Beyond the Cusp

January 8, 2014

Terror Lawyer Released While Jonathan Pollard Rots

The lawyer who represented the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman who masterminded and organized the first World Trade Center bombing among other terror defendants, Lynne Stewart, was ordered released due to health problems. Doctors claimed she has less than eighteen months to live as she has been diagnosed with breast cancer that has metastasized to her lungs and bones as well as type-2 diabetes and numerous other health problems. She was originally sentenced to ten years for having passed sensitive information she had received due to her representing the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman as well as messages from the Sheik to terrorist leaders and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Her actions compromised numerous methodologies the United States had in use to monitor and track terror operatives. Among the information she passed on to terrorist leadership in Egypt and the Middle East included actionable information which permitted the terrorists to alter their methods so as to avoid American detection and possibly revealed names of operatives who had given the Americans information thus placing their lives at risk. During her resentencing trial it was revealed that the three judge panel of the federal appeals court had noted specifically that Stewart exhibited a “stark inability to understand the seriousness of her crimes.”

 

Meanwhile, Jonathan Pollard has begun his twenty-ninth year of a life sentence after being convicted of passing intelligence information to an allied power, Israel. While I would not try to minimize his crime, the information he passed has been defined as information of Arab military capabilities and assets and none was concerning any American assets or personnel and the information could have been covered under an agreement between the United States and Israel on information sharing which was ordered ignored by the State Department directing the Department of Defense. Even comparing the sentencing of Jonathan Pollard and Lynne Stewart makes one see that at least one of these two sentences makes little sense. Either Pollard was sentenced way beyond his crimes or Stewart was treated with kid gloves for her crimes. When a person who gave information on enemy military capabilities, assets and locations of the allied nation to whom the intelligence was given is sentenced to life while another who revealed methods and names as well as passing instructions to commit terrorist acts within the United States compromising the nation in numerous ways is sentenced to merely ten years there is some serious inequality in sentencing which should be obvious to anybody. Additionally, Lynne Stewart has never apologized or stated she had any regrets over her actions and has gone so far as to claim she had done nothing wrong as she was simply serving her client and conscience while Jonathan Pollard has admitted his crimes and apologized and shown contrition. As far as the argument that Ms. Stewart is in failing health, so is Mr. Pollard. Where President Clinton had promised to release Pollard as part of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians but after the Israelis held up their half of the bargain President Clinton laughed in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s face and called him a sucker for having believed Pollard would actually be released. President George W. Bush likely asked his father, former President Bush, and his father’s advisors, the same advisors who had convinced the Judge in Pollard’s case to throw out the agreement of a plea bargain and throw Pollard in prison for life. I hold President George W. Bush responsible for not taking the effort to research Pollard’s case himself and instead relying on slanders from those who were responsible for the life sentence.

 

I know that there will be those who will claim that the people from the State department knew of other crimes and that Pollard had turned over to the Russians the names of twenty American agents from the CIA. There is one problem with claiming that Johnathan Pollard had revealed the names of American agents anywhere, let alone Russia. Pollard was a Naval photographic evaluator who studied spy plane and satellite photos and discerned rocket launching, air defense, and other military potential targets. His clearance was limited to the level necessary to complete those kinds of evaluations and interpretations. He had no clearance nor could he have ever had access to information such as the names of active agents or any other CIA information. His clearance was limited to Naval photographic files and the actual photographs, nothing more. He not only did not have any clearance for information on CIA spies, he had no access to any information from the CIA unless the CIA sent photographs to the Navy to be inspected and interpreted for information, an unlikely but possible scenario, but personnel information would have been far beyond any access that Pollard was cleared to receive. He worked at a Naval operations center and likely never even set foot in any CIA building anywhere or at any time. Perhaps if Johnathan Pollard had instead given information to the Muslim Brotherhood he would have been freed long ago, but he foolishly gave the information to the Israelis and did it without receiving the huge sums of money some have claimed. He has stated that what he had done was a bad error in judgment and he expressed remorse all to no avail. Yet without any contrition or remorse Lynne Stewart is going home and I am willing to bet she lives well past the eighteen months that she is claimed to have remaining to her. Where I feel sympathy for her illness, I still am suspect that soon we will hear of her remarkable turnaround and her cancer having gone into remission, meanwhile her serving of her sentence will also have gone into remission.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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October 24, 2013

Rethinking Pollard Case in Light of US Spying Revelations

There has been a cascade of accusations over the release of sensitive information which revealed the broad and expansive spying including taping of every phone call of leaders of presumed friendly governments including but not limited to France, Germany, Mexico, and others as more information is leaked by Snowden from within the protected safety of Russia. The depth and amount of trivial and needless snooping that included private conversations by the leading politicians of numerous nations casts a dim light on any justification which could be offered. The usual everybody does this will not likely cover these episodes since they included snooping far beyond the norm that might be seen as necessary for national security. Nothing will excuse the taping of private calls and simply taping everything in a massive sweep without limits that resulted in thousands of conversations being intercepted. Sometimes just because something is possible and you have the capability it does not then equal that doing so is a good idea. With this embarrassment there is one last country that it would be interesting to have revealed as being subjected to such interception of communications, phone conversations, e-mails and other electronic communications would be Israel. Do I suspect that Israel was likely singled out for even deeper penetration and interception quite possibly of everybody in the Knesset and at all related to the government or in a position of influence. This would likely have been the first nation which President Obama would have given explicit instructions to intercept everything possible.

 

If the Israeli intelligence agencies have proof of spying by the United States, instead of making a public scene and crying over spilled milk they should instead propose to President Obama and the other people who would need to be persuaded that Israel will keep this evidence on the quiet provided that the spying ceases immediately and that Johnathan Pollard be immediately released and allowed to return to Israel. In order to make this easier for the United States the Israelis could promise not to make any huge deal and to simply make note of Johnathan Pollard’s release in their news reports and not hold celebrations or other such events which may be uncomfortable for the United States. After all the main objective is the release of Johnathan Pollard so he can spend the rest of what is left of his life with friends and family and among those he knows instead of continuing to hold him in solitary confinement.

 

There should be no reason to go through the truths that have evolved since Pollard’s trial where the State Department convinced the Judge to throw out the agreement which had been reached under which a guilty plea was entered due to false information that many who knew of the entire affair have come out and verified the entire hate-filled affair. Evidence that was used to vilify Pollard included his presumably giving information to foreign nations that he did not have a sufficiently high security clearance to even have access to any of these names and assignments. There was no way as a map and satellite inspector who mostly read maps and sought out details such as rocket positions both in place and mobile and other military information for the Navy Department had absolutely no access to State Department or CIA records which he was accused by both departments of having stolen for enemies despite the reality that he gave information to Israel on Iraqi developments including their nuclear program which was presumably to be given them by treaty but that too was blocked by the State Department, Defense Department and the CIA. When it is revealed that the United States has been spying on Israeli politicians, that information should only be released after giving President Obama the opportunity to keep it understood but quietly ignored in exchange for the release of Johnathan Pollard.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 17, 2013

Another Visit to the Liberty vs. Security Debate

No article on this subject can avoid quoting one of the numerous variations on the Benjamin Franklin quote where he said something close to these reputed words, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” Often simply quoting Ben Franklin is enough to consider the discussion closed, but where does one draw the line allowing for the most amounts of freedoms and liberties while also ensuring comfortable levels of security. This is where the normal discussion debates the different segments which governments utilize in order to provide security and in this information and computerized age the line can be crucial and must not be drawn with any lack of clarity. The advent of miniaturization, high powered optics, computerized facial recognition software, super-sensitive microphones, spy satellites capable of reading newsprint from orbit, thermal imaging which can “see” through walls, laser sound detectors which can monitor conversations in a room by measuring the slightest vibrations of the glass in a window, abilities to activate cell phones in order to use the camera and microphone to monitor the room were the phone sits, electronic data surveillance capabilities and processing with untold capabilities, universal electronic monitoring capabilities, and other items which easily have the ability to make privacy a quaint old idea whose time has long passed. The majority of the capabilities mentioned above have existed and been utilized by the majority of governments in the industrial world since the middle 1980s or the early 1990s at the latest. The capabilities available to current government agencies leave the citizenry absolutely no place to hide and their lack of knowledge of any person of interest that is being monitored could only be explained by human error. For those who might propose that there are limits on the government spying on their own citizens, I am happy to report that you are correct in your belief that laws guard the individual against unofficial warrantless searches and data gathering. Unfortunately, for quite a while now there has been a treaty between the English speaking nations of Canada, Britain, United States and Australia concerning this problem. By this treaty a list of persons of interest from each country is presented to the other nations who in turn request surveillance on these individuals of their home country by one or more of the other countries. Often each of the member countries would request different set of requests thus should one request be discovered the rest of the investigation would remain undisturbed. The home country then collects the information and passes the raw data which is processed by the foreign nation. Once the data has been organized and processed it is returned to the home country which wished to observe one of their citizens.

The one reassuring item is the ability that governments have displayed for incompetence and missing the forest for the trees. I would not want my privacy or worse to depend on the government’s incompetence but with the investigatory powers available to the government with all the modern data processing and state of the art sensors, no individual is beyond the government’s ability to be able to tell you all of your most guarded secrets and even the smallest of facts no matter how mundane and inconsequential. With all the technical abilities available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies it is remarkable that any crime is able to be committed without the authorities lying in wait before the crime has been committed and nabbing the lawbreaker in the midst of the crime. About the only thing lacking for the government to attempt to emulate the movie “Minority Report” are the psychics wired up to a computer in the basement of the FBI future crimes division. The government is currently gathering agreements with credit card companies, banks, credit unions, communications companies, utility providers and so much more to get them to allow the government to splice into their data banks and use all the data they have gathered on anybody without any need to bother any officials for permission. This includes the coming smart meters measuring electricity and in the near future smart grid appliances which will be capable of reporting each individual appliance and its use of power. This will also allow remote control of these appliances, remote setting of thermostats on heating and airconditioning units, even recording the number of times the power to the refrigerator increased by the small amount that turning on the light causes when you open the door. So many items which were purely science fiction a few decades ago are now or soon to be possible to government in order to inspect every tiny bit of minutia concerning your life.

Benjamin Franklin would become apoplectic if he was transported to our modern world. Once he realized the powers to intrude into the citizens’ private life by government he would likely turn hermit and remove all electronic devices from his residence. Paranoid delusions would be the likely psychological diagnosis of Ben Franklin’s mental breakdown as he was taken away babbling something about liberty has died in his dear loved country of America. The debate of how much liberty or freedoms we might compromise upon to grant government the necessary powers to make us more safe is mute and no longer necessary. We no longer have any liberties or freedoms against government interference and monitoring of every iota of our existences to trade away for security. The real problem is that even with total knowledge at their fingertips the government is still incapable of providing us with absolute security. Yesterday’s bombing in Boston stands as a case in point. About the only power the government does not possess is to be able to read your mind and know your intent, though there is a partnership between the government and Google working on understanding how the mind thinks and developing AI (Artificial Intelligence) where the government will permit Google complete access to the vast majority of their collected data collected by government agencies such as the IRS, Census Bureau, and many others at all levels of government, Federal, State, County, Township and City. They are gaining permission from all levels of governments around the nation with promises of providing better services and other benefits from this research. The amounts of data mining being accomplished by government at all levels is beyond imagination and the lack of security in our persons, houses, papers, and effects has dwindled out of existence and with it our rights as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment which reads;

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Liberties and Freedoms as envisioned by the Founding Fathers have evaporated before the heat of advancing technologies. There is virtually nothing which can be considered beyond the government’s ability to know if they are persistent and bring all of their capabilities to bear. The only hopes we have is to retain our protections against having such information from being used against us in a court of law. Beyond that we are likely fighting a losing battle. Our hopes for security of our privacy are now relegated to the whims of government bureaucrats and the officers of the government. Should this make you feel uneasy and raise your levels of concern then you probably have a desire to some level of privacy from the encroaching eyes, ears and sensors of government. It is not so much that we the people have surrendered our liberties, freedoms, and privacies as much as it is the government’s power to compromise these rights have become overtly formidable. How we regain the upper hand in this struggle is beyond me but that does not mean it is not an effort worth taking. If we can rescue even the slightest measure of our eviscerated privacies then any effort expended was worth the struggle.

Beyond the Cusp

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