Ron Wyden’s Letter to NIST Re: Sensitive Data Transmission

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) wrote a letter (1 mb PDF) today to the National Institute of Standards and Technology asking them to create guidance for government workers on how to securely share sensitive data,

As you know, it is a routine practice in the government, and indeed the private sector, to send by email password-protected .zip files containing sensitive documents. Many people incorrectly believe that password-protected .zip files can protect sensitive data. Indeed, many password-protected .zip files can be easily broken with off-the-shelf hacking tools. This is because many of the software programs that create .zip files use a weak encryption algorithm by default. While secure methods to protect and share data exist and are freely available, many people do not know which software they should use.

Violent Extremists and the Reporters Who Love Them

One of the more fascinating aspects of animal rights and environmental acts of violence are those in relatively mainstream liberal and environmental circles who choose to excuse and diminish the nature and scope of such crimes. Former UPI reporter Kelly Hearn typifies such fellow travelers, especially in his use of extremely deceptive reporting on one such act.

Hearn opens an article published by Alternet by comparing the sentence received by one eco-terrorist to that received by a young man convicted of rape and assault,

A remorseless rapist in Hamilton County, Ohio is sentenced to 15 years in prison for beating and raping a 57-year-old woman. An environmental activist in California is sentenced to 22 years and 8 months for burning three SUVs at a car dealership after taking precautions to harm no lives.

The disparity helps illustrates [sic] what animal rights and environmental groups say is an expanding Orwellian attack on American environmentalism being waged under the pretext of eco-terrorism.

Of course, the only thing genuinely Orwellian is how utterly deceptive and factually incorrect the above two paragraphs are. They are so deceptive, in fact, that either Hearn did not actually do any original research about either of the young men he mentions, or he is lying through omission in order to make the cause of violent animal rights and environmental extremists seem more palatable to Alternet’s liberal readers.

The first paragraph above is the only reference made to these incidents, which helpfully makes it difficult for casual readers to verify what Hearn says. Who is this environmental activist who was sentenced to 22 years in California? Who is this remorseless rapist from Ohio? Did Hearn get their stories right?

For those who follow the extremists in the animal rights and environmental movement, its obvious that the environmental activist Hearn is referring to is Jeffrey Luers. But Hearn’s description of Luers’ well-deserved predicament is deceptive.

Luers, of course, was convicted in Oregon, not California. And in addition to being convicted of setting fire to three SUVs, he was also convicted of attempting to set fire to gasoline tanker and to possession of incendiary devices.

All of these details are important for understanding an odd circumstance that Hearn cannot be bothered to mention — Luers partner in these arsons, Craig Marshall, was sentenced to just 5 years. If prosecutors wanted to wage a war against environmentalism, it is a bit odd, to say the least, that they would let Marshall off so easily.

The difference, of course, is that Marshall accepted a plea bargain in which he plead to lesser charges. Luers was also offered a plea bargain but rejected it despite the abundant evidence of his guilt.

Luers, instead, decided to roll the dice and go to trial. Luers was well aware what he was possibly facing. Oregon’s Measure 11 sets strict mandatory minimums, and Luers and his lawyers knew full well that if convicted on most of the charges, he would spend a very long time in jail, much of it without the possibility of parole. Luers gambled, and lost, with his freedom both when he set those fires and then in facing the legal system for those crimes.

So, now that we’ve got a bit better picture of Luers’ predicament than Hearn could be bothered to present, what about that Ohio rapist. Presumably Hearn is writing about Terrell Wilkins, whom prosecutor Steve Tolbert said, “(He) might be the most dangerous human being I’ve ever prosecuted in all these years.”

In 2003, then 17-year-old Wilkins assaulted and raped his 57-year-old literacy tutor. He was reportedly angry that she decided to end their tutoring session early.

Wilkins plead no contest to rape and assault charges, and was sentenced to six years in prison for assault and nine years for the rape charge. The 15 years was just three short of the maximum 18 years he could have been sentenced to.

Why didn’t Wilkins get more time? The news reports on Wilkins’ case, unfortunately, do not give a lot of information on this point, but there are a number of possibilities. Wilkins plead “no contest” to the charges shortly before his trial was to begin, suggesting he may have reached a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Second, Wilkins did not use a weapon of any sort during his assault. Ohio statutes for rape and assault — as similar statutes across the country — generally treat acts of violence committed without weapons differently than acts of violence committed with weapons.

Third, Wilkins committed a single, unpremeditated rape. Again, most statutes for rape and assault generally reserve their longest sentences for convicts who fit sexual predator profiles — i.e, those who plan and carry out multiple assaults.

That being said, Hearn offers a false dichotomy. The clear implication of Hearn’s article is that if a brutal assault and rape only garners 15 years in jail in Ohio, a premeditated act of arson in Oregon should not draw an almost 23 year sentence. But the correct conclusion is that Wilkins should have been sentenced to a much longer period in jail, not that Luers’ sentence should have been shorter. Certainly the voters of Ohio can, if they choose, increase the mandatory minimum for violent crimes just as Oregon voters decided to increase the mandatory minimums for violent crimes in their state.

Moreover, Hearn’s defense of animal rights and environmental violence is the latest in a disturbing trend of left-liberals coming to the defense of violent extremists who happen to tangentially share their ideologies. Presumably if Luers and Marshall had torched an abortion clinic, Alternet would not be running an article complaining about the long sentence.

This is why, for example, no one at Alternet complains that Peter Howard received a 15 year sentence just like Wilkins. Howard is an anti-abortion extremist who tried to destroy an abortion clinic. At about 2 a.m. on March 17, 1997, Howard rammed his pickup truck into an abortion clinic. The truck was loaded with 13 gasoline cans and three propane tanks which Howard planned to use to set fire to the building. Howard’s concoction of gasoline and propane failed to ignite, however, and he was apprehended at the scene.

If Hearn wrote that a man who attempted to burn down an abortion clinic received the same sentence as a man who raped and assaulted a woman, thereby demonstrating that the government is persecuting anti-abortion activists in an Orwellian attack, the Alternet editors would file his story in their wastebaskets. Change the ideological cause to environmentalism and animal rights, however, and well, you know . . .it is only arson after all.

Hearn’s article serve the same role that much pro-life propaganda in the 1980s and 1990s did. It attempts to recast those committing acts of arson as the victims, and in the process of excusing and diminishing their crimes also glamorizes them. Jeff Luers, after all, is no longer simply an arsonist who liked to set fire to things, he’s now a victim in an “expanding Orwellian attack on American environmentalism.” Hell, they should probably give that kid a medal, not send him to jail!


Stepping up the attack on green activists. Kelly Hearn, AlterNet, September 30, 2005.

Teen sent to jail for raping tutor. Jennifer Steiner, WCPO.Com, November 18, 2003.

Remorseless rapist gets 15 years. Janice Morse, The Cincinnati Enquirer, November 19, 2003.

Would-be clinic bomber gets 15-year term. Jerry Bier, The Fresno Bee, February 10, 1998.

YWCA rape victim file lawsuit. Jessica Brown, Journal News (Hamilton, Ohio), December 5, 2003.

Oregon Senate Considers Bill to Ban Foie Gras Sale, Production

The Oregon Senate is currently considering a bill that would ban the production and sale of foie gras in Oregon.

The bill’s language says that,

A person commits the crime of force-feeding
a bird if, for the purpose of causing the liver of the bird to
increase in size, the person:
(a) Force-feeds a bird; or
(b) Directs or authorizes an employee to force-feed a bird.

. . .

A person commits the crime of trading in
force-fed bird products if the person sells, offers for sale or
delivers one or more food products that the person knows to have
been produced in whole or in part by force-feeding a bird.

The Oregonian reported that animal rights activists believe the bill will pass in the Democrat-dominated Senate, and are working to try to convince the Republican-dominated House to consider the measure. The Oregonian quoted In Defense of Animals activist Matt Rossell as saying,

This is not a partisan issue. It’s about what we are willing to tolerate in this state in terms of animal cruelty.

Some Oregon restaurants and chefs, however, are calling the bill “extremist”. The Oregonian interviewed restaurant owner Pascal Sauton who said he added foie gras to his menu in November and sold about 200 orders. Sauton said that his customers “also appreciated that I stood up for people’s right to eat what they want.”

The full text of Oregon Senate Bill 861 can be read here.


Foie gras prohibition bill advances to Senate floor. The Oregonian, Michelle Cole, April 19, 2005.

Oregon SB 861 – Ban on Foie Gras Production

     73rd OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2005 Regular Session

NOTE:  Matter within  { +  braces and plus signs + } in an
amended section is new. Matter within  { -  braces and minus
signs - } is existing law to be omitted. New sections are within
 { +  braces and plus signs + } .

LC 2387


                         Senate Bill 861
                 Ordered by the Senate April 21
           Including Senate Amendments dated April 21

Sponsored by Senator VERGER; Senators BATES, GEORGE, SHIELDS,
  WHITSETT, Representatives HUNT, ROSENBAUM (at the request of
  Ted E. Keizer)


The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the
measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to
consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's
brief statement of the essential features of the measure.

  Creates crime of force-feeding bird. Punishes by maximum $1,000
  Creates crime of trading in force-fed bird products. Punishes
by maximum fine of $1,000.

                        A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to the force-feeding of birds.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
  SECTION 1.  { + As used in sections 2 and 3 of this 2005 Act:
  (1) 'Bird' means a fowl grown for purposes of human
  (2) 'Force-feed' means to deliver food by:
  (a) Placing a tube or other device into the esophagus; or
  (b) Any other method used with the intent of causing ingestion
of an amount of food that exceeds the amount that would be
ingested voluntarily by a typical member of the same species. + }
  SECTION 2.  { + (1) A person commits the crime of force-feeding
a bird if, for the purpose of causing the liver of the bird to
increase in size, the person:
  (a) Force-feeds a bird; or
  (b) Directs or authorizes an employee to force-feed a bird.
  (2) The crime of force-feeding a bird is an unclassified
misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000. Each
force-feeding of a bird is a separate violation. + }
  SECTION 3.  { + (1) A person commits the crime of trading in
force-fed bird products if the person sells, offers for sale or
delivers one or more food products that the person knows to have
been produced in whole or in part by force-feeding a bird.
  (2) The crime of trading in force-fed bird products is an
unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a fine, not to exceed
$1,000. In the case of a continuing violation, each day the
violation continues is a separate offense. + }

Circuses — Cruel By Definition?

Ran across a story from the Corvallis Gazette-Times from April about a group of local activists protesting the Circus Gatti’s appearance in Corvallis, Oregon.

Eight protesters from Citizens Against Circus Cruelty showed up, at least one dressed up like a clown.

Now usually, activists protesting circuses tend to distribute leaflets outlining alleged abuses by this circus or that, often accompanied by photos alleged to be abused circus animals. But Citizens Against Circus Cruelty has no need for evidence of any sort. According to organizer Nettie Schwager (emphasis added),

The public needs to be made aware of the animal cruelty in circuses. All circuses that use animals by definition mistreat animals.

There you have it — Schwager’s right by definition. Of course, that’s a pretty twisted dictionary she’s using.


Activists protest circus. Mary Ann Albright, Corvallis Gazette-Times, April 2, 2005.

Accused Eco-Terrorists Arrested

On December 21, 2004, two men accused of plotting an eco-terrorist attack were arrested in Oregon.

Charles Arthur Jordan IV, 20, and Stephen Marshall, 19, were arrested at an abandoned farm house and charged with plotting to blow up equipment owned by Oregon quarry company, Morse Bros. The two allegedly believe that the quarry company was polluting a local river and decided some well-placed explosives was a logical response.

The two apparently came under suspicion after they allegedly boasted to friends about their plans.


Support Eco-Prisoners – January 2005. Press Release, Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network, January 2005.