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March 31, 2007
Don't like ID cards? Hand over your passport (UK)
"Anybody who objects to their personal details going on the new 'Big Brother' ID cards database will be banned from having a passport.
James Hall, the official in charge of the supposedly-voluntary scheme, said the Government would allow people to opt out - but in return they must 'forgo the ability' to have a travel document."
Your ID card details will be sold to banks (UK)
"Banks and other businesses are to be sold access to personal information stored on the Government's ID cards database.
Ministers want to raise hundreds of millions towards the £540 million a year cost of running the controversial scheme."
Ground floor perfumery, stationery ... and cells  : (UK)
"The police are to set up 'retail jails' on high streets and in busy shopping malls to detain yobs and other offenders for up to four hours under Home Office proposals published yesterday.
The police will also gain sweeping extensions to their powers to take fingerprints and DNA samples from anyone they suspect of committing a crime. In addition, the proposals appear to lift the barriers that separate the police fingerprint and DNA databases from the new national identity register. The changes were proposed in a Home Office consultation document reviewing the Police and Criminal Evidence (Pace) Act 1984 code, which lays down the rules and safeguards for police treatment of crime suspects."
Russian Forces Break Up Opposition Rally
"Riot police wielding truncheons broke up an opposition rally in a central Russian city on Saturday, detaining dozens of activists and beating some of them in the third major crackdown on a demonstration in recent months."
Trials of Guantanamo suspects begin without a lawyer or reporter in sight
"The military tribunals, scheduled to begin tomorrow, will take place behind closed doors and away from the scrutiny of the media. Hundreds of previous hearings held to determine the formal status of the prisoners have been open to reporters. None of the suspects will be able to have a lawyer present.
The Pentagon has said that the so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT) are being held in secret to prevent the possible leaking of classified information. But legal campaigners said the decision had been taken to prevent the revelation of information embarrassing to the Bush administration."
Probe of Al-Qaeda Leader's Handling Sought
"Levin and Graham did not challenge the secret nature of Mohammed's hearing or the classification of his allegations of abuse. But they, along with Gates and others, said they were convinced that he was telling the truth during the hearing.
Mohammed claimed responsibility for more than 30 terrorism plots, including the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, whom Mohammed said he beheaded.
'It was apparent to us,' the senators wrote in their statement, that Mohammed 'wanted to use the tribunal process to detail his role in 9/11 and many other terror plots and to record for history the part he has played in a war that he has unabashedly waged.' Mohammed 'views himself as a warrior, motivated by religious teachings, and seeks his place in history.'
The two senators helped write legislation codifying the Combatant Status Review Tribunals. Yesterday they offered no new details on the content of the hearing but said they were impressed with 'the professionalism and demeanor of the tribunal.' Mohammed was denied an attorney for the hearing, which was called to establish whether he qualifies as an enemy combatant. Evidence was withheld from him, and the military panel rejected his request to call two witnesses - also at Guantanamo - to corroborate assertions that nearly half of the military's case against him is false."
Terror Database Has Quadrupled In Four Years
"Called TIDE, for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the list is a storehouse for data about individuals that the intelligence community believes might harm the United States. It is the wellspring for watch lists distributed to airlines, law enforcement, border posts and U.S. consulates, created to close one of the key intelligence gaps revealed after Sept. 11, 2001: the failure of federal agencies to share what they knew about al-Qaeda operatives.
TIDE has also created concerns about secrecy, errors and privacy. The list marks the first time foreigners and U.S. citizens are combined in an intelligence database. The bar for inclusion is low, and once someone is on the list, it is virtually impossible to get off it. At any stage, the process can lead to 'horror stories' of mixed-up names and unconfirmed information, Travers acknowledged."
Ordinary Customers Flagged as Terrorists
"Private businesses such as rental and mortgage companies and car dealers are checking the names of customers against a list of suspected terrorists and drug traffickers made publicly available by the Treasury Department, sometimes denying services to ordinary people whose names are similar to those on the list."
National ID Card Rules Unveiled
Real ID Act Deadline Pushed Back to 2009
"According to a statement released today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), states will now have until December 31, 2009 to implement the regulations of the Real ID act.
DHS also announced that up to 20 percent of a state's Homeland Security Grant Program funds can be used to help implement Real ID."
Under bill, Ariz. would opt out of national ID card
"In Arizona, Senate Bill 1152 would prevent the state from taking part in the national standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards.
It passed on an uncontested voice vote Wednesday; a formal vote is scheduled for today."
Idaho Becomes Second State to Reject Real ID, ACLU Applauds Move, Urges Other States to Follow Suit
Pentagon report sees spy methods for small targets
"'A combination of nanotechnology, biology and chemistry promises to provide significant increases in capability to conduct persistent surveillance on a global basis - with minimized personnel exposure,' it said."
Privacy Board Clears U.S. Spy Programs
"A White House privacy board is giving its stamp of approval to two of the Bush administration's controversial surveillance programs - electronic eavesdropping and financial tracking - and says they do not violate citizens' civil liberties."
Justice Dept.: FBI Misused Patriot Act
"The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, a Justice Department audit concluded Friday.
And for three years the FBI underreported to Congress how often it forced businesses to turn over the customer data, the audit found."
Mueller Orders Audit of 56 FBI Offices for Secret Subpoenas
"Mueller ordered the inspections after Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine found what he called 'widespread and serious misuse' of the so-called national security letters, which are allowed by law to be issued without court review.
The FBI's authority to issue the letters to gather material on suspected terrorists or spies without a judicially approved subpoena was expanded under the 2001 USA Patriot Act, and their use soared, Fine said today. More than 140,000 letters were sent to telephone companies, Internet providers and financial institutions between 2003 and 2005, his March 9 report said.
About half the records sought during that period pertained to U.S. citizens, Caproni said today. Phone companies that cooperated with the FBI under contract were AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., she said."
FBI Confirms Contracts with AT&T, Verizon and MCI
"The FBI's general counsel, Valerie Caproni, testified today on Capitol Hill that the FBI entered into contracts with AT&T, Verizon and MCI to harvest phone records on American citizens under a national security letter program that has come under fire from Congress and the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General for circumventing privacy laws."
Rain downed U.S. BMD shield
"'A significant portion of the U.S. missile defense capability was wiped out during the summer of 2006 because torrential rains caused ground-based interceptor silos to be damaged by flood waters,' POGO said in a statement.
'The flooding damaged 25 percent of the U.S. interceptor missiles' launch capability. These silos house the interceptor missiles that would be used to attempt to intercept a missile aimed at the United States. No interceptors were in the flooded silos,' the group's report said."
1M archived pages removed post-9/11
"More than 1 million pages of historical government documents - a stack taller than the U.S. Capitol - have been removed from public view since the September 2001 terror attacks, according to records obtained by the Associated Press. Some of the papers are more than a century old."
Bill would block credit cards for illegals
"U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced legislation Monday that would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving credit cards from American financial institutions.
The Photo Identification Security Act would require banks to use what Blackburn calls 'secure forms of identification' to obtain credit. In a statement put out by her office, she says that Bank of America 'has come under fire in response to reports that it allows illegal immigrants access to credit cards without proper documentation.'"
Police DNA Collection Sparks Questions
"While secretly collecting a suspect's DNA may be an unorthodox approach to solving crimes, prosecutors say it crosses no legal boundaries - that when someone leaves their DNA in a public place via flakes of skin, strands of hair or saliva, for example, they give up any expectation of privacy."
DOD, Microsoft sign deal to data mine health records
"The Defense Department has signed an agreement with Microsoft under which the software vendor will help develop tools and methods for analyzing the department's 9.1 million electronic patient records to find better ways to manage the health of DOD beneficiaries."
Confirmed: The U.S. Census Bureau Gave Up Names of Japanese Americans in WWII
New Mexico lawmakers agree to require cancer vaccine for 6th-grade girls
"A spokesman for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says the governor will sign a bill requiring sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer."
Wash. Governor Signs Internet Tax Bill
"Washington will join 21 other states that have passed legislation to become members of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project.
More than 1,000 companies that sell products in multiple states have voluntarily agreed to begin collecting and distributing sales taxes to any state that agrees to become a member of the project."
Your New ID-Theft Worry? Photocopiers
"That's because most digital copiers manufactured in the past five years have disk drives - the same kind of data-storage mechanism found in computers - to reproduce documents. As a result, the seemingly innocuous machines that are commonly used to spit out copies of tax returns for millions of Americans can retain the data being scanned.
If the data on the copier's disk aren't protected with encryption or an overwrite mechanism, and if someone with malicious motives gets access to the machine, industry experts say sensitive information from original documents could get into the wrong hands."