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May 29, 2006, Alert No. 1,380.
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Bush, Cheney and Gonzales Discuss Terrorism and Surveillance

5/27. President Bush and Vice President Cheney gave speeches on May 27 and May 26 in which they discussed fighting terrorism inside the US.

Cheney discussed and defended the National Security Agency's (NSA) communications intercept program that the New York Times disclosed late last year. See, Friday, December 16, 2005, story by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau titled "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts". (Web access now requires registration.)

Neither Bush nor Cheney discussed the NSA phone records program that USA Today disclosed earlier this month. See, May 11, 2006, article by Leslie Cauley titled "NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls". See also, story titled "Bush Responds to USA Today Story Regarding NSA Database of Phone Calls" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,369, May 12, 2006.

Neither discussed mandating data retention by ISPs.

Bush Speech. On May 27, President Bush gave a speech to graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He said that "the war on terror is an ideological struggle between tyranny and freedom", and that "We're still in the early stages of this struggle for freedom".

He also said that "We created the new Director of National Intelligence, which has led a broad restructuring of our nation's intelligence agencies for the threats of the 21st century. We have transformed the FBI into an agency whose primary focus is stopping terrorism, and reorganized the Department of Justice to help us meet this new threat. We passed the Patriot Act, which broke down barriers that prevented law enforcement and intelligence agencies from sharing vital information on terrorist threats."

Cheney Speech. On May 26 Vice President Cheney gave a speech to graduating midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He defended the NSA's extrajudicial electronic surveillance program.

He said that "in the aftermath of 9/11 President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to intercept a certain category of terrorist-linked international communications. The purpose is very simple to state: If people inside the United States are communicating with al Qaeda, they are talking to the enemy -- and we need to know about it."

Cheney said that "The Terrorist Surveillance Program is highly classified and carefully limited. The program was improperly revealed to the news media, some of which now describe it as domestic surveillance. That is not the case. We are talking about international communications, one end of which we have reason to believe is related to al Qaeda or to terrorist networks. It's hard to think of any category of information that could be more important to the safety of the United States."

He continued that "The Terrorist Surveillance Program is fully consistent with the constitutional responsibilities and the legal authorities of the President. And the program is conducted in a manner that fully protects the civil liberties of the American people. The President has made clear -- the President has made clear from the outset, both publicly and privately, that our duty to uphold the law of the land admits no exceptions in wartime. As he has said, ``We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them.´´"

Cheney also said that "the entire program is reconsidered and reauthorized by the President himself every 45 days. He has reauthorized it more than 30 times since September 11th because our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related organizations. Key members of Congress, from both political parties, have received more than a dozen briefings on the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The reason I know this is that I'm the one who presided over most of those briefings."

He argued that this program "is absolutely essential to the security of the United States. If you'll recall, the 9/11 Commission focused criticism on the nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists at home and terrorists overseas. The term that's used is ``connecting the dots´´ -- and the fact is that one small piece of data might very well make it possible to save thousands of lives. And the very important question today is whether or not we've learned all the lessons of September 11th."

Cheney elaborated that the terrorists' "preferred tactic" is "to slip into this country, blend in among the innocent, kill without mercy and without restraint. They have intelligence and counterintelligence operations of their own. They take their orders from overseas. They are using the most sophisticated communications technology they can get their hands on. Since 9/11 they have successfully carried out attacks in Casablanca, Jakarta, Mombassa, Bali, Riyadh, Baghdad, Istanbul, Madrid, London, Sharm al-Sheikh and elsewhere. Here in the U.S., we have not had another 9/11. But while the enemies that struck us may be weakened and fractured, they are still lethal and still desperately trying to hit us again."

He also said that the fact that there has not been another attack inside the US like the 9/11 attack "did not come about by accident. We've been protected by sensible policy decisions, by decisive action at home and abroad, and by round-the-clock efforts on the part of people in the armed services, law enforcement, intelligence, and homeland security." Finally, he said that the US is "Gathering the best information, and getting it into the hands of the war fighter".

Data Retention. Neither Bush nor Cheney discussed efforts by the Bush administration to impose a data retention mandate on internet service providers (ISPs).

On May 26, 2006, CNET published a story titled "Gonzales pressures ISPs on data retention". The story, written by Declan McCullagh, states that "U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller on Friday urged telecommunications officials to record their customers' Internet activities ...". It adds that "In a private meeting with industry representatives, Gonzales, Mueller and other senior members of the Justice Department said Internet service providers should retain subscriber information and network data for two years ...".

On about May 16, the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) announced that its Subcommittee on Crime would hold a hearing on May 23, 2006, on a yet to be introduced bill to be titled the "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth (SAFETY) Act of 2006." A HJC staff member told TLJ at that time that this bill would contain an data retention mandate for ISPs.

The HJC then cancelled this hearing. This bill has not yet been introduced. TLJ has requested, but not obtained, a copy of a draft of this bill from HJC staff. See also, story titled "House Judiciary Committee to Consider Data Retention Mandate" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,372, May 17, 2006.

Alberto GonzalesOn April 20, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (at right) gave a speech in which he advocated a data retention mandate for ISPs. See, story titled "Gonzales Proposes Data Retention Mandate, Web Site Labeling, and Ban on Deceptive Source Code" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,357, April 25, 2006.

Also, on April 26, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) offered and withdrew an amendment to mandate data retention at the House Commerce Committee's (HCC) mark up of the COPE Act. Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) stated at that mark up that he supports the concept, and wants to amend the bill when it goes to the House floor. See, story titled "House Commerce Committee Considers Data Retention Mandate" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,365, May 8, 2006.

The COPE Act has not yet been considered by the full House. Neither Rep. DeGette, nor any other member of the House, has introduced her proposal as a stand alone bill.

People and Appointments

5/26. The Senate confirmed Robert McDowell to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). See, Congressional Record, May 26, 2006, at Page S5400. See also, statement by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), statement [PDF] by Kevin Martin, statement [PDF] by Michael Copps, and statement [PDF] by Jonathan Adelstein. The FCC now has five members, three Republicans and two Democrats.

Robert Portman5/26. The Senate confirmed Robert Portman (at right) to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). See, Congressional Record, May 26, 2006, at Page S5400. See also, statement by President Bush. He was previously the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

Susan Schwab5/26. While the Senate confirmed numerous pending nominees on Friday, May 26, just before recessing for the Memorial Day District Work Period, it did not confirm Susan Schwab (at left) to be the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) approved her by a vote of 18-1 on May 22. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the SFC, stated in a release [PDF] on Friday, May 26, that "It’s too bad we were unable to confirm Ambassador Schwab as our next Trade Representative this week. We're at a critical point in the Doha Round negotiations in the World Trade Organization. We need Ambassador Schwab out there representing us in her full capacity as the President’s Trade Representative. There's no reason to play games with her nomination. Senators have had ample opportunity to question Ambassador Schwab and the Administration on China policy, and she and the Administration have answered the questions that have been posed to them. The senators have made their point. Delaying her confirmation doesn't add anything."

5/26. The Senate confirmed Raymond Orbach to be Under Secretary for Science at the Department of Energy. See, Congressional Record, May 26, 2006, at Page S5400. Orbach was previously Director of the DOE's Office of Science (OS). The DOE's OS includes the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). While the ANL began as a nuclear science facility, it now also conducts basic research in mathematics, computer science, high performance computing, and software.

5/26. The Senate confirmed Daniel Sullivan to be Assistant Secretary of State (Economic and Business Affairs). See, Congressional Record, May 26, 2006, at Page S5400.

5/26. The Senate confirmed Susan Wigenton to be a Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. See, Congressional Record, May 26, 2006, at Page S5400. Wigenton was previously a federal Magistrate Judge in Newark, New Jersey.

5/26. The Senate confirmed Ralph Basham to be the Commissioner of Customs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). See, Congressional Record, May 26, 2006, at Page S5400. See also, statement by Michael Chertoff.

5/26. The Senate confirmed David Norquist to be Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). See, Congressional Record, May 26, 2006, at Page S5400. See also, statement by Michael Chertoff.

5/26. Scott Charbo was named acting Under Secretary for Management at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He will also continue as Chief Information Officer.

Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Monday, May 29

Memorial Day.

The House will not meet on Monday, May 29, through Monday, June 5. The House will next meet on Tuesday, June 6, at 2:00 PM. See, Republican Whip Notice.

The Senate will not meet on Monday, May 29, through Friday, June 2. See, 2006 Senate calendar.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal offices will be closed. See, Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) list of federal holidays.

Tuesday, May 30

8:30 AM - 5:30 PM. Day one of a two day workshop on public participation in nanotechnology hosted by the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO). See, notice in the Federal Register, May 3, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 85, at Page 26117. Location: Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA.

9:30 AM. The House Judiciary Committee (HJC) will hold a hearing titled "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?". The witnesses will be Charles Tiefer (University of Baltimore School of Law), Robert Walker (Chairman, Wexler & Walker), Jonathan Turley (George Washington University Law School), and Bruce Fein (Lichfield Group). See, notice. The hearing will be webcast by the HJC. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.

12:00 NOON - 5:00 PM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host an event titled "The SEC's Interactive Data Revolution: Improved Disclosure for Investors, Less Expensive Reporting for Companies". Lunch will be served at 12:00 NOON. Peter Wallison (AEI) will introduce the program at 12:45 PM. Chris Cox, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), will give the keynote address at 12:45 PM. At 1:45 PM there will be a panel titled "XBRL, the New Computer Language: How It Creates Interactive Data". The speakers will be Richard Daly (Automatic Data Processing, Inc.), Mark Schnitzer (Morgan Stanley), Louis Thompson (National Investor Relations Institute), Mike Willis (Pricewaterhouse Coopers), and James Glassman (AEI). At 3:30 PM there will be a panel titled "Enhanced Business Reporting: Why It Is Necessary and How It Works with XBRL". The speakers will be Alan Anderson (Franklin Templeton Investments), Robert Eccles (Advisory Capital Partners), John Philip (Infosys Technologies), Mike Willis (PWC), and Peter Wallison (AEI). See, notice and registration page. Location: AEI, 1150, 17th Street, NW.

Deadline to submit initial comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding licensing and use of frequencies in the 904-909.75 and 919.75-928 MHz portions of the 902-928 MHz band that are used for the provision of multilateration Location and Monitoring Service (M-LMS band). This NPRM is FCC 06-24 in WT Docket No. 06-49. See, text [24 pages in PDF] of NPRM; notice in the Federal Register, March 29, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 60, at Pages 15658-15666; and story titled "FCC Releases NPRM on M-LMS Systems" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,325, March 8, 2006.

Deadline to submit comments to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding changes to the rules of practice relating to ex parte and inter partes reexamination. See, notice in the Federal Register, March 30, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 61, at Pages 16072-16086.

Wednesday, May 31

8:30 AM - 5:00 PM. Day two of a two day workshop on public participation in nanotechnology hosted by the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO). See, notice in the Federal Register, May 3, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 85, at Page 26117. Location: Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA.

Thursday, June 1

Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to revise the fees charged to entities accessing the National Do Not Call Registry. See, notice in the Federal Register, May 1, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 83, at Pages 25512-25516.

Friday, June 2

12:00 NOON - 2:00 PM. The Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF) will host a panel discussion titled "The Role of Music Licensing in the Digital Age". The speakers will be Michael Petricone (Consumer Electronics Association), Mitch Glazier (Recording Industry Association of America), and others. Patrick Ross (PFF) will moderate. See, notice. Lunch will be served. Location: Room B-354, Rayburn Building.

Monday, June 5

The House will return from its Memorial Day recess. See, Majority Whip's calendar.

The Senate will return from its Memorial Day recess. See, 2006 Senate calendar.

9:00 - 11:00 AM. The Office of the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection will hold a meeting. See, notice in the Federal Register, May 12, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 92, at Page 27745. Location: Heritage Conference Center, TASC Northrop Grumman, 4803 Stonecroft Boulevard, Chantilly, VA.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Wireless Agents v. Sony Ericsson. This case is App. Ct. No. 2006-1054. Location: Courtroom 203, 717 Madison Place, NW.

2:00 PM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Integra LifeSciences v. Merck. This case is App. Ct. No. 2002-1052. Location: Courtroom 203, 717 Madison Place, NW.

Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the petition of the Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) for a declaratory ruling that the GPSC is not preempted by federal law from regulating rates under 47 U.S.C. § 271 for local switching, high capacity loops and transport, and line sharing. See, FCC notice [PDF]. This is WC Docket No. 06-90.

Deadline to submit initial comments to theFederal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the transfer of licenses associated with the AT&T, BellSouth, and Cingular transaction. This is nominally a license transfer proceeding, but is also in the nature of an antitrust merger review. This proceeding will be governed by "permit but disclose" ex parte communications procedures under Section 1.1206 of the FCC's rules. See, FCC notice [10 pages in PDF] and FCC web page for its AT&T/SBC/Cingular merger review. This proceeding is WC Docket No. 06-74.

Deadline to submit comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) regarding Draft Special Publication 800-38D [23 pages in PDF], titled "Recommendation for Block Cipher Modes of Operation: Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) for Confidentiality and Authentication".

More News

5/25. The Cato Institute published a book titled "Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood". The author is Jim Harper, Cato's Director of Information Policy Studies. The book is available from Cato's Online Bookstore ($22.95 in hardcover and $13.95 in paperback) and from Amazon ($10.74 in paperback).

5/24. The U.S. District Court (EDMich) unsealed indictments returned by a grand jury of the District Court that charge Douglas A. Benit and Mary Ann Elam Benit with federal program fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and other crimes, in connection with their alleged defrauding of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) e-rate subsidy program of almost $7.3 Million. Also charged were companies under control of the Benits. See, DOJ release. The program is plagued with waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. This is one of many criminal actions associated with the e-rate program.

5/25. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee (SFC), commented on the 3% excise tax on certain phone services. He stated in a release [PDF] that "The telephone excise tax is a prime example of the need to overhaul our telecom laws, and particularly those tax provisions that have been rendered obsolete by the advancement of technology ... Ensuring American competitiveness in the coming decades demands a comprehensive look at U.S. telecommunications law. I’ll be looking for fiscally responsible ways to eliminate antiquated statutes and create new, forward-looking policy that enhances America’s global competitiveness." The tax is codified at 26 U.S.C. § 4251. See also, story titled "IRS Announces It Will Cease Its Illegal Collection of Excise Taxes on Phone Service" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1379, May 26, 2006.

5/28. Ivan Basso won the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy bicycle race). His team is sponsored by Computer Sciences Corporation, an information technology services corporation based in El Segundo, California. See, CSC release. Basso will race in the Tour de France in July. He finished second last year to Lance Armstrong, who has retired from racing. Armstrong's team is sponsored by the Discovery Channel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMC), a microprocessor company based in Sunnyvale, California. Jan Ullrich, whose team is sponsored by T-Mobile, is another leading contender.

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