Friday, November 6, 2009

Women, bureaucratic heartburn & your local DMV

For women in particular, the passage of the Real ID law, which created standardized, federal identification standards in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has made the process of documenting who they are far more complicated, frustrating and unreasonable.

Take the case of Carol Parsons' 89-year-old mother, who moved to Virginia from Florida three years ago and had a valid Florida driver's license when she came.

"She needed to show the progression of her name change, from her birth certificate to her first husband, then the divorce papers, and only then the marriage certificate to her second husband," Parsons said, of the process to get a Virginia license.

Where married women feel like collateral damage

by Petula Devorak, Metro Columnist for the Washington Post

In our security-obsessed, post-Sept. 11 world, married women are highly suspicious, especially if they are elderly.

They have been doubted, rejected and brought to tears at an alarming rate in our region's motor vehicle departments.

After I recounted the harrowing tale of Jean Earley -- 90-year-old pastel artist, minister's wife and Virginia newcomer -- and her attempts to get a state identification card, scores of others wrote to me to recount their own bureaucratic horror shows that left them red-faced.

Now, I know the DMV is low-hanging fruit. When I told my editor about the outpouring, she noted that "life's certainties are death, taxes and getting mistreated at the DMV." Only she used saltier language.

And many of the people who wrote in, including men, had deplorable stories about the way they were treated.

But I think the old rap against the DMV of long lines, unsmiling clerks and bad metal chairs has taken on a new edge.

It took Earley four visits to the Fairfax/Westfields DMV office to get an ID card. All because her birth certificate didn't have her current name on it and that, according to new state and federal laws, means it doesn't prove that she is a U.S. citizen.

For women in particular, the passage of the Real ID law, which created standardized, federal identification standards in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has made the process of documenting who they are far more complicated, frustrating and unreasonable.

Flowers for Ft. Hood

"We've all mistaken politics for personal relationships. Our role is not to be a friend or an enemy to a politician. Our role is to encourage them when they work for what we believe is needed, and to discourage them when they move in a different direction. We can best do either of those things by remaining independent and indifferent to the childish notion of being with them or against them. And we can best do either of those things by nonviolent means. In fact, nothing would move our government in a more dangerous direction than anti-governmental violence. And nothing would encourage such violence more than insistence that everyone refrain from criticizing politicians."
-David Swanson for OP-ED News

BTC - On November 5th many observed Guy Fawkes day. Thankfully, dissent, also known as expressing public disapproval of a direction of our government, is a privilege we participate in without fear of being killed or jailed by our government. Public exploration of ideas and new ways to express non-violent dissent is something we all have a healthy right to examine and observe on days like, November 5th.

However, nothing could have been further from my mind than a mass shooting to stop deployment to Iraq from within the ranks of active servicemen. The violence which took place November 5th at Ft. Hood was a complete aberration in American dissent.

The danger for millions of Americans is how this tragedy will define dissent. More specifically, dissent and non-violent dissent among those in the military. They have voices too. Had someone simply heeded more carefully the signs and signals of service members distress, 13 people would be alive today.

At the the time of the shootings, I was speaking with author & reporter Dahr Jamail. He explained the trials and tribulations of active service members trapped in a vicious cycle of redeployment. He reports that active military have been sent back to Iraq with untreated PTSD and advanced suffering from war related injuries. Many service members are held to excruciatingly painful standards. In some cases, these circumstances have caused extreme hardship and losses for some of their families. Hours later, published this article.

It is saddening on all fronts to see such misery manifest in a strikingly close and tragic way. The interpretation of this shooting on an obscure day of dissent, really observed by another country (the UK), hammers home the notion that actions speak louder than words. It is obvious today that our soldiers are leading an isolated and insular existence. They need our support and help to find healing. Their immediate families need help and support during deployment. They need our friendship and a listening ear. Call and write often to help get them through this difficult time.

We mourn with those who lost their health, family and lives in this complete psychological fracture of military conscience at Ft. Hood.

American voters get rid of mayor along with speed cameras

c/o My Hate Speech:Torn messages

It was American democracy in its purest form: three towns voting overwhelmingly to get their hated police speed cameras torn down — and to eject from office a mayor who had opposed the move.

Lost in all the analysis of what Republican wins in two gubernatorial elections on Tuesday meant for President Obama were three ballot initiatives — two in Ohio and one in Texas — to introduce a law ridding the towns of their traffic enforcement cameras.

In College Station, Texas, voters succeeded in dumping the cameras despite the manufacturers of the devices spending $60,000 (£36,000) on a campaign to keep them in place.

Voters in Chillicothe, southern Ohio, declared their opposition to the cameras by 72 per cent. The mayor of Heath, Ohio, who had been spotted removing anti-camera campaign posters from an intersection, lost his re-election bid.

The anti-camera crusaders in Ohio call themselves Citizens Against Photo Enforcement, or CAPE. Although most voters backed their campaign because they hate getting speed camera photographs in the post with a fine attached, CAPE based its opposition to the cameras on nothing less than the US Constitution.

They argued that the fines triggered by the speed photographs were a violation of due process because there was no right of appeal against the tickets except for a local hearing.

After Tuesday’s ballots 11 towns have now voted to get rid of the machines. Earlier this year, the Republican Governor of Mississippi abandoned them. In 2005 the Republican Governor of Maryland tried to veto a Bill authorising the cameras because they allowed police to “charge, try and convict an individual solely through use of a photograph”.

The police and road safety groups all argue, citing numerous studies, that speed cameras help to lower the accident and road death rate, but the rage against them by some citizens knows no bounds. In April, a technician servicing a camera in Arizona was shot dead.

Campaigners in Chillicothe also argued that the cameras hurt business, saying that motorists avoided the city to keep away from speed devices.

Before the town’s vote, the police chief, Roger Moore, held a press conference arguing that the wording of the new law, if passed by voters, could mean that his officers would be banned from using any speed-detecting device. The law reads that there is now a ban on “any electronic, photographic, video, radar laser or digital system used to produce evidence of an alleged traffic violation”.

Mr Moore said: “Any, to me, means all the radar and cameras we use. I believe the way it’s worded would prevent my officers from enforcing the law. I think as the position of chief of police, my ultimate responsibility is to keep Chillicothe safe. Anything that affects the citizens negatively or impacts their safety, I have the obligation to speak out.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tohono O'odham Nation Eats the Chip


Tohono O'odham Nation is latest to move on enhanced ID card

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has struck a fourth agreement for enhanced tribal identification cards compliant with US travel laws with a Native American tribe, the department announced Tuesday.

DHS and the Tohono O'odham Nation, which has lands in Arizona and Mexico, agreed to standards for an enhanced tribal card to be carried by the roughly 28,000 registered members of the tribe. The identification card complies with the specifications of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which mandated strict requirements for travel documents for citizens of the United States, Canada and Bermuda--who may previously have not required a passport--on June 1.

"This agreement will strengthen safety along our borders while providing Tohono O'odham members a secure and standardized ID card," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. "In the months ahead, we will continue to build upon these efforts-from secure identification to preparing for emergencies-with our tribal partners across the country."

In 2009, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reached agreements with the Tohono O'odham Nation, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the Pascua Yaqui of Arizona, and the Seneca Nation of New York. The agency is negotiating with about another 25 tribes in the United States to provide them with enhanced tribal cards as well.
::: MORE HERE:::

HUMOR: Make your own vaccines


BTC HUMOR- There seems to be a vacuum demand for people who want H1N1 vaccines and can't get them. Tyson Eberly sent over this really great video featured during the debut of his local cable access program for some creative problem solving.

Blogging & modern COINTELPRO practices

c/o Freedom's Phoenix & WeAreChangeLA

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Waking Up Orwell celebrates the 5th of November

Guy Fawke's Day
with Phil Booth of No2ID

Tune in tomorrow for a special program featuring international identity advocate, Phil Booth of No2ID.

No2ID runs continual campaigns against every successive incarnation of national ID card manufactured by the current UK Parlament & Home Security Office. In previous entries we have presented news of their successes and struggles.

To date, no other nation suffers with the level of closed circuit televised surveillance (CCTV) of independent citizens than the UK. The level of public surveillance surpasses that of Red China. This practice is very conspicuous for a democratic government.

This 5th of November, we adjust our format for an organizer very clearly committed to bringing forward the result of a life freed of the vices of national identity, an end to a pre-emptive criminal databases and the UK database state.

Listen in tomorrow on Waking Up Orwell 9AM CST on

NEXT WEEK ON Waking Up Orwell : Dahr Jamail, bestselling author of Beyond The Green Zone distills the struggle of GI resisters. He reports on the post-military process for active service members who either cannot or will not return to the call of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of his recent work covers the digital censorship of their voice, GI resisters campaigning for office and of those who become political prisoners of conscience.

Op/Ed: Real ID poses big threat to Delaware freedom

Letter to the Editor for Delaware Online

Real ID poses big threat to Americans' freedom

"Your papers, please" is not a phrase that sits well will freedom-loving Americans. A national ID card system flies in the face of everything we as Americans believe in. The new Delaware "secure" driver's licenses (aka Real ID) is a national ID card. Both state and federal authorities say that these cards will not be shared by the states with the federal government. Is anyone over the age of 10 still naive enough to believe this?

Are you concerned with the security of your own identity, and who has access to it? For those of you who say "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide," consider the implications for ID theft: Many DMV employees across the country have been jailed for selling driver's license information. Consider also that the Delaware DMV routinely sells its records to anyone who pays them -- without telling you.

This information can include your license number, photo, Social Security number and birth date.

As for increasing the security of America, consider the card itself. A single national ID is an exceedingly valuable document, and accordingly, there's greater incentive to forge it. No matter how unforgeable we make it, it will be forged. Such an ID is a dream come true for terrorists. The government has spent so much time telling us how secure these IDs are that they will be accepted without question. There is more security in alert guards paying attention to subtle social cues than bored minimum-wage guards blindly checking IDs.

It is also questionable how well ill-trained state DMV employees will be able to spot fraudulent documents, such as out-of-state birth certificates or licenses.

Also, if a DMV employee determines that your documents are fraudulent, where do you turn for redress? Of course, if they're typical government employees, showing them a portrait of Benjamin Franklin might smooth things out.

Wes M. Jones, Wilmington

FLOGGER: Startling Incompetence at ANSI Standards Group

National ID Bashing with Cato's, Jim Harper

I have always regarded standard-setting organizations as serious players who take care to keep slightly boring the work of establishing uniformity in products and protocols. But a press release from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) may cause me to reassess.

“IDSP Issues Report Calling for National Identity Verification Standard” is the release, and it’s bristling with error and malformed policy assertions. IDSP is the “Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel,” an ANSI subgroup.

Take this doozy:
[T]he Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) and the REAL ID Act of 2005 require verification of identity prior to the issuance of birth certificates and driver’s licenses / ID cards, respectively. However, the IRTPA regulations have not yet been released even in draft form and the REAL ID regulations do not provide practical guidance on how to corroborate a claim of identity under different circumstances.
Folks, REAL ID repealed the identity security provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. (It’s a good bet that regulations for a repealed law aren’t going to move out of draft form for a very long time, eh?) And REAL ID does not require verification of identity prior to issuance of birth certificates. What could that even mean?! “Hey you—little baby—let me see some ID before I issue you your birth certificate.”

The release repeats the tired mantra that 9/11 terrorists got U.S. identity documents—”some by fraud.” The 9/11 Commission dedicated three-quarters of a page to its identity recommendations—out of 400 substantive pages—and neither the commission nor anyone since has shown how denying people U.S. identity documents would prevent terrorism.

Are there needs for identity standards? Of course. And there are a lot of projects in a lot of places working on that. If an organization doesn’t know the law, and doesn’t know how the subject matter it’s dealing with functions in society, I don’t know how it could possibly be relied on to set appropriate standards.

ANSI should take a look at this subgroup and see if its work is actually competent. Judging by this press release, it’s not.

EDITORIAL: Traversing the border as a transgender person

The U.S. needs to re-examine all [Real ID] policies and evaluate them on their privacy-protection and gendering implications, and then scrap any one of them that prevents innocent people from moving around freely. This war on an abstract noun is no excuse for denying anyone their freedom of mobility.

How “counter-terrorism” denies trans people freedom of movement

By Quinn Albaugh for The McGill Daily
Published: Nov 3

It’s uncontroversial to argue that everyone should have freedom of mobility. However, at present, American trans people have their freedom of movement restricted compared to other Americans.

The recent focus on “counter-terrorism” in law enforcement and government agencies has severely limited trans people’s freedom. In the name of the War on Terror, the U.S. government has increased restrictions on identity documents, which are necessary for trans and cis people to drive, fly, cross borders, or engage in many kinds of movement. Following September 11, the Bush administration asked all states to tighten laws about changing one’s gender marker on driver’s licenses. Additionally, according to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, “in local jurisdictions, procedures for changing your name have been made more difficult.” Whether or not identity documents are as important for “national security” as the U.S. government has suggested, these policies unduly deny trans people access to various modes of transportation, since many trans people’s gender presentation will be in flux at one moment or another.

Perhaps the most terrifying new policy regarding identity documents has been the Real ID Act, which essentially creates a de facto national ID card out of state driver’s licenses. This act entails massive and particularly threatening violations of trans people’s privacy. For example, the National Center for Transgender Equality states that in 2008, the Real ID’s guidelines mandated that all state driver’s licenses contain a bar-code that would hold information on gender and name changes – information which would out trans people against their will. Thankfully, this provision was removed, and several states have passed laws stating that they will not comply with the Real ID Act. However, even under the more recent version – or under a proposed alternative bill called PASS ID – states would have to store birth certificates and other identification digitally, which could still out trans people at borders, airports, and even during routine traffic stops. The fact that this remains an issue under the Obama administration shows that we can’t just blame Bush for this policy – this requirement is part of a wider social perspective on what’s “necessary” or “acceptable” in counter-terrorism tactics.

Additionally, in 2003, the U.S. government advised airports to be suspicious of “men dressed in women’s clothing.” This directive limits the ability of many kinds of trans people to present themselves as they choose while travelling. They are forced to decide between their freedom of movement or their authentic gender presentation. As far as I can tell, a case involving a cross-dressing terrorist has yet to materialize; if it had, the news coverage of such a momentous occasion would have been inescapable. This argument parallels the right-wing strategy of countering trans non-discrimination laws by arguing that, if we pass such laws, we’ll see (male) sexual predators “invading” women’s bathrooms. In both cases, the justification for policies that allow discrimination against trans people is “protecting” people against an invented bogeyman. Unfortunately, these strategies have proven to be effective.

The “no-fly” lists that U.S. government agencies have developed are the most recent attempt to reduce freedom of mobility for trans people. In August, the Transportation Security Agency enacted new policies requiring airlines to check whether people are on these “no-fly” lists. The new policies also require all passengers to provide their gender and date of birth to whomever is booking their ticket. These restrictions come on the heels of regulations put in place in May that require passengers to use their legal name exactly as it appears on their ID. There is no oversight of how these private individuals use information about a passenger’s gender; it’s entirely possible that airlines and travel agencies may store this information in a database, which could make it difficult for trans people to determine on their own if they want to out themselves while travelling – someone else will have power over that information.

The U.S. needs to re-examine all of these policies and evaluate them on their privacy-protection and gendering implications, and then scrap any one of them that prevents innocent people from moving around freely. This war on an abstract noun is no excuse for denying anyone their freedom of mobility.

Quinn Albaugh writes for The McGill Daily every week. Tell ’em about your cross-dressing terrorist sightings at:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pinochet surviors of 1000's disappeared rely on DNA identity

Fewer than 400 people have come forward to register, far below the thousands the government had envisioned when it created the database.

BTC - Never trust your government or their databases outright. The low turnout of the Chile's survivors of the disappeared to readily have their DNA catalogued speaks for itself. Any kind of DNA collection of surviving family of political resisters by a shaky Latin government has a hint of research & development behind it. If they need to test to positively identify the exhumed, they might consider doing it on a case by case basis and destroy the results. However, government databases tend to hang onto DNA information indefinitely after it becomes property of the state.

My distrustful nature of these things leads me to think that a genetic tinkering contractor might have been recruited to figure out what makes political resisters resist for a future attempt to breed it out of Chilean humanity. Perish the thought.

c/o Reuters/NYTimes

SANTIAGO- Silvia Munoz has searched for decades for the remains of her father, who was executed during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Thirty-six years later, she hopes her DNA will help solve the mystery.

Munoz and hundreds of others have given blood samples to a government DNA database in a renewed attempt to identify loved ones who disappeared under Pinochet.

"I still have my doubts," Munoz said, "but I'm hoping to finally have a definitive answer."

Fewer than 400 people have come forward to register, far below the thousands the government had envisioned when it created the database.

Some families may be trying to avoid reliving the pain of losing loved ones, said Ariel Dorfman, a Chilean-American playwright and human-rights activist.

"The loss is not something that happens once, but happens over and over again, especially if the person is disappeared," Dorfman said.

Munoz, who was present at two exhumations of remains believed to be her father's, agreed.

Raul Antonio Munoz Munoz was a union leader and community organizer during socialist President Salvador Allende's administration. He was arrested on September 29, 1973, in front of his wife and five children and never seen again.

The military government later informed the family that Raul died, but did not return his body to the family.

Munoz is skeptical of the new DNA database, but willing to wait for news her father's remains have been found.

"The first time they took his left leg and the second time his right," Munoz said. "Imagine the government giving you bones, mourning them and then being told they're the wrong bones."

Medvedev to Russia: "not to forget" Stalin-era citizen repressions

Russia's search for an identity

By Masha Lipman for the Washington Post
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BTC- Hindsight is 20/20. It also tends to mellow with age and develop an alluring golden aura where power is recalled in retrospect. Stalin era Russia, became the international example of totalitarian establishment which imperiled and murdered it's citizens. These citizens had no civil liberty, privacy or identity separate from the State. Everyone and everything was property of the State.

MOSCOW- On Friday, as Russia recognized its annual commemoration of political prisoners, President Dmitry Medvedev published a videoblog in which he condemned Joseph Stalin's crimes and called on the nation not to forget about past political repression or its victims. Medvedev called Stalin's repression "one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history" and expressed concern that "even today it can be heard that these mass victims were justified by certain higher goals of the state." He said that "no development of a country, none of its successes or ambitions can be reached at the price of human losses and grief." His statement, which led the state-controlled television news, was sharply at odds with official rhetoric of the past decade.

Medvedev's address may have sounded radical, but many here are skeptical that the president's words will actually bring change. The number of alarming signals of Stalin's rehabilitation is growing. And in general over the year and a half of his presidency, Medvedev's often well-intended rhetoric has not been matched with policy.

But it would be wrong to dismiss the speech and conclude instead -- as observers at home and abroad sometimes do -- that Russia has made a definitive turn "back" toward the Soviet Union and an admiration of Stalin. In fact, perceptions of Stalin are conflicted, and this conflict reflects Russia's attempts -- very feeble, so far -- to reinvent itself as a modern nation. In December, Stalin came in third in a TV station's poll of greatest Russian historical figures. Contest organizers are rumored to have tinkered with the results after discovering that the man who masterminded the extermination of millions of his compatriots actually finished first.

Yet the peak of Stalin's terror is also recognized for what it was. In 2007, 72 percent of respondents told the Levada polling agency that the repression of 1937-38 were "political crimes that can't be justified." The day of remembrance of political repression, officially introduced in 1991, is not marked by major national events, but on Thursday, just outside the infamous Lubyanka building, the KGB's headquarters and prison, the names of Stalin's victims were read for 12 straight hours by any who wanted to participate. Other commemorations were staged elsewhere in Russia.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Obama administration: Toss wiretap lawsuit

CLG>>By DEVLIN BARRETT (AP) – 2 days ago

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder says a lawsuit in San Francisco over warrantless wiretapping threatens to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.

In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insists it came to the decision differently. A civil liberties group criticized the move Friday as a retreat from promises President Barack Obama made as a candidate.

Holder's effort to stop the lawsuit marks the first time the administration has tried to invoke the state secrets privilege under a new policy it launched last month designed to make such a legal argument more difficult.

Under the state secrets privilege, the government can have a lawsuit dismissed if hearing the case would jeopardize national security.

The Bush administration invoked the privilege numerous times in lawsuits over various post-9/11 programs, but the Obama administration recently announced that only a limited number of senior Justice Department officials would be able to make such decisions. It also agreed to provide confidential information to the courts in such cases.

Under the new approach, an agency trying to keep such information secret would have to convince the attorney general and a panel of Justice Department lawyers that its release would compromise national security.

Holder said that in the current case, that review process convinced him "there is no way for this case to move forward without jeopardizing ongoing intelligence activities that we rely upon to protect the safety of the American people."

The lawsuit was filed by a group of individuals who claimed the government illegally monitored their communications. To proceed with the case, Holder said, would expose intelligence sources and methods.

Holder said U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is handling the case, was given a classified description of why the case must be dismissed so that the court can "conduct its own independent assessment of our claim."

The attorney general said the judge would decide whether the administration had made a valid claim and "we will respect the outcome of that process."

That is a departure from the Bush administration, which resisted providing specifics to judges handling such cases about what the national security concerns were.
Kevin Bankston, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco that is pursuing a similar lawsuit against the government, called Holder's decision "incredibly disappointing."

"The Obama administration has essentially adopted the position of the Bush administration in these cases, even though candidate Obama was incredibly critical of both the warrantless wiretapping program and the Bush administration's abuse of the state secrets privilege," said Bankston.