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Sunday reading... intell, e-voting and the Freedom Towers

Some interesting reads from the Sunday papers.

The LAT leads with a story about outsourcing at the intelligence agencies.

U.S. Agencies Outsourcing Intelligence
WASHINGTON-Outside employees and firms are doing more and more sensitive work like spying to help meet the demands of the wars on terror and in Iraq.

Here is how Slate.com's Today's Papers puts it:
According the LAT, "several officials" say the number of contractors employed by the CIA is greater than the full-time workforce of about 17,500. The outsiders aren't simply pushing paper either—officials said contractors recruit sources, liaise with the military, and act as "de facto team leaders in numerous stations around the world." But let's not get too excited. "Many of those hired have been retired case officers and analysts … who have more expertise and operational experience than agency insiders," the Times mentions in the 15th paragraph. Nevertheless, some in the intelligence community are concerned about the security risks and higher costs of outsourcing.

The LAT op-ed page also has this:

American Intelligence - Still Stupid
We haven't been attacked since 2001, but don't thank the country's cumbersome, redundant intelligence bureaucracy.

The WP has a story about DHS's troubled TWIC program.

Transit-Worker ID Program Stalled [WP, 9.17.2006]
Years of Trouble in National Effort Bodes Ill for High-Tech Licenses, Passports

A Bush administration initiative to secure the nation's ports is bogged down in industry opposition, technology flaws and evidence that it fails to safeguard workers' privacy, according to industry and government analysts.

The rocky launch of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential threatens to delay what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff declared his highest priority after the Dubai port controversy in February: starting by year's end to screen the backgrounds of 750,000 U.S. workers at critical sea, air and land transportation facilities, and issuing them microchip-equipped ID cards.

A WP editorial praises the Supreme Court for making transcripts of its arguments available online for free on the same day as the arguments are made.

WHEN THE Supreme Court opens its term next month, it will finally begin making transcripts of its oral arguments available -- free, online and on the day of the arguments. That this represents a breakthrough shows how dramatically behind the times the justices are. But it is a breakthrough, nonetheless, that will dramatically improve the public's access to court proceedings.

On Saturday, the WP had this story, headlined, "The ID Chip You Don't Want in Your Passport," about RFID tags in passports.

If you have a passport, now is the time to renew it -- even if it's not set to expire anytime soon. If you don't have a passport and think you might need one, now is the time to get it. In many countries, including the United States, passports will soon be equipped with RFID chips. And you don't want one of these chips in your passport...

By itself, this is no problem. But RFID chips don't have to be plugged in to a reader to operate. Like the chips used for automatic toll collection on roads or automatic fare collection on subways, these chips operate via proximity. The risk to you is the possibility of surreptitious access: Your passport information might be read without your knowledge or consent by a government trying to track your movements, a criminal trying to steal your identity or someone just curious about your citizenship.

The WP looks at e-voting the problems with electronic voting machines in elections this week. Those kinds of problems "could cast a Florida-style shadow over this fall's midterm elections."

Major Problems Feared At Polls on Election Day [WP, 9.17.2006]
Some officials say voting law changes and troubles with technology could cause chaos on Nov. 7.

The WP also looks at the issue of paper records for e-voting machines, thank goodness. As I said earlier in the week, why wouldn't you have some kind of back-up? I just don't get it. And that, of course, only fuels all of the conspiracies.

Finally... Apparently both feds and state government will take space in the new Freedom Towers.

U.S. and State Plan to Occupy Freedom Tower [NYT, 9.17.2006]
In a significant step forward in the development of the tower, the federal and New York State governments have tentatively agreed to become anchor tenants.

And just for fun... Slate looks at editorial cartoons about science and technology. A bunch of them area about the whole H-P fiasco, of course -- the HP story even grabbed the cover of Newsweek last week and is just fascinating to watch. I'm always so curious -- are people really that concerned with leaks? Having never been in that position, it is difficult to know what it is like from the other side, but... it seems one would just focus on making sure they are doing the right thing rather than worry about what others are saying about what they are doing... Anyway... enjoy!

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Sep 17, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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