You Don’t See This Happen Often

ABC News

Synopsis: A 16 year old Icelander decided to call the President; on the Number, supposedly secret. He doesn’t know how he got it, and he doesn’t know why it caused such a hubbub.

When Vífill Atlason, a 16-year-old high school student from Iceland, decided to call the White House, he could not imagine the kind of publicity it would bring.

Introducing himself as Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the actual president of Iceland, Atlason found what he believed to be President George W. Bush’s allegedly secret telephone number and phoned, requesting a private meeting with him.

“I just wanted to talk to him, have a chat, invite him to Iceland and see what he’d say,” Vífill told ABC News.

A White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore insisted to ABC News that the young man did not dial the private number but instead dialled 202-456-1414, the main switchboard for the West Wing. But that was not the case. The student gave ABC News the number. It is indeed an extention off the White House switchboard and goes to a security command post office in the building next door to the White House.

Vífill’s mother, Harpa Hreinsdottir, a teacher at the local high school, said her son did, in fact, get through to a private phone.

“This was not a switchboard number of any kind,” she told ABC News, “it was a secret number at the highest security level.”

Vífill claims he was passed on to several people, each of them quizzing him on President Grímsson’s date of birth, where he grew up, who his parents were and the date he entered office.

“It was like passing through checkpoints,” he said. “But I had Wikipedia and a few other sites open, so it was not so difficult really.”

When he finally got through to President Bush’s secretary, Vífill alleges he was told to expect a call back from Bush.

“She told me the president was not available at the time, but that she would mark it in his schedule to call me back on Monday evening,” he said.

Instead, the police showed up at his home in Akranes, a fishing town about 48 kilometers from Reykjavik, and took him to the local police station, where they questioned the 16-year-old for several hours.

“The police chief said they were under orders from U.S. officials to “find the leak” — that I had to tell them where I had found the number,” he said. “Otherwise, I would be banned from ever entering the United States.”

Vífill claims he cannot remember where he got the number.

“I just know I have had it for a few years,” he told ABC. “I must have gotten it from a friend when I was about 11 or 12.”

Atlason’s mother Harpa, who was not home at the time, said she was shocked to find her son had been taken away by the police but could not quite bring herself to be angry with her son.

“He’s very resourceful you know,” she said. “He has become a bit of a hero in Iceland. Bush is very unpopular here.”

Vífill was eventually released into his parent’s custody, and no charges have been brought against the high school student.

When ABC verified the number, it was the Secret Service Uniform Division, which handles security for the president.

“If the number were not top secret, why would the police have told me that I will be put on a no-fly list to America?” Vífill asked.

“I don’t see how calling the White House is a crime,” he added. “But obviously, they took it very seriously.”

The Secret Service told ABC News this was not its investigation.

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What do we do now?

From www.commondreams.org. A good article, but it raises the question; what do we do now?

I wish people would stop breaking into tears when they talk to me these days.

I am traveling across the country at the moment — Colorado to California — speaking to groups of Americans from all walks of life about the assault on liberty and the 10 steps now underway in America to a violently closed society.

The good news is that Americans are already awake: I thought there would be resistance to or disbelief at this message of gathering darkness — but I am finding crowds of people who don’t need me to tell them to worry; they are already scared, already alert to the danger and entirely prepared to hear what the big picture might look like. To my great relief, Americans are smart and brave and they are unflinching in their readiness to hear the worst and take action. And they love their country.

But I can’t stand the stories I am hearing. I can’t stand to open my email these days. And wherever I go, it seems, at least once a day, someone very strong starts to cry while they are speaking.

In Boulder, two days ago, a rosy-cheeked thirtysomething mother of two small children, in soft yoga velours, started to tear up when she said to me: “I want to take action but I am so scared. I look at my kids and I am scared. How do you deal with fear? Is it safer for them if I act or stay quiet? I don’t want to get on a list.” In D.C., before that, a beefy, handsome civil servant, a government department head — probably a Republican — confides in a lowered voice that he is scared to sign the new ID requirement for all government employees, that exposes all his most personal information to the State — but he is scared not to sign it: “If I don’t, I lose my job, my house. It’s like the German National ID card,” he said quietly. This morning in Denver I talked for almost an hour to a brave, much-decorated high-level military man who is not only on the watch list for his criticism of the administration — his family is now on the list. His elderly mother is on the list. His teenage son is on the list. He has flown many dangerous combat missions over the course of his military career, but his voice cracks when he talks about the possibility that he is exposing his children to harassment.

Jim Spencer, a former columnist for the Denver Post who has been critical of the Bush administration, told me today that I could use his name: he is on the watch list. An attorney contacts me to say that she told her colleagues at the Justice Department not to torture a detainee; she says she then faced a criminal investigation, a professional referral, saw her emails deleted — and now she is on the watch list. I was told last night that a leader of Code Pink, the anti-war women’s action group, was refused entry to Canada. I hear from a tech guy who works for the airlines — again, probably a Republican — that once you are on the list you never get off. Someone else says that his friend opened his luggage to find a letter from the TSA saying that they did not appreciate his reading material. Before I go into the security lines, I find myself editing my possessions. In New York’s LaGuardia, I reluctantly found myself putting a hardcover copy of Tara McKelvey’s excellent Monstering, an expose of CIA interrogation practices, in a garbage can before I get in the security line; it is based on classified information. This morning at my hotel, before going to the sirport, I threw away a very nice black T-shirt that said “We Will Not be Silenced” — with an Arabic translation — that someone had given me, along with a copy of poems written by detainees at Guantanamo.

In my America we are not scared to get in line at the airport. In my America, we will not be silenced.

More times than I can count, courageous and confident men who are telling me about speaking up, but who are risking what they see as the possible loss of job, home or the ability to pay for grown kids’ schooling, start to choke up. Yesterday a woman in one gathering started to cry simply while talking about the degradation of her beloved country.

And always the questions: what do we do?

It is clear from this inundation of personal stories of abuse and retribution against ordinary Americans that a network of criminal behavior and intention is catching up more and more mainstream citizens in its grasp. It is clear that this is not democracy as usual — or even the corruption of democracy as usual. It is clear that we will need more drastic action than emails to Congress.

The people I am hearing from are conservatives and independents as well as progressives. The cardinal rule of a closing or closed society is that your alignment with the regime offers no protection; in a true police state no one is safe.

I read the news in a state of something like walking shock: seven soldiers wrote op-eds critical of the war — in The New York Times; three are dead, one shot in the head. A female soldier who was about to become a whistleblower, possibly about abuses involving taxpayers’ money: shot in the head. Pat Tillman, who was contemplating coming forward in a critique of the war: shot in the head. Donald Vance, a contractor himself, who blew the whistle on irregularities involving arms sales in Iraq — taken hostage FROM the U.S. Embassy BY U.S. soldiers and kept without recourse to a lawyer in a U.S. held-prison, abused and terrified for weeks — and scared to talk once he got home. Another whistleblower in Iraq, as reported in Vanity Fair: held in a trailer all night by armed contractors before being ejected from the country.

Last week contractors, immune from the rule of law, butchered 17 Iraqi civilians in cold blood. Congress mildly objected — and contractors today butcher two more innocent civilian Iraqi ladies — in cold blood.

It is clear yet that violent retribution, torture or maybe worse, seems to go right up this chain of command? Is it clear yet that these people are capable of anything? Is it obvious yet that criminals are at the helm of the nation and need to be not only ousted but held accountable for their crimes?

Is it treason yet?

This is an open invitation to honorable patriots on the Right and in the center to join this movement to restore the rule of law and confront this horror: this is not conservatism, it is a series of crimes against the nation and against the very essence of America. Join us, we need you.

This movement must transcend partisan lines. The power of individual conscience is profound when people start to wake up.

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey said No: he told colleague that they would be ashamed when the world learned about the Administration’s warrantless wiretapping. Comey said No: history will look at this torture and disgrace the torturers. A judge today ruled that the U.S. can’t just ship prisoners out of Guantanamo to be tortured at will — she said No. The Center for Constitutional Rights is about to file a civil lawsuit — against Blackwater: they are saying No.

In Germany, according to historian Richard Evans, in 1931-1932, if enough Germans of conscience had begun to say No — history would have had an entirely difrerent outcome.

If we go any further down this road the tears will be those of conservatives as well as progressives. They will be American tears.

The time for weeping has to stop; the time for confronting must begin.

Are they psychotic? (not a rant)

All right, radical liberals and libertarians and most other free thinking individuals, stop with the impeachment thing. Its over. The general public doesn’t care, and probably never will. Let’s not treat them like the criminals that they are. Lets treat them as psychopaths.

Why?

Well, I say they’ve gone nuts, obviously. And here the reason.

Any normal, sane person, would look around and see the general opinion of the world, or at least your own people, when they are engaged in a war. But us? Nah. Our leader throws us into two misinformed, illegal wars, and is now looking for a third.

Why? Well, I have a theory on that, and it involves the Federal Reserve, but thats for another day.

The point is, last week, Bush remarked that “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III . . . you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” On Sunday, Vice President Cheney warned of “the Iranian regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power . . . [we] cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions.” On Tuesday, Bush insisted on the need “to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat.”

What? Europe? How will the Iranian’s attack Europe(for no reason, since they aren’t angry with anyone in Europe) with a nuclear weapon(they don’t possess)?

How about we calm down and stop launching unprovoked attacks?

Ecuador Wants Base… In United States?

Reuters – Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to keep using an air base on Ecuador’s Pacific coast.

Correa has refused to renew Washington’s lease on the Manta air base, set to expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes.

“We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base,” Correa said in an interview during a trip to Italy.

“If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”

The U.S. embassy to Ecuador says on its Web site that anti-narcotics flights from Manta gathered information behind more than 60 percent of illegal drug seizures on the high seas of the Eastern Pacific last year.

It offers a fact-sheet on the base at: http://ecuador.usembassy.gov/topics_of_interest/manta-fol.html

Correa, a popular leftist economist, had promised to cut off his arm before extending the lease that ends in 2009 and has called U.S. President George W. Bush a “dimwit”.

But Correa, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, told Reuters he believed relations with the United States were “excellent” despite the base closing.
He rejected the idea that the episode reflected on U.S. ties at all.

“This is the only North American military base in South America,” he said.

“So, then the other South American countries don’t have good relations with the United States because they don’t have military bases? That doesn’t make any sense.”

What saddens me, is that we will probobly negotiate. No, I’m not saying that we will let them build a base on our soil, but that in order to keep our troops off our own homeland, Bush and the next President will give an arm and a leg. The fact that we have any bases on any foreign soil is an affront to their nation’s sovereignty. Let us dismantle our own war machine before we criticize others’.