Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sony's Compact Disc Controversy

From Consumer Affairs:

It's been a bad few weeks for Sony BMG Music. First was the revelation that their copy-proof compact discs contained software that could hide files on any computer the disc was played on, and could cripple the entire machine if a user tried to remove it. Even a quickly-issued "patch" to the software didn't soothe buyers' outrage.

Now the entertainment giant is facing a potential class-action lawsuit in California for violation of a state law that forbids "inducing" the installation of spyware or similar utilities on a personal computer in order to use a particular application.

The issue first came to light when Mark Russinovich, a software designer and Windows expert, found evidence of a "rootkit" on one of his systems. Rootkits are tools designed to camouflage changes to a computer system made after a hacker or spyware vendor has compromised it.

Russinovich investigated the rootkit and traced it back to a company called First 4, which recently struck a deal with Sony to provide digital rights management (DRM) for its CD music releases. DRM controls the usage of a CD and is often used to block it from being copied onto a computer or to make multiple copies.

There's no mention of the rootkit in the end-user license agreement (EULA) that a buyer agrees to when they play the disc, and attempting to remove it can cripple Windows computers, which may require a full reformat and reinstall of the computer's hard drive.

From Sysinternals:

Last week when I was testing the latest version of
RootkitRevealer (RKR) I ran a scan on one of my systems and was shocked to see evidence of a rootkit. Rootkits are cloaking technologies that hide files, Registry keys, and other system objects from diagnostic and security software, and they are usually employed by malware attempting to keep their implementation hidden (see my “Unearthing Rootkits” article from thre June issue of Windows IT Pro Magazine for more information on rootkits). The RKR results window reported a hidden directory, several hidden device drivers, and a hidden application:
Given the fact that I’m careful in my surfing habits and only install software from reputable sources I had no idea how I’d picked up a real rootkit, and if it were not for the suspicious names of the listed files I would have suspected RKR to have a bug. I immediately ran
Process Explorer and Autoruns to look for evidence of code that would activate the rootkit each boot, but I came up empty with both tools. I next turned to LiveKd, a tool I wrote for Inside Windows 2000 and that lets you explore the internals of a live system using the Microsoft kernel debugger, to determine what component was responsible for the cloaking.Rootkits that hide files, directories and Registry keys can either execute in user mode by patching Windows APIs in each process that applications use to access those objects, or in kernel mode by intercepting the associated kernel-mode APIs. A common way to intercept kernel-mode application APIs is to patch the kernel’s system service table, a technique that I pioneered with Bryce for Windows back in 1996 when we wrote the first version of Regmon. Every kernel service that’s exported for use by Windows applications has a pointer in a table that’s indexed with the internal service number Windows assigns to the API. If a driver replaces an entry in the table with a pointer to its own function then the kernel invokes the driver function any time an application executes the API and the driver can control the behavior of the API.It’s relatively easy to spot system call hooking simply by dumping the contents of the service table: all entries should point at addresses that lie within the Windows kernel; any that don’t are patched functions. Dumping the table in Livekd revealed several patched functions:
I listed one of the intercepting functions and saw that it was part of the Aries.sys device driver, which was one of the images I had seen cloaked in the $sys$filesystem directory:

READ the rest HERE

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Whitehouse won't give a straight answer on anything

The press conferences with Scott McClellan are a complete farce. He refuses to give a direct answer to almost anything these days. Here are a couple examples from this morning:

Karl Rove

Q So the President stands by Rove a hundred percent?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I've made it clear to you that everybody who works here at the White House has the confidence of the President.

Q That's not exactly a direct answer, though.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're asking a question relating to an ongoing investigation and --

Q Does he stand by Karl Rove a hundred percent?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- the investigation relating to him is something that is ongoing, and the President has addressed that.

Q -- forward-leaning as that, to say the President stands behind Karl Rove a hundred percent?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just made the President's views known.


Q He didn't ask for an exemption --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we are going to --

Q -- answer that one question. I'm asking, is the administration asking for an exemption?

MR. McCLELLAN: I am answering your question. The President has made it very clear that we are going to do --

Q You're not answering -- yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, you don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen, and I'm going to tell them the facts.

Q -- the American people every day. I'm asking you, yes or no, did we ask for an exemption?

MR. McCLELLAN: And let me respond. You've had your opportunity to ask the question. Now I'm going to respond to it.

Q If you could answer in a straight way.

MR. McCLELLAN: And I'm going to answer it, just like the President -- I just did, and the President has answered it numerous times.

Q -- yes or no --

MR. McCLELLAN: Our most important responsibility is to protect the American people. We are engaged in a global war against Islamic radicals who are intent on spreading a hateful ideology, and intent on killing innocent men, women and children.

Q Did we ask for an exemption?

MR. McCLELLAN: We are going to do what is necessary to protect the American people.

Q Is that the answer?

MR. McCLELLAN: We are also going to do so in a way that adheres to our laws and to our values. We have made that very clear. The President directed everybody within this government that we do not engage in torture. We will not torture. He made that very clear.

Q Are you denying we asked for an exemption?

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, we will continue to work with the Congress on the issue that you brought up. The way you characterize it, that we're asking for exemption from torture, is just flat-out false, because there are laws that are on the books that prohibit the use of torture. And we adhere to those laws.

Q We did ask for an exemption; is that right? I mean, be simple -- this is a very simple question.
MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered your question. The President answered it last week.

Lewis Libby

Q Will the President pledge not to
pardon Lewis Libby?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to discuss an ongoing legal proceeding, and I'm not going to --

Q Can you just --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not going to speculate about any matters relating to it. This is something that is just beginning. There will be a hearing process that is going on right now, and we need to let that legal proceeding continue. I was asked this question last week, and that's -- I'm just not going to speculate about things at this point.

Q So if he's interested in seeing the legal process continue, that means he will not pardon him, is that correct?

MR. McCLELLAN: There is a legal proceeding --

Q That would interrupt the legal proceeding.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- that is going on relating to that individual. Under our system, there is a presumption of innocence. And we're not going to comment on it while it is continuing. And I'm not going to -- certainly not going to speculate about it, as well.

Q Should we take that to mean it remains a possibility?

MR. McCLELLAN: It should mean exactly what I said.

Dick Cheney

Q Scott, is anyone in the White House exempt from participating in these and --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it's a mandatory session.

Q Would the Vice President have to attend?

MR. McCLELLAN: It's mandatory for all White House staff. That's who it's for.

Q And he's considered staff?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he's considered the Vice President. (Laughter.)

Q So he does not have to attend?

MR. McCLELLAN: All White House staff is required to participate in these sessions.


Q First of all, on the Australian arrests, has the U.S. coordinated with them, and is this as a result of
Australia's cooperation with the United States?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's something that you ought to direct to Australian authorities. They've talked about it and you can check with our law enforcement authorities to see if there's any additional information. I'll be glad to check on that, as well.

Torture, again

Q Why don't you answer the one question on exemption?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just did, Helen.

Q Does the Vice President's Office have -- I mean, you blanket -- covered the White House. The Vice President's Office is under the Office of the White House. Why can't you just -- why can't you answer?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into all the discussions we have with members of Congress. If they want to add additional information, you're welcome to contact their office, as well.

Q Well, they don't answer like you do. You are at that podium. We need to hear from you. You --
MR. McCLELLAN: And I just made it clear --


MR. McCLELLAN: You got it in the statement of administration policy. There are already laws on the books that cover these issues.

Q -- this issue --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and that's what it is.

Q Well, give it to us then.

MR. McCLELLAN: Go look on our website. I'll be glad to provide it to you.

Q -- which website?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I just told you what it is. Are you not listening? I just told you what it is.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Congressman George Miller's speech on Chalabi

From House.gov:

On Ahmad Chalabi, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq's newly constituted government
Statement by Congressman George Miller

Watch Congressman Miller's speech on the House Floor here (video)

Monday, November 7, 2005

Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Speaker, somebody ought to call the cops. Today I am not talking about collusion, corruption and cronyism and the leaking of sensitive classified information that has irreparably damaged the national security of the United States. No, I am not talking about Scooter Libby or Karl Rove, though their involvement in outing a female CIA agent to silence her husband's criticisms of the President's Iraq policy deserves closer scrutiny.

No, I am talking about another shadowy character and administration ally, someone whose deception played a large role in leading the United States into war in Iraq. I am talking about Ahmad Chalabi. Mr. Chalabi is the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq's newly constituted government. But Mr. Chalabi also is a convicted bank swindler who, we now know, fed the Bush administration false intelligence about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and capabilities and Iraq's ties to terrorism.

Many Americans remember Mr. Chalabi as a man who convinced Vice President Cheney that the United States would be greeted as a great liberator in Iraq. Some have even said it was Mr. Chalabi who promoted the false story about Iraq's attempted purchase of nuclear material in Niger. Chalabi fed false stories about Iraq's weapons capabilities to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a story that the Times was later forced to publicly discount.
Mr. Chalabi, who supplied information to the White House Iraq working group, a mysterious cabal, as Colin Powell's former chief of staff recently said, that hijacked U.S. foreign policy and hyped the case for war in Iraq. The bottom line is that Mr. Chalabi played a central role in the orchestrated deception leading to the invasion of Iraq.

After the administration discovered that Mr. Chalabi provided false intelligence, instead of investigating, the Department of Defense attempted to prop Mr. Chalabi up as a candidate of choice in the post-war Iraq.

Keep in mind what Mr. Chalabi did next. He was suspected of leaking classified information about U.S. intelligence capabilities to Iran. He was suspected of telling the Iranians that we had broken the code by which we were learning information about their activities.

Seventeen months ago, then National Security Adviser Rice promised an FBI inquiry into who leaked information to Iran. Seventeen months ago, and yet nothing has happened. Despite the fact that Mr. Chalabi was a prime suspect, the FBI has never interviewed him. In fact, the Wall Street Journal quotes the FBI as having said they have little active interest in this matter. Little active interest in a person who is leaking intelligence material to Iran in the middle of the war in Iraq?

Just this week the administration invited this criminal to meet with the Secretary of State and maybe even Vice President Cheney in the West Wing to discuss his candidacy for the Iraq presidency in this December's election. I would be curious to learn from the President what role granting a U.S. entry visa to a man suspected of spying for Iran plays in the administration's terrorism strategy.

Mr. Chalabi's actions are an insult to every American, especially those serving in our Nation's Armed Forces, and his high-level visit to the United States is an additional affront. Chalabi's crimes cannot go unanswered. He belongs in jail for his misdeeds. Instead, he gets a White House photo-op.

As the Senate concludes its investigation into the administration's use of false and misleading intelligence to make the case for war, no such inquiry would be complete without Mr. Chalabi's testimony under oath. While he is sashaying around the streets of Washington, D.C., the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee may want to issue a subpoena for his presence. He has offered to testify, but no intelligence agency of the United States has interviewed him, nor has the FBI, as we learned today.

He should be detained in this country until he gives that testimony. I know I speak for all Americans when I say that our idea of democracy is not propping up a bank swindler, kidnapper and extortionist whose lies and deceptions contributed to the 14,000 U.S. soldiers injured and over 2,000 killed in action and is an intractable quagmire with no end in sight. Americans deserve the truth about the Bush administration's manipulation of intelligence to justify this tragic war.

Calling the cops to arrest Mr. Chalabi, while he is here, so he can be interrogated, would be a good beginning to understand how extensive the manipulation, how false the evidence was, that caused the President to take us to war and which was championed by the Vice President and the President and the cabal to try to justify to the American citizens the reason for this war.

Mr. Speaker, call the cops. Mr. Chalabi should not be allowed to run free on the streets of this Nation's capital.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bush Lied about Torture

Today (November 7th, 2005) Bush declared, "We do not torture."

Unfortunately, saying it doesn't make it so. And if he believes it's true, why all the secrecy? Why deny human rights groups access? Why fight the congressional ban on torture?

The 'Abu Graib scandal' was just one chapter in this ongoing saga. It's not the only 'scandal' but, like others, torture and abuse was only admitted when evidence leaked out. And then the abuse was blamed on a few "individuals." I wish I had time to compile a list of all allegations, but the news from just the last few weeks should prove how big Bush's lie is.


Five American soldiers in Iraq alleged to have punched and kicked Iraqi detainees and hit them with a broomstick have been charged with assault, the U.S. military said on Monday.
Army spokesman Paul Boyce said the five Army Rangers had been charged with assault and maltreatment of prisoners and dereliction of duty in the incident, which occurred on September 7 in Baghdad.

Now this abuse will again be explained as the actions of a few 'indiviudals.' But even if this is true, those individuals are part of the collective 'we' that Bush spoke of. That is assuming Bush meant 'we' as 'The United States" and not "Laura and I."

Congressional Ban on Torture

A ban on torture was approved by a 90-9 vote last month in the Senate and added to a defense spending bill. The White House has threatened a veto.

Vice President Dick Cheney has lobbied Republican senators to allow an exemption for those held by the CIA if preventing an attack is at stake.

"I think the administration is making a terrible mistake in opposing John McCain's amendment on detainees and torture,'' Hagel, R-Neb., said on "This Week'' on ABC. "Why in the world they're doing that, I don't know.''

Secret Camps in Eastern Europe

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.
The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.
The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long. -Washington Post

Opposition to Human Rights Groups

In a letter to Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, six religious and human rights groups, including Amnesty International, called on the Justice Department and the Pentagon to take specific steps, including permitting access to the detainees by independent investigators as well as to the federal courts “to bring torture, abuse, and inhumane treatment to an end at Guantanamo.” -FPIF

UN Denied Access to Detainee Camps

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the U.S. government is not inclined to grant United Nations special rapporteurs access to prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The investigators have made such access a condition for accepting the secretary's invitation to visit the facility. -Spero News

Hunger Strike

The Pentagon has engaged in a new form of medical abuse at Guantanamo Bay by force-feeding detainees on a hunger strike in ways that are deliberately painful and cause life-threatening vomiting and weight loss, defense lawyers say.The gruesome allegations include complaints that doctors and guards intentionally thrust feeding tubes covered in blood and bile from one detainee's nose into another inmate's nose and denied prisoners anesthesia.
"The allegations are deeply troubling," U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler said in her ruling from Washington, D.C. "If true ... they describe conduct of which the United States can hardly be proud." -Newsday


Remember, neither the Nazis nor the Japanese followed the Geneva Conventions during World War II. Yet the US and our allies did and that gave us the moral high ground.