Post-9-11 events and analyses
Monday, January 12, 2004
Feds Roll On Vegas Rollers:
"The FBI often uses these specialized warrants — issued under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — to record the telephone calls and e-mails of citizens and immigrants believed to be agents of a foreign power. The government requested and won approval for a record 1,228 warrants in 2002 for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies, .. significantly higher than the 934 warrants approved in 2001 and the 1,003 approved in 2000.
Operating with permission from a secretive federal court that meets regularly at Justice Department headquarters, the FBI has broken into homes, offices, hotel rooms and automobiles, installed hidden cameras, rummaged through luggage and eavesdropped on telephone conversations. Besides break-ins, agents also have pried into safe deposit boxes, watched from afar with video cameras and binoculars and intercepted e-mails. They have planted microphones, computer bugs and other high-tech tracking devices. Details about some FBI techniques emerge from court records spread across dozens of cases. But only a fraction of these surveillances each year result in any kind of public disclosure, so little is known outside classified circles about how they work.
More recently, the FBI has implemented new ground rules that allow even more sharing of information between agents working on intelligence and those pursuing traditional criminal cases. Police and prosecutors have increasingly turned the force of the new anti-terrorism laws not on al Qaeda cells but on people charged with common crimes. " 2:39:51 PM
FBI gathered visitor info in Vegas: "Only in Las Vegas did the FBI require all hotel operators to surrender guest lists and airlines to turn over arriving passenger manifests, sources at the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday. The program, which started Dec. 22, a day after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised the terrorist alert level from yellow, or "elevated," to orange, or "high," was terminated Jan. 1 with the end of the holidays, local FBI spokesman Todd Palmer said.
Casino operators said they turned over the names and other guest information on an estimated 270,000 visitors after a meeting with FBI officials and after receiving national security letters requiring them to yield the information. .. the FBI has new authority to make follow-up demands for whatever information it wants on individuals included on the original lists, and hotel operators and local law enforcement agencies are banned by the recently signed Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 from disclosing any investigations stemming from the lists. ..
The FBI and local law enforcement agencies have said there was no specific and credible terrorist threat aimed at Las Vegas over the recent holiday. ..
Bill Thompson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor and casino industry expert, said .. "People come here for some stupid reason, and we want them to. That's our slogan. How does the FBI program match up with `What you do here stays here?' " he asked. ..
In Washington, D.C., [ACLU's] Edgar said there needs to be a distinction between situations in which individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as when they check into a hotel, and others in which they have diminished expectations, such as when they cross the border into the United States or board a commercial aircraft. " 2:37:18 PM
Cable, Internet gain on campaign trail
" "Just 23% of Americans ages 18-29 say they regularly get their election news from broadcast news, down from 39% in 2000. Local news and newspapers also showed declines among that age group, 13% and 9%, respectively. Meanwhile, overall use of the Internet and cable for campaign news rose 4% since 2000 [to 13%].
The poll of 1,506 adults found that more young people are learning about the campaign from comedy shows such as The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. Among 18- to-29-year-olds, 21% say they get campaign news from comedy shows. Before the survey was released, Daily Show's Jon Stewart was asked about young people getting news from his show. He joked that he worries every day and added, "I don't know if you know this, but the children are our future."
The poll found that those who learn from late-night shows don't know much about the current campaign. The Internet, on the other hand, has an informed audience, and active use of the Net for politics is linked to a high level of knowledge about the campaign." And about cable networks: "40% of the Democrats surveyed cited the three broadcast networks compared to 24% of Republicans and 30% of independents. And 27% of the Democrats are CNN fans compared to 20% of GOP and independent viewers.. 29% of the Republicans responding said they watch Fox News Channel to learn about the campaign as opposed to 14% of Democrats and 20% of independents. Radio also tilts heavily toward Republicans, while the Internet was split fairly evenly."
Reminds me of David Brooks' The Era of Distortion: "The proliferation of media outlets and the segmentation of society have meant that it's much easier for people to hive themselves off into like-minded cliques. Some people live in towns where nobody likes President Bush. Others listen to radio networks where nobody likes Bill Clinton. In these communities, half-truths get circulated and exaggerated. Dark accusations are believed because it is delicious to believe them. Vince Foster was murdered. The Saudis warned the Bush administration before Sept. 11.
You get to choose your own reality. You get to believe what makes you feel good. You can ignore inconvenient facts so rigorously that your picture of the world is one big distortion." 9:45:21 AM