12/29/2005

This Just In...

At this very moment, it's possible we're being monitored
It turns out that until Tuesday (12/27/05), the NSA installed permanent cookies on the computers of Internet users who visited the NSA's Website. (By coincidence, we were there on Tuesday, which means that we just made it into the club.) And these were persistent cookies - they didn't expire until 2035 whereas most cookies are automatically deleted when surfers close their browsers. An NSA spokesman said that it was a mistake and that they disabled the cookies as soon as they were notified.
Yahoo

So, where's our check?
The Pentagon has been paying journalists to contribute pro-U.S. articles and stories to Websites that they've set up to target browsers in the Balkans and parts of North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritania and Morocco). Now, an internal review has determined that the propagandistic sites are perfectly legal. This comes on top of last month's revelation that the Pentagon has been paying Lincoln Group, a private contractor, to plant positive stories written by U.S. troops in Iraqi newspapers.
Los Angeles Times

You don't know Jack... until now
"The biggest congressional corruption scandal in generations" is how The Washington Post is referring to the Jack Abramoff affair. The 47-year-old lobbyist received millions from Indian tribes, which he used to fly Congressmen on golf trips to Scotland, and to secure box seats at football games and concert tickets for them among other things. After returning $150,000 in contributions he'd received over the years from Abramoff, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), head of the Senate Appropriations panel's Interior subcommittee, thundered: "I hope he goes to jail and we never see him again. I wish he'd never been born, to be right honest with you."

Some highlights:

- Along with disgraced Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, Abramoff organized a "convention" of anticommunist guerrillas from Laos, Nicaragua and Afghanistan in a remote part of Angola. (But even among friends, Abramoff got into trouble and he was fired after a dispute over the handling of the $3 million budget).

- During the 1980s, Abramoff assisted the apartheid South African government, which secretly paid $1.5 million a year to the International Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit group that Abramoff operated out of a townhouse in the 1980s, according to sworn testimony to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Abramoff reportedly used South African soldiers while filming the anti-communist movie, "Red Scorpion," which he produced in 1989.


- Abramoff liked to mimic Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" during a scene when the mobster rejects a crooked politician's demand for a cut of the action: "Senator, you can have my answer now if you like. My offer is this: nothing."

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