Sunday, November 29, 2009

Americans Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

Americans Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

By Glen Ford (about the author) Permalink

the poppy
The U.S. set the stage for the Afghan (and Pakistan) war eight years ago, when it handed out drug dealing franchises to warlords on Washington's payroll. Now the Americans, acting as Boss of All Bosses, have drawn up hit lists of rival, “Taliban” drug lords. “It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol.”

U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists.”

If you're looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it's the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world's heroin.

An article in the current issue of Harper's magazine explores the inner workings of the drug-infested U.S. occupation, it's near-total dependence on alliances forged with players in the heroin trade. The story centers on the town of Spin Boldak, on the southeastern border with Pakistan, gateway to the opium fields of Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The chief Afghan drug lord is also the head of the border patrol and the local militia. The author is an undercover U.S.-based journalist who was befriended by the drug lord's top operatives and met with the U.S. and Canadian officers that collaborate with the drug dealer on a daily basis.

The alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban. The Taliban appear to be gaining the upper hand in this Mafiosa gang war, the origins of which are directly rooted in U.S. policy.

It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade.”

Is it any wonder, then, that the United States so often launches air strikes against civilian wedding parties, wiping out the greater part of bride and groom's extended families? America's drug-dealing allies have been dropping dimes on rival clans and tribes, using the Americans as high-tech muscle in their deadly feuds. Now the Americans and their European occupation partners have institutionalized the rules of gangster warfare with official hit lists of drug dealers to be killed or captured on sight – lists drawn up by other drug lords affiliated with the occupation forces.

This is the “war of necessity” that President Barack Obama has embraced as his own. It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade. Obama's generals call for tens of thousands of new U.S. troops in hopes of lessening their dependency on the militias and police forces currently controlled by American-allied drug dealers. But of course, that will only push America's Afghan partners in the drug trade into the arms of the Taliban, who will cut a better deal. Then the generals were argue that they need even more U.S. troops.

The Americans created this drug-saturated hell, and their occupation is now doomed by it. Unfortunately, they have also doomed millions of Afghans in the process.

Glen Ford is a 37-year veteran of Black radio, television, print and Internet news and commentary. He is executive editor of and was co-founder of

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[click here] for:

The Mafia, CIA, and George Bush

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sent to me by email:

Judge Jacqueline Connor most likely top figure in the feeding chain of illicit drug markets in Los Angeles, California. Kindly requesting FBI/U.S. Attorney Office, Los Angeles: Please vigorously investigate, and if necessary - prosecute - pursuant to your stated and published policies.‏

Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2009 14:43:35 -0800
To: "FBI Los Angeles" , "U.S. Attorney Office Los Angeles" <>,,,,,,,,,, “Office of Inspector General US Dept of Justice” , , DOJ , DOJEmilyLanglie , dojfitzgerald , <>,
From: joseph zernik
Subject: Judge Jacqueline Connor most likely top figure in the feeding chain of illicit drug markets in Los Angeles, California. Kindly requesting FBI/U.S. Attorney Office, Los Angeles: Please vigorously investigate, and if necessary - prosecute - pursuant to your stated and published policies.
Cc: "Several hundred email addresses at US Congress US Department of Justice, US Law Enforcement Agencies, US Secret Service, Law School Faculty, Law Firms, Judicial Accountability Organizations"

[] [] [][]
Jacqueline Connor- - - - - - - Blue Ribbon Review (2006)-Rafael Perez- - - - - - -PBS Frontline - LAPD Blues
(Pics not current, but characters were the usual suspects)
graphic banner for FBI  Los Angeles
GEORGE S CARDONA, US Attorney Office, Central District of California
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: (213)894-0141
KEITH B BOLCAR - Acting Assistant Director in Charge, FBI-Los Angeles
ROBERT W CLARK- Acting Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division

FBI Field Offices, Los Angeles

Phone: (310) 477-6565
1-866-959-7226 (white collar crimes)

"FBI Los Angeles"
RE: Judge Jacqueline Connor - most likely top figure in the feeding chain of illicit drug markets in Los Angeles County, California; Also - leading figure in financial institutions crimes at Countrywide/Bank of America. Kindly requesting your vigorous investigation, and if necessary - prosecution- pursuant to stated and published policies.

The favor of a response, within 10 days, regarding your intention to address this issue was requested.
Dear U.S Attorney, and FBI Officers, Los Angeles:
Please view the full and complete 390-page official
U.S. Dept of Justice Special Report (December 1997) on Iran-Contra's CIA Drug Trafficking, linked below. The report limited itself to the question of the significance of such operations in the crack epidemic of that period, and Los Angeles position as "Crack Capital". The report entirely ignored the longer lasting problem: Camaraderie in crimes of federal and local Law Enforcement Agencies that went back some 30 years by now, and was founded on profiteering in controlling drug sales in Los Angeles County, California.
Obviously - the involvement of judges such as
Jacqueline Connor in the Rampart scandal raised the obvious issue of her apparent role at the top of the feeding chain of illicit drug markets in LA. Her performance in the First Rampart Trial (2000) was nothing more than obstruction and perversion of justice, with full complicity of federal agencies.
It was the true matter underlying the
Rampart-scandal (1998-2000), the true reason that the Rampart scandal was covered-up by both federal and local agencies, and the true reason for the ongoing false imprisonment of the thousands of Rampart-FIPs (falsely imprisoned persons). It is also the reason that corrupt judges like David Yaffe could get away for over 7 months with the false imprisonment of Atty Richard Fine.
Who held the answers?
The one who never took the stand - Rafael Perez.
Did he, per chance, already provide the answers?
Surely, he was thoroughly investigated (1998-2000), and the answers were filed and were carefully kept by the Offices of District Attorney and FBI Offices, Los Angeles.
Is there any new evidence in this matter?
Surely, new incontrovertible evidence arose from the conduct of Judge Jacqueline Connor in the civil courts, just call me, or check out the blog:
Where else could evidence be found?
Chat with experienced real estate or criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles, or interrogate her partners - John Clarke - Clerk of the Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, and Judges Terry Friedman, John Segal of the same court, or Magistrate Carla Woehrle and Judge Virginia Phillips of the U.S. District Court. Today's Head of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service - Alejandro Mayorkas surely held encyclopedic data on the matter, from his service as U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California during the Rampart scandal years. He most likely orchestrated the cover-up. And closer government seat in Washington DC - Kenneth Kaiser, and Kenneth Melson surely knew the details... And Sandor Samuels would provide the information regarding financial institution crimes...
What remained then to be done in this matter?
FBI and U.S. Attorney Offices were and are requested to vigorously investigate, and if necessary - prosecute - the matter, pursuant to their mission, as stated and published. See quote below (December 2008)
Dated November 27, 2009
La Verne, County of Los Angeles, California Joseph H Zernik
By: __/s/Joseph H Zernik__
PO Box 526, La Verne,CA 91750
Fax: 801 998 0917
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Emacs! See full size image []

Linked Records:
1) The complete 390 page report of the U.S. Dept of Justice on Iran-Contra CIA drug trafficking.
2) The Mercury News articles
RE: The crack epidemic and CIA drug trafficking. These articles prompted the investigation and Special Report by U.S. Dept of Justice.
3) Blue Ribbon Review Panel Report (2006)
4) LAPD Blues - PBS TV Series - a living monument- watch the videos
5) PBS- Frontline - False Imprisonments
http ://
"This case should demonstrate that the FBI will pursue all allegations of judicial corruption vigorously, as public corruption violations are among the most serious of all criminal conduct and can tear at the fabric of a democratic society," said John F. Pikus, special agent in charge of the Albany division, in a prepared statement.


The FBI investigates white-collar criminal activities, such as money laundering, securities and commodities fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, environmental crimes, fraud against the government, health care fraud, election law violations, copyright violations, and telemarketing fraud. In the health care fraud area, the FBI targets systemic abuses, such as large-scale billing fraud and fraudulent activities that threaten the safety of patients. The FBI pursues financial institution fraud involving losses exceeding $100,000. In cases of telemarketing and insurance fraud, the FBI will generally become involved where there is evidence of nationwide or international criminal activities.
White-collar crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence. These acts are committed by individuals and organizations to obtain money, property, or services, to avoid the payment or loss of money or services, or to secure personal or business advantage.
The Southern California Mortgage (SCAM) Fraud Task Force can be contacted at 1-866-959-SCAM, or by email:


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Added Nov. 29, 2009, 11:30 AM EST:

09-11-18 Fine made it into wikipedia with miniminal editing....

Richard Isaac Fine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Richard Isaac Fine (1940- ) was a Los Angeles, California anti-trust attorney, former U.S. prosecutor, who was assigned (year) to investigations of corruption in Los Angeles, later disbarred. On March 4, 2009 - Richard Fine was jailed and he is perceived a political dissident.

Fine was born and raised in in the American Mid-west, in Milwaukee to a middle-class family. He earned his baccalaureate degree from theUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison, his law degree from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate from the London School of Economics. He was successful particularly as an anti-trust attorney - in pursuing his clients' cases against the County of Los Angeles and the State of California. [1]Ruling to disbar Atty Fine in October 2007 was the outcome of administrative procedure of the State Bar of California, where he was charged with "Moral Turpitude", albeit, moral turpitude in this case was construed to be the filing of complaints against Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles judges [2]. Fine claimed violation of his First Amendment rights in such ruling [3]. The ruling stated that his “remarkable academic and professional background” were no justification for his “improper and vindictive reactions” to unfavorable rulings by the bench. The ruling was upheld by the California Supreme Court. [4], [5]

Richard Fine exposed starting in the early 2000's the ongoing, then secret, payments by the County of Los Angeles to all (~450) Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, judges. Such payments, at about ~45,000 per judge per year had by then proceeded for over a decade [6]. Fine also compiled the initial data to show that it had become practically impossible to win a case against the County at the Superior Court during those years, whereas the County was one of the most common party to litigations. Such data were later expanded and confirmed through more complete compilation by others.

In litigation, which originated from the objection to such payments, and where plaintiff Harold Sturgeon was represented by Judicial WatchSturgeon v County of Los Angeles (BC351286), such payments were ruled in October 2008 as "not permitted" by the California Court of Appeals,4th District (San Diego),[7]. However, such litigation was still ongoing. Some media labeled the payments "bribes". To counter potential civil and criminal liabilities to all Los Angeles State of California judges, a bill was passed and signed into law by California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger on February 20, 2009, providing pardons to all such judges. Both the passage of this bill and its incorporation into the California Government Code were fraught with irregularities in procedures. [8], [9], [10], [11]

Two weeks later, on March 4, 2009, Richard Fine was arrested by the Warrant Detail of the Sheriff's Department of the County of Los Angeles, at the end of a dramatic proceeding, in the presence of media, by Judge David Yaffe, whom Richard Fine was attempting to disqualify for accepting such payments from a party to the litigation then at bar - Marina County Home Owners Association v County of Los Angeles(BS109420). Strangely, the entire proceeding later failed to appear in the publicly available litigation chronology, published online by the court. Likewise, the March 4, 2009 Judgment and Sentencing, which were widely reported by media present in court, was later found to be invalid on its face,[12] and lacking authentication. [13]

Richard Fine has been held ever since at the Men's Central Jail facility in Los Angeles, California under unusual, possibly unprecedented conditions[citation needed]. He has been held under continuous solitary confinement, in a hospital room in the jail, albeit - no disease or disability were ever claimed by jail authorities. In the first few months of his jailing, he was denied access to pen and paper, and such conditions undermined his ability to file habeas corpus and related petitions. Jail authorities also explicitly attempted in the initial period to deprive him of the right to represent himself in pro se, and to coerce him to accept representation by counsel, which Fine declined. On June 7, 2009, the Los Angeles Times published report by female Journalist Victoria Kim, who managed to enter the Men's Jail, interview Fine, and emerge out of the jail unnoticed, at a time that the Sheriff's Department and the court banned interviews with Fine.[14] [15]

Fine's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Fine v Sheriff Department of the County of Los Angeles (2:09-cv-01914) [16] was dictated by phone to a friend, and was filed on behalf of Richard Fine at the U.S. Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles), but without his hand signature, and without review of the filed document by him. Key documents were later claimed missing from the docket [17]. The case was unusual in that the Sheriff, named as respondent refused to respond. Eventually, response was filed by the Los Angeles Superior Court and Judge David Yaffe. However, such response was filed by attorney Kevin McCormick, who failed to ever file any of the required certifications indicating that he was engaged as counsel of record for the case by his clients. In his response there was no indication that he ever communicated with his clients. The records he filed were all derived from the Sheriff, not from the Court, and were accompanied by a short declaration by counsel, not by Judge Yaffe or any officer of the court. A scheme, involving representation by counsel - albeit not counsel of record - was rebuked in an unrelated case in Texas, in March 2008, providing the details of the scheme [18]. The June 12, 2009 Report & Recommendations issued by Magistrate Carla Woehrle concluded by recommending denial with prejudice [19]. The 25 page review, carefully referenced, was distinguished as habeas corpus review by the fact that it failed to ever explicitly state the caption of the Los Angeles Superior Court case that was under review, or ever mention the word "warrant" [20]. A June 29, 2009 Judgment issued by Judge John Walter [21], who presided in the case after a number of recusals, accepted the recommendation [22]. However, both of these court papers, like all papers issued by the U.S. court in this case lacked authentication [23], and were therefore of dubious validity and effect - at best [24].

Likewise - a petition filed on Fine's behalf at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit - Fine v Sheriff (09-71692), was denied, but the June 30, 2009 Order denying the petition, bearing the names of Chief Judge Alex Kozinksi [25] and Circuit Judges Richard Paez [26] and Richard Tallman [27] was unsigned, unentered, and lacked authentication as well [28].

The circumstances surrounding these denials remain unclear, since Richard Fine has been held at the time of this writing (November 2009) for seven months with no warrant at all [29]. The information provided by the Sheriff's Department of Los Angeles County in this matter on it Inmate Information Center was incorrect [30], and possibly misleading. The arrest and booking were listed as if they had taken place at Municipal Division 86 at the San Pedro Courthouse. However, no such agency existed. In fact - no municipal courts existed in Los Angeles for almost a decade.

Fine's jailing was perceived by many as false imprisonment, and became the center point for demands for reform of the judiciary. Small rallies took place outside the Men's Central Jail, and fundraisers were organized to help sponsor his legal expenses [31]. Fine's jailing and the underlying secret payments to judges were also mentioned as diminishing the prospects of California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, one of the recipients, for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Embattled Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Alex Kozinski, never commented on the unsigned order issued in his name in this case, which appeared inconsistent with his usual liberal, civil rights oriented, judicially incisive image [32]. The fundamental judicial wrongdoing at the Los Angeles Superior Court, as alleged by those who consider the case False Imprisonment, should be seen in perspective of the widespread False Imprisonments affected by that court, which had been documented already a decade ago, as part of the Rampart scandal investigation, and estimated by PBS at many thousands [33] , but which the LA Superior Court judges have resisted undoing over the past decade, as reviewed in official report commissioned by the LAPD - the Blue Ribbon Review Panel Report (2006), which recommended "external review" of the Los Angeles justice system, which was never instituted, and which singled out the Los Angeles Superior Court as requiring review. [34], [35],[36]

It remained to be seen what role Richard Fine would play in the future of Los Angeles justice system upon his release, but if past experience is any predictor - it was not likely that he would stay out of public life.

I found the above on:


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This blogger's email:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Connecticut Judiciary Committee Legislators,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Subject: Judicial Misconduct Complaint against Jonathan J. Kaplan

I understand Judge Jonathan J. Kaplan, mainly of the Vernon Rockville Connecticut Superior Court is up for renewal in January. I would like to lodge a complaint and to inform the Connecticut Judiciary Committee on why Jonathan J. Kaplan should not continue to be a Connecticut Judge.

Please reply to me by email.

Thank you,

Steven G. Erickson

The docket # of a case I want reviewed is found in [this post]

[This video] is a good guide of what judicial and police misconduct was involved in my case. The video has been viewed over 2000 times internationally. I had been in contact with State Senator Anthony "Tony" Guglielmo telling him the Connecticut State Police had refused to help me and other home and small business owners with the crime problem and with the scourge of crack cocaine and heroin dealers. I proposed Civilian Oversight of Police. I found out that the police liaison to legislators had vowed revenge for my having been "mouthy" in newspapers and for proposing legislation police union officials didn't like. I was then promptly arrested, faced a rigged trial presided by Kaplan, after having been stalked, terrorized, threatened, and attacked on my own property. Should citizens be arrested and thrown in prison just for talking to Connecticut legislators?

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[click here] for:

Family Estrangement PTSD Syndrome

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coming to America

My Great Grandmother, Anna Sandness, emigrated from Norway to the USA. Her brother made her the jewelry box to take over aboard ship. The picture is of her jewelry box.

My Great Grandmother, Lena Cassatt's clock. She is of German and French descent.

I'm related to the French Impressionist Painter, Mary Cassatt, friend of Edgar Degas.

My Great, Great Grandfather Sven G. Erickson came from Sweden to settle in North Dakota. He lived in a sod house. Dirt cubes were cut out of the ground and a house was made. It is almost arctic cold in North Dakota. It was so cold, furniture was once burned in my Great, Great Grandfather's home. If they didn't do that to keep warm, I may not be here.

Will there be a push for Americans to consider leaving America to be "Free" and "American" elsewhere. I talk about the possibility of leaving for Costa Rica, Ecuador, or other destination in [this post].

Steven G. Erickson's reason for wanting to live outside the US:

This blogger's email:

To share this post, click on white envelope below.

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OpEd News post with video [click here]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the subject of Afghanistan

The below was found [here]

'Occupation will never bring liberation to Afghanistan'
Sun, 15 Nov 2009 00:46:47 GMT
Font size :
Malalai Joya says that all foreign forces must leave Afghanistan.
Afghan political activist Malalai Joya says that all US and NATO forces must leave her homeland.

"Eight years ago, the US and NATO — under the banner of women's rights, human rights, and democracy — occupied my country and pushed us from the frying pan into the fire," Joya said from San Francisco in a telephone interview that was published on Thursday in The Straight.

Joya is finishing up a US tour where she has pressed the Obama administration to withdraw foreign troops from the country.

"Eight years is enough to know better about the corrupt, mafia system of [President] Hamid Karzai," she told The Straight, which is published in Vancouver and is Canada's largest urban weekly.

"My people are crushed between two powerful enemies," she said. "From the sky, occupation forces bomb and kill civilians ... and on the ground, the Taliban and warlords continue their crimes."

"It is better that they leave my country; my people are that fed up," Joya added.

"Occupation will never bring liberation, and it is impossible to bring democracy by war."

Joya was scheduled to speak in Vancouver on November 14.

Malalai Joya, who is often called the bravest woman in Afghanistan, was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament in 2005.

Two years later, she was expelled from parliament for criticizing the warlords, who she says, remain in control of the US-backed Kabul government.

In Afghanistan, she must pay for armed guards to protect her 24 hours a day and must sleep in a different location every night because of the numerous death threats she has received from the warlords.

Despite her difficulties, Malalai Joya refuses to back down.

She is regarded as Afghanistan's leading women's rights activist and has emerged as a symbol of Afghans' desire for freedom from foreign occupation, corruption, and warlords.

The views expressed and the links provided on our comment pages are the personal views of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Press TV.
AmeriKKKa has brought death
Sun, 15 Nov 2009 16:39:52 GMT
Only AmeriKKKan contribution is death and destrustion to both AF-PAK. The only soultion is to get rid of the warmongers from the region.
Sun, 15 Nov 2009 16:09:32 GMT
Unfortunately, the wicked westerns have many mouths with no ears and they look at her of their slave
me, your an idiot
Sun, 15 Nov 2009 14:29:49 GMT
Get a clue me. Get an education while your at it.
she, indeed a bravest woman
Sun, 15 Nov 2009 13:38:45 GMT
not only the warlords want to kill her, the bosses of the warlords want to destroy any potential character, able to inspire and unite the people, so that Afgainstan will remain broken always and occupied by foreign troops forever.
Sun, 15 Nov 2009 07:29:15 GMT
usa created alqaeeda and taliban. they are not pashtoon and muslim they are the secret american workers. i have the prove

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Photos and Random Thoughts

Image stolen [from here]

Heroin, needle, and spoon warmed over candle image [found here]

[click here] for this blogger's interaction with:

Muhammad Khurshid

Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession.

[click here] for post called:
Mentality of Lawyers charging 20 mil for a divorce

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[click here] for:

The US, F ups, and the CIA

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[click here] for:

America held hostage by the Judicial System

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Connecticut, business as usual?

[click here] for:

Connecticut's Face of Corruption

FORMER GOV. John G. Rowland is overcome with emotion as he reads from a letter he received in prison from a woman who said she was told by God to comfort him. He spoke Thursday at The Master’s School in Simsbury.

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[click here] for:

The Connecticut Department of Domestic Spying?

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[click here] for:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Connecticut Governor not running next election

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell out relaxing. Is there a smoking gun in the Rell administration?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Communications Surveillance: Privacy and Security at Risk

Download PDF version of this article

by Whitfield Diffie, Susan Landau | September 11, 2009

Topic: Privacy and Rights

Communications Surveillance: Privacy and Security at Risk

As the sophistication of wiretapping technology grows, so too do the risks it poses to our privacy and security.

Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau

We all know the scene: It is the basement of an apartment building and the lights are dim. The man is wearing a trench coat and a fedora pulled down low to hide his face. Between the hat and the coat we see headphones, and he appears to be listening intently to the output of a set of alligator clips attached to a phone line. He is a detective eavesdropping on a suspect's phone calls. This is wiretapping—as it was in the film noir era of 1930s Hollywood. It doesn't have much to do with modern electronic eavesdropping, which is about bits, packets, switches, and routers.

Wiretapping Technology

Scarcely a generation ago, phone calls traveled through wires between fixed locations, encoded as fluctuating electric signals. Now phones are mobile, and, through most of their journeys, phone calls are encoded in bits. Voices are digitized shortly after they leave the speaker's lips, carried over an IP network as packets, and returned to analog for presentation to the listener's ears.

Although big changes in telephony have given rise to equally big changes in wiretapping, the essentials remain the same. The interception and exploitation of communications has three basic components: accessing the signal, collecting the signal, and exfiltrating the signal. Access may come through alligator clips, a radio, or a computer program. Exfiltration is moving the results to where they can be used. Collection may be merged with exfiltration or may involve recording or listening.

A phone call can be intercepted at various points along its path. The tap can be in the phone itself, through introduction of a bug or malware that covertly exfiltrates the call, often by radio. The tap can be at the junction box, in a phone closet down the hall, on a telephone pole, or on the frame where incoming subscriber lines connect to the telephone company central office.

The development in the 1980s of digital switches and the features they made possible created problems for traditional local-loop wiretapping. Call forwarding in particular, which diverts the call to a different number before it ever reaches the frame, was problematic. To avoid the possibility of being bypassed, the tap must be placed at or above the level of the diversion. Fortunately for wiretappers, digital switches also introduced conferencing, which allowed several people to converse at once. Taps could be implemented by conferencing in a silent additional party. Taps on analog circuits can, in principle, be detected by the power they drain. Digital wiretaps are invisible to the target but require changes in the programming of the switch rather than extra connections to the frame.

In the 1990s the FBI, claiming that advanced switching technology threatened the effectiveness of wiretapping, persuaded Congress to require that telephone companies build wiretapping capability into their networks. This resulted in CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) of 1994.

It is a long way from putting clips on wires to having government standards for electronic eavesdropping. These changes, made in the name of security, have created risks. How did this come about? Does wiretapping actually make us more secure?

We start with an overview of the convoluted history of wiretapping, focusing on the United States, and then turn to issues of privacy and security.

The Legal Side

The telegraph was invented in the 1830s, the telephone in the 1870s. Police wiretapping appeared in the 1890s but saw limited use until Prohibition when the production, sale, and transport of alcoholic beverages were made illegal in 1919. Law or no law, alcohol remained popular, and illegal enterprises grew to serve the demand.

Wiretapping was the perfect tool for investigating crimes such as these that lack victims who complain and give evidence to the police; it performed a search that was invisible and could provide law enforcement with detailed information about the criminal activity. Wiretapping produced search-like results without requiring intrusion into the suspect's property. Was it to be regulated as a violation of the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment? Decades were to pass before this question was answered.

In the 1928 Olmstead case, the Supreme Court ruled that wiretapping was not a search and therefore did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Following the Federal Communications Act of 1934, which made "interception and divulgence" of wired communications illegal, the Supreme Court changed direction. In a 1937 ruling based on the new law, the court refused to allow wiretap evidence against a bootlegging suspect.

The Communications Act might have put an early end to wiretapping's law-enforcement career, but the Justice Department interpreted the court decision narrowly, permitting interception as long as the results were not divulged outside the federal government. The FBI took advantage of this interpretation to continue wiretapping without court orders—sometimes with Department of Justice oversight, sometimes not—for another 30 years.

The Communications Act said nothing about bugs, which listen to sounds in the air rather than signals on wires. This led to an odd split: bugs yes, wiretaps no. Over the decades, the Supreme Court saw less and less distinction. In 1967, in the Katz decision, it finally recognized that "the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places." Henceforth, warrants would be as much a requirement of electronic searches as physical ones.

The following year, Congress addressed wiretapping and bugging in Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, which set out the circumstances under which wiretap orders could be obtained for criminal investigations. Congress saw wiretaps as a particularly insidious search and made the warrant requirements more stringent than those for normal searches (though these have been relaxed somewhat over the years).

In 1978 Congress passed FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), which established a basis for wiretapping quite different from that of Title III. Title III wiretap orders are intended to collect evidence of a crime and require probable cause to believe that the suspect is involved in serious illegal activity. FISA wiretaps are intended to collect intelligence and require that the suspect be an agent of a foreign power or terrorist group.

Title III wiretaps are summarized in an annual Wiretap Report produced each year by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. It lists the prosecutor, judge, crime, number of intercepted conversations, and number of incriminating conversations. By contrast, except in rare cases in which the evidence they yield is presented in court, only the annual number of FISA wiretaps is made public. There are currently about 2,000 Title III and another 2,000 FISA wiretap warrants each year.

Eavesdropping practices vary from country to country, and since many nations release no information about electronic surveillance, a comprehensive view is hard to attain. Britain did not pass a wiretap law until 1985 when a European Court ruling faulted the country's lack of a clear warrant procedure. A similar European Court ruling in 1990 led to a French wiretapping law in 1991. Both Britain and France report having significantly more wiretaps than the U.S.

Not all wiretaps are a result of official or acknowledged government action. When SMS messaging went awry in Athens in 2005, an investigation found that for 10 months someone had been wiretapping senior members of the Greek government. The eavesdropping appears to have been stopped after it was discovered. Although no information has surfaced about who did the wiretapping, a good bit is known about how it was done. The 1994 CALEA law requiring telephone systems to be wiretap ready applies only to switches installed in the U.S., but since manufacturers try to have as few versions of their products as possible, it has had worldwide impact. When the Greek Vodaphone network purchased a switch from Ericsson, it didn't order wiretapping capabilities; wiretapping software was present in the switch but was supposed to be shut off. In particular, auditing software that would have been operating if the wiretapping feature had been ordered was not present. When unknown parties turned some of the wiretapping features on, their actions went unrecorded.

Wiretapping without a Legal Foundation

The Greek case wasn't the only warrantless wiretapping uncovered during that period. In 2005 the New York Times revealed that the U.S. government had been wiretapping communications to and from the U.S. without a warrant. After the passage of FISA, NSA (National Security Agency), America's foreign-intelligence eavesdroppers, had been forbidden to listen in on radio communications inside the U.S. without a warrant unless at least one end of the communication was outside the country and the internal end was not a targeted "U.S. person." Interception of purely domestic communications within the country always required a warrant. As more messages came to travel by fiber-optic cable and fewer by radio, NSA was forced to turn to other, not necessarily legal, approaches.

The vast American investment in communications infrastructure makes it economical for parties in other parts of the world to route their calls through the U.S., and this transit traffic seems a reasonable foreign intelligence target. When transiting communications were in the form of a radio signal that could be intercepted from U.S. soil, it was not difficult for NSA to determine what was transit traffic. When traffic moved to optical fibers and IP-based communications, separating out the transit traffic, which could be eavesdropped upon without a warrant, became more difficult. That was one concern. There was another.

In the post-9/11 anti-terrorist climate, some government elements wanted a substantive change, permitting warrantless interception of communications in which one end was "reasonably believed to be located outside the United States," regardless of the status of the U.S. end. Interception was placed not at the cable heads where calls entered the country, but at switches carrying both internal and transit traffic. This meant that purely domestic calls were likely to be intercepted as well.

A technician at an AT&T switching office in San Francisco leaked documents showing that a fiber-optic signal at the office was being split: a copy of the signal went into a "secret room," where it was analyzed and part of its contents sent elsewhere for further analysis. The leaked documents—whose authenticity was confirmed by AT&T during a subsequent court case—reveal that the San Francisco office was only one of a number of offices set up this way.

From the wiretapper's viewpoint, the end of the rainbow would be the ability to store all traffic, then decide later which messages were worthy of further study. Although this is usually not feasible, storing the transactional information about telephone calls—calling and called numbers, time, duration—is. These CDRs (call detail records) are routinely retained by the carriers who use them for planning and billing purposes. Law enforcement had previously been able to obtain call details—in police jargon pen register and trap-and-trace—collected in response to court orders targeted at individual phones. By comparison, the CDR database provides information on all the subscribers over long periods of time, a rich source of information about customer activities, revealing both the structure of organizations and the behavior of individuals. Several telephone companies appear to have surrendered them in response to government pressure without demanding court orders.

Wiretapping in an IP-based World

Internet communications cannot be effectively exploited using the facilities of traditional telephony, so as early as 2000 the FBI developed a tool for wiretapping at ISPs. The tool—initially named Carnivore but eventually given the less menacing title DCS-3000—examined packets passing through the ISP and copied those that met intercept criteria stored in internal tables. The tables were set through a remote connection to the FBI's own offices. Surprisingly for law enforcement, which places great store on the chain of custody of evidence, Carnivore had little provision for auditing and overall poor internal security. Rather than having a separate name and password for each user, it relied on a single shared login. More significant from a privacy standpoint, Carnivore bypassed the traditional process of wiretapping in which the court issues an order but the carrier's personnel execute the order. This gives the carrier both the obligation and opportunity to challenge the order in court if it believes the order to be illegal. When the order is implemented by a message sent directly from the FBI to the Carnivore box, this additional layer of oversight is lost.

In parallel with its technical activities, the FBI worked to extend wiretapping law to the Internet. CALEA had been passed with an exemption for "information services" (i.e., the Internet), and with the rise of VoIP (voice over IP), the FBI feared it would lose an important investigative tool. VoIP comes in many flavors, from the peer-to-peer model employed by Skype to others in which the path between the subscriber and the telephone central office is traditional telephony but IP communications are used throughout most of the call's path.

The FBI began slicing the salami with the "easy" cases in which VoIP communications behave most like traditional phone calls, and it was successful in getting the courts to agree to this extension. Most IP communications, however, do not behave as telephone calls; peer-to-peer VoIP systems, for example, use a centralized mechanism to provide the communicating parties with each other's IP addresses but rely on the Internet for actual communication. In this scheme there is no central point at which a wiretap could be authorized. If regulation were to require that IP-based communications adopt a centralized architecture like the telephone network, the innovation that is the engine of high-tech industry could be stifled.

In 2007, Congress legalized warrantless wiretapping; in 2008, it went a long step further, not only legalizing new wiretapping practices but also giving retroactive immunity to telephone companies that had colluded with the government in performing warrantless electronic eavesdropping. The FISA court previously had reviewed individual warrants; now certain classes of wiretaps would not be reviewed individually but conducted under procedures reviewed periodically by the court.

Whither Privacy

At the time the U.S. wiretap laws were passed, realtime access to transactional information of who was talking to whom and when was not easy to acquire. Modern switching technology introduced in the 1980s changed that, and police hungrily pursued the investigative possibilities. Because transactional data—phone number, time of call—are analogous to the information on the outside of a letter, access requires only a subpoena, which is much easier to obtain than a wiretap warrant. Whom you talk to and when may be less intimate than the transcripts of your conversations but can reveal a great deal about you. When your spouse calls you from the office in the late afternoon, do you frequently respond by calling a certain number? Perhaps when you learn your spouse is working late, you let someone else know you are free.

In a cellphone world people are constantly at their telephones. Not only do they make more calls, but they also reveal more information: times and numbers are joined by location in the transactional record. In an Internet world, each connection to a Web site is a transaction. Even though a query string is not transactional data, the sites visited after the search engine frequently make the character of the query clear.

Curiously, the greatest threat to privacy may not be snooping on people but snooping on things. We are moving from a world with a billion people connected to the Internet to one in which 10 or 100 times that many devices will be connected as well. These range from the much-discussed smart refrigerator that knows when it is time to order more milk to RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags in products that enable the tracking of where the goods are located before, and perhaps after, retail sale. Particularly in aggregation, the information reported by these devices will blanket the world with a network whose gaze is difficult to evade. The future of privacy will depend on a combination of legal and technical measures by which device-to-device communications are protected.

Whither Security

It is not just privacy that is at risk under the new regime, it is security as well. National security is much broader than simply enabling intelligence and law-enforcement investigations. Although undertaken in the name of national security, building wiretapping into our telecommunications system may be a greater threat to that security than the spies and terrorists against whom it is aimed.

First and foremost, information security means protecting public and private computing and communications systems against attacks from both inside and outside. It was the need for that type of protection that caused the European Union in 1999 and the U.S. government in 2000 to relax their export controls on strong cryptography, a change that bolstered the security of Internet communications.

A network may be designed to provide security to its individual users against everything except authorized intrusions by the network itself, a plausible goal for a DoD (Department of Defense) network. Such a model requires centralization of authority that is possible for DoD, and might have been possible for the Internet in 1985—when it was a U.S. project—but is not feasible now.

The Internet has become essential to modern life. Business and personal communications—and even critical infrastructure—rely upon the network to function. Yet the combination of attacks on the network and on network hosts means that we are increasingly reliant upon an unreliable network.

A number of efforts are under way to improve this, from the use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to protect Internet commerce, to the deployment of IPsec (Internet Protocol security) to protect any IP communication, to the implementation of DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) to protect the domain-name system. Research is occurring in both Europe and the U.S. on secure Internet protocols and such plans as expounded in the recently released White House Cyberspace Policy Review.

The unauthorized use of wiretapping facilities in the Greek Vodaphone system shows one level at which surveillance facilities can be misappropriated. NSA's activities under the Bush administration show another. FBI expansion of its wiretapping authority beyond what was originally envisioned in CALEA shows a third.

Building wiretapping capabilities into communications infrastructures creates serious new risks. The complexity that wiretapping introduces led the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) to conclude that it should not "consider requirements for wiretapping as part of the process for creating and maintaining IETF standards" (RFC 2804).

The surveillance we are attempting to build may increase security in some ways, but it also creates serious risks in a network infrastructure that supports all of society. Given the importance of the Internet to society—and given the importance the network has in communications between people and their friends, governments and their citizens, businesses and their customers, and in all of society—communications security is critical, and that should take precedence in the debate over communications security versus communications surveillance.


Whitfield Diffie is a visiting professor in the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, University of London. For nearly two decades Diffie worked at Sun Microsystems Laboratories, where as Chief Security Officer he was the chief exponent of Sun's security vision and responsible for developing Sun's strategy to achieve that vision. He is best known for his discovery of the concept of public key cryptography and has spent many years of his career working on the public policy aspects of cryptography. He and Susan Landau are joint authors of the book Privacy on the Line (MIT Press), which examines the politics of wiretapping and encryption.

Susan Landau is a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems Laboratories, where she works on security, cryptography, and policy, including surveillance and digital-rights management issues. She serves on the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency, the editorial board of IEEE Security and Privacy, and as a section board member of the Communications of the ACM; she previously served for six years as a member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board. Landau is the recipient of the 2008 Women of Vision Social Impact Award, a AAAS Fellow, and an ACM Distinguished Engineer.

© 2009 ACM 1542-7730/09/0900 $10.00


Originally published in Queue vol. 7, no. 8
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  • gone | Mon, 09 Nov 2009 16:20:15 UTC

    I was attacked over wireless by Israeli individual on a dating site in 2006; he said in IM chat- I'm taking over your computer. I unplugged the RJ-45 ethernet cable to my G5 Mac Pro. The network traffic went HIGHER than what ADSL went, and I was unplugged. I thought "this is magic" at the time... > two Israeli companies that provide interception equipment to > US and other governments, have deliberately introduced > backdoors in their systems that give Israeli intelligence wide > access to domestic communications inside the US.

  • Fazal Majid | Sun, 13 Sep 2009 05:30:03 UTC

    There is another attack vector to consider. CALEA has a server side embedded in the digital switching networks of the phone companies, but also a client-side component used by federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. If poorly vetted (and in many cases vetting is in fact theoretically impossible), these systems are an attractive target for foreign governments or organized crime to introduce backdoors and covert channels into. Essentially CALEA hands the communications infrastructure on a silver platter to those who can hack the government. Past incidents have shown that the security of government systems leaves much to be desired. Numerous allegations have been made for instance that Verint and Amdocs, two Israeli companies that provide interception equipment to US and other governments, have deliberately introduced backdoors in their systems that give Israeli intelligence wide access to domestic communications inside the US.

  • Peter Baker | Sat, 12 Sep 2009 18:10:20 UTC

    There is a third vector - security is moving up the stack. First there were separate wires, then segregation meant separate networks, then network protocols - all of them have eventually turned into pooled resources. Meaningful security now resides at application level, and this is where a new generation of privacy assaults is building: social websites (where the application level becomes a pool). The "cloud" concept is asking end users and businesses to trust providers that have, at best, marginal legal containment in the country of origin and even less so abroad, with the best example Google who has pioneered mass intrusion of privacy (allegedly non-evil, of course). Have a look at their Terms of Service, clause 11 - they have even afforded themselves the ability to take your information elsewhere.. Couple with that an interesting deficiency in Data Protection laws: if a business collects data from a user, purpose has to be specified and maintained. If a business collects data about a user from ANOTHER user, considerably less controls apply - and who is going to check compliance in the countries with notification duty? What happens to facial recognition name tags in their web albums? Do they really stay in the account or will they be used to find other occurrences in the vast Google haystack? Now extrapolate: add an ECHELON and a Carnivore, sorry, DCS-3000 feed to Google and friends (Facebook?) and hey, presto, another NSA. Legally so. Voluntarily so - and our kids grow up thinking this is acceptable. There is nothing wrong with legally sanctioned surveillance - police and other security services cannot function without - provided there is cause, oversight, transparency, control and, ultimately, accountability. Otherwise it's maybe time to stop pretending to be a democracy.

  • Tony Pelliccio | Sat, 12 Sep 2009 17:16:12 UTC

    Excellent analysis of the wiretapping framework and how the envelope has been expanded over time to included TCP/IP packets, etc. As to the CDR, VoIP users pretty much have all their CDR data available to them via a web interface. I know that's the case with my Vonage account, and my MagicJack does the same. It's saved my bacon a couple of times when I needed to lookup a number of someone who called. But I know that law enforcement has full access to it. It's all innocuous anyhow but I object to the open peeping going on.

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