Friday, April 21, 2006
Oliver Stone, Please Come to a White Courtesy Telephone
It's not every day you find yourself in the middle of a real live conspiracy theory, but that's where I was last week -- and for all I know I'm still there now. It's not a funny story, but it is surpassing strange.
It started when I read a post on Daily Kos from a blogger who believed the Department of Homeland Security was spying on him because his Sitemeter statistics included a visit from someone at DHS.gov.
Seemed a bit loony to me, frankly. If the DHS was going to spy on bloggers, surely they could do a better job of hiding themselves. There must be a limit to the incompetence in DC, right? (Right?)
Purely by chance, the next day I happened across a Newsweek article by Michael Isikoff about a new domestic spy agency known as CounterIntelligence Field Activity, or CIFA. Among other things, CIFA had been spying on a handful of protestors who stood outside Halliburton's Houston headquarters in June 2004 and passed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The protestors were responding to allegations that Halliburton had overcharged on food contracts in Iraq. Given the lack of sandwich meats, obviously these people were vegans and not to be trusted.
But this excerpt in particular caught my eye:
CIFA researchers apparently cast a wide net and had a number of surveillance methods—both secretive and mundane—at their disposal. An internal CIFA PowerPoint slide presentation recently obtained by William Arkin, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who writes widely about military affairs... shows that ... the organization also gleaned data from "open source Internet monitoring." In other words, they surfed the Web.
Arkin says a close reading of internal CIFA documents suggests the agency may be expanding its Internet monitoring, and wants to be as surreptitious as possible. CIFA has contracted to buy "identity masking" software that would allow the agency to create phony Web identities and let them appear to be located in foreign countries, according to a copy of the contract with Computer Sciences Corp. (The firm declined to comment.)
(Interestingly, the Washington Times ran a similar story called "CIA Mines 'Rich'Content From Blogs" two days ago, only more in the "isn't this neat?" vein.)
So I began looking at my own Sitemeter stats. Lo and behold, there they were: Computer Sciences Corp. (csc.com), reading my blog at 9:37 am on April 13.
But wait, it gets weirder. Looking further at my Sitemeter report, I saw that in the space of 24 hours The WitList had been visited by people from Mexico, Greece, Ireland, Australia, Romania, Hungary, Switzerland, Thailand, Germany, Japan, Canada, and The Netherlands. There were also a dozen or so visits from US government entities, such as the Bureau of Veterans Affairs, and some state agencies.
I don't have a wildly popular blog. I average maybe 60 hits a day, with occasional spikes of up to 500 (thank you, CrooksandLiars.com). I have a handful of international readers in the UK, Canada, and Germany, but none that I know of live in Romania, Thailand, or those other countries. And since that day, my international traffic appears to have slowed down to its usual trickle.
Admittedly, this could all be just Internet weirdness. Many of these hits apparently came from people looking for images of David Hasselhoff, which I'd linked to in some entries a while back. (Other foreign image searches that resulted in hits: Time reporter Matt Cooper, Charlton Heston as Moses, a Nazi rally, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Donald Rumsfeld giving the one-finger salute.)
Why in God's name would the feds want to spy on me? Do they believe I'm speaking in code to my Jihadist brothers? Is snarkiness now considered a weapon of mass destruction? I find this all somewhat hard to swallow. I am not quite ready to be fitted for a tin foil hat.
But in an age where people can get on a federal watchlist for handing out PB&J sandwiches, or not eating meat, or valuing animal rights, or just expressing a desire for sanity to return to our nation's capital, anything is possible.
And if some spook is reading this, I have a message for you. Please tell your boss it's time to retire back to his ranch -- and to take his demonic sidekick with him. If that makes me a threat to National Security, well, I take comfort in knowing there are 100 million other threats just like me.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
White House Press Secretary Resigns
Special to The WitList
19 April 2006
A highlight of McClellan's career came in March of this year, when he held his 187th consecutive press conference without directly answering a single question, breaking the record held by former Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler for more than 30 years.
During that streak McClellan managed to duck questions about the White House's response to Hurricane Katrina, its ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the indictment of senior advisor Lewis "Scooter" Libby on charges of perjury and obstruction, the proposed sale of US Ports to Dubai, the NSA's illegal wiretapping program, the leaks of classified reports by top administration officials, and whether McClellan himself had been secretly replaced by a sock puppet named Marvin.
When the president learned of Mr. McClellan's resignation, he is reported to have said, "That's too bad...I liked him better than the bald Jew," an apparent reference to McClellan's predecessor, Ari Fleischer. Bush had bestowed on McClellan the nickname "freeballer," after his habit of standing behind the briefing room podium wearing a coat and tie but no pants.
Reflecting the White House's newly aggressive stance toward the media, Bolton announced that McClellan would be replaced by Triumph the Insult Dog, effectively immediately.
When asked about his future plans, McClellan said, "As you know, I cannot comment on any ongoing investigations. Sorry, I just wanted to say that one last time."
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Iran Joins Nuke Club
Vows to pay dues in a timely fashion
Special to The WitList
13 April 2006
TEHRAN -- Earlier this week Iran announced it had successfully enriched uranium for the first time, joining the so-called Nuclear Club of Nations.
Mohammed al Baradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, welcomed Iran to the club and announced that it would soon be issued membership cards, jackets, and a booklet of discount coupons offering 10 percent off at AQ Khan's House of Plutonium. Iranian officials will also be allowed to display official "Kooks with Nukes" bumper stickers on their limos.
Iran claims it needs nuclear capability to build power plants, not bombs. However, the US State Department says Iran possesses 50,000 centrifuges capable of turning nuclear fuel into weapons grade plutonium, and could build a bomb in just 16 days -- 21 days if they took weekends off.
Hoping to achieve a diplomatic solution to the growing crisis, the White House has named former FEMA director Michael Brown as special envoy to Iran. Brown said he was deeply honored by the appointment, then immediately resumed his nap.
White House spokesperson Scotty McLapdog says the Bush administration has not ruled out a military response. But if the administration were to launch a series of massive airstrikes, he says they would do it closer to the midterm elections to give Republicans a better bump at the polls.
In a survey conducted by Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times, 48 percent of Americans said they'd support a military response to Iran's nukes, though 54 percent said they're prefer someone other than George Bush to oversee the operation. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed said they didn't understand the difference between Iran and Iraq and wanted one of the countries to change its name, while 17 percent hoped the US would release Saddam Hussein and then try to catch him again, since it was so much fun the first time.
It was the mistaken belief that Hussein was a member of the Nuclear Club that prompted the Iraq invasion in the first place, says a senior White House official, speaking on conditions of anonymity. "We found fake membership cards and T-shirts," says the official. "He knew the secret handshake and everything."
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Look Before You Leak [a rant]
(To me 'a good leak' means something else entirely, but I'll restrain myself.)
Mr. Bush, it seems, is an honest guy with good intentions who's been victimized by the Democrats' "hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy."
There's really no need to describe how astoundingly dumb that editorial was, or to note that, on the front page of that very newspaper, reporters detailed the White House's coordinated effort to smear Joe Wilson. Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake has already dissected every subclause, refuted every argument, shredded it into tiny pieces, beat it into a pulpy mash, sent it through a particle accelerator and stomped on any neutrinos that managed to escape.
The Post editorial page apparently believes Saddam has nuclear weapons hidden in his prison cell, Papillon style (if you know what I mean).
The big leak was really more like a few dribbles: a couple of paragraphs on page 24 of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that suggested Saddam had tried to procure weapons-grade uranium. The leak apparently didn't include the State Department's extreme dubiousness about those paragraphs (also part of the same NIE), or the fact that such claims had been written off as fiction long ago by radical peaceniks like George Tenet and Colin Powell.
This wasn't a leak so much as a pre-emptive attack -- an attempt to keep the lie afloat that the Leaker in Chief kept us safe from Saddam's nukes, before Joe Wilson went public with his New York Times Op Ed. Unfortunately for Bush Inc., that dog wouldn't hunt.
Bob Woodward was the first to be given a peak at the goods on June 27, 2003. But this information apparently had such a stink on it that Watergate Bob gave it a pass. Next they tried Judy Miller, but even WMD Judy wouldn't suck at that tit. So they turned to their most reliable lapdog still working for a major media outlet, Bob "No Facts" Novak.
After Novak's nepotism story created a total shitstorm, someone in the White House must have realized they'd better get the NIE out to the rest of the press before a real reporter discovered the leak. Hence the "official release" on July 18, 2003. This is what the Post called "the president ... releasing for public review some of the intelligence he used in making his most momentous decision."
If nothing else, you have to admire the Bushies' chutzpah. Who else would dare to use trumped up discredited evidence of nukes to counter the accusation that they had used trumped up discredited evidence of nukes? It was brilliantly twisted.
The world hasn't seen mendacity this broad and deep coming out of the White House since the early 1970s. Back then, the Washington Post helped to bring down a president. Now its graybeard editors sit on the sidelines, applauding.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Supporters Hold Candlelight Prayer Vigil for Tom DeLay
Vow to employ 'heroic measures' to resuscitate political powerbroker
Special to The WitList
5 April 2006
SUGARLAND, TX -- They arrived in groups of 3 or 4, singing hymns and carrying candles, determined to revive the political career of Tom DeLay. Though the former House Speaker's political future remains in a persistent vegetative state, dozens of supporters gathered outside Mr. DeLay's congressional office to pray that his career be brought back to life.
After his feeding tube of lobbyist swag was removed last year, the man affectionately known as "The Hammer" struggled valiantly to hang on to power, despite indictments for money laundering and guilty pleas by several of his former top aides. Last night, however, Mr. DeLay announced he would no longer seek reelection to a Congressional seat once thought to be his for all eternity.
However, supporters have vowed to have DeLay's K Street pipeline reinserted by force, if necessary.
After watching a videotape of DeLay's announcement, Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist questioned whether the Congressman's career was truly in a deathlike coma. "He certainly seemed to respond to visual stimuli," said Frist, a likely contender for his party's presidential nomination in 2008.
Late last night President Bush returned early from a 16-week vacation at his Texas ranch to sign an executive order declaring Mr. DeLay a West Indian Manatee, making him eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
The President expressed confidence that Congressman DeLay will be found innocent of whatever wrongdoing he is charged with, "along with that Jack fella, you know, the Jew."
Supporters blamed activist judges and the liberal media for Mr. DeLay's alleged demise, and vowed to continue their vigil until he rises again.
"We won't stop singing until The Hammer is swinging," said one vigilgoer, wearing a 'Remember Tom DeLay' T-shirt.