Friday, March 23, 2007

news briefs

My National Security Letter Gag Order (WaPo)

Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.


I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.

The inspector general's report makes clear that NSL gag orders have had even more pernicious effects. Without the gag orders issued on recipients of the letters, it is doubtful that the FBI would have been able to abuse the NSL power the way that it did. Some recipients would have spoken out about perceived abuses, and the FBI's actions would have been subject to some degree of public scrutiny. To be sure, not all recipients would have spoken out; the inspector general's report suggests that large telecom companies have been all too willing to share sensitive data with the agency -- in at least one case, a telecom company gave the FBI even more information than it asked for. But some recipients would have called attention to abuses, and some abuse would have been deterred.

Dick in charge (NYT)
In his first weeks as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates repeatedly argued that the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantánamo would be viewed as illegitimate, according to senior administration officials. He told President Bush and others that it should be shut down as quickly as possible.

Mr. Gates’s appeal was an effort to turn Mr. Bush’s publicly stated desire to close Guantánamo into a specific plan for action, the officials said. In particular, Mr. Gates urged that trials of terrorism suspects be moved to the United States, both to make them more credible and because Guantánamo’s continued existence hampered the broader war effort, administration officials said.

Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

All over the map edition

Les Breastfeeders - Les matins de grands soirs
"Viens avec moi" - Les Breastfeeders [Les matins de grands soirs]

Gitogito Hustler - Love & Roll
"Maybe Love" - Gitogito Hustler [Love & Roll]

Giant Sand - Long Stem Rant
"Get To Leave" - Giant Sand [Long Stem Rant]

Miriam Makeba - Sangoma
"Baxabene Oxamu" - Miriam Makeba [Sangoma]

Holly Cole - Temptation
"Jersey Girl" - Holly Cole [Temptation]

The Cure - Disintegration
"Pictures of You" - The Cure [Disintegration]

Smoosh - Free To Stay
"Find a Way" - Smoosh [Free To Stay]

Vive La Fête - Nuit blanche
"Nuit blanche" - Vive La Fête [Nuit blanche]

Black Lips - Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo
"Boone" - Black Lips [Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo]

Various Artists - Tribute Albums - Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits
"The Tra La La Song" - Liz Phair with Material Issue [Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits]


Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Open letter from Factory People:

We Love You Austin and SXSW, But You’re Freaking Us Out

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Some of my SXSW 2007 favorites

The Affair (Brooklyn, NY)
Started out slowly but they won me over in the end. Kali Holloway is Debbie Harry's understudy.

The Twilight Sad (Glassgow, Scotland)
Wow. This young band is going places.

Honeycut (San Francisco, CA)
Glam funk to move your ass.

Holy Shit! (Milwaukee, WI)
Holy shit! (maybe it was all the booze...)

The Lovemakers (San Francisco, CA)
Shake that ass.

The Twilight Sad
Had to see them again...

120 Days (Kristiansund, Norway)
Effects pedals outnumbered band members 10-1.

Ra Ra Riot (Syracuse, NY)
I'm a sucker for a hot cellist.

Calla (Brooklyn, NY)
Good to see this band again. Digging their new album.

Jay Reatard (Memphis, TN)

Overnight Lows (Jackson, MS)
Fun punk band to drink with.

Bob Mould (Washington, DC)
Bob Mould.

The Early Years (London, UK)
I've been wanting to see this band for a while. They did not disappoint.

Frog Eyes (Victoria, BC)
Another band I've wanted to see. Strange is good.

The Ponys (Chicago, IL)
One of my favorite live bands.

Asobi Seksu (Brooklyn, NY)
Another one of my favorite live bands. Outside. Daytime. I could actually see Yuki. *sigh*

The Screening (Leicester, UK)
A very pleasant discovery.

The Creteens (Paris, France)
SXSW Sunday. Bloody Marys and The Creteens brought me back to life.

Listen to some tunes at my Multiply site.

Monday, March 19, 2007

La Chute

The literary afterlife of the Fall

The enigmatic lyrics and idiosyncratic performances of Mancunian post-punks The Fall inspired a new generation of bands such as Sonic Youth.

But the influence of frontman Mark E Smith and colleagues has now reached the world of literature, too, with the forthcoming publication of an anthology of short stories, all taking a song title as their starting point.

Authors including Michel Faber, Nicholas Blincoe, Matt Thorne and the comedian and writer Stewart Lee have come out of the woodwork as Fall fans to produce stories which are presented in the order in which the songs themselves were released.

Griffiths kicks off with the 1978 single "Bingo Master's Break Out" while Rebbecca Ray concludes the volume with a saucy tale taking its title from the 2005 track "I Can Hear the Grass Grow".