(Update: Audio recordings of the Cass County Commission meetings are available through the County Clerk’s office.)



Noun: Close observation, esp. of a suspected spy or criminal.
Synonyms: supervision – superintendence – oversight – control


A FB friend posted a link to the column in the UK Guardian about Verizon being ordered to send customer call data to the NSA. I saw a copy of what was purported to be the court order last night. It was four pages and was, to the best of my memory, identical to the one all communication carriers received around 2003 after the Patriot Act was passed.

The order we received back then was a preparatory order to allow the carriers time to put in place methods to retrieve Call Detail Records (CDRs) when requested by the FedGov. My area of the company created CDRs for specialty call centers used to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing communicate with hearing folks. The call centers were used for mundane things such as ordering pizza, making appointments, etc.

The processes we added were basically search engines. When we were given a telephone number and other criteria, such as receiving an international call or making one, making a call to, receiving a call from a specific number, we would extract the CDR for those calls and send them on to our legal department who interacted with the appropriate FedGov department.

In the following years, I can remember being requested to provide CDRs twice. In both cases, I was told, one of the parties were being investigated for some criminal act. I never really knew the details.

The bottom line is that we were never ordered to send Call Detail Records en mass, without some filtering, and then only for specific numbers. The supposed court order I read last night seemed to be worded the same as the one I read back around 2003.

That call detail records for specific numbers are being sent to the FedGov under court order is a fact. It’s governed by FISA, as amended in 2008. However, in this era of pseudo-journalism, is this “new” report, a change? That’s the real question.

We see so many reports today on Facebook and other social media sites, from various news websites and many stretch credibility. Many, very many, are subsequently proven to be false, complete fiction. However, the initial report frequently becomes viral, spreading throughout the internet. Everyone sees it. Few, however, never see the followup that proves the initial report false. Many who read the first report and pass it on, unfortunately, never send the correction—nor care, if it is contrary to their ideology.

When I see reports such as these, I try to perform my own due diligence. I read several reports on the subject, read, if possible, the original source documents and do my best to evaluate the validity of the report. I often find the initial report to be true. Just as often, unfortunately, I find the original report to be questionable or false.

This particular report about Verizon, has not, yet, passed my smell test. Without further confirmation, it stinks a bit. Why? The supposed order I read on the internet (link to it above,) has no date other than an expiration date in the body of the text. It appears to be a photo-copy. It has no classification stamps as I would expect and the document itself declares.

When I still had access to classified documents, every page was stamped, not just the cover-sheet. Classified documents had a specific form and format. If the copy being shown on the internet is a true photocopy, I would expect to see classification stamps on every page. That, and some other indicators, make me doubt its authenticity. It may be incomplete, or have been altered. I don’t know.

You, however, must decide on your own. Me? I’m waiting for more information. What I’ve seen so far, is lacking credibility.

Friday Follies for July 27, 2012

It’s been a hot week here at Casa Crucis.  Outside temps have been 100°+ until yesterday when it only reached 97. It’s been hot, too, for another reason. Our A/C is acting up and last night croaked completely. There’s a new coil (under warranty, Thank You) on order but it won’t arrive until Monday.  In the mean time it’s…sweat ‘n drip. 

Our cats are spending more and more time downstairs keeping me company. There’s noting more disconcerting to be writing and have a cat bump your elbow with her head. I expect we’ll spend a lot of time out this weekend in cooler climes.


I was scrolling through the Washington Times this morning and glimpsed the mug of John McCain (Spit!) next to an article. John McCain, like Obama, is a prophet. Whatever he favors, do the opposite. Usually. In this case, McCain is right.

The subject of the article is a bill before Congress to regulate utilities, about water and power providers. I can speak about telecommunications providers.

Telecoms employe hundreds, thousands across the entire industry, to secure their networks. They build monitors and watch-dog systems across the entirety of their company. From core, backbone switches, to the doors on remote, unmanned facilities, it’s all secured. Every equipment building from the smallest to the larges had wet and dry, fire, smoke and heat alarms.  It the fan quits on a single server waaaay down at the bottom of the server stack, it will be noticed.

Telecom security rivals and often is more secure than those used by the military and the federal government.  Just who do you think provides those secure military and governmental networks? From the telecom companies and usually via lowest bid.

The danger to secure systems is not the system, it’s the user. I remember an incident a number of years ago, it may have been pre-911 but the example still stands. A government manager wanted to work at home outside of the usual hours. He had a direct line to his office that by-passed the building’s switch-board. It wasn’t an uncommon situation where someone needed to connect with outside networks or the internet.

This manage installed a modem into his office PC and connected it to his outside line. When he got home he would dial into his office, connect to his office server and continue working.  His office server also had access to a number of restricted databases including some confidential documents that were being examined.

A routine security scan of the phone lines picked up the answer tone of the modem. The manager’s password was easily hacked and they security team found they had access to a number of restricted databases.  The manager was immediately fired and may have faced  charges.

The bottom line to all this is that telecoms, and I suspect the other utility providers, already have excellent security. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t hear about all the attempted break-ins that were countered.

Now the government wants to get theirs fingers in the security business. We all know what happens when the government gets involved. Right, noting good.

Senate to take up securing U.S. telecom, power, water

Measure faces opposition from business, GOP leaders

By Shaun Waterman – The Washington Times, Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Senate on Thursday agreed to debate a long-delayed bill to secure the nation’s power grid, water supply and telecommunications system from cyberattack by hackers or foreign enemies.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 has supporters from both parties, but it is unclear whether it will garner enough votes to pass in the face of opposition from Republican and business leaders.

They oppose provisions of the proposed law that would give the Department of Homeland Security authority to set standards for computer security at thousands of private facilities such as power stations and oil refineries.

“In its present form,” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, “the bill before us would do more harm than … anything else.”

Mr. McCain is one of a number of Republican committee chairmen who backed an alternative proposal, which would make security standards purely voluntary.

After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, promised to allow an open amendments process, the Senate voted 84-11 to proceed to debate.

The open amendments process means that opponents of the Cybersecurity Act will have a chance to offer their alternative bill as a substitute, and that the chamber gets to vote on replacing or striking the most contentious provisions of the proposed law.

Several Democrats said they would offer amendments strengthening privacy protections in the bill.

The bill’s backers, led by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, said they had already made major concessions to their critics in the latest draft of the bill.

The changes were “very substantial,” Ms. Collins said. “This shows a willingness to adopt changes. We’re still open to changes.”

The new version of the bill offers market-based incentives, such as liability protection, to owners of vital infrastructure who voluntarily agree to meet government-defined cybersecurity standards.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the bill’s most vehement opponents, was urging a “no” vote, even on the revised bill Thursday.

Rest assured, if the government gets involved, they’ll screw it up and endanger us all.


Rasmussen just released some end-of-the-week polls. Obama and dems continue to slide, Romney and the ‘Pubs rise. I’d say its nice to end the week on a positive note if it weren’t from the gravity of the situation.

Presidential Tracking Poll: Friday, July 27, 2012. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows Mitt Romney attracting 49% of the vote, while President Obama earns support from 44%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

Election 2012: Nevada Senate: Friday, July 27, 2012. Nevada’s U.S. Senate race is little changed this month, with Republican incumbent Dean Heller holding a nine-point lead over his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Nevada Voters shows Heller with 51% support to Berkley’s 42%. Two percent (2%) favor some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided.

Election 2012: Nevada President: Tuesday, July 24, 2012. The presidential race in Nevada is a little tighter this month, with President Obama now leading Mitt Romney by five points in the Silver State.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Nevada shows the president drawing 50% of the vote to Romney’s 45%. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

Remember, Nevada is the state that re-elected Harry Reid and went solidly (due to the unions) to Obama in 2008. If we can believe these polls, and that is always a pertinent question, Nevada has had a dose of reality and has changed.  Maybe. With unions involved, you can’t assume anything.


Y’all have a great weekend. Our A.C folks just called. They are getting the part and should arrive around 1:30pm to install it.  Ahhh, coolness!