Wednesday, June 21, 2006

American Life

Update 06-24-06--The video is no longer available. It was the Director's Cut version of Madonna's "American Life". If you get a chance to see it, I recommend it...
It Speaks For Itself...

FRONTLINE: The Dark Side

Last night, PBS' FRONTLINE episode was titled "The Dark Side", a look at the struggle for power between the CIA and Vice President over intelligence issues post-9/11. This program was very detailed and rich with insights into the way this power-grabbing Vice President works. It showed how George Tenet, former CIA director, lost his battle when he traded power for access. Subtly, the White House fired shots across the bow at the CIA, from the outing of Valerie Plame to the famous "16 words" in the State of the Union. Tenet ended up resigning, and recieved a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service...the payoff.

I hope to write more about this episode later. If you saw it, give a shout-out on your thoughts. If you didn't, you can head over to and view the program.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

US Soldier's Bodies Found (Breaking News)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006: 5:41 AM CST
Breaking... (LINK UPDATED 5:51 AM)

Breaking News out of Iraq this morning:
An Iraqi official (not yet named in news sources) has confirmed that the two kidnapped U.S. Soldiers in Iraq have been found, bodies recovered, apparently killed by their captors. UPDATED: The group was vowing revenge for the June 7 killing of Abu Masab al-Zarqawi. Apparently, they have followed through on their threat. The search had involved 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi security forces. May they now rest with God.

Visit the "Breaking..." link above (MSNBC) for more details.

All this as Cheney says again that the "insurgency is in its last throes."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs

Yesterday I received a letter from the the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, R. James Nicholson. It seems that my personal data (name, date of birth, and SSN) were on that employee's laptop. Of course, I'm just one of "up to 26.5 million" who had their data stolen. I've been watching the data theft story, however, it never crossed my mind that my personal information would've been on that laptop. And it raises the question: Why so many? Why so much data on a single stand alone laptop?

As an individual who has gone through the Department of Defense security clearance procedure, who works with personal data of thousands of our longest-serving veterans, and someone who is keenly interested and studied on Privacy Act and HIPPA laws, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why so much personal data would be on a single piece of equipment, and not stored on a secured network which can only be accessed by means of VPN when someone is away from the office. Defense Department security guidelines, which have been adopted by many companies and especially government agencies are extraordinarily strict, well thought out (for the most part), and extremely secure.

I sincerely hope that the Department of Veterans Affairs undergoes a comprehensive security review, fully adopts ALL Department of Defense electronic security guidelines, and continues to have a policy of full and immediate disclosure to individuals affected by this massive breach of security. Having the data available for millions of veterans and active duty service members is an incredible hole in "homeland security" that must be immediately plugged. It is bad enough that the Republican led House, Senate, and Executive sho little respect for those that have served this nation, including in it's current conflicts, but then to barely react to this security breach is further evidence of their utter disregard for this nation's most important and dedicated individuals...those of us who have served and protected the Constitution and the people.

The one "positive" thing that has come about because of this is that I have personally evaluated my own practices in my current position, ensuring that I am strictly adhering (much to the dismay of some of the people contacting me for assistance) to the Privacy Act of 1974, HIPPA laws, and Department of Defense Information Security guidelines. It has also caused me to consider a more proactive role in ensuring privacy across the board where I am currently employed, and hopefully the company will be open to having individuals solely focused on privacy and reviewing all employee's actions.

Note: I do not work for the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense. I am with a company that has a contract with the TRICARE Management Activity, and have undergone and received a favorable review by the investigative branch of the Department of Defense (DITSCO/DITSCAP).

Support our troops. Bush is on his own.