[govinfo] GovInfo News - 11-06-06

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 11:58:28 -0500

 - U.S. Seeks Silence on CIA Prisons
- Good call - Delaware uses VoiceXML to expand online [access to govt info]

Patrice McDermott, Director
1742 Connecticut Ave NW, 3rd floor
Washington, DC 20009
202.332.OPEN (6736)


Court Is Asked to Bar Detainees From Talking About Interrogations
By Carol D. Leonnig and Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 4, 2006; A01
The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held 
in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the 
"alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk.

The government says in new court filings that those interrogation methods are 
now among the nation's most sensitive national security secrets and that their 
release -- even to the detainees' own attorneys -- "could reasonably be 
expected to cause extremely grave damage." Terrorists could use the information 
to train in counter-interrogation techniques and foil government efforts to 
elicit information about their methods and plots, according to government 
documents submitted to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Oct. 26.

The battle over legal rights for terrorism suspects detained for years in CIA 
prisons centers on Majid Khan, a 26-year-old former Catonsville resident who 
was one of 14 high-value detainees transferred in September from the "black" 
sites to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A lawyer with the 
Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many detainees at 
Guantanamo, is seeking emergency access to him.

The government, in trying to block lawyers' access to the 14 detainees, 
effectively asserts that the detainees' experiences are a secret that should 
never be shared with the public.

Because Khan "was detained by CIA in this program, he may have come into 
possession of information, including locations of detention, conditions of 
detention, and alternative interrogation techniques that is classified at the 
TOP SECRET//SCI level," an affidavit from CIA Information Review Officer 
Marilyn A. Dorn states, using the acronym for "sensitive compartmented 
Kathleen Blomquist, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said yesterday that 
details of the CIA program must be protected from disclosure. She said the 
lawyer's proposal for talking with Khan "is inadequate to protect unique and 
potentially highly classified information that is vital to our country's 
ability to fight terrorism."

Government lawyers also argue in court papers that detainees such as Khan 
previously held in CIA sites have no automatic right to speak to lawyers 
because the new Military Commissions Act, signed by President Bush last month, 
stripped them of access to U.S. courts. That law established separate military 
trials for terrorism suspects.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is considering 
whether Guantanamo detainees have the right to challenge their imprisonment in 
U.S. courts. The government urged Walton to defer any decision on access to 
lawyers until the higher court rules.

Good call - Delaware uses VoiceXML to expand online

By Rob Thormeyer,

Delaware may be a small wonder, but it has taken a herculean effort to cross 
the state's digital divide.
Michele Ackles, deputy principal assistant at the state's Department of 
Technology and Information, helped bridge that gap.

Delaware has its high-density areas and high-traffic beaches, but much of the 
state folds out across flat, two-lane country roads, with chicken farming a 
major industry.
Because of its dispersed population and a growing number of citizens more than 
70 years old, Ackles said, Delaware officials realized that while parts of the 
state have crossed the digital divide, a significant portion, for various 
reasons, have not.
This meant that the state's online services were unavailable to a sizeable 
chunk of the population, and that essential information such as where citizens 
should go to vote could not get across the digital divide.

"We all make the assumption that everyone knows where there's free Internet 
access," Ackles said. "We also tend to lose sight of the fact that most kids 
are great with computers, but our parents are not."

While not everyone has, or knows how to use, a computer, most everyone has a 

So Delaware officials in 2002 launched the initial phases of Access Delaware, a 
project aimed at letting citizens access the Internet via an 800 number.

...Ackles' department created a telephone network using VoiceXML that lets 
citizens access state Web sites and receive basic information over the phone 
that was otherwise unavailable.

"It's the simplicity of being able to just dial a number," Ackles said. "Most 
of us have more phones in the house than computers."

VoiceXML is an Extensible Markup Language that communicates through a telephone 
or voice browser rather than a graphical one.

The language accepts spoken input so it is accessible for those with visual 
challenges, although users can punch responses into the phone keypad as well.

VoiceXML is open standard, making it easy for IT staff with some Web experience 
to update the system. Delaware runs VoiceXML on a Microsoft Windows platform, 
but officials said it can run on any operating system.

DTI collaborated with other state agencies to determine what information to 
make available over the phone.

For instance, Access Delaware first contained information about where citizens 
without a computer could get online for free.

Later in 2002 and in 2004, to coincide with the elections, officials updated 
Access Delaware to let users find out where they are supposed to vote. DTI 
officials said Access Delaware logs the highest number of users during 

More recently, the state added a feature that lets citizens track their tax 
returns and a connection to the Delaware Helpline, which provides live 

As a result, all Delaware citizens, no matter where they live, have a 
connection to the Internet, Ackles said. This has helped the government make 
more services available and let some citizens find out more about the Web.

"We're a small state, so our numbers never look that great," Ackles said. But 
"we do engage more people now and make them aware of what services are 
Ackles also hopes the program can evolve to the point that school closings and 
other daily information can be accessed, from the database, over the phone. 
This could bring in more users besides those who do not have access to a 
computer, she said. "If you wake up at 5 a.m. and its snowing, I'd rather just 
call a number" to find out if the schools are closed "rather than find this 
information online," she said. Still, she admitted that surfing the Web over 
the phone is undoubtedly limited, and users cannot do many things that they 
could otherwise do while on a computer. But that is not the point.

"Access Delaware is all about letting people access the Internet over the 
phone," she said. "It is less sophisticated than what you can do on the Web, 
but the idea is, as time goes by, you can provide more and more services."

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