Tuesday, May 28, 2013



               REST IN PEACE IRIS


Every year, "it" always begins with my sister IRIS, somehow fitting symbolically for her to represent the incredible inexplicable unfairness, incalculable suffering, and tragedy that has wrought its massive destruction of so many  good, loved, close members of my family, who deserved very much better than they received in life and death.  

Once again, another year has passed and the dreaded agony of my overwhelming grief for those of my family I painfully miss, mourn for, who have died, envelops my entire being, more so than at any other time.

It  always begins on this calendar date, May 28th as a not really necessary reminder, each year at this time, and lasts forever. I need not be told that it is here, since the pain is an always present bleeding part of my soul, all the time, all year round, but becomes insidiously unbearable as of this date, and in the next few months, every year, implodes beyond that which I can even feel as a human being. 

More difficult than ever, filled with the aching of a lifetime beaten down into ever present, increasingly toxic, non stop personal demons, nightmares, flash backs, with memories vividly stamped inside my brain, as if it were just yesterday that we were all together as a family, and of course, little brother and big sister.

I planted these Iris flowers in the garden out front of my house when my sister Iris died. I liked the idea that they are perennials, each year flowering in all their beauty, now looking so alive on another yearly anniversary today of the day she died, after a courageous and agonizing battle to live. 

We do that a lot in my family, fighting to live life to the fullest, and when our time comes, refusing to let go until our last precious breath. They call our family fighters, survivors, and that is what we do in both living our happiness as a gift never to be taken for granted and the darkness which is part of remembering.
My sister Iris was full of life, insightful,quiet,courageous, loyal, sagely wise, and then she was gone forever, tragically, agonizingly painfully, and irrevocably. She deserved so much better in her short time on this earth but it was not to be. Why her? Why??

Iris, my sister, a gift to me in life, was more beautiful in a million ways than these plants. 

I will miss you forever my dear sister Iris, but most of all I will always miss your caring love. 

I love you. 

Love, Jerry.


Sunday, May 12, 2013



Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, and Lu Lingzi

The Boston Marathon Bombing was another tragic attack on innocent human beings by animals that prey on hurting, maiming, killing others. 

This blood bath happened on April 15, 2013, killing three and wounding more than 170 people. 

The victims were identified in the above pictures as 29-year-old Krystle Campbell (left), 8-year-old Martin Richard (center) and 23-year-old Lu Lingzi (right). 

Martin, of Dorchester, Mass., was with his family near the finish line waiting for his father to complete the marathon. 

Campbell, of Medford, Mass., went with her best friend to take a picture of the friends boyfriend crossing the finish line. 

Lu, of Shenyang, China, was a graduate student studying statistics at Boston University

Today is May 12, 2013, almost a month after this bombing. People forget about the dead victims, and those who are struggling to survive with their injuries.

The media frenzy has quieted down as usually happens after these horrific acts of violence. One is hard pressed to read or see anything about the victims in the current media.

Almost all the coverage now is focused on the 2 animals who set off the bombs because they didn't like Americans, or whatever bull shit is being fed to the public by the media. 

Politicians and lobbyists use the blood of these victims for their own personal agendas, grotesquely twisting what has happened, without any feelings about the victims and their families.

Sadly, there are so many stories to tell about all of these victims and how their lives have been changed forever.

How can their agony, terror, and courage be written about so that others understand what happened that day will never be erased from the minds and bodies of these victims and their families?

Similar to the Newton, Connecticut Sandy Hill School Massacre, how many people remember the victims, other than their families? Click Here-

I have been grappling for a way to make people remember that victims and their families have to live with their tragedies forever, while the rest of the public forgets, does not even understand the suffering that has and will take place.

In trying to not disrespect the Boston Bombing victims I have wrestled within myself as to what to do with the mostly unpublished pictures of the human carnage that took place that day.

I believe that you cannot sugar coat or censor the true horrific nature of what takes place when people become victims. I do understand that some people may feel it shows a lack of respect for the victims by showing pictures.

I also personally know from my own experiences that when the violence, ugliness, and suffering of victims is diluted, sanitized, it is far more disrespectful of those who have been harmed because it does not accurately reflect what has happened to these human beings. It then becomes another easy way for people to disconnect,forgetting those who must be remembered. 

WARNING-CAUTION GRAPHIC CONTENT-You need to be warned that these are bloody gruesome pictures- WARNING-CAUTION GRAPHIC CONTENT.


If anyone has any sympathy for the Tsarnaev brothers, the pictures above should dispel it. Everyone needs to see the results of their actions. These pictures say more than any words could about the evil of these murderers and what being a victim of ANY tragedy actually experience.

I wrote a previous story about 8 year old Martin Richard who was one of the 3 people killed in the bombing-CLICK HERE.

The Boston Marathon bombings, also injured more than 260 people, with many of the victims suffering complex wounds that are causing intense pain and that will require several more operations.

Thirty-one victims still remain hospitalized at the city’s trauma centers, including some who lost legs or feet. 

Sixteen people had limbs blown off in the blasts or amputated afterward, ranging in age from 7 to 71. But in a way, their cases are the simpler ones, said Dr. David King, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

For some whose limbs were preserved, Dr. King said, the wounds were so littered with debris that five or six operations have been needed to decontaminate them.“The idea is to spread out the physiological stress over multiple operations,” he said.

Some of the wounded also still need surgery to repair bones, veins and nerves. Many will need physical therapy as well. 

About 10 patients have already arrived at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, said Timothy Sullivan, a spokesman, and that number could soon double.

For many of the wounded, managing pain is a constant challenge. Dr. Alok Gupta, a trauma surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said the hospital was giving patients oral and intravenous narcotics and, where possible, regional nerve blocks using catheters.

Dr. King said that for those who lost limbs, so-called phantom pain, which feels as if it is coming from the body part that is no longer there, can be excruciating and particularly hard to treat.“You have to balance between taking the pain away,” he said, “and them being interactive and able to participate in their own rehabilitation.”

The ailments are not just physical. Some patients are upbeat, doctors said, but others are angry, anxious and depressed.

Joan Smith, the manager of social work services at Tufts Medical Center, said that virtually all of the 14 victims who came through the hospital were experiencing acute stress disorder.“

I also personally did a lot of work with family members who were trying to be strong for their children but at the same time were falling apart behind closed doors,” said Ms. Smith, who made sure all the patients and their families had a list of mental health specialists to contact if they felt the need.

Dr. Scott Ryan, chief of orthopedic trauma at Tufts, said he could not stop thinking about how traumatic it must have been for the victims, most of whom remained conscious after the blasts, to see the extent of their wounds as they were raced to hospitals.

“The most disturbing thing for me in treating these patients is that they were awake after it happened and looked down and saw these terrible wounds,” he said. “Most of the time, patients with that bad injuries, they’re from a car accident or motorcycle accident and by the time they get to hospital they’re not with it enough to look down and say, ‘Oh my God, look what happened to my leg.’ ”

Those still hospitalized include Heather Abbott, 38, whose left foot, mangled in the first blast, was initially saved by doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She chose to have her leg amputated a few inches below the knee this week, after doctors essentially told her that life would be harder with the foot than without it.

“I walked maybe 10 feet today on a walker and everybody was so proud of me,” Ms. Abbott, a human resources manager from Newport, R.I., told reporters at the hospital on Thursday. “And I thought, ‘Oh gosh, this is going to be a long time.’ ”

Fund-raising Web pages for some victims describe their physical and emotional ordeals in raw detail. A page for Christian Williams, 41, an art director whose legs were gravely injured as he stood near the marathon finish line, included a note from Mr. Williams in which he described how he felt after his fourth operation on Monday. 

Although the doctors “managed to get my right leg closer to being closed,” he wrote, “the meds weren’t working and I couldn’t hide from the pain.”

A video posted on a fund-raising page for Celeste Corcoran, 47, who lost both legs below her knees, shows her meeting with Sgt. Gabe Martinez, a Marine who lost his lower legs and came to give her a pep talk. “I can’t do anything right now,” Ms. Corcoran told him tearfully.

Sergeant Martinez, who walked into her room at Boston Medical Center on prosthetic legs, replied: “Right now, yes. But I’m telling you with all my heart, you are going to be more independent than you ever were.”

At Spaulding, the rehab hospital, a team of doctors, nurses, psychologists and physical therapists will focus exclusively on the bombing victims, many of whom will be fitted with prosthetic legs while they are there. Inpatient rehabilitation usually lasts a few weeks, said Dr. Ross Zafonte, Spaulding’s chief medical officer, although some of these patients will be there longer. 

Months of outpatient rehabilitation will follow, “They’re learning to walk with a prosthetic, regain balance, take care of that extremity, perform their own activities of daily living,” Dr. Zafonte said. “They have to deal with all of those rather life changing issues rather quickly.”

Ryan McMahon, 33, who fractured her back and broke both wrists when she fell off the stands at the finish line in the panicked moments after the explosions, is starting her long recovery at her grandmother’s home in Newton, Mass. 

Sitting straight up on her grandmother’s couch on Thursday afternoon, her back supported by a brace and one arm by a pile of pillows, Ms. McMahon said she was struggling with some anxiety.“I was really nervous transitioning into coming home, feeling like this was a safe environment, but looking around feeling like it was a different place again,” said Ms. McMahon, who has an appointment to see a mental health counselor on Friday.

Her father, John McMahon, said it would take her about a year to recover fully. Ms. McMahon, who was hospitalized for a week, was not buying it. It’s not going to be a big deal,” she said. “It’s not. I’m going to be fine.”

Ms. McMahon had run to Boston Medical Center after the bombings, and was one of the first patients to arrive there.“I just saw everyone coming in, and that was really hard,” she said, adding that the sight of other patients arriving covered with blood and without limbs has been much more difficult to process than her own injuries. “Every once in a while, I just kind of break down and think about the whole big picture of it, just focusing on other people.”

Let these victims be symbolic of all innocent victims past, present and future that have been murdered, maimed, destroyed. The images of the pictures are burnt into every victims family of any tragedy, because they all involve the unimaginable, the unforgettable, and the unreal. It is real to those of us who have lost loved ones through the acts of others who have no value for human life.

On Monday, Kenneth Feinberg (who previously administered the 9/11 disaster fund), the administrator appointed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to run the One Fund, presented the first outline of how money will be distributed.

Based on Feinberg’s description, the families of the four people killed in the attack and its aftermath will be in line to receive the highest amounts, along with “individuals who suffered double amputations or permanent brain damage,” according to the Associated Press.

The next level of recipients will include those who lost a single limb. After that, funds will be distributed to people who required overnight hospitalization. Feinberg said that there were other groups who may be eligible for relief, pending further review, including those injured who did not require hospitalization, people who suffered psychological trauma, and business owners who were forced to remain closed during the investigation.

Victims will have until June 15th to submit claims, and Feinberg said that the One Fund planned to distribute money by the end of June.

Anyone who wants to donate money to help pay the medical costs for the victims or victims families who want to register to be part of the distribution of these funds should CLICK HERE.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Stories about climate change make the headlines on a daily basis, and according to the most recent Gallup Poll taken in 2012-Click Here-the majority of Americans believe global warming is real.

52% of Americans, according to the above Poll say the effects of global warming have already begun to happen, consistent with views since 2009. However, this remains down from prior years, when as many as 61% believed global warming was already manifesting itself.

Americans' belief that the media exaggerate the seriousness of global warming rose sharply between 2006 and 2010, mainly because of a shift in Republicans' and independents' views. Democrats also grew a bit more skeptical during this period, but never more than 25% held this view.
Since 2009, two-thirds of Republicans have continued to say global warming news is exaggerated, while independents' skepticism has eased slightly, as has Democrats'.

I have big news for the climate change deniers:

It was just announced that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide surpassed a notable milestone this week.

They reached a daily average above 400 parts per million, reported NOAA, for the first time in human history.

The milestone, hit on May 9, may be symbolic, notes Climate Central, but man made CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue to rise, bringing greater atmospheric warming and exacerbating the effects of climate change.

Scientists argue we've loaded the "climate dice" in favor of more weather anomalies and extreme heat waves.
Research also shows that continued emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide will mean "largely irreversible" climate change for 1,000 years even after we curtail emissions.

"The last time we're confident that CO2 was sustained at these levels is more than 10 million years ago, during the middle of the Miocene period," stated climate scientist Michael Mann.This was a time when global temperatures were substantially warmer than today, and there was very little ice around anywhere on the planet."

Readings are taken at the NOAA operated Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and form part of the Keeling Curve, a continuous record of CO2 measurements dating back to 1958.  

Bubbles found inside Antarctic ice core samples provide a longer record of CO2 in the air for the past 800,000 years.
CO2 measurements surpassed 400 ppm in the Arctic last summer, but the readings from Hawaii mark the first time prolonged levels above 400 ppm have been observed at more moderate latitudes.

Global carbon dioxide levels fluctuate over the course of the year, reaching an annual peak in May. These CO2 levels indicate a cycle which reveals how trees and vegetation remove more CO2 from the air during the summer, until the annual minimum is reached in October.

However, despite mounting scientific evidence that the planet is warming, there are many people who loudly proclaim that global warming is nothing more than a hoax.

In February, business "magnate" Donald Trump, cited snow, a popular argument for climate change critics, as proof that global warming is a myth."With the coldest winter ever recorded, with snow setting record levels up and down the coast, the Nobel committee should take the Nobel Prize back from Al Gore," the tycoon  Donald Trump told members of his Trump National Golf Club.

During a visit to his granddaughter’s school in March, musician Ted Nugent told the children to say no to drugs, alcohol and tobacco. At the end of his speech, a student asked about global warming to which Nugent replied, “Global warming is a fraud. Watch Glenn Beck.”

Senator James Inhofe is  one of several Republican senators who don't believe in global warming, but this Oklahoma politician is particularly vociferous about his beliefs. In February, his family built an igloo near the U.S. Capitol and labeled it "Al Gore's new home."
 "When it’s hot, we get shade.” Rep. “Smokey Joe” Barton (R-TX), said in a congressional hearing on adapting to climate change, March 25, 2009.

“These global warming studies are a bunch of snake oil science." Former Governor Sarah Palin, stated at a logging conference in Redding, California, February 8, 2010.

"Nancy Pelosi" is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said she’s just trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet, we didn’t need Nancy Pelosi to do that.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), telling OneNewsNow that the US doesn’t need environmental advocates because Jesus already has got that covered, August 2008. 

Really, how comforting that Jesus told Rep. Bachmann  we need not worry. Perhaps she should change her statement to a better sound bite, Alfred E. Neuman's signature line, of  "What, Me Worry?"originally created by "Mad Magazine".

“According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.”, said George F. Will, columnist of The Washington Post, supporting his claims that glacial retreat caused by global warming is a myth, February 15, 2009. 

Actually the “University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center” does not exist, and the scientists at the university who conduct Arctic research reprimanded both Will and the Post for publishing non-factual claims.

After reading the above illustrious "experts" claiming that climate change doesn't exist, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that climate change is occurring, almost solely due to man/woman made pollution and abuse of the environment.

Not convinced yet? Below are the most popular myths used by the climate change deniers.

Myth #1: The science of global warming is uncertain, and not all scientists believe in it.

Fact: There is no debate among scientists about the basic facts of global warming.

While not all scientists may agree that humans are causing global warming, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, “the most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring, and people are causing it by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.”

In 2005, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences issued a joint statement with 10 other National Academies of Science saying, "the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emission.”

Myth #2: Global warming will be beneficial. Higher levels of carbon dioxide will increase crop growth and reduce cold-related deaths.

Fact: Global warming has serious consequences that will far outweigh any benefits.

Although carbon dioxide can stimulate plant growth in certain circumstances, scientists say this “CO2 fertilization effect,” will diminish as plants adapt to changes in the environment. Plus, extra carbon dioxide may benefit undesirable plant species, such as weeds, more than crops.

Also, increasing carbon dioxide levels cause ocean acidification, which can have adverse impacts on marine organisms. In fact, the oceans have already absorbed about 50 percent of the carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels.

While warmer weather may sound good for people and animals, a warming climate can actually have devastating effects. Melting glaciers and rising seas would flood coastal towns and contaminate water supplies. Plus, global warming contributes to extreme weather events like droughts, floods and heat waves, which could be deadly.

Myth #3: Recent cold winters and snowstorms indicate that global warming isn't occurring.

Fact: Different parts of the world may experience snow or cold weather, but the global trend is warmer winters.

A year of cold weather in one region isn’t evidence of a trend in the global climate. Measurements reveal that the Earth’s climate has warmed overall, in most regions, during the last century, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Myth #4: People aren't causing global warming,it's part of a natural cycle.

Fact: The global warming the Earth is experiencing isn't natural.

Scientists have proved that deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels are releasing more carbon dioxide into the air, which is the main cause of global warming. 

Since 1985, scientists have known that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat, and scientific study has already ruled out natural explanations like volcanic eruptions and sunlight.

It is clear to me that the current historic levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is serious and reflects a critical, perhaps point of no return in saving Earth.

At the very least, it means that the toxic poisoning of our environment has reached levels never before this high, and that a continued prolonged exposure to this, not only will eventually destroy agriculture, farming, the food chain, animal chain, human chain, but people are getting ill, dying now from the climate disasters that keep happening all over the world, as well as being exposed to the toxicity of the air we all breathe.

It already may be too late and will be too late at some point to save what is left of our ecosystem.  

The only question now is whether the relentless rise in carbon dioxide can be matched by a similar rise in the activism necessary to stop it. 

I don't see that activism happening since Corporations control the energy policy of most Countries, greed feeds the weak environmental laws, propaganda dumbs down a large part of the public, and so it begs the question of what will happen when the truth can't be denied any longer.

The answer I fear is, it won't matter, we will self destruct as a world.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


 UPDATE JUNE 24, 2013
June 24 - Home Sweet Home - 4 Days Post Op!
June 27, 2013 10:45pm
Well, it took Simon a shade over four days to go from transplant patient in the hospital to recovering from surgery in his own bed at home.  AT HOME!  Simon came home this past Tuesday and we have been busy making him comfortable and helping him adjust to a schedule that includes blood tests and doctors visits 3x per week.  Simon also has some goals related to drinking and....er.....sending that water on its way......you get the idea. Simon is eating, walking up and down the street, making us laugh and scanning the internet auction houses for rare coins. We are thrilled to have him home with us and watch daily as he gains more strength and mobility. Karen (the donor, a successful professional also the mother of 2 children  is doing extremely well with her recovery and I know she felt the cosmic love that our community sent her way. We felt it also.  I will post some photos soon, as long as I can catch up to Simon and snap a few. Our entire family sends its love back to you all for your being with us on this journey.

Peace and Blessings
Danny, Susan, Simon and Samara



Sometimes a thing happens that for at least a few moments restores my faith in humanity. With all the ugly, cruel, insane events constantly taking place in the world, here is a flicker of sunlight that has snuck in.

In March, I wrote a post about a young man, Simon Meyer who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant-Click Here To Read That Story.

A friend of my mine, Maxene had at that time mentioned his plight to me and that of his family in fighting against time to save his life.

Today, my same friend shared with me the good news. A donor has finally been found and medically cleared for a kidney transplant with Simon, tentatively scheduled as of now for June 21.

So I thought how amazing this is. A total stranger, for no other reason than to do good for another human being, volunteers to undergo transplant surgery to give one of her kidneys to Simon Meyer.

Pinch me, in our indifferent world of selfishness, here is a true and beautiful act showing that there are still some people in this world who have love compassion, courage, kindness, and caring to give literally of their self, to help save another person.

This is not just a gesture by a "guardian angel donor", it's not the same as giving a donation of money to help someone or something, it is so much more than that because it involves a completely unselfish, altruistic act of a person, who will subject themselves to be hospitalized, have surgery done on them, their kidney removed, ALL for another human being they don't even know.

This donor will give Simon Meyer the gift of life, and she will receive an equally tremendous gift in return. The knowledge and indescribable feeling of saving another human being because, and only because of her courageous actions.

Below is a post from Daniel Meyer, father of Simon Meyer, in his own words, describing the news. It doesn't get much better than this in life.

We all wish the best of health, success, and happiness to Simon Meyer, his "Guardian Angel Donor", and to the families of both.

"I received the wonderful word  yesterday-Click Here-from Simon's Guardian Angel, that she has been cleared for take off!  

Yes, folks, the long awaited news of matched and cleared donor has arrived. So many people have stepped forward for evaluation and testing to see if they were compatible with Simon. 

It is truly humbling to talk with people who have offered to share part of themselves with Simon and to really Done Vida, Donate Life. Their contribution to our journey cannot be measured or appropriately thanked...we just offer them back the love and good wishes that they have sent toward Simon. 

Back to the news!  June 21 has been penciled in as Simon's Get Back To Full Health Day. A date for a new kidney to start cleaning his blood of the toxins that has kept him out of school for a year, kept him from being himself, kept him from typical teenage activities, and sidelined him with fatigue and much more is now in sight and reach.  

As we approach June 21, I will reach out to ask for your thoughts, energy, mojo, chi, zen, shalom, prayers, smiles, wishes.....you get the point - whatever you can contribute to the convergence of the Star Wars Medichlorion upon Simon would be greatly appreciated.  

More to follow and thank you to all who have sent messages to Simon through CaringBridge Page.  

Today is a great day!"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


CISPA is NOT Dead. 


Tell the U.S. Government: "Violating our privacy is not an option."

Share this like your most basic rights depend on it. They do.

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Government spying will continue until we draw a line in the sand. Who's with us? 
1,000 pages of documents reveal that the U.S. Government has already secretly authorized legal immunity for companies like AT&T when they help spy on you. CISPA would give this program full legal footing. Don't let it.

Senior Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications carried on portions of networks operated by AT&T and other Internet service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.

The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors' Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover all critical infrastructure sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.

"The Justice Department is helping private companies evade federal wiretap laws," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained over 1,000 pages of internal government documents and provided them to CNET this week. "Alarm bells should be going off."

Those documents show the National Security Agency and the Defense Department were deeply involved in pressing for the secret legal authorization, with NSA director Keith Alexander participating in some of the discussions personally. Despite initial reservations, including from industry participants, Justice Department attorneys eventually signed off on the project.

The Justice Department agreed to grant legal immunity to the participating network providers in the form of what participants in the confidential discussions refer to as "2511 letters," a reference to the Wiretap Act codified at 18 USC 2511 in the federal statute books.

The Wiretap Act limits the ability of Internet providers to eavesdrop on network traffic except when monitoring is a "necessary incident" to providing the service or it takes place with a user's "lawful consent." An industry representative told CNET the 2511 letters provided legal immunity to the providers by agreeing not to prosecute for criminal violations of the Wiretap Act. It's not clear how many 2511 letters were issued by the Justice Department.

In 2011, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn publicly disclosed the existence of the original project, called the DIB Cyber Pilot, which used login banners to inform network users that monitoring was taking place. In May 2012, the pilot was turned into an ongoing program -- broader but still voluntary -- by the name of Joint Cybersecurity Services Pilot, with the Department of Homeland Security becoming involved for the first time. It was renamed again to Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program in January, and is currently being expanded to all types of companies operating critical infrastructure.

The NSA and DOJ declined to comment. Homeland Security spokesman Sy Lee sent CNET a statement saying:

DHS is committed to supporting the public's privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. Accordingly, the department has implemented strong privacy and civil rights and civil liberties standards into all its cybersecurity programs and initiatives from the outset, including the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program. In order to protect privacy while safeguarding and securing cyberspace, DHS institutes layered privacy responsibilities throughout the department, embeds fair practice principles into cybersecurity programs and privacy compliance efforts, and fosters collaboration with cybersecurity partners.

Paul Rosenzweig, a former Homeland Security official and founder of Red Branch Consulting, compared the NSA and DOD asking the Justice Department for 2511 letters to the CIA asking the Justice Department for the so-called torture memos a decade ago. (They were written by Justice Department official John Yoo, who reached the controversial conclusion that waterboarding was not torture.)

"If you think of it poorly, it's a CYA function," Rosenzweig says. "If you think well of it, it's an effort to secure advance authorization for an action that may not be clearly legal."

A report (PDF) published last month by the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan arm of Congress, says the executive branch likely does not have the legal authority to authorize more widespread monitoring of communications unless Congress rewrites the law. "Such an executive action would contravene current federal laws protecting electronic communications," the report says.

Because it overrides all federal and state privacy laws, including the Wiretap Act, legislation called CISPA would formally authorize the program without the government resorting to 2511 letters. In other words, if CISPA, which the U.S. House of Representatives approved last week, becomes law, any data-sharing program would be placed on a solid legal footing. AT&T, Verizon, and wireless and cable providers have all written letters endorsing CISPA.

Around the time that CISPA was originally introduced in late 2011, NSA, DOD, and DHS officials were actively meeting with the aides on the House Intelligence committee who drafted the legislation, the internal documents show. The purpose of the meeting, one e-mail shows, was to brief committee aides on "cyber defense efforts." In addition, Ryan Gillis, a director in DHS's Office of Legislative Affairs, sent an e-mail to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee, discussing the pilot program around the same time.

AT&T and CenturyLink are currently the only two providers that have been publicly announced as participating in the program. Other companies have signed a memorandum of agreement with DHS to join, and are currently in the process of obtaining security certification, said a government official, who declined to name those companies or be identified by name.

Approval of the 2511 letters came after concerns from within the Justice Department and from industry. An internal e-mail thread among senior Defense Department, Homeland Security, and Justice Department officials in 2011, including associate deputy attorney general James Baker, outlines some of the obstacles:

[The program] has two key barriers to a start. First, the ISPs will likely request 2511 letters, so DoJ's provision of 3 2511 letters (and the review of DIB company banners as part of that) is one time requirement. DoJ will provide a timeline for that. Second, all participating DIB companies would be required to change their banners to reference government monitoring. All have expressed serious reservations with doing so, including the three CEOs [the deputy secretary of defense] discussed this with. The companies have informally told us that changing the banners in this manner could take months.

Another e-mail message from a Justice Department attorney wondered: "Will the program cover all parts of the company network -- including say day care centers (as mentioned as a question in a [deputies committee meeting]) and what are the policy implications of this?" The deputies committee includes the deputy secretary of defense, the deputy director of national intelligence, the deputy attorney general, and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"These agencies are clearly seeking authority to receive a large amount of information, including personal information, from private Internet networks," says EPIC staff attorney Amie Stepanovich, who filed a lawsuit against Homeland Security in March 2012 seeking documents relating to the program under the Freedom of Information Act. "If this program was broadly deployed, it would raise serious questions about government cybersecurity practices."

In January, the Department of Homeland Security's privacy office published a privacy analysis (PDF) of the program saying that users of the networks of companies participating in the program will see "an electronic login banner [saying] information and data on the network may be monitored or disclosed to third parties, and/or that the network users' communications on the network are not private."

An internal Defense Department presentation cites as possible legal authority a classified presidential directive called NSPD 54 that President Bush signed in January 2008. Obama's own executive order, signed in February 2013, says Homeland Security must establish procedures to expand the data-sharing program "to all critical infrastructure sectors" by mid-June. Those are defined as any companies providing services that, if disrupted, would harm national economic security or "national public health or safety."

Those could be very broad categories, says Rosenzweig, author of a new book called "Cyber War," which discusses the legality of more widespread monitoring of Internet communications.

"I think there's a great deal of discretion," Rosenzweig says. "I could make a case for the criticality of several meat packing plants in Kansas. The disruption of the meat rendering facilities in Kansas would be very disruptive to the meat-eating habits of Americans.