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web posted May 7, 2001

Bush to name Clinton appointee to appeals court

President Bush has informed key lawmakers of his intention to make permanent President Clinton's temporary appointment of Roger Gregory, a black attorney from Virginia, to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Clinton gave Gregory a one-year "recess" appointment after the Republican-controlled Senate refused to bring his nomination to a vote.

Bush instructed aides during the presidential transition to consult with Republican senators from Virginia and elsewhere to avoid early political battles with African-American political organizations.

A congressional aide involved in judicial selection said Gregory's name was on a list of prospective nominees being circulated by the administration to test the reaction of key senators before the White House formally announces its nominations.

New documents disclose FBI's Web surveillance

The FBI has used Internet eavesdropping tools to track fugitives, drug dealers, extortionists, computer hackers and suspected foreign intelligence agents, documents show.

The documents, obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, also detail how the FBI scurried last year to prove it wasn't "randomly looking at everyone's e-mail" once its Web surveillance practices came under attack.

The FBI records show the agency used its controversial "Carnivore" system 13 times between October 1999 and August 2000 to monitor Internet communications, and a similar device, "Etherpeek," another 11 times.

Carnivore is a set of software programs for monitoring Internet traffic -- e-mails, Web pages, chat room conversations and other signals -- going to or from a suspect under investigation. Etherpeek is a commercially available network monitoring program that is far less precise in filtering the information collected.

Civil liberties groups contend that Carnivore can collect too much information and put ordinary citizens at risk. Some Internet service providers have raised concerns that since Carnivore's inner workings are secret, it may damage or slow down their networks while it's capturing e-mails.

While large portions of the FBI documents are blacked out to protect national security and investigative secrets, they reveal new details about the agency's Internet surveillance program.

In January 2000, for example, FBI agents got a wide-ranging order to use a computer wiretap in a gambling and money laundering investigation. The wiretap was successful, according to an e-mail to Marcus Thomas, head of the FBI's cybertechnology lab.

"We got bank accounts, where money was hidden and other information," reads the e-mail from an unknown agent. "Some of the data sent ... was instrumental in tying several of the conspirators to the crime. One of the conspirators is offering to pay ... as part of a plea bargain."

The following month FBI investigators used Carnivore to catch a fugitive for the U.S. Marshals Service. The Internet provider involved protested in court, but was ordered to cooperate.

The 24 instances of Internet surveillance also included four investigations of computer hacking, three drug probes, one extortion investigation and an intellectual property case. The nature of the other cases was not disclosed. The FBI has said that Carnivore has been used in investigations involving national security and attempted domestic terrorism.

One July 2000 e-mail about Carnivore, with the names of both the author and recipient deleted, contains the only reference to national security matters: "We have a pending FISA order there and as soon as we get authority to test our (software) we will be installing it."

FISA stands for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enables the FBI to wiretap foreigners for espionage cases.

E-mails between FBI agents show how determined the bureau was to justify Carnivore's existence after the disclosure of it last year raised protests from lawmakers and privacy advocates.

In July, the Tampa, Florida, field office sent an e-mail to other agents, including Thomas at the FBI lab, offering a slide show explaining how a militia group used the Internet to communicate.

The group's leader pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year for planning to break into military facilities to steal explosives and blow up energy facilities in southeastern states.

"This might be used to show why Carnivore is necessary and essential for law enforcement to combat terrorism," reads the e-mail from an unspecified Tampa agent.

Thomas replied: "This kind of information would be very helpful in fighting the idea that we are randomly looking at everyone's e-mail."

Also during July, FBI officials found an Internet service provider that was willing to convince other Internet firms that Carnivore was safe. The provider's identity was not disclosed.

The provider "is available to you as an ISP to address/counter any issues that other ISPs may have in installing Carnivore," the e-mail reads, adding that the company "is aware of issues that national providers need to address for wiretapping."

The FBI 2002 budget request includes more than $13 million for Internet surveillance, $2.5 million more than this year. Most of the new money would go for research and development.

In justifying the budget, the FBI cybertechnology lab said the number of requests for Internet wiretaps from FBI field offices increased by 1,850 percent from 1997 to 1999. The exact number of requests was not disclosed.

Saskatchewan chiefs back suit against Ottawa's gun law, alleging treaty violations

Saskatchewan Indian chiefs have overwhelmingly given the province's largest native organization the mandate to file suit against the federal government for breaching treaty rights.

If the government doesn't reach an understanding with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations within two months, recognizing status Indians' exemption to the law under treaty rights, the federation will file a statement of claim against it.

At the group's spring meeting in Saskatoon on May 3, vice chief Greg Ahenakew called the Federal Firearms Act an infringement on the treaty right to hunt and obtain ammunition.

"It's a fundamental right that we have, that we're born with and they're infringing on it. I really feel that we have a very good case," he said.

"After June 30, we can be charged, our firearms can be taken away and for first-time offenders, if they proceed by indictment, the maximum jail term is five years.

"All of this we are subjected to for merely exercising our rights. Someone may even be charged for gifitng a firearm, as per our customs. That is unacceptable," Ahenakew said.

There are also provisions for fines of up to $2,000 or six months in jail if someone is found in violation of the new law. That applies to everyone, including sustenance hunters - people who hunt for food to feed several families.

"I own a firearm and I don't have a licence to possess it and I'm not going to get one," said Ahenakew.'

"After June 30, if I'm a criminal, so be it. We have made this point time and again but government is just not listening. That's why we have this resolution asking for the mandate to file a statement of claim, if necessary, against the federal government."

"If this is imposed on us, the impact it's going to have will be devastating," said Chief Delbert Britton of the Peter Chapman Band.

FBI: Lucent workers bragged abut selling secrets to China

Three scientists accused of stealing Lucent Technologies software and sharing it with a Chinese company made plans to take their venture public and bragged it would become an Internet equipment giant in China, authorities say.

The two Lucent employees and another man, all Chinese born, were arrested May 3 by the FBI for allegedly stealing trade secrets from Lucent. They were ready to roll out their "rip-off" product in September, U.S. Attorney Robert Cleary said.

"In the information age, it is difficult to imagine anything more dangerous to a company's business interests," he said.

Cleary said there are no allegations that the Chinese company, Datang Telecom Technology Co. of Beijing, was aware of the theft.

The stolen software was for Lucent's now-discontinued PathStar system, which enables Internet service providers to offer low-cost voice and data services. PathStar had more than 90 percent of the market and generated $100 million for Lucent last year, according to court papers.

It is unclear if the Chinese company, which is run largely by the government, obtained enough data to replicate Lucent's PathStar system.

"A substantial amount of the source code, which is the crown jewel, has been transferred" to the Chinese partner, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Christie said.

Lucent spokesman Bill Price declined to comment on how much material was stolen, or if it was sufficient to build a system.

The New Jersey-based telecommunications equipment maker believes its system to protect trade secrets worked "because the theft was discovered before it could be commercially deployed," Price said.

The Lucent scientists, Hai Lin, 30, and Kai Xu, 33, were arrested at their New Jersey homes. They are Chinese nationals in the United States on business visas, Christie said.

"They came to Lucent as scholars, but in reality, they were no more than sleuths," Cleary said.

The third suspect, Yong-Qing Cheng, 37, was arrested at his work place at Village Networks, an optical networking vendor.

Ohio congressman indicted on bribery, other charges

Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was indicted on May 4 by a federal grand jury in Cleveland.

Rep. James TraficantThe 10-count, 130-page indictment includes charges of bribery, tax evasion, racketeering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, the officials said. Traficant, known as one of the most colorful members of the House, had repeatedly predicted he would be indicted in an ongoing federal investigation in Ohio because of his alleged ties to organized crime. He has denied any wrongdoing.

He has been rumored for months to be considering a switch to the Republican Party and voted for Republican Dennis Hastert of Illinois for House speaker earlier this year. On the House floor, Traficant is best-known for his "one-minute" speeches he delivers almost daily while the House is in session.

Traficant's speeches generally deal with various abuses by the federal government and conclude with the congressman yelling in disgust, "Beam me up!"

The indictment is not the first for Traficant. In 1983, he was acquitted on federal bribery charges dating back to his tenure as a sheriff in Ohio; he represented himself in the case despite having no legal training.

Justice Department officials said Traficant will not be arrested, but will receive a summons. He is expected to make a court appearance in approximately 10 days.

Gore Vidal to attend McVeigh execution

Novelist Gore Vidal plans to attend the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, a man with whom he shares some views about the federal government.

Vidal, whose works include "Burr," "Lincoln" and "The Last Empire," said he began corresponding with McVeigh when the bomber wrote him about Vidal's 1998 article in Vanity Fair on "the shredding" of the Bill of Rights.

"We've exchanged several letters," the author said. "He's very intelligent. He's not insane."

McVeigh is to be executed May 16 at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., for the 1995 bombing of a federal building in which 168 people died. Vidal was chosen for one of three witness spots allowed McVeigh for friends or family.

"Do I approve of it?" Vidal asked of the bombing. "Of course I don't," he told The Oklahoman in Saturday's editions.

But the 75-year-old writer said he and McVeigh, 33, have similar views about the erosion of constitutional rights and about the federal government's 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, that left 80 people dead.

"This guy's got a case -- you don't send the FBI in to kill women and children," he said.

"The boy has a sense of justice," Vidal said. "That's what attracted me to him."

Vidal said he will write an article for Vanity Fair about the execution and may write a movie about McVeigh "and those of us who object to the tyranny of the U.S. government against its people."

A man whose daughter died in the blast is giving up his opportunity to witness the execution. John Taylor, 70, of Oklahoma City, was one of 10 victims chosen at random by computer to attend the execution.

"We just felt we've given Mr. McVeigh enough of our time," Taylor told the newspaper. "We've given him six years of our lives. We don't want to give him another second."

Rice says ties with China 'not business as usual'

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said May 6 that relations with China would be strained as long as it holds a grounded Navy reconnaissance plane.

Condoleezza Rice"It's not business as usual just yet with China, and we've made that very clear," Rice said on "Fox News Sunday."

"But we will continue to work with the Chinese, and we really do believe we have to get the plane home at some point."

The EP-3 Aries II has been on China's Hainan Island since April 1, when it made an emergency landing there following a collision with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea. The Chinese pilot lost his life, and the incident led to an 11-day standoff with China while the American crew was detained.

The damaged plane was inspected by a U.S. technical team last week, and Pentagon sources said they concluded it could be repaired and flown off the island. Rice would not confirm that report.

"We've not yet had a chance to talk with the assessment team," she said.

On another front, Rice repeated administration comments that a leaked Pentagon memo that had cited a suspension of all military contacts with China was a mistake. Last week's memo, Rice said, "was trying to interpret" Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's guidance, "and the interpretation was just wrong."

The contacts, she said, would be subject to a "case-by-case review."

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, said administration officials needed to "get their signals better coordinated" to avoid future confusion. Dodd said he cautioned the White House against isolating China.

"I think you stay engaged here," Dodd said on Fox.

At the same time, Dodd said China could suffer in the trade arena because of its recent actions. Congress is scheduled to vote this summer on maintaining permanent normal trade ties with China.

"Listen, if China wants to be -- and I want them to be -- a responsible, mature player in a civilized world, then they're going to have to act accordingly," Dodd said. "And if they go off on tangents and act unilaterally and act irresponsibly, then they have to expect from the civilized world some response.

"And it seems to me that trade, being a major issue for them, is a very legitimate area for us to look at," Dodd said.

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