The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 6, Issue 6

Week of February 17, 1999


Report: Russia To Aid Iraq Defense

LONDON -- Russia has signed a $160 million deal to reinforce Iraq's air defenses and upgrade squadrons of MiG fighters, The Sunday Telegraph reported, quoting unidentified diplomatic sources in Moscow.

The London newspaper said the move was a serious threat to U.S. and British warplanes patrolling the "no-fly" zones, scenes of almost daily confrontations with Iraq since December.

The agreements were signed in Moscow on Jan. 13 and 14 after a visit to the Russian capital by Ahmed Murtada Ahmed Khalil, Iraq's Transport and Communications Minister, The Sunday Telegraph said.

Speaking in France at the Kosovo peace talks on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov denied the report. He said Russia was abiding strictly by its commitments on U.N. resolutions concerning Iraq, and that the resolutions do not provide for the supply of arms to Iraq.

In Moscow, Russia's NTV television news reported that MiG officials said they "knew nothing" about the reported deal.

The pro-conservative British newspaper said the decision to give Iraqi President Saddam Hussein military help was approved by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov on Dec. 7 in violation of the United Nations arms embargo on Iraq.

Russia has consistently opposed military attacks on Iraq aimed at making Saddam comply with U.N. inspectors trying to determine if Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. It has also signed contracts to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, but the deals won't take effect until the sanctions are lifted.

The sanctions were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, sparking the Gulf War, and cannot be lifted until U.N. officials confirm Iraq's heavyweapons have been destroyed.

U.S. and British warplanes have prohibited Iraqi military flights over "no fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq since shortly after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurdish rebel and Shiite Muslim groups.


Are sports teams with Indian names really a federal civil rights crime?

WASHINGTON, DC -- Warning: Naming your high school sports team the "Warriors" is now a federal crime.

That's what the Department of Justice seems to think: It's launched an investigation into whether a small North Carolina high school has violated the civil rights of its Native American students because its sports teams have Indian-themed names.

But the Libertarian Party says the investigation demonstrates how preposterous civil rights laws have become, and proves that Department of Justice bureaucrats are completely out of control.

"Civil rights allegations have become a modern-day witch-hunt -- if saying so isn't a crime against our wiccan friends," said Steve Dasbach, the national director of the party. "What this case shows is that the Department of Justice has become a bigger threat to our civil liberties than any high school sports team is to our civil rights."

What put the Department of Justice on its current warpath?

The mother of one Native American student at Erwin High School in Asheville, North Carolina wrote to federal bureaucrats, complaining that her son was "deeply offended" because school teams were named the Warriors and the Squaws.

The Department of Justice jumped on the case, sending a detailed list of questions to the school administration about whether a "racially hostile environment" had been created for the 1% of students who are Native American.

Department of Justice lawyers demanded to know the history of the team names; the origin of its Indian mascot; the school's policies on racial discrimination; and the racial breakdown of all students, faculty, and administration. If the DOJ decides to prosecute, the school could lose $8 million in federal funds and spend as much as $500,000 in legal fees.

Interestingly, the "offended" student didn't allege that he had suffered any harm from the racially hostile environment -- he graduated in 1998 and is now employed.

"No wonder Americans have an us-versus-them attitude about the federal government: They see a $15 billion federal agency, with armies of lawyers at its command, go after a high school in a case where even the so-called victim doesn't claim to be a victim," said Dasbach. "Apparently, hurt feelings are now a federal crime, and having a politically incorrect sports mascot is illegal behavior."

But the bigger problem with the DOJ's investigation into Erwin High School, he said: It graphically demonstrates that civil rights laws are completely out of touch with reality.

"Civil rights laws have become an Alice in Wonderland nightmare, where real and imagined minority groups clamor for victim status, lawsuits are filed for the lucrative cash payoffs, and ordinary Americans have no idea what behavior qualifies as a crime," he said.

"In Maine, for example, bikers recently sued for protection under that state's civil rights law, arguing that their tattooed, leather-clad appearance made people discriminate against them. When even the Hell's Angels claim they are civil rights victims, you know the system is broken."

Dasbach did acknowledge that, since he is not personally a Native American, he cannot judge whether the student at Erwin High School was genuinely and legitimately distressed by the team names.

"Perhaps this student did feel the team name belittled his culture and ethnic identity. If so, that is regretful; it would be nice to live in a world where no individual ever felt demeaned or slighted," he said. "But that's separate from the question of whether the federal government's Department of Hurt Feelings should get involved."

Whatever happens at Erwin High School, the sports team name battle won't end there: Indian rights activists say that 2,500 other high school, college, and professional sports teams have offensive names, including the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Florida State Seminoles.

"Are we going to see 2,500 more Department of Justice investigations?" asked Dasbach. "If the government decides that Indian-themed team names are, indeed, a crime, we could see federal lawyers cheerfully suing sports teams for decades to come. That would be good for their job security, but it's hard to make the case that Americans would be better off."

And if the Department of Justice does launch a legal war on politically incorrect team names, Dasbach said Libertarians may want their fair share.

"Libertarians pride ourselves on our philosophical connection to this nation's Founding Fathers and the heroes who won the Revolutionary War," he noted. "That being the case, why shouldn't we ask the Department of Justice to file lawsuits against teams that offend us: The George Washington University Colonials, the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the University of Massachusetts Minutemen?"


U.S. Helped Fund License Photo Database

A small New Hampshire company that wants to build a national database of driver's license photographs received nearly $1.5 million in federal funds and technical assistance from the U.S. Secret Service last year, according to documents and interviews with officials involved in the project.

Congressional leaders who helped make those arrangements envisioned using the photo file to combat terrorism, immigration abuses and other identity crimes applications that appear to go beyond recent company claims the database would only be used to prevent check and credit card fraud.

"The TrueID technology has widespread potential to reduce crime in the credit and checking fields, in airports to reduce the chances of terrorism, and in immigration and naturalization to verify proper identity," said a letter about Image Data LLC from eight members of Congress in September 1997. "The Secret Service can provide technical assistance and assess the effectiveness of this new technology."

These details about Image Data's development add fuel to an intense privacy debate that was touched off last month by reports that the Nashua, N.H., company recently bought more than 22 million drivers' images in South Carolina, Florida and Colorado.

As the company lobbied to gain access to motor vehicle files, officials apparently told few people about its ties to the Secret Service or the money it received from Congress. State legislators, motor vehicle administrators and others who worked with the company said in interviews they had no inkling that federal officials might be involved. Several officials from Florida and South Carolina said they now feel misled by the company.

In response to a surge of complaints after news reports on the transfer of license images, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) canceled a contract to sell 14 million photographs. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R) halted the sale of 5 million images, while the state legislature pushed through a bill that would ban the transfer.

South Carolina Attorney General Charles M. Condon sued the company for the return of 3.5 million digital photographs already being used in a pilot project there. A state judge rejected that claim last week, saying the company's True ID system is "no more intrusive on the privacy of an individual than showing the driver's license itself." But Condon is appealing the decision to the state supreme court.

State legislators, meanwhile, have proposed laws blocking future sales and a South Carolina woman filed a class-action lawsuit this week seeking to stop Image Data from using the images. Officials in Florida, Colorado and New York also have said they intend to study sales of personal information by their states, with an eye toward new restrictions.

Officials at Image Data have consistently defended the company's efforts, saying that photographs, names, addresses, Social Security numbers and personal data would only be used in a secure computer network to stop retail fraud. They said their computers can briefly flash a tamper-proof photo of a person named on a check or credit card to a tiny screen at a retailer, enabling a clerk to verify the shopper's identity. A pilot program for check writers started in South Carolina last August.

In an interview yesterday, Image Data founder Robert Houvener said he believes his company has the potential to save consumers, businesses and governments billions of dollars in losses to identity theft a fast-growing crime in which fraud artists take on the persona of victims and rack up bills in their names. Houvener said that's why he sought out federal assistance and welcomed the expert advice of the Secret Service, which investigates identity theft and electronic crimes.

Houvener played down any contradiction between his recent statements and the potential uses cited by congressional supporters, saying in every instance the technology would be used to prevent a fraudulent transaction. That holds true for airlines that use it to screen passengers buying tickets, Houvener said, or for banks verifying the identity of welfare recipients getting their benefit.

"An airline counter is the same as a counter at a 7-Eleven," Houvener said. "It's the exact same situation. All you're trying to do is prevent fraudulent transactions."

But state officials said they are skeptical.

"The arguments against this program become much more credible if the federal government and others ultimately intended to use the technology and data on Americans for purposes broader than fighting retail fraud," said Tom Feeney, a Florida Republican legislator who, after meeting with an Image Data's lobbyist, sponsored a law enabling the sale of the state's driver photographs last year.

As recently as two weeks ago, during a court hearing in South Carolina about the company's purchases of the images, Houvener passed up several opportunities to discuss the federal funding when asked about the company's financing, according to a transcript of the hearing.

Houvener said several newspapers mentioned the federal funds and the Secret Service role when they were first approved and so he assumed that people knew about these matters. The one article in a national newspaper cited by Houvener, however, briefly referred to the funds in a long report on the federal budget. He said Condon, who questioned him in the case, had asked about investors, not federal financing.

Condon said he intends to review Houvener's statements to determine if he misled the court. "This office is going to investigate," said Condon, who predicted that South Carolina drivers will not appreciate hearing about the ties between Image Data and the Secret Service. "We don't want to be a guinea pig for the federal government to experiment on how to solve federal problems," he said.

A Secret Service official said the agency did not seek to be included in the effort. But the official, who is overseeing the project, also saw a chance to help Image Data tailor its technology to fight a vexing crime.

"We were trying to show them positive ways the system could work," said Cary Rosoff, a special agent in charge who visited the company's pilot program in South Carolina in December. "Our feeling was, if the government was going to invest money into the program, why not make it work as well as it can?"

Company officials have portrayed themselves as well-meaning corporate newcomers, overwhelmed by attention from the media and policymakers.

Houvener said some critics mistakenly believe the images will be sold or made available on the Internet. "We've been forthright with everyone," Houvener said yesterday. "There's nothing inconsistent here at all."

With help from an influential Boston public relations firm, the Rasky/Baerlein Group, Image Data hired lobbyists in Florida and South Carolina. The company spent about $25,000 on the South Carolina lobbyist five times the cost of the database it eventually bought. It contributed $500 to state Sen. John Land, the legislator who sponsored a bill enabling the sale, as well as $1,000 to former governor David Beasley.

Image Data also received help from eight legislators on Capitol Hill. They include Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who received $2,000 in campaign contributions in his last campaign from the company's officials or their families, and Rep. Charles F. Bass (R-N.H.), who received $3,000 in contributions from company officials since 1995, according to Federal Election Commission data.

In the September 1997 letter written to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the Secret Service, Gregg, Bass, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) and the others expressed thanks "for including $1.46 million for a pilot program to combat identity-based crimes."

A spokeswoman for Gregg said he was not available for comment. Bass was also unavailable for comment, but spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said he remains supportive of the company's effort.

Hollings continues to support the company's anti-fraud initiatives, as long as drivers can choose not to participate, according to his spokesman.


Clinton's secret police state

By Charles Smith

Charles Smith is a journalist and President of SOFTWAR, a computer security company based in Richmond, VA. He writes frequently on issues of national security and information warfare.

President Clinton has waged an information war against America. Data accumulated inside the White House has taken prisoners, destroyed lives and provided valuable bounty for criminals. The war is designed to limit freedoms and control political opponents.

Recent examples, such as campaigns against Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky, are lurid tips of the White House iceberg. The most fertile ground for information exploited by Clinton is the data stored inside law enforcement computers such as the FBI.

The FBI's NCIC system (National Criminal Information Center) is a network of computers erected by all the states that is tied to a central FBI network. It is the federal law enforcement Internet.

NCIC is a valuable tool to capture real criminals. NCIC was used to identify the vehicle in the New York towers bombing. It was NCIC that tipped Oklahoma police to hold Timothy McVeigh as a possible suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. NCIC is used to check your status whenever a local police officer pulls you over on the road.

However, this system also has a long history of abuse. It has been used by an ex-police officer to stalk and kill his battered wife. It has been used by drug gangs to identify and murder anti-narcotics undercover agents.

NCIC has also been used for political crimes. Each and every one of the over 900 files held by the Clinton White House started with a check of the FBI NCIC data base. According to the FBI, the White House inquired for information from the FBI on over 22,000 people during 1993 and 1994.

There is open evidence the FBI computers were abused by Clinton. In June 1996, Lisa Wetzl, former White House intern under Craig Livingstone, testified during the Senate hearings that the very first task performed for White House reviews was a NCIC check.

In 1996, Howard Shapiro, then general counsel for the FBI, went to the White House to recover some of the hundreds of files taken by Clinton operatives Craig Livingstone and Anthony Marceca. According Shapiro's deposition there was the following exchange:

"Q. The list of names were in two boxes, is that correct?"

"A. Yes. The -- the documents referred to in the list of names were in two boxes."

"Q. And the third box contained what kind of documents that you determined were not FBI files?"

"A. For instance -- and it would seem to comport with what's on this first page -- various computer runs, various documents. It took us a while, and I'm -- I'm not sure I was ever advised in detail what it was. I was advised that I didn't need to worry about it was because it wasn't FBI information. It was like NCIC computer checks and things like that."

The legal counsel for the FBI had no law enforcement experience. Mr. Shapiro did not know NCIC computer information is FBI property so he left the boxes of computer information at the White House. They have never been recovered.

In August 1996, I received a letter from the Department of Justice, Margaret R. Owens -- unit chief of the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs. Owens wrote: "Unfortunately, the process of dealing with White House requests for file information was not managed as it should have been. You may be assured that all steps necessary to correct the deficiency have been taken and that the FBI will be more vigilant in the future."

However, the Clinton administration has little zeal for being "vigilant." There are no federal laws against government officials who abuse the NCIC system, and President Clinton wants to keep it that way.

Government employees who are caught can be charged with a local misdemeanor at best. In response to this lack-of-teeth in the law, Sen. Gregg, R-NH, proposed legislation in 1997 to make abuse of NCIC data files a felony. Clinton opposed Gregg's bill and had it defeated by Democrats in the Senate.

While giving his political operatives clear fields to run rampant inside federal computer files, Clinton has strived to accumulate more data for abuse. President Clinton made cynical use of the victims from the TWA-800 disaster to propose a whole new series of laws to combat terrorism, including expanding the FBI NCIC system to track the movements of every flying citizen.

According to the FBI and NTSB investigation, the TWA-800 crash was not caused by a terrorist bomb or enemy missile but by a faulty design in the central fuel tank.

Many more lives could be saved by hiring more FAA inspectors than by spending millions assuming that every flying citizen might be a "trans-national" terrorist. More lives can be saved with proper safety inspections made on the airplane than by inspecting the personal lives of the passengers boarding the plane.

The entire Clinton approach to law enforcement has been designed to limit freedom and obtain more power for Federal forces. The "pro" law enforcement stance of the Democrat President silenced left-wing privacy advocates in the Democratic party and drew the applause of traditional Republicans.

Privacy advocates and right wing police supporters should learn that President Clinton makes the policy not to fight crime but for pure political power. The only difference between a Communist police state and a Nazi police state is which boot -- right or left -- is on your neck. The Clinton compromise is both boots on your neck.

One way to justify a power grab was to issue studies supporting ideas that are alien to America. For example, the White House hired the Rand Corporation to do a study of transnational terror and information warfare. Somewhere in the study the brains at Rand forgot the Constitution.

The Rand report states, "An important factor is the traditional change in the government's role as one moves from national defense through public safety toward things that represent the public good. Clearly, the government's perceived role in this area will have to be balanced against public perceptions of the loss of civil liberties and the commercial sector's concern about unwarranted limits on its practices and markets."

The word from Rand ... capitalists, conservatives, constitutionalists and liberal privacy lovers beware. Your markets and civil liberties are at risk of being sacrificed in the name of the "public good."

The administration use of propaganda to dehumanize an imaginary domestic enemy of American citizens included issuing lies and fiction to itself. In 1993, the FBI issued a top secret report to President Clinton claiming that mass media computer security software could be used by criminals and terrorists to block federal wiretaps.

The FBI linked every crime imaginable to the need to ban the mass media PC software. The FBI report noted that a child "snuff" film ring was prosecuted using phone wire taps, implying that more children would be murdered on film unless computer security software was banned.

The FBI later told Congress the "snuff" story was false. No such ring existed. The top secret report was a fiction.

The FBI has claimed in public testimony that the Trade Tower bombers were caught using wiretaps of their phone. The fact is the terrorists were caught using an informant and a video camera hooked up inside their bomb factory. No wiretap information was produced at their trial.

The FBI has claimed to Congress that mobster John Gotti was prosecuted with wiretaps. The fact is no wire taps were used in Gotti's trial because he never used the phone for business. The FBI caught Gotti with a radio-microphone bug placed inside his home.

The FBI has sought access to millions of phone lines, claiming a need to expand wire taps against domestic terrorists and criminals. The fact is the FBI has issued on average about a thousand wiretaps a year for the last 10 years. None of the cases taken to prosecution involved violent terrorism crimes.

Meanwhile, the Democrats and the president claim to favor the privacy of the little people -- such as Monica Lewinsky. The White House generated outrage over Linda Tripp and her tapes of Monica are so false as to be laughable. Political Watergate-like break-ins and illegal third party taping of phone calls have become the norm under Clinton.

For example, Democrat Congressman McDermott released a tape of House Speaker Gingrich talking to other Republicans taken from an illegally monitored cellular phone call. The Reno-led Department of Justice has not prosecuted McDermott. With Reno running the show, don't hold your breath waiting.

Nor is the war just between Democrat and Republican. Inner party fist fights are becoming more vicious than the traditional two-party combat. For example, Senator Charles Robb had to dismiss two of his staff for illegally taping the phone calls of Democratic rival Governor Douglas Wilder. The subject of the Wilder phone taps was the hot relationship between the single black governor and a rich white widow.

The victors and the vanquished litter the new information battlefield. Clinton, McDermott and Robb are still in elected office but Gingrich and Wilder are gone. Politicians in the next century who are not electronically literate will find themselves on the back bench or out of office.

The modern world is full of computer tracking systems. Each of us creates an electronic image. You live in various databases or radio waves in the sky as you move about doing business and living in the modern world. The use of your own electronic emissions against you is a form of oppression. The intent is to deny your freedom and increase the power of a few.

We must choose not to be tagged, tracked and controlled like some horrific animal experiment. We can remain individuals in a collective modern democracy. Law and order can be maintained without having to compromise our liberty. Justice can be done to those who abuse the system.

We can free ourselves and the world or enslave it. Technology can increase liberties and markets but only if we want it to do so. It is up to us to choose the path to tomorrow, electronic freedom or digital slavery.


If you would like to submit an editorial, commentary, or news story from your perspective on something you have been keeping an eye on, please e-mail it to update@militia.gen.mi.us and it will be evaluated for entrance. Thanks.

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