Monthly Archives: August 2004

Lyn Nofziger on Bush’s Attack on 527’s

The don't get much more Reagan Republican than Lyn Nofziger, who was sorta Reagan's Rove, only more substantive, slightly less tricksy, and far more principled. They were, to my eye, somewhat peculiar principles, but he held to them (subject, it must be said, to the 'our sonofabitch' principle of real-life party politics, where sometimes you hold your nose and work for the party's guy). So Nofziger supports Bush — if only because Nofziger hates Democrats (and immigrants, and gays, and taxes) — but he has some issues with the guy. Here's one:

George W. Bush and John McCain are turning out to be the Laurel and Hardy of the Republican party. There‘s no way they can be serious when they propose that the federal government sue to prevent their fellow Americans from exercising their constitutional right of free speech.

I‘ve forgotten who it was who said it, but these comedians need to be reminded of what the guy whose name I’ve forgotten said: “I may disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it.”

McCain’s attitude perhaps is understandable; he spent a good share of his life in the military where free speech is spoken at one’s peril. John Kerry’s attitude, which is much the same, is also understandable. He’s a Democrat and Democrats think that government, not the people, knows best.

But George Bush claims to be a conservative, compassionate maybe, but still a conservative, somewhat in the mold of Ronald Reagan. Can anyone here imagine for a minute that Reagan would advocate putting limits on political speech?

Someone also needs to remind these clowns that the purpose of the first amendment was to insure the right of free political speech. These guys need to pick up and read, probably for the first time, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It might help them to put things into perspective.

What these guys are finding out, and are unhappy about, is that no matter how many laws you pass with the intent of limiting free speech, as long as the first amendment exists, smart people will find a way to get around those laws. Unfortunately, now that they are discovering this truth, they are taking the next step and trying to twist the first amendment for the purpose of limiting of free speech.

Gentlemen, it will not work. Not in the long run. Comes first the revolution.

Posted in Politics: US | Leave a comment

GoogleWatch Says ‘Google Is Dying’

Daniel Brandt argues that Google is dying: its index is failing to keep up with the growth of the web. And he thinks he knows why—Google hit the 4,294,967,296 limit on 4-byte ID numbers in C. (Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Google claims to index more than 4 billion web pages.) If this is true, fixing it isn't trivial when you need to fix a large number of machines that are working in parallel

On sites with more than a few thousand pages, Google is not indexing anywhere from ten percent to seventy percent of the pages it knows about. These pages show up in Google's main index as a listing of the URL, which means that the Googlebot is aware of the page. But they do not show up as an indexed page. When the page is listed but not indexed, the only way to find it in a search is if your search terms hit on words in the URL itself. Even if they do hit, these listed pages rank so poorly compared to indexed pages, that they are almost invisible. This is true even though the listed pages still retain their usual PageRank.

…this became a problem that I first noticed in April 2003. That was the month when Google underwent a massive upheaval, which I describe in my Google is broken essay. When that essay was written two months after the upheaval, it would have been speculative to claim that the listed URL phenomenon was a symptom of the 4-byte docID problem described in the essay. It was too soon. But sixteen months later, the URL listings are beginning to look very widespread and very suspicious. It's a major fault in Google's index, it is getting worse, and it is much more than a mere temporary glitch.

Google is dying. It broke sixteen months ago and hasn't been fixed. It looks to me as if pages that have been noted by the crawler cannot be indexed until some other indexed page gives up its docID number. Now that Google is a public company, stockholders and analysts should require that Google give a full accounting of their indexing problems, and what they are doing to fix the situation.

If it turns out that google is missing huge quantities of stuff there will be a lot of angry IPO buyers. And I will have to change my one-stop-search habits.

Posted in Internet | 18 Comments

Power Blogging

You know it's a power blog when the author gets A Letter From the Editor—of the Economist no less.

Even though the Economist is going through a bad patch — predictable leaders, a US columnist who uncritically recites GOP spin points, and less coverage of out-of-the-way places like Albania than it used to have — that's still quite something.

Posted in Blogs | 1 Comment

Sign of Progress on CIA Torture

The signs have been clear from the start that the lion's share of the US's organized and systematized torture is by the civilians in the intelligence biz. In Iraq, their example, or pressure to emulate them, appears to have inspired those military torturers who were not simply free-lance sadists.

So far, though, it appeared that the CIA's conduct (and that of other similar agencies?) was out of bounds for a discussion which focused on the uniformed services. Perhaps, though, the ice is cracking.

C.I.A. Expands Its Inquiry Into Interrogation Tactics: Former intelligence officials say that lawyers from the C.I.A. and the Justice Department have been involved in intensive discussions in recent months to review the legal basis for some extreme tactics used at those secret centers, including “waterboarding,” in which a detainee is strapped down, dunked under water and made to believe that he might be drowned.

It has been known that, after the abuses at Abu Ghraib were disclosed, the Justice Department abandoned some legal opinions written in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks that had been used as the basis for the broad latitude allowed interrogators in using extreme procedures against suspected Qaeda detainees. In recent months, government lawyers said the legal opinions were too broad and were being rewritten to restrict the harshest interrogation measures.

The broader inspector general investigation into the agency's involvement in detention and intelligence in Iraq since May 2003 was ordered in May by George J. Tenet, who was then director of central intelligence. But additional questions about the C.I.A.'s practices center on a small number of high-level suspected Qaeda detainees being held by the agency outside Iraq in undisclosed locations around the world.

The C.I.A. has already scaled back some coercive methods used against detainees, although officials would not discuss specific techniques. Agency officials have demanded advance Justice Department approval for each tactic used against detainees and a new legal analysis of federal laws on the subject, including a statute that makes it a felony for American officials, including C.I.A. employees, to engage in torture.

One seminal document repudiated by the government was an August 2002 memo by the Justice Department. It concluded that interrogators could use extreme techniques on detainees in the effort to prevent terrorism.

Unfortunately, the NYT article also suggests that the CIA is seeking, or using, torture to question Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a “high-level Al Qaeda suspect”.

Some of the most evil regimes have cloaked their vilest acts with a blizzard of paperwork and legality. Let's not end up like them.

Posted in Iraq Atrocities | Leave a comment

Heading Straight For Us

Hurricane Frances.

And they say it could be category four real soon.

Posted in Miami | 1 Comment

Not Just a River In Egypt

Rumsfeld in the NYT

“I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes.” A transcript of the interview was posted on the Pentagon's Web site on Friday. Mr. Rumsfeld repeated the assertion a few hours later at a news conference in Phoenix, adding that “all of the press, all of the television thus far that tried to link the abuse that took place to interrogation techniques in Iraq has not yet been demonstrated.” After an aide slipped him a note during the news conference, however, Mr. Rumsfeld corrected himself, noting that an inquiry by three Army generals had, in fact, found “two or three” cases of abuse during interrogations or the interrogations process. In fact, however, the Army inquiry found that 13 of 44 instances of abuse involved interrogations or the interrogation process, an Army spokeswoman said.

OK, how do we explain this repeated lapse on the part of a supposedly hands-on detailed-oriented man?

  • Couldn't care less about torture
  • Deep denial, perhaps fueled by spread of 'war crimes trial' meme [I am not making this last part up]
  • Yes-men (and women) surrounding him never briefed him on the abuses at any time
  • Knows about abuses but ordered cover-up (why else send Sanchez to do intial report?) and no one dared tell him it failed
  • Is past his sell-by date

One slip of the tongue I could believe. But more than one, and so wrong on basic facts, about one of the most serious issues facing the Pentagon today?

Whatever it is, it's quite serious.

Posted in Iraq Atrocities | 3 Comments