Quantum Entanglement and the Diaspora

For my readers that know some quantum mechanics, Quantum Teleportation has been something for which we've been waiting.  For a few years we've been making incremental progress, demonstrating quantum entanglement at first minuscule, then slowly increasing small distances.  It looks like there's been a breakthrough, with information teleportation range of over a meter in the lab! Time Magazine has the layman's explanation.

Now, in order for the technology to be truly useful, we need to find some way to take these two entangled particles, isolate them in movable storage containers, and take one to the other end of the galaxy.  Hey-presto, an intergalactic modem!  No more pesky speed-of-light delays on our conversations across the globe, to low orbit, Mars, or the Local Group.

Now, couple that faster-than-light technology with a digitally encoded image of our consciousness, and you can go to sleep in Chicago and wake up in Betelgeuse, moments later.  What a wonderful world it will be.

My goal in life is to make enough money to insure that when the tech becomes available at a high price in my middle age, I have enough to guarantee my immortality.  Now that's a retirement plan.


Obama and Transparency II

Obama has announced that every dollar spent in the Stimulus Bill will be documented online, with full detail, at a new government site designed explicitly for guaranteeing transparency in the use of the people's money.  Compare that with Bush's bailout of the Financial Sector, where we still don't know where all the money has gone, or what results it has achieved.

Obama and Transparency

For the IT crowd, this will bring tears of joy.

Here is Obama's robots.txt file for his administration's WhiteHouse.gov:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /includes/
Compare that to Bush's robots.txt.  I have to link it, because it's 44 pages of "disallows."

61 Gitmo Recidivists? More like 9.

Over and over again, we've been hearing that 61 former Gitmo detainees have returned to the battlefield.  Of course, it turns out to be nothing of the sort.

Robert Gates, who some may recognize as a Republican and the freaking Secretary of Defense, has said that only 4-5% of released detainees have returned to the battlefield.  Given that 245 detainees have been released, that puts it at 8 or 9 individual recidivists.  Not 61.

So where are they getting the high number?  Apparently, participating in a documentary about Gitmo is considered "returning to the battlefield."  Oy.


Terrorists in our Neighborhoods

It shouldn't require explanation, but we already have a bunch of terrorists "in your neighborhoods."  Greenwald provides a helpful list:
  1. Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted, 1996, U.S. District Court (before then-U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey) -- plotting terrorist attacks on the U.S. (currently: U.S. prison, Butler, North Carolina);
  2. Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted, 2006, U.S. Federal Court -- conspiracy to commit the 9/11 attacks (currently: U.S. prison, Florence, Colorado);
  3. Richard Reid, convicted, 2003, U.S. Federal Court -- attempting to blow up U.S.-bound jetliner over the Atlantic Ocean (currently: U.S. prison, Florence, Colorado);
  4. Jose Padilla, convicted, 2007, U.S. Federal Court -- conspiracy to commit terrorism (currently: U.S. prison, Florence, Colorado);
  5. Iyman Faris a/k/a/ Mohammad Rauf, convicted, 2003, U.S. Federal Court -- providing material support and resources to Al-Qaeda, conspiracy to commit terrorist acts on behalf of Al Qaeda (currently: U.S. prison, Florence, Colorado);
  6. Ali Saleh al-Marri, accused Al Qaeda operative -- not yet tried, held as "unlawful enemy combatant" (currently: U.S. Naval Brig, Hanahan, South Carolina);
  7. Masoud Khan, convicted, 2004, U.S. Federal Court -- conspiracy to commit terrorism as part of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Islamic jihad (currently: U.S. prison, Terre Haute, Indiana);
  8. John Walker Lindh, convicted, 2002, U.S. Federal Court -- providing material support to the Taliban (currently: U.S. prison, Florence, Colorado).
It should go without saying that if some Gitmo detainees cannot be convicted, they wouldn't be released in America since they aren't American citizens.

That doesn't stop Republicans from being idiots about it:
Republican lawmakers, who oppose Mr. Obama’s plan, found a talking point with political appeal. They said closing Guantánamo could allow dangerous terrorists to get off on legal technicalities and be released into quiet neighborhoods across the United States. If the detainees were convicted, the Republicans continued, American prisons housing terrorism suspects could become magnets for attacks.
These people are morons.

Update:  Why is the Daily Show smarter than the entire Republican Caucus?

Gitmo's Superb Treatment of Prisoners

For those Republicans who like to cite the Halal meals provided to Gitmo detainees as proof that the place isn't so bad, and is in fact nicer than domestic prisons, I'd direct you to this statement by the Lead Prosecutor in the case of Mohammed Jawad. Mr. Jawad was picked up in Afghanistan when he was between 15 and 17 years old, and has been held since 2002.

Remember, this is from the Lead Prosecutor, not a defense attorney:
"As early as November 2003, Joint Task Force-GTMO ("JTF-GTMO") personnel used sleep deprivation to disorient specific detainees for intelligence purposes. Pursuant to this technique, euphemistically referred to as the "frequent flyer" program, a detainee would be repeatedly moved from one cell to another in quick intervals, throughout the day and night, to disrupt sleep cycles.

48. Military records show that Mohammed was subjected to the "frequent flyer" program from May 7 to May 20, 2004. Over that fourteen-day period, Mohammed was forcibly moved from cell to cell 112 times, on an average of about once every three hours, and prevented from sleeping. Mohammed's medical records indicate that significant health effects he suffered during this time include blood in his urine, bodily pain, and a weight loss of 10% from April 2004 to May 2004."
Something that causes blood in the urine could never be described as Torture.  Heavens, no.
"During the interrogation, Mohammed allegedly made incriminating statements and a document, purporting to be a confession, was prepared for him to "sign" with his thumbprint. Mohammed did not know what the document was, did not read it, and was told he needed to put his thumb print on it to be released.

25. The written statement allegedly containing Mohammed's confession and thumbprint is in Farsi. Mohammed does not read, write, or speak Farsi. There are several factual assertions in the statement that are false, including Mohammed's name, his father's name, his grandfather's name, his uncle's name, his residence, his current residence, his age, and an assertion that he speaks English. The statement's account of the grenade attack -- the responsibility for which the statement ascribes solely to Mohammed -- conflicts with the eyewitness accounts of the American victims. Yet, it was this statement that Respondents and their agents primarily relied on as a basis for Mohammed's detention, and for the charges brought against him in the Guantanamo Military Commissions.
Ahhhh, false confessions - the one thing that torture is good at producing.  In fact, the Communist program, from which our torture programs have been developed, was explicitly designed to produce false confessions.
"7. It is important to understand that the "case files" compiled at OMC-P or developed by CITF are nothing like the investigation and case files assembled by civilian police agencies and prosecution offices, which typically follow a standardized format, include initial reports of investigation, subsequent reports compiled by investigators, and the like. Similarly, neither OMC-P nor CITF maintained any central repository for case files, any method for cataloguing and storing physical evidence, or any other system for assembling a potential case into a readily intelligible format that is the sine qua non of a successful prosecution. While no experienced prosecutor, much less one who had performed his or her duties in the fog of war, would expect that potential war crimes would be presented, at least initially, in "tidy little packages," at the time I inherited the Jawad case, Mr. Jawad had been in U.S. custody for approximately five years. It seemed reasonable to expect at the very least that after such a lengthy period of time, all available evidence would have been collected, catalogued, systemized, and evaluated thoroughly -- particularly since the suspect had been imprisoned throughout the entire time the case should have been undergoing preparation.

8. Instead, to the shock of my professional sensibilities, I discovered that the evidence, such as it was, remained scattered throughout an incomprehensible labyrinth of databases primarily under the control of CITF, or strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely-labeled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks vacated by prosecutors who had departed the Commissions for other assignments. I further discovered that most physical evidence that had been collected had either disappeared or had been stored in locations that no one with any tenure at, or institutional knowledge of, the Commissions could identify with any degree of specificity or certainty. The state of disarray was so extensive that I later learned, as described below, that crucial physical evidence and other documents relevant to both the prosecution and the defense had been tossed into a locker located at Guantanamo and promptly forgotten. Although it took me a number of months -- so extensive was the lack of any discernable organization, and so difficult was it for me to accept that the US military could have failed so miserably in six years of effort -- I began to entertain my first, developing doubts about the propriety of attempting to prosecute Mr. Jawad without any assurance that through the exercise of due diligence I could collect and organize the evidence in a manner that would meet our common professional obligations."
Amazing.  This was America engaging in this type of behavior.  America.

This makes us less safe, plain and simple.  This type of behavior gives moral justification to our enemies, strengthening their hearts and causing recruitment to explode.  In a war that has no centralized enemy, the only path to victory is through hearts and minds - and that's not some liberal peacenik saying that, that's Admiral Mullen.

Update: The Daily Show has been indispensable:


Democrats Beatdown Pay Discrimination

Our conservative Supreme Court (7 of 9 are Republicans) says it's fine for an employer to discriminate against women so long as the woman doesn't find out.  Sounds like Bush Administration thinking to me! What an odious decision that was - truly, one of the great outrages of the last few years.

So who can you count on to fight for the rights of women, and equal rights for all?  The Democrats, of course. Now that we've got a Democratic President who wont just veto the bill, the Democrats in the Senate (and the 4 Republican women Senators) have voted to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  Not a single male Republican joined in the vote.

McClatchy says this will be one of the first bills Obama will sign into law. That makes me feel good. This is a gigantic injustice that he will right with the swipe of a pen.