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web posted November 26, 2001

Quebec premier links terrorist attacks to province's separation movement

Quebec Premier Bernard Landry

Quebec Premier Bernard Landry's claim that the terrorist attacks on the United States were caused by the bitterness that results when nations like Quebec fail to win independence fuelled a wave of outrage last week.

Landry wrapped up a Parti Quebecois convention on November 18 with the remarks, which critics termed bizarre and offensive, but par for the course for the separatist leader.

"At this point in human history, the future for nations shall be either libertarian or reactionary," Landry said. "The freedom of peoples and nations and their character is an indispensable condition of global equilibrium: Otherwise we will go from dominant imperialism and disappointment to deep bitterness.

"Since the events of Sept. 11, if there is one conclusion to draw in relation to the project of Quebec sovereignty and the sovereignty and liberty of all people, that is it."

To make his point, Landry referred to Catalonia, a region of Spain with its own language, culture and limited political autonomy. "The future is Catalan or Taliban," Landry said, insisting he was quoting former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

Hubert Bolduc, Landry's press secretary, said his boss was not trying to link the attacks and sovereignty.

"You can't link the Quebec independence project with Sept. 11," Bolduc said by telephone. "You are making a story out of nothing."

Later, Bolduc could not say what Landry meant.

"I don't really know what he meant to say," Bolduc said after he spoke with the premier. "But one thing is certain: That's not what he wanted to say. Well, at least not the way it was interpreted."

But Canadian Alliance MP Peter Goldring said Landry's comments are so outrageous that he should resign.

"This is bizarre and unconscionable," the Edmonton MP said.

"If that was his comment ... he should resign."

Goldring said most Quebecers and all Canadians will be horrified to learn of Landry's comments.

"He's trying to make out that the New York attack is an attack by a nation denied its independence," he said. "Is he planning something? Those attacks had nothing to do with independence."

FBI is building a 'Magic Lantern'

The FBI is going to new lengths to be sure it can eavesdrop on high-tech communications, secretly building "Magic Lantern" software to monitor computer use.

Separately, the agency is urging phone companies to change their networks for more reliable wiretaps in the digital age.

At a November 6 conference in Tucson -- and in a 32-page follow-up letter sent about two weeks ago -- the FBI told leading telecommunications officials that increasing use of Internet-style data technology to transmit voice calls is frustrating FBI wiretap efforts.

The FBI told companies that it will need access to voice calls sent over data networks within a few hours in some emergency situations and that any interference caused by a wiretap should be imperceptible to avoid tipping off people that their calls are being monitored.

The Magic Lantern technology, part of a broad FBI project called "Cyber Knight," would allow investigators to secretly install over the Internet powerful eavesdropping software that records every keystroke on a person's computer, according to people familiar with the effort.

The FBI envisions one day using Magic Lantern to record the secret key a person might use to scramble messages or computer files with encryption software.

The bureau has been largely frustrated in efforts to break open such messages by trying different unlocking combinations randomly, and officials are increasingly concerned about their ability to read encrypted messages in criminal or terrorist investigations.

The FBI said in a statement on November 21 that it cannot discuss details of its technical surveillance efforts, though it noted that "encryption can pose potentially insurmountable challenges to law enforcement when used in conjunction with communication or plans for executing serious terrorist and criminal acts."

The FBI added that its research is "always mindful of constitutional, privacy and commercial equities" and that its use of new technology can be challenged in court and in Congress.

Magic Lantern would largely resolve an important problem with the FBI's existing monitoring technology, the "key logger system," which in the past has required investigators to sneak into a target's home or business with a "sneak-and-peak warrant" and secretly attach the device to a computer.

In contrast, Magic Lantern could be installed over the Internet by tricking a person into opening an e-mail attachment or by exploiting some of the same weaknesses in popular commercial software that allow hackers to break into computers. It is unclear whether Magic Lantern would transmit keystrokes it records back to the FBI over the Internet or store the information to be seized later in a raid. The existence of Magic Lantern was first disclosed by MSNBC.

"If they are using this kind of program, it would be a highly effective way to bypass any encryption problems," said James E. Gordon, who heads the information technology practice for Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations Inc. "Once they have the keys to the kingdom, they have complete access to anything that individual is doing."

At least one company that makes anti-virus software, Corp., contacted the FBI on November 21 to ensure its software wouldn't inadvertently detect the bureau's snooping software and alert a criminal suspect.

Some experts said Magic Lantern raises important legal questions, such as whether the FBI would need a wiretap order from a U.S. judge to use the technology. The government has previously argued that the FBI can capture a person's computer keystrokes under the authority of a traditional search warrant, which involves less oversight by the courts.

Congress adds personal touch to fundraising effort

Whether it's a dinner with a Kentucky congressman and his wife, a privately-guided bike tour through Manhattan with a New York senator, or an original drawing by the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, senators and representatives are giving a piece of themselves to help the victims of the September 11 terror attacks.

Contributions from dozens of lawmakers are being auctioned by Web site eBay as part of its Auction for America. The auction hopes to raise $100 million in 100 days for four charities devoted to assisting families recover after Sept. 11, said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove.

Auction for America has been ongoing since September 17, but a special section for congressional items has drawn particular attention for its unusual items.

For instance, Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., is auctioning himself. He is willing to cook dinner for the highest bidder.

Spokesman Ernest Baynard said Honda wanted to contribute "something American" to the campaign, but the bidder may choose any cuisine as long as the congressman can cook it.

"He's also known for his karaoke so there may be a musical accompaniment," Baynard said.

Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., is auctioning two lunches to be eaten in Los Angeles -- one with him and actor Rob Lowe, and the other with him and actress Bo Derek.

"They're friendly. They are acquaintances from L.A.," a Dreier spokeswoman said of the congressman's relationship with West Wing star Lowe. "The congressman wanted to unite the real capital with the Hollywood one and Mr. Lowe graciously agreed to participate."

The winning bidder must provide his own transportation to Los Angeles.

Auction for America was the brainchild of New York Gov. George Pataki, who with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, first decided to enlist eBay to help victims of the attacks.

"They asked if there was some way eBay could mobilize its community of 37 million users. We decided that the best way we could do it is to use the talents of the eBay community," Pursglove said. In other words, eBay's customers would donate the items to be auctioned.

Pursglove said Pataki asked eBay to add the Auction for America portion in response to requests from members who wanted to know how they could personally contribute to helping New York recover from the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center.

Pursglove said eBay then contacted members to sign up and participate.

Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, an avid eBay user, thought the idea was so great he sent out requests for contributions to every county commissioner in his district.

"We wanted something travel related since we are a travel destination," said Jeff Hartley, Cannon's spokesman. Cannon received donations of 11 travel packages as well as more than a dozen other gifts, including passes to a Sunbrook Golf Course and two Utah Jazz basketball games.

Asked if Cannon was going to participate in each of the auctioned events, Hartley said no.

"Otherwise we would just sell them to lobbyists," he joked.

The auction will continue until the end of the year, though eBay is only $6 million toward its goal. As per eBay's usual schedule, items are only auctioned for seven to ten days so bidders are encouraged to check back often.

The Web site is also guaranteeing that 100 percent of the money goes to the fund.

"eBay is waiving all of its fees," Pursglove said, adding that all the credit cards will be processed through Billpoint, eBay's online credit card service, to save money.

"All the various credit card companies have waived all their fees," he said.

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