Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Earth To Bush Administration.. No More! No Torture. No Exceptions.

This article in The Washington Monthly is about the use of torture by the US and seeks to end the "debate" about it's use, effectiveness, effects on those who engage in it and those who experience it, and the effects on the United States, it's allies and it's adversaries.

The article has links to 37 (if I counted correctly) individual articles on this subject by contributors like Jimmy Carter, Wesley Clark, Peter Bergen, Lee H. Hamilton & Thomas H. Kean, Chris Dodd, Kenneth M. Duberstein & Richard Armitage, Bob Barr, and Chuck Hagel.

I was alerted to it through Wesley Clark's newsletter. I think he put it well where he wrote:

"Torture is illegal, ineffective, and morally wrong. The United States has signed numerous treaties condemning torture and abjuring its practice. Those treaties are the law of the land. And, yes, waterboarding is torture: in the past, we convicted and punished foreign nationals for torture by waterboarding. There are no legal loopholes permitting torture in "exceptional cases." After all, those were the same excuses used by the torturers we once condemned.[...]"
(bold emphasis mine)
(The rest of Wesley Clark's article can be read on this page at The Washington Monthly)

I think it's a sad state of affairs that this issue is even considered "debatable". Too many people mixing the fiction of TV shows like "24" with reality, and in some cases the main stream media contributing to that confusion.

Reality and what's 'right' aren't factors that the Bush administration seem to consider. Morality is not an issue. And I don't think any group of notables, no matter how distinguished or how right they are, will change the course of this administration. Especially in the short time left.

In the scary proposition that somehow McCain was elected President, I'm not at all sure if much would change for the better. I'd like to think that [he] would change the policy on torture, but as far as the 'my way or nothing' belligerent attitude of our current foreign policy, and towards the legislative branch (so long as it has a Democratic majority), I have serious doubts.

I don't see that being *much* of a possibility, but Bush did get elected twice..

Let us all work towards a Democratic victory in the fall, then the work can begin in earnest repairing the Constitution and the rule of law, our international reputation, the health of our military, the health of our economy, and so much more.

Other things high on my wish list are things like refocusing our "representatives" attention on their individual constituents and limiting the influence of lobbyists. And speaking of 'health', how about the health of [all of] our citizens!

Take some time and read the individual articles, then think (and work) towards a time in the not so distant future where ideals like those of the authors can be our common reality and not something from the past.

A .PDF file containing all the individual articles is available for download on the page containing the main article "No More - No Torture. No Exceptions.", along with individual links [along the left side of the page] .

*Image used above is from The Washington Monthly article.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

ALERT: This Program Steals Your Login Credentials!

I just read this article by Robert Vamosi over at about programmer Dustin Brooks who discovered that the program "G-Archiver" sends the login credentials of everyone who signs up for the program to the email account of it's author John Terry.

Brooks was looking for a program to back up his Gmail account when he discovered G-Archiver.

"He signed up for a program called G-Archiver distributed by Mate Media of Miami, Fla. Brooks says that after installing the program, it didn't do all he was looking for so he decided to reverse engineer the source code using a program called Reflector for .Net.

Inside the source code Brooks found the program author's e-mail address and account password for Gmail. Thinking that was a little strange, Brooks used the hardcoded information to open John Terry's Gmail account. There, Brooks alleges he found 1,777 messages, all of which had username and passwords for people who signed up for the G-Archiver, including his own. In other words, whenever anyone signed up for the program, as Brooks had, a copy of his or her username and password was sent to John Terry's Gmail account.

Hardcoding e-mail addresses isn't new. In a presentation at Black Hat D.C. 2008 a few weeks ago, researchers Nitesh Dhanjani and Billy Rios reported that phishing site creators frequently hardcode e-mail addresses into the code in order to receive copies of the personal information submitted independent of where the Web form is being sent."

You can read the rest over at, but I have to say that reading this makes me wonder what other programs out there do this. It certainly makes an argument for Open-Source software. Being the healthy skeptic and cautious person that I am, I've wondered about this in the past. The only thing protecting most customers is the reputation of the company/author, and inquisitive (and skilled) people like Dustin Brooks.