The Government And Your Identity

People born after December 1, 1964 could reportedly be affected by the REAL ID Act — rules wanted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requiring states to issue REAL IDs. In the government’s desire to gain complete control of every American’s rights and liberties under the guise of ‘the war on terror,’ people born after that date, as well as every other American citizen, should be concerned with what the government will do with their data, not to mention the Big Brother aspects of it.

To add to the complete incompetence of how the government handles your personal information, a report from The Washington Post released earlier this month detailing how more personal identification is available on government web sites that provides a wealth of information ripe for picking — if you’re an identity thief. Full Social Security numbers of untold numbers of Americans can be easily found in file rooms and on web sites run by the government.

Estimates from The Federal Trade Commission show that 8.3 million Americans were victims if identity theft in 2005, the most recent data currently available. Social Security numbers can be mined easily in the government’s own records, potentially creating social insecurity for millions of people.

Social Security numbers are readily available in many courthouses — in land records, criminal and civil case files, as well as numerous government web sites that offer easily accessible public documents with a few mouse clicks.

Little Uniformity For Control

From state to state and even within states, very little uniformity in how to control access to the private information in these records exists.

Nine-digit numbers, introduced in 1936 to track employee earnings and benefits, were found on hundreds of land deeds, death certificates, traffic tickets, creditors’ filings and other documents related to civil and criminal court cases after a recent spot-check.

Federal courts banned the numbers from appearing on public documents in 2001. Recently, many jurisdictions have enacted laws or made rules barring various types of personal information from being filed with courts or government agencies. Despite the ban, Social Security numbers are still showing up on some documents.

After it was revealed that several of the hijackers involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks used fraudulently obtained IDs to open bank accounts, rent apartments and board planes, the federal government passed a law in 2004 mandating prison sentences for people who use identity theft to commit other crimes and prohibited Social Security numbers from being displayed on newly issued driver’s licenses.

Last spring a presidential task force called on federal agencies to reduce the unnecessary use of Social Security numbers, which it referred to as the most valuable commodity for an identity thief.

Unfortunately, millions of paper records were filed nationwide before the laws and rules took effect. Usually those records aren’t covered by the prohibitions. Court clerks have said it’s virtually impossible to redact all the Social Security numbers in them.

The Virginia Watchdog

The Virginia Watchdog is a coalition of people who believe that records containing records with Social Security numbers and other identifying information (such as DOBs, minor children’s names, mother’s maiden names, financial account numbers, and signatures, hair and eye color, etc.) should not be put online. The web site was created to educate the public about the online records issue.

Betty “BJ” Ostergren is the founder, editor and publisher of The Virginia Watchdog and has been fighting to stop the online records mess since August 27, 2002. Her site offers numerous examples of public figures whose Social Security numbers have appeared in public records in recent years.

Ostergren called State Senator Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) to inform him that his and his wifes Social Security numbers are available online. Raskin, who flipped out briefly, plans to introduce a bill in the Maryland Assembly to tighten up state websites.

DHS Proposed REAL ID Act

Despite the government’s negligible record with keeping citizens information private, the DHS reportedly has allegedly spent years crafting the final regulations for the REAL ID Act, a law allegedly designed to make it harder for terrorists, illegal immigrants and con artists to get government-issued identification.

Americans born after December 1, 1964 will have to get more secure driver’s licenses in the next six years. Originally designed to take effect in 2008, it’s been pushed back while the DHS tries to win over skeptical state officials (17 states so far). The REAL ID Act is also facing stiff opposition from civil liberties groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fiercely objects the efforts, particularly the sharing of personal data among government agencies, saying it’ll create a system that is more likely to be infiltrated and have its personal data pilfered. In its written objection the ACLU claims REAL ID amounts to the first-ever national identity card system which would irreparably damage the fabric of American life.

The DHS plans to phase in a ‘secure ID initiative’ passed into law by Congress in 2005 to alleviate some of the concerns, planning a key deadline in 2011 and then further measures to be enacted three years later. By 2014, anyone wanting to board an airplane or enter a federal building would have to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, with the exception of those more than 50 years old. According to the DHS, the risk of someone in the over-50 age group is less likely to be a terrorist, illegal immigrant or con artist. However, by 2017, even people over 50 will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant card to board a plane.

More information about the proposed REAL ID Act can be found from the article mentioned above. CNET News also has a unique look at some of the facts as well.

In his infinite ‘wisdom,’ Michael Chernoff who heads the DHS claims that the only people who object to or oppose the planned implementation of the REAL-ID Act are terrorists, illegal immigrants and con artists. Translated, this means that eventually the government will try to pin the label of terrorist, illegal immigrant or con artist on those who voice their opinions. As with the vast majority of ‘leadership’ in this delusional, dysfunctional presidential administration, you need to read between the lines of everything they say because they love to twist words and the truth around.

FBI Wiretaps Cut Off Due To Unpaid Bills

Another excellent example showing how irresponsibly the government conducts itself was reported recently by The Associated Press — The FBI, notoriously famous for how well they keep track of their own guns and laptops, seems to have a chronic problem paying phone bills on time as well — resulting in telephone companies cutting off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on ‘suspected criminals.’

An audit by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that faulty bookkeeping was part of the FBI’s lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations, as well as supervision that was so poor it allowed one agent to steal $25,000.

The report found more than half of 990 bills to pay for telecom surveillance in five unidentified FBI field offices were not paid on time. One office had unpaid costs for wiretaps that totaled $66.000.

Potentially sensitive evidence was lost because the FBI failed to pay the bills.

Information Security Breach at TSA

A recently released report (PDF) from the the United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform details more of the constantly recurring incompetence and ignorance of the DHS at the expense of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), one it its departments that has been mismanaged since its inception.

From the Executive Summary of the report:

In October 2006, the Transportation Security Administration launched a website to help travelers whose names were erroneously listed on airline watch lists. This redress website had multiple security vulnerabilities: it was not hosted on a government domain; its homepage was not encrypted; one of its data submission pages was not encrypted; and its encrypted pages were not properly certified. These deficiencies exposed thousands of American travelers to potential identity theft. After an internet blogger identified these security vulnerabilities in February 2007, the website was taken offline and replaced by a website hosted on a Department of Homeland Security domain.

At the request of Chairman Henry Waxman, Committee staff have been investigating how TSA could have launched a website that violated basic operating standards of web security and failed to protect travelers’ sensitive personal information. As this report describes, these security breaches can be traced to TSA’s poor acquisition practices, conflicts of interest, and inadequate oversight.

The report finds:

– TSA awarded the website contract without competition.
– TSA official in charge of the project was a former employee of the contractor.
– TSA did not detect the website’s security weaknesses for months.
– TSA did not provide sufficient oversight of the website and the contractor.

Neither Desyne nor the Technical Lead on the traveler redress website has been sanctioned by TSA for their roles in the deployment of an insecure website. TSA continues to pay Desyne to host and maintain two major web-based information systems: TSA’s claims management system and a government-wide traveler redress program. TSA has taken no steps to discipline the Technical Lead, who still holds a senior program management position at TSA.

For explanations of all the findings and more, see the report (PDF).

Links to More Information

Links to all the information above as well as numerous links to and snippets of other informative and important articles of interest can be found below:

New ID rules may complicate air travel article from Yahoo! News and The Associated Press

Online Records May Aid ID Theft article from The Washington Post

The Virginia Watchdog web site

REAL ID Final Rule information from The Department of Homeland Security

17 states stuck in license showdown article from MSNBC Wire Services

Homeland Security proposes delayed REAL ID rollout article from CNET News

FBI Wiretaps Dropped Due to Unpaid Bills article from The Associated Press

Information Security Breach at TSA: The Traveler Redress Website report (PDF) from the United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Report: TSA site put travelers at risk…and a bit of poetic justice article from CNET News:

FBI Recorded 27 Million FISA ‘Sessions’ in 2006 article from Wired.com Threat Level

US intelligence suggests coverup in Bhutto assassination article from The Raw Story:

“The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on Dec. 27, 2007 has created concerns for US intelligence officials, who see US policy toward Pakistan as being held hostage by President Pervez Musharraf and factions of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Mrs. Bhutto was shot when she stood up through the sunroof of her vehicle after a campaign rally for her Pakistan Peoples Party in Rawalpindi. Immediately after the shooting, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive, killing 25 people as well as himself.

The Musharraf government’s initial reaction was to blame either al Qaeda or other terrorists closely linked to al Qaeda. However, contradictions in official statements, as well as the behavior of police – who hosed down the streets in Rawalpindi just an hour after Mrs. Bhutto was assassinated – quickly began to cast doubt on the official version of what happened, leaving serious questions surrounding Musharraf and the ISI and putting more pressure on the United States to pull back its support for Pakistani leadership.”

The role of political reporters article from Salon News:

“At The New Republic’s blog, Jason Zengerle confesses what is and has long been too obvious to require much proof — the media is uncontrollably in love with John McCain. And Zengerle’s reason why this is so is equally unsurprising: McCain gives them unfettered access, so they love him. Everything is about them, and whichever politician flatters and charms these adolescent, coddled narcissists is the recipient of their uncritical love (that explains much, though not all, of their profound failure in covering the Bush campaigns and administration). Zengerle also says:

Speaking of McCain and the media, I was at a dinner tonight with various political reporters who are up here to cover the happenings, and it was pretty funny how giddy/relieved they were at the prospect of a McCain-Obama general election campaign, as opposed to, say, a Romney-Clinton one. Suddenly, the next 11 months of their lives look a whole lot more enjoyable.”

Military Officials Disagree on Impact of Surge article from NPR.org

The Diebold Variations pictures and article from Homepage.mac.com

Pictures of various photos used by the Diebold voting machines to promote their questionable, unethical and unreliable voting machines.

ALL Diebold ALL the Time – It’s the New Hampshire Primary article from The Intelligence Daily:

“Why? It’s been nearly eight years since the debacle of Florida and nearly six since the miracle Chambliss win against Cleland. Surely we have reliable, verifiable voting systems in place? It’s been almost four years since the nationwide disaster of the  2004 election with  irregularities still emerging.

Hasn’t all this been fixed?

You’d think so. But, the answer is definitely no. Votes are still taken by voting machines produced by vendors highly sympathetic to the Republican Party. The machines are still off limits to those who want to examine how they operate and observe real vote counting. And good luck if your candidate loses and there’s fraud or voting machine problems suspected.

You’re out of luck. You can’t hire outside experts to look at the mission critical software in the optical scanners (Sec. 1.5). You’ll have a great deal of difficulty examining the paper records with voter marked choices. Don’t count on seeing any recounts either. Almost all the states have high hurdles before you can request and get one of these simple verification tools (See Appendix 2).

81% of New Hampshire ballots are counted in secret by a private corporation named Diebold Election Systems (now known as “Premier”). The elections run on these machines are programmed by one company, LHS Associates, based in Methuen, MA. We know nothing about the people programming these machines, and we know even less about LHS Associates. We know even less about the secret vote counting software used to tabulate 81% of our ballots. People like to say “but we use paper ballots! They can always be counted by hand!”

Voter Fraud Against Paul Confirmed in Sutton, N.H. article from TruthNews.us:

“Sutton with 100% reporting reported 0 votes for paul but poster in Sutton posted:

My mom, aunt, and dad all voted for RP today in my hometown, My mom and aunt both work passing out ballots, and checking them off. I just looked at the politico map and it says their town has ZERO votes for Ron. Now i know that there isn’t corruption on voting in that little town, so where they reported it must be. What do I do, anyone know???

Originally Posted by sstjean View Post
This was posted to ronpaul-801 tonight: “This town numbers are wrong wrong wrong on this map. I am from Sutton originally and my parents and one aunt all voted for Ron Paul today and Sutton says 0. So this is wrong. This is a town that had 20 people counting the ballots and I have no reason to believe that they cheated. Small town and I was born and raised there. The real numbers will come in by morning. The electronic machines in the big towns are the ones we have to worry about.”

Promises They Can’t Keep article from The Washington Post:

“The big lie of campaign 2008 — so far — is that the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, will take care of our children. Listening to these politicians, you might think they will. Doing well by children has now passed motherhood and apple pie as an idol that all candidates must worship.

“We will do whatever it takes to make America a better country, to give our kids a better future,” says Mike Huckabee, winner of the Republican Iowa caucuses.

“We will deliver for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren,” claims Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic winner in Iowa.

“We’re going to reclaim the future for our children,” says Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Actually, these are throwaway lines, completely disconnected from reality.”

99 Ways to Steal Elections: The Story of John Fund and Ron Paul article from OpEdNews

Kristolnicht: The Decline of the New York Times article from The Smirking Chimp

‘Errors’ Transposing Votes and Diebold Machines Removed Votes From Obama and Paul article from TruthSeeds.org:

“Allegations of vote fraud in New Hampshire’s primary are growing. In what was advertised as a fair and open election in the Live Free or Die state, it appears that concerns of the fraud and data manipulation are viable.

The data from Diebold Accuvote optical scanner electronic voting machines is up to 5% points different than the hand-written ballots that were cast. Sutton Town has now reported an error in transposing votes and an employee of LHS Associates, whom counted 81% of the vote, has a criminal record.

Township clerk Jennifer Call of Sutton, New Hampshire has confirmed that ’31’ votes were in fact cast for Ron Paul in Sutton when ‘0’ votes were initially reported. They claim that it was an error in transposing the data during transfer to the summary sheet. These 31 residents from Sutton can rest assured that their votes are NOW being counted. But what about the rest of the townships?

The results from the Diebold machines, easily hacked in the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy, don’t add up. They claim that Ron Paul had over 2% fewer votes than the hand ballots suggest, and gave Giuliani a .5% boost for 4th place instead. The same ballot machines also show that Hillary faired 5% better than with the hand ballots, taking 1st away from Obama. See this site for more detailed analysis.

In another developing story, Bev Harris of Black Box Voting.org has confirmed that a key employee of LHS Associates, John Elder is a convicted felon with cocaine trafficking charges and election related complaints. LHS Associates holds the contract for programming all of the New Hampshire’s Diebold voting machines, which combined count 81 per cent of the vote.”

2005 Use of Gas by Blackwater Leaves Questions article from The New York Times:

Bush and Condi sure know how to pick them! Good thing they care so much about our troops!

“WASHINGTON – The helicopter was hovering over a Baghdad checkpoint into the Green Zone, one typically crowded with cars, Iraqi civilians and United States military personnel.

Suddenly, on that May day in 2005, the copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions and with the approval of top military commanders. An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.

“This was decidedly uncool and very, very dangerous,” Capt. Kincy Clark of the Army, the senior officer at the scene, wrote later that day. “It’s not a good thing to cause soldiers who are standing guard against car bombs, snipers and suicide bombers to cover their faces, choke, cough and otherwise degrade our awareness.”

Hey, Isn’t That … People Are Doing Double-Takes, and Taking Action, As Web Snapshots Are Nabbed for Commercial Uses article from The Washington Post

Why wasn’t Bill O’Reilly TASERED for using profanity and assaulting an Obama Staffer article and video from Real Truth Online Blogspot

An excellent example of the complete stupidity and lies of Bill O’Reilly.

Buying of the President: Website a ‘one-stop source’ of eyebrow-raising info for 2008 election article from The Raw Story:

“An independent research organization has unveiled a website that examines “how big money and special interests influence the path to the Oval Office.”

The Center for Public Integrity states in a press release obtained by RAW STORY that an award-winning team of researchers and journalists has built “The Buying of the President 2008” on its behalf. It is the latest in a continuing series that began in the 1996 election year.

The site, www.buyingofthepresident.org, is described as “a one-stop source of information about the 2008 election, featuring profiles of the candidates, their donors, and advisers, as well as the latest fundraising news.”

An executive director for the Center further states that the website “is a quintessential must-read for journalists, policy makers, and political enthusiasts alike who want to broaden their curiosity and pursuit of the purse strings behind presidential campaigns.”

The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis video from TruthNews.us

Bush “recycles” Mine Safety Chief behind Senate’s back again. article from Crooks and Liars:

There was an errant article by a Washington publication quoting the president as saying “it’s just a g.d. piece of paper” that has since been retracted. He may not have said it verbally, but his actions have said it repeatedly.

“George Bush doesn’t like the Constitution. Especially that part where the Senate has to confirm his appointments. Remember when he wanted coal industry executive Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety agency? Stickler was turned down by the Senate twice. So in late 2006 Bush did what he does and gave Stickler a recess appointment. Now that the recess appointment has expired, Bush has found that by putting “acting” at the beginning of a job title, he can appoint people whenever he likes?”

Bush meets Israeli minister banned from US over spy case article from The Raw Story

Iran: Bush’s Tonkin Gulf Tale Unravels article from AlterNet:

Several people doubted the authenticity of this event when it first came out, since as usual, his dictatorship will try to find any excuse or lie to start another war and get a regime change in Iran, not to mention try to take all their oil as well.

“Despite the official and media portrayal of the incident in the Strait of Hormuz early Monday morning as a serious threat to U.S. ships from Iranian speedboats that nearly resulted in a “battle at sea,” new information over the past three days suggests that the incident did not involve such a threat and that no U.S. commander was on the verge of firing at the Iranian boats.

The new information that appears to contradict the original version of the incident includes the revelation that U.S. officials spliced the audio recording of an alleged Iranian threat onto to a videotape of the incident. That suggests that the threatening message may not have come in immediately after the initial warning to Iranian boats from a U.S. warship, as appears to do on the video.

Also unraveling the story is testimony from a former U.S. naval officer that non-official chatter is common on the channel used to communicate with the Iranian boats and testimony from the commander of the U.S. 5th fleet that the commanding officers of the U.S. warships involved in the incident never felt the need to warn the Iranians of a possible use of force against them.

Further undermining the U.S. version of the incident is a video released by Iran Thursday showing an Iranian naval officer on a small boat hailing one of three ships.”

Apparently, The Abu Ghraib Scandals Were Not A Big Deal… article from AOL News:

Another shining example of the Bush Administration definition of military justice. The officer if charge of the Abu Ghraib prison let off the hook, despite enlisted personnel being convicted. It’s important to be an officer in this administration’s tenure. If I were enlisted in the military, I’d be one ticked off s.o.b.

“Lt. Col. Steven Jordan once faced a well-deserved conviction and a five year jail sentence for his role in the notorious Abu Ghraib jail scandals. For those who might have been living under a rock, the Abu Ghraib crimes consisted of the United States Army physically and sexually abusing prisoners in inhumane ways, and then taking photos of them. The best known image includes a pyramid stack of naked detainees in an Abu Ghraib jail. When the photos surfaced, the wave of international condemnation against the U.S was deafening…and humiliating.

Colonel Jordan’s conviction was well-deserved, mostly because he was in charge of an Abu Ghraib interrogation center. He also broke another law by talking about federal investigations of the crime when he was told not to. One would think he would face dire consequences with the Army. But we all know better than that! Scandal is the name of the game while the Bush Administration still has a tight political grip on the U.S.”

About that “Surge” article from WhiteHouser.com

Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles article from The New York Times:

“The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain.

A quarter of the victims were fellow service members, including Specialist Richard Davis of the Army, who was stabbed repeatedly and then set ablaze, his body hidden in the woods by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq.”

Scotland Yard believes Al-Qaeda assassinated Benazir Bhutto article from The Times Online

And the cover up continues. Some governments must honestly believe that every one of their citizens are complete idiots.

FBI finds Blackwater trucks patched article from Yahoo! News and The Associated Press

Blackwater tampering with more evidence…not a surprise.

Bothersome Intel On Iran article from Newsweek:

“In public, President Bush has been careful to reassure Israel and other allies that he still sees Iran as a threat, while not disavowing his administration’s recent National Intelligence Estimate. That NIE, made public Dec. 3, embarrassed the administration by concluding that Tehran had halted its weapons program in 2003, which seemed to undermine years of bellicose rhetoric from Bush and other senior officials about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. “He told the Israelis that he can’t control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE’s] conclusions don’t reflect his own views” about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity.

Bush’s behind-the-scenes assurances may help to quiet a rising chorus of voices inside Israel’s defense community that are calling for unilateral military action against Iran. Olmert, asked by NEWSWEEK after Bush’s departure on Friday whether he felt reassured, replied: “I am very happy.” A source close to the Israeli leader said Bush first briefed Olmert about the intelligence estimate a week before it was published, during talks in Washington that preceded the Annapolis peace conference in November. According to the source, who also refused to be named discussing the issue, Bush told Olmert he was uncomfortable with the findings and seemed almost apologetic.”

How Deep Is The Bottom Of The Barrel For Fox News? article from OpEdNews

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