VIDEO MESSAGE FROM ME, ALONG WITH THIS SITREP, CAN BE ACCESSED ON THE COAST GUARD INTERNET HOME PAGE AT WWW.USCG.MIL IN THE COMMANDANTS CORNER AND ON THE OURCG TAB OF CGCENTRAL AT HTTP://CGCENTRAL.USCG.MIL. IN THE FUTURE YOU WILL RECEIVE ALL HANDS MESSAGES DIRECTLY FROM ME VIA SEVERAL CHANNELS, INCLUDING ALL HANDS GENERAL MESSAGES AND THESE WEBSITES. MY PERFORMANCE GOAL IS TO ENSURE RECEIPT BY ALL MEMBERS, O-10 TO E-1, IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS.
3. I AM EXTRAORDINARILY PROUD OF YOU AND OUR SERVICE. I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONTINUE TO SERVE YOU AND THE NATION.
4. ALL HAZARDS, ALL THREATS, ALWAYS READY...SEMPER PARATUS.
5. INTERNET RELEASE AUTHORIZED.
6. ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, COMMANDANT, SENDS.
And let the changes begin:
R 251747Z MAY 06 ZUI ASN-A00145000028 ZYB
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//G-C//
SUBJ: CHANGE TO ODU UNIFORM POLICIES
1. AS WE LAY DOWN THE TRACK FOR OUR FUTURE, THERE WILL BE VARIOUS OPERATIONAL, SUPPORT AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES REQUIRED TO ENSURE WE ARE ALWAYS READY TO EXECUTE OUR MISSIONS.
2. BY PROUDLY WEARING OUR UNIFORM, ACTIVE DUTY, RESERVE AND AUXILIARY SERVICEMEMBERS REINFORCE OUR STRONG SERVICE CULTURE AND EMBODY THE COAST GUARDS ENDURING VALUE TO THE NATION. AS PART OF MY TRANSITION TO COMMANDANT, I AM APPROVING A CHANGE IN UNIFORM REGULATIONS TO ALLOW FOR THE WEARING OF THE ODU IN THE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT AT
COMMANDING OFFICERS DISCRETION. POLICY DETAILS TO FOLLOW.
3. ADDITIONAL QUICK HITTER CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN COLLECTED FROM THE FIELD. I HAVE TASKED THE MCPOCG TO REVIEW AND WORK TOWARD POLICY CHANGES WHERE APPROPRIATE.
4. INTERNET RELEASE AUTHORIZED.
5. ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, COMMANDANT, SENDS.
Hear the Commandant: 19 MB or 10 MB.
I don’t remember a Commandant posing for pictures in (hell, even just wearing) a working uniform.
My crystal ball shows a ‘stroke of the pen’ change allowing for greater wear of the ODU…
Please note, this post was originally posted 22 March 2006 at 12:15PM. I removed it at the request of a senior officer since evidently much of what Admiral Allen talked about is still close hold. He’d evidently been thinking, but not talking publically to folks. I figure with Admiral Allen now in charge, and his vision posted, I can post this with a clear conscience.
I’m at a program conference for my civilian job; we’re at the National Conference Center. Yesterday Admiral drove out in the afternoon (he drove himself; that’s the sort of guy he is) and spoke to us for a couple of hours. We’re less than 36 of us, so it was a nice, small, intimate crowd.
He spoke to us about the future. If you’ve ever heard him talk, you know the sort of energy and intelligence he brings. Huge.
The following are some random notes about what he said about the Coast Guard and the way ahead.
((Don’t be content with only a teaser of this post;
read more of this musing.))
Early on he noted the Coast Guard is currently in a unique position. As an organization, the American people and the politicians inside the Beltway consider us to be tested and trusted. Before Katrina, Admiral Allen believed we were about to lose $500 million in short-term future funding because Congress had doubts about us and our Deepwater initiative. Thankfully, we “are nothing without our mission.” You might remember we had a pretty good run with Katrina and Rita. Our mission, and our culture of independent action. Now, we are both tested and trusted. Compare that to the perception of some other agencies.
Admiral Allen noted that our current reorganization is the first time in his memory – and perhaps ever – that we have reorganized and had significant organizational changes based not on external influences and budget constraints. Our creation of sectors was based on our perceptions we needed to improve mission performance and this organizational change would help.
Admiral Allen has a long memory (he’s been commissioned for 35 years). He noted the first significant organizational change he faced was the Gilbert 1 study which resulted in the creation of the MLC communities. The reason: the service had to find 500 billets to reprogram to the new 110 patrol boats (the Navy was paying for the construction, but there was nothing in the budget for billets or sustained ownership cost).
Admiral Allen noted we often don’t have the courage to believe ourselves. Project Longview, a strategic planning initiative in 1998, came to the conclusion the merge of O and M was necessary. But, we didn’t have the courage to believe ourselves.
Admiral Allen’s watchwords and focus is a derivation and enhancement of the current Commandant’s; this is not a change of destination or tracks. This is an adjustment to the current trackline. The focus: mission, platforms (& tools), people, and organization.
In terms of missions, don’t expect big changes. The slices will be security, safety, and something else. The something else will be about mobility in the maritime environment, preparedness, response, and recovery.
In terms of organization, expect to see some changes revolving about aligning and linking our various force structures. Admiral Allen sees four major types of force structures. We have forces/platforms which operate from fixed-bases; they have a readiness-based posture and generally provide B-0 assets (think air stations, small boat stations, sectors). We have mobile assets which are deployed for specific missions (such as major cutters). And, we have cross-over forces which mesh mobile asset structures with fixed base structures (think patrol boats and long-range fixed-wing aircraft). The Admiral wants all of these force structures to be aligned and linked and then made more effective; perhaps we’ll see some sort of expeditionary force structure? Questions he posed: What is a logistics department and do we need one for sectors co-located with an ISC. What is the Deepwater logistics system? Do we need two areas? Do we need two MLCs? Do we need an overarching CG Forces Command.
(Peter’s aside: I imagine the following. VADM Papp is moved from the Chief of Staff position to what is now G-X and will be numbered CG-5 which will be the operational commander for all CG forces, perhaps called CG Forces Command. This will be the link between the legacy M and O functions. The Chief of Staff billet will become a one or two star billet and refocused to being the chief of staff for HQ and the HQ building. The outside the HQ stuff that is currently handled by the Chief of Staff will be shifted to the Vice Commandant’s billet. Areas will go away, the responsibilities shifting up to CG Forces Command or down to districts. The (t) functions at the MLC’s will be shifted to C2Cen which becomes C3Cen. The remainder of the two MLC’s will merge to provide a single maintenance & logistics force.)
Admiral Allen also suggested we will need to revisit the strategic positioning of the Coast Guard within and in relationship to the rest of the government, including DOD, DHS, and other federal, state, and local agencies. One of his goals is to the 10% of the government that tells the other 90% what to do… and have them pay for it…
In terms of people, the Admiral suggested we need to believe in our people and treat them appropriately. We are shifting to a knowledge organization; personal growth and continuing education are paramount and we must support both. (I’d note here that ever time in the last four years that tuition assistance has come under the gun and people have suggested cutting back some part of the TA program – such as not providing reimbursements for graduate classes. Every time, and I mean every time, Admiral Allen has held the line and found the money. His actions speak very loudly; he really does believe in on-going education.) “It’s time,” he says, “for the Coast Guard to start treating ourselves as good as we are and we think we are. We deserve to be life-long learners; we need to make the tools available to make life-long learning more accessible.”
Here’s another bit he discussed which fits in the people slice. “It doesn’t matter what an organization says with regard to promotions, assignments, benefits. It matters what an organization does.” I wonder if recent announced personnel changes are an indication of what’s important.
One of the recent assignments was the selection of the next Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard… unlike the Charlie Foxtrot in the last selection debacle. This go round, there was a predetermined process which included package review by a board, recommendation of three master chiefs to interview. Eleven master chiefs completed packages for selection of the E-10. Admiral Allen read all the packages and saw some common themes. All eleven master chiefs noted that alcohol is a problem; alcohol use gets our young people in trouble; alcohol plays a component in nearly all sexual assaults.
Sidebar: Have you been following the Academy’s current sexual assault case? Alcohol, clearly, played a role.
Other common themes include d all but two candidates saying the E-10 must take a greater role in managing the Gold Badge network, the Force MCPO’s, and the CPO Messes throughout the Coast Guard. Another theme was the communication from the MCPO-CG to the field & the establishment of two-way electronic communication – such as a bulletin board (or a blog, I’d say) – in order to increase knowledge & understanding. A site impact of this might be more visits to the official site vs. visits by Coasties to unofficial sites which sometimes just become, er, b*tch sites.
It became clear the Admiral understands and believes-in the Performance Excellence Criteria as our framework for organizational leadership and management. He said that he’d like to see a service-wide assessment against the Criteria. And so use that as part of his turn-over to the next Commandant.
“We must,” said Admiral Allen, “have a frank and open discussion about performance, about what is important, about where we’re going.” He is a believer that our outputs should be of a high quality; we must seek excellence in performance throughout the Coast Guard.
One of the ways to get a handle on various aspects of performance is to look at the data in various systems within the Coast Guard. His mantra — transparency of information breeds self-correcting behavior — is one Coasties must hear. When he makes visits to units, he previews and carries with him printouts from the RMS/CGBI (Readiness Management System/Coast Guard Business Information). When he walks onboard, he knows how much time underway they have; he knows who’s recently been to school or earned a qualification; he knows how the unit is doing on competencies; he knows how the unit is doing on mission success. He also reviews the Unit Profile Factors, so he has a snapshot overview of the unit.
Why is this important for Coasties? Because know that people are looking at the data which is input to various enterprise-wide data systems such as MSLE, AOPS, TMT, Direct Access, etc. The data in had better be right. (I’m reminded of some staff work I did several years ago involving looking at sea states for cases run in various AOR’s. I found the data said that Station Portsmouth – located on the Elizabeth River with an oparea that is totally confined to Hampton Roads, the James River, and the Elizabeth River – ran a number of cased in greater than 6-foot seas. Eagads, I hope not. Greater than 6-foot seas means my house is under water. There’s no way Portsmouth has run cased in 6-foot seas. The data is bad. Why? Because the BM2 inputing the data didn’t know the data was important. Indeed, Transparency of data breeds self-correcting behavior. What is the self-correcting behavior? Inputting the data correctly.
We are shifting, the Admiral suggests, to a knowledge-based organization; knowledge helps improve our performance. And, my role as a performance consultant in the organization is to be the fusing point among the Performance Excellence Criteria, enterprise-wide measurement systems, and organizational leadership & management.
Now, why is all this important for the average Coastie? Well, as we transition to knowledge-based organization, each of us needs to increase our knowledge. We need to know what’s going on. We need to know where we fit in the bigger picture; we need to understand how what we do impacts the organization’s goals and performance. Senior leaders are going to be expecting more. Admiral Allen is expecting more of his direct reports, and I imagine they will expect more of theirs, and so on. Don’t be surprised when Admiral Allen is visiting your station and asks a BM2 something about the bigger picture, or the use of information/data to make decisions, or something else which until know we’ve thought was “above” the BM2’s “need to know.”
Admiral Allen doesn’t want a thousand points of light. He wants a thousand points of light focused together to have the power of a laser.
And, Admiral Allen wants to have us create the tools where people can get smarter on all this. The “My Readiness” tab is one example of that; I can see my data; when my dental readiness turns yellow, I know it’s time for me to see the dentist. The availability of that data drives my behavior.
Another part of this getting smarter on this, is a desire the Admiral expressed on having certain educational gates for promotions, similar to the DOD services. An O-5 in the DOD has most likely attended a staff college, be it the War College, or the Naval War College, or the National Defense University, or whatever. We need to create a system that allows our folks to get smarter about strategy, decision making, and operations. While he’d like to see a “Homeland Security College,” perhaps spearheaded by the Coast Guard, given the funding constraints, that is never going to happen. However, DHS owns a number of school houses that could come together to provide the necessary education.
I’m excited. Be ready for Admiral Allen to step out quickly; be ready to follow. And, stand by for heavy rolls.
In my crisis intervention work with emergency services personnel, I try to re-frame events, find the good within something horrible.
I can’t find the good in this story
In an unusual move, Virginia State Police have been called in to investigate a shooting in which a police officer fatally wounded a colleague Sunday night during a fast-moving and chaotic chain of events at a public housing complex.
Do read the entire story.
One of the things that gets to me about this is that police officers are generally much better trained than Coasties. We’re just an accident waiting to happen.
My prayers go out to the officers in Norfolk and the friends and family of Seneca Darden. Please, too, keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
It’s either transparency in action… or we’re leaking like a sieve. Whatever it is, I’m in favor…
The Federal Court has sealed certain papers pertaining to the suit against AT&T; with regard to the various NSA issues. Wired has decided to unseal the documents and has posted them to the web. I’ve checked them out and it’s all techno-speak to me. However, I think it’s the right move. Enough of this hidden Big Brother stuff.
You can see Wired’s article here
As a result, we are publishing the complete text of a set of documents from the EFF’s primary witness in the case, former AT&T; employee and whistle-blower Mark Klein — information obtained by investigative reporter Ryan Singel through an anonymous source close to the litigation. The documents, available on Wired News as of Monday, consist of 30 pages, with an affidavit attributed to Klein, eight pages of AT&T documents marked “proprietary,” and several pages of news clippings and other public information related to government-surveillance issues.
The AT&T; documents appear to be excerpted from material that was later filed in the lawsuit under seal. But we can’t be entirely sure, because the protective order prevents us from comparing the two sets of documents.
This week, we are joining in efforts to bring this evidence to light in its entirety.
We are filing a motion to intervene in the case in order to request that the court unseal the evidence, joining other news and civil rights organizations that have already done so, including the EFF, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the Associated Press and Bloomberg.
Before publishing these documents we showed them to independent security experts, who agreed they pose no danger to AT&T. For example, they do not reveal sensitive information that hackers might use to attack the company’s systems.
The court’s gag order is very specific in barring only the EFF, its representatives and its technical experts from discussing and disseminating this information. The court explicitly rejected AT&T;’s motion to include Klein in the gag order and declined AT&T’s request to force the EFF to return the documents.
Bring it on you main stream media and bloggers. Let transparency reign.
Wear IT – On you
Originally uploaded by usefulguyToday, I received a bit of flickr mail:
Love the blog, it has been at least a weekly if not daily visit for the last few months.
I just posted some of the Wear It images we use locally when doing PFD education. I like the NSBW graphic but it is general and doesn’t cover some of the specific key messages we wanted out there, so we’ve added to it.
Thanks for the great blog.
Well, Daren, thanks for the kind words. And a much larger thanks for the graphics.
Folks, these are for the taking, I’m sure. Another example of the West Coast leading.
Anyway, my thanks to Daren (you can find him at http://www.flickr.com/people/usefulguy/). I implore all of you to do whatever you can do to get folks to WEAR their life jackets. I read today of another death off South Carolina; again, not wearing a PFD. They really don’t do much good just in the boat.
Let’s get the word out; & be sure to model appropriately, too.
National Safe Boating Week
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseIt seems that in my ranting, I’ve discovered that National Safe Boating Week is right around the corner. All of us can help spread the word; the North American Safe Boating Campaign has put all of their campaign material online; each of us can help spread the word.
For additional “stuff,” see also the Coast Guard’s boating safety website and the National Safe Boating Council
Let’s save some lives through prevention.
And, don’t forget, WEAR IT
all you need is love
Originally uploaded by Nino PepinoThe web is replete with “how to” sites & blogs &, now, wikis… Here’s one I could have used 25 years ago: How to Know the Difference Between Love, Infatuation and Lust.
Like a wiki would’a helped?
Coast Guard Sector Boundaries
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseThe CG is finishing up creating “sectors,” an organizational element which is intended to remove the historical stovepipe between “marine safety” and “operations.”
The jury is still out. At least that’s the buzz.
In the mean time, here’s a general overview of the new boundaries. Expect more changes following Admiral Allen’s assumption as Commandant (at least with regard to the district and area boundaries).
Originally uploaded by herr twiggsIf you’re looking for a new job, perhaps you’d like to be a Human Smut Scanner? Sounds like this is going to be a growth industry… 😉
“Privacy is Everybody’s Business”
Originally uploaded by forester401Regular readers to this blog know I find the recent privacy infringements made by the federal government ambivalent, at best. Well, I’ve decided some people write about this better than I ever could.
Here’s one for you from Bruce Schneier, the CTO of Counterpane Internet Security and the author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World, published over at Wired. From the middle of the essay:
Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest — or just blackmail — with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies — whoever they happen to be at the time.
Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.
We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.
A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It’s intrinsic to the concept of liberty.
For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.
Surf over for the full read
Trying out his Whistle
Originally uploaded by Lollybob1Here’s a story of a recent search here in Hampton Roads that ended positively… even though the 3 people onboard were not wearing their personal flotation devices:
Three boaters who spent the night drifting in the Chesapeake Bay were rescued by the Coast Guard early this morning.
The search for the 19-foot boat began at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, after one of the boaters used a cell phone to contact 911.
A Coast Guard HH-60 search and rescue helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., a 41-foot boat from Station Cape Charles, Va., the Hampton Police Department, and a fireboat from the Hampton Fire Department were involved in the search.
The boaters were spotted by the Coast Guard helicopter crew about 5 miles off Back River at about 5:30 this morning, and they were towed into port by the 41-foot Coast Guard boat and the Hampton fireboat.
And what caught my eye:
None of the men were wearing lifejackets when they were found, and the boat was missing key safety gear such as flares and a VHF radio. The Coast Guard urges all boaters to wear lifejackets at all times and to always bring a VHF radio on board. It is illegal not to keep flares on a boat.
Again, not only do you have to have them, you have to use them. Step on a boat, and the first thing you should do is put on your life jacket. Like this young man pictured here. Swimmer or non-swimmer, young or old, smart or slow; it doesn’t matter. Wear your personal flotation device.
Please, please, help pass the word. Remind your friends and family, and for goodness sake, be a proper model yourself.
I might have realized the earlier rumblings were not the entire story, but merely the tip of the iceburg. Months ago it was “we only listen to phone conversations in which one party is outside the United States.” Then it was “we are creating a database of phone calls made & received within the United States.”
Will we ever get the full story?
From Wired this morning
Former AT&T; technician Mark Klein is the key witness in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s class-action lawsuit against the company, which alleges that AT&T; illegally cooperated in an illegal National Security Agency domestic-surveillance program.
In this recently surfaced statement, Klein details his discovery of an alleged surveillance operation in an AT&T; office in San Francisco, and offers his interpretation of company documents that he believes support his case.
And a little more:
When former AT&T; technician Mark Klein learned of a secret room installed in the company’s San Francisco internet switching center, he was certain he had stumbled onto the Total Information Awareness program, a Defense Department research project that intended to scour databases across the country for telltale signs of terrorists.
Though the program had mostly been terminated by Congress in September 2003, portions of the program were allowed to continue.
Klein believed he had found these remnants, according to a written statement by Klein acquired by Wired News. AT&T; built the secret room in 2003 and wired it up to receive a copy of the internet traffic running through its fiber-optic network, according to Klein’s statement and accompanying documents. Inside the room, AT&T; had installed routers, Sun Microsystems servers and traffic-analysis software from a company called Narus.
One of the documents appears to describe AT&T;’s successful efforts to tap into 16 fiber-optic cables connecting the company’s WorldNet internet backbone to other internet service providers. The document shows AT&T; technicians phasing in fiber-optic splitters throughout February 2003, cutting them in four at a time on a weekly schedule, ending with a link to Mae West, an internet exchange point for West Coast traffic.
“It’s not just WorldNet customers who are being spied on,” Klein wrote.
“The essential hardware elements of a (Total Information Awareness)-type spy program are being surreptitiously slipped into ‘real world’ telecommunications offices,” Klein wrote, referring to “secret rooms” in central offices across the country that Klein believed contained “computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company’s popular WorldNet service and the entire internet.”
I thought that yesterday I came across something which indicated Congress is working on a bill to force ISPs to record all traffic users make, but now I can’t seem to find the article.
Doesn’t matter: Big Brother is, indeed, here.
Originally uploaded by lafranceviSad to say, but personal flotation devices — more commonly known as “life jackets” — don’t work unless you wear them. Another lesson taught along the waters of the Elizabeth River, Despite help from fellow boaters, man dies in Elizabeth River:
Two boaters, heeding a “cry in the dark,” came to the aid of a fisherman thrown from his craft late Saturday, but efforts to save the man failed.
The victim, identified as 56-year-old Roy Linwood White of Chesapeake, died.
The incident happened in the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River, said Wilford Kale, a spokesman for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
Kale said White and a companion, identified as Michael Eugene Martin, 51, of Chesapeake, were heading east on the river near the Western Freeway Bridge, often called the West Norfolk Bridge.
About 10:55 p.m., the small boat suddenly “lurched” as if it had hit an unseen obstruction in the water, Martin later told the Marine Resources Police.
White, who had been operating the boat, was thrown overboard, and then the vessel stalled, Martin told authorities .
Unable to restart the vessel or handle the controls, Martin could do little more than holler for help, Kale said.
But here’s the part that makes me just plain mad:
Kale said neither White nor Martin was wearing a personal flotation device although four were found on the boat.
Come on folks; if you’re going to get underway, wear a PFD; there’s no excuse, and it could save your life.
Covering ground I’ve already covered…
The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. . . . the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.
Right. And Bill didn’t have sexual relations with that woman.
Originally uploaded by takuya37I’m thinking George Orwell was only off in terms of the number of years it would take. From the Associated Press:
…the government secretly collected records of ordinary Americans’ phone calls to build a database of every call made within the country….
AT&T;, Verizon and BellSouth telephone companies began turning over records of tens of millions of their customers’ phone calls to the National Security Agency program shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said USA Today, citing anonymous sources it said had direct knowledge of the arrangement.
From the USA Today website:
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
“It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA’s activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency’s goal is “to create a database of every call ever made” within the nation’s borders, this person added.
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
All I can say is this: Damn.
It’s 1984… a little late, but it’s here.
I wonder what General Hayden will have to say about this little NSA program.
Originally uploaded by Nancy JoIt’s not that I’m not in favor of dynasties, but…
The second — and current — President Bush suggested today that his younger brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would make a “great president.”
Oh, not that, please.
Chat in Gmail
Originally uploaded by Ross MayfieldJust when Michael Brown, former director of FEMA, thought we’d all forget about him, the Center for Public Integrityreleases more than900 more pages of emails from the Katrina-era. And, once again, I’m reminded that irony and sarcasm doesn’t play well on screen…
Email lasts forever… as to blogs, I might be reminded… 😉
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseTurns out you can’t take photographs in Wal-Mart without getting permission before hand. Company policy, it seems.
I found out the hard way. I recently purchased a new point-and-shoot digital camera at Wal-Mart; a couple of days later I was back at Wal-Mart, and I was taking pictures, and a manager came up and told me to stop.
I wondered what the big deal was; you can see all the pics I took now posted here on flickr
Today, I figured out what the deal is. I know what they’re trying to hide, and I caught it on film.
While I was taking the photos, I was intrigued by the rash of bright colors.
From Fast Company:
Since Wal-Mart’s new CMO, John Fleming, came on board from Target last year, he’s been making chess-like moves to shake off its “deep-discount” positioning to court wealthier, hipper customers. Last year the 19-year Target vet assembled a NY office of “trendspotters” (sound like Target anyone?), plucking fashion and design talent from Levi’s, West Elm and Jonathan Adler — and advertising its new fashion line, Metro 7, in Vogue last fall. This week’s AdAge tracks Fleming’s other moves over the past few months, which include: trying to land a big name designer for their roster, adding upmarket products to its shelves, pumping up his marketing team with 60 new brains, and quietly retiring the 11-year-old smiley faced icon to some sunny resort in Florida.
Of course! They’re trying to make themselves in Target, hip and colorful. They just don’t want anyone to document the changes overtly.
So, I’ll do it covertly. Care to join me?
Originally uploaded by surfchikPerhaps you remember I posted last week, thankful that Moussaoui was going to rot in jail. I think he’s figured out that he’s going to rot in jail.
He’s has a change of heart
Stunned that he was sentenced to life in prison rather than execution, Zacarias Moussaoui now believes he could get a fair trial from an American jury. Too late, the judge says.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema quickly rejected a motion the confessed al-Qaida conspirator filed Monday to withdraw his guilty plea and get a new trial.
In his motion, Moussaoui said he lied on the witness stand March 27 when he reversed four years of denials and claimed he was to have hijacked a fifth jetliner on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed it into the White House, “even though I knew that was a complete fabrication.”
The 37-year-old Frenchman blamed his behavior on the effects of solitary confinement, his inability to get a Muslim lawyer and his misunderstanding of the U.S. justice system.
Moussaoui said he was “extremely surprised” by his life sentence by a federal court jury last week.
“I had thought I would be sentenced to death based on the emotions and anger toward me for the deaths on Sept. 11,” he explained in an affidavit. “But after reviewing the jury verdict and reading how the jurors set aside their emotions and disgust for me and focused on the law and the evidence … I now see that it is possible that I can receive a fair trial even with Americans as jurors.”
I’d love to see him take the second round and the next jury decide to fry him. Wouldn’t that be his just deserts?
If he really understood the American justice system, he’d realize that, indeed, the next jury might send him to the chair. He ought to be thankful.
At least he now has years and years he can study about the American jurisprudence system and all else American.
We may not be perfect, but we’re better than most…
…But I thought they were pretty cool: Take-aways from my surgery last week.My apologies for my week-plus long silence. I’m recovering from shoulder survey. Last Monday, I had two torn tendons in my right shoulder repaired. Still sore, but taking on typing now.
In my week respite, I’ve been listening to the news. I am particularly intrigued by the changes at the CIA. Over the weekend, I was wondering about Michael V. Hayden, the now-official nominee for the CIA. An active duty military officer working outside the military? Or has he retired? Well, I think he’s still on AD. See his official bio here
Oh, has the world changed? I don’t think so…